April 30 – 1 John 1:5-10


Did you see our new Weekday Study? It’s a new resource for you and the folks in your community group that goes along with our sermon series, check it out here!  1 John Weekday Study

Main focus: Walking with God in the goodness of his light requires confession.

This week we continue with our introduction to John’s first epistle, and we’ll see some continuity with our discussion last week. In verses 1-4 John talks about what he has seen and heard and is now testifying about, and here in verse 5 he tells us what that message is, that God is light which, for John, is a rich word-picture of God’s goodness, wisdom, holiness, and perfection. But we also read this huge implication of that message, that because God is light, for us to be with him and walk with him through life we must walk in his light. That will require of us a number of things, chief among them confession.

But before we get too much further into 1 John, you’ll notice that John reiterates things. A lot. But each time he revisits an idea he doesn’t just repeat himself, he adds something to it. Our passage for this week is a good example—verses 6, 8, and 10 all talk about the deception of sin, though not all the exact same way, while verses 7 and 9 both speak about the practice of renouncing our sins, though verse 9 adds in the concept of confession. You’re going to see this sort of reiteration and addition over and over (and over and over) in 1 John, but be patient with the letter. John is doing this intentionally to reinforce our understanding, to lay a groundwork and then add to it with further knowledge, and above all, to make sure we can’t possibly finish the letter and forget his big points.

Now, back to our passage. John tells us that God is light, and you can hear some parallels with his Gospel here, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” (John 1:4-5) and “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Because of this, John tells us (a couple times) that to be where God is requires recognizing the darkness we walk in, renouncing that darkness, and repeatedly seeking his light. Because there is no darkness (i.e. sin) in God, we cannot pretend to have fellowship with him while we ourselves walk in darkness (i.e. sin). 

And don’t miss the language John puts around sin, the language of deception (v.6, 8, 10). If we say we walk with God while we really walk in sin, we lie. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and make God a liar. Clinging to our sinful ways while claiming to be a follower of Jesus will inevitably lead us into duplicity, dishonesty, and deception. Worse still, sin has a deceiving, blinding effect on us (Jer 17:9; 2 Cor 4:4). 

But also, that word “walk” is very helpful here. John isn’t saying any slip into sin reveals we aren’t actually followers of Jesus; he says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves”! John is saying that the correct response to sin is confession, and a lack of confession, particularly continuing to living with your sin or “walk along with it,” is incompatible with a life lived (or walked) with God. On top of that, the very heart of the gospel is prepared for us to deal with sin. Our gut reaction to sin is usually something like Adam and Eve in Genesis 3: we hide and convince ourselves that it’s not really a problem or it’s someone else’s fault.

But in the hope of the gospel we can run to God rather than from him. John reassures us here that God isn’t surprised or confounded by sin in his children. In discussion we’ll look at God’s disposition towards us; quite clearly he’s ready and able to forgive us of our sin if we come to him in confession. And that’s because we have an advocate to make a way for our forgiveness (v. 7, 9). This practice also reminds us of what actually saves us, not our being good enough or remembering to confess every little sin, but Jesus’s blood on our behalf.

Of course, confessing sin is no easy task. But in discussion we’ll turn to Psalm 32 to get a sense for how much more crushing unconfessed sin is, and how delightfully liberating confession is. This psalm will hopefully help us see the joy that waits for us on the other side of confession, and will prime our hearts as we consider how God is calling us to make a greater practice of confession in our lives.

Questions for Discussion
• Could someone read 1 John 1:5-10 for us?

• What stood out to you from the passage?

• What does this passage say about our relationship with sin?

• How does John describe God’s disposition towards us?

• Based on this passage, how does confession invite you to relate to God?

• Let’s turn to Psalm 32. Could someone read that for us?

• How does this describe the effects of confession?

• If you were to put these two passages into practice in your life, where would you start?