1 John 1:5
This then is the message which we have heard of him, etc. Notice two preliminary points.

1. That the Christian minister has received message from the Lord Jesus Christ. He spoke to his apostles and to many others. He revealed unto them God the Father, and the great truths concerning human redemption. He still speaks to us through the sacred Scriptures.

2. That the Christian minister should announce this message to others. It is his duty not to preach the theories of men, but the truth of God, and especially the truth revealed by Jesus Christ. There has been too much preaching of our ecclesiastical and theological-isms instead of the great and gracious truths of the gospel of our Lord and Saviour. In our text St. John briefly announces the great message which he had received from his Divine Master: "that God is Light, and in him is no darkness at all." Light is frequently associated with the Divine Being in the Bible. It is his vesture. "Thou coverest thyself with light as with a garment" (Psalm 104:2). It abides with him. "The light dwelleth with him" (Daniel 2:22). He abides in it. "Dwelling in light unapproachable." It accompanies his manifestations. "His brightness was as the light" (Habakkuk 3:4). He is the great Source of all illuminations. "The Father of lights" (James 1:17). He calls his people to dwell and to walk in light. "Who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9); "Ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:8). Our Lord claimed to be "the Light of the world" (John 8:12). His "life was the light of men" (John 1:4). But in our text light is said to be the essence of the Divine Being. "God is Light." Of all material things light is most fitted to set forth truth and holy spiritual being. "It unites in itself," as Alford says, "purity, and clearness, and beauty, and glory, as no other material object does." And Milton, "Light ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure." The emblem suggests -

I. THE INFINITE INTELLIGENCE OF GOD. He is the Omniscient. "No intellectual ignorance can darken his all-embracing survey of actual and possible fact." "Unto him all hearts are open, all desires known, and from him no secrets are hid." "O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my down-sitting and mine uprising," etc. (Psalm 139:1-6); "He telleth the number of the stars," etc. (Psalm 147:4, 5); "He knoweth the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21); "God knoweth all things" (1 John 3:20); "I know thy works," etc. (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; Revelation 3:1, 8, 15). Every sparrow is known unto him (Luke 12:6, 7). Let us endeavour to personally realize this great and solemn truth: God knows me always and thoroughly.

II. THE ENLIGHTENING INFLUENCE OF GOD. He created the light of the material universe. "God said, Let there be light: and there was light." He is the great Fountain of all intellectual and moral light. He inspired Bezaleel to devise and execute skillful handiwork (Exodus 31:1-5). The scientist, the metaphysician, the statesman, the poet, the artist, each and all derive their light from him. He communicates religious truth to man. He inspired, and still inspires, the great religious thinkers, and the far and clear-sighted spiritual seers of our race. By his Son Jesus Christ he "lighteth every man" (John 1:9).

III. THE LIFE-GIVING AND INVIGORATING INFLUENCE WHICH GOD EXERTS. Light cannot create life; but it quickens, develops, and strengthens it. "Physical light," says Ebrard, "appears to be the producing, forming, quickening principle of all organization, in its essence self-communicative, and the stimulating principle of all physical organic functions of life." Light is essential to every kind of life with which we are acquainted. Without it our world would speedily become one vast, dreary, dread abode of the dead. Great forces also of various kinds are produced from light. As George Stephenson pointed out, it is light which propels so swiftly our long and heavy railway trains. "It is light bottled up in the earth for tens of thousands of years, light absorbed by plants and vegetables being necessary for the condensation of carbon during the process of their growth, if it be not carbon in another form; and now, after being buried in the earth for long ages in fields of coal, that latent might is again brought forth and liberated - made to work, as in that locomotive, for great human purposes." God is the great Author of all life and of all force. He created the physical universe, and he sustains it. The forces of nature are expressions of his awful or beautiful might. Evolution is a mode of Divine operation. And the life and strength of souls he inspires and renews. He inspires the soul with life. "You being dead in your sins hath he quickened" (Colossians 2:13). The true Christian "is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8); he "is born of God" (1 John 3:9). And God imparts and renews strength to his people. "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength," etc. (Isaiah 40:29-31).

IV. THE EXISTENCE OF GOD AS A TRINITY IN UNITY. This is at least suggested by speaking of him as Light. In two ways does light suggest the triunity of God. "The researches of Young and Helmholtz," says Mr. Sugden, "have proved beyond the possibility of doubt that the three primary colours are red, green, and violet, and that by various combinations of these three all the colours with which we are acquainted are produced; whilst the combination of all three in equal proportions gives white light, apparently one simple and homogeneous sensation, but in reality a compound of three. Have we not here a most striking illustration, if not more than an illustration, of the Christian truth about the nature of God, which teaches us that he is a Trinity in unity - three Persons, and one God?... As Luthardt well says, 'God has, in the history of salvation, revealed himself in a triune manner - as Father, Son, and Spirit; and we, in that work of appropriating salvation, through which we become Christians, have experience of God according to this distinction, viz. as him to whom we are reconciled, and as the Spirit who has inwardly appropriated to us the grace of reconciliation, and made it the power of a new life to us. Thus do we become certain that there are distinctions in the Godhead, that God is the triune God.'" Light suggests the same truth in another way. It is thus stated by Professor Lias: "When we reflect on the threefold nature of light, its enlightening, its warming, its chemical powers, we are reminded of the Holy Trinity - the unapproachable Light himself; his eternal Revealer, bringing light to earth, and quickening by his genial warmth the frozen hearts of men; and the eternal Spirit, dwelling in their hearts, and slowly bringing his healing influences to bear upon their diseased souls."

V. THE PERFECT HOLINESS OF GOD. Light is pure and purifying. It visits scenes of corruption and decay, and exercises a cleansing and healing influence there, and pursues its glorious course without having contracted any taint, still absolutely pure. Fit emblem of the infinite holiness of the great God. "No stain can soil his robe of awful sanctity." He is preeminently "the Holy One." "Thou only art holy." The highest intelligences ceaselessly praise him, crying, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts." "His name is holy, and he dwells in the high and holy place." His holiness is the glory of his Being. He is "glorious in holiness." As if to set forth the entire purity and perfection of the Divine nature considered as light, St. John says, "And in him is no darkness at all." No kind of darkness whatsoever has any place in him. "Neither ignorance, nor error, nor sin, nor death" is found in him.

CONCLUSION.

1. Let us reverence this great and holy Being.

2. Let us seek his life-giving, enlightening, and invigorating influences. - W.J.







This then is the message...that God is light
All rightly ordained ministers of Christ are God's messengers. Our office is not merely of man's appointment; we hold it from the Lord. We are sent to remind you of God's will, to be His witnesses unto you (Hebrews 2:1-4). Consider, then, the message which we bring unto you, whence it comes, and upon what authority. "I have a message from God unto thee." That message began to be preached by the Lord Himself, by Him who said, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." The apostles, who were eyewitnesses of His majesty and glory, have handed down His words to us in the New Testament. To show that they were sent by God they wrought miracles (Mark 16:16). We are invested with God's authority to warn, to teach, to rebuke, to comfort (2 Corinthians 5:20). And as our message is from God, so we must be faithful in delivering it. Christ's ministers are put in trust with the gospel, and they must fulfil that trust (Ezekiel 3:11). They who refuse to hear the messenger refuse to hear Him who sent him (Matthew 10:40). It remains for me to say what my message is to each of you.

1. And, first, I speak to those who are careless, thoughtless, and unconcerned about religion. You have not known God as a Father, Christ as a Saviour, the Holy Spirit as a Sanctifier. I have a message from God to you. He says, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead." "Consider your ways." "Boast not thyself of tomorrow: for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth." Remember that word, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you."

2. Next, I speak to those who are living in known sin. I have a message from God unto you. Break off your sin by repentance, turn to God through Christ earnestly, seriously, and at once; for remember that the unbelieving must have their portion in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. We beseech you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

3. But is there one here who is humbly desiring to learn the way of salvation, who is sorry and ashamed to have lived so long without God, and to have so grievously provoked Him by sin and folly? I have a message from God unto thee, and it is one full of love and full of comfort Be of good cheer"; "They that seek shall find."

4. But there may also be some who, having once known the way of righteousness, have since fallen away and gone backwards. I have a message from God to you also. "If any man draw back," He says, "My soul shall have no pleasure in him. "Remember from whence thou art fallen and repent, and do thy first works." "Return unto Me, and I will return unto you."

5. Or is there one amongst us whose heart is troubled with a sense of sin and guilt? who is asking in sorrow, What must I do to be saved? There is a message from God to you. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ." He came into the world to save sinners.

6. There are yet some to whom I may especially say I have a message from God unto you — you who have fled to Christ, who are living a Christian life in communion with God and hope of heaven. You are still surrounded with temptations from within and from without. Therefore be sober, be vigilant. Walk humbly with God, pray without ceasing. Abound in all good works. God expects you to attend to what He says, to give earnest heed to the things which you have heard, lest at any time you should let them slip.

(E. Blencowe, M. A.)

I. A MESSAGE.

1. How was this message obtained? "We have heard it, and disclose it unto you," says John. Heard it; from whom? Unquestionably from the Lord Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the Great Teacher sent from God. He delivered it to His disciples, and they to others.

2. What does this message express? God is Light, He makes us wise unto salvation.

3. What does this light exclude? It excludes all darkness, for "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." This shows the supremacy of God, and His sovereign perfection in distinction from all orders of His creatures.

II. THE AWFUL DECISION. "If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth."

1. Now men may say this by profession of it to others; and they may say it to their own souls, persuading themselves that they are real Christians, when they have "no part or lot in the matter," their hearts not being right in the sight of God.

2. Congeniality must precede "fellowship," and resemblance must precede fellowship. And therefore it will follow that a change of heart is necessary, for without this change we can neither enjoy God, nor serve Him acceptably.

III. THE GLORIOUS PRIVILEGE.

1. It takes in fellowship. "We have fellowship one with another." There is a fellowship belonging to all the people of God wherever they live. But this is not the fellowship referred to here. Here the "fellowship one with another" means the fellowship that exists between God and us. He is their God, and they are His people.

2. The other article here is the assurance of pardon. "And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."(1) Observe the procurer, the Son of God. However this term may be explained, it always in Scripture means dignity.(2) Mark the efficacy of His death: "His blood cleanseth us from all sin." It delivers us from the heinousness of it, however offensive it is in the eyes of a holy God; and from the love of sin, and make us "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God."(3) Then mark the extent of it: it "cleanseth us from all sin" — from original sin and actual sin; from all sin, however aggravated. His blood cleanseth perfectly from all sin, and completely from all transgression.

(W. Jay.)

I. A LESSON OF INSTRUCTION (ver. 5). Both the manner and the matter of this lesson are very impressive.

1. The apostle adopts the manner of the deliverer of Israel (Judges 3:20). It is indeed the style of our Lord Himself (John 7:16). It is intended to remind us that the word and ministry are to be understood and treated as a message from God (1 Thessalonians 4:8). It is observable that no mention is here made by name of the Being from whom the message comes. "We have heard of him." Of whom? No doubt the glorious Being described in the previous verses. It is Jesus the Mediator.

2. Impressive, however, as is the manner of the lesson before us, its matter is of far higher moment.(1) "God is light." Its simplicity and comprehensiveness are amazing. There are three principal ideas suggested by the figure.(a) Light is the emblem of knowledge. God is onmiscient. He sees all things as they are, in their true nature and real influence. He cannot be deceived. Matter and mind are alike plain to His perception. Our motives and feelings and purposes are as palpable to Him as our bodies.(b) So also is light the emblem of holiness. God is "the Holy One" implying that none but He is absolutely and infinitely holy. All He does is in undeviating correspondence with perfect purity.(c) Light is the emblem of happiness. Infinite knowledge and holiness must be productive of infinite happiness. He possesses within Himself all the sources of unmingled blessedness. His perfections are never-failing springs of joy.(2) "And in Him is no darkness at all." Nor is this without its meaning. It is designed to teach us that no element enters into His light to obscure it. He is intellectually and morally perfect.

II. A WARNING AGAINST SELF-DECEPTION (ver. 6).

1. "If we say that we have fellowship." We say it, but we may herein be uttering what is untrue. Profession is not principle. We may be self-deceived, or we may be hypocrites.

2. "And walk in darkness." Darkness is the emblem of ignorance, error, and sin. And so far may the spirit of self-deception or hypocrisy prevail, that with the highest professions on our lips, our walk may be utterly inconsistent with them. It is not merely that we may be betrayed by the force of temptation into some inconsistent action, but that our habit of life is contrary to sound principle and true godliness.

3. "We lie" in such a case. Our outward profession is contrary to the inward reality.

4. "And do not the truth." If such be our deportment, we are disobedient to the truth. The language reminds us of the words of Christ (John 3:19-21).

5. It is plain that the warning of the apostle is designed to stand ill contrast to the lesson which he had just delivered. Looking at it, then, in this light, how powerful is his appeal! God is light. Who, then, can have fellowship with such a Being? Is it he who is walking in darkness, which is the emblem of ignorance, and error, and sin? Impossible! "And what communion hath light with darkness?"

6. With these solemn words before us, let us inquire who they are that belie their profession of fellowship with God?(1) The ignorant do so. They have no adequate conception of sin, or of themselves, or of the Saviour, or of God, or of the world, or of eternity. They are walking in darkness, yet they have no fear.(2) The erroneous present a mole aggravated case. What a description does Isaiah (Isaiah 44:20) give of such! St. Paul describes the same (Romans 10:3). The forms in which they do so are very various, and sometimes the very opposite of one another. One trusts in his innocence or righteousness. He does not see anything in himself why God should cast him off, but thinks he has done much to commend himself to His fellowship. Another relics not on himself at all, but in the creed which he has learned from his youth, and which he holds tenaciously in the letter, while a stranger to its power and spirit. Many more rest in the formality of outward rites and ceremonies (Matthew 15:8).(3) Above all, they who allow themselves in sin, fall under the censure of the apostle. Nor are such always sensible of their own inconsistencies. It is to be feared many are going to the judgment with their sins without alarm.

III. THE SEASONABLE AND ENCOURAGING DIRECTION which the apostle gives to those who would have the enjoyment and advantage of real fellowship (ver. 7).

1. A clear apprehension of the truth is essential to fellowship. No one can have solid and permanent enjoyment of God who does not well understand the doctrine of justification by faith.

2. The believer, thus enlightened and brought into fellowship with God, must exercise the utmost watchfulness against sin. Whatever sin is allowed, and in whatever measure, it will obscure the object of faith, and darken the evidence of his interest in it.

3. He who would walk in the light and enjoy the fellowship of God must abound in well-doing. This is the secret of religious enjoyment. "He that watereth others, shall himself be watered." Exercise is essential to health.

(James Morgan, D. D.)

I. The form of THE ANNOUNCEMENT in the fifth verse is very peculiar: "This, then, is the message," etc. It is not a discovery which we make concerning God, an inference or deduction which we draw for ourselves from observation of His works and ways, and which we publish in that character, and with that weight of influence, to our fellow men. It is an authentic and authoritative communication to us from Himself. And it is to be accepted as such.

1. Positively, "God is light." Let these two thoughts be fixed in our minds; first, the thought of perfect openness; and secondly, the thought of perfect inviolability.

2. Negatively, "In Him is no darkness at all." I connect this part of the statement with that saying of John in his Gospel (John 1:5). In the light itself, in Him who is the light even when shining in darkness, the darkness which comprehendeth it not — there is still no darkness at all. "The light shineth in darkness." He who is the light comes, in the person of His Son, to seek and to save us who are in darkness; who, as to our character, and state, and prospects, are darkness itself. For our sakes, in our stead, in our nature, He who is light is identified with our darkness. And yet "in Him is no darkness at all." In the very heat and crisis of this death struggle, there is no surrender of the light to the darkness; no concession, no compromise; no allowance of some partial shading of the light on which the darkness presses so terribly. All still is clear, open, transparent, between the Son and the Father. In the interest of light triumphing over darkness, not by any plausible terms of accommodation, but before the open face of eternal righteousness, pure and untainted, the Father gives the cup and the Son drains it to the dregs. In that great transaction, thus consummated, before all intelligences, between the Father and the Son, it is clearly seen and conclusively proved that "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."

II. Such being the message in the fifth verse, THE WARNING in the sixth verse becomes simply a self-evident inference: "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." What is this walking in darkness? Our answer is simple enough. All unholy walking is walking in darkness (Ephesians 5:3-11; Galatians 5:19-21). But the matter must be pressed a little more closely home. The characteristics of light are clearness, openness, transparency, and inviolability, retaining and preserving its own pure nature, unmodified, unmingled, unsullied by external influences. Now darkness is the opposite of this light. Instead of openness there is concealment and disguise; instead of inviolability there is facile impressibility. Ah! this walking in darkness! Is it not after all just walking deceitfully? Is it not simple insincerity, the want of perfect openness and transparent honesty in our dealings with God and with ourselves as to the real state of our hearts towards God, and the bias of our affections away from God towards selfishness and worldliness? Is it not that we have in us and about us something to conceal; something that does not quite satisfy us; something about which we have at least occasional misgivings; something that, when we think seriously, and confess, and pray, we slur over and do not like to dwell upon; something that we try to represent to ourselves as not so bad as it seems — as indeed, in the circumstances, excusable and unavoidable?

III. From the solemn message in the fifth verse, and the faithful warning in the sixth, THE GRACIOUS ASSURANCE in the seventh fitly follows: "We have fellowship one with another"; God with us and we with God. The expression may seem to savour of familiarity. The explanation may be found in the conditional clause — "if we walk in the light, as He is in the light." We walk in the light in which God is. It is the light of His own pure truth, His own holy nature. In that light He sees and knows and judges all things. And now the supposition is that we walk — as He is — in that light. To us the light in which we walk is identically the same as the light in which He is. The same lustrous glory of holiness shines on our walk and on His throne. The very same pure medium of vision is common to us both. "We see light in His light."

(R. S. Candlish,D. D.)

1. When the source of light is considered we have an emblem of the vastness, the ubiquity of God. How insignificant is man in his lofty aspirations and his feeble powers as he walks in the midst of this vastness!

2. The analysis of the spectrum unfolds to us the fact that a ray (called white) is made up of a number of coloured rays; and further observations show that combined with this white ray there is also a ray of heat, and the chemical ray called actinism, which gives vitality and paints the lines of life and beauty. The natural and moral attributes of God, such as His omnipresence, eternity, spirituality, and His benevolence, justice, truth, and others, form to us the only conceptions of God's character which we can realise. Without a knowledge of these God has no appreciable relation to us, and we fail in our attempt to conceive it. But as we look to the analysis of the white light, and of the combined ray, to tell us of the physical properties of the sun's rays, so we need such intermediate knowledge of God's attributes to realise a knowledge of the perfections of His character, and of the unity of the mysterious persons in One, that God may be known to us.

3. When the diffusion of light is considered, we have the most perfect illustration which nature can afford of the immediateness of God's communications with us. John here, when the undulatory theory was unknown, and any notion of the velocity of its influence, conceived light as emanating from the sun — "shining forth," filling the heavens and pervading the face of the earth, and at times intercepted and darkness intervened. But how much higher than this are our conceptions of this diffusion raised, under more exact knowledge, when we learn that the actual velocity of light in its passage from the sun to the earth is at the rate of one hundred and ninety-three thousand miles per second, a speed which would belt the earth in the space of one-eighth of a second. Yet, quick as this velocity may appear, it is tardy in comparison with God's communications with us. "When they call I will answer!" Here is no waiting, no passage through an intercepting medium.

4. With equal force does the figure unfold to us a view of God's universal knowledge. Light is like God, inasmuch as it reveals and exposes to view every object upon which it falls. "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth." "His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men." "For the Lord God is a sun," discovering, enlightening, and cheering the whole created universe.

5. But the most prominent feature in this analogy is the relation of light with God's infinite purity and goodness.

6. But the teaching of the text is not all hidden under these material comparisons and contrasts; for, lifting us to a higher view, the relation in which God stands to the Christian in his daily course of spiritual life — a life of purity — is directly intimated.(1) The Christian is here supposed to be walking before God in harmony and perfect confidence with Him, in a walk comprising the sum of his motives, his aspirations, his actions.(2) Not only does he walk with God in the light of Divine knowledge, but also in that of Divine purity.(3) This walk is, like light, to be constant and unvarying, as the little intruding preposition "if" preceding the sentence implies — "if we walk in the light."

(D. Smith.)

1. In this view, are we not warranted in laying stress on the fact that light is an entirely open thing? It is the first property of light to manifest itself and all else on which it rests. It is here the direct antithesis of darkness. Darkness hides; but light lays bare everything it reaches. Moreover, its whole tendency is to expand its influence all around the source whence it proceeds. Here, I think, we have set before us, first of all, the blessed fact that God is the God of revelation. He has not hid Himself from us as in our sin we deserved. But He has unveiled Himself to us that we may know His nature and character, His method of dealing with us now, and His plans for our destiny hereafter. This was done in many different ways from the beginning of the world; it reached its climax in the advent of Christ. The sun is set on high for the illumination of the heavens and the earth. No portion of our globe is exempted from his beams. So the Lord manifestly intends to diffuse the knowledge of Himself over the whole world. It is His very nature to penetrate by His Word into the remotest corners of human existence. Yet wherever His Word does penetrate, He is found true to Himself. As Light alone, He has the power of distinguishing betwixt truth and falsehood, purity and impurity.

2. On the other hand, is not light also an inviolable thing? This tells us that the nature of God also is inviolably pure. As the light streams into contact with the world and all that is in it, so God is now by His Spirit alike in providence and redemption in the closest contact with the heart and life of men. But in this action on His creatures He never catches anything of the moral corruption by which the world is saturated.

3. But, last of all, is not light also a glorious thing? Thus it suggests to us the moral and spiritual glory of the Divine nature.

(J. P. Lilley, M. A)

The Evangelical Preacher.
I. WE LOOK AT THE TEXT AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE DIVINE CHARACTER.

1. Light is perhaps the nearest approach of anything with which we are acquainted to immateriality. It seems to fill all nature, to surround all worlds, and so to bear a fit resemblance to its glorious Maker, who says, "Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?"

2. Then, again, how fine an emblem is it of the Divine purity!

3. Does it not also portray to our minds His all-searching know ledge?

4. It is important also to observe that light is exhibited to us in the text as the emblem of the essential perfection of the Divine nature.

II. OUR TEXT MAY NOW BE CONTEMPLATED AS CONTAINING AN INTIMATION OF WHAT GOD DOES FOR MAN.

1. Light is a revealer.

2. Light communicates enjoyment; for a "pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun."

3. Light clothes all things with beauty. Dark providences brighten when God shines upon them, and the manifestation of His wisdom and love, His faithfulness and power, please our eyes and comfort our hearts.

4. Light purifies the atmosphere in which we live, which without it would be but ill adapted to sustain our existence in comfort.

III. THE SUBJECT IS ADAPTED, TO FURNISH US WITH A FEW SERIOUS AND PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS.

1. How blind are men that do not see God in all things! The light of heaven shines all around them.

2. How great are our obligations to God for the light which He has given us!

3. How great the duty which rests upon us, to pity and endeavour to enlighten those who are sitting in darkness and the shadow of death!

(The Evangelical Preacher.)

It seems a very simple thing to say that "God is light," etc. We almost wonder at the Bible taking so much trouble to say it. For, we might think, how could God be otherwise? How could we imagine God to be imperfect, wanting in goodness, and holiness, and wisdom, and truth? How could God be God unless He were all-perfect — light without s shade of darkness? And this is true. But how is it that we have come to have these thoughts of God? It is that the gospel has become so much a matter of course to us, that its truth has come to seem to us our own thoughts. But it was by no means so plain a truth to the world when St. John wrote his Epistle. He wrote when the world believed in idols and false gods without number. And those false gods were not thought of as we think of God. They were believed to be not more perfect, not more holy, not more good, than the men who worshipped them. But those days of idolatry and ignorance are past; and perhaps we think that we do not need to be reminded that God is light — perfectly pure and holy and true and good. We do want to be reminded that there are those still who do not in their hearts believe that God is light; for is it not so, that instead of really believing that God is light, without stain, or shade of sin, we often make Him out in our thoughts to be what we like and wish Him to be? What does the sinner wish God to be? He wishes God to be kind and indulgent to his sin; to be a God who always rewards and never punishes; who will do good to us, whether we obey Him or not. Do we never sin, hoping that after all God will not think so severely of our sin as the Bible seems to make out that He will? Do we never comfort and flatter ourselves with such general excuses as that God is merciful, and will not be hard upon us? Do we not, instead of taking the Bible, and reading there the true character of the God whom we worship, make an image according to our own imperfections and sins, and call it God? Is this the God who "is light, and in Him is no darkness"? Can we be said really to believe in Him when we treat Him as if He were foolish, and could not see through our cunning devices, and could be flattered into good humour with us, and be prevailed upon to treat us as favourites? Again, what a sad show of our real thoughts about God is to be found in the manner of our worship and in our prayers! If He "is light, and in Him is no darkness at all," what must He think of worship which only pretends to worship and honour Him? of prayer which does not really ask in spirit for the thing it speaks about? God is what He is, whatever we may think; and earnestly ought we to strive and pray that we may know Him as He is, and always think of Him as He is.

(Dean Church.)

Clear and brilliant light often brings out exquisite colours, as happens among the Alps and also in the north frigid zone, where the humble little plants called lichens and mosses are in many cases dyed of the most brilliant hues, purple and gold predominating. Warmth, in like manner, will stimulate vegetable growth in the most astonishing manner, but it is growth not necessarily accompanied by the secretion of valuable substances, such as give quality and real importance to the plant. In English hothouses, for example, we have plenty of spice trees, those generous plants that yield cinnamon and cassia, the nutmeg and the clove; but although healthy and blossoming freely, they never mature their aromatic secretions. Though they have artificial heat equal to that of their native islands, which burn beneath the sun of the Indian Ocean, we cannot supply them with similar and proportionate solar light.

Suppose the case of a cripple who had spent his life in a room where the sun was never seen. He has heard of its existence, he believes in it, and, indeed, has seen enough of its light to give high ideas of its glory. Wishing to see the sun, he is taken out at night into the streets of an illuminated city. At first he is delighted, dazzled; but after he has had time to reflect, he finds darkness spread amid the lights, and he asks, "Is this the sun?" He is taken out under the starry sky, and is enraptured; but on reflection finds that night covers the earth, and again asks, "Is this the sun?" He is carried out some bright day at noontide, and no sooner does his eye open on the sky than all question is at an end. There is but one sun. His eye is content: it has seen its highest object, and feels that there is nothing brighter. So with the soul: it enjoys all lights, yet amid those of art and nature is still inquiring for something greater. But when it is led by the reconciling Christ into the presence of the Father, and He lifts up upon it the light of His countenance, all thought of anything greater disappears. As there is but one sun, so there is but one God. The soul which once discerns and knows Him, feels that greater or brighter there is none, and that the only possibility of ever beholding more glory is by drawing nearer.

(W. Arthur.)

When Charles Kingsley was dying he said, "It is not darkness I am going to, for God is light."

(E. W. Bibb.)

Skotia ouk estin oudemia ("no, not even one speck of darkness"); no ignorance, error, untruthfulness, sin, death.

(A. R. Fausset, M. A.)

If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie
"Light" and "Darkness" are very living expressions. They belong to the life of us all. Moreover, these expressions were wonderfully suitable for those to whom St. John wrote. The Ephesians had paid an especial worship to Artemis or Diana. They connected her with the moon, the night ruler. They had paid a worship, in common with the other Greeks, to Apollo; him they connected with the sun, that rules the day. They connected them, I say, with these beautiful objects; but they were never satisfied with doing so. The god of light was the god whom they went to consult how they should manage states, conduct wars, make peace. They felt that a higher light than the light which the eyes could see must proceed from him. So these old Greeks thought. They were continually exalting the lower light above the higher light, and supposing the higher to come from the lower. This was their idolatry. They worshipped the visible things from which they thought that the light proceeded. St. John had been taught almost from his birth that he was not to worship things in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth, or the works of his own hands. He had been taught that the Lord his God was one Lord, that He was the Unseen Deliverer, Guide, Teacher, King of Israel. He had clung to this teaching. Now he had believed that this God had revealed Himself to them, not in the sun or in the moon, bug in a humble and crucified Man. With this conviction becoming every hour deeper and deeper in his mind, he had settled in the city where Apollo and Diana were worshipped. He saw the mischiefs and dangers of that worship more clearly and fully than he did when people told him about it on the Lake of Galilee. But he did not think that these Ephesians had been wrong because they had dreamt of a God of Light. That was a true dream. Christ had come to fulfil it. The God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, whom Jesus had revealed, was this God of Light. But there is another reason closely connected with this, why St. John could not abandon the word "light "for any that was more formal and less living. A man may easily fancy that goodness, wisdom, truth, are possessions of his own. Whether he thinks he has got them for himself, or that some god has given them to him, he may still believe that he holds them just as he holds a freehold house or a purse of money. But you can never suppose that you hold light in this way. That I can never boast that I possess, Now the message which St. John brought to the Ephesians was not concerning a blessing of the first kind, but of this last kind. He did not tell them that God had given them certain possessions here, or had promised them certain possessions hereafter, which they could call theirs. That is the subject of the next verse — "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." Walking in darkness is, alas! the phrase about which we have the least need of an interpreter. Everyone interprets it himself. It is possible for a man to be in this dark selfish state, and yet to say that he has fellowship with God. He may repeat prayers, he may offer sacrifices, he may pass for a religious man. But his life, the apostle says, is a lie. It is not only that he speaks a lie; he acts a lie. He does not the truth. This, indeed, he would have us to understand is falsehood — the very root of falsehood. "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." The darkness of which St. John speaks is an utterly unsocial condition. A man thinks about himself, dwells in himself; the rest of the universe lies in shadow. What, then, is the opposite state to this? "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." The light is all around us, while we are most dark. I cannot extinguish the creation because I do not think about it or care about it. But this recollection is not enough to bring me out of my dark pit. My selfishness is too strong for all, however bright, in earth, and sea, and air to overcome. It is not too strong for God to overcome. All those strange intimations which come to me that I ant not what I am meant to be, must be flashes of light from the source of light. They are painful flashes. They are just what men have tried by their false religions — by their insincere professions of fellowship with God — to drive away. But if, instead of doing that, we will hail them, if we will receive them as His messengers, we may enter into His true order. The proper social life is restored to us, even if we are far away from our brethren. "And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." St. John appeals to our experience. You desire to be true yourself; you desire to have fellowship with other men. The moment that first desire is awakened in me, then arises along with it a sense of falsehood: "I have done false acts. I have been false. I have an inclination to do false acts and to be false now. I have something in me which violently resists my craving to be true." And about the seriousness, the terribleness of this fact there is no doubt. It must be at the bottom of the insincerity, discord, and hatred of the world. But how shall I describe this fact? I am at a loss; I cannot find a name. But I discover something more about the strange fact. "God is light, and in Him is no darkness"; I am intended to walk in this light. This inclination not to be true, not to have fellowship with my fellow men, is an inclination not to walk in this light, not to be in that state in which He has intended men to be. Now I am, perhaps, better able to express this inclination of mine, and what has been the fruit of it. One name, however, does not satisfy me. I try several. I call it transgression; that is, the passing over a boundary which was marked out for me. I call it iniquity; that is, an uneven, zigzag course, a departure from the straight, even course. I call it sin; that is, the missing of an aim; the going aside from the goal which I was intended to reach. All these words imply that there is One who has marked the boundary for me, who has drawn the line for me, who has fixed the goal or aim for me. All imply a disobedience to a Will which I am meant to obey. Now, the message which St. John brought to the Ephesians was, "God has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ as the perfect Truth. God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ as the God who has created men to be one. Therefore it is a revelation to us of our sin; for it shows us how we have fought and do fight against this mind and purpose of God; how, in doing so, we fight against our own proper state, our own proper blessedness." I do not mean that this sense of sin did not exist before that full revelation of God in Christ. But how much deeper did it become in those who learnt that God was light, and in Him was no darkness — that He had sent His Son to bring them into His light! What a sense of sin must have been in them! How they must have felt, "It is our own fault, our own choice, that we have been walking in darkness. We have been striving against a God who has been at every moment plotting for our good! If, then, the men in the times of old cried out for a purification, those who heard this revelation must have felt the need of it immeasurably more. But what kind of purification could they have? "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." There is a new lifeblood put into this nature of ours. God Himself has infused it. The Son of God has taken our flesh and blood. He is the Head of our race. When we seek to rise out of ourselves — to be delivered from our falsehood — to have fellowship with God, and fellowship with our brother, then His blood is an assurance that we have that fellowship. It removes the sense of sin against God which is in us; it removes the sense of sin against men. It gives that atonement and that purification which nothing else in earth and heaven can give. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Instead of this fancy that you are without sin being a proof how clearly the light is shining into you, it is a proof that you are shutting out the light, for that would reveal to you your own inclination to fly from it and to choose the darkness. The truth makes us aware of our falsehoods. Is that hard doctrine? No; for "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." His faithfulness and justice are the enemies of our sins; therefore to them we may turn from our sins. They are the refuges from the darkness that is in us. A faithful and righteous Being is "therefore a forgiving Being. "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us." If we will not confess the evil in us, we impute that evil to Him. We thrust away that Word which is shedding abroad His light in us; we bury ourselves in our own darkness. This 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, "Thou hast been true, and we have been liars. Deliver us from our lies! Help us to walk in Thy truth!"

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

The apostle warns us against saying more than we have made our own by experience. To have fellowship with God is a great matter; but merely to say that we have fellowship with Him is a totally different thing. John warns us that if we say that which our characters do not support, we lie. He leaves it just so, without a word of softening or excuse. Let us now speak of the real thing — the fellowship with God, which comes of walking in the light. The Christian life is described as walking, which implies activity. Chiefly in the character of active workers, or in that of willing sufferers, we must maintain fellowship with God. Walking implies activity; but it must be of a continuous kind. Neither this step, nor that, nor the next, can make a walk. Not he that begins, but he that continues, is the true Christian; final perseverance enters into the very essence of the believer's life; the true pilgrims of Zion go from strength to strength. This suggests that walking implies progress. He that takes one step and another step, and still stands where he was, has not walked.

I. Consider, first, THE LIGHT OF OUR WALK. True believers do not walk in darkness; they have found the road, and they see it before them. Moral darkness is contrary to their newborn nature: they cannot endure it. What is this light, then, in which the Christian walks?

1. I answer, first, it is the light of grace. The Holy Spirit brings us out from under the dominion of the old nature by creating within us a new life, and He brings us out from under the tyranny of the Prince of Darkness by opening our eyes to see and our minds to understand celestial truth. The result of this light is seen in various ways. It causes deep sorrow in the beginning, for its first discoveries are grievous to the conscience. Light is painful to eyes long accustomed to darkness. Anon the light brings great joy, for the soul perceives deliverance from the evils which it mourned. "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart."

2. Ever, in each condition, you observe conspicuously that the light of grace is seen as the light of sincerity. Hypocrisy and pretence fly before sincere belief and feeling.

3. Next to sincerity I regard a willingness to know and to be known as an early result of walking in the light of God. A religion which we will not submit to the test of self-examination cannot be worth much. No one is afraid to have a genuine sovereign submitted to any test: it is the coiner who is afraid. We must build on truth, and nothing else but truth.

4. A still surer evidence of grace is the mind's perception of revealed truth and its obedience to it. Are the doctrines of grace essential verities with thee? Whatever God has said about sin, righteousness, judgment to come, art thou ready to accept it at once? Whatever He has revealed concerning Himself, His Son, His Holy Spirit, the Cross, life, death, hell, and the eternal future, dost thou believe it unfeignedly? This is to walk in the light.

5. This leads to a transparency and simplicity of character. The man who does in reality what he seems to do; the man who says what he means, and means what he says; the man who is truthful. artless, and sincere in all his general dealings both before God and man, he it is whose conduct leads us to hope that the light of grace shines within.

6. This is very evident in the man's cessation from all guile towards himself. Remember how David pronounces him blessed "in whose spirit there is no guile." He knew painfully what it was to be full of guile. "Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation." He is in the light now, for deceit has gone, and now God can speak comfortably to him, and wash him and make him whiter than snow.

7. The man who is walking in the light, as God is in the light, is full of abhorrence of sin. Sin is practical falsehood; it is moral darkness. "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous." Forget not this practical truth.

II. I come, secondly, to THE COMMUNION OF OUR WALK. Those who are in the light shall not be alone. God Himself will be with them, and be their God. What honour! What joy is this! Thus is the mischief of the Fall removed, and Paradise is restored. God in the light and man in the light have much in common. Now are they abiding in one element, for they are dwelling in one light. Now are they both concerned about the same thing, and their aims are undivided: God loves truth, and so do those who are renewed in heart. Now we partake with God in sympathy, having a fellow feeling with Him. Does the great Father mourn His prodigal child? So do we mourn over sinners. Do we see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem? So do we mourn for the perishing who will not be saved. Again, as God rejoices over sinners that repent, so do we rejoice in sympathy with Him.

III. THE GLORY OF THIS COMMUNION. "We have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." I gather from the way in which this sentence grows out of the text that this very thing, which looks as if it were the death of all communion with God, is made by infinite grace to be a wide and open channel of communion with Him. This stone is rolled away from the door of the sepulchre, and the angel of communion sits down upon it as on a throne.

1. To begin with, here is sin! What an evil thing it is! How our soul hates it! "O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?" Listen! You are having fellowship with God in this. God hates it also; and herein you are agreed.

2. Sin being once perceived, the next step is that it should be got rid of. "Ah!" say you, "I wish I could be cleansed from it — cleansed from all of it; but how can this be? It is not possible for me to purge away my sin." The sacrifice of the Only-Begotten is the unique hope of sinners. The laying of our iniquity upon Him who deigned to be the great scapegoat of His people is the sole means for the taking away of the sins of the world. That inward persuasion of the impossibility of the purgation of sin by any doings or feelings of our own, and the consequent perception that in Christ only lies the help of men, has brought us through the light of truth to walk in fellowship with the thrice holy God.

3. The glorious Son of God condescends to become the atonement for sin. Standing by the tree of doom, we look up to that blessed Saviour with all-absorbing admiration and love. In the putting away of sin by the blood of Jesus the Father has an infinite content, and so have we. A step further.

4. Many of us have come to Jesus Christ by faith; we have looked to Him, and have accepted Him as our Saviour cleansing us from all sin. We rejoice in perfect whiteness, for the Lord has made us whiter than snow. Yes, we have fellowship with God in this cleansing, for God accepts us in the Beloved. God that made Him to be the Lord our Righteousness, God Himself justifies us in His Son. He will in the last great day make the whole universe a witness to the righteousness of the salvation of believers.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE NATURE AND THE MEANS OF COMMUNION WITH GOD.

1. We have communion with God in personal intercourse.

2. We have communion with God in the exercise and interchange of mutual thoughts and affections.

3. We have communion with God in the reception of His gifts and blessings.

4. We have communion with God in the exercise of mutual love to Christ. The heart of God and our hearts unite in their affections, and fix them on the Lamb.

5. We have communion with God in His works of nature. Never does the face of nature appear so lovely as when we thus behold in it the beauty of the Lord.

6. We have communion with God in the dispensations of His providence.

II. THE CONNECTION WHICH EXISTS BETWEEN COMMUNION WITH GOD AND HOLINESS.

1. A man may say that he has communion with God whilst he is walking in darkness and living in sin. He may say it literally with his lips, or he may say it by assuming the external forms of religion. He is a liar against his own experience, which has never enjoyed the communion he professes; he is a liar against his own affections, which are holding communion with sin and Satan and the world; and he is a liar against God Himself, who declares that He has no communion with darkness and with sin.

2. "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another." Such persons have communion with their God. God Himself is light, and they are children of light — and as the sun has communion with surrounding stars, because their beams of light resemble each other in nature, though they differ in degrees of glory, so there is a similarity, and a sympathy, and a harmony of character and pursuit, between God and His people, which is the origin and the means of their communion with each other. The holiness of the one attracts the holiness of the other. Their holy minds, their holy thoughts, their holy affections, and their holy pursuits meet and mingle.

III. THE IMPORTANCE AND SOME OF THE ADVANTAGES OF COMMUNION WITH GOD.

1. Communion with God is connected with an interest in the blood of Christ. Even the man who holds communion with God needs and finds a refuge in the great atonement. He does indeed walk in the light; but that very light discovers to him more and more clearly his numerous imperfections and sins, and his abundant need of pardoning mercy.

2. Communion with God is the means of promoting our holiness. Those who most associate with God most resemble Him, and partake most fully of the Divine nature.

3. Communion with God is a source of the sweetest pleasure. Those who walk with God in the light of purity, walk with Him also in the light of joy. Matthew Henry, just before he expired, declared, as his dying testimony, that "a life spent in the service of God, and in communion with Him, is the happiest life that anyone can live in this world." And it must be so. There are no intelligent beings in the universe, whether men or angels, who can find true happiness in any place where God is not, or in any communion from which God is excluded.

(J. Alexander.)

Why is God called 'Light without Darkness'? And what is this Light?"

1. Wisdom is light, and folly is darkness.

2. Knowledge is light, and ignorance is darkness.

3. Truth is light, and error is darkness.

4. Holiness is light, and sin and wickedness are darkness.

I. WHAT THIS COMMUNION WITH GOD IS.

1. Active on our part, which consisteth in the Divine operations of our souls toward God; when the mind is exercised in the contemplation of Him, the will in choosing and embracing Him; when the affections are fixed upon Him and centre in Him; when by our desires we pursue after Him, by our love we cleave to Him, and by delight we acquiesce and solace ourselves in Him.

2. Passive on God's part. This communication of God to us in our communion with Him is specially in these three things.

(1)In light (2 Corinthians 4:6; Psalm 36:9).

(2)In life (Ephesians 4:18).

(3)In love (Romans 5:5).

II. SOME DISTINCTIONS ABOUT COMMUNION WITH GOD.

1. Communion with God may be considered either with respect to this world, or the world to come; the one is imperfect, the other is perfect; one is mediate, the other immediate; the one is inconstant, the other without any interruption forever.

2. This communion with God hath higher and lower degrees; both among the saints here below, and the saints and angels above.

3. This communion with God is either internal or external; by internal I mean that sacred intercourse between God and the soul which is managed only in the inward man; and by external I mean this communion with God managed in some external ordinance of His worship in the communion of saints.

III. HOW THIS COMMUNION WITH GOD IS ATTAINED AND THEN MAINTAINED.

1. By Jesus Christ.(1) By virtue of His incarnation.(2) By virtue of His life which He lived here in the world. Considered either in the holy example that He has left us to walk by, or the doctrine that He here preached — by both which He did guide and lead men in the right way to fellowship with His Father.(3) By virtue of His death, and making reconciliation for us by His blood. Without agreement made between God and us, we could never have had communion with Him.(4) By virtue of His resurrection, whereby believers come to be raised up to newness of life (Romans 6:4).(5) By virtue also of His ascension into heaven (Colossians 3:1).(6) By virtue of His intercession. For this is one great thing that He intercedes for with His Father in heaven, that His people might have union and communion with them (John 17:21).

2. This communion with God is also by the Spirit of God. As the apostle speaks of "the communion of the Holy Ghost" (2 Corinthians 13:14). Now the Spirit doth effect this communion with God.(1) By sanctifying our hearts, and assimilating our natures to the nature of God. For there can be no communion where there is no likeness of nature.(2) By elevating and raising the soul above its natural power and reach.

3. These are the principal ways for communion with God. But then there are subordinate ways, which are the ordinances and institutions of God for that end. For God hath in all ages been training up His people to have communion with Himself, and therefore He did appoint ordinances for that end under the law. There were sacrifices, and altars, and solemn feasts appointed of God, all for this end. And so, in the New Testament, God hath His ordinances also appointed for this end; as prayer,.hearing the Word, etc.

(M. Barker, M. A.)

I. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THIS FELLOWSHIP?

II. WHAT IS THE GREAT HINDRANCE TO THIS FELLOWSHIP? It is here described as walking in darkness.

III. WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS OF THIS FELLOWSHIP? "If we walk in the light we have fellowship with Him." This implies —

1. Activity.

2. Progress. There is no finality in the experience of holiness.

3. Definiteness.

4. Completeness.

5. Pleasantness. "In the light."

6. Safety. He that walketh in the darkness stumbleth (John 11:10).

IV. WHAT IS THE RESULT OF FELLOWSHIP? It is evidently cleansing.

(H. Thorne.)

Links
1 John 1:5 NIV
1 John 1:5 NLT
1 John 1:5 ESV
1 John 1:5 NASB
1 John 1:5 KJV

1 John 1:5 Bible Apps
1 John 1:5 Parallel
1 John 1:5 Biblia Paralela
1 John 1:5 Chinese Bible
1 John 1:5 French Bible
1 John 1:5 German Bible

1 John 1:5 Commentaries

Bible Hub
1 John 1:4
Top of Page
Top of Page