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.
Christ Is Our Advocate
1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin And if anyone sins, we have an [a]Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 7Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Do Not Love the World
15Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 18Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. 19They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. 21I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 24As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
The Promise Is Eternal Life
25This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. 26These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. 28Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
John used the metaphor of darkness and light to describe a life of sin versus a life in Christ (1 John 1:7). God is pure and perfect light (v. 5) shining through an obedient person. However, when we invite darkness—sin—into our life, there is immediate conflict. Darkness and light cannot mix.
The way to keep a pure spirit in this dirty world is to confess sin. Let’s be clear. We are made clean by Jesus Christ’s work on the cross. Nothing can change a redeemed believer’s identity as God’s holy child. However, wrongdoing does interfere with the fellowship between us and the Lord. Left unchecked, sin can so thoroughly choke our spirit that only thin shafts of the light of Christ can squeeze through.
Confession breaks the stranglehold. We agree with God that our actions, thoughts, or words are in violation of His law or will. While it is tempting to confess in a general sort of way—“I’m sorry if I’ve sinned against You”—that isn’t a helpful method of chasing out darkness. We must be specific about our wrongs. The Holy Spirit isn’t general in His conviction—He points to the exact problem. And God expects that we’ll deal with sin promptly so that we are neither tarnished by it nor tempted to continue on that path.
Believers who honestly acknowledge their sin and take responsibility for it stay in right relationship with the Lord. John’s letter confirms God’s desire to cast out darkness and keep us fully in the light of His love. Our part is to deal promptly with the dirt that Satan and this world throw at us.