John opens his epistle with a preface concerning the logos, "the Word." For John, this life-giving Word was actualized in Jesus, and so, in order to build community with his fellow believers, he sets out to pass on all he has seen and heard. In verse 5 John identifies the defining truth that will guide all that he writes: God is like a radiant light who puts darkness to flight. Then, in the following verses, he makes two important points: First, to walk in the light it is necessary to be cleansed from sin; Second, to walk in the light it is necessary to face the reality of sin.
v1-2. John, along with the other apostles, saw, touched and heard the divine life. This life is present in God's revelation, in his Word, and became flesh in the birth of Jesus. So, the divine life was present in Jesus and the apostles saw, touched and heard it. The apostles were then tasked with communicating this life-giving Word so that others might similarly possess eternal life.
v3-4. So, John writes to pass on the life-giving Word and in so doing build community, build a close intimate partnership with his fellow believers and ultimately with the Father through Christ.
v5. John now summarizes the defining truth that will guide his letter. John's words of encouragement to his readers are guided by the character of God, his holiness, moral excellence, purity; he is like a radiant light who puts darkness to flight.
v6-7. John next argues that for a believer to live in fellowship with God and one another it is necessary to be cleansed from sin by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. A person purified from the stain of sin, perfect in the eyes of God, will tend to act in a loving way; they will not walk in darkness. It is not possible to claim to be in fellowship with the Lord and at the same time knowingly and defiantly live as if sin doesn't matter
v8. Next, John argues that for a believer to live in fellowship with God and one another it is necessary to face the reality of sin, v8-10. John makes three points. First: a person who is in fellowship with God will recognize their sinfulness. When a person walks in the light their evil nature is exposed. A believer knows they are a sinner.
v9. Second: a person who is in fellowship with God will acknowledge the reality of their sins and look to God for mercy. For John, confession is but a recognition that we stand at the foot of the cross, by grace through faith, and not of works lest anyone should boast.
v10. Third: a person who is in fellowship with God sees sin for what it is. The light enables us to recognize immorality as immorality.
C.S. Lewis described God as the "Transcendental Interferer." Our passage for study tells us something about our relationship with the Transcendental Interferer.
First: verses 1-2 tell us that the Transcendental Interferer is the source of the life-giving Word, the Word that brings eternal life. Of course, this Word is not just words, but the person Jesus.
Second: verse 3 reminds us that the relationship we experience with the Transcendental Interferer is not that of a citizen subject to a monarch, but of friends in fellowship together.
Third: verse 5 tells us something of the Transcendental Interferer's person - his is "light", a radiance of moral perfection.
Fourth: verses 6-10 identify some lies that must be rejected by his friends. Given God's perfection, we cannot pretend to be in a relationship with Him while claiming that sin doesn't matter, or that we are free from sin, or even worse, that our evil behavior is not sinful. Sin does matter.
So then, let us heed God's life-giving Word.
"There is no sinless Christian", Luther. Discuss.