Sunday July 22nd
1 John 1
Last week was the end of our study of one book -Exodus, and today is the beginning of our study of a new book - 1st John.
John actually starts off his first letter by talking about what was happening “from the beginning”.
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2 and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that John’s letter starts off talking about the beginning, because his Gospel starts off with these words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2)
And those verses are actually an echo of the very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The truth is that God had a plan in place from the very beginning of time, and that plan included sending Jesus to save the world, and that plan included saving YOU!
Look at what Ephesians 1:4 tells us:
“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love”
When did God choose you? The day that you got saved? No, He chose you in the beginning, even before He laid the foundation for the world!
I think that makes you pretty special!
In verse 1 of this letter, John refers to Jesus as the “Word of Life”, just like he did in his Gospel when he said this in John 1:14
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Now compare that with what John says here in verse 2:
“and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”
What does manifested mean? It means that it became real.
The eternal Word, the eternal Life that was contained in Jesus, became flesh, became a man, and dwelt here on earth.
How can we be sure of that? Because John says “we have heard (Him), we have seen (Him) with our (own) eyes, we have looked at (Him) and touched (Him) with our (own) hands.”
This is important. Because John isn’t just sharing what other people have told him. He was there! He lived with Jesus. He heard Him teach. He watched the miracles. He touched Jesus. He saw Jesus crucified and then he saw Him resurrected!
Peter uses the same argument to make this same point in 2nd Peter 1:16-18
“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”
The fact that John actually “touched” Jesus physically is especially significant.
Because part of the reason that John wrote this letter was to reassure some new Christians who were getting confused by a teaching called Gnosticism, which said that Jesus wasn’t a real person, not flesh and blood. He was just a spirit, like an angel.
John says “No way! I touched Him. I leaned back against Him at the Last Supper. I held His dead body. He was as real as you and me!”
In verse 3 John says that there is another important reason why he is writing this letter:
“What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
So fellowship with God, with Jesus, and with each other is an important goal for John in writing this letter and that shouldn’t surprise us, because it was also an important goal to Jesus. Look at how Jesus prayed to His Father concerning us in John 17:21
“That they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
So John’s goal for believers is the same as Jesus’ goal, fellowship and unity.
Then in verse 4 John adds another goal:
4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
Once again, this isn’t just John’s goal for us, it’s also Jesus’ goal. Look at John 15:11
“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
How are these goals connected? Because true fellowship with God and with each other should be a tremendous source of joy in each of our lives!
Do you see how many of the same themes in John’s letter are also found in his gospel? And this pattern continues in verses 5-7
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce 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 yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Where have we seen this before? Look at John’s Gospel Chapter 1 verses 4-5
“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
And also John 1:9, which describes Jesus this way:
“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.”
And this emphasis on light and darkness also reflects Genesis again, just like the phrase “In the beginning”. Here is Genesis 1:3-4
“Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”
So just like Genesis and John’s Gospel, this letter of 1st John emphasizes the contrast between light and darkness. Jesus is the light that came to shine in the darkness of a world that has rejected God.
John is reminding us that all of us as believers are faced with a choice: either “walk in the light,” by coming to Him and opening their hearts to Him, or “walk in darkness”. And walking in darkness, according to John, isn’t just committing sin, it’s also denying that we sin. Look at verses 8-10:
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous 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.
So the conflict between light and darkness is linked to a conflict between those who “practice the truth” and agree with God that they need salvation, and those who say they don’t need salvation, thereby essentially calling God “a liar.”
The simple reality is that even believers sometimes still sin. But the good news is that the cure for sin—which is confessing our sins, and being cleansed by the blood of Jesus—is God’s continually available, irrevocable gift to us.
Because Jesus’ death has paid in full the penalty for sin, God grants forgiveness and cleansing through the blood that Jesus shed, no matter how many times we have to ask for it.
Hebrews 9:22 points out the importance of blood:
“And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
In the Old Testament it was the shedding of the blood of goats or lambs or bulls that provided a substitutionary sacrifice for the people of Israel. But this only provided a limited, temporary covering for their sins.
Under the New Covenant the blood of Jesus has paid in full the complete penalty for sin, once and for all!
Hebrews 9:27-28 explains it this way:
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
I truly believe that 1 John1:9 is one of most powerful and reassuring verses in the entire Bible:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
There’s only one simple step that we need to take when we’ve stumbled in our journey along the way. “If we confess our sins.” That’s it. No penance. No retribution. Just confess it. (Maybe we should make that Nike’s new slogan!)
Think about how wonderful that is! God’s forgiveness is given to us as soon as we admit our need for it, instantly!
It’s not based on anything we have done to earn forgiveness. It’s only because of His grace. And this free gift of forgiveness carries with it a total purification from our unrighteousness. Once we have confessed what we have done wrong, God accepts us and sees as righteous because He imputes to us the righteousness of Christ. That is, the very righteousness of Christ is reckoned to our account.
Because Jesus is righteous, and we are covered by His blood – WE are now righteous!
The famous preacher D. L. Moody once said this:
“The voice of sin is loud, but the voice of forgiveness is louder!”
That’s what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote in Romans 5:20
“Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more”
One of the worst lies that we can ever fall prey to is this one:
“God is fed up with your sins. You’ve used up all of His forgiveness. Don’t even bother going to Him again.”
God’s capacity for forgiveness is limitless, it is boundless, it is endless.
If you need to get something right with God, do it today. Do it now. There is absolutely no reason to hold onto it even one more day. Confess it and let Him cleanse you all over again.