"This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." - I John 1:5-10
This passage of Scripture perhaps instructs us how to deal with the problem of sin better than anywhere else in the Bible. In the Garden of Eden, when man sinned and chose to place himself at the center of his life instead of God, then his fellowship with God was broken. Man was out of relationship with God because man was trying to be his own little god, instead of keeping himself submitted to God and keeping God as the center of his life. This sinful selfish choice also put man out of relationship with mankind.
We see in the book of Genesis the story of the first two brothers mentioned in the Bible, Cain and Abel. Cain was a spiritual mess, showing anger, depression and jealousy because God didn’t accept his offering of works while He did accept Abel’s offering of a blood sacrifice. God warned Cain that his sins are as dangerous as a tiger hiding and waiting to harm and control him. Cain didn’t heed the warning, and his ill will and hostilities toward his brother finally resulted in the murder of Abel.
"And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." - Genesis 4:4-7 (KJV)
Here in the New Living Translation we can see clearly where God likens sin to a hidden crouching animal (maybe a tiger) eager to control your life.
"'Why are you so angry?' the Lord asked Cain. 'Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.'" - Genesis 4:6-7 (NLT)
We want to think our sins are no big deal, and we really don’t need to deal with them. So, when we sin, we try to hide it from God; we try to hide it from others, and unconsciously we are trying to hide it from ourselves. If a tiger is in the room, I don’t want him to be hiding from me. Instead, I want to see exactly where he is, especially if he is crouching and hiding waiting to get me. This is how sin works: it hides and waits until we are the most vulnerable; then it jumps on us and tries to master or control our lives. When Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to cover their sin and nakedness by putting on fig leaves; then they tried to hide from God by hiding amongst the trees in the Garden. Hiding sin will never solve the sin problem.
So the nature of sin is hidden, and as we look at our initial text in First John, God likens our sins to darkness. We all can understand that the nature of sin is like the darkness, as man thinks in the dark of the night he can hide his sin. In this text we also see that God likens fellowship or a relationship with God to a way of Light. Light and darkness have no fellowship, and if our sin is taking us out of fellowship with God or hindering our relationship with God, then we need to bring what is in the darkness into the Light. This is where the problem lies, because in our carnal nature, we are doing everything in our power either consciously or unconsciously to hide our sins from God, from others, and even from ourselves. To get a Christian to see himself and admit where he is wrong is such a difficult task that only the Holy Spirit can do this for man.
Our text reveals clearly that the way of fellowship with God is a life of seeing our sin in the Light, exposing it, admitting or confessing it, repenting and forsaking it, and allowing the Blood of Jesus Christ to forgive us and cleanse us from our sinful deeds. This should be a daily occurrence in our life to which we look forward with grateful hearts. But instead we treat it like it is the most horrible thing that we have to endure. Some Christians had rather have a tooth pulled than to have to admit to some sin in their lives.
The Apostle Paul understood the nature of sin and the problem of sin. He realized that his sinful or wrong deeds were simply a result of his fallen sinful nature that he inherited from Adam the first.
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." - Romans 7:18-20 (KJV)
It is even clearer in the New Living Translation
"And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it." - Romans 7:18-20 (NLT)
This shouldn’t seem to be the end of the world for Christians, but rather a liberating truth that God loves us so much that He didn’t leave us in a hopeless sinful condition. But rather He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who went to the cross for us, to die for our sins. Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins and shed His Blood so that we wouldn’t have to continue in our sins. Jesus made a way of escape; He made a way to right everything that is wrong with us. Therefore, we should come boldly to the throne of Grace with hearts of gratitude and thanksgiving each day and experience God’s solution to our sin problem: the Grace of God.
If the center of our being is the SELF instead of God, then the SELF with its many faces, such as selfishness, self-centeredness, self-confidence or self-righteousness, will avoid the true solution to our sin problem. With SELF seated on the throne of our hearts and in control of our lives, when we sin, we will minimize the sin down to something so small that we don’t see the need to deal with it. Or we will try to save ourselves by trying to avoid the sin all together by living up to our own moral standards, declaring SELF to be the lawgiver and, therefore, keeping our own laws. We could call it being such a good moralist or a Pharisee that we think we are avoiding sin. Therefore, we think that we have no need for the Blood of Jesus or the Grace of God. We are simply grateful that we are not like the sinful Publicans.
Perhaps the most self-righteous attempt to save ourselves is a false self-centered repentance where we come before God and try to beat ourselves up so badly that we might somehow earn God’s favor or forgiveness. We think that we really have to feel bad for the sin, and if we can make ourselves feel bad enough, then just maybe we will get God’s attention to where He will grant us His Favor or Grace. This is not true repentance. Instead, this is a form of self-righteousness as we use self-pity to attempt to save ourselves. This is what Cain tried to do with his works offering.
As we refer to our text in First John, we see that God’s way for us to deal with our sin problem is to walk in the Light. In other words, we are to be open, honest and transparent concerning this issue of sin. Ask God to reveal it to us, and then admit it, confess it, and forsake it. It is no shame to be a human being, as we all were born with a sin problem. Therefore, we simply need to live in open confession before God and our brothers and sisters. This is how we stay in a proper relationship with God and with others.
I am not ashamed to say that “I am a sinner,” that “there is no good thing in me,” (in my flesh). These are Biblically factual truths about myself. I stand to gain nothing by trying to impress others, or God, or even myself with my imaginary human goodness. I guess if I were to try to compare myself with other men, I might measure up pretty well against most. But the Bible tells us not to compare ourselves with others. We are supposed to compare ourselves with God and His Law. And when we do this, we will see that we come up far short, not even close to His perfection. This puts us all in the same boat, as we all are sinners in need of a Savior. "There is none righteous, no, not one." With this knowledge about ourselves, we shouldn’t be so focused on hiding our sins. But rather we should pray that God’s Light will shine upon our hearts and reveal anything and everything wrong inside of us so that we can bring it to the Light.
To really get serious and committed to fulfilling our purpose in life, we must begin with God. Life is all about our relationship with God, for we were created for His pleasure. Therefore, if anything knocks us out of fellowship with God, then we should immediately remove it from our life, with joy and gratitude for the Blood of Jesus and the Grace of God.
This can only be done if someone really has a personal relationship with Jesus and has allowed their identity to be absorbed into the identity of Jesus Christ. This person has such a love for God and a desire to make Jesus the supreme love, affection, and delight of their soul that they don’t want anything coming between them and Jesus. This person loves God so much more than any sin that they gladly admit, confess, and forsake any and all sinful behaviors. Maybe that is the key question to ask ourselves: do we love our sin more than God?
Someone who is confident and strong in their relationship with Jesus and knows who they are in Christ Jesus will not shrink back from dealing with sin, because they want nothing standing between them and Jesus. They will readily and quickly admit their sin as soon as it is revealed to them, and with joy and gratitude they will go to the Cross and confess it and turn from it or forsake it. These people experience continual and constant transformation in their lives as they are changed from glory to glory. They have learned the secret to walking in the Light.
The question is simple: do you love God more than you love your sin? Do you see your sin as odious, grievous, or as wicked as God sees it? Once you see it for what it really is, and you realize that this is why Jesus went to the cross of Calvary and shed His Blood, then you begin to want the sin out of your heart, out of your mind, and out of your life immediately.
Walking in the Light is continually bringing the things of darkness into the Light and dealing with them. It is using the Grace of God on your sin. Or better said, it is coming to the cross daily, just as you are, without one plea, "Oh Lamb of God I come to thee." As we get painfully honest with God, then He forgives, He restores, He renews, and He brings us back into fellowship or a right relationship with Himself and with others.
This blog was inspired by the book “The Calvary Road,” written by Roy Hession. The book has a chapter entitled “The Way of Fellowship” that speaks on this subject in an awesome way. You might want to pick up a copy and mediate upon this to further this truth in your understanding.
There is nothing sweeter than being in a right relationship or fellowship with God. And we can usually measure our relationship with God by our relationship or lack of relationship with mankind. Life should be lived out in the open with integrity and transparency as we walk in the Light as Jesus is in the Light, fellowshipping with God and man. Yes, I am a sinner. But, praise God, I am washed in the Blood of the Lamb, forgiven, saved, redeemed, and cleansed of all unrighteousness. To God be the glory!