Please look with me at 1 John 1:4-10. Did you know that, more than any other New Testament writer, the Apostle John uses opposing contrasts– here darkness and light. In his opening, John tells us of Christ’s provision of life and His display of eternal life was manifest in His presence. He also teaches us that fellowship was dependent upon our dependence on a faith in Christ for our eternal life.
Let’s talk “dark” for a moment–I mean pitch-black dark. You cannot see your hand in front of your face. I scuba dive when I can, and night diving is especially fun. I have experienced this darkness tenfold. If you get down to about 30 feet then turn off your light you will know what I mean. The dark surrounds you, and in water it feels like the dark is enveloping you, it is in contact with every square inch of your skin. At 33 feet under water, the pressure on you has doubled and you actually feel this pressure. With your light turned off, the dark is suffocating as it feels like it presses against you, but it is just the water. The water itself is not going to kill you, the lack of sunlight will not harm you, what is in the water may bother you.
Unlike light, darkness has no substance. Light penetrates darkness. Darkness never affects light. The light from your flashlight when you turn it back on also illustrates another portion of this scripture, which we will get to later. Right now just consider that light is made up of waves, it moves, it actually penetrates darkness, transforms it, changes it. We use light to communicate now, so light can carry things. There is currently a debate on whether or not light actually has mass. Darkness is completely void, without form, without substance, without any redeemable characteristics except to make us sleep better. It is no wonder that God chose the term light to represent Himself and His provision of eternal life for us, and, equally, darkness to display evil that is without substance, without effect, without any form or power. As if proof and examples of Christ providing our eternal life is not joyful enough, John says the first thing that the Holy Spirit tells us is that He will fill our hearts with joy and with the things He will have John write. Let us look at God’s enlightenment in these passages focusing upon “While your tendency is to stay out of the light, you must live in it.”
John, the last living apostle, at about 85 or 90 years old, tells us that he heard the Savior specifically identify himself and the Father as light.
I. God is light (V5-7).
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.“
Verse five here is very specific in its representation and in the grammar. The best rendering of this verse is actually in the English Standard Version. The terms are significant in their use and tense. The word translated “message” is also used for angel or messenger, which is what an angel is. This is a common term and you can quickly identify messengers this way quite accurately. The word translated “proclaim” is also a term used to indicate an announcement with great detail. But you would normally find the word for “the gospel” or “good news” here. What is significant is that the word for gospel or good news is not found in the epistles of John, which indicates this term might be a more technical form used to describe the gospel since these two words are very close in their construction. This initial proclamation therefore tells us that what is to follow is not just a simple explanation of the gospel. There is much to delve into here, and we will attempt to do that.
When reading God’s Word, question all of the whys and wherefores in the Word that you read. Scrutinize all of God’s Word carefully for it is all instructive and good for our soul. Seek all the truths in God’s Word.
In seeking this specific truth, and looking at what the Apostle John has for us, let’s apply deep scrutiny to this verse and those that follow.
- A. God’s existence is light (V5).
There are a number of passages that detail this fact, and although there is no where in scripture that Jesus specifically says these exact words, there are certainly enough clear indications that this is so. John says that Christ told him that God is light, and Christ is depicted in John 1:4 as having the light of men which is life. Also in John 3:19-21 we read that the light (Jesus) has come into the world but no one wanted the light and preferred the darkness; in John 8:12 Jesus Christ himself clarifies any confusion by stating emphatically that He is the light of the world. Coupled with John 10:30 ,where Christ states He is one with the Father and we easily find that the light of the world is Jesus Christ. Also significant is that Christ’s return is described as a coming light, and Jesus Christ ascended with a bright light on the Mount of Transfiguration. Light is good; darkness is opposed to the light in every passage in which they appear together.
Let’s go back to our illustration with just a basic understanding that light is good. When you night-dive, you do so to see the vibrant colors. The reason is because during the day as you go deeper into the water the different colors in the light rays actually refract or bounce off of particles in the water. The color actually disappears then as you go deeper. It is the opposite of the effect of a rainbow. You see a rainbow because the different light colors are bouncing off of particles of water in the air. When you are diving, these light rays are bouncing off of mineral particles like salt, magnesium and other things. So, if you go diving at night, take a light with you, and you can see everything down there with artificial light that you cannot see in the daytime. How many of you have seen the movie, “Finding Nemo”? Well, there are vibrant colors in that movie on the reef where Nemo and his father live. Those colors actually exist.
Understand there is far more to the Light of God than the light that we see. God’s light has substance like the rays of color in sunlight. If you have God in your heart, you have the light of God in you. The only way to get light in your heart is to accept Christ, who Himself said He is the light of the world.
Now having light is one thing, but claiming light without it is a fool’s game. We come now to the first of three conditional phrases that begin with the word “If.” Let us look at what fools do with light.
- B. People claim light (verse 6)
As rendered in the King James English, it is actually accurate from literal Greek “do not the truth” that you probably could add one more word to “do” so that it reads “do not do the truth.” Clearly it is not simply a belief that we are discussing. It is walking, doing, active, a motion. Ladies and gentlemen it is what you do here that defines who you are.
Going back to our main illustration, the most colorful things in the ocean are also the most deadly. There are Stonefish, zebra fish, Lionfish, and Cone shells to name a few. The fish all have 13 spines on them that have an extremely poisonous neuro-toxin that is injected into you through them. They are like a syringe only when you push on the spine the sack at the base is compressed and you actually inject yourself with this poison. The Cone Shells are unique animals in that they will actually hunt things down; they are carnivores that seek out their prey and with a proboscis like a mosquito that has a harpoon in it, they sting you. If any of these sting you, you normally will not make it out of the water. When you dive at night you go to see these beautiful fish and shells. They don’t necessarily school, but I was around about 12 Zebra fish and 14 or 16 Lionfish while looking at a wonderful Cone Shell one night. Now turn off the light. You see nothing. How foolish would I have been to arrogantly say I can swim my way out of here. I don’t need a light; all I have to do is pull myself along the rocks and find my way up to the surface or whatever. That would be just plain stupid. Those who falsely claim the light of God are in the same predicament. They claim to have His light but they do not see the dangers around themselves. They are literally blind to the evil that lurks around them. That is why the world charges people for murder when a baby in the womb is killed in a car accident on the way to the abortion clinic. It makes no sense because the ones who execute these laws are in the darkness and cannot see the foolishness of their actions.
If you are going to claim the light, you had better really have the light. No one can say for sure that you are saved or lost, this is true, but the fruits of your life belie you. What you live like, where you go, who your commiserate with, who you depend upon for advice, who you seek in your life for answers all tell others whether or not you really are in the light or if you are just saying so.
Now, those of us who walk in the light and live in the light and are enlightened by God, we have this wonderful verse of promise. 1 John is the book of assurance for believers through their testimony and this is one of those great verses of assurance provided for us.
- C. Christ’s light is faithful (V7).
I. Howard Marshall writes, “he comes, sin and all, into the light, and to his amazement discovers that the dark blemishes disappear. The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses” all his sin. Some liberals have taken this section, specifically the comments concerning the blood in this verse, to be a redaction, an afterthought added later by someone. This makes no sense. Anyone who reads his Bible regularly knows references to the blood are multitudinous and regularly refer to Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. John, the last living apostle, was there and saw this happen. Why wouldn’t he use the common language of the day?
I have been night diving when my dive-buddy lost his light. We had to work together to get back to the surface safely. That is true fellowship and Christianity. When a brother knows he has lost the light he seeks others who have the light to assist him in returning to true fellowship and safety. At least to bring him to a place where he can be repaired.
Your light cannot only help the lost, but you have fellowship with others. One aspect of this truth also displayed in our illustration is that we can see one another and help. We can also see what they see, and because they are temporarily without light, we see things they do not see. I don’t have to be right next to my dive buddy to see what he sees. I can enjoy fellowship with him, the light he has illuminates things for me as well. Live in this light and have fellowship one with another. Provide light to one another, help one another, and walk with and in the light for one another! When we do this Jesus is cleansing us from our sins. The Greek here is active the verb is in the present active form and indicates presently ongoing fellowship that helps us in being cleansed of our sins continually and in an ongoing fashion. Your brothers and sisters also shine their light on your sins so you can be more useful to God.
In the next post, we will come to our second statement of condition beginning with that big word “if” and once again it begins with our self-denial.