This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by 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, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1.5-7.
The “him” at the start of this morning’s reading is Jesus. He had proclaimed: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8.12) and this morning’s reading is a kind of commentary by the apostle John on that saying of Jesus.
From Jesus we understand just how God himself is light. Jesus shone with goodness and purity and bright burning love, but also with truth. By just being there, he exposed all that was false and untrue and corrupt and sinful and showed it up for what it was. That was why the Pharisees so hated him — their hypocrisy became clear to all. Immediately before Jesus called himself “the Light of the world”, the Pharisees had brought to him the woman taken in adultery whom they were eager to stone to death. But in the light of Jesus, they had to drop their stones and walk away (John 8.1-11). And the light of Jesus is the light of God. In the darkness, values become distorted, edges become blurred, evil masquerades as good, expediency excuses everything; but that cannot happen in the light of God. In the light of God everything is as it is and nothing can be hidden.
And that, says John, is the basis for true fellowship — not only with God (though that is implicit) but with each other. I may talk about being in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ but if I am not completely “in the light” and they are not completely “in the light” our fellowship is necessarily less than real. If we are each covering up things in our lives that we do not want the other to see, we are bringing darkness in and “walking in it”.
That has consequences too in terms of our cleansing from sin. The blood of Jesus purifies from all sin, but only sin that is recognised as sin. As John says a couple of verses later: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1.9). But the problem with darkness is that it provides a haven for unconfessed sin by preventing me from seeing things in my life for the sins that they are. Darkness colludes with me in disguising sin as something else — just little weaknesses that I have learned to live with and that God is indifferent towards.
How challenged I am this morning to let the light of God flood my life afresh. To let it expose every wrong and evil thing and show it for what it is so that the blood of Jesus can avail to cleanse me from it and make me pure within. How challenged I am to have no truck with darkness and to “walk in the light”.