God is love.
God is light.
As I read back through 1 John again this morning, I realize there’s no way to fully cover the depth of what these two little statements mean in a couple of short blog posts. What I do want to make clear is that we can’t separate the two. We can’t take hold of the idea that God is love and exclude Him as the Light or we’ll let our emotions lead us to false doctrines. Likewise, if we cling to our doctrines without understanding the love of God, we’ll become legalists who forget about grace and mercy – also attributes of God’s character.
God is completely and fully all of Himself at all times, without conflict or contradiction. We can’t really understand that from a human perspective; we just have to accept it by faith.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John 8:12). What does it mean to accept and believe Jesus is the Light? How do we “walk in the Light,” proving our faith genuine?
Light reveals truth. John presents two issues – things we must believe. The first is regarding sin, and the second is the issue of Jesus’ deity.
1 John 1:5-7 – The is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
John speaks a challenging message. While he acknowledges the believer will sin and that God forgives us because of Christ (1 John 1:8-2:2), he makes it clear that our goal is to avoid sin at all costs. The one who openly practices and accepts sin yet claims to follow Christ proves himself a liar.
1 John 3:9 – No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (Read 1 John 3:1-10 for context.)
I’m not talking about the occasional sin when our flesh wins the battle in a time of temptation. None of us will be completely sinless until our unredeemed flesh is changed into the immortal likeness of Christ. John is talking about a lifestyle of sin, whereby we live continually in disobedience to God, knowing we are sinning, but justifying it without conviction or repentance.
Yesterday, Todd and I passed a place of worship (I won’t call it a church), and I read on the sign that Sunday has been declared “Pride Sunday.” I suggested to Todd it would be dangerous to attend; I would be afraid God would strike the building with lightning. Here is a group of people who are gathering in the name of Jesus, claiming to worship God, yet openly accepting and approving of sin that God calls an abomination. They prove themselves a liar.
Which leads to the second belief that John addresses – that of the deity of Jesus.
1 John 2:22-23 – Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
1 John 4:1-5 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.
1 John 5:1-5 – Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Simply put, the true believer recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, fully God Himself, and therefore Lord over our lives. A true believer submits to the commandments of Jesus; we obey His Word. A true believer acknowledges Jesus as the only way of salvation (Acts 4:12) and rejects any other religion or belief that teaches we can come to God through any means or method other than Jesus.
If you are walking in the Light, you will reject all faiths except faith in Jesus, the sinless Son of God.
If you are walking in the Light, you will hate what God calls sin and strive to purify your life to please God.
If you are walking in the Light, you will acknowledge Jesus alone as the way of salvation.
What we believe about sin reveals what we believe about Jesus.
Don’t be fooled by false teachers and deceptive doctrines because they preach the love of God. Do they preach the Light of God also? If they do not, they are in darkness and will lead you to destruction.
John’s last words in this letter are, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” An idol is anything that substitutes itself for God. Jesus is the only authentic revelation of the Father (His greatest act of love) and the only way of salvation (the only true light). No other gods will do.