The apostle John immediately draws our attention to that which was from the beginning. This unmistakeably relates to Genesis 1:1, John 1:1 and Hebrews 1:1-4 since our Saviour was not created and was from the very beginning. John needed to counter Gnosticism and Greek thought which were around in his time and have been repackaged today, separating body and spirit completely. Hebraic thought however recognises that body and spirit are linked and that we need to love and worship the Lord with the totality of our being (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37). Gnostics sought a deeper, apparently higher, and esoteric knowledge so John began by drawing us to the roots of the faith from Genesis and laid the foundations.
This compartmentalising of Greek thought has led to two extremes, asceticism on the one hand and debauchery on the other hand. John countered this by insisting that believers need to walk in the light (1 John 1:7). False teaching arose with the idea that the Lord Jesus came in spirit only but not in body or vice versa, refuting the incarnation and the resurrection. So the first three verses show clearly how Jesus was manifested. This point is emphasised in that they had heard the Messiah, saw Him, and handled Him. This also reminds us of Thomas who was adamant that He touch the side of our Saviour to confirm that it was indeed Him.
Why did John write this? So that believers can have fellowship and joy and the requirement is to walk in the light, because God is light. “This is the message that we have heard from the Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).” This refutes eastern ideas arguing that Jesus was an ‘Ascended Master’ or a ‘Cosmic Christ’, because He was from the beginning (v1).
Greek thought has pervaded the western hemisphere especially since Alexander the Great conquered the known world. His tutor was Aristotle who was taught by Plato who in turn was a student of Socrates. This legacy has shaped our society in many ways, but how can we correct this thinking? By turning to God and the Bible from the beginning and by walking in His light. Fellowship with the Lord and His people is a priority and will give us real and lasting joy in Him.
What is the message that John declared? God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Many eastern religions are dualistic since there is an accepted mixture of light and darkness both in those they worship and in the underlying worldview. Also in freemasonry the same applies in addition to a multi faith context. Today this destroys the errors of postmodern thinking that reject absolute truth, that you cannot trust the metanarrative of the Bible and that opinions are relative and equally valid. The Biblical worldview is in sharp contrast compared with other worldviews.
Having considered what we should believe, John now implores us concerning what we must do. We must walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Others will be reading the book of our lives on a daily basis. Dualistic worldviews to some extent enable you to talk the talk though not walk the walk since they accept deities and a worldview that tolerates both good and evil. Walking speaks of ‘doing’ and if we walk in the light, we know God, though if we walk in darkness we do not. John mentions the same about sin in 1 John, though this relates to persistent, continual sin.
For those who are trusting in Jesus as their Messiah, His blood cleanses us from all sin. If we sin (which we of course do); if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. When some hear the word ‘sin’ they have an aversion to the concept and either run a mile or become irate surprisingly quickly. They are walking in darkness. But if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Many today loathe the biblical concept of sin which is evidence that they are not walking in the light. The goal for the believer is to walk in the light and if we sin, to confess that readily to the Lord. There is a time for godly sorrow, though there is no need to be continually depressed over sin, since for those that are trusting in Him, His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Another aim for the believer is to graciously lead others to the truth and light in Messiah through sharing the gospel with them, together with a life lived according to biblical principles.
Jon Taylor 22nd March 2021