This post by christinecoltman was originally published at GRACE PLACE
The heart of the matter – 1 John 1: 1-10
Written by John the apostle, the same John that we read about in the New Testament.
John was an older man around 80 years – being the last living witness of Jesus life and ministry around 60 years earlier. He was the youngest of the apostles.
In the gospel of John, he is talking to non-believers – in 1 John he is writing to an audience who are already believers.
It is a book of reassurance 1 John 5 v 13 says ‘I write these things to you who believe in the name of the son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life’
His fear is that they will lose their joy – he is concerned about this because false teaching is coming into Asia Minor 1 John 1 v4 ‘we write this to make our joy complete’
He is concerned that if these believers become under the influence of these false teachers they will fall out of fellowship with Christ and lose their joy as a result.
I am married to a wonderful man – we are legally married, but I can offend him and if I offend him, we are still married but until I apologize for what I have done fellowship is broken and that is what John is worried about – that believers will come under the teaching of false teachers which won’t cause them to lose their position in Christ but to lose fellowship.
He warns about false teaching he refutes Gnostic Heresy – Gnosticism promoted the untruth that knowledge was the way to salvation so they believed it was about ‘what you know rather than who you know’ the other important untruth was they stated was that God cannot be both physical and spiritual they question ‘How can Christ be God in human form?’
John teaches that Jesus came in the flesh – FULLY GOD and FULLY MAN. If you take away Jesus physical body, there is no sacrifice. His death on the cross would have meant nothing.
As we study the book, John sets several ideas people can challenge themselves to determine if they are in fellowship with Christ Anne referred to these as pulse checks – an honest observation of how we are doing spiritually e.g Do you love believers? If as a Christian, I am hating my sister – I am not in fellowship with God.
John is encouraging us to stay in fellowship with Christ – not falling for false teaching – being in fellowship with Christ will allow us to keep our joy.
If we happen to fall out of fellowship (which we will) with him John tells us about a solution to that which is 1 John 1 v9 ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ – this verse doesn’t get us saved – the only thing that saves you is faith alone in Christ alone.
Read 1 John 1 v 1-10 (pg 1225 in church bibles)
Chapter 1 of 1 John presents in 2 chunks you can see from your bibles – the heading of v 1-4 in my bible is ‘The word of life’ then v 5-10 is ‘walking in the light’
Let us look at v 1-4 which shows us who Jesus is – Anne spoke about this in her overview in the last meeting – Anne posed a question ‘who do you say Jesus is? – I wonder if you had considered this over the last month?
V1 –2 That which was from the beginning
John is reminding us that Jesus really did come John saw, heard, and touched him, and Jesus existed at the beginning of time.
John chapter 1 v1-2 In the beginning was the word and John Ch 8 v 58 Jesus said ‘before Abraham was born, I AM’
He came in human form – Jesus is God incarnate.
V3 What you have seen and heard so that you may also have fellowship with each other –
This is the kind of fellowship you can only really have in this relationship with Christ – have you been to an event where there is a large gathering of Christian believers a wedding, conference or I was thinking of Adams induction – there were people from different churches various parts of the country and maybe the world and it felt like there was instant joining of believers – I spoke with people I’ve never met before but there was a common bond as v3-4 says ‘And our fellowship is with the Father and with his son Jesus Christ – we write this to make our joy complete’. This relationship leads to joy – John is writing this for our joy, he is not writing this to tell us to shape up or to get in line or to pull our socks up. John wants us to enter into real joy and when we get to know the real Jesus, we discover that he is not just a nice idea, but he is the one in whom we find joy.
BREAK OUT SESSION:
Refer to the handouts on your seats:
1.John 1 v 1-4
2.John 3 v 16-21
3.John 8 v 12
4.John12 v 35-36
Look up the passages and identify connections between ‘word, light and life’.
Considering the verses you have just read together, let us look at 1 John 1 v 5-7.
We have already acknowledged that we are connected as Christian believers – we may be different ages, ethnicities, genders and completely opposite in personalities. One reason you often hear the apostles speak of Christians as the body of Christ is to communicate that as a body grows and matures so are Christians to grow and mature.
The bible especially 1 John 1 v 5-7 informs us of how we are to interact with each other if we are to grow and to grow as Christians, we need to be honest. We need to be truth tellers.
If God is light and in him there is no darkness at all (v5) and if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another (v7), what prevents us from having real and deep relationships with each other?’
Walking in the light in this passage is not only honesty with God but also honesty with other Christian believers v6 ‘If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness we lie and do not live by the truth’ – walking in the light in this passage is not avoiding sin but acknowledging it not only with God but also with each other. We are restricting our growth if we do not move through life bringing our failures out of the darkness of secrecy into the light of acknowledgement.
The way we are dishonest is less likely to be explicit e.g. telling someone you spent 3 hours in prayer when you only just remembered to give thanks for breakfast. It is more likely implicit dishonesty which is much more subtle. This is the self-projection of appearance of moral success – the mask wearing; struggling with sin but making it appear like all is well. Not being sincere or authentic.
Anne was very honest in her introduction last month – she acknowledged that as she was studying about being obedient in loving one another she had felt more irritated. She confessed this to the group as she wanted to be honest and transparent. Now I am not suggesting we take turns to stand up individually and share our deepest sins but that is an example of walking in the light.
V6 ‘If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness we lie and do not live by truth’.
John 3 v 19-21
There is something secretive about night time and darkness; often this is when crimes are committed under the cover of darkness it creates fear in us. No one teaches us to be afraid of the dark as children.
When I was a student nurse I lived in an old nursing residence; it was so old it was condemned 1 year after I completed my training. The corridors were long and dark (picture ‘call the midwife’); we shared a kitchen and bathroom. At night when opening the door into the bathroom upon switching the light on you would hear a scurry of feet from cockroaches rushing under the bath and into the shadows. They hid from the light – that is a picture of how it feels to be in the darkness and not wanting to be exposed. If we become used to walking in the darkness it becomes more difficult to walk in the light – it is exposing. If we are walking in the darkness, we will avoid situations where groups of believers are walking in the light and living honest, truthful, and authentic lives. Shining the light on our own failures and sins is painful. It is a vulnerable and terrifying thing to come into the light – I do not want my inadequacies to be exposed. It is like the special light machines that can show if a bank note is fake.
I can easily pick up the sins in others and those sins are usually the sins I am guilty of. One of the reasons we do not want to admit to our failings is because we are fearful the shame will be too much. Unfortunately this can be the case in human relationships where you come clean about something and the response is a lot of shame and guilt, but with God it is never like that – when we come into the light and get right with him (which we will come to in v9) there is a cleansing liberating experience that happens where you come back into relationship with him – he already knows all of our sins but he wants to hear from us and for us to come back into the light he wants us to be truth tellers. Living in darkness hinders our relationship with God which then hinders our relationship with one another. V7 ‘But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his son, purifies us from ALL sin’ – we need each other to walk in the light.
Both v 8 and 10 start with if we claim – and both tell us we are not telling the truth if we claim we are without sin.
V9 starts with if we confess our sins – confessing is truth telling, acknowledging we are sinners. How does God respond? He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins – God is just – Christ has absorbed the punishment that we deserve, and it would be unjust for God to punish us – there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Christ has borne our sin. If a fellow believer is sharing her heart and being vulnerable and open about sin in their life, we should respond in the same way without condemnation.
Material used for the study:
Sam Allbery – Keswick Ministries 2023 Youtube
Dane Ortland – Pastor Naperville Presbyterian church – www.npchurch.org – book “Deeper” 2021 Ch6 pg 111
Jen Wilkin – Abide study of 1,2 and 3 John lifeway.com
David Jackman – The message of Johns letters IVP pg 19-41