1 John 1 Devotional
By Pastor Lawrence
Written originally to defend the true gospel against a new heresy entering into the church, an incipient Gnosticism that touted a secret knowledge that wasn’t available to all and that denied the bodily incarnation of Christ, John’s first epistle seeks to distinguish between the true fellowship of Christ’s church and those who seek to disrupt that fellowship in some way. He tells us in the beginning of his epistle that he and his fellow disciples have seen Christ in the flesh with their own eyes and have touched him with their own hands, the same one who was with God in the beginning before the world ever came to be. This is the message that they proclaim that they know this Christ and eternal life in his name and desire to share that knowledge and that fellowship not just with a few individuals but with all who come to him in faith and repentance.
Much of the epistle itself is written for the hearer to examine himself to see whether or not he is in this fellowship, so that he might know that he has eternal life in the name of Christ. And John gives many examples of what it looks like to be in fellowship with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ, and each of these statements begin with the phrase “if we say.” The first example is that of walking in the light. Because God is light and there is no darkness in him, if we say we have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we are lying, for God’s fellowship does not allow for darkness to be a constant companion. Rather, as God is Light, so we who desire Christian fellowship will also live in that same light renouncing our sins.
And that leads us to the second example wherein John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” In other words, if we say that we have no darkness we are merely pretending to walk in the light of Christ’s fellowship. Of course, there is darkness in us, and when Christ’s light comes into our heart, we can see that darkness much more clearly. That darkness deeply humbles us and increasingly bothers us because we know that it hinders us from walking more fully in the light. So we confess it unto God knowing that only he alone can drive it out of us and that he alone can cleanse us from its evil influence. Those who are earnestly seeking to live in the light will be quick to admit their sin. It is only those who don’t know the power and freedom of Christ that seek to hide their sin.
Then, a third example is given in v.10 when John says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Confession of sin is not only needed to root out the darkness, but also to put an end to the lie that we are not that bad of a person after all. Some people may be downright evil, but I am not all that bad. Others have sinned far worse than me. Not only is this a lie, it is also an accusation against God that he is lying when he says such things about us. It casts doubt on God’s Word to prop up our own words and our self-perception that is also based on a lie. But those who walk in the light can’t lie anymore in this way with a straight face, for they know it is both an affront unto God and a pitiful attempt to whitewash what is dead inside. So the believer seeking God’s fellowship will tell the truth and the truth shall set them free from their bondage to the deceiver.