Friday, September 18, 2015

Walking in the Light (Liar, Liar) - 1 John 1:5-2:6

1 John 1:5-2:6

Of all the insults that can ever be hurled at a person, there is in my experience one that makes people madder, and that term is “liar.”  A lie is a deliberate untruth. If I say something I believe to be true and it turns out to be untrue, then I have not lied. I make a mistake. A lie is told intentionally, to conceal the truth. 

Well, today, I am calling you a liar!

We all by virtue of our sinful human nature are liars.  

 Maybe you don’t usually lie to others. But the definition I just gave of lying does not specify others.  We all are much bigger liars to ourselves. One part of our minds tells lies to the other parts.  We deliberately conceal from ourselves things that we do not want to face. 

1 John 1: 5- 2:6 deals with the lies that keep us from a closer relationship with God, ourselves, and others. In these verses, John advocates, “walking in the light”—what we call transparency.  Transparency is a heart free of the lies and deception.  Transparency is not exhibitionism. We don’t have to go around exposing ourselves. But we live in this world without deception. We are honest first of all to ourselves, then to God, then to others. 

Not walking in the light is being deceptive to God, ourselves or others. Think about a light bulb in a glass globe next to a glass window.  If the bulb is painted black, the light can’t shine. If the glass globe is black, then there’s no light either. If the window is black, then there’s still not light. There must be three levels of transparency for light to shine.  If we lie to ourselves, then there is no light. If we lie to God, then there is no light.  If we lie to others there, then there is no light. Before we can shine in the world, we cannot lie to ourselves.

John deals with four lies which keep us from transparency. The first he discusses in 1: 6-7

First lie — We may have fellowship with Jesus without being honest.

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

We convince ourselves that we are better than we really are. We insist that God is speaking, when we are just lying to ourselves.

Make no mistake that God really does speak to us. The Bible is abundantly clear about that. But do not underestimate your capacity for self-deception. We can easily tell ourselves that we’ve had word from God when we’ve actually been listening to our own deceptive hearts. 

We can’t help it if someone else deceives us. Being wrong or being deceived may easily be forgiven. But if we deceive ourselves, then we are in much worse trouble. Self-deception leads to the first sin. Gen 3: 4-6

“The serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”

The Devil lied to Eve, but that did not matter, until Eve repeated that lie to herself. Then it was no longer the Devil’s lie but her own. “The tree was desired to make one wise.” She knew this was wrong, but she convinced herself it was right. This self-deception lead to all other sins.

We have an almost endless ability to justify our sins. Adulterers rarely admit their own sins. When they are caught and forced to admit them, then they try to argue it was their jilted spouses’ fault. Lawbreakers blame unjust laws. Liars self-justify their lies. That is what it means to live in the darkness. It means lying to ourselves.

With every lie, John tells us a truth to overcome it. Here’s what he says in verse 7:

“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.”

If we tell the truth to ourselves, then we don’t have to conceal anything from anyone else. Our generous, wonderful God has provided in Jesus Christ a cleansing in His eyes from all sin. 

Sin has consequences, but eternal condemnation is not one of them. God grants a general amnesty in Christ. Those who confess their sins and call upon Christ are walking again in the light.

Second lie — We are not sinning

I John 1: 8:  “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

The biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we are not sinning.  We are always sinning somehow! It’s our responsibility to find out where we are sinning and to stop it.   

One of the biggest lies of Satan is that some sins are small, while others are big. Murder is awful; gluttony and gossip are okay. But which sin kills more people in America—murder or obesity?  Alcoholism and cigarettes, which are also manifestations of gluttony.  What tears up more families, breaks up marriages and friendships, and destroys more churches—murder or gossip?  ISIS fighters believe that they have no sin when they behead Christians, yet would wail in remorse to Allah if they accidently ate pork!  It’s what we think of as “little” sins that the Devil uses most. 

God offers us a hopeful alternative to this lie in verse 9,

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Just confess that what we are doing is wrong. Then the blood of Christ covers it and the Holy Spirit works to change us, so we will not repeat the sin.  

Third lieWe have never sinned 

 1: 10-2:3:  “If we say we have not sinned, then we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Not only do we fail to admit our sins, but we also convince ourselves that we are not sinners and have never been real sinners.  Most of us have lists in our minds of what “real” sinners are—murderers, rapists, drug addicts, homosexuals,  bigots, religious hypocrites, or criminals. What these “real” sinners are varies according to our personal tastes and political views. Most of us will admit we’re sinners as long as we don’t have to actually name our sins. But in the back of our minds we think we are not “real” sinners. We have never done anything “that” bad to be called a sinner.

Christians are not really by nature judgmental.  The world gets the impression that Christianity is judgmental because our definition of sin is so broad.  We become judgmental when we condemn one kind of sin over all others. Is it right for a Christian to condemn homosexuality while looking at pornography, or to condemn abortion while excusing greed?  Recognizing sin in others isn’t wrong—only our failure to recognize it in ourselves. Our condemnation of other’s sins become a distraction to recognizing our own—a diversion that keeps us from walking in the light. 

Again, John has a message of truth to counteract the lie.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”

When we have sinned, Jesus covers us. He paid the price not only for ours, but for everyone.

Fourth lie—we know Him but don’t need to obey Him.

2:4:  Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

How can you “know Jesus” and not walk in the light?  How do you condemn homosexuals and abortionists, yet tolerate sin in your own life? Who’s to say that their sins are worse than yours? There is no excuse for their sins, but if you are going to condemn sin—start with your own.  You cannot insist on righteousness in the world when you do not believe or practice righteousness in yourself.

Again, offers a truthful word in place of the lie.

2:5-6 “Whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

I hope by now you realize that we are all self-deceivers.  How do we change?  How do we face the truth? 

We become honest not by looking at the lies but by concentrating on truth. Light casts out darkness. So instead of looking at John’s four lies, look at his four truths:

·         “If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from sins.

·         “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

·         “If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the father—Jesus Christ the righteous.

·         “Whoever keeps his Word, in him truly the Love of God is perfected.  Whoever abides in Him ought to walk in His ways.

We cannot truthfully say that the Love of God is perfected in us. But we can say that where it is not and when we have acted according to our own self-deception, Christ has forgiven us. We can also say that as we walk in his ways we become more like Him. His love is perfected in us. 

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