Thoughts on Walking In the Light

Text:

1 John 1:7 “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 cleases us from all sin.” (ESV)

1 John 1:7 “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.” (NIV)

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (KJV)

1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (NKJV)

1 John 1:7 “but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (ASV)

1 John 1:7 “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 cleanses us from all sin.” (RSV)

 

1 John 1:7 “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.” (NAS 95)

Seven Questions to Address:

1. What does walking in the light mean?
2. Who is the HE John is talking about in this verse?
3. Is this sin cleaning a once in a lifetime experience or continual?
4. Is walking in the light conditional on fellowship with other Christians?
5. If #4 is yes, then which other Christians are included in the fellowship?
6. Does this verse imply once saved always saved?
7. What does walking in the light look like to you in daily living?

The Textual Context:

1 John 1:5-10 “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (NKJV)

I am going to assume that most who read this study have also been in bible studies before when I make the following statement.

Most people will say that all people sin. Most people will say that all sin is punishable by God unless repented. Most people will say that repentance requires that the sin never happen again. Most people will say that if a sin continues in a person’s life then they never repented of that sin really. In essence, this means, to be saved, people must live PERFECT lives following repentance. That is what many people seem to believe by their own words. Is that belief scriptural? Is that what John is saying in this text? Let us see.

The basic contextual idea that John writes about in First John is the idea that a person can know with confidence that they are saved. John repeats this idea over and again in many ways throughout this letter. In fact John comes right out and says this in:

1 John 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (NKJV)

Answering the study question posed:

1. What does walking in the light mean?

John says that God is light and there is no darkness (skotia) in God in verse 5. Light is pure where darkness is not. Light is without the consequence of sin where darkness has the consequences of sin. The word John used for darkness in this verse means affects of darkness therefore, it means the consequences of as in moral or spiritual condition of depravity. John uses the Greek word (skotia) 15 out of 18 times when referring to sin as darkness and uses the Greek word (skotos) only 2 times when talking about darkness as in the general nature of sin.

So walking in the light would mean striving to live in such away as not being controlled by the affects of personal sin in one’s life.

2. Who is the HE John is talking about in this verse?

From the context of the passage in which John is writing, we see that God is the light and there is no sin in God. So John is saying that if we (meaning strive to) live without sin than the blood of Jesus will cover all our sins. So the He in this verse is God.

3. Is this sin cleaning a once in a lifetime experience or continual?

John makes no connection to any one time for all time conclusions that this is a onetime action for a lifetime. The very context of the passage demands that John’s intent were a continual meaning. I know this because of what John says in the next verse. John reminds us that if we say we have no sin then we lie. When we put verse 7 and 8 together we see that John acknowledges that we will continue to sin even when we are trying to walk in the light. “Cleanses” is present tense in the Greek meaning “continuously cleanses.” Therefore, the sin cleaning would be a continual affect based upon condition.

4. Is walking in the light conditional on fellowship with other Christians?

We see in verse seven two of the conditions that the sin cleaning is predicated upon. The first is that we strive to live pure lives just as God lives. The second condition is fellowship with each other. Fellowship is more than just assembling together on Sunday and Midweek. Fellowship is a word that describes the active way we are to treat each other within our lives. Fellowship is the outward exercise of our inner unity, together, in accomplishing God’s will. It is not only innate but also obligatory in accomplishing God’s purpose for the true church. Fellowship is taking an active role in the churches primary purpose. It is doing your active best to help with the goals God has tasked each Christian and the church. Seek to discover where you can best help, reaching the lost, by discovering your spiritual gifts, natural abilities, and by knowing the needs of the church. Then help where you can make, not just yourself, but the church as a whole, be the most fruitful. If you do not know your spiritual gifts, pitch in where you have a natural ability. Fellowship is actively working with others toward the common goal God has tasked the church. As you work with others, your gifts will surface and you will be pleasing to God. Therefore, yes, walking in the light and the cleaning of our sin is conditional on fellowship.

5. If #4 is yes, then which other Christians are included in the fellowship?

The each other that John is referring to here is other Christians and is not limited to just those that we choose to like or those that just happen to see scripture exactly the same way we do. John implies that we fellowship ALL Christians. What does fellowship look like? Fellowship looks like: Praying together: Acts 2:42 – Having meals together: Acts 2:42 – Physically helping each other: 2 Cor 8:4 – Spiritually supporting each other’s Christian work: Gal 2:9 – Working together to fulfill God’s will: Eph 3:9 – Unified in the purpose of Jesus: Php 3:10 – Encouragement: Acts 15:32 and Heb 10:24 – Having common purpose: Acts 2:44, Acts 4:32, – Supporting each other in the same faith: Tit 1:4 – Having the same salvation: Jude 1:3.

Therefore, all other Christians are included in the statement John made. John did not give us the option to pick and choose which Christians we would fellowship and which we would not.

6. Does this verse imply once saved always saved?

In the following verses, John makes it clear that he is not saying once saved always save.

1 John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (NKJV)

John is telling us that if we claim to be sinless we lie and make God out to be a liar. This in turn is yet another sin in and of itself. If we make God out as a liar then we are not in the light at all and are not striving to walk in the light, because we are refuting a perfect God as if we were better than He.

We also know that John is not proclaiming once saved always saved because we know that the bible says that you can fall away from your salvation. We read in:

Heb 10:26-27 “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.” (NKJV)

Why did the writer of Hebrews feel the need to say this statement? We see the reason when we read further in the text:

Heb 10:29 “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” (NKJV)

The Hebrew writer is saying that willful sin after becoming a Christian amounts to stomping, underfoot, the Son of God – Jesus, turning your back on the blood that once saved you, and insulting God’s Spirit that justified you before God. Willful in this context means premeditated. This is not like an addiction or a sin that has a great hold on someone and they are fighting to overcome. It means a thought out and planned turning away from God. it means intentionally deciding to not walk in the light anymore. Another passage that says a person can fall from their salvation is found in:

2 Pet 2:20-22 “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (NKJV)

By context, peter is also talking about a willful turning away from God in this passage. His example of a pig returning to the mud indicates just this: A willful decision to return to the former life.

John is not sating once saved always saved at all. To say that John is inferring that is to take the passage out of context of the whole of the letter and also out of the context of other supporting scriptures to the contrary.

7. What does walking in the light look like to you in daily living?

This is a question that might be better answered individually. For me it means trying my best to live as Jesus lived. To me that means putting others first as much as possible. It means that when I fail to put others first and cause harm in some way (real or perceived) that I must make an amends for that. The context of the text says that we have the condition of confessing our wrongs to each other. This is not a choice but an obligation to our continuing in the light of God. (1 John 1:9) In other studies, I have learned that the one term most used in the Bible (New Testament) to describe Jesus is the words compassionate and compassion. Therefore, walking in the light means that I strive each day to become more compassionate towards my fellows (men and women) (Christian and non-Christian) as I go about my daily life. Does it mean I will do that perfectly? No.

Nothing in the Bible says that I will be perfect after repentance and obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ. On the contrary, John implies that I will not life perfectly in First John. The jest is that I try from my heart to live as Jesus lived. Acts tells us that Jesus went about doing good and therefore, I also must go about doing good.

Acts 10:38 “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (NKJV)

To me, John is saying that walking in the light means to do good to all people whether they are in or out of my realm of community. I am to do good by expressing genuine compassion from my heart as I seek to live a Christian life each day.

Hugs,
Guy

April 20, 2010

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