John now launches into three paired statements – “If…but if…”. We’ll take one each day, here is the first:
“If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth.
But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Since God is light (v.5), it follows that those who claim to be a Christian, those who claim to be following God, those who claim to be in communion with Him, should not live in darkness (v.6). Sadly, this is the case for many.
A profession of faith is not matched by a life lived in faith.
Words do not match actions.
Public conduct does not match private conduct.
John is very clear that this is lying and not practicing the truth. Very simply, if we say we have fellowship with him, we must not be living a life of habitual and perpetual sin (John uses the word darkness to refer to sin around ten times in his writings).
Really then, as a believer there is only one context in which your communion and relationship with God is real, in the light (v.7).
“But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
If we walk in the light as he himself is light, then our claimed fellowship is legitimate and genuine.
If we walk in the light as he himself is light, then as John writes, the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
Notice with me that we are not called to cleanse ourself by walking in the light. We are not, nor ever will be, called to live a life that is so holy and perfect that we are able to work off the consequences of our own sins.
Walking in the light suggests that we are open and responsive to the Word of God, the will of God, and the ways of God.
Walking in the light suggests that we are aware that there is only one way, one truth, and one way to eternal life, and that this is the only true path to fellowship with him (John 14.6). As Zane Hodges writes,
“…only in virtue of the Savior’s work on the cross can there be any fellowship between imperfect creatures and the infinitely perfect God.”
So, the first paired statement of “If…but if…” calls us to question whether our profession of faith matches the life we are living.
Do we say we have fellowship with God whilst indulging in, making provision for, and living a lifestyle of sin? If that is the case, stop. Pray. Repent. Walk in the light, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.