“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you.” John has a message from Jesus and he does not want his readers to miss what he is saying. In fact, he uses excessively longer phrases and more words to emphasize the meaning of his teaching when he could have simply used shorter phrases and fewer words. For example, he could have simply said, “God is light.” or he could have said, “There is no darkness in God.” It is as though John is saying, “This is what I mean and this is what I don’t mean.” He wants all Christians who read this to be on the same page.
What is this message? “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.”
John teaches that God is light. He uses the term “the light” (v.7) later but that has another meaning. In this verse it refers to God’s nature and essence as light. This is not physical light, but spiritual light that spreads everywhere and invades everything. His essence is truth, purity, holiness. In him there is no darkness at all. John emphasizes that there is not one bit of darkness in God. James says “There is never the slightest variation or shadow of inconsistency.” in God. (James 1:17 Phillips). God is untouched by the darkness of sin and He is “absolutely perfect…there is nothing in him …which would dim or mar the pure splendor of his character.” (Barnes).
With this is mind, the Apostle takes another sharp turn in his teaching and He puts truth and lies; light and darkness; obedience and sin; deception and honesty; reality and fantasy; saying and walking side by side. John says that the talk and action of some of the people does not match up to God’s standard of fellowship, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not do the truth.” (v.6). These are very strong words. He calls these people liars and says they are not practicing Christians. People have no fellowship with God if they practice sin. They are living a lie. Truth is not just sterile doctrinal beliefs that you can distance yourself from. Truth is all about how you behave and act. God is in his nature is light and not in any way dark and what he says is light and not in any way dark. So in this passage the word truth means acting lawfully and walking in darkness is living in deception and disobedient behavior.
“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 His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Walking in the light of God means that we are drawing closer to God.We act and live in that light. His word and truth are like light that exposes our errors and deception has nowhere to hide. We welcome that because he cleanses us and purifies us continually from all sins. Now John again wants to make sure we are staying on the same page by showing our fellowship with God and one another is by these two things: walking the light of God and his cleansing holiness by the blood of Jesus.
Then John takes another turn and says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (v. 8) The Bible teaches here that people who deny indwelling sin and do not admit their wrongdoing have gone so far off course they are believing their own lies. They claim to know the truth but they are deceived. Saying one can reach a place where they never sin after they are saved is a terrible error. Saying that we can live without confessing our sins or be disobedient is also a soul damning teaching. John say these type of people have deluded themselves to the point their hearts are evacuated of truth.
The Apostle turns again in this winding passage, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (v.9). We MUST freely admit we have sinned, God says we MUST consent to this truth. Notice HE is faithful and just it says. As the Amplifies comments, “he is true to His own nature and promises.” The ISV says that “he might forgive us and might cleanse us of our sins.” As we must pray to receive an answer to prayer we must confess our sins to be forgiven. Christ forgave us on the cross, but we still must ask his forgiveness as proof that the truth is in us and that he is loyal and consistent in all his ways.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (v.10). The dangers of misrepresenting Christ and his teaching should always be on our mind. He says if we do not say what he says about sin we are saying God is falsifying his Word and misrepresenting Himself. In effect, we call God a liar. Unthinkable! This failure also shows exposes that the Word is not in us if we say such things. It used the word “truth” in verse six but here it says “word.” This is a person who insists they know “the Word” and refuse to own up to their sin nature and their acts of sin. We are actually destitute of God’s life-giving Word if we refuse to, “humbly welcome the word of truth that will blossom like the seed of salvation planted in your souls.” (James 1:20Voice).
“John condemns the man who claims that he is so far advanced in knowledge and in the spiritual life that sin for him has ceased to matter; he condemns the man who evades the responsibility for his sin or who holds that sin has no effect upon him; he condemns the man who has never even realized that he is a sinner. The essence of the Christian life is first to realize our sin; and then to go to God for that forgiveness which can wipe out the past and for that cleansing which can make the future new.” (Barclay).
© 2016 Stephen S. Gibney, if you quote it, gives us some credit and God the glory.