What Does John Mean by Knowing God in 1 John, Part 5
Can you imagine marrying someone and rarely talking with them, doing things with them, or simply enjoying their presence? We all recognize that a relationship like that is not a relationship at all. We would rightly ask why those two individuals chose to get married in the first place?
People who spend little time talking, sharing, knowing, and being with one another do not end up with what we would term a quality relationship. Instead, we see two people who start and end their days in the same home, probably sleep in the same bed, but have little in common after that.
Most of us would agree that relationships involve work on the best of days. A commitment to another person is entered into because two people are drawn together and are certain that the person they have chosen to spend the rest of their lives with is someone with whom they will be able to do so willingly, not grudgingly.
But we don’t even have to talk about married people. We can talk about quality friendships as something we’ve all had and something each person can hopefully relate to. Any relationship takes time, effort, and work. But good relationships enjoy blessings that stem from that work and perseverance. They don’t simply happen all by themselves. When they do work it is because two people have both worked at it.
I always marvel that people can have friendships that span decades. By that point, they know each other fairly well. Their bonds of friendship and even love have grown as well and there is a security both people enjoy because of that friendship and its longevity. People who take relationships for granted usually don’t have them for long.
If we put time, effort, and energy into our earthly relationships – whether as friends or married people – how much more effort, time, and energy should we expend in our relationship with God? But of course, in order to have a quality relationship with God, there are a few things we need to be aware of right off the bat. Thus, the reason for John’s first epistle here. He wants his readers’ joy to be complete.
As we discussed last time, in order to have fellowship with God or other believers, there needs to be a right belief in who Jesus is as a commonality. Was/Is He God, very God in human form, or was He merely a phantom, someone who looked like a man, but really wasn’t? This is an exceedingly important question and the truth needs to be ascertained and believed. A person who does not believe that A) Jesus did not come in the flesh, B) Jesus was not/is not God, or C both cannot have fellowship with God. This would make sense based on the fact that if Jesus is God and part of the Triune God, then to deny that Jesus is God or that He came in the flesh is to deny the truth about Jesus. God is not going to have fellowship with a person who does not believe that Jesus is part of that Godhead. It’s really that simple.
Neither will God enter into fellowship with someone who does not believe that Jesus came in the flesh physically, lived among us as a Man, and died on the cross. For that person who denies these things, they are denying the truth about Jesus as God and God will have no fellowship with a person who essentially calls Him a liar. This is truth that needs to be absorbed and understood. Ultimately, it is the basis by which believers have fellowship with God and with one another.
5 Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us – 1 John 1:5-10.
In our previous article we discussed the section 1 John 1:1-4 where John alludes to the fact that Jesus is God and that He walked in human society as a fully human Man. It is on this basis that we not only have salvation (for those who do), but also enjoy fellowship (for those who can via salvation). In the above section of John’s letter, he moves into a discussion of who God is and how that should affect our demeanor in this world.
First, John says that God is Light. In fact, there is not one spec of darkness in God. This should immediately bring to our minds the fact that Jesus Himself stated that He was the Light.
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life,” (John 8:14).
Note that John is connecting Jesus with God by stating that God is Light. Since John also states that Jesus said He was the Light to this dark world, John is essentially confirming that Jesus is God. Had John not thought this about Jesus, this would have been a perfect time to state it, but he does not. Moreover, he confirms its truth. God is Light. Jesus is Light. Jesus is God. Take it, or leave it. This is implied in what John is presenting to us here.
John then quickly moves onto another aspect of our relationship with Him stating that if we claim to have fellowship with God, but keep walking in the ways of this dark world, then we are lying (v. 6). John is not speaking of salvation here, but fellowship, which is the word that is used in the passage. Christians have salvation if they are in fact, true Christians. That is what we get when we trust Him for eternal life. What we do not automatically also get is fellowship. That is ours for the taking, but only as we apply ourselves to live in a way that is in harmony with who God is.
Christians who live like the people who are lost in this dark world have no fellowship with God at all, though they have salvation (if they are true Christians). Let’s remember that John is writing to actual believers, true Christians. He is not questioning their salvation. He is providing them guidelines to understand how to enter into fellowship with God in Christ. The Christian whose life is virtually no different from those around him/her who are lost, might have salvation, but has no fellowship with God at all. John is very clear about this.
John says to Christians: Look folks, if we claim to have fellowship with God but continue to live like a person who is not saved, there is no chance fellowship exists. In fact, that person is lying. We normally call this type of Christian “carnal” or “immature.” The truth is that they are out of fellowship with God because of their sin. Their sin is probably multitude but overall, they are lying about their fellowship. They can’t possibly be enjoying fellowship with God if they are walking in darkness because God will have no part of that at all. Those Christians who believe that to be the case are deluded in thinking that they have fellowship with God when that is simply not possible.
When the Prodigal Son left his father to find a life of his own in Luke 15, he walked away from his father. He moved out of the father’s presence to enjoy sin for a time. His father was not going to join him on his secular journey because his father would not participate in the son’s sin. However, as we’ve noted previously, that son was not disowned by his father. He did not lose his sonship or his family name. He left his father to enjoy a lifestyle of sinning. When he returned, the father notes that the son, who was considered dead is now alive, does not mean that the son had actually been disowned by the father. The father simply meant that the son had treated his sonship as though it did not exist any longer, but woke up to the fact that he was a son who was acting completely inappropriately and wanted to correct that situation. This realization brought him back to the father where he could now begin to fully enjoy the fellowship that he had never really had before.
We could argue that the Prodigal Son had “salvation” but never really enjoyed fellowship until after he left, lived a life of sin for a time and finally realized his own stupidity. Humbling himself, he came to his senses and returned to his father, this time for the additional enjoyment of fellowship with his father.
The Christian who is living “in sin” as the world lives, has no fellowship with God at all. This is John’s point here in these verses. That is the message of 1 John 1:5-6. Do you want to fellowship with God? Then know that you cannot live as the world lives.
If you are married to a person, what would happen if you stray and eventually have an adulterous affair, with your spouse eventually learning of it? How will your spouse react to that truth? When you cheated, you did so out of the presence of your spouse, correct? Your spouse was unaware of your adultery. You emotionally and physically left your spouse to pursue another. Once your spouse found out about your adulterous affair, what kind of fellowship do you think you would then enjoy? Nothing. Because of your actions, you will have effectively cut off all fellowship with your spouse.
Why do we think God should be different? When we live like lost people in the world, we are denying Christ and living like adulterers. In that case, why would we expect God to want to continue to fellowship with us? It cannot happen and we need to understand this. Let that sink in.
We’ll be back starting with 1 John 1:7 next time.
Entry filed under: christianity, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: 1 john, abide in christ, fellowship with god, knowing god.