Guest Contributor: Zech Chan
Continuing the series on 1 John being conducted, this portion will be on 1 John 1:5-10. This portion is a direct continuation of the first 4 verses which, in the last session, wanted to convey that man’s joy is complete when in fellowship with God. This portion of the text focuses on how we can achieve this fellowship with God.
With any relationship we choose to be in (either with a significant other or a friend), generally we have certain standards before we can be with that person. For example, if I were to choose a girlfriend, there will be some criteria that I personally have before I choose to be in a relationship. Similarly, God has a requirement we need to meet before we can enter into fellowship with Him.God has a requirement we need to meet before we can enter into fellowship with Him. Click To Tweet
John starts 1 John 1:5 with “This is the message we have heard from him”, as a claim to authority that he and the apostles themselves witnessed, heard and learned from Jesus personally and the message was that God is light and that there is no darkness in him at all. This claim of God being light and the contrast of darkness to the light is repeated by John throughout verses 5 to 10 (e.g. verse 6 that immediately follow talks about traits of those walking in the dark).
Light when referring to God, as Calvin explains, is God’s pureness and perfection which reveals all things that are sinful. For example, in Isaiah 6:5, when Isaiah has a vision of God, he says “for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” Therefore, God being light is a testament to God’s holiness and in as John writes later in 1 John 3:5 “In him there is no sin(darkness).”
John also uses light and truth interchangeably as he also uses sin and darkness. In verse 6, John argues that if we still walk in darkness while still claiming to have fellowship with God, we do not practice the truth. One would also surmise that if one is walking in the darkness, he is not walking in the light. Verse 7 also further uses it similarly when one claims to be walking in the light and having fellowship with one another by the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin.
Not only that, there is a claim that walking in the light allows one to have fellowship with one another, this not only means with God but also with the body of believers and this is only possible through the Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and our confession and repentance of sins. Therefore, for the one seeking God and wanting to be in fellowship with Him, there needs to first be a repentance of sins, having faith in the work that Jesus has done on the cross and taking hold of the assurance in 1 John 1:9 that God is faithful to His promises to us of forgiveness and salvation but not only that, He is also just as Jesus has already paid our debts on the cross.
However, there is another dimension to having fellowship with God besides the work that has been accomplished by Jesus and that is our daily response to Christ. In verse 7, the blood of Jesus his Son (continually) cleanses us from all sin. As Matthew Henry said, “The Christian life is a life of continued repentance, humiliation for and mortification of sin, of continual faith in, thankfulness for, and love to the Redeemer, and hopeful joyful expectation of a day of glorious redemption, in which the believer shall be fully and finally acquired, and sin abolished for ever.” As we still live in a world that is of sin, a Christian is still fallible to sin and how one responds to their sin will be an indication of that believer.
In verse 8, the one that claims to be sinless is deceiving himself and that the truth is not in them. A Christian who has had his past, present and future sins forgiven on the cross does not lose his salvation when he sins but rather he does not experience it in his walk until he confesses his sin. The confession of sin is not the cause or condition of salvation nor the manifestation of it but rather it is descriptive of the person, one who is subject to God’s will and has experienced his grace and love of forgiveness.A Christian who has had his past, present and future sins forgiven on the cross does not lose his salvation when he sins but rather he does not experience it in his walk until he confesses his sin. Click To Tweet
In conclusion, God who is holy cannot tolerate sin. As people who are born with sin, we cannot naturally have a relationship with God. However, through the work of Christ on the cross, the one who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life and will continually walk in the light of God, being committed to walk in His ways daily.The confession of sin is not the cause or condition of salvation nor the manifestation of it but rather it is descriptive of the person, one who is subject to God’s will and has experienced his grace and love of forgiveness. Click To Tweet
John Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 136-147
Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible. Retrieved from: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-john/1.html
John Gill, John Gills’ Exposition of the Bible. Retrieved from: https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/1-john-1-9.html