Focal Passage: I John 1:5-2:6
Jesus said in John 8:32, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John shines the light of truth on the darkness of three lies in this passage. The three lies are the lies of fellowship, sin, and obedience. John will make the contrast between truths and lies as great as the contrast between light and darkness. John had shared his desire for them to have fellowship with God; he did not want these lies to interrupt their fellowship.
John says there are certain requirements that must be met in order to have fellowship with God. Since there is no darkness in God then in order to have fellowship with Him, darkness must be removed. The false teachers of Gnosticism (the belief that the body is evil and the spirit is good) were promoting this idea that you could have fellowship with God (that was the spiritual side) and still live in sin (the body side). This attitude is prevalent in our culture today. We think we can be a Christian without any changes in action. John counters this claim by saying the only way to walk in the light is to be cleansed from our sins (darkness). The blood of Christ causes our light which was dimmed by our sin, to shine bright again.
The next lie that John discloses is dealing with sin. It would appear that opponents of John were espousing a doctrine of perfectionism. The idea being that if you had fellowship with the Father, then you were above sinning. John says that the only way to believe this lie is to lie to yourself! If a person adopts a belief like this it is evident they have not been reading the Scriptures. John says it is not our lips but our lives that display whether we are truly in fellowship with God. These false teachers claimed they were in fellowship with God but their lifestyle disputed those claims. John tells them in verse 9 that they needed to stop claiming and start confessing. Have you ever heard someone say, “Somebody’s lying”? We say this when two people are telling conflicting stories and only one of them can be true. John states in verse 10 that either the false teachers or God is lying – take your choice!
John pauses from exposing the lies of the false teachers to help true believers (little children) know how to deal with sin in their lives. He shares his hope that they will not sin. But if they do, there is help available. The help that John mentions is Jesus Christ who serves not only as our advocate but also as the propitiation for our sins. We have a need for this help because we are not perfect. Therefore we cannot prevent sin in our lives completely.
The last lie that John confronts is the lie of obedience. How can we show someone that we know something? We demonstrate it for them. If we say we know Christ then our lives will prove it by obedience to His commands. Verse 4 tells us the old saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words”! The more we walk with Jesus in obedience, the more our lives will look like Jesus! If we say Christ lives in us, then it will be evident by our life style.
John gives us two tests to determine if we are walking in fellowship with God. First, how brightly is our light shining? Is there darkness of sin blocking it? Second, how obedient are we to the commands of Christ. The answer to these two questions will be indicative of our fellowship with God.
— Styers is pastor of First Baptist Church, Grand Junction.