Tonight’s Bible study looked at 1 John 1:7-10 TNIV. Here, we read about ‘walking in the light’ and the benefits this brings. ‘Walking’ is often used in the sense of ‘living’, having a moral sense indicating the habitual course of life, outward and inward (see also Mark 7:5 TNIV, Acts 21:21 TNIV). The benefits of this are that we have fellowship with God (in the sense of association, communion and joint participation with), fellowship with other Christians and purification from all sins. The verb ‘purifies’ is in the present continuous tense, indicating that not only has Jesus cleansed us, this is an ongoing work available to us every day, giving us ‘unimpeachable purity’. In chemical situations, it is very hard to achieve total purity (think of the ‘traces’ of other substances in bottled water, for example), but Jesus is able to purify us totally and utterly.
This cleansing leads to a change in our behaviour; we do not wish to continue in the same sins, but want to grow in our understanding of what it means to walk in the light. It’s like the first gleam of dawn, becoming brighter as the day goes on (see Proverbs 4:18 TNIV). However, John is realistic about the fact that sin is still present; to claim otherwise is to deceive ourselves and to make God out to be a liar. We need continual purification because we continue to be contaminated by sin! God has made provision for all our sins to be forgiven – and at such a cost, the price being the blood of Jesus – but we need to confess our sins in order for this forgiveness to be realised and made effective in our lives. If we do not avail ourselves of the forgiveness which is freely offered to us by confessing our sins, we do not receive the forgiveness for which Christ paid. It’s like having a gift voucher for a certain shop – the voucher is only effective when redeemed. If we do not confess our sins, we are effectively ‘going it alone’, acting as though we do not need the forgiveness of Christ and therefore as though His sacrifice is not sufficient. When we confess our sins, we find He is faithful and just and will forgive us all our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Not only is there forgiveness for individual sins, there is an ongoing cleansing from everything which would make us unrighteous.
In this first chapter of John’s first letter, we have seen how ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ is urging us to walk with Jesus, knowing fellowship with Him and with other Christians and living in the light. The fellowship and benefits of this life encompass far more than just the forgiveness of sins, but the cleansing Jesus brings to our lives enables us to ‘walk tall’ with Him, knowing cleansing and forgiveness in our everyday living.