“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. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say 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 we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:5–10 ESV)
God is pure, perfect and totally holy, void of any darkness – He is absolute pure light. We are all imperfect and sinful people, but those who prove that they are His are the ones that make a pattern of walking in light versus walking in the darkness – though imperfectly, they chose light over darkness. This is part of our progressive sanctification as we grow in holiness over time.
Our actions always speak louder than our words. We can say that we love God and serve Him, but if we are walking in ongoing sin then we are not in fellowship with Him regardless of what we say. We are lying to and deceiving ourselves. Satan’s primary tool against Christians is his ability to manipulate & deceive – it is what he did to Adam & Eve in the garden and it is what he still does today. Sin is always a declaration of autonomy, we just don’t want to submit to anyone; we want to be in control and to do what is right in our own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25). This is marked by, “I think,” “I feel,” “my experience has been.” We should never discount our thoughts, feelings, or experiences, but we should always weigh them in light of what is good, holy and right. This is primarily revealed in the scriptures and applied in the context of Christian community. We all have blind spots and we need others to help illuminate them and put them to death (Colossians 3:5).
If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with Him and with each other – and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins. As we walk in the light with other transformed believers, we experience increasing freedom from sin. Walking in the light means walking in right doctrine, moral purity and not hiding sin from ourselves and from one another. It means that we strive to put to death that which is sinful in us (Colossians 3:5). We are to murder the sin that is within us, and not just the external symptoms, but the root from which it springs. Extreme measures should be taken to kill sin in our lives (Matthew 5:29-30). This requires others, but not just any “Christian Community” will do! Putting sin to death requires a grace saturated Christian Community of people who are deeply aware of their own depravity and God’s great holiness and the unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor, approval & affection that bridges this chasm. This community is marked by grace that is freely extended to other broken sinners who want to confess their sins & turn from them to find true freedom.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. BOLD! Indwelling sin is a reality of life on fallen planet earth. Even John recognizes that He is still sinful. The height of pride and blindness is to say that we have no sin – or to say we are sinful, but are unwilling to address it specifically. No one is without sin, and the person who wants to downplay their sin and call it dysfunction or wiring or “just the way I am” is someone who is unwilling to acknowledge their sinfulness. God help us. There is a difference between walking in ongoing, unrepentant sin and saying that we are without sin altogether. Indeed, the mature believer is coming to see just how deep the roots of sin run in his heart and is becoming increasingly more appreciative for the grace of God.
The gospel declares the good news that God is faithful to heal sinners who come to Him and confess their sin to Him. Confession and repentance are all that are required to be clean and free. But, we rarely want to confess and repent of the deepest, darkest parts of our hearts. To confess it means the risk of judgement from others, but to hold it in is to walk in slavery. To be free, you must find some grace saturated Christians to confess your deepest sinfulness to so that it can be put to death (James 5:16)! There is no penance that you must do, however there may be consequences. We are all shocked when a “tame” lion attacks someone who is close to it. We say, “it was such a gentle and tame lion, I can’t believe he’d attack that poor person!” What!?!? He is an alpha predator, all he does is kill and eat things. We are shocked when we keep our secret sins on a leash (like a tame lion) and they turn around and attack us and destroy our lives. We must be willing to drag our pet lions out into the light of day and put a bullet in its head. This is a community effort, we all need to get our guns and help each other kill our sin!