1 John 1:4-6

In 1 John 1:4-6 John makes a pretty bold statement about the power of relationships and obedience. “And if you do as I say in this letter, then you, too, will be full of joy, and so will we.” The result of fellowship is fullness of joy. This joy is an abiding sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on who God is, as opposed to happiness, which is a sense of optimism and cheerfulness based on circumstances. John makes clear that Jesus’ intent was to be sure the disciples were full of joy, even as He faced crucifixion on the Cross.  Jesus talked with them about joy in the chapters leading up to His cruel death.

Having joy is definitely possible for us as Christ Followers, but it is not certain.  The reality is that joy is a choice.  It is attacked from many places, but true joy does not come from the things of this world.  External circumstances, moods and emotions, or sin can all chip away at our joy.  But these external factors cannot prevent it.  Joy results from our relationship with God through Christ, and we need to focus on having a vibrant relationship and staying fixed on Jesus rather than the things happening around us.  We can choose joy.  In every situation and circumstance, the choice is ours.

John gives us the reality about our relationship with God. “This is the message God has given us to pass on to you: that God is Light and in him is no darkness at all.” This is a claim to authority. John isn’t making this up; these are not his own personal opinions or ideas about God. This is God’s message about Himself (which we have heard from Him), which John reveals to us.  In God there is no sin.  God is light and therefore is devoid of darkness.  God Himself is light; and light by definition has no darkness at all in it; for there to be darkness, there must be an absence of light. God is always light and drives away the darkness.

The hard truth is that if there is a problem with our fellowship with God, it is our fault. It is not the fault of God because there is no sin or darkness in Him at all. We can claim whatever we want, but if there is darkness anywhere, it is because of us, not God. “So if we say we are his friends but go on living in spiritual darkness and sin, we are lying.” John tackles a pattern of living. This does not speak of an occasional lapse, but of a lifestyle of darkness.  We all sin, that is a given.  But when we allow sin and darkness to permeate our life continually, we are deceiving ourselves. The issue here is fellowship, not salvation. The Christian who temporarily walks in darkness is still saved, but not in fellowship with God.

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