Introduction, The Incarnate Word
1What 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– 2and 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– 3what 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. 4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
God Is Light
5This 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. 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7but 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. 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
John’s first epistle is not about salvation, even though it speaks of the need to confess sin. This letter is written to people who already have a relationship with God but need a reminder of how to remain in fellowship with Him. The Father intends for believers to enjoy His presence, but in order to do that, they must first deal with sin.
Although Christians have been made new in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), they are not yet perfect and therefore still transgress. We are humans in a physical body that retains all of its natural tendencies—yearning for food, sex, rest, and pleasure. When those desires are under the Holy Spirit’s control, we live joyful, God-honoring lives. However, should we give in to the temptation to appease the flesh, then we have invited darkness into our lives (1 John 1:6).
It is important to understand that “walk in darkness” does not mean a believer can lose his or her salvation—those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior can never be driven from the light of His love. But we can choose to get out of God’s will and veer off to a dark pathway of sin for a time. Since dark and light cannot exist together, doing so will fill our spirit with tension. Confessing our sin lifts the darkness and restores peace.
A believer in right fellowship radiates peace and joy. We are supposed to delight in the Lord (Ps. 37:4) by spending time in His presence, thinking about how to please Him, and sharing Him with those around us. Confessing our sin keeps our fellowship strong and glorifies the Lord.