Focal Passage: 1 John 1:5–2:6
Imagine a co-worker strolling into an important meeting 15 minutes late. As he enters the room, he apologizes, “I’m so sorry for being late, but I had a rough commute this morning. First, I got a flat tire on I-85. Then, I pulled over, and as I stepped out of the car to put on my spare, I stumbled into the lane of oncoming traffic and was hit by a Mack truck. It was terribly painful, but I did my best to quickly get up, change my tire and get here.”
This would, of course, be the worst excuse in the history of late-for-work excuses. You cannot finish changing a tire, or come to work, or do anything like you once did if you truly encounter a Mack truck. You are going to be different – to say the least!
Likewise, how could a person claim to encounter Jesus Christ, yet be the same as he was before? John says Christians ought to “walk in the light” (1:7). Walking in the light is more of a litmus test than a checklist. If you don’t live differently since supposedly encountering Jesus, then maybe you came really close but the collision was avoided. When we truly encounter Jesus our former life is wrecked.
Walking in the light describes your new lifestyle that gives evidence of your trust in Jesus by growing in holiness through joyful obedience to the scriptures. Because none of us will walk perfectly (1:8, 10), our lives must involve confessing our sin. We cannot attain holy perfection, but we can walk in a holy direction. We follow Jesus, and when we stumble in sin, we confess and He cleanses us from unrighteousness.
Walking in the light can be daunting because it means we are exposed. Yet, we should not fear such exposure. We should rejoice in it because the work of Christ is visible and magnified through us. People will see Jesus as we grow in holiness. They will see Jesus as we fail and are forgiven. And they need to see Jesus because the gospel of His forgiveness is not only for our sins, but also for those of the whole world (2:2).