Friday, November 20, 2020

Keeping Close to God

"If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth" (1 John 1:6)

Today we begin a survey of 1 John. The author does not identify himself, but from earliest times the book has been ascribed to the apostle John, and there was never any controversy about it. There are numerous phrases and expressions that parallel the Gospel of John, and the author claims to have been an eyewitness of Jesus.

John writes against “antichrists.” There are two possibilities as to who these are. Those who believe the book was written in the A.D. 60s associate the antichrists with the Judaizers and see in John’s descriptions the same kinds of heretics Paul battled. Those who believe the book was written in the A.D. 90s identify the antichrists as “Cerinthian docetists.” The followers of Cerinthus held that the “divine Christ” came upon the “man Jesus” at His baptism and left him at the Crucifixion. This early heresy focused on intellectual knowledge as the way to ascend to some kind of godhood.

John begins by affirming the Incarnation of the Word of God in history. The ultimate result of the Incarnation is that people can now have a fuller fellowship with God than ever before (1 John 1:1–4). On the basis of the Incarnation, the death of the Son for our sins and His ascension to God’s right hand has torn down the barriers between God and man, and has made this fuller fellowship possible.

John is concerned that we maintain this fellowship. Following the imagery of the Old Testament, he uses the symbols of light and darkness to represent righteousness and sin respectively. Those who claim to have fellowship with God, yet walk in the darkness of heresy and sin, are deceived. Those who walk in righteousness and obedience to the truth have fellowship with God, and with all those who also walk with God (1:5–7).

But what if we sin and fall away from the light? John assures us that if we claim that we never sin, we are in fact full of pride and full of sin. If, however, we admit our sins, our actual misdeeds, by confessing them to God (and where necessary to one another), God will forgive the sins we have confessed, and will carry forth His program of purifying us from all sin (1:8–10). He does this for His own glory and for our good.

There is something wrong with us if we lack any awareness of our sin against God. It shows that we are spiritually numb. We need to become sensitive. Ask God to search your hearts, showing you the things that displease Him. Then confess these, renounce them, and walk on in fellowship with Him.