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God is Light

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(11/3) Well, what do you think of Mr. Thunderman? Seems to be an unlikely guy to be the Bibleís biggest writer about Christian love, doesnít he? But he is! The guy who wanted to fry rude people and stop a man from ministering in Jesus name, because he didnít go to the same church. The guy who wanted to be top dog in Jesusí administration. Mr. Black and White with no room for gray. This high society fisherman who was the only apostle to die of old age wrote the Gospel that bears his name, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and these 3 letters that we are going to study. John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and most likely a first cousin to Jesus, as Salome and Mary appear to be sisters. John pastored the church at Ephesus for a few years and probably died there after being released from his exile on the isle of Patmos.

II. The People

The first recipients of Johnís gospel and the Revelation and these 3 letters were probably the same people that the Revelation was originally sent to; that is, the churches in Asia Minor or Turkey. Specifically, the Churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Pergamos, Sardis, and Laodicea.

III. The Purposes

As you read and mediate on this short letter, and I hope you will, you will notice that there are at least 6 things John wants to do.

A. To Proffer Fellowship (1:3). He wants people to know that they can enter into a community of Christ Followers and share in a fellowship with all 3 members of the Holy Trinity. In the 20th and 21st century, we have called this a personal relationship with God. God wants to share His life, His business, and His possessions with us for time and for eternity. You are all invited into this fellowship and into the family of God as His child.

B. To Promote Joy (1:4). He wants you, just as Jesus our Lord does (John 15:11), to experience a deep down inner delight of knowing that no matter what happens in this world, you have an eternal promise and hope. You have a constant companion, and if you will obey Him and will trust Him, you can face your future with confidence and assurance.

C. To Prevent Sin (2:1-2). Because of the lies of the popular cult called Gnosticism, that said you could sin with your body because only the body is evil, and the soul remains pure. John will tell us that is so wrong. Because of who God is and what Jesus has done, we cannot go on intentionally trying to meet our desires apart from Godís will. You must stop it. You cannot be a Christ-Follower and intentionally keep on sinning, says John. But if and when you do sin, there is a solution. We will talk about that next week.

D. To Proclaim Forgiveness (2:12). John wants you to know that if you are a Christ-Follower you are forgiven by the results of the cross and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. God will never bring them up against you again. You are now an adopted child of God.

E. To Protect the Saints (2:26). John tells us in his Gospel that Satan is a liar and the Father of lies. He reminds us of the words of our Lord Jesus that says if we continue in His Word we will know the truth and will be His disciples. Satanís big desire is to change the truth into lies and deceive people so they will not know God, or will focus on things other than the 3 great New Testament commandments. He wants to rob people of their lives and their rewards, and John wants to protect you with his words.

F. To Provide Assurance (5:13). This is the verse God used to open my eyes. You donít need any secret knowledge or be initiated into any secret organization. If you believe, that is, trust your life upon, the person and work of Jesus Christ then you have eternal life, right now. You cannot be separated from God or His love, not in this life or the one to come.

IV. The Principle Themes

There are two Principle themes to Johnís first letter.

A. God is Light (1:5) We will come back to this in a moment

B. God is Love (4:8, 16) This first letter is based on these two themes.

V. The Primary Verse (2:6) "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked." This is the key verse for 1 John. John wants you to know that if you talk the talk, you must walk the walk. Christians are not just people who believe in a God or believe in an historical Jesus. They are not just religious people who go to church. They are people who intentionally imitate the light, love, and life of Jesus Christ. If you donít, you are a liar. You are deceived, and you are trying to deceive others into thinking that you are a Christ-follower when you are not. So, here we go, letís dive into 1st John

VI. The Character of God - God is Light (v. 5)

John begins his letter by reminding us of one of the key facts you need to know about God. This is the message John and the Apostles got from Jesus and are proclaiming to us. God is Light. Later in the book he will tell us the other side of this, that God is Love. But two things are implied here.

A. God is Holy. The Light speaks of the majesty and glory of Godís holiness. To understand the Gospel or to understand the Bible, you must understand that God is Holy. Here light is contrasted to darkness, because the very definition of holiness is that it is distinct and separate from sin or evil. Part of the Gnostic belief was that God was both good and evil; both ying and yang. But John says, "No way." God is pure light, pure holiness. It is because God is Holy that sin must be punished. God cannot now or ever look upon sin with approval. Instead, He must remove sinners from His immediate presence. Satan was expelled from Heaven, and Adam was expelled from the Garden. And death will separate every person forever from the presence of God unless there is some kind of antidote or rescue operation. God is Holy. His Holiness cleansed the earth with water in Noahís day and it will cleanse the earth with fire in the near future. His Holiness destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and brought judgment on Canaan. God has not even a hint of darkness. God cannot be tempted nor does He tempt anyone to sin. AND, He cannot wink at or ignore even the smallest of sins. I remind you all the time that it was not rape, robbery or murder that brought sin, death, and hell to all but was one little bite of a piece of fruit eaten in disobedience. God is Holy.

B. God is Illuminating. Light enables us to see. It reveals what is hidden by darkness. To say that God is Light is to imply that God wants to make Himself and His ways known. He wants truth to be made known. He wants right paths to be made known. He wants you to know Him and the right way to live your life and find fulfillment. Do you remember how John began his Gospel? Turn back there to John 1:1-14. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, ĎHe who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.í" 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." That Jesus declared the Father is to say that Jesus revealed the Father to us. How do we know what God is like? We see Jesus. How do we know Godís word and will? He has revealed it in a book. It is a lamp unto our feet and light for our path (Ps. 119:105). It shows us the way in a dark world. God wants is to see Him and know Him as He is. God does not want to hide Himself or His truth from us. God is light. Do you Know Him? I am not asking if you know about Him, but if you know Him.

VII. The Contrast of Darkness (vv.5-6)

Just light is a reference to that which is Holy, right, good, and illuminated or revealed, darkness is a reference to that which is unholy, sinful, concealed, hidden, and often ignorant.

Darkness is what we were delivered from (Col. 1:13). Darkness is what we are commissioned to help deliver others from (Acts 26:13). Darkness is symbolic of Satanís sphere of influence (Luke 22:53). Darkness is a reference to the sinful things we did before we followed Jesus (Ephesians 5:3-7). Darkness is the realm that most people choose to remain in instead of following Jesus (John 3:18-21) "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God." And Darkness is a description of the place where the unsaved will spend eternity (Matthew 8:12; 2 Peter 2:17).

VIII. The Contradiction of Man (v. 6)

Are you listening? Say, Amen! If we say, I have a personal relationship with God, or, I know Jesus as my Savior and Lord, or, I have communion with God, yet continue to live in the dark, participating in any of the unholy things I did before I claimed faith in Jesus, seeking the things of the world more than the things of God. John says, "You are a liar." You are deceived or you are deceiving yourself, or you are trying to deceive others into thinking you are something that you are not. You are not walking in the light as He is in the light and therefore, you not His disciple according to John 8:31-32. You are a fake, a fraud, a phony, a hypocrite.

Christ followers know the price of their redemption. It cost the sacrifice of the life and the physical and spiritual torture of Godís own Son. Christ-followers do not take that lightly. They want to honor the one who would give their life to rescue them. They do not want to do anything for which Jesus died to redeem them from. Do you understand this?

So. Letís take a moment and think, what am I doing (at home, or work, or otherwise), that I would not do if Jesus were standing physically with me? Am I kidding myself; fooling myself, or trying to fool others? Has someone fooled you into thinking that all that is involved in being a Christ-Follower is praying a prayer and being baptized? Or, had you started off well but began compromising and dabbling in things you shouldnít be and you know it? Listen to Paulís council in Ephesians 5:1-8, "Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Peter will add this in 1 Peter 1:13-16, "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." It is absolutely frightening for me to think of the people who sit in churches every week and hear the word, read the word, sing the word, yet do not know the word, nor have any real fellowship with the Lord of the Word. They are deceived.

IX. The Communion of Saints (v. 7)

In order to have real fellowship with God and with each other (remember v.3), we have to walk in the light. The word walk, refers to the way that we proceed to live our lives. Walking in the light is referring to walking according to the revelation of Godís Word and will as found in Godís book - The Bible. It is modeling our lives after Jesus Christ. It is living Holy, Godly, and honoring God in all we do. And here is what will happen. As, we continue in Godís word, not only will we see what is Holy, righteous, good and just, we will also see what is unholy, unrighteous, wicked, and unjust, not just in our world, but in our own lives. That will cause us sorrow, guilt, and a desire to be clean and forgiven. Paul told the Corinthians this in 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in the And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.í Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The light of Godís word will expose our sin and as we repent, or willingly turn from it and towards our God, we will find grace and cleansing in Jesus. You must understand that when Jesus died for you on that cross. All your sins were still future. His death was sufficient and covered not only what you did until the day you started following Jesus but it is sufficient to keep on cleansing us from the stuff we havenít even done yet. And it enables God to stay close to you and share His life with you. It enables us as a body to plan, pray, and work together in harmony. Our fellowship is sweet because we have as our common core, the cleansing of sin by faith in Jesus and our desire to walk in the light of Godís word and fulfill His will for our lives. Itís what makes us family with every believer regardless of denomination and/or nationality in the world. And itís what enables us to enjoy prayer and worship with our Father in Heaven.

Next week, When Christians Sin! (1 John 2:8-2:2)

John is blunt, is he not? There is no gray area. You are either walking in the light or you are in darkness. Which is it? Is there something you need to repent of? Are you deceiving yourself, or trying to deceive you spouse, parents, or even God? Have you been deceived into thinking believing a few facts and praying a prayer is all there is to it? Are you playing with sin on the net, the TV, books or magazines? Are you participating in off color jokes, or mocking your politicians? Are you holding grudges, unwilling to forgive, refusing to show mercy? Are you lying to others about stupid stuff, or your clients, or employers, or spouse?

You cannot enjoy communion with God, have peace, or know the Joy of the Lord, until you repent and walk in the light. Letís pray about it.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman