1 John 1:5-10                               October 2016

LIVING IN THE LIGHT

When John describes God in this letter He uses 2 words. Light and Love. He says “God is Light” and in 4:16 He says “God is Love.”

I would say that most Christian’s today have placed so much emphasis on God being love that they have ignored the fact that God is also light.

Ill. I was listening to an interview of Radio NZ this week with a practising homosexual who also claimed to be a born again Christian. When he was asked how he got around the fact that the Bible is opposed to homosexuality, he said, “For God to sacrifice His Son for us, He must have an awful lot of love.” And because of that this man believed God  would understand and not punish people who pursued this lifestyle.”

I have heard so many people say, “If God is love, I cannot believe that He would send anyone to hell.”

These people have accepted that God is love, but ignored that fact that God is also Light.

So that is what we will look at this morning.

Defining Light, defying light, denouncing  darkness, deceiving ourselves, declaring truth and defaming God.

 

DEFINING THE  LIGHT v5

One of the best definitions for light is simply the absence of darkness. And that is exactly what John says here. “God is Light and in Him there is not darkness at all.”

In 1 Tim 6:16 we read that “God he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will.” 

If we looked at God with our physical eyes we would be blinded. Even the light of the midday sun can damage our eyes, but the Light that emanates from God is far, far stronger than that.

When Paul saw the risen Jesus on the way to Damascus, the light that radiated from Him was so powerful that Paul was completed blinded and had to be healed of his condition.

But the Light spoken of here is not just physical light, it is moral light. God’s character is full of light. There is no moral darkness in it at all; there is no blemish on His character. God is morally perfect, morally pure and whiter than white.

Ill. A while back there was an advert on TV for Persil laundry powder. And they compared a white shirt that had been washed with Persil with one that had been washed with some other laundry powder and the difference was amazing. The other shirt looked grey beside the while the Persil washed shirt which looked dazzling white. And of course we all took off to the supermarket and bought Persil. At least that was the idea.

We might think that we are virtuous, upright people who try to live a morally good life, but the truth is that our characters have been stained, dirtied and darkened over the years with unclean sinful words, thoughts and actions. Compared to God our characters are filthy.

Ill. A friend of ours was travelling by train to Christchurch and she couldn’t help noticing how white the sheep were grazing on the green hillsides. While in Christchurch there was a storm and a huge amount of snow had been dumped on the area. As she travelled home she looked out the window she was amazing at how dirty and brown the sheep now looked compared the pure white snow.  

When we compare ourselves with other people we may think we are pretty good, but compared with the brilliant moral purity of God we are so stained and dirty.

So John when says God is Light and in Him there is no darkness, he is saying that God is morally pure and perfect that there isn’t even a trace of anything morally dark or sinful in His character.

 

DENYING THE LIGHT v6

If someone claims to have a relationship with God and yet deliberately goes on doing, saying and thinking things that are offensive to God, there can be no relationship. They do not have a relationship with God, they are lying. They are still still living in the dark while claiming to be living in the light.

2 Corinthians 6:14 “What fellowship has light with darkness.”

If you are here this morning and you claim to be a genuine Christian, a follower of Jesus and yet you are deliberately and knowingly continuing to do things, say things and think things that you know are wrong and offensive to God. I’m sorry to tell you this but you are not a true Christian. You are lying to yourself and to others.

Because God who is Light cannot have a relationship with people who chose to live in spiritual and moral darkness.

Now I know that this may sound a bit hard, but if you only believe that God is love and not Light, then you will find this hard to accept.

Ill. David Pawson met a man who used to go to his church and this man had left his wife and was now living in adultery with another woman. He said to David, “I believe I am still saved and going to heaven.” And David said to him, “Well according to the Bible you are not saved and going to heaven because a true believer would not behave the way you are behaving.”  

I have come across Christians over the years who have claimed to really know God, to have all these wonderful spiritual experiences and some of them were even well known Christian leaders and yet they were continually doing things that they knew were morally wrong and offensive to God.

According to the Bible the relationship with God they claimed to have and the spiritual experiences cannot have been genuine because they were living in moral darkness while claiming to be living in the light with God.

The sad thing about this is that they often end up lying to themselves that this is okay when it’s not.

Ill. One well known Christian leader was committing adultery with a woman in other church. Her pastor found out about it and rang the man up and confronted him. Do you know what he answered, “I have got too much love to keep it to one woman.”

This is self-deception. It is denying the truth and believing a lie. This is what John calls choosing to live in spiritual darkness.

 

DENOUNCING THE DARKNESS v7

How do you get rid of darkness? Quite simply let the light in.

Ill. A guy who worked as a carpet cleaner was often asked to remove pet urine from peoples carpets. They couldn’t see it, but they could smell it. He would pull all the curtains and walk through the house with the owner carrying a high powered black light. When black light is shined on pet urine it glows. The home owners generally get the shock of their lives as they see the extent of the urine on floors, drapes, stereo speakers, the back of the couch, and splattered on walls. The reactions were often quite dramatic. One lady said, “I don’t care what it costs, just clean it up!”

How do we get rid of the darkness in our own lives?  Let God’s light into your life and live in His light.

In the Bible God is called Light and Satan is called the Prince of Darkness because darkness stands for everything that is evil, sinful, dishonest and deceitful, whereas Light stands for everything that is good, right, true and honest.

Satan hates the Light and he operates in those dark places in our lives where we secretly hang onto things that we know are wrong. These are the footholds we give Satan that Paul speaks about in Ephesians 4:27.

They are the pockets of darkness that we allow to remain in our lives. The secret offensive behaviour, thoughts and desires that we cling to. The anger, the hurts, the resentment that we won’t let go of. The critical attitudes, the pride, the greed, the lust that we hide from others. And Satan, the prince of darkness constantly works on this material and wants us to keep it under wraps.

He gives us all the excuses he can to justify the existence of this stuff and he works on our pride and fear to ensure that we keep it hidden, secret.

The very last thing Satan wants is for us to bring these pockets of darkness out into the light before God and others.

Satan knows there are 3 things that will happen if we bring these dark, hidden secrets out into the Light before God and others.  He will lose his foothold in our lives. We will have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all sin.

He will lose his foothold in our lives.

As long as we keep these pockets of darkness hidden in our lives, we give Satan entry into our lives and material to work on. He tells us that if we bring these things into the light before God and others – we will be shamed, humiliated. We will lose face. People will reject us, judges us, condemn us.

He tells us that the exposure would be too painful too costly. The truth is that as long as those things remain secret and hidden they will have power over us and so will he. One we bring them out in the open – he has lost his foot hold and his power. We no longer have anything to hide, we are free.

Ill. I used to lead men’s weekend retreats and a group of us men would go away for a weekend and during the weekend I would encourage the men to open up to each other and take the risk of sharing those areas of their lives that they keep secret because of fear or shame.

One guy told me that when he was away on business he would often go to a massage parlour. He never had sex but he would fantasise as was being massaged. He had never told anyone about this, not even his wife. I have tried to stop it but I sometimes the temptation is too powerful and I end up going there and then feeling really stink afterwards. After he shared this with me he felt like chains had been broken from his life.  

I encouraged him to go home and share this with his wife. He came to me a week later and told me what had happened. His wife did not reject or condemn him. She forgave him and thanked him for his honesty. A deeper level of trust came into their marriage and not only that but sometime later he told me that even the desire to go to a massage parlour had gone. He was free. Bringing the whole thing into the light had broken the power of that thing over his life. 

We have fellowship with one another.

One major factor that prevents us from having deep and meaningful fellowship with other believers is when we are not real, not honest, not transparent with each other. We relate only at a superficial level.

We don’t allow others to know what we are really like and what is going on in our lives.

The most meaningful friendships I have known over the years have been those where we have honestly and openly shared our hearts with each other. We have shared our joys, our sorrows, our weaknesses, our failings, our fears and our inner most secrets. Those friendships are so special and so precious.

What I have actually found is that when are willing to do this, love and respect grows.

Jesus once said to His disciples, “I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” 

Have you ever wondered how the writers of the Gospels were able to record the very personal details and inner struggles of Jesus life? 40 days in the wilderness, wrestling in the garden of Gethsemane, etc. Jesus shared these with his disciples. He was open and transparent with them. He had nothing to hide.

The blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all sin.

As long as we pretend these things don’t exist, as long as we try and convince ourselves they are okay, as long as we keep them hidden and secret, God cannot deal with. But when we bring them out into the light and confess them God is able to forgive and cleanse them from our lives.  And the wording here is that the Blood of Jesus, God’s Son goes on cleansing us from all sin.

Living in the Light doesn’t means that we are perfect and never fail, it means that we are willing to be open, honest and real with God and with each other and when we sin, we don’t pretend, we don’t cover up, we don’t make excuses or try to justify our behaviour. We humble ourselves before God and each other come clean, admit and confess our failures and receive the ongoing cleansing of the blood of Jesus.

DECEIVING OURSELVES v8

You can make other people believe you are something that you are not, lots of people have got away with that, but you know in your heart that is not true. But worst deception is self-deception. When we convince ourselves we are something that we are not.

In Jesus day the religious leaders had actually convinced themselves that they were without sin. They called everyone else a sinner, and adopted the name Pharisee which meant separated from everything that is unclean or sinful. The saddest thing about them was that everyone else could see their faults and failing except them. They were critical, condemning, hateful, jealous, murderous, proud, self-righteous and yet they couldn’t see it. Self-deception is the hardest thing to break out of.

John says here that if we say we have not sinned, we are deceiving ourselves and we are not living in the truth. We are living a lie.

Ill. Sun Myung Moon the leader of the Moonies, claimed to be the Perfect husband and father and has hinted at being the Messiah. But not long ago his daughter went public on TV and spoke about how she and her family have suffered under his domineering, cruel and abusive treatment as a father and a husband. She couldn’t get away from home quick enough. That’s self-deception.

DECLARING THE TRUTH v9

“But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

The word, confess, here in the Greek is “Homologio” it literally means to say about ourselves what God says. God says we have all sinned and come short of His glory.

God is waiting for us to stop pretending, stop hiding our sin, stop excusing and justifying our wrong behaviour. He is waiting for us to come clean and admit and confess that we have done wrong.

Ill. Susannah Wesley was the mother of John Wesley the founder of the Methodist church. She was a wise lady. She had 19 children and she told them that if they did something they knew was wrong they were to come and immediately confess it to her. “If you do this I promise I will not punish you, but if you do something wrong and hide it from me and I find out I will punish you severely.”

And this is God’s promise here. If you do, say or think something that you know is wrong, don’t try to hide it, excuse it or ignore it. Confess it to God. He is faithful and just and He will forgive and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

How can God be just and yet for forgive us for our wrong doing. God’s justice demands that all sin has to be punished.

The only reason God can forgive us is because His justice was meted out upon Jesus. Jesus paid the just penalty for our sins.

Whenever we confess our sins to God, Jesus is there at His side and He shows God the Father the nail prints in His hands and feet and says, “Father you can be just and forgive them because I have served the just sentence for their sin.”

DENYING GOD’S WORD v10

“If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his Word has no place in our hearts.”

As I said before, “To confess is to agree with what God says about us.” When we refuse to confess and admit we have done wrong we disagree with God and say that what He says is not true. We are calling God a liar.

To call God a liar is a complete contradiction. God is Light – He would never lie, it goes against His nature and His character.

If we are really to know fellowship with God we must be willing to live every day, every moment in the light and to allow the Light of His Word and His Spirit to shine into our hearts – exposing those things that are wrong and then bringing them out into the light to be confessed, repented of and cleansed.

Only then can we know real deep fellowship with God and with one another and the ongoing cleansing of the blood of Jesus. As we continue in the Light the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse us from all sin.

Ill. Stephen Hawking the renowned atheist and John Lennox (the Christian professor of Mathematics at Oxford) were preparing for a debate at Cambridge University.  A reporter from the Times asked Stephen Hawking for a comment on religion and he responded with, “Religion is a fairy story for people who are afraid of the dark.”  Being fair, the reporter turned to John Lennox and asked him for a comment on atheism and he commented, “Atheism is a fairy story for people who are afraid of the light.”

For us Christians if we are honestly and truly dealing with all that stuff that God is showing us in our lives we don’t have to be afraid of the light because there is nothing in our lives that is shameful or hidden. And we don’t have to be afraid of the Light because Jesus blood has cleansed us from all sin and enabled us to live in the light of God’s presence and grace forever.