1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 1:2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1:4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1:5 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. 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1:7 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. 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1:10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1-10 ESV)
Verse 1 reminds me of Jesus’ words that life is more than food. John was one who learned such a lesson from Jesus in the flesh when He taught, “Therefore, I tell you do not worry about your life, what you eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more and clothes” (Matthew 6:25). Indeed, it is and as John says here in Chapter 1, life (Jesus) stood before him in the flesh and he saw, heard, and touched a Divine Man and I should emphasize A Full-Blooded Human.
So, with the above proclamation, comes an invitation. We are invited to share in the fellowship that will only be satisfied when all those who share in eternal life take their place in the kingdom of Christ. The language of John is much like that of Jesus prayer in John chapter 17 when Jesus says in His prayer, “I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one–as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent Me” (NLT John 17:21).
It’s the part… “may they be in Us”… that stuns me most because of complete harmony of fellowship. I get “You in Me” and “I in You,” but the fact that we can be made to be a part of Them goes beyond the fact that sin can be forgiven. It is one thing to be forgiven and something completely more to have oneness in your relationship with God and the overall community going forward. Such language of perfection is symbolized in Revelation where the streets are gold like crystal and clear as glass (Revelation 21:21). This symbolically points out that God’s family will come to maturity without in any pollutants in themselves. They will live in a glorified reality.
John himself says this in when he states that in God there is no darkness (1:5). In verse 5, he then tells us to walk in the light (Jesus). If we strive toward the ways of God, which someone with a circumcised heart can do, we will grow into such good character. We will then follow the of ways of God. God will purge the darkness from our souls and perfect us to be like Jesus because the love of God manifests from the nature of God. This is sent to us by the Son of God (God Himself).
So as verse 5 states, in God “there is no darkness at all.” This means, as John also says starting at verse 6, if there is darkness living in you, you are not representing God. John goes as far as to call such a person “a lair” if they claim to be a Christian. I take this to mean purposeful unrepented sin. Since “of course” all fall short of the glory of God, Paul also says as much about such a person stating (see 1 Corinthians 5:10-12) that Christians should not even associate with those that call themselves Christian yet live without Christian convictions.
Such firm boundaries for living remind me of how ritual law worked in Old Testament Israel. First, consider the manner of confessing sin for those who participated in the Israelite community. Secondly, consider how for such people God provided life to atone and cleanse wrongdoing and maintain His presence with them. Thirdly, consider how that meant they were blameless before God. This is not to say they had no sin or didn’t sin, but instead, by God ‘s instruction received the life provision from His hand that they might continue to be a part of the community.
Furthermore, we must keep in mind there was no sacrifice within the rituals law system provided for people who purposefully (or maybe better put those who habitually) disregarded God’s law. They were cast out of the community. There was no sin to atone for such behavior, not that God was unwilling to forgive. No. God is faithful to forgive, but the ritual law system was set up for those who wanted to be in God’s community and not for those who do not wish to participate. Again, this isn’t to say that God could not forgive purposeful sin because in the life of King David we see someone forgiven for sin without making an offering of sacrifice (see Psalm 51).
The fact is by Christ all things can be forgiven except blaspheming the Holy Spirit which I find similar to those who sin on purpose (not seeking to be a part of God’s community in according to His instruction) (Matthew 12:31-32). Things are not so different in the New Covenant concerning God providing a way to keep us in His presence and blameless before Him. He did this for Israel under the Old Testament covenants. The change is that there has been the giving of life through the sacrifice of a human that had a spotless life to give. That, in turn, offered humanity a way to share in God’s presence. His presence allows us to be among the community of humankind. What’s more, all those He calls and receives, He gives participation in that fellowship forever.
The more incredible thing is that Jesus has condemned sin in His flesh (see Romans 8:1) and so the matter of instruction is now written on the heart of those in fellowship (with Father and Son as John states in verse 3). The failures of the past can in Christ be put to death. Indeed, to stay in the light (be in the presence and community of God) we need to follow the Command of the Lord. When we learn to do this, we live loyally to His way of love. However, as verse 10 warns, if we don’t learn but deny Christ’s grace (the giving of Himself) there is no place in the community of the living for such a person because there is no darkness in the Living One.
Let me end now with a return to verses 3-4. I like these verses a lot because they tell us to be sure, be in active fellowship, and mindful of our joy through it is not yet complete. The full-Joy-to-come will occur when all who will receive Christ bow to share in His presence gathered together as one. John is telling us, I take it, to both endure the hardship of life as it is now manifest in the residence to God ways and once the family is completed in number our joy will be complete. The Christian should then live to that end knowing what verse 4 tells us. The message of Christ’s testimony is what will bring the JOY of our fellowship to fullness.