In Part 1, we considered four questions that Robert asked relating to the forgiveness of sins. We saw that confession of sins is the way for a believer in fellowship with God to be forgiven and to maintain ongoing fellowship. The believers away from the Lord must turn from their sins in order to be forgiven and regain fellowship with God.i
I mentioned that 1 John 1:5-10 presents three claims that are inconsistent with fellowship and forgiveness. They are found in verses 6, 8, and 10.
First false claim. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). The claim is that we have fellowship with God. When made by someone who walks in darkness, it is a false claim.
The first-person plural in these verses, as in verse 5, refers to the apostles, the believing readers, and all believers.ii A born-again person can make this false claim. Indeed, it happens all the time.
“Since ‘God is light’ and totally free from darkness (verse 5), a person who walks in darkness is moving in a moral and spiritual sphere from which God is absent. He is moving in the realm of evil, while God remains in the realm of holiness. Thus, the believer who walks in sin has lost touch with a completely holy God” (Epistles of John, p. 59).
Compare that with verse 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 Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” That is a valid claim. Hodges says, “to walk in the light must mean essentially to live in God’s presence, exposed to what He has revealed about Himself. This, of course, is done through openness in prayer and openness to the Word of God in which He is revealed” (p. 61).
The one walking in darkness is out of fellowship with God.
Second false claim. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). This false claim is that one has not sinned for some time. It is not a claim of sinlessness. But it is a claim to have not sinned for a significant time.
Compare that with verse 9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The second half of verse 9 shows that there are sins of which we are not aware. We are likely unaware of most of our sins. “The fact that we are not conscious of any sin does not mean that we do not have any” (Hodges, p. 62).
The one who claims to be without sin is out of fellowship with God.
Third false claim. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). Some think that this refers to the claim to have not sinned since the new birth or since some second work of grace. In light of verse 9, it seems more likely that this is a denial of the sin of which God has convicted us. A husband might deny that he has sinned when he cusses out his wife. He may rationalize that she deserved such carnal treatment. But since God calls outbursts of wrath sin, to deny that they are sin is to call God a liar and to show that the truth of His Word is not in us.
Failure to confess our sins when God reveals them to us is to be out of fellowship with God. We do not need to obsess to figure out when we have sinned. If we walk in the light of God’s Word, then the Spirit of God will convict us of sin. He convicts. We confess.
A final point should be made about the importance of sound doctrine to walking in the light. Hodges says in his commentary that 1 John 1:5-10 is all about the truth:
“Clearly, then, the connecting thread that unites verses 5 to 10 is the idea of truth or its opposite, falsehood, or deception. The man who claims fellowship while in darkness is lying and not doing “the truth” (verse 6). The man who thinks he has no sin is self-deceived and “the truth” is not effectively at work within him (verse 8). The man who will not acknowledge as sin whatever God calls sin is calling God a liar, by denying the truth of His word. By contrast, the person who walks in fellowship with God agrees with the light and confesses. For the believer, the essential essence of fellowship is our willingness to share the light with God and to agree with everything we can see in that light. When that is the case, God is pleased because He finds “truth in” our “inward parts” (Psalm 51:6). We can then enjoy His ongoing forgiveness and cleansing” (Epistles of John, p. 66, emphases added).iii
i Note the Lord’s teaching on broken and restored fellowship in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). Especially telling is this figurative use of the words dead and alive: “‘for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:24). The son was alive (in fellowship) when he was abiding with the father. He then died (ceased being in fellowship) when he went to a far country and ceased abiding. Then he was alive (in fellowship) again when he returned to abide once again.
ii Many commentators think that these three false claims are made by the antichrists who went out from the Jerusalem church because they disagreed with apostolic doctrine (1 John 2:19). However, John is discussing believers in this epistle and certainly in 1:5–2:2.
iii If a believer is teaching false doctrine, he is to be rejected (Gal 1:8-9; Titus 3:10; 2 John 10-11). He could only be disfellowshipped if he were out of fellowship with God. It is important that if you teach the Bible that you are solid in the fundamentals of the faith (cf. Jas 3:1).
Do You Want to Plant a Church in Hawaii?
Everyone loves Hawaii. Great climate. Beautiful. International feel. Far from the continental U.S. Tropical.
There are few Free Grace churches in the whole state.
A reader (RD) who lives in Oahu is praying that someone will plant a Free Grace church there.
The main problem is money. It is very expensive to live in Oahu.
If you are a retired pastor still young enough to plant a church, maybe you could plant a church in Oahu. If you are a pastor who can raise support, this might be for you.
We can put you in contact with RD.
If you are interested, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.