In the second week of the Living Deep sermon series at my church, the topic was a Deeper Walk. John wrote: 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 (1 John 1:5-6). Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did (1 John 2:6).
John described an “experiential test” of whether a person is truly a follower of Christ: the test is how you behave. If you have been born of God, you cannot keep on sinning as you did before (1 John 3:9). If you have fellowship with God, you will keep his commands. Just as light contrasts with darkness, a person who has been saved should be noticeably different from a person who hasn’t.
In no uncertain terms, John challenged believers to be honest about our sinfulness. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:8-10).
Pastor Brad said that we should admit our sins to ourselves, confess them to the Lord and to others, and replace the sin we are giving up with the word of God.
In the silent time of prayer, I confessed that I call people dirty, dehumanizing names when I am upset with them (though not to their faces). I am disrespectful like this when I’m driving and get annoyed with another driver or when I’m watching TV and hear someone lying. The other person can’t hear me but God can.
I know that it isn’t enough to control my tongue; my heart needs to change. Jesus said, “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
John’s admonitions are humbling. While it is no fun to be called a liar or to be confronted with my sinfulness, it is good for me to be humiliated on a regular basis! I claim to have fellowship with Jesus yet I continue to walk in the darkness. I am too proud of my own spiritual maturity, telling myself that I’m not like “judgy” religious people, that I’m more loving and tolerant. But I fall so short of the example Jesus set!
What does the Lord require of me? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8).
John described the faith walk in very black and white terms; either you walk in the light or you walk in the darkness. I agree that Christians should take sin seriously. But even for those of strong faith, the spiritual journey is not without struggles. Richard Rohr wrote that we never get to spiritual maturity without engaging in “shadowboxing” and the struggle continues for the rest of your life.
When I go for a walk in the sun, I put sunglasses on to protect my eyes, which are pretty sensitive to bright light. As I walk under the trees and the light becomes dappled, my eyes struggle to adjust to the changing light. They can’t figure out whether to dilate or constrict. Sunglasses off. Sunglasses on. I adjust to the changing conditions the best way I know how.
I want to be a glimmer of light in the darkness. I want to have a heart radically changed by grace. I want to be proof that Jesus is who he says he is.
That You are who you say You are
That grace can really change a heart
Do I live like Your love is true
And even if they don’t know my name
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed
When they see me, do they see You
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You