Two Most Important Aspects of Fellowship with God
If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth, (1 John 1:6; NET)
The above text is merely a snippet of truth that the apostle John spells out for us in his first epistle we know as 1 John. Please notice that he is clarifying what true fellowship with God means. He states that for those Christians who claim to have fellowship with God but continue to walk in darkness – another word for “sin” – they are effectively lying. They are not being truthful and their lives are lies.
What this means should be very clear but unfortunately, too many Christians don’t really have a clear handle on it. John is not talking about individual sins here and there, though that is included. What he is mainly concerned about are those Christians who say they are Christian, but live a life that gives no evidence of them being Christian, on a continual basis.
Let’s say you knew a married couple and you enjoyed both spouses. You have known them for some time and when they married, you felt as though it was simply the next logical step in their relationship. You couldn’t be happier for them since you’ve known both of them for some time.
Now, suppose that one day, you learned that the husband – though married – was actually living as though he was not married. In fact, you learned that he often flirted with other women. Worse, he even “dated” a few other women here and there and had entered into a few sexual liaisons with women. You came to understand that this had been going on for some time, even before he married your friend. Unfortunately, your friend had never come to this understanding and because of the promises he had made to her including those publicly made on their wedding day, you assumed that he had been faithful in marriage. You were obviously wrong and now you are actually devastated.
How could you have been so wrong about someone you thought you knew? Moreover, and most importantly, why hadn’t this husband understood that what he was doing was not only immoral, but completely unfair to his wife. He had broken and continued to break numerous rules. He was a Lothario, an adulterer, a liar, and many other things. Yet, he was in fact, legally married to one person and had pledged his undying love and commitment to that one person.
How do you look at him the same way you looked at him before you realized what he had allowed himself to become? The answer is that you can’t. He was trying to give one impression and he obviously understood that he was married as he would introduce his spouse to people as his wife. He obviously understood what it meant to be married. Yet, when push came to shove, he actually lived as though he was a single man who was not bound by the restrictions of marriage.
The husband in question is a perfect example of someone who is one thing, but lives as though he is not. Though married, he lived as though he was not married. His life because a life of hypocrisy in which he honestly thought that yes, he was married, but since he was married, he really didn’t have to live within the parameters of that marriage, did he? Certainly, as long as his wife never suspected, he believed he was free and clear to live as he saw fit.
It would actually be better for a guy like that to not be married at all because he clearly has no concern for his own vows or stated commitment. Ultimately, he wants the best of both worlds. He wants to be able to be married and enjoy the benefits of that, while living as though he was not married, to “enjoy” the “benefits” of that. To the man who lives like that, our righteous indignation rises to the surface.
Please note that I am not talking about the temptation that every husband has to lust after another woman here and there. These thoughts and temptations often come into our heads often out of nowhere without a moment’s notice. They are not normally planned. They simply appear. The husband who takes his commitment to his wife (and the Lord) seriously, does not give into the temptation to focus on lusting after other women. He might try replacing the image of a woman he does not know (that has simply come into his head), with a mental image of his wife instead. Or, rather than stare after an attractive woman once he realizes he is doing this, will simply turn away and occupy his mind elsewhere.
However, there are times when even the most faithful husband will lust after a woman who is not his wife. Once he realizes this is happening, the best thing to do is confess it and turn from it. These are sins to be sure, but they do not represent a lifestyle of sinning. They represent individual sins that happen from time to time.
The husband I’ve described above who lives to flirt, seduce, and enter into extramarital affairs with women other than his wife, is involving himself in what the apostle John would say is a lifestyle of sin. Though that husband is married, his lifestyle does not prove it. In fact, it tends to prove the opposite; that he is not really married in his heart, though he certainly has paperwork that proves he is married.
John’s clear point is very obvious. The Christian who claims to have fellowship with God but lives in a way that is contrary to God’s moral law, is not in fellowship with God at all. That person is lying and he is “not practicing the truth.” It is very much like the father and prodigal son of Luke 15. When the son left the father’s presence to enjoy a lifestyle of sin, there was no fellowship with the Father at all. It was only when he returned to the father having decided that his thinking had been wrong that he began to enjoy fellowship with his father. While away spending his money, living riotously, and even feeding pigs, he probably believed he was truly free, but he wasn’t. The most important thing he lacked was fellowship with his own father.
The husband who lives to cheat on his wife might even try telling himself that he’s fine or what his wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. He may actually come to believe that he still truly loves his wife but that can’t be true because he doesn’t love her enough to keep the public promises he made to her (and before God), on the day they married.
Moreover, that husband may actually believe that he and his wife have deep fellowship. That would not be true either because he is living a lie. If he is not practicing the truth, but in actuality, lying to his wife by his lifestyle of cheating on her, how can he think that any fellowship they share is honest? He is completely dishonest and there is no truth there.
John tells us that if we are to enjoy fellowship with God, several things must be in place. First, we must obey the promises we have made to Him. Second, we must treat others as He treats us. These two “rules” completely sum up the entirety of the Mosaic Law, especially the Ten Commandments.
There are too many Christians today who say they are Christian. I believe at least some of them are merely professing Christians, who truly do not have authentic salvation. Can I know who they are? Can I figure it out? Can I see into their hearts? No, I cannot. When Jesus said “you will know them by their fruit” of Matthew 7:16, He was referring to false prophets. We would recognize them based on their false teaching. But a person can teach error and still have salvation, do knowing whether or not they are false prophets or teachers still does not tell us if they are in fact, saved. This is something we cannot really know.
While some individuals are merely professing Christians, there are others who are actually authentic Christians. They have salvation. They are new creations. They are sealed with the Holy Spirit until to the day of redemption, etc., etc., etc. But, these have chosen to continue to live a lifestyle of sin. They don’t want to separate from the world. They rather enjoy the baubles and trinkets the world has to offer.
As Christians, we need to understand that if we claim to be Christians, God actually expects us to live like one. No, we don’t follow a list of rules, but we live in a way that keeps our promises alive. As a married man, I don’t follow a list of rules to prove my love for my wife. I suppose if someone was on the outside looking in, they might at times, see me doing things that appear to be me following this rule or that one. The truth is that I like to think I do things for my wife based on my professed love for her and commitment I made to her nearly 30 years ago. One of the biggest commitments I made to her is that there would be no other woman for me as long as my wife remains alive (until death do us part).
I suppose someone could accuse me of being a “legalist” about it but I don’t observe or obey the rule against adultery because I’m a legalist. I obey that rule because I love my wife and I like to think I take my commitments seriously.
Christians, we need to live in a way that pleases God because when we received His salvation, we made certain promises to Him, I’m sure. Because of the joy many of us felt during that initial period, it felt rather easy to live in a way that brought Him glory. As time went on and those feelings tended to fade, it became more difficult to do the right thing. It’s the same in marriage or any relationship.
One of the first things we need to do is understand that if we are going to have fellowship with God as John explains, we will need to divorce ourselves from lifestyles that God hates. We cannot try to convince ourselves that yeah, I’m a Christian, but God doesn’t mind if I do (fill in the blank) as a lifestyle. I’m saved by grace. God forgives me. Yeah, but our sin absolutely gets in the way and keeps us from enjoying fellowship with God, though many clearly think that since God loves me He overlooks things. He doesn’t really overlook anything and certainly refuses to overlook our deliberate involvement in sin that Christ died to free us from.
If it was sin that put Him on the cross, why on earth would we ever come to think that because of Christianity, we can now enjoy that same sin, whether it’s adultery, theft, lying, cheating, or add your favorite sin to the list? He freed us from the tyranny of sin and while we will still sin here and there, what we must avoid at all costs – if we actually want to enjoy fellowship with God – is a lifestyle of sinning.
We’ll get more into this as we go. Tune in next time.
Entry filed under: christianity, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: 1 john 1:6, fellowship, fellowship with god, forgiveness, lifestyle of sin.