1 John: Christianity in Black and White Part III :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

1 John 1:5-10: Fellowship with Him and One Another

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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 Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:5-10, NKJV).

When you read 1 John 1:1-4, you can see similarities between these verses and the first four verses of John’s gospel. There is that reference to the majesty of the Incarnate Word of God come to Earth to dwell among us. John declares that he was an eyewitness to all of this. If anything, the apostle is blunt, as we have noticed in the first two entries of this series. He sees things in black or white.

This reminds me of when I first enlisted in the program to educate and be trained as a hospital chaplain. I had to discuss some issues with my supervisor, who had the final word as to whether or not I would be certified for this particular field of ministry. In my discussions with him, he made the comment that I tend to see things in terms of black or white as far as issues of morals and ethics were concerned. I replied by asking him what was so wrong about that. As far as I can remember, he didn’t say too much to me after that; and despite it all, I received the credits needed to pass the program. Basically, I stood my ground, and the LORD saw fit to reward me for it. This was no time to be a spiritual wimp.

The Lord Jesus had something to say about being firm in a decision (Matthew 5:33-37). If you make a promise or stand by a decision, then honor it without making a spectacle out of it.

Whenever I read anything our LORD said or taught, He never wavered or walked back what He said. Everything He said was with purpose and absolute, with no waste of words or small talk. This should be a blunt lesson to us in this day and age where we witness people, and in some cases, believers, who say something that is absolutely biblical and sound, only to backtrack and apologize if what they have said offended anybody. Not once do I read of the Lord Jesus ever doing that, and He is supposed to be our model of behavior and adherence to absolute truth as found in the Scriptures.

There is no place in the body of Christ for cowardly behavior (Revelation 21:8), and if you have behaved in such a way without asking for forgiveness, then heed this warning by our LORD (Matthew 10:33; Mark 8:38; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 John 2:22). If He was willing to die a horrid death in public for your sins, why do you get tempted to deny Him when confronted by skeptics, the curious, and those who mock? To deny Him and claim you’re His child is a sure sign that you’re not (Hebrews 6:4-6). Frankly, you’re a false convert and on the road to rank apostasy.

Allow me to state one more observation.

If you are a young man who feels that God is calling you to the ministry, and you have doubts about the Scriptures, then I implore you to get that issue settled before you proceed any further. A man who doubts the inspiration of Holy Scripture, or is hesitant to preach it in its entirety for fear of upsetting his congregation or others, needs to do God a favor and that of the body of Christ. STAY OUT OF THE PULPIT AND DO SOMETHING ELSE! You cannot be called to serve God and doubt His Word or be skeptical of it. That’s being double-minded and unstable, and that’s the LAST thing we need in churches today.

By the way, despite what your denomination might teach or accept, let me be frank. Nowhere in Scripture is there ANY support for women pastors or elders (1 Timothy 2:12, 3:1-8; Titus 1:5-9). That’s God’s decree. Deal with it. Anything else is rebellion against God’s authority. There are a lot of roles that can and are taken by women to edify the church and help it along, but pastoral leadership is not one of them.

Now let’s get back to the main topic. In Verses 5 -10, John is addressing issues of honesty before God as well as our attitudes towards other brethren, and it can be presented in the following manner:

Look again at verse 5 and understand that, despite the flaky teachings of New Age gurus and celebrities, we have no “inner light” or “divine consciousness” in our unregenerate state apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Without the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit, we remain dead in our sins and are, for all practical purposes, a spiritual corpse, unable to do anything in our own strength to revive ourselves spiritually. It is the LORD who provides salvation. We have nothing to do with it. Anything we do to try and improve ourselves morally or ethically without the sure foundation of Christ is to adopt a corrupt mindset based upon self-centeredness and empty optimism.

Only the Lord God Himself is the Light of Truth, the true source of righteousness, and all that is truly good. We do not possess any of that in our own strength despite what we may think or accomplish. We are spiritually dark, and the holiness of God cannot co-exist in such an atmosphere. We can remain dark by rejecting God’s love and compassion, or we can allow His light to penetrate our souls and make us new creatures in Christ. There is no third choice or a fence upon which we can sit (1 Kings 18:21). If we argue that both elements can be in the same body, then what we are implying in our state of compromise and indecision is that we are declaring that the sovereign, holy God of the universe has no problem with an opposing force and will develop an attitude of “live and let live.” That is blasphemy, pure and simple, and reduces God’s nature to that of man, who prefers darkness in the first place.

Verse 6 gets even more specific:

John states that you cannot have a contradictory life. You are either walking with God or not. Anything else is saying that you’ll accept God’s presence and direction on your own terms during the week, but it is alright for Him to use you to occupy a pew and look pious on Sunday. God does not play games or allow for part-time ownership. Either you belong to Him or not. If you’ve surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, the truth is He owns you and has total control over every facet of your life, and He will not hesitate to remind you when necessary. The days are coming where the wheat will be separated from the chaff. Just saying.

Any foolish attempt to justify walking in darkness due to deliberate sin or oversight of your spiritual growth is nothing more than being counterproductive to your spiritual well-being. To bend in any direction other than that of the will of the LORD is to show those who are watching your walk and behavior that you’re playing a “religious game” that results in hypocrisy, or deep down you don’t trust God to be the Source of absolute truth and direction for your journey. This can be avoided. You must constantly be in a state of communication with the LORD and in the study of the Scriptures to avoid such a situation that can ruin your testimony and render you inefficient for service. One careless moment can bring about tragic consequences.

John declares in verse 7 that we must walk with God, and that His light should be paramount in our lives.

God’s light is of the utmost essence and importance among believers if there is to be true fellowship with each other. We need to hold on to this one fact in our spiritual growth, and that is that it is the blood of Jesus Christ that washes away all of our sins. Religious body wash does not exist in the realm of absolute forgiveness and renewal when we fall into sin; and don’t think that your sins can be hidden from God. When we fall, we are to go immediately to the LORD, repent, ask for forgiveness, and not allow ourselves to be in a situation where the opportunity to sin or compromise presents itself. The Christian life is a combination of Divine intervention and the use of our God-given common sense. Think before you act.

Let’s focus on the blessing of Divine forgiveness (v.9).

Forgiveness is not something that you have to beg God for, as if He’s some kind of grace tyrant who keeps score and is ready to strike you down. You come to Him with a humble heart and ask to be forgiven, which He will, and once more will cast those sins away, never to be remembered or brought up again (Psalm 103:12). Put this truth into focus. If God forgives and forgets according to the promises of Scripture, then what business do you have by bringing up something your brother or sister in Christ did awhile back that caused a rift that has already been brought before the Throne?

I know people who’ve held grudges against someone since the last century and just won’t let it go. That’s no way to live a Christian life if you’re serious about your commitment to Him. We are affirmed in the Word of God that it is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our salvation by the shedding of His blood that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. It’s good to know that we are able to rely on this Divine promise of mercy and grace that cannot be taken away from us if we are truly His.

No dreams, visions, revelation, signs, wonders, ecstatic experiences, utterances, manifestations, trips to heaven (or hell), physical phenomenon, health, wealth, tongues, prosperity, riches, self-improvement, possibility thinking, or worship conferences will ever suffice in the ability to have a true relationship with God apart from what Jesus Christ has accomplished through His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return. God didn’t forget anything in the plan of salvation; and we have no right, authority, or ability to add to or improve it. When our LORD said on the cross, “It is finished,” He didn’t mention anything else extra or in addition to what had been done on our behalf. To believe otherwise is simply a trick of the devil to confuse you.

This next section of Scripture is a perfect way to bring this study to a conclusion. We now focus on verses 8 and 10, dealing with the issue of self-deception.

John has emphasized the importance of the need for authentic salvation and the seriousness of commitment to Christ in all areas of life. Don’t fool yourself. If you measure your salvation by the repeating of a prayer, or joining a church, or participating in church activities like the youth group, or attending a conference and getting emotional, then I’m sorry, but those things are in no way any sign of genuine conversion. There are a lot of people walking this Earth who believe they are alright with God for the very reasons listed that will be terrifyingly surprised when they hear what Jesus has to say to them at the time of judgment (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46, 13:26.27). Read these verses and make sure you’re not just playing some kind of religious game (2 Peter 1:10).

The Scriptures tell us plainly that we are sinners and in no way naturally “good.” Paul brings out this point in Romans 1:18-31 and 3:10-18, ridding us of any self-conceived notion of being better than someone else because of upbringing or moral presentation based on how we see ourselves. Deal with this fact. We are rotten to the core spiritually speaking, and there is absolutely no way we can ever get right with God in our own strength or will. Despite what some television personalities claim, we are not “champions,” or “little gods,” or “blessed and highly favored,” or “born to be blessed,” or “King’s kids.” Without the direct intervention of God Almighty, we are wretched hell-bound reprobates without hope or the desire to seek it unless it is in our own power. We are totally depraved without Christ, and that’s the blunt truth, like it or not.

What John is doing with these teachings is to strip us of any notion that we can make do without God when the fact is that He and He alone is Sovereign, and we cannot even take our next breath without His Divine permission and will. That should be enough to knock you off of your homemade pedestal of ego and wishful thinking. Don’t ever get the idea that you can somehow, even as a true child of God, believe that you will be able to live a life here in this world free from sin. You will need the LORD’S intervention every day of your life, and to let your ego tell you otherwise is to say that God is a liar. Any hint of self-righteousness in your life is unmistakable evidence of the lack of truth that God places within you, making you realize that there’s no way you can go it alone, spiritually speaking.

Self-righteousness was the major flaw in the character of the Pharisees, and we know how Jesus felt about them. Why put yourself in their place? It won’t end well for you if you persist in that mode of thought. You’d better check to see if your claim of salvation is genuine in that case.

The way that I perceive all of this is to make us see something that is missing in today’s Christianity, and that is the lack of the sense of the holiness and power of God and His rule over everything and everybody. We take God’s presence too lightly, I’m afraid; and in these last days, we cannot afford to look at Him as simply a means to an end, but as the Sovereign Ruler of all who will bring all things to a conclusion and render just judgment on His enemies at the end of time.

John will have more to say when we look at Chapter 2.