Basic Facts from… 1 John (Part 1)

Basic Facts from… 1 John (Part 1)

Like the gospel record that he penned, John’s first letter to Christians begins with a direct, fundamental statement about the nature and identity of Jesus (1 John 1:1-2). The purpose of this letter is stated plainly in verses 3-4: John is writing to enable those who read these words to share with him in the fellowship extended by both the Father and the Son. At verse 7, he will go on to emphasize that the fellowship Christians share with one another is based on each person’s relationship with the Father (“fellowship” among Christians is therefore not based simply on our willingness to agree with one another).

The “announcement” John presents (his “message,” vs. 5) concerns the essential nature of God, His fundamental moral character (in contrast to both Jewish and pagan ideas of what a “god” is like; arbitrary, capricious, vindictive, etc.). John uses the word light to represent all that is good, pure, and wholesome (cf. Paul’s words in Galatians 5:22-23). John illustrates the contrast between human images of “gods” and the reality of THE God by stressing the fact that there is “not one single thing” in Him that is evil, cruel, or selfish (…no darkness at all – “not even a little bit,” verse 5).

Verses 6-10 show the point of such a vivid comparison – it is not possible to share in fellowship with God if we either practice or refuse to repent of our own “dark” behaviors (sins), nor can we simply deny having participated in them (vs. 6). To share in fellowship with God we must “walk in the light” – conform our lives to the character of God’s own existence. In the event that we fail in this (by falling into or “stumbling” in sin), He offers forgiveness IF we are willing to admit our sins (vs. 9). Trying to deny that we have sinned, or trying to somehow “justify” sinning defies the truth of our condition (it’s self-deception, vs. 8) and puts us in the position of accusing God of lying (vs. 10). It also demonstrates to fellow Christians that we have refused to allow His word to take root in our hearts and minds (cf. Colossians 3:16-17).

John summarizes his point about Christians needing to refrain from sin in order to have and maintain fellowship with God (and Christ, and one another) in the first paragraph of chapter two (vv. 1 -6). Here, he reminds us that even if we should fall into sin, we do not “automatically” forfeit all hope of heaven because Jesus is ready, willing, and qualified to “stand” for us in the Father’s presence as an advocate on our behalf (the word for advocate means a “helper,” one who stands by our side – a “defense attorney”). Jesus is able to stand for us because He Himself is righteous (vs. 1, cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21 & 1 Peter 2:22) AND – because He offered Himself on the cross, Galatians 1:4 – He is the propitiation, the offering that “covers” our debt of sin (vs. 2). In verses 3-6, John’s conclusion is that the lives those who claim to be Christians, who claim to share in the Father’s fellowship, should measure up to their claim! The person who will not observe/do the things Jesus commands of His followers demonstrates that his claim to fellowship is a lie.


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