Walking In The Light: I John 1:5-10

Walking In The Light: I John 1:5-10
Pastor John Nicholas
Sunday December 26, 2021

This letter was written later in John’s life.   Probably from the region of Ephesus.

After the fall of Jerusalem (since there are no references to it)

A letter written to people raised in pagan beliefs who had become believers in Christ.

Converts from cultish pagan practices, brought into the life and light of Christ Jesus

We know this due to the internal structure that has no direct references to the Old Testament.

And because it warns the readers against worshiping idols in chapter 5 verse 21.

1 John 5:21 (NASB)

21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

But the old ways are still around the people.

The draw of the old belief systems

The birth of Gnosticism happened in the first century.  It would not be fully formed until the 2nd century.

Gnosticism, from a 10,000 foot view, was the idea that body and spirit are separated.  Knowledge, secret knowledge, could free them, and their spirit from the bondage of the body.

It was a belief system that would be at odds with the moral and ethical demands of following Jesus.

John was here, standing as the one guarding against errors in doctrine.

A disciple of Jesus who had sat at His feet and heard His words.

One who had seen the risen Christ.

This is a letter written after a long time of defending the faith

A letter written after a lifetime of discipling believers.

It is a letter from the love of one Christ follower to other Christ followers.

And through this message I intend to show you three specific points for our walk with the Lord

I – The God of Light is the God of Life

Main thought – The light chases away the darkness; there is no room for sin in the presence of holiness

1 John 1:5 (NASB95) 

5 This 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. 

To the believers, this is the message that they have heard.  Not a message from men but the message from Christ.  They have been changed.  They are changed.  The message is not one that has been found.  Nor is it a message that has been revealed by a man, pulling the curtain back to reveal what was hidden.

This is a message that has been announced, proclaimed by men – the message of 1 Corinthians 1:21, the foolishness of the preached word is what God has chosen to save men.  And that proclaimed good news has been revealed in their hearts by the work of God.  

1 Corinthians 1:21 (NASB)

21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

This is in opposition to the knowledge that may be gained in the pagan world.  Through machinations and procedures and ceremonies that pass a person on to higher levels of knowledge.  Higher levels of knowing.  The message that they have heard has been known only through the work of God through the Holy Spirit in them.

The proclamation here – God is Light!  One of the three terms that John uses to describe God.  Listen to these other ones:

John 4:24 (NASB95) 

24“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

1 John 4:8 (NASB95) 

8The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 

Think about the assertion that is being made.  God is Light and there is no darkness in Him at all.  Think about the property of light.  You can block it out.  You can close a room off from it.  But once it is there it does not go away.  The shadows are cast away.

God is the uncreated light.  He is the light that never goes out.  He is the light that always shines.  Jesus claims that he is:

John 8:12 (NASB95) 

12Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” 

Death and darkness are not part of the Godhead.  God being light is a reference to life coming from the Lord.  That God is the life giver.  That God is the eternal life giver.  The fullness of life dwells within Him.  And that means that in darkness there is death.  To be found outside the Lord is to be found in darkness and gnashing of teeth and death.

This is the reminder of the message that they know.  That only through Christ is there life.  Living without Christ is to live in darkness with no light and no life.  

Because the Lord is light, no sin and no sinful person can be in fellowship with Him

II – Those who are found in the Lord will mimic the light

    Main thought:  What you say you do means nothing in light of what you actually do

1 John 1:6 (NASB95) 

6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 

1 John 1:6 (LGNTI:SBL) 

6ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν· 

John has just declared that there is no darkness in God at all.  That God is the uncreated light.  He is the one who created light, Genesis 1:3.  And now from the negative view he takes begins in the Greek with a third class conditional.  This of course does not mean a lot in message but for the fact that it provides better understand of the Greek.

Genesis 1:3 (NASB)

3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

It could be better read as suppose we say.  In other words, this is not something that is necessarily happening, but he is using it as an argument.  He is using it to teach.  And we know this because he uses ‘we’, including himself, in the message.  And using the term walk is typically used in the New Testament for moral behavior.  

His argument goes like this.  We cannot say we have the fellowship with the God of light if we walk on dark paths.  On shadowed streets.  In unlit alleys.  God’s light chases away the darkness.  His light finds no fellowship with the dark shadows.  They cannot stand in His presence.  

Go into a dark room sometime and flip on the flashlight on your phone.  You will see that the darkness is cast to the corners, far away.   It cannot exist in the presence of the light.  And that is just from a little flashlight.  

Therefore, John is saying that if you are still willingly choosing to walk on questionable, morally dark paths, seeking the ways of the world, and yet claim you are in fellowship with the Lord, John has news for you.  You are wrong.  You are a liar who is lying to yourself. 

You see the light of the message of truth shines into all areas of our lives.  It illuminates, continually and increasingly, those dark areas of the believers life.  It chases the sin and evil further and further away.  Because the darkness of sin cannot exist in the presence of the Holy light of the Lord.

Notice how John says to practice the truth.  Christ following is not passive.  When the Lord found you He put you on the path to follow.  You are to work at the following.  You need to recognize the sinfulness of sin.  You are to put to death sin in your life.  

Christianity is an active belief.  Not passive.

In your life is it just talk or are you on the pathway of life?

If someone were to look at your Christian walk, what direction would they see you traveling?

1 John 1:7 (NASB95) 

7but 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. 

1 John 1:7 (LGNTI:SBL) 

7ἐὰν δὲ ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας. 

Now comes the true image of the Christian life.  We, notice the we he uses, walk in the light. Suppose we have chosen the moral path of the Lord.  Not perfectly but we are practicing it.  Suppose we are actively seeking the ways of God.

Suppose our lives that had been walking down the dark streets of Ephesus that led to the pagan temple, seeking the pleasures of this world, no show that we are seeking the light?  What if those things that we are being pulled toward now are ever decreasing in the pleasure that they give us.  

What if our lives are marked by the light of the Lord.  The light that is revealing how sinful we are.  What if we are practicing walking in the light.  What if this walk, John is saying, is marked by seeking the Holy Spirit to reveal the darkness in the paths we chose and to set us on right ways.  

Remember, listen to what it says in Psalm 23:3 – He guides me on paths of righteousness.

Psalm 23:1-3 (NASB)

The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.

A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd,

I will not be in need.

2 He lets me lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside quiet waters.

3 He restores my soul;

He guides me in the paths of righteousness

For the sake of His name.

And what does this lead to?  Fellowship with other believers.   Others who are on the paths of the light of the Lord.  Others in whom the Lord’s light has shown.  If their lives are not marked by the desire to be with other believers then there are serious questions about what they truly believe.  

You see that walking on the path does not gain your salvation but is, instead, a mark that you are saved.  John notes this quickly in this verse by noting that the blood of Christ cleanses them, and us, from all sin.

This passage is one that describes the believer.  Walking on right paths and being cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.

Do you talk about the Lord but your life is marked by finding pleasure in the dark?

Does your walk mirror what you say you believe?

Because a person that walks in the darkness can have no fellowship with the Lord.

Because what you say you do means nothing in light of what you actually do.  So don’t deceive yourselves, examine your walk.

III – Just because we are cleansed by the blood of Christ does not mean that we are sinless

    Main thought:  We need to live a life of repentance

1 John 1:8 (NASB95) 

8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 

1 John 1:8 (LGNTI:SBL) 

8ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. 

Again, suppose we say.  Attacking a stronghold of this early gnostic belief, John brings a salvo to the idea of guilt free sin.  The paganism of the time, and the paganism from which many of these believers were saved would say there is no sin, or there is no guilt to be suffered for sin, or there is no punishment for sin.  The separation of body and spirit, in their minds, led to this.  “I sinned in the body, but my mind is free from the effects.”  Basically, they could do whatever they wanted with their bodies and it was ok.

But Christianity is not this.  When the Holy Spirit did His work their sinful nature was revealed.  They cannot (and we cannot) say that we have not sinned.  

There is no separation of soul and body.  Understand that there is a resurrection.  We have bodies in the new heaven and new earth.

They have denied the idea of sin.

John is reminding them that this is a false belief.  Don’t fall trap to your old ways.  You are lying to yourself if you believe this.

Are you lying to yourself?  Is the light of the Lord shining on the sin in your life that needs to be killed?  Are you hiding your eyes from that light?

1 John 1:9 (NASB95) 

9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

1 John 1:9 (LGNTI:SBL) 

9ἐὰν ὁμολογῶμεν τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν, πιστός ἐστιν καὶ δίκαιος ἵνα ἀφῇ ἡμῖν τὰς ἁμαρτίας καὶ καθαρίσῃ ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἀδικίας. 

It could be better translated, “if we keep on confessing.”

But the answer is this.  They are sinners and will constantly sin until they stand before the judgment seat.  But the Lord is good.  Jesus saves.  They are to walk in the light.  Seeking a morally upright life.  Seeking the ways of the Lord, knowing the message that they received from the God of light.  

The idea here is of a continuous confessing.  It is a life of repentance.

God is good and if we live a confessional life He will cleanse us.

The walk in the paths of light is marked by repentance.  When the light shines on the sin in our lives we confess it to the Lord and know that He is and will cleanse us.  

Again, it cannot be stressed enough that this is not works based salvation but the fact that  the life of a believer is one that is in the light.  That because of the salvation we seek the Light, we seek the right paths.  We seek repentance.

We practice all of these things.

1 John 1:10 (NASB95) 

10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 

1 John 1:10 (LGNTI:SBL) 

10 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι οὐχ ἡμαρτήκαμεν, ψεύστην ποιοῦμεν αὐτὸν καὶ ὁ λόγος αὐτοῦ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. 

Now John is drawing them into the idea of specific acts of sin.  He dealt with the big picture in v8 and now we could say that he is looking in a more focused manner.  To those who might say that we don’t’ sin.  

This is aimed at those who are unrepentant.  Those who say that they have nothing to repent from.  That they have nothing to confess.  Perhaps if we think about those to whom this is addressed.  Those who are believers.  Those who have been converted.  Those who are now claiming that they have not sinned.  

To do so would be to deny the necessity of the cross.  To do so would bring their salvation into question.  To do so would be stating the blasphemous words of calling God a liar.

And when one has stepped on this dark path they are denying both Jesus, the Word, and the instruction of the Word of God.

They are denying God’s revealed knowledge of the state of man.

The one that is here is walking in the dark, with death looming at every turn.

Have you confessed your sinful ways and trusted in the blood of Christ?

When you stray from the walk are you praying for the Holy Spirit to illuminate the sin in your life?  

Is your walk with the Lord mark with an attitude of repentance?  Of shunning sin? of turning back when you do sin?

Walking in the light of the Lord is a life that is marked with repentance from sin.


What have we learned:

  1. The Lord is light, no sin and no sinful person can be in fellowship with Him
  2. What you say you do means nothing in light of what you actually do.  So don’t deceive yourselves, examine your walk.
  3. Walking in the light of the Lord is a life that is marked with repentance from sin.

In short

1 – know the Lord

2 – Walk in the Light

3 – Confess our sins

When we do these things we will be on the right path

And we will have assurance of our faith and salvation

And we will have fellowship with God

So, what path are you on?

Are you headed in the right direction?

Are you seeking the Lord of your life, the Lord Jesus Christ?

 Do you hear these words of God and say, “thank goodness I am now on the right path.”

Are you convicted of the sin in your life? Are you seeking the Lord’s instruction

Or are you fooling yourself?  Are you playing games with your eternal soul?

Have you convinced yourself of your salvation but show no evidence of it?

Listen to the words of John, a much younger John, when he recorded the life of Jesus.  

John 3:19–21 (NASB95) 

19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 

20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 

You see we naturally are bent and turn towards the darkness.  Towards sin.

Are lives before our hearts being changed by God show us walking in the darkness.

Now listen to the next verse.

21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” 

Again, practicing.  Working at the truth.  Laboring at it.  Recognizing that we must constantly work at it.

That our Christian walk is not passive but requires us to strive and persevere at it.

In closing, turn with me to Psalm 139:23–24 (NASB95) and listen to the words

23Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 

24And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. 

I pray that you seek the Lord’s guidance in your life.

That you seek His unending light to expose the sin in your life so that it may be consumed and destroyed

That you seek the bright light of the glorious journey that we are on to the celestial city.

To the city of God.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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