A study in 1 John 1:5-10
Although this letter does not begin or end with the Apostle John’s name, it has been ascribed to him because its style and vocabulary is similar to the Gospel written by him. There is no question it was written by him.
This letter was written between AD 85-95. During this time John was living in Ephesus.
Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus in AD 70. The believers in Jesus were scattered. Ephesus was one location they went. The Church in Ephesus was founded by the Apostle Paul. Timothy was a pastor there. John at this point in his life was an old man and was now in Ephesus. He was the last of the twelve apostles to be alive. There was a heresy going around in the church which greatly concerned John and so he wrote these letters (1, 2, 3 John) to correct these errors and false teachings.
These false teachings would be known as Gnosticism. They claimed to have a special anointing from the Holy Spirit and from this they claimed a true knowledge of God. They make themselves to be a “spiritual elite” group and would look down on the common Christian who did not have this special anointing. But they had no love for their brothers in Christ. John will refute this by declaring all Christian receive the anointing of the Holy Spirit. There is no special class of Christian above any other. The Holy Spirit and the Word of God teach the believer the knowledge of God. We learn these false teachers came from within the church.
1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
They caused a division in the Church.
These teachers taught that matter was essentially evil and the spirit was essentially good. They asked, “How could Jesus be a man inhabiting a body which was evil?” They denied the Incarnation of Jesus. John strongly opposed this teaching.
1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.
1 John 4:2-3 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming , and is now already in the world.
When we think of the word “antichrist” we think “against” Christ. Certainly that is true. They were against Christ. However the prefix “anti” can also mean “instead of”, so we have “instead of Christ.” This is what they were teaching; not the true Christ but another Christ. This is seriously wrong. Remember Paul”s words in
i marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
This is serious and we need to take it seriously. This is why John, Paul, Peter, and Jude write these letters to warn us of false teachings and false teachers. It is a matter of life and death; life with Jesus or death without Him.
These false teacher not only denied the Incarnation but they denied Jesus’ atoning death on the cross. They claimed that the Christ didn’t unite Himself with Jesus until His Baptism and withdrew before the cross. Jesus’ deity and humanity were denied. His work on the cross was denied. They believed the power of their mind was all that was needed for salvation. John powerfully refutes these teachings to show Jesus is who He says He is; God the Father’s Son and mankind”s Redeemer.
Why do we study 1 John?
I like the reasons given by Pastor Chuck Smith.
1. That we might have fellowship with one another and this fellowship is with the Father and His Son
2. That you might have fullness of joy
3. That you might develop a freedom and victory over sin
4. That you may have assurance of your salvation
We we be exploring these reasons in the weeks to come.
Last time we looked at 1 John 1:1-4.
Jesus, the Son of God, became a man. He was born of a virgin and grew up as any one of us did but He was without sin. John, the other eleven apostles, and many other witness saw Jesus in human form. They had fellowship with Him. At some point they recognized He was more than a human being but was God in the flesh. Jesus revealed the Father to them so that their fellowship was not only with each other but with God the Father and Jesus His Son.
Let’s begin today’s study. We will see three false claims the Gnostics made concerning their beliefs.
1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
John (and all believers) are messengers sent by God. As I mentioned earlier, in verses 1-4, John declares Jesus to us. He saw Him in the flesh and now knows Him as the Son of God. We do not see Jesus as John and the other apostles did but we through their witness and testimony see Jesus by faith as the Son of God.
God is light. We see in John’s Gospel that in Jesus was life and the life was the light of men (John 1:4-5). Jesus also claims to be the Light of the World (John 8:12).
Light dispels darkness
John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (overcome) it.
Light exposes sin
Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Light lights our paths
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
We need God’s light to dispel darkness, expose sin and light our paths.
Next we see three false claims and the remedies.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
Our fellowship determines our practice. The old saying “Birds of a feather flock together,” rings true. The places we go and the people we spend time with determine how we live our lives. This includes what books we read and what we watch on TV and social media. These Gnostics claimed to have fellowship with God but their lives showed a life of sin. In this case it was the sin of idolatry. They had created another god, one that suited their beliefs. John calls it a lie. Walking in darkness does not produce fellowship with God and other believers.
The first false claim is saying we can continue in fellowship with God and live a sinful life. What does the Scriptures say?
Romans 6:1-4 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Our life in Christ should reflect a new heart and new appetites. We leave the life of sin behind and move toward a life that is pleasing to God.
The remedy for this first false claim is found in verse 7.
1 John 1:7 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.
Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin. This result in fellowship with God and other believers. We can walk in His light. This is a continual cleansing to have a continual fellowship so we may continually walk in the light. Notice the fellowship is with all believers. There are no elite groups in the Body of Christ as the Gnostics believed.
The second false claim is next.
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Scripture declares all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned -
John later says in this epistle, Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).
Lawlessness is everywhere in our society today; in all levels of society. A higher education does not keep someone from breaking the law. Mankind is not getting better.
Education will not cure our sinful conditions. People will say “I was born an alcoholic,” or I was born a homosexual.” I would agree only in that they are born as sinners. This is not to minimize these sins. These are difficult to overcome. But what sin is easy to overcome? We need God to help us overcome them.
The second false claim is say we have no sin. The remedy is found in verse 9.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The remedy is to recognize we are sinners and to confess our sins to Him. We can go to Him every time we sin and He will forgive us every time. There is a big two letter word starting this verse, the word “if”. If we confess our sins. We must go to Him. He has made the way to forgive us through His Son Jesus. We must go to Him with our sins. Pride keeps some from going to the Savior. “Oh this sin is too little to bother Him with.” Or, “No one can forgive this one, it’s too big.” Sin is sin to God whether big or small. He paid for them all.
Notice God is described as “faithful and just” and not “faithful and forgiving.” God is faithful and He does forgive. He is also just. There are those who say, “My God is a loving God. He would not send people to hell.” Yes God is loving but He is also just. God hates sin and sin must be punished. How can a just God punish sin and yet save the sinners He loves from this punishment. A true dilemma. His solution is to provided atonement through His Son Jesus. All our sins were place on Jesus when He was on the cross. He suffered the punishment for our sin. All who believe God and trust that Jesus paid for their sins escape the punishment. God’s love and His justice are satisfied in Jesus. The dilemma is solved. There is no other remedy. If a person rejects this remedy he must suffer his punishment for his sins by himself. That is chilling!
Also notice we are cleansed from all unrighteousness. God is righteous and holy. Sin cannot dwell with Him. We, being sinners, cannot dwell with Him. So we have “the great exchange”. We give Jesus our sins and He gives us His righteousness. Isn’t that good?
2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The third false claim.
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
The third false claim is to say we have not sinned.
We have a sin nature that we received from Adam. Need proof? Watch your kids or grandkids. We don’t have to teach them to be selfish or to lie or to disobey. They just do it. The Apostle Paul struggled with sin.
Romans 7:19-23 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil i will not to do that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind , and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
God tells us we sin and we sin regularly. If we say that is not so, we are saying God is lying. God does not lie. It is impossible for Him to lie.
John 17:17 Your word is truth.
Psalm 119:160 The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgements endures forever.
John 14:6 (Jesus said) I am the way, the truth, and the life …
The remedy is to believe what God says in His word. Place His word in your heart. Read, study, and memorize His word that it may dwell within you.
Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
James 1:21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
The implanted word - implant means to establish decisively as in the mind or conscious, to instill, ingrain.
This is a decision. There is work involved but it is worth the effort.
Colossians 1:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…
In summary, the Gnostics taught that by their superior intellect they can achieve salvation. They think they can live a sinful life and still be close to God. They believe they have no sin and that they do not sin. By believing this they reject the only remedy available. We find the same beliefs today. People believe the truths found in the Bible are archaic and that we live in a more enlightened time. But as John says, it’s a lie. Let us pray for these people, who are our family and friends, that the light of the gospel will shine and dispel their darkness, expose their sin and light their way to the Savior, Jesus.