Friday, June 18, 2010

Learning To Live In The Light Is Simple But Not Easy

We are taking our elementary students to a local amusement park to end our school year and have to leave very early; I apologize for the brevity of the devotions this morning.

As I have studies John's writings I have concluded that he had lived too long to fool around with a lot of words. In his first letter he comes across as a master of the "powerpoint" presentation. However, as brief as he was with his words we need to also recognize how concise he was. Here is his summary of what he heard Jesus teach:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

John knew this, not as theory or theology, but as experience, having lived with that light for three years. In those three years John witnessed Jesus do everything with perfection. Not once did he witness any sign of darkness in him; not once did Jesus fall to the same sins we fall to every day. It is precisely this fact, that God is light, that prevents us, who are consumed by darkness, from having fellowship with him:

If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. (1 John 1:6)

 We need to recognize that there is sin that we have no power over (without Jesus) and then there is sin that we make choices to be involved in. In the garden Eve made a choice. She was not powerless. In our lives we have a choice to do what is wrong or to do what is right. Using John's language, we either walk in darkness or we walk in the light. Even without Jesus people are able to choose to live a good, moral life. It won't save them because salvation requires the blood of Jesus:

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 1:7)

The point is that we still have to make the decision to leave the darkness behind and step into the light. We have to desire to have fellowship with each other and with God. We cannot have this fellowship if we still desire the darkness and the things that belong to it. This is one of the reasons that trying to convince people of the love of Jesus when their hearts have not been prepared by the Spirit can be frustrating. People actually need to desire to change. They need to hear change is possible but then they have to desire that change. If they desire only darkness then they will never let the light penetrate.

John makes a good point here; we have to confess the sin that exists in that darkness before forgiveness can be received in the light:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 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)

This is the work Jesus came to do; to reveal the light in the darkness and to freely offer forgiveness to anyone who wants to escape its powerful grasp. If we deny the darkness and the sin contained there then there is no hope for us. Not only that but we are making Jesus out to be a liar. Why are we so afraid to talk about the "elephant" in the room?
 
We treat sin as if it is an abnormal thing in our lives. The fact is that it is the most natural thing we are part of. It is what we were born to. Even after we have experienced our second birth in Jesus Christ and have become a new Creation, sin is attractive to us. Part of "working out our salvation daily" is learning to confess, to forgive and be forgiven. It is from there that we grow in maturity and strength and are able to stand against temptation, in the power of the blood of Jesus. The problem happens when we become afraid of what people will think and we begin to hide our sins, even from God. We fail to understand that we are in a process that is leading us to spiritual maturity but not to perfection. We will be "made" perfect when Jesus returns. An alcoholic will never get better if he keeps falling and hiding it. It is when he continually brings his failures into the open and becomes accountable that change begins to happen. It is the same with us sinners. We must be accountable to God and one another, in the light.

The atmosphere of the church is also partially to blame. When a person falls and does what they are suppose to do, confess it, it is treated like a shock wave through the church. Confessed sin should not shock us; it is the hidden sin revealed that is the most destructive. The Church needs to develop an ambiance of forgiveness, especially for the older saints who feel more shame and guilt but who also possess more fear of how people will react. Some people would rather live with their hidden sin and go to hell then face an unforgiving church. Does that seem right to you?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

If this is what Jesus is willing to do why is it that we think we are too good to forgive sin, no matter who confesses it? No, I think John was right in keeping this short and simple because it is as simple as that; Jesus came to reveal the light to us and to forgive the sins of anyone who wants to step into that light. We need to learn how to seek and to give forgiveness.