1 John 1:5-7. God is Light
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This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1: 5.
Have you ever been afraid of the dark? In some regions of Africa in which we have worked, the dark is the realm of the spirits. People can be afraid to go outside at night without wearing an amulet for protection or chanting incantations to ward off evil spirits. For Christians, however, the night often becomes a special time for prayer and worship. Students in theological colleges regularly hold all night prayer and praise sessions, using the time afforded by the dark as an opportunity to draw near to God. Thus, the darkness is transformed by the light of the gospel and joy in his presence is the fruit of the night vigil.
In today’s reading, John contrasts those who live in the darkness and those who live in the light by showing that it is impossible to live in fellowship with God and at the same time do the things that belong to the darkness. Just as at creation, light expelled the darkness (Gen 1:1-5), so in the life of the Christian, the light of the life of God within expels the works of darkness.
John reminds his listeners that the message the Apostles heard from the Lord Jesus Christ when he was on earth is that God is light (John 1:4-5). In this passage, the statement that God is light has moral and ethical implications. The message is that God is pure and righteous. Indeed, John can only really establish how pure God is by using an opposing negative, “in him there is no darkness at all.”
Throughout John’s letter we will come across many opposites that contrast the life of the believer in fellowship with God and the life of the unbeliever who remains out of fellowship and in the darkness. In v.6 John uses the contrast between the truth and lies as a second set of opposites. The first of three claims made by the false teachers in the church (1 John 1: 6, 8 & 9) is that they live in fellowship with God while their actions show otherwise. John condemns this hypocrisy as nothing more than lies and again uses an opposing negative, they “do not practice the truth.” He proves this by showing that because God is light, those who live in fellowship with him will by implication walk in the light too. This means that they will live with integrity.
All that they do and say will reflect the purity that is the light of God within. This means that they will live in fellowship with him and with one another. Anything less than this proves that their claim is untrue.
However, John is not stating that Christians are sinless. The foundation on which true fellowship with God and one another is achieved is cleansing by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son (v.7). The sacrificial blood of Jesus, shed on the cross for our redemption, is sufficient to wash away all sin. It is only on the basis of forgiveness that Christians can claim to have fellowship with God and each other.
Calvin writes, “If we desire to enjoy Christ and his blessings, it is required of us to be conformed to God in righteousness and holiness” (p.163). This is the meaning of the message that God is light. The only way that we can be conformed to living in fellowship in God’s light is to come daily to him for cleansing and to live wholesome lives that display his light and truth living in us.
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Almighty God, grant us the grace this day to walk in the light of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we all have forgiveness and life. Forgive us and cleanse us from sin and the works of darkness and grant that we may live wholly in your light.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Pray with us today's prayer request:
Give thanks for the appointment of Dr Samy Shehata as the new Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Alexandria. This Province covers a very large area - including Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. 'Heavenly Father, grant that Archbishop Samy may faithfully minister in this office to the glory of your name and the benefit of your Church. Amen.'
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