Sunday, 18 January 2009 00:00

Refreshing Honesty: Evidence of Real Cleansing

I John 1:5-8 (ESV)

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.

I sometimes wonder if one of the problems of modern Christianity is that we have created such a false sense of super-spirituality that we pretend we never struggle. Christians, especially we who lead, sometimes try to act as if we are perfect. This false sense of moral invincibility has led to a climate where transparency, honesty, and personal integrity are no longer a part of our faith. Image is more important than integrity. Public perception is more pressing than proclaiming the power of the gospel for sinners. Paul called himself the chief of sinners, but we cringe at the title.

  1. The message we receive from Christ is clear: "God is light" (v.5).
    What does that mean? Light represents everything that is good and beneficial for life.
    1. God in my life brings all the benefits of light in this world.
      These benefits would include, but not be limited to...
      1. The ability to see clearly... God is the source of all that is true.
      2. The ability to walk purposefully... God is the source of your purpose.
      3. The ability to live joyfully... God is the source of real happiness.
    2. God out of my life is simply the absence of God's light.
      To walk in darkness is simply to live your life without thought of, delight in, and response to God. This is the message that John received from Jesus Christ. "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." (Matthew 6:33). This is one of the reasons why a Christian in darkness is absolutely miserable.
  2. The mistake we Christians make is critical: "We deceive ourselves" (v.8).
    "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (v.8). The common mistake for Christians is that we get so used to being religious, or "spiritual," that we lose sight of the fact that we are often walking in darkness.
    1. We can be so easily deceived about our lack of desire for God.
      We get caught up in our desire for other people, success, or simply being liked, that we forget what it is like to just simply know and enjoy God for who He is.
    2. We can be so easily desceived into thinking other people are our problem.
      The finger is always being pointed at other people or the sins of other people.
    3. We can be easily deceived into thinking our sins are not important.
  3. The manner in which we live is confessional: "I am in daily need of God" (vs.6-7).
    "If we say we have fellowship with God while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth" (I John 1:6). John is not talking about spiritual perfection. John's truth is a razor's edge between two errors - the error that says your conduct after conversion has nothing to do with your salvation; and the error that says you conduct after conversion must be perfect. John says that when the truth enters in, its light reveals sin! The mark of the saint is not sinlessness but sin-consciousness! There is much talk today about esteeming ourselves as new creatures in Christ. And so we are. But our newness consists in this: that the true light is shining in our hearts revealing the dreadfulness of our remaining sin and the abundance of God's grace. Our joy is that our sin is forgiven, but there is no joy in continuing in it.

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