Walk in the Light – 1 John 3:5-10
When my sister was a kid she had poor eyesight. So my parents had her eyes checked. Sure enough, she needed glasses. After receiving her new glasses she went outside and looked around with wonder exclaiming, “The trees have leaves!” Her glasses gave her new sight and a new perspective on the whole world around her, even seeing things that she never realized were there.
In this article we will look at 1 John 3:5-10 and we will learn about walking in the light. We will see that when God opens our eyes to the light, He gives us a completely new perspective. The way we look at and live in the world will be completely different.
1. God is Light
A. His character is 100% pure and without blemish.
Darkness is a symbol for evil, while light is a symbol for goodness.
John 3:19 – And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
This is one of the most amazing points in the gospel. The God that we serve is not like us. Except for the Bible, the major religions in the world all have something in common. They are people’s attempts to create a religion or a system to solve our problems. They are man made. Their gods are man-made. Because they came out of the minds of men, they are in many ways very similar to people. Since we are not perfectly pure, we cannot conceive of a god that is. Therefore man-made religions impute our own human feelings or desires to their god.
One example is Greek gods like:
Zeus – Filled with lust and slept around with more than ten different mortals or “goddesses.”
But the true God is not like us. He is holy. He is pure. He is love. He is good. He has our best interests at heart.
In the Old Testament you can get a picture of how terrible it would be to follow an evil god. The prophets of Baal cut and slashed themselves because they thought their god wanted them to. The Amorites. The followers of Molech practiced child sacrifice to appease their god, which is the same as what has been discovered in Aztec and Inca civilizations. Other temples had mail and female cult prostitutes.
Our God is not like this. Jesus said to follow Him because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Following Him is a pleasure, a joy. Oen common sing we often sing very simply sums up this truth, “God is so good. God is so good. God is so good, He’s so good to me.” This is a very simple, but very important point of the gospel. God is good. His goodness means we can have faith in Him to take care of us. Faith in His goodness is the solid ground we stand on when we see the world in turmoil around us.
James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Just as God is the source of all light and all life, He is the source of all goodness. Every single good thing you have is ultimately given to you by God.
Application: When you are feeling discouraged, spend some time to meditate. Meditate on God’s goodness and write down different aspects of His character. Meditate on the good things He has given you in your life. Then spend time to thank Him. As you meditate on the light of His goodness the darkness around you will slowly shrink away.
B. Light is life
Without light there would be virtually no life on earth. Photosynthesis requires light. The light from the sun provides the energy which feeds life on earth.
Without God there would be no life of any kind. No physical life. No spiritual life.
C. He is truth.
In verse 5 John says the person who walks in darkness does not practice the truth. Therefore he uses truth as a synonym for light. God is truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the the life.”
In the world people despair of finding the truth. Some think it is too difficult to know the truth and so they give up. Others believe in relative truth. Today many people say, “what is true for you is not true for me.” The concept of relative truth is not new. Pilate once asked Jesus, “what is truth?” The answer is “God is truth.” His words never fail. He always keeps His promises. His revealed truth in the Bible does not change over the centuries. Cultural standards of truth are always evolving. Science books are constantly being updated and edited when errors are found. The Bible doesn’t change. It is inerrant so it doesn’t need to.
In Chicago in 1974 a statement was made that: “Inerrancy is the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relates to doctrines or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences.”
And yet many people think that because there are many different versions of the Bible that it has somehow change. Different versions represent different translations by new teams of translators, but the original language Scriptures are not changing.
One important proof of this is the Dead Sea Scrolls which were found in 1947. A Beduin shepherd was playing throwing rocks into a cave when he heard something break. After going to investigate, he found a number of scrolls in clay pots. He and his shepherd friends sold seven of these scrolls, the first four for $150. Eventually the caves were further explored and either almost complete scrolls or thousands of fragments of ore than 900 ancient texts were discovered. Every book in the Old Testament except Esther was represented by at least a fragment. These scrolls date back as much as 2200 years old to 200 B.C. Why is this important?
Our modern Old Testament come from Hebrew copies that date back only to about 1000 AD. Now we have a reliable and objective method to compare our these Old Testament texts with a separate line of copies that is much older. So has the text changed? Has it been altered over the centuries? Has God’s truth revealed in His Word changed?
The Dead Sea scrolls verified the accuracy of our biblical texts. An Isaiah scroll was found with the same content as our 66 chapters. The text and the meaning did not change over time.
Luke 21:33 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
What is truth? God is truth. His Word is His truth revealed to us. God does not lie and His plans cannot be thwarted.
Here is another example of why we can trust in God completely.
God made many promises in the Old Testament about the nation of Israel. These promises require that there be a Jewish state. But in AD 70 the Jews were scattered around the world. When this happens people will gradually intermingle and lose their identity. But not the Jews. Almost 1900 years later they came back from exile and modern day Israel was formed. God kept His promises to His chosen people across untold trials and thousands of years and in the face of brutal opposition.
All goodness comes from Him. All life comes from Him. All truth comes from Him.
D. He opens our eyes to the truth.
What does this mean for us? It means that we have hope. We don’t have to walk in darkness. We don’t have to live in doubt and confusion about our purpose or the meaning of life.
When Jesus encountered a blind man in John 10, He opened his eyes. Bartamaeus saw light for the very first time. And this light showed him many things he never knew before. He said, “I see men like trees walking around.” I see. What wonderful words. What a wonderful thing it is to see.
I read about a museum which is run by blind people and simulates what it is like to be blind. There is no light anywhere in the museum. People who visit are amazed come out with new appreciation of their sight. In reality this whole world is like this. The vast majority of people have still not seen and understood the truth. They don’t know where they come from. They don’t know what will happen after death. They don’t know why they are here. They don’t know their purpose.
Generally a blind person has a hard time knowing where to go, so he will find help. He will follow the crowd. He will go where others go. That is what people all around us are doing. They are following the crowds.
Jesus spoke of this problem in:
Luke 6:39 – He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?
But not long before Jesus healed this blind man He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.
Isaiah 42:16 – And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.
Jesus makes a huge claim. He says, “I am the light.” He says, “I am the truth.” He says, “I am the way.” He says, “I am the life.” Jesus can open your eyes and give you spiritual sight. He can answer those questions you have about the meaning of life. He can guide you to the truth so you future is built on a solid foundation. He can show you the truths needed for a good marriage. He can show you the truths needed for raising your children the right way. The truth from God is not theoretical. He changes how we see everything and He changes how we live every single day.
If you have never come to Jesus, I would invite you today. Ask Him to open your eyes. Ask Him to lead you into the truth. Stop looking in the ever changing standards of society to find it. You will not find what you are looking for there. Come to Jesus and He will open your eyes and show you the truth.
2. Jesus’ blood allows us to walk in the Light
A. What does it mean to walk in the darkness?
Once a person believes in Jesus, He is brought out of the darkness into the light. In other words, salvation will have a direct impact on a person’s life. He will not live and act the same way as before. In different Bible passages, this is described differently. Jesus described it as “a good tree bears good fruit.” James said that a person who says he has faith, but has no action, has dead faith.
John is saying, “If you say you are a believer, but live as if you are not, you are lying.” And this unfruitful lifestyle is described as “walking in darkness.”
Consider for a moment a person whom we will call Ted:
Ted doesn’t believe in God.
He has been taught evolution and he hasn’t really thought about it, but tends to believe it because that is what people say.
So Ted believes that when a person dies there is nothing more, and he becomes nothing.
Ted doesn’t really know the meaning of life, so he does what everyone else does.
He works hard to make money so that he feels secure and enjoys himself.
Most of his time is spent either earning money or using it.
When Ted makes decisions, he mostly just follows what people around him say.
He lives with his girlfriend before marriage to save money.
Later, he sends his kids to kindergarten because everyone else does. He pays lots of money for extra tuition because his neighbor said it helped his kid get a higher score.
At work, he follows the advice of his company consultant to figure out to avoid paying taxes he owes.
He has some bad habits, which he hopes to stop, but its too difficult for him.
And the list goes on and on. Ted isn’t especially bad compared to others. He is like all the others. He follows the crowd. This is what it is like to walk in darkness. Walking in darkness does not mean that a person is as bad as they possible can be. It doesn’t mean that a person is sinning all the time. It means that a person is living with their eyes closed. A person is living as if there is no God. God does not guide their decisions. The truth of Scripture is not considered. God’s power and leading are not present in their lives. Therefore like Ted, their goals, habits, decisions, and lifestyle are all formed by their own mind and the influence of those around them.
John is giving a warning to people in the church. If we live just like those around us doing the things they do and making the decisions that they make, then we too are walking in the darkness. Going to church on Sunday or reciting the sinner’s prayer doesn’t change that.
A person who is walking in the dark is not experiencing the abundant life that God has in store for them. And even worse, they are on the broad way which leads to destruction.
If you have been walking in the dark, today know that there is a better way.
B. What does it mean to walk in the Light?
Walking in the light means to see! God can open your eyes to see His truth and His presence everywhere!
When you see the stars and galaxies, you see more than flecks of light, you God’s power!
When you see a beehive, you see more than bugs, you see God’s orderly design.
When you see an annoying driver, you don’t look with eyes of rage, but you see God’s creation who needs to be loved and prayed for.
When you see your children, you see God’s great blessings to you.
When you see good things happen in your life, you see God’s providence and not coincidence. (Testimony of subway ride.)
We see what God is doing all around us. We don’t look at things with spiritual blinded eyes. He gives us new glasses.
But it doesn’t stop there. This knowledge changes how we live.
Proverbs 9:10 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.
Unless God has opened your eyes you cannot even begin to understand the world you live in. There is no real wisdom apart from Him. But once He opens your eyes, this knowledge will change everything.
Walking in the light means that you want to seek after this awesome God. You see His work all around you. You see His guidance. And you say, “I want that. I want to follow Him. I want to live for Him.” This desire will infiltrate every aspect of your life. When you make decisions you will not primarily follow the crowd anymore. Rather you will seek God’s direction. You will look to the Bible. Your old sinful habits will have less sway on you. God’s power will help you break free from sin. It doesn’t mean that you will never sin (as John will clarify in verses 8-10). But the general direction of your life will be following the light rather than following the world. God’s presence in your life will be clear.
And when your eyes are opened you will see that God Himself is more desirable than anything else in the galaxy, on your television, or on Amazon.
C. How can we walk in the Light?
Just as the blind man, we need someone to open our eyes. Verse 7 says,e “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” A blind person can make every effort to see. He can stare. He can strain his eyes. He can try through sheer force of will to overcome his limitations. But in the end, he will still fail.
The same is true of us. The only way we can walk in the light is through the blood of Jesus. The door into this new world is at the foot of the cross.
D. What is the result of walking in the light?
John says that if we walk in the light we have fellowship with one another. Darius spoke about this fellowship last week and if you didn’t hear it I encourage you to listen to it on the website. We can have fellowship with each other because once we are in the light we have common values. Even a believer we have known for only a moment we call brother or sister. We have more in common with our brothers and sisters in Christ than we do with our families. One faith. One hope. One Lord. One Savior. We have all experienced the grace that has brought us out of our sin. We are united in purpose.
This is why it is so sad to see quarrels and divisions within the body. Jesus gave His life so that we could be part of His family, so that we could have fellowship with Him and with each other. And then we take that bond and we break it over the most trivial things. We judge one another’s motives or get offended over perceived slights. Brothers and sisters, these things should not be!
Application: Next time before you rush to take offense, remember Christ gave His life for your brother. Do not quarrel and divide over trivial matters and spurn the fellowship God has given you with other believers. If you have lost fellowship or have any grudge in your heart toward other believers, then today come to the light. Take initiative to talk. Confess if necessary and restore the relationship.
3. Confession of sins – A Clarification
A. Verse 6 says that if we walk in the darkness we do not practice the truth. And verse 7 says “if we walk in the light as He is in the light.” Some people may read these verses as saying that a believer is perfect and that if a person still sins he is not a believer anymore. There was a false teaching going on like this at the time of this book and still there are people who say the same today.
It seems that John anticipated this potential misunderstanding. So he proactively clarifies it. In verse 8 he says that “if we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves.” In verse 10 he goes even further, “if we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.”
John uses very strong language here. Basically he says that a person who claims to be perfect is a blasphemer. Why?
God has made it clear in the Bible many times that every person has sin (Romans 3:10-12)
Stating that you have no sin contradicts God’s clear statement.
Therefore the person who claims to have so sin (whether before or after salvation) calls God a liar.
John speaks so strongly because this is an absolute bedrock principle of salvation. Every person has sin. If we didn’t sin, there is no need for the cross. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In Chinese it says, “shi ren.” The people of the world. In other words, if you are not an alien, you have sinned. When you share the gospel you need to make that your friends understand this.
When you become a believer, you don’t instantly become perfect, you don’t stop sinning. I have heard of people who said they didn’t sin after salvation. I am guessing their spouse may have a different idea. What does happen is that God’s grace covers them and they are forgiven.
B. How do we receive this cleansing?
1 John 1:9 is probably the most famous verse in the Bible for confession and forgiveness. It is simple and it is clear. I believe many of you have memorized it, but just in case let’s review it together. Recite 1 John 1:9. One more time with your eyes closed. If you can’t recite it yet, then work on it this afternoon.
To receive this forgiveness we have one step: confess. True confession has many aspects which we can only highlight today:
Admit verbally to the sin.
Take personal responsibility.
Don’t blame others.
Don’t justify it, minimize it, or make excuses.
Be specific in confession.
Ask forgiveness from all parties wronged (God and person).
Make restitution when possible.
This verse has one requirement for us to receive forgiveness, confess. God does everything else. He is faithful to do what He has promised, which is to forgive us and cleanse us.
Here is one of the greatest promises in the Bible. We don’t have to carry the weight of our sins. Neither do we need to do something to try to compensate for the wrongs which we have done. God’s forgiveness is both costly and free. It’s costly because Jesus gave His life in order to offer it. And its free because we can never pay for it and He doesn’t ask us to.
There may be some of you who have never come to the Light of Jesus. Perhaps you didn’t know. Or perhaps you wanted to enjoy this world a while longer first. Jesus is offering to open your eyes today. He is offering to give you new sight. He can show you the truth. His Light can lead you to safety, to joy, to understanding, to forgiveness, to purpose, and to fellowship with Him and His family. If you are listening and want this then right now, pray to Him. Confess your sins. Ask Him to open to your eyes. Tell Him that you want the light.
Others have come to the light already. Perhaps you are struggling with some sin that used to entangle you, some area of darkness that is attracting you. Just pray and confess that to Him right now.
And for all of us who have had eyes opened by Christ, let us spend some time to thank Him. Ask Him to increase our love for the light and strengthen our hatred of all darkness.
You cannot shine the light unless His light is in you. Let us go forth and shine the light brightly for all to see!