************ Sermon on 1 John 1:5 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on August 11, 2019
1 John 1:1-7
1 John 1:5
"God is Light"
I Sin is Darkness
A The New Testament calls the Christian life a "walk." This walk begins when God calls us to faith in Christ as Savior from sin. But salvation is not the end -- it is only the beginning -- of spiritual life. You see, Jesus is not only Savior but He also is Lord. So we are supposed to live before Him not only in faith but also in obedience and fellowship. Just as a child must learn to walk and must overcome many difficulties in doing so, so a Christian must learn to "walk in the light." The difficulty we face in doing this is sin. It is sin that keeps us from walking in the light because sin is darkness.
I want to look at three points this morning: sin is darkness, God is light, in God there is no darkness.
B Sin is not simply outward disobedience; sin is also inner rebellion or desire. For example, we are warned about the desires of the flesh and of the eyes and about the pride of life (1 Jn 2:16), all of which are sinful. Sin is also transgression of the Law (1 Jn 3:4), or literally, "lawlessness." Sin is refusal to submit to the Law of God. Lawlessness is the very essence of sin and keeps us from enjoying fellowship with God.
"Why do you keep preaching to us Christians about sin?" an angry church member said to her pastor. "After all, sin in the life of a Christian is different from sin in the life of an unsaved person!" "Yes," replied the pastor, "it is different. It is much worse!" We realize it is worse when we keep in mind what John writes in verse 6:
(1 Jn 1:6) If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.The darkness of sin wrecks fellowship with God!
C Neither in the Old Testament nor in the New does the Bible whitewash the sins of the saints. In escaping a famine, Abraham became weak in his faith and went down to Egypt and lied to Pharaoh about his relationship to Sarah (Gen 12). Later, the patriarch tried to "help God" by marrying Hagar and begetting a son (Gen. 16). In both cases, God forgave Abraham his sin, but Abraham had to reap the results of what he did.
David, a man after God's own heart, committed adultery and then arranged for murder to cover it up (2 Sam 11). God forgave him (Ps 32) but David had to live with the consequences the rest of his life.
Peter denied the Lord three times. Christ forgave Peter (cf Jn 21) but what Peter did hurt the Lord.
These sinning saints are not mentioned in the Bible to discourage us, but to warn us.
The fact that Christians sin bothers some people -- especially new Christians. They forget that though Christians have a new nature, the new man, they also have the old sinful nature they were born with. The old nature fights against the new nature which we receive when we are born again (Gal 5:16-26). No amount of self-discipline, no set of man-made rules and regulations, can control this old nature. Only the Holy Spirit of God enables us to "put to death" the old nature (Rom 8:12-13) and produce the fruit found in the lives of those who are made new (Gal 5:22-23).
All of us, therefore, must deal with the darkness of our sins if we are to walk in the light.
II God is Light
A In the first four verses of his letter John proclaimed to us the nature of Christ: he told us Jesus is the eternal Word of life. John proclaimed that anyone who believes in Jesus has fellowship with Jesus and shares in His life. John proclaimed that Jesus came in the flesh: He has been heard, seen, looked at (or examined), and touched. John proclaimed that the story of Jesus and eternal life is the old, old story of the Gospel which has been the same since the beginning.
Today, in our text, John proclaims the nature of God: in our second point he tells us God is light. God is light. John doesn't say God is a light. He doesn't say God is the light. He says God is light. What does that mean? What is John saying about God?
God has many attributes. For instance, God is eternal. This means He is without beginning or end. He wasn't made, He wasn't created; He has always existed and will always exist.
God is Spirit. Which means God is immaterial and invisible. He has no extension. He cannot be measured. He cannot be weighed. He takes up no space. He has no body. He cannot be seen. Nevertheless, He is real, He exists.
We understand -- to a limited extent -- these attributes of God. But what does it mean that God is light?
B God is light. Listen to two passages that speak to this:
(1 Tim 6:15-16) ... God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, (16) who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light ...
(Ps 104:1-2) Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. (2) He wraps himself in light as with a garment ...
More than once we are told God appeared to Moses as light. Remember the flames of fire from within a bush? Though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. That was God in the light and the fire.
Remember the pillar of cloud and fire that went before and behind the children of Israel as they left Egypt and traveled through the wilderness? That light was God.
Remember a discouraged Moses climbing Mount Sinai to meet with God? Moses wanted proof of God's presence so he said to God, "Show me your glory" (Ex 33:18). And God did. Not His full glory for no man can see God's face and live. But God tucked Moses in a cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand and allowed him to see His back. And the glory Moses saw was some kind of light. That light, that glory, stuck to Moses so that when he came down from the mountain the brilliance scared the Israelites and Moses had to cover his face.
Remember the dedication of the tabernacle? The fire, the light, that came down was the presence of God indwelling the Holy of Holies (Ex 40:34-35).
Don't we also see the same light in the New Testament? I think of the transfiguration of Jesus. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as light (Mt 17:1-8).
God is light. And we see that light and know that light only in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Gospel.
(Jn 1:1-2,4) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning ... (4) In him was life, and that life was the light of men.God is light. Jesus is light. And we become light through Christ (Mt 5:14).
C God is light. I have mentioned instances where God has displayed Himself as light. But I have not yet explained what it really means.
God is light. To understand this we need to go back to the beginning of time, to the opening verses of Genesis:
(Gen 1:1-3) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (2) Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (3) And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.There was darkness. The earth was formless and empty. And then there was light. Light marked the start of Creation. Light marked the start of life. What am I saying? What is the Bible saying? That light equals life.
God is light. Which means God is the source of life. God is the source of physical life. God is the source of spiritual life. The Lord Who created light is the source of all life. Our temporal life comes from God. Our eternal life comes from God, through His Son by the Gospel. When John says God is light, he is saying God is the source of all life.
God is light. Everybody who lives, lives because he or she has received life from the Creator. God is the source of all life, physical life and spiritual life, temporal life and eternal life.
D Everyone has physical life, temporal life. But not everyone has spiritual life, eternal life. Why not? "Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (Jn 3:19). People live in darkness, in spiritual darkness. In fact, they are born in darkness, spiritual darkness. Meaning what? Well, if light means life then darkness -- as at the beginning of time -- means the absence of life. Darkness means death, spiritual death. So Paul can tell us we are dead in our trespasses and sins. We are spiritually dead.
Jesus tells us He has come into the world as light. By this He doesn't mean He has come to bring information. By this He means He has come to give life. So that we are no longer spiritually dead. So that ours is spiritual life, eternal life. So that we live in the light.
How do you get spiritual life, eternal life. You know. You know. It can only be yours in and through Jesus Christ. By the grace of God you need to accept Jesus as your Savior from sin and as the Lord of your life. When you do, if you do, then yours is the light of Christ and the life of Christ. And you become light in the Lord.
With Christ and in Christ yours is spiritual life, eternal life. And, without Christ, yours is darkness and death.
III In God there is No Darkness
A Let's backup a moment and remind ourselves of the purpose of John's letters. John wants to protect the churches to whom he writes from false teachers and false prophets. He wants to protect the churches from the heresy of Gnosticism -- which says Christ did not really come in the flesh, which says the way to eternal life is by means of a secret knowledge.
People listened to these false teachers and false prophets. They listened because the false prophets and teachers claimed to be in the light. Because they claimed to know and proclaim the truth. But, in fact, they and their followers remained in darkness. You can't be in the light if you don't believe Jesus came in the flesh. You can't be in the light if you believe the way to eternal life is through hidden knowledge rather than through the Lord Jesus Christ.
B This brings us to our third point. "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 Jn 1:5). There is no darkness in God. Only light. Only life.
No darkness means two things. First, it means God deals with truth, not the lies of darkness. God's Word is truth (Jn 17:17). His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Ps 119:105). Which means God's Word is not lies, not fables, not stories, not make-believe. What God says is true and reliable and absolutely trustworthy. It is the Devil and the world that deals in lies, not God. Not only is God's Word truth it is also life. That's why Jesus is described as the "Word of life" (1 Jn 1:1). You can't talk about the light of the Gospel without also talking about the truth of the Gospel. God, and His Word, is light and life and truth to our sin-darkened minds.
There is no darkness in God. Second, this means God is holy, moral, virtuous, righteous. Realize God is different from all else in Creation and has no moral blemish or stain of sin. God is the standard for perfection, the norm for ethics, the measure for goodness.
C God is light. Jesus is light. And we are light through Christ. Which means, which means, in us there also should be no darkness at all.
As with God, this means two things. First, we should be people of truth, people devoted to the truth of the Gospel, rather than to the lies that say all paths lead to God and everyone is saved. We should be people devoted to the truth of the Gospel, rather than to the lies of self-help religion that tell us we can save or help save ourselves.
In us there should be no darkness at all. Second, this means righteous living. Those who live righteously, who are light, don't hate their brother (1 Jn 2:9). Those who live righteously don't claim to be without sin knowing and realizing all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God (1 Jn 1:8). Those who live righteously fight against sin and temptation.
Now, obviously, we all fall short of being light like God. We fall short because we are conceived and born in sin. We fall short because the old man of sin continues to rear its ugly head in our lives. So our longing, our prayer, our hope, our cry is to be released from this body of death, to be more and more like God and Christ, to be fully light in the Lord.
We are born into darkness. We live in darkness. But darkness does not have the last word. Rather, God made light shine out of darkness. In the Gospel, God made His light shine in our hearts. Does this light shine in your heart?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
Back to Index of Sermons Page