“THE 5 ‘IFS’” 1 John 1:5-10
INTRO – There are a lot of people in our country today who say that they are Christians, especially here in the Deep South. The majority of us here today, maybe even all of us, would say that we are a Christian. This is still a somewhat acceptable, even expected component of many people’s lives, although that acceptance is rapidly changing in our society.
For instance, just this past week, past Presidential candidate & US Senator Bernie Sanders became very hostile against Russell Vought, Pres. Trump’s nominee for Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management & Budget, due to Mr. Vought’s biblical view on salvation. Watch this video: https://vimeo.com/220854817
This is going to become more & more common in our post-modern, post-Christian society. The lines are being drawn deeper & deeper, & those who truly name the name of Christ & live out their faith in a real, authentic way will suffer the consequences in more blatant ways.
This is one of the reasons why there are so many who will “SAY” that they are Christians, but when the heat increases, they back away from a strong stand on true biblical Christianity, which guarantees suffering & hardship.
- 2 Tim. 3:12 – “Persecution is inevitable for those who are determined to live really Christian lives…” (Phillips)
- “How could we ever think the Christian faith would be safe when its central metaphor [the cross] is an instrument of death? It is not a coincidence that baptism is a water grave depicting death & resurrection. It is no less significant that the ongoing ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is a reminder of sacrifice. How did we ever develop a safe theology from such a dangerous faith?” (Irwin McManus)
So we come to this passage of Scripture today where John lays out 5 consecutive “If-then” statements that challenge us on the legitimacy of our profession of our faith in Jesus Christ. Is our faith in Jesus Christ real? Or are we just going to “SAY” it’s real? If it’s real, then it will show in our words & actions every day of our lives. If it’s not real, then we are doomed to hell.
There are 5 statements in 5 verses that I want to put in 4 categories. Before I do that, let’s look at v. 5. This verse is a foundational verse for the entire book of 1 John. It’s a verse that causes us to examine every aspect of our lives & ask, “If God is light & there is no darkness in Him, where is there darkness in my life, & what must I do to eradicate it from my life?” The bulk of 1 John answers that question & teaches us how to live in the light of God b/c the Christian life is more than just claiming to know Jesus. It’s more than just having a chummy relationship w/ the “Big Guy upstairs.” Living a life in fellowship w/ God means to live in holiness, to walk in the light, & to actively love God & love others.
- It’s more than just a profession – It’s putting it into practice.
- It’s more than just words – It’s walking it out in a way that puts it out there for all to see.
- It’s more than just saying it – It’s showing it in every area of our lives.
- It’s more than just a private relationship – It’s putting out there in public for all to see.
So let’s look at these 5 verses in these 4 categories – 2 negative categories & 2 positive categories.
False Fellowship – v. 6 – This verse piggybacks right on v. 5. To “SAY” that you have fellowship w/ God, but to continue to walk & live in the darkness of sin is a complete contradiction in terms. Some of the false teachers of that day said that the body & the spirit were completely separate, so a person could live any way they wanted to live in their body b/c it was going to be destroyed anyhow. Pretty popular teaching! Who wouldn’t want to believe that? Fulfill all your lusts & desires any way you want to b/c it doesn’t affect your spiritual life.
The truth is that if God is light, then those who are walking in darkness are not walking w/ God, no matter what they say. Theirs is a false fellowship. Remember that Greek word for fellowship – koinonia? It means to participate, to share, to contribute. To say that you are participating & sharing in the things of God, but go on living in sin is false fellowship. You are NOT fellowshipping w/ God, no matter what you SAY. You are not & cannot participate in the things of God, share in the things of God, & contribute to the work of God. You are, at best, out of fellowship w/ God, &, at worst, lost w/out Christ. As the NLT puts v. 6 – “We are lying if we say we have fellowship w/ God but go on living in spiritual darkness. We are not living in the truth.” Which leads to the next category:
Definitely Deceived – v. 8, 10 – Both of these verses talk about the deception of saying that we are not sinners, either in nature or in practice. Our “sin” is the root. Our “sins” are the fruit. “Sin” is our fallen nature that says the world revolves around US, our desires, our passions, our wants, our motives. The “sins” we commit are the ways we indulge ourselves – our desires, our passions, our wants, our motives. To say that we have no sin nature & that we have not committed any sins is absolutely ludicrous, & shows the depth of our depravity & the deception that we’ve given in to.
To be deceived means to wander around w/out a purpose. When we give in to sin, this is exactly what happens in our lives. Our purpose as Christ-followers is to honor & glorify God in all we say & do. Sin blurs & defeats that purpose in our lives. Sin brings confusion & leads us to wander off course in our lives, moving us into dangerous enemy territory. These final 2 positive categories show us what to do to stay on course & to get back on course when we’ve strayed away.
Living in the Light – v. 7 – Light is a wonderful thing. It & darkness cannot coexist. Wherever you find light, you will not find darkness. When I got to the church early this AM, walked into a dark building. What did I immediately begin doing? Turning on the lights. Why?
- Light shows the way to walk.
- Light reveals any obstructions or hindrances.
- Light helps us to be productive (read my Bible).
The light of Christ does those same things in our lives, which is why we MUST walk & live in the light.
- His light shows us the way to walk.
- 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet, & a light for my path.” (NLT)
- His light reveals the sin in our lives that obstructs our pathway & hinders our spiritual growth & health.
- John 3:19-21 – “And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
- His light helps us to be productive in our life as a Christ-follower.
- Already established the fact that we cannot & will not be productive in the work of God & contribute in a meaningful way to the work of God if we’re walking in the darkness of sin.
- John 9:4-5 – “We must keep on doing the work of Him Who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no man can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.”
Cleansing Confession – v. 9 – We end w/ the verse that is probably the most familiar verse in 1 John. God makes some wonderful promises to His kids all throughout the Bible, & this is one of His best promises to us!
Those of us who are saved know all too well that, even though we belong to Christ, we will still sin. It breaks the heart of God & grieves the Spirit of God. And we need the forgiveness that only God can give us by His grace & mercy. There are 2 types of forgiveness that we as Christ-followers enjoy.
- Judicial forgiveness – We receive this at the moment we trust Christ to save us. It is an immediate, eternal, unchanging forgiveness of the penalty of our sins, meaning we won’t suffer the wrath of God & end up in hell.
- 1:7 – “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, in accordance w/ the riches of His grace, that He lavished on us w/ all wisdom & understanding.”
- This is not the kind of forgiveness that 1 John 1:9 is talking about. We don’t have to ask for God’s judicial forgiveness over & over again. We don’t need to be saved over & over again.
- Familial forgiveness – This is the forgiveness that God grants to us when we confess our sins to Him & restores our fellowship w/ Him. Again – Remember how important the word “fellowship” is! This familial or parental forgiveness is not the forgiveness that grants us eternal salvation. It IS the forgiveness that grants us renewed & restored fellowship w/ the Lord.
- “You can’t walk w/ God if you are holding hands w/ the devil. If the sin you are tolerating in your life doesn’t break your heart like it does God’s, you need to check which side you are on.” (Tony Martin)