Peninsula Community Church
April 22, 2012
Displaying the Life of Christ –
Our Decisions have Consequences
We are continuing to look at 1 John as a means to determine how a passionate follower of Christ should display the life of Christ in their life.
1 John 1:5-10 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. 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. If we say 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 we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
In studying the Bible, one of the keys to understanding a passage is to look for common words that are used. In the passage before us today, there is one word that stands out above any other word. In fact, it is a small word but it is a word that has powerful meaning and adds great depth to our discussion.
The word I am referring to us is the word ‘if.’ The word means “in case that; granting or supposing that; on condition that.” It is in essence a word of condition. It is used throughout Scripture in what is called the “if/then” principle. It means that if you do ‘A’ the result will be ‘B.’
I can remember that my parents would use this if/then principle on us. Perhaps your parents said similar things such as: ‘If’ you don’t clean your room you will be grounded. ‘If’ you miss your curfew you will not be able to go out this weekend. ‘If’ you drink coffee, it will stunt your growth. ‘If’ you don’t stop crying I will give you something to cry for. I am sure that as I just say these illustrative ideas that your mind is filled with some of your own.
Since the word ‘if’ is a word of condition, the thought expressed through the word is the idea that there are consequences to our decisions. As passionate followers of Christ, one will want to display Christ in their lives by recognizing that one’s decisions have consequences. Therefore, one who is passionate for Christ will consider their actions and the results of the actions they take.
In 1John 1:5-10, John uses five ‘if’ statements that teach us about walking in God’s light as passionate followers of Christ. Let’s take a look at these five statements:
The first of these states: If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. John is stating here that we cannot say that we are in fellowship with Christ and continue to knowingly live in the dark shadows of the past. The reason John is communicating this is that there is a tendency that what we set our attention to we will follow. Barclay the theologian stated “A man’s character will necessarily be determined by the character of the God whom he worships.” Therefore, what we follow will determine who we become.
Thus John is saying that we cannot continue to walk in the ways of darkness and continue to have open fellowship with God because our focus will be on the darkness and not the light. These actions break fellowship with Him. Have you ever tried to hide something from someone?
I love throwing surprise parties and yet I hate them at the same time. Anytime I am a party to such an event I find that I become less communicative which causes the fellowship to be broken. I remember throwing Michelle a 30th birthday party. My ruse was that we were to attend one of our staff pastor’s surprise parties as his birthday was the same day. The problem was that there was a speaker that was going to be in town that day and Michelle wanted to go to the event rather than what she thought was going to be a boring birthday party. Needless I had to dart and sway around the subject to convince her to go to the pastor’s party. I used guilt and the art of persuasion which did not make for a happy home. Needless to say our fellowship was not very sweet for a couple of days because I was keeping her in the dark.
Paul adds to this discussion on darkness when he states: “Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:7-10)
He continues in Colossians 1:11-14 “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
John in this passage is in essence saying that when we continue to walk in the ways of the past without any regard for our new relationship there are consequences that occur. When we received Christ He delivered us from the ways of darkness and He brought us into the light of His will. But too often we live and act as if we were never redeemed from the darkness and thus we minimize His work in us.
The second ‘if’ is found in verse 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. John continues his discussion by giving us the opposite context of living in darkness. In contrast to walking in darkness, if we set our focus on following Christ we will see positive results and will have fellowship with one another and will experience the cleansing that come from God’s washing of our sins. Notice, that our fellowship with God and with others is impacted by our relationship with the dark. The quality of our fellowship will be determined by where we walk. If we walk in the dark our relationships will be negatively affected and if we walk in the light we will have open and honest relationships which result in a quality experience.
The third ‘if’ is: If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. To display the life of Christ we must be honest and open about who we are. God’s relationship with us must be one that is based in truth and not deception. In John 4:24 it is interesting to note that John states that God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. That means we must be honest about who we are and the issues that contradict who we are attempting to be in Christ. The greatest deception is self-deception and the greatest self-deception is to think we can hide our sin without suffering the consequences of such action.
The fourth ‘if’ is: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. As we are honest with him he is more than willing to forgive and restore us to the place we need to be and ought to be.
The fifth ‘if’ is: If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. The reason for this is that the Word’s purpose is to lead us into truth. Psalm 119:11 “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” When we say we have not sinned we are in effect denying the power of the word of God to change and develop who we ought to be.
Notice that in this passage there is a progression:
- Walking in darkness breaks fellowship;
- Walking in the light restores fellowship and cleanses us;
- When we are walking in the light we must be careful not to assume that we never sin;
- When we walk in the light we understand that when we do sin there is more than enough forgiveness available to heal and restore us to a proper relationship;
- And finally, when we say we have not sinned we make God a liar and his word is not in us because it is the word that brings conviction.