Bible Study Notes “From Dark to Light” (5-31-09)

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From Dark to Light

1 John 1:5-2:2

This section gives us some good contrast: that between light and darkness, God and man, the character of the regenerate and that of the unregenerate. To look at these contrasts is a humbling thing and may cause some discomfort. It has for me.

Let us begin, most appropriately, with God. John writes clearly in the most simple of terms so that even a child can understand, yet profound enough that we can probe it deeply and still see through a mirror darkly. If asked to explain God to an inquisitive toddler one could easily say to the tot, “God is light! He doesn’t have any darkness in him.” Even the small mind could think about the scary dark room and the monsters under the bed and in the closet and the ominous shadows of clothes made by a small night light. The tiny child could imagine a bright day with sunlight pouring into the room giving vibrant light to every corner. Such a little one could easily then conclude (in a limited way) that God is pure, that God is good. While we could be content to stop here, Scripture reveals even more to us that we might begin to understand what this means. (I say begin as while God is knowable he is incomprehensible.) But what of light and God? Let’s look at 1 Tim 6:16 which says God “alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” Indeed Exodus 33:20 records the Lord himself saying, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” We find also that any physical descriptions of God’s form include light. Deuteronomy 4:12, “Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.” The thought of seeing God himself face to face was a terrifying thought. It meant death! When God gave the Law the people of Israel were astonished at the fact that they lived after such close contact with the Lord “For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived?” (Dt 5:26). We tend to not think this way much anymore. We view God as the warm fuzzy light of table lamp, not the raging consuming fire of a star. Has God’s nature changed from then until now? Of course not! Had it Paul, New Testament, would not have written that God “dwells in unapproachable light.” Rather than give us pause, we should be comforted by this. There is no darkness in God. There is no sin in God. There is no evil in God. Isaiah 6:3 tells us that God is “holy, holy, holy” and Luke 18:19 rightly says, “No one is good except God alone.” Such a moral purity is unmatched by any stretch of the imagination. We see God’s moral purity back in Genesis when he ejects Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after their sin. We see God’s moral purity in the flood. We see God’s moral purity in the moral law (the 10 Commandments for example). We see God’s moral purity when he wipes out those who live in the presence of the pillar of fire/smoke yet rebel against him. We see God’s moral purity when he punishes an idolatrous and rebellious nation by sending them into exile. We see God’s moral purity, God’s light, shown clearly when contrasted with human darkness.

But this creates a problem. Verses 6 and 7, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we 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 his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Now… don’t go thinking you got off easy because I’m not tackling this head on screaming bloody murder. I’m going to touch this lightly as John does and then, come 1 John 3:4-10… Well…

Put plainly a Christian cannot be a Christian if he or she engages in willful patterns of sinful behavior. A Christian can only be a Christian if he or she has a pattern of increasing godliness, holiness, and righteousness. Before I go on I must make this disclaimer: I am not promoting works-based righteousness or sinless perfection. Any questions on that will be answered in chapter three. Furthermore, just as sin separates us from God it separates us from each other. Yes, I am aware of how Emergent/Emerging/Emerged/Emer-whatever that sounds, but! If a Christian habitually lies to another Christian they have sinned against God (as a matter of primacy and utmost importance) but also against a brother or sister. Such a thing could very well and rightly so cause distrust between the two and thereby weaken fellowship. Yet what of the Christian whose life is exemplified by good works? The blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin.

John’s thought takes logical progression takes us next to the person who would say after the atonement we have no more sin. That is not so. To do so would to be sinlessly perfect. There are some in Christendom who believe that such a thing is possible in this life. They are the super-spirtiual type who claims such a level of sanctification that they do not any longer sin. They are not even tempted to sin! They can look at half naked women and be just fine and look with scorn on those who cannot. They can speak freely of events learned of third-hand without the slightest hint of gossip and scoff at the thought of people talking behind their back. But scripture disagrees. Even Paul, POST-conversion wrote such: Romans 7 is a clear indication of the battle he wages. In 1 Timothy 1:15 Paul says, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” Not “of whom I was…” But “of whom I am.” Indeed such a claim is to walk in the sin of pride! By denying plain fact and Holy Scripture we show that indeed we are self-decieved and without God’s truth. Let’s look also to the unconverted. There is a question that is familiar to many of us: “Would you consider yourself to be a good person?” Suppose we phrased that, “Would you consider yourself innocent in God’s sight?” Many would answer in the affirmative to both! Yet they do so to their own destruction. Jeremiah 2:35 says, “you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’ Behold, I will bring you to judgment for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’”  John is correct to say it is self-deception. As Job (15:14) points out, “What is man, that he can be pure? Or he who is born of a woman, that he can be righteous?” This also points to the separation between light and darkness, God and man, Sons of God and Sons of Perdition. The good news of the gospel is that Christ died to take the punishment of the sins of mankind. If one claims sinlessness then for what did Christ die? His death would be in vain and God would be a capricious, malevolent bully. Our duty as ministers of the Gospel is to tell the Truth and the WHOLE Truth. Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (note the common themes with our main passage), “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” You say you have not sinned. God says you have. Who is the liar? If anyone dare say God, they are not Christian.

But… here is the part that is most beautiful. If you were keeping count you will see I jumped over a verse. Verse 9! If you want to memorize something to have ready on the mind when speaking with people this is one. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” First: Confess. What does this mean? The Greek word used here is “homologomen” Which means you are saying the same as, you are agreeing with whomever. In this case you are saying, “Lord, you are correct in your judgment of me. I am, indeed, a sinner. I lie. I lust. I steal. I covet. I use your name as a curse word. I kill even by murder in my heart. I….” There is no “Yeah, but…” in there. There is no room for excuse. It is 100% agreement with the light about the darkness. So we confess. What is this cleanse? Do we drink special water and abstain from yeast and sugar for two months? No. The cleanse comes from the blood of Jesus. The cleanse comes as the fullness of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant are made manifest in Christ. What do I mean? Turn to Hebrews chapter 9. The whole of it.  [+++] Clear? But wait… there’s more!

John’s purpose in writing (one among many) is that we may not sin. John, however, recognizes that tendency. If anyone does sin, there is an advocate on our behalf before the throne of God above! Not just any advocate, JESUS CHRIST THE RIGHTEOUS! The very one who bore the sin and grief of many, the  very one whose blood was spilled, the very one who experienced denial after denial from his own people, from his own followers, and from every one of us upon every sin where we deny in practice the Lordship of Jesus. It is that One who points to the scars upon his wrists, the scars upon his feet, and the scars upon his brow…

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;

They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:

“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,

“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,

“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

+++

For the audio of this message please click HERE.

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