Today’s reading is 1 John 1:1-10.
Imagine, for a moment, what it must have felt like to be the apostle John as he wrote the letter enclosed in 1 John: the last living disciple & apostle of Jesus, still ministering to the church in his old age. He’s seen generations of believers in Christ now, and has watched the fervor and experience of the early church grow & mature. But among all else, the false teachers Christ warned about have come in & threatened sounds biblical teaching within the church. To see the threat of division come not from outside, but within, by those who want to muddle Christ’s teaching in pursuit of attempted rationalization of the truth with heresies and doubts about Christ’s human nature.
Reading 1 John 1, can you hear the sadness, the frustration, at these schools of thought that John could refute through his own life experience? That he saw, heard, touched Christ in the flesh; he knew the living Son of God himself! In this assuredness & passion, John wrote these lessons from his experience. Not out of anger or disappointment, but because of love for his fellow believers, because he wanted to set them on the path of righteousness and reassure all his fellow believers of the basis of God’s salvation works, done for their sakes.
From what John speaks of, we can tell these false teachers would have likely been downplaying the truth of sin, speaking against the setting aside of oneself for Christ in word and action, denying their own sinful nature, even being active sinners themselves while teaching God’s word. John, in his knowledge of Christ’s word straight from the source, says this in verses 9 & 10: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” To deny our sinful nature is to deny scripture truth: The prophet Isaiah said it in Isaiah 53:6: “We like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Paul wrote it in Romans 3:10-12, quoting Psalm 14: “As it is written, ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; on one does good, not even one.’” We are all sinners, falling short of following God as we should; to deny this, is to deny how amazing it was for Christ to die on all our behalf.
In wanting to follow, seek, and be in fellowship – share in possession of eternal life – with God, we choose to set ourselves aside & forsake the temptation of the world’s darkness to live in the light of God’s righteousness. In our walk, as verse 9 says here, if we are faithful, we confess our sins – we admit our wrongdoings, and acknowledge the truth in God’s plan for us over our own plans for ourselves. But looking ahead to 3 John 11, he writes: “do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.” In our walks with Christ, as we mature and become intentionally more like Him, our hearts will more naturally wish to turn away from sin and turn to Him instead. It is in this transformation of our will, our faith in Christ and the power of salvation becomes evident. In Christ’s death and resurrection, we die to sin, are buried in His death, and are freed from sin in His sacrifice for us, as Paul describes in Romans 6. To summarize, as Romans 6:10-11 says: “For the death He died, He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. So you also much consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.” This transformative power in our lives is simply both the outcome & indicator of dying to sin & being alive to God – that we would say no to our sinful nature, and instead say yes to God’s will.
I am thankful that in our walk with God, and in the healing power of our death to sin & resurrection into the Kingdom of Heaven, we experience transformation. That we would be able to grow & change in the light of His word, rather than suffer in the darkness of the world alone. I praise my Lord Jesus Christ for making a way for us in eternal life, by offering Himself as a fully human sacrifice, who’s authority over heaven and earth outweighs any knowledge or strength of our own. And beyond all, I am thankful for the love of God, who would pour out His son for our behalf so we may have eternal life. Empowered & uplifted by the words of 1 John this morning, I pray for the light of God to shine through us believers, that those in the dark may see the love He brings & offers.