WALKING IN THE LIGHT

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

CHAPTER ONE (Lesson XLIV) 12/03/20

Another current Bible Scholar, James Rosscup, feels that the Church needed to hear John’s message on fellowship because some interpreted the Gospel in unacceptable ways. They went so far that their sermons could no longer be called the Word of Life. Those who do not adhere to the Word of Life cannot have true fellowship with those who do. Ultimately, the communion that believers share is not merely that of an accidental accumulation of people with some things in common. Instead, what believers in the Anointed One have in common is unity with God. Those who know and love God are joined to each other as well.[1]

H. P. Mansfield makes the point that the Bible uses Light as a symbol for several divine things. The character of the Church is like the moon, which has no light of itself but reflects the light of the sun. The symbol of the Anointed One, God manifested, is that of the Son of Righteousness with healing in His beams.[2] The coming age of glory appears as “Light of the morning when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds.”[3] That Son of Righteousness, whose illuminating, penetrating, purifying rays will flood the political, religious, and social world with light to the glory of Yahweh and the wellbeing of humanity. Then on all sides, they will acknowledge the truth that God is Light.[4]

1:6b:  John finishes the sentence by stipulating that he refers to such people as liars because their living shows they are the type …who don’t do what the truth says. 

EXPOSITION

How can you claim Jesus is Lord of your life when you do not treat Him and obey Him as your Master?  How can you say you love Jesus when there is nothing you can show that exemplifies such love?  Remember, just saying it doesn’t make it so.  Love only exists when put into action.  How can you say that you love God’s Word when you rarely, if ever, read it?  Jesus did not mince words, nor does John.  If you claim to be a follower of the Anointed One and living in the light of God’s Word, but your life does not show it, and your actions do not confirm it, then you cannot claim God who sent His Son into the world to turn on the light as your heavenly Father.  Here is what Jesus tells such people, “Your father is the devil. You belong to him. You want to do what he wants. He was a murderer from the beginning. He was always against the truth. There is no truth in him. He is like the lies he tells. Yes, the devil is a liar. He is the father of lies.  I am telling you the truth, and that’s why you don’t believe me.[5]

COMMENTARY

John Bunyan (1628-1688) says those that devoutly speak the name of the Anointed One should depart from immorality; otherwise, their profession of Him is a mockery. It is the message we hear from the Apostle John here in verse six. Furthermore, to “walk in darkness;” is to live in wickedness. In other words, they still behave in accordance with the morals of this world. “Anyone who does not keep His commandments but still say, I know Him, are liars, and the truth is not in them.”[6] 

Bunyan goes on to say that the truth that they profess to know and the experience they claim to have is not evident in their way of living. Every person who names the Anointed One’s name is not, therefore, a child of God, nor is everything a person says the truth, although they profess of that worthy name, Christian.[7] The truth is in those whose mouth and life agree.[8] People may say they are apostles and be lying: they may say they are Jews, and be liars, or be Christians, and lie when they do so. Therefore, it is the highest form of deception and will bring about the saddest sort of effects. Thus, the best these people can do is tell lies. They may say, “I know Him,” and “I have fellowship with Him,” but their lifestyle proves them wrong, and everyone they know calls them liars.[9] It is tough-talk by Bunyan, but we must remember when and the age in which he lived. There were no politically correct police. We might not express it the same way today, but we cannot deny the truth principle.

Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) says that our being in the Anointed God-man is the fruit of God the Father’s everlasting love to us. We being in Him is our solid foundation. On this, we stand firmly fixed. From the Anointed One, God-Man, as our Head, all the Holy Trinity’s shareable blessings flow forth in the way of communication to us. Nothing can put a stop to this. When we mentally absorb this by faith and fully believe this, we have the real enjoyment of such blessed assurance. When we live to ourselves in any instance, we drop our holy fellowship with the Lord. With Him being Light, there can be no fellowship with Him by those in darkness. When we at any time think, speak or act on things done only in the darkness of sin, we betray ourselves. When we, in any instance, be it in thought, word, or deed, act, or walk in the darkness of sin, or receive, entertain, and maintain anything contrary to sound doctrine, of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God we make fools of ourselves.

It does not apply, says Pierce, to those who have not received the Lord Jesus the Anointed One, into their minds, hearts, consciences, and affections. For such individuals to profess or preach otherwise is to declare a lie. They are trying to prove by demonstration something contrary to the truth. That’s why John says they “do not the truth.” Today we would say they are “not living the truth.” How can they claim to agree with the truth when they say, “We have fellowship with Him,” but they still live in the darkness of sin? They are lying, says Pierce, and “do not the truth.”

May the Lord seal and settle this as truth in our hearts, prays Pierce, so as that at all times we may act under the influence thereof: to be kept from everything which may mar and interrupt our communion with the Lord, and from acting, or saying that which is contradictory to His Truth, and so be chargeable with a lie, and not acting according to the truth. [10]

Frederick D. Maurice (1805-1872) sums up verses six to ten as explicit yet straightforward. Its truth is that a person who throws off the burden of their sins by confessing them that they may admit to God because they know that God cares for them, that he is right, hates falsehood, and can understand the difference between them. It is simple on the surface. It is oh so infinitely deep, as we will discover once we try it! When we confess, “Against You O Lord have I sinned,” we dare to lay our sin bare; this is asking to be made real in the inward parts – what power, what victory, what peace lies in that!

And thus, says Maurice, we begin to understand the Apostle’s last words, which at first may sound very like a commonplace intensely expressed: “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” If we do not confess the evil in us, we attribute that evil to Him. We make Him answerable for that against which He is testifying in our consciences. We thrust away that Word, which is shedding abroad His light in us; we bury ourselves in our darkness. It is the effect of trying to make out a good case for ourselves, when it is our interest, our privilege, our blessedness, to justify God and to condemn ourselves, to say to God, “You have been true, and we have been liars. Deliver us from our lies! Help us to walk in Your truth.”[11]

In his commentary, Karl Gottlob Braune (1810-1877) states that everything depends on the reply you give to the question of whether sin rules you or only remains in you. If sin reigns over you, you belong to the darkness, but if its tendencies remain in you, you belong to the children of Light. It is not with pride but with gratitude to God that a Christian contemplates their being in the Light. Love of God and the brethren is the power of sanctification, which is the life of love. It is just the sanctified who see even the smallest sins with painfulness and perceive that they require cleansing through the blood of Jesus the Anointed One. If sin’s tendencies trouble a person into their deepest emotions, just remember that there is the cross, a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins for cleansing and consolation. It is not sufficient that a person is a Christian upon whom God’s Light is shone, but must become an enlightened Christian who becomes a light to a world in darkness.[12]

John Stock (1817-1884) says that when the sun shines with brilliancy, the shades are marked distinctly; when clouds obscure the sky, we do not see shades. So, when the truth comes out like the sun, errors are revealed. When doubtful disagreements arise and spread false gospels, then sin is concealed and diminished as harmful. People then begin to call evil good and good evil; exchange darkness for light, light for darkness; replace sweet for bitter, and bitter for sweet,[13] and there are confusion and chaos.[14] The blessed Apostle John was full of light, and so, in his writings, as in all those of his fellow inspired Apostles, an error is pointed out in plain language.


[1] James Rosscup: InterVarsity New Testament Commentary, 1 John, loc. cit.

[2] Malachi 4:1-2

[3] 2 Samuel 23:4; Isaiah 60:1

[4] H. P. Mansfield: The Test of True Love, Verse by verse Exposition of the Epistles of John, Logos Publications, West Beach, Australia, Church

[5] John 8:44-45

[6] 1 John 2:4

[7] 1 Kings 17:24

[8] Revelation 2:2, 9; 3:9

[9] John Bunyan’s Practical Works, Vol. 4, A Holy Life: The Beauty of Christianity, Reason Why All Christian Professors Should be Holy, Ch. 4, p. 112

[10] Pierce, S. E. , An Exposition of the First Epistle General of John, op. cit., Vol. 1, pp. 57–58

[11] Maurice, Frederick D., The Epistles of St. John, op. cit., Lecture III, pp. 51-52

[12] Karl Gottlob Braune: Homiletic, Firsts Epistle of John, op. cit., pp. 34-35

[13] Isaiah 5:20

[14] James 3:16

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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