The passage I’m memorizing and meditating on this week goes along with track 4 on the Seeds Family Worship album The Character of God. The song is, “God is Light.” I understand why Seeds chose to omit verse 6 and the end of verse 7 in their song (to keep the focus on God as light), but I’m going to use the entire 3 verses for my own purposes. Here is the passage:
1 John 1:5-7
5 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. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 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.
Verse 5 reminds me that God is the source and Christ the revelation of these words. (And it follows that the Spirit is the inspiration for the writing of these words.) This verse contains the monumental truth about God’s character: his light. It isn’t just that God has light, but he is light. To clarify and emphasize the point, the author goes on to say that there is no darkness in God at all. No flaw, no shadow, but ultimate and absolute righteousness, purity, and glory. The fact that God is light informs how we see all the other aspects of his character that are revealed to us such as justice, love, wisdom, and more. The phrase “in him there is no darkness at all” is sticking out to me today, because I don’t know about you but I bump into darkness in my own mind and heart on the regular…
…Which makes verse 6 kind of tricky, but it is in studying the difficult and strongly worded parts of God’s Word that his Spirit helps us reach important conclusions about our faith. I am challenged by what it truly means to walk in darkness and to walk in light. It seems to me, based on what I know about God and his Word already, that to walk in darkness is to live according to lies. One’s life would be built upon lies, such as self-sufficiency, works-based salvation… essentially a god of one’s own design. As usual, actions speak louder than words, so one may say s/he is in fellowship with God, but the fruit of that person’s choices will be visible and will call out the lies.
Verse 6 is true and important and cautionary, but it need only convict the guilty. For example: I know I’m a sinful person saved only by God’s grace through Christ’s sacrifice and living out my salvation under guidance from his Spirit. The enemy of my soul would have me stop at “I know I’m a sinful person,” and would love to see me put guilt on myself that God– who is Light– has already taken away. My enemy would have me think, “You are one of those liars, claiming to walk in light while your sin is keeping God at a distance from you.” This is the reality of a sinful nature that is being redeemed, being put to death, and the reality of taking up my cross daily: my sinful self is not dead until my body dies. And so, by the power of God’s Spirit, I put on his armor each day and fight this war against the powers of darkness in this world, including within my own mind. Because of God’s redeeming work in my heart and mind, and the fruit the Spirit has graciously cultivated in me (in thought and action), I know better than to believe the lie that I am unredeemed, or unredeemable. I know that if Christ’s sacrifice has secured my redemption, put me at peace with God, and given me the Holy Spirit, then God’s light is within me. This is to be the foundation upon which I build my life.
Verse 7 reminds me that because of the goodness (love-mercy-justice-holiness-light-etc.) of God, I can and will walk in the light and continue to work out my salvation with help from his Spirit. God’s pure, powerful light is greater than, and casts out, my darkness. But it’s not only about me, and I just love how this verse is constructed because the author mentions our fellowship with one another even before he mentions our being cleansed from sin. It is a super big deal to be in fellowship with one another, and that’s something else I want to remember this week. My salvation does not exist in an anti-social bubble (as much as that bubble sometimes sounds like a nice place to be), and it does not only redeem my connection to God, but my connection to others. I can be vulnerable and share my struggles with others. I can grieve with and give support to others who are going through hard times. I can ask for and give grace. I can share my triumphs and rejoice with others in times of joy and victory. This is all part of walking in the light.
In reflecting on this verse, my prayer is that I will not feel false guilt over the darkness that still exists as part of my sinful nature, but that I will feel and know God’s assurance of salvation and the gift of his Spirit. I pray that I will be drawn to confess and repent of any thoughts or actions that are rooted in lies. I pray that my mind and heart will be drawn to God’s truth and that my hands and feet will be led to godly actions so that his Light will shine through me.
I would love to know what thoughts this passage brings to mind for you.