This week, we jumped into the book of 1 John. As we talked about in our introduction to the book, there are a lot of topics that are present in the letter. However, the theme that permeates the text is that of abiding in Jesus. John writes this letter because the idea abiding in Jesus is being washed away by the harmful gnostic thought of the day. This idea posited that while enlightenment and religiosity is important, how we live our daily lives is up to us. That our lives are ultimately ours to control, bend, and shape. John writes this letter to say that this is not true Christianity.
“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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 cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).
John here is saying that if we say that we have a relationship with Jesus, it should change the nature of our daily walk. Before salvation we walked in darkness. We lived in the midst of our sin and unrighteousness. However, when we came into a relationship with Christ, we were transferred from a kingdom of darkness into a kingdom of light. Our pattern of life changed from following the things of this world, to following after Jesus.
While there are most likely not any Christians today claiming the name of “Gnostic”, there is a profound sense where many of us within American Evangelicalism live as though this were true. We flirt with the line between walking in light and darkness. We play the religious game by going to church on Sunday and proclaiming how much we love God, only to live however we wish throughout the week.
John says there should be a difference. When someone becomes a believer in Jesus, their desires begin to change. Instead of craving after our sin, we start to yearn for Christ. This does not mean perfection or that we will never sin. In fact, the passage goes on to say that when we do sin that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus.
In 1995, Christian rock band, DC Talk wrote a hit song with these lyrics:
“I want to be in the Light
As You are in the Light
I want to shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh, Lord be my Light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the Light
All I want is to be in the Light”
— DC Talk “In the Light”
The reason I bring up this song is because it highlights the change in desire. That if we claim to have a relationship with Christ, our desires should line up with that. What do you desire? Do you desire to be in the light? Do you desire to walk with Christ, to reject your sin, and live in the righteousness provided by Jesus for you? Or are you still walking in the darkness?
If we are going to walk in the light as He is in the light, it beckons to be different.