[Matt’s Messages] “God Is Light!”

“God Is Light!”

Essential Christianity: 1 John
November 4, 2012
1 John 1:5-2:2
In October, we started a new series on what we’re calling “Essential Christianity.” What is the essence of Christianity?  What is essential to know to be a Christian?  What is the very essence of Christianity?
And we said that we’d find that in first letter of John.  1 John.
The first week, “A Letter Arrived from John.”  And we read the whole thing.
The second week, we found out more about what the letter was about–it was about “The Word of Life.” The Word (the message) that gives life to those who believe it.  The Word that had become flesh and dwelt among us. The Word that was heard, seen, touched.  The Word that created fellowship between God and us and fellowship between one another.
John said (in verses 1-4) that he wrote this letter to bring complete joy to himself and to his readers.
And now, in today’s passage, John is going to tell us his central message from which all the rest of the book will flow.
And it is a message about the essence of God.
What God is. What God is like. What God is essentially.
And here it is:
“God Is Light!”
1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
That’s one of those verses that everyone should have memorized.
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
That verse gets at the essence of Christianity.
Christians believe in a God who is light.
God is light. 
In fact, God is so full of the radiance of glory and holiness that, “in him there is no darkness at all.”  No darkness whatsoever.
We sing, “There is no shadow of turning with Thee.”
We sing God is “holy, holy, holy.”  There is no darkness in Him at all.
He doesn’t do anything wrong.  He isn’t tainted by sin in the slightest.
He is the brightest light, and there isn’t any darkness in Him!
Wow!  We can’t really imagine how holy God is or how radiant in glory!
God is light.
That is some of the best news in all of the world.
Imagine if God was not light.
Imagine if God was half light and half darkness.
That’s what a lot of people think about God. That He’s yin and yang. That He’s both good and bad.  
But that’s not what God is.
God is light.
And He’s 100% light.
In him there is no darkness at all.
Not 1%.  Not one hundredth of a percent. Not one millionth of a percent.
We can’t really grasp this, but God is light and in him there is NO darkness at all.
And that must affect how WE live.
Who we are.
If we belong to God who is light with no darkness, that will have necessary effects upon us.
That’s where John goes next.  He actually says 5 “ifs” that flow out of this glorious statement of God’s perfect radiance.  Three are negative “ifs” of false claims.  And 2 are glorious “ifs” of relating to God in the right way and the glorious benefits that come our way. V.6 (first If…)
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”
You see what he’s saying?  God is light.  So, if we claim to know God, we will walk in light.  But some people claim to know God and walk in the darkness.
They live lives of unholiness.  They habitually live in sin.
They claim to love God, but their life does not show it.
John says that people like that are liars and do not live by the truth.
We would say they are fake, not Real Christians.
This is a warning to each of us. If we claim to have fellowship, a relationship with God, but walk in the darkness (and I think we all have an idea of what that means), then we are not for real.
Not that habitual sinning would cause us to lose our realness, to lose our salvation, but to reveal that the truth was never really in us.
“If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.”
Remember that “fellowship” is really important to John. He mentioned it in verse 3.  “Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
That’s a relationship with God–fellowship.
And if we say that we’ve got it but walk in the darkness, we are lying.  V.7
“But if [second 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, purifies us from all sin.”
We’re going to make 3 points of application this morning, and this is the first one.
If God is light, then, we should:
#1. WALK IN THE LIGHT.
“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, purifies us from all sin.”
Walk in the Light.
What does that mean?  
Well, partially, it must mean to walk in holiness.
To say “No” to temptation.
To do what is right and upright.
To live wisely and not like we used to live before we knew Jesus.
To walk in bright righteousness.
But I think a big part of the key to understanding this walking in the light is the little phrase that comes after it: “as he is in the light.”
It’s about our relationship with Him.
If we are close to God, we’ll be walking in the light.
If we are distant from Him, we’ll be playing with the shadows.
“Walk in the light, as He is in the light.”
Are you close to the Lord right now?
Do you want to know how to say “No” to temptation?
A big part of it are these phrases, “walk in the light, as he is in the light.”
Are you driving down the middle of the road with the Lord right now?
I have a friend who talks about “riding on the rumble strips.”
Flirting with the darkness.  Not going down the off-ramp, not yet.
But just riding on the rumble strips, coming close to the shoulder.  Coming close to the shadow.
That’s not where God wants you.  He wants you driving down the middle of the road, where He is.
That’s where the light is good.  That’s where you need to cruise.
“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light,” John says, “we have fellowship with one another [not just with God, but with one another–sin will separate us, too, but holiness will bring us together], and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
Now, here we’re getting to the other side of the equation.
Some people claim to be Christians but they live lives of habitual unconfessed, unrepentant sin.
But other people claim to not sin at all!  John has heard that one, too.  Look at v.8.
“If [third IF] we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Christians still sin!
We are called to walk in the light, but we don’t do it perfectly.
We all stumble.  All of us.
Often, we blow it!
We sing, “Prone to Wander, Lord I Feel It. Prone to Leave the God I Love.”
There are no perfect Christians.  And those who claim to be, John says, are deceiving themselves and the truth is not in them.
Do you remember a few years ago, I taught you this phrase in Latin?
Anybody remember our last Latin lesson?
Can anyone pronounce these words and tell us what they mean?
“Simul Justus Et Peccator!”
This was one of Martin Luther’s favorite descriptions of Christians.
Last week was Reformation Sunday, when we celebrate the rediscovery of the gospel during the time of the Protestant Reformation.
Luther said that Christians were:
Simul = Simultaneously
Justus = Righteous
Et = And
Peccator = Sinner
Christians are simultaneously righteous and sinful.
Saints and sinners at the same time, in the same person.
Christians are simultaneously righteous and sinful.
There are no Christians who are yet perfect this side of eternity.
We all live in the tension between the already and the not yet.
Already saved and perfect in Christ’s righteousness.
Not yet perfected and still getting caught by temptation and sin.
Simul Justus Et Peccator.
Amen?  Do you feel it?
If you claim to be sinless, you aren’t a Real Christian.
We all blow it.
So, what do we do?  What do we do when we sin?
We confess our sins. V.9  Here is one of the greatest verses in the Bible and should be memorized by every Christian. V.9
“If [fourth IF] we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Application Point #2.  If God is Light then we should: CONFESS OUR SINS.
At least part of what it means to walk in the light is to regularly confess our sins!
What does it mean to confess?
It isn’t just to feel bad about being bad.  That isn’t confession.
Confession means to completely agree with God about our sins.
It means to tell God that we have sinned, to name it, to own it, and to agree that it was wrong and an offense against Him.
Confession means to completely agree with God about our sins.
I say “completely” to stress that it isn’t, “Well God, the devil made me do it!”
Or, “She made me do it!”  Like Adam did, “The woman you gave me, Lord, she made me do it!”
Or, “Lord, I kind of feel bad about that thing I’ve done, but if you knew the circumstances you’d have done it, too!”
That’s not “completely” agree.
Completely agreeing is, “Lord, what I have done here was wrong.  I shouldn’t have done it. It was against your law. It wasn’t walking in the light. And I wasn’t glorifying you when I did it.  It wasn’t sourced in love for you.  And I’m sorry.”
Completely agreeing includes your emotions. Isn’t not just feeling bad about being bad, but it is not less than feeling bad about being bad.
True confession includes agreeing with your whole heart that what you did was sin.
I don’t think that Christians practice confession enough.
I don’t know about you, but I’m often tempted to just say every once in awhile, “Lord, forgive me for the things I do that are bad.”
But it would be a lot more helpful to start listing them.
Even better would be to confess quickly.  To confess as soon as conviction comes.
To turn around and agree with God quick as you can.
That’s the goal.  Not sinless perfection, but short accounts.
Confess your sins.
Not just at night in general terms. But specifics and as soon as conviction hits.
Confess your sins.
And here’s the good news.  V.9
“If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
We don’t have to live in guilt and condemnation.
God forgives.
And more than that, God purifies. He makes us righteous.
He cleanses us from our sins and sets us on a new path.
Isn’t that good news?!
Here’s how to recover when we blow-it: confession.  Because God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to purify us from all unrighteousness.
The Bible is full of hope for sinners like you and me.
It does not pretend that we’ve been or what we’ve done is good.  We have to say that it was and is bad.
But when we do, we can experience the forgiveness of God! And purification for our sins!
We don’t have to live out of fellowship with God.
Let me say that again.
You don’t have to live out of fellowship with God.
You understand that sin does not destroy a Christian’s relationship with God, but it does hamper our fellowship with God.
If one of my sons disobeys me, he’s still my son. But a cloud has passed between us.  Our fellowship has been hindered.
So, there needs to be confession and forgiveness for that full fellowship to be restored.
It’s the same with God.
Christians blow it.  But God invites us to confess our sins and then promises to forgive us and to purify us from all unrighteousness.
How can He do that?
He must do that.  It says that He is faithful to do it.
That means that He has promised forgiveness, and God always keeps His promises.
Friend, are you worried that God doesn’t really forgive you?  That maybe He’ll bring up your sin again and thrust it in your face?
He won’t.  He’s faithful to forgive.
And more than that, He would be unjust to not forgive.
What does that mean?
Why does it say, “faithful and just” to forgive?
Why is it just, right, holy for God to forgive?
It seems like it should be just for God to punish!  (And it would!)
The just punishment for our sins is God’s wrath!
God should bring wrath and punishment and condemnation for our sins, not forgiveness!
But, it says, that He is just.  How is that just?
I hope know the answer.  Let’s keep reading.  V.10
“If [fifth IF] we claim we have not sinned [again], we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. [God has said that all are sinners. No one consistently does what is right.  And so we’re saying He’s a liar if we say that we have not sinned. Chapter 2, verse 1.]
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin [He’s not advocating sinning just because God forgives. The whole point of the letter is to help us to walk in the light.] But if anybody does sin [and we know that we will], we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One [our advocate!].  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
He’s talking about Jesus and the Cross!
Jesus Christ died for our sins!
The Righteous One, the One in whom there is no darkness at all, took on our darkness and was crucified for it!
Jesus bore the punishment that we deserved.
He became (v.2) the “atoning sacrifice.” The big word for that is “propitiation” for our sins.
We just sang about it, “The Father’s wrath completely satisfied!”
Jesus died for our sins!
Christians are those who have put all their faith and trust in what Jesus did for them on the Cross.
And so now, Jesus is our advocate.  V.1 “We have one who speaks to the Father in our defense!”  Our defense attorney.
That’s what makes it “just” for Him to forgive!
Because that sin has already been paid for!
It would be unjust to not forgive.
That sin has already been paid for.
That’s why we do not do “penance.”
As I understand it “penance,” is taking on a penalty or a punishment to help atone for a sin (at least, that’s how it seems to be practiced).
But our sin has already been paid for!
That’s what makes it “just” for Him to forgive!
That’s why John said in verse 7, “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, purifies us from all sin.”
The Cross is so powerful, brothers and sisters!
Sin is powerful. We almost always underestimate the power of sin.
But the Cross is so much more powerful.
The essence of Christianity is that sin is terrible but that the Savior is greater than our sin.
Jesus Christ is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Anyone, anywhere who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice can be forgiven!
The Father’s Wrath Completely Satisfied.
No more condemnation…because of the blood of Jesus Christ.
Application Point #3.
If God is Light and there is no darkness in Him: THANK JESUS FOR HIS CROSS.
Because we would have no hope without it.
If you have never trusted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your King and your Rescuer, I invite you to do so today.
He is the atoning sacrifice for all who believe.
He invites you to turn from your sins (to repent) and to put your trust in Him and Him  alone and what He did for you at Calvary.
And you will be forgiven.  The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, will purify you from all sin.
And you can begin to walk in the light!
I invite you to do that right now.
And all of us who have, need to thank Jesus every single day.
Your Blood Has Washed Away My Sin.
Jesus, Thank You!
The Father’s Wrath Completely Satisfied
Jesus, Thank You!
Once Your Enemy, Now Seated at Your Table
Jesus, Thank You!
If you have never turned and come to trust in Jesus, today could be your day of salvation.
If he is dealing with you right now, don’t ignore Him.  
Conviction is fleeting. Don’t ignore it.
Turn from your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Even you.  Even you can say, “Jesus, Thank You!”

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