Thursday, March 14, 2024

2024.03.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 1:5–2:2

Read 1 John 1:5–2:2

Questions from the Scripture text: To what does the apostle now shift in 1 John 1:5? How does his experience of the message match the experience of he living Word (cf. 1 John 1:1)? What is the message? What have some claimed (1 John 1:6)? While walking in what way? What does this prove about their claim? What are they not doing (“practicing,” NKJ)? What must we walk in, instead (1 John 1:7)? Of Whom does this make us an imitation? With whom does this give us fellowship? What happens to those who have this fellowship? What if we say that we don’t need this cleansing from sin—what are we doing to ourselves (1 John 1:8)? What isn’t in us? What must we do with our sins instead (1 John 1:9)? Upon what attribute of His must we depend? What two things does God do in that faithfulness? What if we say that we don’t even need the forgiveness—what are we making God out to be (1 John 1:10)? And what isn’t in us? What is the apostle’s goal in making these points (1 John 2:1)? What does he assure those who are trying not to sin but stumble—what do they have? With Whom? Who is this advocate? What is He in Himself? And what is He for us (1 John 2:2)? And what is His capacity for propitiation?

What difference does fellowship God make in our daily living? 1 John 1:5–2:2 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the Lord’s Day. In these eight verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when we have fellowship with God, we walk in His light as those being cleansed by Christ.

Fellowship with God means walking in the light. In 1 John 1:1-4, the apostle commended his message in the strongest possible terms: it is the means by which we are brought into a shared life with the Triune God, through the Son, the Word, in Whom is eternal life. This message, this gospel, is how we are brought into the enjoyment of God Himself. 

So, in a real sense, God Himself is the gospel. Now, 1 John 1:5-7 tells us more about Him, and therefore more about what it means to have a shared life with Him. More about Him: He is light and in Him is no darkness at all. More about a shared life with Him: this fellowship with Him means walking in the light. 

From the word picture, we can understand what walking in the light means, externally. It means that the rule of our life is not from ourselves, which would be darkness, but from Him Who is light. That is to say that He is the rule of our life. He, through His Word, is the standard and the guide for what we do, what we desire, and what we delight in. 

But this idea of the shared life helps us understand another part of walking in the light. Christians have His life in us and His light in us. We have a new birth, a new nature. So, we walk in the light not only when we learn from the Bible what our desires should be, but when we find that as we read the Bible, His Spirit within us actually makes those things our desires.

If we are walking in darkness, however, we must not think that we have fellowship with God. v6 calls the one who thinks that it is ok for Christians to sin a liar who does not practice the truth. Christians must never take our sin lightly.

Fellowship with God means guaranteed cleansing from sin. Now, a Christian might well be alarmed when he learns that if we are not walking in the light, then we have no fellowship with God. For, every Christian in this life still has sin. So, the sentence in 1 John 1:7 doesn’t even finish without assuring us that there is cleansing from this remaining sin. 

The one who walks according to the rule of God’s light externally, and with a desire formed by God’s light internally, does so only by that shared life with Jesus Christ. And this Jesus Christ, though a Man, is also God the Son. If we have Him, then we have His blood, and that blood is the most effectual cleanser of what is unclean and consecrator of that which is common. His blood is cleansing believers from their sin, even now already in this life.

Now, in 1 John 1:8, we learn that there is something even worse than the “Christian” who says that it is ok for him to sin. Yes, the one who treats sin as if it is ok is a liar. But the one who says that he has no sin is worse than a liar. He is someone who calls God a liar (1 John 1:10)! 

But, praise God, the gospel is a great helper to us to confess our sin. For, if we have Jesus Christ His Son, the truthfulness and faithfulness of God is not against us but for us. Without Jesus Christ, God would be faithful and just to punish us fully for our sins and to leave us to ourselves forever in our unrighteousness. But if we have Jesus Christ, then God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (justification) and to cleanse us from all that remaining unrighteousness (sanctification).

So, the Christian is able to look at his sin with eyes wide open. He hates it, because it is darkness that is at war with God. But he feels free to admit it, because God is on his side and will surely win that war. This is why the apostle is writing to teach his readers about the gospel. They are like dear, little children to him (1 John 2:1), and he wants to arm them with the truths about God and Christ that will enable them not to sin. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin”!

How can the faithful and just God do this? How can He forgive and cleanse us? Because our advocate with the Father is Jesus Christ the Righteous! The Father so loved us that He gave His Son, Who knew no sin, to be sin in our place, so that we could be the righteousness of God in Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). The Father lovingly secured for us the greatest Advocate there can be! And He is our propitiation. He has endured in Himself the fullness of the wrath of God, so that God is entirely propitious (favorable) toward us! 

How rich is this propitiation? It will never be exhausted. He didn’t just propitiate for the disciples who believed. He propitiated for an entire world of believers—an entire cosmos, including not just every place, but every time! Don’t worry, dear believer, the justifying and cleansing blood of Jesus has not lost a bit of its power since the apostle first wrote this. Face your sin. Hate your sin. Rejoice in Jesus that God forgives you and shall surely finish cleansing you. And walk against that sin in and by the light of God!

What sins have you been shrinking from admitting that you commit, or perhaps neglecting to admit that you commit? Why are they a big deal? How can we see if we are treating them as no big deal? Why mustn’t you do that? What would it look like to treat them as a big deal? How can you be sure that you will be cleansed from them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, forgive us for how much darkness there is in our walking, even though we have fellowship with You and walk in the light. We are ashamed that we have often treated our sin as if it were a small thing, and are in danger of being liars about our profession of faith. And even worse, Lord, we have rationalized our sin so that we did not even call it sinful. So we have even been in danger of calling You a liar. We have been faithful, but You are faithful. We have been unrighteous, but You are just. Now by that blood of Jesus Christ, which has propitiated for all who believe in Him from the entire cosmos, forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

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