April 15, 2018
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
You’ve only got two and a half days left to file your taxes for 2018, but most of you aren’t worried about that because you’ve already filed…Right? Tax season isn’t a surprise; it comes at the same time every year, but there are still some who don’t get their taxes filed until the last minute. I found a statistic online from the IRS about the 2016 tax season. The IRS reported that one out of every five Americans who filed their taxes in 2016, filed within two weeks of the deadline. That’s 29 million individual returns filed just days before the deadline. (http://time.com/money/4742647/tax-day-2017-americans-last-minute-filing/) It’s one thing to be surprised by a deadline, but another to know a deadline is coming and do nothing about it.
In our second lesson from 1 John 1 and 2, John writes about a something everyone should know about because it’s something, or should I say, someone who has been around from the beginning. John, the author to 1 John, also the author of the Gospel of John and the three other letters 2 John, 3 John and Revelation, was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, the disciple often referred to in the New Testament as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He saw Jesus’ transfiguration as one of Jesus’ three closest disciples and was the one whom Jesus asked to care for his mother while he was dying on the cross. As John begins his first letter, he reminds his readers that Jesus is the one who was from the beginning. John’s language is the same as the beginning verses of Genesis,
“1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
and his gospel,
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John makes these connections between the Scriptures to make it clear that there is no excuse for not knowing who Jesus is because he is God, who has always existed, he is life and he is light, the only source of light that shines in this dark world. Therefore, John’s encouragement to the first readers of his letter and all believers is to Walk in the Light.
John gave the purpose for writing this letter as he began the second chapter writing,
2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.
John hoped that the readers of his letter would not sin. He hoped they would not sin because sin is bad. Sin causes all the bad things in the world to happen and it’s the word we use to refer to all the bad things that we do. Sin also separates us from God because God does not sin. God is good or light as John puts it and we live in sin or darkness. John wanted his readers to stop doing bad things and start doing good or walking in the light so that they would be able to have fellowship with God. John knew that without fellowship with God, we would die in the darkness of sin and spend eternity separated from God in hell. We might expect that John’s letter would continue with the secret set of steps they needed to take in order to be good, without sin and in the light.
However, John’s letter does not give a set of steps to follow to live without sin. John may want all the readers of his letter to live without sin, but the secret to a life without sin does not rest with us. Since, God, the Light, is the only one without sin, he is the only one who could fix our problem with sin. John explained it this way,
“8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
The truth is that we are sinners. We see sin at work in our own lives each day as we do bad things that cause us and others pain and vice versa. In Romans 7:7, Paul summarized the truth about sin saying,
“I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
Paul points to the Bible as the source for pointing out the truth about the sin we see in our lives.
Since, we are all guilty of sin, John continued to write,
“10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”
God’s word allows us to put a name to the things in our lives that are sinful. Today in Bible Study, we studied the Fifth Commandment,
“You shall not murder.”
In this commandment, God protects life and commands that we not take it from someone else. And at first glance, we might think, “I’ve kept that commandment because I haven’t murdered anyone,” but Jesus said in Matthew 5:21-22,
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”
Jesus gets at the heart of God’s command to protect life saying that even getting angry at someone or hating them breaks this command and is a sin.
With sin so easy and rampant in our lives, how could John write,
2 “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin?”
John was writing his letter to believers. In other words, he was writing to people like you and I who know the light and the truth that in Jesus we have forgiveness of sins. In Jesus we have the answer to God’s demand to be perfect and without sin because Jesus was perfect and sinless for us.
“Therefore…we have been justified through faith,”
as Paul said in Romans 5:1. Justified meaning that God says we are no longer guilty of our sins because Jesus has taken the punishment of our sins for us. Therefore, John hopes that we would not sin because we now live in the freedom of forgiveness. Freedom meaning, we no longer love sin nor walk in darkness, but we have seen the Light of Life, Jesus. John writes to encourage us in our lives of sanctification, meaning we have been set apart from the darkness of this world to live as lights pointing people to the good news of Jesus and living as loving citizens in this world until we reach heaven.
John hopes we would live without sin, but knows even as forgiven and freed people who believe in Jesus, we will still struggle with our sins. As believers our struggle has changed from not knowing the light of forgiveness to forgetting how our sins are forgiven. When we are disconnected from God’s way of communicating with us, we leave ourselves open to the attacks of the sinful world and all its darkness. The world will lie to us. It will tell us that we can have fellowship with God and sin. It will twist our minds to believe that sinful things are good or at least not a big deal, but if we begin to think that there are no consequences for sin or go so far as to take Jesus’ forgiveness for granted, then we risk losing our hope in Jesus.
Our weapon against forgetting our Savior, the truth and the light is God’s Word. For that reason, our worship service is designed to fight against the temptation to fall back into a love for sin and darkness by centering all the readings, prayers and hymns on God’s Word. This is why we make a confession of sins a part of every service. The confession of sins has been a part of Christian worship for centuries because we must always keep in mind the seriousness of our sins and the grace of God. All our sins are an active attack on God and our faith, while hearing the good news of our Savior keeps our faith strong to hold onto Jesus for forgiveness and to walk in the light.
John made it clear that the difference between walking in darkness and walking in light depends on our fellowship with God. John said,
“God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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, purifies us from all sin.”
This fellowship with God is our trust that he has forgiven and purified us from sin through Jesus. That is how we walk in the light, by faith, and not what we do.
If we think of ourselves as flashlights, then we can better understand our need to remain in God’s Word. In a sense, we all start off as flashlights, not the one that is on your phone, but an ‘old fashioned’ flashlight that takes batteries. Without faith in God, we are like a flashlight without batteries. It has a bulb, reflective lens, a button, a handle, but without batteries there won’t be any light. God is the only one with batteries and when he puts them inside of us, we shine. We can’t put the batteries in ourselves, God does it, so we give him the credit and thank him for allowing us to shine as we were meant to. Batteries fade though and if we do not remain in contact with God, our batteries can lose their charge and we become dark like before. In this case, the batteries are the faith that God gives us. And God keeps that faith strong, not us. When we grow dim by separating ourselves from God in his word, we run back to the source of our faith. When we have faith, we shine with kindness and love.
John reminds us that God will always be there for us when we run to him. John writes,
9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
God is always ready to forgive us when we call out to him because
we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
Jesus stands in heaven on our behalf to remind the Father that he has paid the price for our sins. Jesus restored our relationship with God and now we have fellowship with God.
John began his letter by reminding us what fellowship with God means for us. John encourages us that even if anybody does sin, Jesus has forgiven us. Jesus who is God himself, from the beginning, which John, the other disciples and many other witness have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. John’s words and all the words of the Bible were written to let you know what was clear to Adam and Eve in the beginning but was lost because of sin. That God is our creator and the giver of life. And when we fell into sin and death, God promised to send Jesus to restore that life to us. Then 2000 years ago,
2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
John shares this message with us to bring us into fellowship with him and all believers. And also, he says,
4 “We write this to make our joy complete.”
His joy is complete when you trust in Jesus as your Savior.
You’ve only got two and a half days left to file your taxes for 2018, but most of you aren’t worried about that because you’ve already filed…Right? Tax season may not fill us with joy, but it does come every year and so we ought to be ready for it.
I’m not sure how much time you have left in this world, but you don’t have to be worried when the end comes because I know the one who holds your times in his hands. He is the one who John wrote about when he said that even though we sin and walk in darkness in this world, there is a light of life and truth that shines in this dark world. Brothers and Sisters, I pray that you will not sin this week, but when you do sin, do not despair. You have Jesus, who gave his life to save you. Live in the freedom of his forgiveness and make your joy complete by sharing the good news with others. Enjoy the fellowship you have with God that fills your heart with peace and Walk in the Light. Amen.