Walking in God's Light

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1 John 1:5-7


On Monday, Gordon Brown said that we must, in an uncertain and unstable world, be the rock of stability upon which the British people can depend. This would have been an audacious statement at the best of times, but these are not the best of times. To say he is the rock of stability after giving away our money (that we don’t have), to banks that do have our money, seems a little shaky. There is only one rock on which we stand. Isaiah 26:4 says, “Trust in the Lord forever; he is the rock eternal.” He is the eternal rock who is with us in all our struggles. This leads to our theme from 1 John 1:5-7: Walking in God’s Light Today. We begin by…


1.1      The eternal word is light

In vs.1-4, John said the Eternal Word lived with them in AD30. He then said that the same Eternal Word is with us in AD2008. With this in mind, he announces his theme in v5. He says, “This is the message we have heard from him and de­clare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

1.2      In him there is no darkness

Light is a brilliant quality in which there is no darkness. When applied to God, this re­fers to his moral purity, his perfection, and his holi­ness. In words similar to those used of Jesus in John 1, Psalm 36:9 says, “You are the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” In God’s light, sin is exposed; in God’s light, we find forgive­ness; in God’s light, we have life.

John heard this message from Jesus when he said I am the light of the world. In John 12:46, Je­sus said: “I have come into the world as light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in dark­ness.” My mother would put us under the light to show the dirt be­hind our ears and on our neck. She did this with good intent—so that we might be clean. God’s light shines on us: not to condemn us, but to clean us up and make us more presentable.

1.3      Walking in the light of God’s word

John is not trying to discourage us with this message about light. He is encour­aging us to walk in the light so that we may see our sin and do some­thing about it. Galatians 5:16 says, “Walk in the Light of God’s Word by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” When we walk in the light of God’s word, we learn to hate sin and avoid it as much as possible. John 3:20-21 says, “Those who do evil hate the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be ex­posed. But those who live by the truth come into the light, so that it may be clearly seen that what they have done was in the sight of God.” This leads to a further point…


2.1      We cannot walk with God and sin

In v6, John takes the idea of walking in God’s light a step further. He says, “If we claim to have fellowship with God and yet walk in darkness, we lie, and do not live out the truth.” The Message puts this more dramatically. It says: “If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth—we’re not living what we claim.” Putting it suc­cinctly, John says: “We cannot walk with God and sin at the same time.”

2.2      Walking in God’s presence

John is not questioning our salvation. He is encouraging us to walk with God. The closer we are to God, the more conscious we are of sin, and the less we will do it. Ha­bakkuk 1:13 says, “God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil; he cannot toler­ate sin.” If we walk with God, we will be like this: our eyes will be too pure to look on evil, and we will hate sin. Like the one who called us is holy, we too should be holy in all that we do (1 Peter 1:15). The point is this: You can be­lieve in God and sin, but you cannot walk with God and sin.

One day we will live in God’s presence without sin. When we walk with God on earth, however, we are also in his pres­ence and should not want to sin. 1 John 3:9 says, “Those who are born of God do not practise sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot sin because they are born of God.” Romans 6:2 puts this another way. It says, “If we died to sin we cannot live in it any longer.”

2.3      Growing in the light of life

1 John 1:6 can be one of the most frightening verses in the Bible or it can be one of the most encouraging. It depends how we apply it. If all we see is God’s holiness in relation to sin, then we will live in fear. On the other hand, we could see a loving God who does not condemn us. We could see a loving God who shines his light on us so that we might look to Christ for redemption and renewal. In John 8:12, Jesus said: “I am the light of the world; who­ever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” This leads to a further point…


3.1      A positive response

Having looked at walking in the light negatively in v6, John now looks at it more posi­tively in v7. He says, “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, puri­fies us from all sin.”

3.2      Walking with God in a fallen world

In our walk with God, we strug­gle with many other distrac­tions—including sin. This is because we walk with God in a fallen world. God knows this. He knows how we strug­gle and he’s there to help. He says if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one an­other. This suggests an openness and respon­sive­ness to God’s word and God’s ways in God’s world.

When we walk in the light in a fallen world, sin is highlighted but we bring it under the continual cleansing of the blood of Christ. The word cleansing is catharsis. This is a deep and thorough purging. As God’s light shines on us, he points out sin and we re­spond by seek­ing forgiveness. We then deal with sin and put it behind us. This is re­peated as God points out more sin. It is like having a small vacuum cleaner in front of us picking up the dirt we see. Behind us, however, is a powerful steam cleaner sucking up the dirt we don’t see. This is how we walk in the light in God’s world.

3.3      You are the light of the world

Having said that he is the light of the world, Jesus then said to his disciples you are the light of the world. He said, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” This is a reflection of our walk with God. We reflect God’s light when we walk with God in the light of his word. We reflect God’s light when we walk with God in the light of his ways. We re­flect God’s light when we walk with God in the light of his world. Ephe­sians 5:8 says, “We were once darkness, but now we are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”


On Monday, Gordon Brown was riding the crest of a wave as the rock of stability in an unstable world. On Thursday, this was being ques­tioned. One newspaper headline said: Brown bail-out under threat as bank seeks better deal. There is only rock on which we stand—the rock eternal. So walk in the light of God’s word; walk in the light of God’s ways; walk in the light of God’s world. Walk in the light as he is in the light. Then you will have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus will pu­rify us from all sin…

Purify my heart


Continue to read the book (it should take no more than 20 minutes). Follow the outline from Burge’s Commentary.

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