Everyone knows that stumbling around in the dark can be dangerous. Things seem to be different from what they are. There are no reference points. And we don’t like being confused.
The same is true about being ‘in the dark’ about God. It is impossible to know where we are unless God himself is the light.
We not only need this light, we need to be walking in it. But there are false stories around that may keep us walking in the dark. So, John tells us what the light is, and explains how certain lies keep us in the dark (1 John 1:5—2:2).
What’s happening here is like a child who’s done something wrong and is lying to his or her parents about it. There’s no relationship happening! But then, the whole matter comes out into the light, and is dealt with. True fellowship is restored—often to the delight of the child as well as the parents.
So, here is what Jesus came to tell us.
God is light, with no darkness anywhere. In other words, God is always true, and wholly good. There is nothing in him that isn’t. Jesus is telling us about God as only he can.
And Jesus doesn’t just teach this. He demonstrates it. He is this light for everyone (John 9:5), showing that God is true and good. And he also reveals what is not true and good.
Many avoid what Jesus reveals, or they oppose it, because they live in their own bubble of being religiously correct and don’t like this exposure.
Here’s where the false claims begin. We may say that how we live doesn’t matter. We only need to have an ‘experience’ of God, or feel that he is near. If this is what we think, we are in the dark.
Or, we may say we are basically good—a few failures perhaps, but nothing that should be added up against us. Again, we fool ourselves.
Again, we may say we don’t do anything wrong. In this case, we’re saying God is wrong, not us. There won’t be any fellowship here.
These claims, or something like them, can keep us from seeking a Saviour. Or, they can keep us from seeing anything special about having fellowship with God.
John gives us a very different way to walk—in the light of God revealed by Jesus. God himself walks in his own light. He has total integrity. And he calls us to join him. Here’s how it works.
First, if we let Jesus show us who God is, and walk in that, and admit the mess it shows we are in, we have fellowship with each other. Self-deception keeps us from God and also from being real with other people. But confession brings us to God (Revelation 3:20).
Second, we are forgiven. Our sins are washed clean—all of them. It’s not our blood that is spilled to make up for what we’ve done wrong. The blood of Jesus washes them away.
Think of Peter getting his feet washed (John 14:3-10). He wanted to be in charge but Jesus must wash his feet. Only Jesus can make Peter clean. This is what we all need to hear.
When God brings us into his light, he’s not wanting to make us squirm but to gain our company. We think exposure will damage our self-respect and confidence—that we’ll be condemned.
The opposite is true. Jesus says that whoever does what is true comes to the light, and is not condemned. What we do of ourselves is false. What we do in God—including confessing our sins—is real (John 3:19-21).
Third, we are forgiven so we won’t sin again (John 8:11). But then, we do. And the faithful and just God has this covered. This walking in the light is not something we do alone.
Jesus is our Advocate—and he is utterly righteous in who he is and in what he does.
He has deflected the wrath that was falling on us by becoming our sin, and then receiving in his body all that should have happened to us. That’s what propitiation means. It was not comfortable for Jesus to walk in the light of God’s righteousness. But he’s made it a welcome place for us.
So, this is the message we have heard from Jesus. God is light—the most wonderful light we could ever know. Here, confusion about God, about ourselves, and where we fit, are all resolved.
This is the Father who wants our company. And he has created a family in which we have fellowship with one another.