LINK: 1 John 1
The author of these three epistles is the same John who wrote the gospel account by his name. The same John also wrote the book of Revelation which we will soon be reading.
One reason John wrote this letter was to counter the false teaching of gnosticism that was spreading in the early church. This was a teaching that the immaterial was superior to the material. Because of this, Gnostics denied the incarnation of Jesus, because God could not unite with a material body. Along the same lines, they also denied the resurrection of the body. They taught that knowledge was superior to virtue and therefore generally had low moral standards. The Gnostic explanation for evil in the world is that God is not the only creator, but another creator made evil. They taught that only a select few were capable of understanding Scripture.
Throughout this letter, John clearly expressed his affection for the recipients as well as his concern for their spiritual welfare.
John begins with the "realness" of Jesus and the gospel message that had been proclaimed. Next he contrasts the light of God with the darkness of the world. And then, he urges the readers to stay in the light and be continually cleansed from sin through confession.
If we walk in the light with Jesus, we have fellowship with one another.
If we confess our sins, we are cleansed from them.
On the other hand, if we deny that we sin, we accuse God of lying.
I have a black t-shirt with the white words, "I am walking in the light" printed on the front, and "How about you?" on the back from 1 John 1:7. Only I can't read the shirt because it's written in Khmer (Cambodian language). It was the theme of a youth camp in Cambodia that a team from our church helped with a few years ago. We encouraged the young believers there to walk in the light while at camp and to continue to walk in the light when they returned to their villages. Some of these young people are the only believers in their village, surrounded by animism and Buddhism. They shine as bright lights in a very dark world.
What does it mean to walk in the light? It means to live a life of obedience to the Lord. In doing so, we stand out as different from the dark world around us that lives in disobedience to God. It doesn't mean we will be sinless. But it does mean we will notice our sin and confess it before God. If we try to hide our sin, we participate in darkness. Jesus Himself is in the light; let's join Him there and avoid sinful ways.
Are you walking in the light?
Lord, we want to walk with Jesus in His light and shine like lights in this dark world. May we be honest about our sinfulness and confess our sin. You promise to cleanse us when we do. May our lives shine the light of Jesus to those around us. Amen.