31 October 2018

1 John 1
Psalm 119:97-120

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth … If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:6, 9

I’m always puzzled when someone says they are a believer in Jesus Christ but they don’t feel the need to be in a church. Usually, this is due to some past bad experience when they have been deeply hurt by other believers, or where they have witnessed hypocrisy in the lives of Christians around them. They claim that they can follow God on their own. To me this seems, to use the author’s analogy of light and dark, a bit like walking in the dark with a torch on. They may have the light (fellowship with God), but they still walk in darkness.

In 1 John 1, the writer uses the comparison of light and darkness to encourage readers to seek reconciliation with God by asking forgiveness for sins. In verse 6, he blatantly says that those who have fellowship with God and yet do not live life any differently are not ‘living out the truth.’ This would mean they are living a lie. To use a medical analogy, it is like being cured of cancer but still having chemotherapy. Why act like you’re still sick when you’re now healthy?

Maybe considering what they have been saved from will help those who prefer not to fellowship with other believers. Verse 9 says that when we confess our sins, the Lord will forgive them. But being forgiven is only the start. Being forgiven for our sins takes us from an uncountable deficit balance before the Lord, and brings our balance to zero. Our sins are no longer counted against us. While it is a huge relief to no longer be in debt, it’s fundamentally more than that. The Lord also purifies us from all unrighteousness. He removes the on-going cause of our sin – our unrighteousness. He transforms us not just be clearing our debt but by clearing our hearts of the desire to pursue unrighteousness any longer. Like being cured from a disease, we now have a new lease on life.

But the change in us is gradual. While we immediately have the righteousness of Christ, we are still carrying the scars of our sin. We still hurt others and sin against God. Our focus must always stay on the Lord and on what He’s done for us, not on the actions of others around us. If you put fellow believers to the test, they will fail. But God never will. 

May we all have come to have this fellowship with the Father and with Jesus!

Dear Lord, help me to examine my life today and see if I am living in the dark or in the light. Please make me more like you. Amen