1 John 1:4 – And these things we write to you that your joy may be full. (NKJV)
What a wonderful opportunity God has given us. The Apostle John declares in the opening verses of 1st John that he is writing “these things” he has eye witnessed. Why? That our joy may be full.
Full joy. I don’t know about you, but a life of full joy in the midst of these troubled times and decaying morality is something that I wouldn’t mind experiencing. Let’s take a look at some of “these things”.
- Thing: we must walk in the light to have fellowship with God that our joy may be full.
In verse five, John states all inclusively that there is NO darkness in God. God is perfect in all ways and holy in all things. We must habitually and consistently be attempting to become more like Him. We dwell in the light of God’s holiness and hate the darkness.
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. (NKJV)
If we say we love the light of God (holiness) and yet, in secret, (or not so secret!) allow the things of darkness in our life (sin, lust, pride, conflict, gossip, greed, hate, etc.) then we are LIARS!
I find it funny how offended people get when they are called liars (their “offendedness” usually is a good indicator of their guilt). How many times have you heard someone say “are you calling me a liar??!”. Then the typical response back is “no, I’m just stating that what you are saying is not true.” Huh? That somehow placates the liar because at least they are not being called a liar! Lord, save us from playing such silly word games with you!
If we say we are a Christian, but habitually and willingly indulge in darkness (immorality, lust, dishonesty, sensuality, worldliness, etc) then we are lying about our love for God.
If you profess Christ and live like you don’t, you’re a liar. Ouch.
Plain, simple and to the point. Let’s not sugarcoat what the Bible declares plainly just because it offends our delicate sensibilities. (I’m speaking of how we deal with our own selves privately. When we deal with others, the Lord will lead us in truth, gentleness and love and give us the right words to say to a straying Christian).
- Thing: if we confess our sin, we will be cleansed and forgiven opening the door to full joy.
In verse eight, the Apostle tells us that if we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us. On the surface, this seems to repeat John’s previous statement about “liars” but I believe it is more severe than that.
To proclaim that we have “no sin” is to be devoid of truth (salvation?) completely. There is NO truth in us. It is the most complete and ultimate self-deception. I might be stretching the point a little but think of what a person is claiming if they say “I have no sin”. Who is the only person who has truly never sinned? What qualities does a person have to have to be truly sinless? Why, they would have to be God! The only man who was ever truly God, was Jesus Christ the Lamb.
To claim sinlessness, you are claiming to be God. Oops.
Do you find it hard to admit you are a sinner? To confess your sins? Why? You’re no different than EVERY person who has ever lived. Admitting your sin doesn’t put you in some lower class of humanity. We’re all in it together! Admitting it is the first step to being free from the pain of it. Look what God graciously gives in return:
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. (NKJV)
Forgiveness of those sins, and a cleansing from unrighteousness in general. FULL JOY!
Now notice one thing here before we move on: “He is faithful”. Who? God. When we think of man being faithful it is always tempered with the reality that man will occasionally fail, slip, mess up, forget or fall short. Not so with God!
When God is faithful, He is perfectly faithful! Hooray!
When we sincerely confess our sins we will be forgiven and cleansed 100% of the time. John lists no conditions, no time limits, no requirements and no exceptions… assuming the confession of sin is genuine. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve messed up. It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve messed up. It’s a good thing too, or Paul (murderer), Peter (coward, liar, betrayer), the Disciples (cowards, deserters), David (murderer, thief, adulterer) and all the other great heroes of the faith would be in big trouble!
Finally, if we say we have no sin, not only does that make us a liar, but we are proclaiming that Christ is a liar too! Pretty scary thought. Why does that make Jesus a liar? Because our Lord declares plainly and frequently that all men are sinful and only He is without transgression. To state otherwise is to accuse Jesus of lying. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I want to be calling the Savior a liar.
Do you find it hard to formulate the words of confession free of excuses and rationalizing? Go to Psalm 51 and start with David’s prayer of repentance.
- Thing: when we do sin, Jesus Himself defends us… that our joy may be full.
What an incredible thought. When I sin, Jesus defends me. He is my Advocate (lawyer, representative). Jesus defends us to the Father. God is the One who demands payment and restitution for all transgressions of His holiness. God is the righteous Judge and Jesus is our righteous Attorney!
He’s the eternal pro bono (free) lawyer, but His services will cost you your entire life!
What’s more, He has NEVER lost a case! The prosecuting attorney (the Accuser, Satan) lays out his LEGITIMATE charge of “sinner” against us (one the few times Satan tells the truth) and the Defense Attorney of Heaven defends His clients who are GUILTY AS CHARGED!
1 John 2:2 – And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (NKJV)
We are GUILTY but Jesus is our propitiation, our atoning sacrifice: He has completely satisfied (atonement) God’s just demand for punishment of our sin through His willing sacrificial death on the cross. God demands payment for our crime of sin and that payment is DEATH! Jesus has already died for us and paid our penalty. We are now declared righteous because God’s need for perfect justice is satisfied. (I know these word pictures don’t cover all the theological fine points, so I trust you’ll allow me the simplicity of the description without nitpicking the details).
PAID IN FULL!! Now THAT is full joy!
John writes these things that we may experience fellowship with Christ that result in the full joy. Two of “these things” are: walk in light, have nothing to do with the darkness (sin), and confess your sins. Do these things and you have begun your journey towards a life of “full joy”.
Father, I am a sinner. I confess it freely. I ask for forgiveness and cleansing. Jesus is here to defend me, and He will represent me in this matter. He has already paid the penalty for my sin. Help me to walk in the light, and hate the ways of darkness. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Are you sinful? No, really, are you sinful? Or deep down do you think you’re pretty good and just mess up once in a while? Do you consistently allow any “darkness” in your life? No? Are you sure? Do you regularly, freely and honestly confess your sin? Have you ever called Jesus a liar?
Application: Full joy begins by being in right standing with God. Fellowship with God is attained through confession and walking in the light (holiness, truth). It is truly joyful to realize and meditate on the fact that Jesus Christ Himself personally defends our standing before God, because He has already paid the penalty that God demands.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?