Truth, a tough pill to swallow: PROVE IT

Truth, is a tough pill to swallow

1 John 1:5–10 ESV This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

A Christian’s life should be living proof of their connection to the Father. Essentially, our sacrificial love for others is a testament of our sacrificial love for God. In his first epistle—which forms the basis for this series—the apostle John walks through several aspects of the Christian life, revealing where the evidence lies for each. Do you know God? You can prove it because the evidence is in your obedience. Do you truly love your neighbour? You can prove it because the evidence is in your sacrifice. We don’t earn God’s forgiveness with our good deeds, but a transformed life should look just like that—transformed. You can say it with your mouth, but the evidence is in your actions.

 

Big Idea of the Message: When we walk with God, we will be moved to confess our sin, seek forgiveness, and turn away from a sinful life.

At the heart of John’s letter is the transforming power of the gospel.

John 3:16 ESV For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

We have nothing to PROVE if we have not submitted our life to the transforming power of the Gospel. Jesus said, John 8:32 (ESV)”and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The key to our daily transformation is The Message

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, “that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all”.

John the gospel writer used the “light” 24 times in 16 verses in the gospel and 6 times in 5 verses in 1 John. The idea and teaching about “God is light and in him is no darkness” did not originate from John nor from the other disciples. They all drew from the OT teaching. In order to understand this message, we need to go back to the OT and how John’s readers frame of understanding on light an darkness.

Light and Darkness in the Old Testament

At the heart of Old Testament’s symbolic use of light and darkness is the connection the text makes between light and the personal presence of God, and darkness as all that opposes God. This link begins as early as Gen 1:2-3, where God creates light to serve as a boundary to darkness.

Genesis 1:2–3 (ESV) The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Light is not only instantly linked to God’s presence but also institutes time and order over the chaos of the formless void (Walton, “Creation,” 59).

God creates a functioning, orderly environment for people, and the creation of stars gives humanity seasons and cycles of time by which to order their lives (Gen 1).

The link of light with the Creator also acts as a symbolic tie between light and life.

If light symbolizes God’s presence, and God is the author of life, then surely where God is, life abounds.

The link between God’s presence and light in Genesis remains strictly symbolic.

Genesis 1:2 presents light as a servant of God, subject to God’s orders. Light may symbolically suggest the concept of God’s presence, but it is not God, nor is it His presence. This understanding sets ancient Judaism apart from its contemporaries that worshiped bodies of light as gods in themselves (Hamilton, Handbook, 25).

If God’s presence is light and life, - then opposition to Him brings darkness and death

If condemnation and death are spoken of as darkness  - then salvation from these evils is also spoken in terms of light  

Thus also God Himself (His presence) becomes a light leading a person out of darkness, toward salvation. The tone of confidence that pervades these passages demonstrates that there is no doubt that God’s presence as light will conquer and even eliminate the darkness. Old Testament prophecies of the ultimate restoration of God’s people are full of the language of light and dawn.

Let me make it clear that there is no contest between light and darkness.

GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER LIGHT AND DARKNESS. Darkness is under the authority of God’s word.

Light and Darkness in the New Testament

The light and darkness theme in the New Testament builds on the symbolism visible in the Old Testament and in Second Temple Judaism, but re-focuses it on Jesus as Messiah and the bodily presence of God.

The Gospel of John, provides the fullest New Testament development of light/darkness dualism, a “theology of light” (Piper, “Light, Light and Darkness,” 132).

The prologue of John’s Gospel equates the Word (logos) with the light of God, drawing heavily on Old Testament symbolic language to communicate Jesus’ identity.

John 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:9 (ESV) The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.


Thus, the full symbolism of light merges in the person of Jesus as salvation, knowledge or revelation, wisdom, life, healing, and God’s presence (Culpepper, Fourth Gospel, 190). 

Johannine ethics develop out of this dualism.

“Walking in the light” refers to keeping Jesus’ commands (John 8:12; 12:35), while those who

“walk in darkness” (1 John 1:6–7) oppose Jesus by transgressing His commands.

The NT Context: the Graeco-Roman World

The Graeco-Roman concept of light is centered on sight.

In the Graeco-Roman world, light was not only how one sees but also what one sees (Plato Republic VI).

When Jesus refers to the eye as the lamp of the body, He is reflecting precisely this Graeco-Roman idea

Matthew 6:22 ESV “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,

Luke 11:34 ESV Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.

This idea of illumination and vision leads easily into light as both the process and goal of learning.

Light is understood as the act of coming to know and also what becomes known.

Thus Paul speaks of the light of the gospel and of God shining His light in the hearts of believers in nearly the same sentence  

2 Corinthians 4:4–6 ESV

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 1:10 ESV

and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

With this understanding we will approach the 2nd half of 1 John 1, by answering three questions:

What is the CLAIM?

What is the TRUTH (REALITY)?

What is the ACTION required?

 

IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

1. CLAIM: v.6 If we say we have fellowship ... 

The Message If we claim that we experience a shared life with him...

- Fellowship -(GK) koinonia, communion, a shared life

My relationship with God is OK in spite my lifestyle. Who are you to judge me. How can you claim that your relationship with God is ok, you have the light of God in your life if act opposite to what you claim.

You can also say that, My faith is personal, so what I do with it is personal

A person might not be saying it this way but absence of the many who calls themselves “Christians” in the life of the local church is increasing. They might be present physically but just as spectator or they are not present at all.

Illustration: On Thursday, Apr. 13, 2017, The National Post

Canadians may be vacating the pews but they are keeping the faith: poll

Beneath Canadians’ widespread abandonment of places of worship and their negative view of even the word “religion,” a new poll has found a solid core of faith that continues to shape the country.

The survey, conducted by the Angus Reid Institute in partnership with Faith in Canada 150, grouped respondents into four categories according to their answers on a range of questions gauging their beliefs and religious practices.

“We have a society that has a secular government and there is a general assumption of faith being very private,” said Ray Pennings, executive vice-president of think tank Cardus. “On the other hand, when you actually take a look at everyday society, the majority of people are people of faith to one degree or another, and faith informs and influences many of the ways we deal with each other on a day-to-day basis.”

Place this survey under the light of God’s word and you see a big disconnect. Faith grow in community. Faith is personal and at the same time corporate - that’s why we call it FAMILY of God.

6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

1 John 1:6 The Message If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim. 

TRUTH (REALITY): we lie and do not practice the truth. We walk in opposition to God. Own Translation: If I claim to be in the light and have the light but my life is a constant walk in the dark,

In other word: I’m a fake, You’re a fake

Fake - has the external look of the real one but it’s still a fake. No matter what you a fake dollar will always be a fake dollar

Listen, no one will get it right all time. We will never be perfect in this life but that doesn’t mean that we can’t live constantly in the light.

- Walk - to live or behave in a customary manner, with the possible focus upon continuity of action - to live, to behave

This truth is a tough pill to swallow!

Knowing the truth is not enough. We need to act on it.

ACTION: PROVE YOUR TALK WITH YOUR WALK

7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

John insisted that this is where a Christian will find that real communion with God. This will give proof of God’s existence.

The test of our relationship with God: we follow Jesus

John 8:12 (ESV) I Am the Light of the World

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Walking in the light is not just seeing where you are going but who are you following? It is not enough to know where you’re going but equally important is how will you get there.

We walk in the light because we have the light in us. We will not get everything right or a 100% but the issue is now. Are you walking in the light? or are you walking in opposition to the light, darkness.
As we walk in the light where God is, them real communion will happen between us and God.

But if we walk in the light:

It is significant that John talked of walking in the light, rather than according to the light.

To walk according to the light would require sinless perfection and would make fellowship with God impossible for sinful humans.

To walk in it, however, suggests instead openness and responsiveness to the light. John did not think of Christians as sinless, even though they are walking in the light, as is made clear in the last part of this verse.

That happen when we walk in the light?

We have fellowship with one another. This fellowship is not about between Christians but between God and the believers. When we walk in the light we enter into communion with God. It is not about us but it is about God and God alone. God becomes the sole focus of the fellowship. It’s not about meeting my needs or others but all about God.

John added that, the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

When we a in true fellowship with God, we are being cleansed from every sin.

So long as there is true openness to the light of divine truth, Christians’ failures are under the cleansing power of the shed blood of Christ.

Indeed, only in virtue of the Savior’s work on the cross can there be any fellowship between imperfect creatures and the infinitely perfect God

1 John 3:2–3 (ESV) Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Your Relationship with God will only exist in the sphere of God’s Light

IN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SIN

2. CLAIM: I’m better than rest when it comes to sin

#1 Claim: v.8 If we say we have no sin, ...

I have no sin

But when a believer is experiencing true fellowship with God he may then be tempted to think or say that he is, at that moment at least, free from sin. John warned against this self-deluding conception. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures

We often fall into thinking that since I’m a good person, better than the rest, I have no sin.

v.8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

TRUTH (REALITY):: we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. We fool ourself into believing that we don’t have any sin in our life.

1 John 1:8 The Message If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense.

Illustration: Have you heard about the story about “The Emperor’s New Clothes”?

No one is without sin

Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 

Sin - Transgression of God’s will, either by doing what he forbids or failing to do what requires.

Harper’s Bible Dictionary

If we truly understand that truth that God’s word teaches about the heart of man

Jeremiah 17:9 ESVThe heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Just because we are not conscious of failure does not mean that we are free from it.

James 4:17 ESVSo whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

In not doing what we know is right we are committing sin. If the truth that is in us is the main controlling, motivating influence - this self deception will not happen. Whether our claim is for a short or permanent time, our claim is still false.

10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

#2 Claim: v. 10 If we say we have not sinned, ...

-I see nothing wrong in what I did

When we are confronted with God’s Word about our action that resulted in sin, we need to admit it rather than deny it. We have the tendency to rationalize, to explain it in such a way we won’t be held responsible. It’s somebody else fault not mine. My hand are clean.

10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

TRUTH (REALITY):: We make God a liar, instead of us owning the responsibility.

Indeed the Truth is a hard pill to swallow.

ACTION: PROVE YOUR TALK WITH YOUR CONFESSION

TRUTH IS A HARD PILL TO SWALLOW

Illustration: One of the toughest act is to say the following phrase with 3 words:

“I was wrong”
“I am sorry”
“Please forgive me”

God is a gracious and loving God. He provided a way back to him.

We ought to be ready at all times to acknowledge any failure which God’s light may expose. 

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

 

 “If we confess our sins, He … will forgive the sins we confess and moreover will even cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

Naturally only God knows at any moment the full extent of a person’s unrighteousness.

Each Christian, however, is responsible to acknowledge whatever the light makes him aware of, when he does so, a complete and perfect cleansing is granted him.

It is comforting to learn that the forgiveness which is promised here is both absolutely assured because God is faithful and just.

 

God is just or righteous when he forgives the believer’s sin because of the atoning sacrifice which the Lord Jesus has made. Walking in the light involves increased consciousness of our sinful unrighteousness and taking active steps to rid ourselves of that sin by claiming God’s forgiveness and cleansing through open confession of sin before God.

Believers who desire to walk with God confess their sin openly and frankly to God. We make the judgment that our sins are awful before God. We agree with God in condemning sin.

 

Confession does not mean to plead with God for forgiveness, feel sorry for sin, to pray for forgiveness, to feel sorry for sins or to make restitution for our sins. No, the idea is to accept the idea that our sins violate an absolutely holy God and that our only solution for sin is the death of Christ on the cross.

 

We always view sin for what it really is – a violation of God’s character. That is why God will forgive our sin based only on the cross of Christ. God forgave sin when Christ paid the penalty for that sin. Jesus meets all of the Father’s holy demands by His payment for sins on the cross. Jesus died in the sinner’s stead; He died in our place. It cost Jesus Christ a great deal to qualify us for forgiveness.

Your Relationship with sin is no longer in the dark but in the light of God

 

Conclusion:

Truth is indeed a tough pill to swallow. When we walk with God, we will be moved to confess our sin, seek forgiveness, and turn away from a sinful life - repentance.

 

Prove your talk with your walk because your relationship with God will only exist the sphere of His light.

 

Prove your talk with your confession because your relationship with sin is no longer in the dark but in the light of God.

 


Discussion Questions:

1.           What is one thing that stood out to you from this week’s message?

2.          How can we know for sure if we really know Jesus personally?

3.          What is one thing you do regularly that makes the biggest perceivable impact on your relationship with God?

4.          According to verse 5, treasuring God’s Word is key to growing in God. What has most helped you be faithful in personal Bible study?

5.          How are you more like Jesus right now than you were, say, three years ago?

6.         How can I pray for you?