Five Minute Devotions: 1 John 1
John’s first epistle was likely written as a general epistle to be sent out to all the churches he held influence over from his home church in Ephesus. At this point in the first century, all of John’s contemporaries had been killed for their faith, and John alone remained as an eyewitness of Jesus’ ministry and resurrection. That’s why the introduction to 1 John establishes John’s testimony as based on eyewitness evidence. This epistle gives testimony to:
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have observed and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – 1 John 1:1
John’s first epistle is cyclical. He goes through the same message again and again, ensuring that his readers (or listeners, more likely) cannot miss it. In this first chapter, he addresses those who profess Christianity, but make no attempts to obey its moral standards.
Claim to Fellowship
He says that those who profess, but do not possess the Spirit, “are lying and are not practicing the truth” (1 John 1:6). If you are living in clear and unrepentant contradiction of God’s moral truths, you have no claim to legitimate and authentic fellowship with God.
But the answer to eliminating our darkness is not producing our own light, but “walk[ing] in the light, as he himself is in the light” (1 John 1:7). Making God’s light a part of our life leads to the purification of our sin through the shed blood of Christ. We can only claim fellowship with God if his light resides in us. The test of salvation is the presence of the Holy Sprit.
Claim to Sinlessness
The next claim John addresses are those who claim to be without sin. Notice here that there is no but. The but is implied and it is guaranteed. All have sinned. There’s no need to even state it. To claim to be without sin, to claim that you do not need the atoning blood of Jesus, to claim that you are “a good person,” is to lie and deceive, not other people, but yourself.
Many people today want to believe that they are good enough for heaven. They hope that God will let them into heaven on the basis that they were “basically good.” They want all the benefit of heaven without the humble submission of confessing and renouncing sin. As John reminds us:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9
Claim to Have Not Sinned
This claim goes from the general to the specific, from a state of being to a state of action. This means to look at a particular action and deny that it is sin. We have lied to others, we have lied to ourselves, and now we lie to God and portray him as a liar (1 John 1:10).
If you profess Christianity, you become a representative of Christianity regardless of how good a representative you are. The world will form its opinion of Christ based on what it sees in his Christians. Have we, through our actions or inactions, made Christ out to be a liar?
Father, we come before you today to acknowledge that we have sinned and that we are sinners. We confess those sins before you today. We hand them over to you and ask that you take their spot in our lives. Forgive us. Purify us from all sin and unrighteousness. Make us the type of person dedicated to walking in the light.
What is the basis of John’s faith as evidenced in his opening?
What are some modern examples of professed Christians making God out to be a liar?
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