SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- John wrote his "gospel" (the book of John) so people would believe in Jesus, but also wrote three letters we have in the Bible (including 1 John) to people who already believed. At the time of their writing (approximately AD 85-95), Christianity had gained a little importance and influence in the Roman world. There had become a temptation to merge Jesus’ teachings with other philosophies of the day. One popular philosophy was "Gnosticism." The Gnostics believed that people were body and spirit, and that sin resides only in the body, while the spirit concerns itself with the things of God. They believed that by acquiring knowledge (gnosis), one could transcend the mundane and enter the spiritual realm. Combining these principles with Christianity led to errant teachings that claimed sinful behavior with our body had no effect on spirituality, and also that Jesus could not have been God in bodily form. This letter of John's was written partially to combat some of these false teachings.
- John starts out this letter by explaining that Jesus was someone "we have looked at and our hands have touched." He is attacking the false belief that Jesus didn't come to earth, or didn't have an actual body.
- He goes on to say that "God is light; in him is no darkness at all."
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- John writes that if we say we have fellowship (or friendship) with God but "walk" in darkness, we are lying. The idea is that to know and have relationship with God will impact the way we think and act. If our lives aren't changing, we don't really have fellowship with God.
- However, John explains that it won't mean that we never sin. In fact, he writes that if "we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves." So we will not be without sin, but we should have less and less sin in our lives if we are living in relationship with God.
- What do we do about those sins we commit when we're in relationship with God (and shouldn't be committing sins)? John says that we need to confess those sins to God. When we do, God will forgive us and purify us.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Where are you at when it comes to living in light or darkness? Has your character changed since you've started "walking" with God? If not, there is a problem. How are you doing with your thought life? With handling your finances in a godly way? In loving others? How has your relationship with God transformed your life?
- When you do sin, do you tend to cover it up, or open up and confess it to God? Maybe take some time right now to reflect back on your last week or so and recognize where your life has been marked by darkness rather than light, and confess those sins to God.