But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. – 1 John 1:7 ESV
John is passing along a message he heard directly from Jesus Himself. It is a simple, yet profound message that gives us a glimpse into the character of God. “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5 ESV). Interestingly enough, in his gospel, John made the claim that Jesus was the light. He wrote, “He was in the beginning with God…In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1,4-5 ESV). Later on John elaborated on this light that had come into the world. He stated that God loved the world so much that He sent His only son that the world might be saved through Him. But when Jesus, the light, arrived into the world, “people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God” (John 3:19-21 ESV).
God is light. And as His Son, Jesus is also light. Jesus is not simply a reflection of God, but God in human form. “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15 ESV). “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (John 1:18 NIV). When Jesus entered the world, He penetrated the pervasive darkness that permeated everything. Sin had infected the world and the lives of men – even those of the people of God, the Jews. Jesus came to change all that. He came to expose sin. “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5 ESV). Jesus didn’t just come to provide us a model for living. He came to provide us with the capacity to live holy, light-filled lives in the midst of a dark, sin-filled world. “By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:5-6 ESV). How did Jesus walk? In the light. Jesus was the light and yet He walked in the light of God’s will. This speaks to that mysterious truth regarding the unique nature of Jesus’ divinity and humanity. He was the God-man – 100 percent God and 100 percent man. As the Son of God, He was the image of the invisible God. As the Son of Man, He was a human being who “understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NLT). Jesus walked in the light. He lived in obedience to the commands of God. He allowed the Holy Spirit to direct His path and guide His steps. “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness” (Luke 4:1 ESV). Jesus’ entire life and death was dedicated to doing God’s will. In His high priestly prayer, prayed near the end of His life, Jesus was able to say, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4 ESV). Everything about His life gave evidence that He not only was the light, He walked in the light.
And John wants us to know that we should have the same goal for our own lives. Fellowship with God and with His Son should be accompanied by light, not darkness. To claim to have fellowship with God and yet live a life characterized by darkness or sin is to live a lie. “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6 ESV). The idea here is that of continual, repetitive, unrepentant sin. It is a lifestyle characterized by darkness rather than light. Instead, “whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:7-8 ESV). Our lives should give evidence of our fellowship with God. Our ability to fellowship with one another should give evidence of our fellowship with God. Anything we do that is characterized by righteousness is of God. It is a product of, the fruit of the Spirit of God within us – “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT). Living in the light exposes sin in order that we might confess it. But living in the light also produces fruit. It causes our faith to grow. It purifies our character. The more intimate our fellowship with God through Christ, the more intense the light will become in our lives. That light will have an effect on our lives. John puts it succinctly and practically. “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness…whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9, 11 ESV). But “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling” (1 John 2:10 ESV). We are to walk in the light, as He is in the light. And that regular, consistent exposure to the light will gradually transform us into the image of Christ.