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God is Light

July 7, 2024

Teacher: Michael Stalker
Scripture: 1 John 1:5-10

God is Light

Introduction

Attention

  • Google Trends is a web page that lets you see how popular a search term is over time
  • On April 8, there was a sudden increase in the number of times people searched for the phrase “why do my eyes hurt”
  • The search trend peaked on April 9, and dropped somewhat by April 10.
  • April 8 was the date of the solar eclipse
  • The sun puts out a lot of light—so much that looking at the sun can damage your eyes, even during an eclipse
  • As bright as the sun is, the Bible says God “dwells in unapproachable light” (1 Timothy 6:15–16)
  • Not only does God dwell in unapproachable light, our text today says that He Himself *IS* the light.
  • God is light, and our text has two life-changing implications for us.
  • In fact, if you apply this text to your life consistently over the next 365 days, you’ll be a very different person in a year.

Need

  • Maybe you don’t care much about God. God feels distant, if you believe in Him at all. You don’t see any of this God-talk as having much relevance to your life.
  • Maybe you do care about Him, but don’t give much thought to what He requires of you. You think that since Jesus died for you, it doesn’t matter how you live.
  • Maybe you are keenly aware of what He requires, and your failure to obey Him is a crushing weight on your conscience. It empties you of joy and peace the way a drain empties a bathtub of water.
  • Maybe you’re doing well spiritually, and you need some encouragement to keep growing.
  • Our text today has something to say to each of you.

Transition

First, let’s talk about what it means that God is light.

God is Light

“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” –1 John 1:5

Explanation

“This is the message which we heard from him, and we announce to you”

  • John knew Jesus. He spent 3 years with him.
  • John is proclaiming the message he heard from Jesus.
  • We can trust what John says. He was an eyewitness.

Illustration

Runners in relay race. One passes baton to the other.

Explanation

  • What did he say?
  • “God is light and in him there is no darkness at all”
    • The last part is emphatic

Illustration

Sun is one of the strongest forms of light we experience day to day. However, even the sun has sunspots—darker regions of cooler temperatures (still ~5000–7600 degrees F).

Explanation

  • “God is light” is metaphoric language. God isn’t equivalent to light, as if you see God every time you turn on a lamp. “Light” is a word picture.
  • Commentators disagree about exact meaning of “God is light”
  • John Stott says, it describes His “perfect and unutterable majesty”
  • God is perfectly good, holy, and pure. Glorious. Blessed.
  • I’m going to focus on God’s holiness

Explanation: Holy

  • Morally pure
    • God is completely pure
    • He never has wrong actions, words, thoughts, or desires
    • Everything He plans is good and right

Illustration: Holy

  • What would it be like to never sin?
    • To never speak out of selfish anger
    • To never envy others
    • To never give our affection to physical things, that will last us for only the 60, 70, 80, 90 years we’ll be on this earth
    • To never have wrong motives, even when we do the right thing
    • To never complain when we don’t get our way
  • God never sins

Explanation: Holy/Truthful

  • For God to speak the truth, He must know everything. He knows:
    • Everything that has ever happened
    • Everything that is happening right now
    • Everything that will ever happen
    • Everything that could have or could happen
    • All actions, all words, all thoughts
  • God always speaks the truth.
    • “it is impossible for God to lie” –Hebrews 6:18
  • He is utterly reliable. Completely trustworthy. If He says it, you can believe it, trust it, and stake your life upon it.

Application

  • If God is holy, and he knows truth perfectly, He sets the standard of what is right and wrong, true and false.
  • We tend to want to judge God by our standards, but He is the standard! His Word, the Bible, is the standard.

Illustration

  • Judging God by our standards is like a short person going to the doctor for his annual physical. The nurse measures his height. 5’4”. He says, I don’t like that measurement. I think I’m 6’ tall.

Explanation

  • God sets the rules. He alone is God. He is perfect, holy, and truthful.

Application

  • Our job is to know the standard and submit to it.

Explanation: Holy

  • Word also means “separate”
    • He is the Creator, not the creature
    • Fundamental difference between God and everything else
  • What is God like? In one sense, nothing
  • Isaiah 40:25–26 says, “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.”
  • God created everything out of nothing.
  • Did it tire him out? No! He spoke the universe into existence.
    • He said, “Let there be…” and there was.

Application: Know God

  • Know God

Argumentation: Know God

  • Knowing God is worth it! What are the benefits?
  • Knowing God is eternal life
    • Jesus says “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” –John 17:3
  • Knowing God gives our lives meaning and purpose
  • Knowing God gives us wisdom to live righteously
    • “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” –Psalm 119:105
  • Knowing God will let us persevere in our faith
    • “the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” –Daniel 11:32
  • Knowing God gives us strength
    • “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” –Psalm 73:26
  • Knowing God makes us happy
    • “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” –Psalm 16:11

Application: Know God

  • How can you know God?
    • Trust in Christ
      • Everyone has some knowledge of God, but we don’t naturally respond well to it.
      • Romans 1:21–23 “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
      • Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
      • Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death”
      • Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
      • Romans 10:9–10 “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
    • Get on a Bible reading plan
      • I’m doing a 1-year Bible plan…but I’m on year 4.
    • Read a good book on God
      • Packer: Knowing God
      • Tozer: The Knowledge of the Holy
      • Sproul: The Holiness of God

Application: Worship God

  • Worship God
    • In song
    • In life
      • “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
        –Romans 12:1–2
      • All of life is meant to be worship
      • Jesus said the greatest commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
        –Matthew 22:37
        • You can’t just do that on a Sunday morning

Transition

We’ve seen that God is light. One way to understand this is to see God as holy in all that He is and does. The text makes two applications for us. The first is that God wants us to be holy.

Be Holy

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”
–1 John 1:6–7

Explanation

  • “Fellowship’ is a close association. It includes common interests. It includes sharing.
    A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature
  • “Darkness” means “moral perversity and unrighteousness” –J. I. Packer
  • “Walking in darkness” means that your way of life is characterized by evil.
  • This isn’t just committing occasional sins. It’s a life that goes completely against the holiness that God requires.
    • It is living without the fear of God.
  • There’s a fundamental problem with saying we have fellowship with God, who is light, while we walk in the darkness.

Argumentation

  • “Different characters spring from different interests—and this disparity is what tears friendships apart. This is the whole reason good people can’t be friends with bad or bad with good. Their characters and interests are simply too different.”
    –Cicero, How to Be a Friend
  • If we walk in darkness, we oppose everything God stands for. We cannot claim to be on His team.

Illustration

  • Aldrich Ames worked for the CIA. Starting in 1985, he started selling information to the KGB (the foreign intelligence service of what was then the Soviet Union)
  • He continued giving the KGB classified documents
  • He exposed Russian officials that the United States had recruited
  • The Soviet Union found and executed some of them
  • When he was arrested in 1994, what if he had said, “I’m on good terms with the CIA and the United States government. I don’t deserve to be arrested.”?
  • That would be absurd. Laughable, if it wasn’t so sad.

Explanation

  • If you claim to have fellowship with God in this situation, you’re not just wrong. You are a liar. You don’t practice the truth.
    • On some level, you know evil can’t partner with good.
  • It’s not just what we claim that matters. It’s how we live.
  • Christians with sensitive conscience: This verse is not describing you.

Explanation

  • The situation is very different if we walk in the light, as He is in the light.
  • That’s a way of saying we generally obey God.
    • This doesn’t mean we’re sinless.
  • Two things happen
    • First, fellowship with one another
    • This refers to fellowship between people
    • You’d expect to say we’d have fellowship with God, given verse 6
    • Being holy like God improves our relationships with other Christians who are trying to be holy

Illustration

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So, one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” – A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Application

  • How are your relationships with other Christians?
  • If they’re not good, examine your life
  • Walking in the light results in good relationships with others who walk in the light

Explanation

  • We follow God in community
  • We can’t do it alone

Application

  • How much do you spend time with other Christians, for the purposes of building relationships, encouraging one another in your faith, helping one another overcome sin, and worshiping together?
  • Is it just a Sunday thing for you?
  • Spend some time this week with another Christian, outside of church.

Explanation

  • Not only do we have fellowship with one another, but…the blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin
  • “Blood of Jesus” refers to His violent death on a Roman torture device
  • He died in the place of everyone who trusts in Him
  • Cleansing means the removal of defilement, stain, or corruption

Illustration

  • Going to restaurant, and being given a dirty fork. The waiter cleans the fork.
  • Or, you’re about to have a party, and someone spills something dirty on the floor.

Explanation

  • God removes your sin from you
    • Not some sins. Every sin, or “all sin.”
  • It sounds like this is dependent on your works. Why it isn’t:
  • We know forgiveness comes by faith
    • “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” –Romans 5:1
  • When you trust in Jesus for your salvation, God forgives all your sin.
    • Some believe cleansing means “sanctification,” or growth in holiness.
    • John Calvin says that this verse refers to sins committed after you become a Christian, and that Jesus’s blood washes you clean from these.
    • Either way, God provides the cleansing we need in Christ.
  • The text says, “Jesus His Son.”
    • Jesus is the Son of God
    • As a human, Jesus was born at a point in time
    • As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus was never created
    • He was begotten, not made
    • The divine Son of God took on our humanity, and His death is completely sufficient to remove your sin.

Application

If you are weighed down by your sin, but you’re following Christ, you can trust that God forgives you! Be at war with your sin, but be at peace knowing that God accepts you in Christ!

Transition

We’ve seen how God is light. The first implication in our text is that we should be holy. The second implication is that we should confess our sin.

Confess Sin

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
–1 John 1:8–10

Explanation

  • Two problems listed in these verses
  • First: “If we say we have no sin”
  • These are people who say that they have no indwelling sin
  • We have Adam’s sin imputed to us. We’re guilty by virtue of being descendants of Adam.
  • We have Adam’s corruption imparted to us. We have a bent towards sin, a love of evil.

Illustration

  • Like metal is attracted to a magnet, like honey bees are attracted to flowers, our hearts are attracted to sin.

Argumentation

  • Some people want to explain away our corruption by saying:
    • It’s private property
    • It’s society
  • Those things don’t make us evil. The evil comes from within.

Explanation

  • “We deceive ourselves”
  • This is active
  • Deceiving ourselves starts when we want something to be true.
  • Then, we convince ourselves that it is.

Illustration

  • People in a difficult relationship. One person keeps telling herself, “I can change him.”
  • People who think they’re good at singing when they’re not (only singing in car)

Explanation

  • “and the truth is not in us”

Illustration

  • Like a business founded on fraud

Explanation

  • “If we say we have not sinned”
  • This is similar to the saying we have no “sin,” (singular)
    • This time, it refers to individual sins
  • “we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Argumentation

Why? People like that make God out to be a liar because He said we’re all sinners.

Explanation

  • It’s bad to lie. It’s a worse crime to call God a liar.

Explanation

  • However, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  • God is faithful. He will always do what He says He will do.
  • He has promised that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Illustration

  • Faithfulness is like a wife who has a husband with debilitating illness. She honors her commitment to love him in sickness and health. She doesn’t leave him. She continues to care for him.
  • God is like that towards us.

Explanation

  • “To forgive us our sins”
    • Forgiving means to cancel a debt. You decide not to require payment from someone.

Illustration

  • Lot of talk in the news about student debt forgiveness. I’m not commenting on whether it’s right or not, but if the debt is forgiven, the student doesn’t have to pay.

Explanation

  • “And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
    • This is like cleansing from all sin in verse 7
    • The sin that would spoil your relationship with God is cleaned
  • “Faithful and just”
    • We wouldn’t expect “just”
    • In OT, God’s righteousness (i.e., justice) was associated with Him saving His people
    • Romans 3:23–26 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [25] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. [26] It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
    • God’s justice was satisfied when Jesus died for you.
    • It would be unjust of God to punish you after Jesus paid the penalty for your sins.

Transition

God is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

To close: God is light. In response, be holy. Confess sin.

Conclusion

Action

  1. Pick one way to get to know God better this year, and pursue it.
  2. Pick one sin to put to death this year. Get an accountability partner to help.
  3. Pray to God before bed each night. Confess the sins of the day, and thank Him for the forgiveness He gives you in Christ.

Appeal

You will be happier.

God will be glorified.

Pray

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