NOTICE: Please know that this is not a quick read. It will take about 15-20 minutes.

If you’ve just joined me in this series of blogs, we’re learning how to define “true spirituality.” It’s our response to the new age thinking that has saturated our culture.  The so-called New Age has been around since the 1970’s. It’s taken on different names like “evolutionary thinking” or “integral thinking” over the decades since the 70’s, but it’s all the same philosophy. It’s a “spiritual movement” intent on spreading the message that “All is One” and “Everything is God and God is Everything,” and that “We are all God in drag” and “All Religions are the Same.” The upshot is that if we buy into New Age thinking and living, it can pull the teeth out of the uniqueness of Christianity and its claims of truth found in Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life.

I’ve chosen the little NT book of 1 John to be our Biblical guide as we define true spirituality. (BTW: Keep in mind that the Bible is the most direct source of truth about life available on this planet. It’s not the most detailed – but it is the most direct source of truth available to mankind. And as such we hold it in high regard as God’s Word).

In this book written over 2,000 years ago by the Apostle John is the answer to the longing of every human heart, especially the hearts and minds of those who consider themselves “New Agers” or 21st c. “Evolutionaries.” And it has the answer to the BIG question: “What is the Source of Life?”

 In my last blog we began by discovering, through the testimony of the Apostle John, that ALL of life begins and ends with Jesus Christ. He begins his testimony with the words: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life …” (1:1)

 So, in effect, John says, “If you want to discover the true New Age Movement, then you need to discover Jesus Christ. Because He alone is the Word of Life. Everything else pales by comparison.”

John also clearly implies, “If you doubt the unique divinity of Jesus Christ – setting Him apart from all other so-called “sons of God” – let me tell you something. I saw Him with my own eyes!  I heard Him with my own ears!  I touched Him with my own hands and I watched Him very intently and very carefully and very closely for 3 years.  I KNEW THIS MAN!  He was a real “flesh and blood” human being and He was God – I was an eyewitness to it all!

Then John goes on to say that hearing and seeing and touching and watching Jesus Christ gave him a whole new perspective on life. And that perspective resulted in fellowship with God. John became friends and partners with God. And God became friends and partners with Him. He began to “connect” with God. And not only that, he began to connect with God’s people as well – ones who had discovered Jesus as John had. And once he acted out his fellowship with God and with God’s people, he experienced a joy so complete and full that it couldn’t be duplicated anywhere else!

And now, in his old age (nearly 100 years old) John says: “I’m here to tell you that God is light!”

John is saying that God (Jesus Christ) is the light that came into the world to illumine my sin and your sin so that we can see our way clear to experience God’s forgiveness and life. And unlike the “god” of the New Age, where “everything is God and God is everything” – there’s no darkness in this God at all! God may allow us in flail around in the dark for a while so He can prove to us that He’s the Light – but there’s no darkness in Him and His character. So it can’t be that “God is everything and everything is God.” That would be impossible with God!

What I want us to get is this: The key to a fulfilling life (what every New Ager and Evolutionary is looking for) is found in having FELLOWSHIP with God – being friends and partners with God.  And the key to friendship and partnership with God is in recognizing Him as the Light and, as John puts it, “walking in the Light.”

1 John 1:5 says: “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that GOD IS LIGHT – and in Him there is no darkness at all.” John says “God is light!”  Not “God is like light” or “God is similar to light” – but “God is Light!”

 Light has two primary qualities: light enables and light energizes.

Light enables us to see things we never saw before. Light reveals reality that darkness conceals.

Have you ever gone into a familiar – but dark – room, thinking you know exactly where all the furniture is, and then promptly tripped or stubbed your toe on a sofa leg or chair?  Or worse yet fallen over something you thought wasn’t there?

The only way to avoid that is to turn on the light BEFORE you go into the room – no matter how familiar you think you are with the lay out of the furniture.

Light can also be used as a “measuring stick” of sorts. Light enables us with a point of reference from which we can determine distance from one object to another.  Light can tell us how far off course we are!

 Light also energizes. Light energizes our personality and our humanity. Just step out into the sunshine sometime and you can “feel” the energy returning to your cold, achy body. Some people actually can’t live without sunlight. They become physically and psychologically depressed without it. Studies have proven this to be true.

So, God is Light – and as such He’s an enabler and an energizer!

So, if as John teaches, “God is Light” – we ought to respond to the Light that God is in such a way that we live our lives in its spiritually enabling and energizing power.

John then goes on to explain in this passage, how people respond to the Light in one of four ways.  We can have one of four responses toward the Light of God in our lives.

The FIRST attitude is to REJECT the Light.

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1:6)

When we reject the Light, we’re choosing to ignore it. And we ignore the Light by walking in darkness and by living as if there is no God to whom we are accountable. Many people live like that today. They go about their everyday lives as if God didn’t exist. They’re like I was as a child. I naively believed that if I just closed my eyes so that I couldn’t see then nobody else could see me either. I tried that once with my parents in the room. I thought if I closed my eyes that they wouldn’t see me try to sneak out of my room and walk across the living room (in which they were sitting) and go outside and play – (I was supposed to be taking a nap). In my 5-year-old reasoning, it made sense. But it just wasn’t true – and it didn’t work!

 Many self-proclaimed “believers in God” are really nothing more than “practical atheists.” They “believe” in God – just to be safe. After all, He actually might exist and they wouldn’t want to offend Him by not believing in Him. “But let His will shape my will on a daily basis? Not for me!”

 John says they reject and ignore the Light by “practicing” sin. Instead of practicing the truth they practice sin.  How do they do that?

  • They never fellowship with God’s people. Instead, they live in isolation. Proverbs says that a person who isolates them self from others “…seeks his own desire, and he quarrels against all sound wisdom” (Prov. 18:1).
  • They seldom, if ever, read the Bible. They’ve forgotten that the Bible says: “He who gives attention to the Word shall find good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Prov. 16:20).
  • They never examine themselves for spiritual growth. Instead, they’re content to let others think for them. They live on spiritual “baby food” all their lives. And as a result, they never grow up. They ought to be taking care of other genuine “baby Christians.” But too often they’re still demanding to be cared for – and making a big mess at the same time. Paul tells us to: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” 2 Cor. 13:5
  • And if they do begin to grow spiritually, they compare themselves with others. And the problem with comparing ourselves to other is that we always use our own standard of maturity instead of God’s.

 Have you ever noticed how immature children can act at birthday parties or at Christmas time? They pout because they didn’t get what the “birthday boy or girl” got. Or they complain because they didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas.

The Apostle Paul saw this tendency for comparison and conflict among immature followers of Christ. So, he wrote to the Corinthians church and said: Brothers and sisters, don’t think like children. In evil things be like babies, but in your thinking you should be like full-grown adults (1 Cor. 14:20). In other words: “Grow up and stop comparing yourselves to one another!”

  • Another way we can reject the Light is by not listening to our conscience. And what happens when we ignore our conscience is predictable – we suffer the consequences.

Remember back when cars used to have voice-warning systems? A voice – usually a female voice – would gently remind you of a problem in your car engine or if you were running low on gas. She’d say something like: “Your fuel level is low.” And then you’d look at your fuel gauge and say to yourself – I know I can go at least 50 more miles before I need gas. And you’d keep on driving – until you’d get another gentle warning.

Those gentle warnings can be annoying – especially when you think you can outsmart the warning system by second-guessing it. I heard of one guy who was at first amused by what he called voice of the “little woman” in his dashboard.  But eventually He got so annoyed at her voice that he stopped the car, crawled under the dashboard and gave the wires to the warning system a good yank. “So much for the little woman in the dashboard” he told himself. He was still smiling to himself a few miles down the road when his car began to sputter and cough – as he ran out of gas.

We have to learn some things the hard way. We have to learn that the “little voice inside” – even though ignored or even disconnected – is often exactly what we need to hear. And we if we ignore it there will be consequences.

So, what’s the remedy for rejecting and ignoring the Light?

It’s found in verse 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.”

The remedy is HONESTY. The remedy for ignoring the Light is to begin to get honest with God about yourself and your sin. When we get honest about our sin we can get clean from your sin though the blood of Jesus Christ – and the result will be restored fellowship with others. You’ll become less critical of others. You’ll stop comparing yourself to others. You’ll be less demanding. And you’ll become easier to live with.  That’s restored fellowship.

 The SECOND attitude we can have toward the Light is to RUN from it.

Running from the light is denying your sin. Vs. 8: “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

There are three ways we can be deceived: (1) by demonic forces; (2) by other people; and (3) by ourselves.

Paul wrote: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing – he deceives himself” (Gal. 6:3). When we deceive ourselves, we’re living in denial.

An old story is told of a desert nomad who woke up hungry in the middle of the night. He lit a candle and began eating dates from a bowl beside his bed. He took a        bite from one date and saw a worm in it – so he threw it out of the tent. He bit into a second date, found another worm, and threw it away also. Reasoning that he wouldn’t have any dates left if he continued, he blew out the candle – and quickly ate the rest of the dates. Some people prefer the darkness of denial to the light of reality. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

So, what’s the remedy for running from the Light and denying the presence of sin in our lives?

The answer is CONFESSION. The cure for our sins is to genuinely and sincerely confess them to God. Vs 9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Honesty about our sins is good…but that must be followed by confession.

 The word confess, in both Greek and Latin, means “to say with.” So, to confess your sins is to “say with” God (and everyone else who knows you) what He and they already know. “I’m not perfect. I have major flaws. I need a lot of work.” Confession always melts conflict.

 We can respond to God’s conviction of our sins in one of two ways – by “suppression” (that’s running from our sin) or by “confession.” When we deny and suppress our sins – it results in frustration and resentment and hurt. By contrast, confession results in forgiveness, joy and peace. James says to confess your sins for a reason – so that you may be healed. (James 5:16)

 The THIRD attitude we can have toward the Light is to RESIST it.

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1:10). When we resist the light, we’re rationalizing our sins. We may admit to having character flaws, but we don’t call them sins – we call them by more socially acceptable names. For example…

  • If we have a problem with uncontrolled anger and temper tantrums, we excuse them by saying it’s because of our “Latin temperament” or our “Irish heritage”.
  • If we’re dishonest in business we excuse it by saying: “Well, everybody does it! If I don’t go along – I’ll lose business.”
  • If we’re fooling around sexually, we rationalize it with: “Hey, I’m only human. And I have certain needs. I’m sure God understands.”

 Have you ever heard of “action-addict syndrome” or “depression-suicide syndrome”? Lawyers use it as a defense in court.

A Boston court acquitted a man of flying illegal drugs into the United States. His attorneys argued that he was a victim of “action-addict syndrome” – an emotional disorder that makes a person crave dangerous, thrilling situations. He wasn’t a drug dealer – he was merely a thrill seeker.

An Oregon man who tried to kill his ex-wife was acquitted on the grounds that he suffered from “depression-suicide syndrome,” whose victims deliberately commit poorly planned crimes with the unconscious goal of being caught or killed. He didn’t really want to shoot his wife – he wanted the police to shoot him.

Those are just two examples of how in our culture our defense is that nobody’s at fault for anything. We’re a nation of victims – who rationalize away our lack of self-control.

But listen to what the Bible says about self-control: “A person without self-control is like a house with its doors and windows knocked out” (Pro. 25:28 – TM). Or how about (Pro. 25:28 – TM): “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.”

That means when you let ungodly people set the agenda for your life you can count on being caught in a trap where you care more about what the surrounding culture thinks than what God thinks. And it will cause you to rationalize sin in your life.

So, does this passage give us a remedy for our tendency to rationalize away sin in our lives?  Yes, it does. It’s found in 1 John 2:1-2.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

John is giving us a theology lesson here. He says that the remedy for resisting the Light and rationalizing our sin is to recognize that when we do sin – and when we’re willing to honestly admit and openly confess our sin to God – that He deals with our sin in a very specific way. It’s called PROPITIATION.  (John will mention propitiation twice in this book).

God says someone has to pay for your sins and my sins. And if it’s not us who pay, who will it be? The doctrine of propitiation answers that question. Jesus has been allowed by the Righteous Judge (God the Father) to take the punishment that our sins deserves – on our behalf.

Back in the OT where it refers to the “mercy seat” in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:17-22). On the Day of Atonement, the high priest of Israel would enter into the holy of holies with the blood of a young bull. There in front of him was the Ark of the Covenant (a chest that looked like a coffin). In it were the tables of the Law which Israel had broken over and over again. Above the Ark were the covering cherubim and God’s glory was said to rest between them. So, you have a holy God, a broken law, and, in between, a mercy seat (same word as propitiation). There the high priest would sprinkle the blood. So, now the blood stood between a holy God and the broken law. The blood was an atonement or a covering – a propitiation – for the sins of Israel. God’s offended sense of righteous justice could only be propitiated (satisfied) by the blood that was sprinkled. All of this was a shadow of the final once-for-all sacrifice of the Lamb of God – Jesus Christ.

When I think of “propitiation” in terms of providing a “covering” for sin, I think of the expression, “I’ve got you covered.” If we were in a restaurant, and I said, “Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered,” you’d understand that I was paying your bill, right? Think of this world as being like a restaurant. God is the creator and proprietor of this restaurant. When He first created His restaurant, it was a show place. In fact, God said it was “very good.”

Now, like any restaurant, God made it for customers to enjoy. God made this world for mankind to enjoy. We were intended to enjoy the benefits and blessings of God’s world – His restaurant – but instead, we’ve chosen to disrespect the owner. We’re like the customer who constantly complains about the food and gripes about the service, vandalizes the facilities and mistreats and abuses his fellow diners. And all the while he’s contending that he’s the owner of the restaurant and can do as he pleases. Consequently, God’s restaurant, this world, is no longer the show place it once was – and this has gotten the real owner – God – very upset.

Our lack of appreciation for the provisions of God, our mistreatment of His world and of one another – and our refusal to acknowledge Him as the true owner – is what the Bible calls sin, and sin makes God angry. Not only do we owe God for all the good things He’s provided us in His restaurant, we owe Him for the wrong things we’ve done, too.

Unfortunately, the human race is like a person who not only doesn’t have enough money to pay the bill, but when the time to pay the bill arrives, he discovers he doesn’t even have his wallet! Because we can’t pay the bill, we’ll be condemned to work off our debt in the kitchen. That’s what death and Hell is – having to pay the price for our own sin. The problem is that since the price for our sin is so great, it will take an eternity’s worth of suffering to pay the price. But just then the Son of the restaurant owner comes and takes a seat at our table. He knows our dilemma – that we owe for all we’ve consumed and destroyed – and He has good news for us. He says, “Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!”

So now, not only can we escape having to pay the price for what we’ve consumed and destroyed (our sin) – but He tells us that He and His Father plan on remodeling the restaurant and restoring it to its former “showcase” status. He tells us that if we will accept His payment for our bill, we can avoid working it off in the kitchen AND we can be part of the restoration of the restaurant.  We’ll be allowed to enjoy its benefits forever!

Through His death on the cross, Jesus, the Son of God, paid the price for the sins of the entire world. That’s the point John makes here in 1 John 2:2. Jesus paid ALL the debt for ALL the sins of ALL the people in ALL the world!
When Jesus cried, “It is finished” from the cross, the word for finished in Greek is “tetelestai” –  which was a word written on a receipt of payment in the ancient world. It could also be translated, “paid in full.”
John 3:35-36 (NIV) says: “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.”

We can escape the wrath of the Father by trusting in Jesus and accepting the payment He made through His sacrifice on the cross to cover our sins. To not do so is to condemn ourselves to an eternity in Hell.
To carry the illustration to its logical conclusion, God the Father’s patience is wearing thin. He won’t always allow those who have ruined His restaurant to do so indefinitely. One day, He will clean house, and send those who have not accepted the Son’s covering of their bill to the kitchen forever, while those who have accepted the Son’s covering of their bill will celebrate the Father’s goodness in a restored restaurant at His VIP table forever!

And that brings us to the FOURTH attitude we can have toward the Light – and it’s the only one that a genuine follower of Jesus should have. And that is to RESIDE in the Light.

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (2:3-6).

 John uses the phrase “by this we know” two times in these four verses. He uses it as a play on words. It’s a reference to the Gnostics – like the New Agers/Evolutionaries of our day – who had infiltrated and challenged the church and claimed to “know” things about God that other lesser enlightened followers of Christ didn’t know. John countered that challenge by saying: “We know Him if we keep His commandments and if we walk in the light as He did.”

 Jesus said it best: “If you love me, obey my commandments!” (John 14:15). If you love Me – show Me by your life-style and your actions. Because…“When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” (John 15:10)

Walking in the light is to do just one thing: OBEY Jesus! Nothing more is required. Just obey Him – that’s all. The key to fellowship with God is walking in the Light. And the key to walking in the Light is obedience – doing things God’s way, not ours!

We can REJECT the light…

We can RUN from the Light…

We can RESIST the Light…

Or we can RESIDE in the Light.

It’s our choice.


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