The word “if” is defined as “on the condition that” or “in the event of”. Depending on its context, the very small word “if” can be used in very big ways. In our study for today, we are going to be looking at a summary of the teachings of Christ. In this text, the Apostle John uses this small word “if” in the most significant way possible; he uses “if” to help us clearly define our spiritual condition before Almighty God.
1 John 1:1-2:2
(1) That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
The Apostle John begins by explaining to us his relationship to Jesus. John describes Christ as:
(1) “That which was from the beginning” - Jesus Christ was the Eternal God, who existed when the world and all that exists was created. (John 1:1)
(2) “That…. which we have heard” – John personally was taught by Christ.
(3) “That… which we have seen with our eyes” – John personally saw and experienced the works of Christ.
(4) “That… which we have looked upon” – John took great care in examining the works and teachings of Jesus. He not only physically “saw” Christ’s life on earth, but he examined them and validated them.
(5) “That…. Which we have handled” – John had physical contact with Christ. He touched Christ, ate with Christ, worshipped with Him… the list goes on and on.
(6) “The Word of Life” – by the “Word” John is speaking of Christ, the second person of the Godhead. We know this from other of John’s writings (1 John 5:7, John 1:1-14, Rev 19:13). Why does John describes Christ as “The Word”? Just as the words of our mouth can be used to reveal truths about our person, thoughts, intents and character; so, too, Christ revealed the person, thoughts and works of God the Father. Why does he call Christ the “Word of Life”. It is through this same person that we can find spiritual life and communion with His Father.
(7) “For the life was manifested… manifested unto us” – How was John able to personally experience God the Son? It was because Christ was cleared revealed to man by His first coming when He came and lived among us. John gives us a hint about the ministry of Christ on earth… it was all about “eternal life”.
Based upon the above, it was clear that John was well qualified to summarize the ministry of Christ for us. We should never doubt the source of this account. God (through the Spirit) inspired John (one well acquainted with Christ and His first coming) to pen the words we are about to read. What better sources could we find to teach us about the ministry of Christ?
(3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (4) And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
John now gives us his two-fold purpose to explaining the earthly ministry of Christ to us:
(1) “that ye also may have fellowship with us” – John wanted us to enjoy spiritual partnership and sharing with other of God’s people. It is only through the ministry of Christ that we can enjoy fellowship with God the Father, God the Son and God’s people. John wanted to be help those who are in need of salvation by showing them the source of eternal life
(2) “that your joy may be full” – Also, John wanted us to have joy that is complete and overflowing. Once again, this type of genuine permanent consistent joy can be found in Christ alone. For the Christian one of the sources of ongoing joy is living a life that is aligned with His will for us. It is living a life of holiness, surrender to His use. John wanted to help those who were servants of Christ by encouraging them to live holy lives for the Lord.
(5) This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
John now reveals to us the very essence of the message that Christ handed to man…
(1) “that God is light, “ What an important message. Jesus made it plain that God cannot inhabit darkness. He IS Light. Therefore, we cannot expect God to excuse our sin, nor can we expect Him to receive sin into His presence. Understanding this truth reveals to us our great need…. Forgiveness and cleansing of our sin; for without these we cannot be accepted by God.
(2) “and in him is no darkness at all.” But praise Him for the second part of His message. In God there is no darkness. Jesus, as the Son of God was not touched by sin (Heb 4:14-15). Since He was without sin He was able to be the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins on the cross. (2 Cor 5:18-21)
This is what the ministry of Christ was all about (in summarized form of course!) This is, perhaps the most important message to come out of all that Christ said and did… the Holy God sent His sinless Son to the earth as God/man so that He might take the sins of His people upon Himself. In doing so, Christ made reconciliation for His people, working both forgiveness and cleansing of their sins, and thereby obtaining their acceptance by His Father.
Now that John has given to us a very brief summary of the ministry of Christ, he proceeds to apply these truths to our condition as fallen mankind…
Here is where we see the word “if” come into play. Over the next several verses, John will be comparing the characteristics of a lost individual with the characteristics of those who have been saved through the work of Christ. John’s hope? We will examine our lives for these characteristics which will reveal to us our spiritual condition.
If after the comparison, we see that we possess the characteristics of those who are saved, then this will add to our assurance of salvation and encourage our hearts in His service. But, if we see that we have never experienced God’s gracious salvation, then by His grace, we can turn to Him and trust in Him as our Savior while submitting to Him as Lord of our life.
(Note: In these verses John, as a saved man, use the phrase “we” when describing both lost and saved individuals. Why does he seem to include himself with those who are lost? In this entire discourse John is speaking as a part of fallen mankind. Both saved and lost are a part of fallen mankind. He is expressing that he is no better than anyone else to whom he is speaking. He was a sinner just like those to whom he is speaking. This is a very important point not to be overlooked. One of the most important aspects to our witnessing to the lost is using a humble spirit realizing that, in times past, we all were lost and in need of Christ. If it were not for His grace we would still be spiritually blind and dead in our sins. John expresses his part in fallen mankind by using “we” when speaking of the lost.
Also, keep in mind that John also shared his physical lineage with those to whom he was writing. Both John, and his readers, were physical Jew. Once again he is emphasizing that he was on the same level as his readers and of like physical lineage. All of this is a part of humbly ministering to others recognizing our many similarities with them)
(6) If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Verse 6 – The Characteristics of the lost. How do we know he is speaking of the lost? He describes them as “walking in darkness”. This is clearly a lost individual.
A person who is lost will:
(1) Claim they have a relationship with God but their thoughts, motives, speech and/or actions will clearly show they are still living their lives ruled by the powers of darkness. They are not following the instructions of the Word.
(2) If this is the case, their claim of having a relationship with God is simply a lie. This further reveals their true condition as one that is lost and separated from God’s grace.
Verse 7 – The characteristics of the saved. How do we know that John we speaking of the saved? He describes these as “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
A saved person will:
(1) Walk in the light as He is in the light – our thoughts, motives, speech and actions will be in alignment with His life. As disciples of Christ we will be followers of Him. Much like a child possess characteristics of their parents so, too, the children of God will walk in ways that exhibit the light of God to others. This displays to us that we have been cleansed of our sins through the work of Christ.
(2) We have fellowship one with another – we will share love, common life goals and communion with other believers. This is another indication that our sins have been cleansed in Christ’s blood.
(8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
(9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Verse 8 – The characteristics of those who are lost. How do we know this is the group John is speaking of? Notice his description of them…. “the truth is not in us”, this is clearly describing a lost individual.
A person who is lost will:
(1) Say we have no sin – refuse to acknowledge the sin that is in their life.
(2) We deceive ourselves – although sin is very easily seen when we compare ourselves to the law in the Scriptures, we can deny that which is so very obvious.
Verse 9 – The characteristics of the saved. How do we know it is the saved being talked about here? They are said to be forgiven and cleansed.
A saved person will:
(1) If we confess our sins – Biblical, consistent, confession of sins is a mark of those who are truly saved.
- A saint recognizes that sin creeps into their life and despises it. Therefore, they deal with that sin at its appearance. They agree with God about its nature and forsake it swiftly, hating every aspect of it. Sin is a “big deal” for one that is genuinely born again. This is the essence of Biblical confession.
- These characteristics are only seen in the lives of those who are forgiven and cleansed of their sin.
(10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Verse 10 – John, once again, speaks to the lost. How do we know? They are described as “make him a liar” and “the Word is not in us”. Once again CLEARLY a lost individual is at hand.
A lost person will:
(1) Not recognize their spiritual need. They claim that Christ’s work is not needed for they are right before God based upon their own holiness. They are good and have found righteousness in and of themselves (their works or inherit righteousness etc etc ).
(2) To make the claim of self-righteousness goes against many clear declarations of Scripture. (Rom 3:22-24, Rom 2:1-16, Eccl 7:20, Gal 3:22 etc etc) In essence, they are saying that God has lied to us in His Word. It proves the Word of God has not been applied to their hearts and minds. (2 Cor 3:3)
(2:1) My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
John now tells us that he has explained these truths to the saved so that:
(1) they will be reminded of the grace of God given to them. Then they will use this as a motivation to lives holy lives in appreciation for all He has done for them.
(2) he also tells the saints these things to remind them that as we see sin creep into our lives, that Christ is a continual “advocate” for us. In other words, when we recognize sin in our lives we should not feel as if we are in a hopeless condition, nor that we have “lost” our salvation. He is there as our “defense counsel” using as our defense His shed blood on the cross. He paid for our sins past, present and future. When a Christian sins it is not “all hope is lost”. We are to deal with them through Scriptural confession and continual to serve Him.
(2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
John continues to explain Christ’s work on behalf of the saved. He is our “propitiation” – He is the One that makes us favorable in God’s sight. This is done through the covering of our sins.
John, a physical Jew, was writing to Jews in this letter. One of the Jews most notable Old Testament beliefs was that Gentiles would not be included as Jehovah’s redeemed people. This is shown to us by the separation of Israel as the nation of Jehovah (Lev 20:24-26) and the Gentiles exclusion from Jewish OT worship. John writes to emphasize that Christ’s work on the cross was not simply for the Jew but for all the world (Jew, Gentile and Samaritan). (Roms 1:16-17, Eph 2:11-22) It is heretical to limit the work of Christ to any one, or a group, of physical nationalities or races of peoples. John makes this plain.
To those who are saved:
In John’s review of the ministry of Christ, we have been reminded of His great grace that He has shown to us by forgiving our sins and making us (a part of sinful, fallen mankind) a part of His family. This should motivate us to want to serve Him in greater ways and to deal with sin that may enter into our lives, through Scriptural confession.
To those who are not saved:
Our greatest need is for the forgiveness and the cleansing of our sins. As we have seen from the teachings of John, Christ’s shed blood is the only covering that God has made available for the propitiation of our sins. Through His intervention in our lives, we must recognize our sinful condition, forsake our sins, and then come to Jesus, with faith in Him, as our Savior and Lord. By His grace He will secure the forgiveness and cleansing of which we have a desperate need. Won’t you take time to examine your life and then trust in Him to make your eternal destiny sure?
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May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.
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May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”