Saturday, October 15, 2022
It is impossible for me to read this opening statement in 1 John 1:1 without immediately thinking of its strong parallel to John 1:1. John 1:1 says in the beginning was the word and 1 John 1:1 says that all they have seen and heard and touched – that was from the beginning (what beginning?) concerning the word of life. John was with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry, so he may be referring to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. There is a lot to unpack here, so I will leave that for another day, but you can think about some of these correlations.
John says that they are proclaiming the word so that his readers may have fellowship with John and his community, as well as fellowship with God and Jesus through the ministry of the word (that is an implication of having true fellowship with John et. al.). Also, John emphasizes that he is writing these things so that joy may be made complete. True joy, that transcends all circumstances, is a direct result of having fellowship with God and Jesus in a life of faith (see also James 1 for insight into the relationship between authentic faith and joy).
John then gets into a dichotomy between light and darkness. God is light and in him there is no darkness, therefore if we are walking in darkness (not in the midst of darkness but having elements of darkness ingrained into our life) we do not have fellowship with God. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that we can live a dualistic life embracing both God’s will and abiding in the ways of the world. Purity of heart precludes us from walking in darkness. If we’re doing this (walking in darkness), the implication is that we are liars and live a life that is antithetical to the truth.
Conversely, if we walk in the light (i.e., the truth, abide in the word), we have true fellowship with one another and we have our sins cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Walking in light does not mean that we have no sin, that would be a ridiculous assertion, but it means that we do not live lives defined by sin. We all stumble, but there is a difference between falling short and living in sinful pursuit. Our self-deception can come from being double-minded, or from a false notion that being forgiven makes us sinless. We are free from the bondage of sin through Christ, but we still fall short of perfection. In confessing our sin (and repenting of it), we are cleansed and through our faith are counted as righteous. If we don’t acknowledge our sinfulness, how can we confess (we can’t!)? Worse than deceiving ourselves, if we deny that we sin, we make God out to be a liar!
It’s not a good look to make God out to be a liar, so I would strongly encourage each of us to take into consideration our behaviors and not try to explain them in a way that denies the authority of scripture to call out wicked behavior and attempt to justify our (sinful) behavior as acceptable. Sin is offensive to God, so we should not attempt to explain it away as inoffensive. Confession is a powerful tool, and we should be quick to utilize this, rather than explain away or double down on any sinful elements that encroach on our lives. It is better to suffer for doing what is right now (deny our sinful desires) than to embrace sin and deception now and miss out on the amazing Kingdom of God (which will trump all imaginable satisfaction in this life).
1. Do I regularly confess my sin to God? Do I confess my sin to other believers (1 or 2 people who you can trust) and reap the benefits of having accountability in brothers or sisters (who likely have had similar struggles) that can speak truth into my life?
2. What am I doing that could constitute self-deception? How might you assess and address this?
3. What relationships do I have that allow people to speak truth into my life? Do I surround myself with yes men? Do I live in an echo chamber? What changes can I make in my life that can help me more effectively eliminate sinful habits?