The Epistle of I JOHN
Before reading any epistle in God's Word, you should always ask yourself "to whom is this epistle written?" The Epistle of I John is unique in that it is written to those who are walking on the Word of God. It is written to those who are born again and are making their best attempt to stay in fellowship with God and to renew their minds according to God's Word. The subject matter of chapter one of this epistle is FELLOWSHIP and CONFESSION OF BROKEN FELLOWSHIP.
Now that we have briefly covered some basic but most important research principles, we can continue to study, and most importantly, rightly divide God's Word. Once we understand this very important chapter in God's Word, we will see that God has made a way for us to stay in fellowship with Him, even though at times we will sin. As a precursor to understanding this chapter, you may want to read "A Believers Standing and State". If you read that teaching first, it will help you to understand the following teaching.
The Church of Grace was founded on the day of Pentecost and with its founding began a new administration -- The Church of Grace Administration [Age of Grace]. This is the administration in which we are now living. John addressed his first epistle to those newly-born into the fellowship to inform them of their position, rights and responsibilities in the sight of God. When the words "from the beginning" are used in the first verse, the context tells us that it does not refer to the "in the beginning" as in Genesis 1: 1. "The beginning" is found seven times in this epistle; six times it refers to the beginning of this Age of Grace Administration, the period of the Church of Grace; the seventh time it refers to the time of beginning when iniquity was found in the devil. You can see the importance that Biblical research plays when it comes to understanding and once again, rightly dividing God's Word.
1. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
Hearing, seeing and handling are in the realm of the five senses. The Word can be known to the natural man through his five senses -- he has no other way by which to become knowledgeable.
2. (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
John is informing the people that he is going to make known his revelation concerning this "Word of life" mentioned in the first verse. Regarding the terms 'manifested' [made known], this is in reference to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, while in the flesh, declared [made known] God unto mankind.
3. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Here we see the subject matter of the chapter first mentioned -- 'fellowship'. A child cannot have fellowship in an earthly family until after his birth. This is true of God's spiritual family also. We must be born again of God before we can have fellowship with God in His family. John is writing not to the unbelievers but to those who are sons, to those who are born again so that they may have fellowship with God and with the other believers. John made it clear in this verse that he believed Jesus Christ to be the Son of God.
4. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
The things written in God's Word are meant to give us joy. This occurs after we are born again and as we walk in fellowship according to the Word of God. Then our joy comes into fruition in our lives and overflows. When Philip was in Samaria, the whole city was filled with joy. When someone gets born again, the angels in heaven are filled with joy. The Word of God is not written to frustrate people or to defeat them or enslave them, but to fill them with joy.
Joy is also a fruit of the spirit as mentioned in Galatians 5: 22 where it says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is ...joy". The fruit of the spirit does not include happiness. A man may have happiness from the material things around him; an abundance of things may make him happy. But joy is an inside job. Joy is a spiritual quality. The revelation in I John is written that the born-again believer may not only have joy within, but that his renewed-mind joy may be full.
5. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
If God is light, then there can be no darkness in Him. Everything negative, evil, harmful, sinful and death-provoking must be from a source other than the true God of light. Then why do people insist that God kills people!? Because they do not understand God's Word, and most never take the time to study it. The Word says if a man want to be ignorant, let him be ignorant. Most people believe what they are told to believe. We believe what God's Word teaches and it says that God is light and in Him IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL. Surely, that is good news. I sometimes have said to people: "If you want to worship a God that kills people, go right ahead -- not me." The true God does not bring sickness or any other negative thing upon a person -- HOW CAN HE IF HE IS ALL LIGHT? The Word of God is not difficult. People, influenced by the god of this world, try to make it difficult. I John 1: 5b is simply stated, is it not? " . . . . that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." That settles it. We should rejoice and be comforted that this is true.
6. If we say that we have fellowship with him [God], and [we] walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
Being out of fellowship is walking in darkness. After a person is a son [born again] in the household of God, he can have fellowship in the family as he follows The Word as his guidebook. If we as sons say that we have fellowship with God, and yet do not follow the rulebook and walk ungodly, we lie. When we stray outside the guidelines, we are out of fellowship, yet we remain sons in the household. We must clearly note the difference between fellowship and sonship, state and standing, respectively. Fellowship is a fluctuating 'state' while sonship is a permanent 'standing'. To "walk in darkness" does not break the Father-son relationship; it breaks the fellowship.
7. But if we walk in the light, as he [God] is [in the**] light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin [broken fellowship].
** The words "in the" are deleted from the original texts so that it reads "as he is light". Walking in the light gives us fellowship with God. When we are out of fellowship, we walk in darkness which is sin, since all broken fellowship is sin. However, when we confess our broken fellowship, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us, makes us without blemish. "The blood" is a figure of speech referring to Jesus Christ giving his life. It is the figure metalepsis which includes synecdoche. "Blood" is put by the figure synecdoche for "blood-shedding" indicating the death of Jesus Christ as distinct from his life. Then it goes beyond his death as an act, indicating the merits he accomplished for us which he effected by his death and are thus logically associated with it. The word "cleanseth" denotes cleansing through and through, leaving no imperfection or impurity. The believer must learn to walk in the light as God leads him by bringing his body and soul into subjection to God's Word by way of renewing his mind. This is the only way we can stay in fellowship.
8. If we say that we have no sin [broken fellowship], we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us [in our renewed mind].
Everyone of us will sin at one time or another -- that's what God's Word says. If a believer says he never sins [breaks fellowship], God says he is deceiving himself and does not speak the truth. The point here is to stay in fellowship as much and as long as possible. As we renew our mind, we should break fellowship [sin] less and less. The reason prayers do not get answered, most often, is because we are out of fellowship. Remember, fellowship is the secret.
9. If we confess our sins [broken fellowship], he [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins [broken fellowship], and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This verse has nothing to do with being saved or gaining sonship. The verse is telling of reestablishing fellowship after salvation. To confess one's sin is not salvation -- to confess the Savior, Jesus Christ, from sin is salvation. No one can remember all of their sins before they were born again, but they can remember the recent ones after they are born again. That's what this verse is referring to and it has often been used erroneously by those who privately interpret The Word.
Every sin is unrighteousness and God has provided a way out of our sins after we are born again. To "confess our sins" simply means to tell them to God and tell Him you are sorry and remember we should do all things "in the name of Jesus Christ". You don't have to tell them to a priest or anyone else -- confess your sins to God.
The verse is telling us that God is always "faithful and just". When we are faithful and just, we are in fellowship. Darkness is separation from fellowship with God and this is never God's Will for us. When we confess our broken fellowship to God, He "cleanses us from all unrighteousness". Then, once again we are in the light, we are again in perfect fellowship and harmony with God.
10. If we say that we have not sinned [broken fellowship], we [attempt to] make him [God] a liar, and his [God's] word is not in us [in our minds].
Again, if we say that we have no broken fellowship after we are born again, we attempt to make God a liar and we are not renewing our minds to His Word. The phrase "we make him a liar" is a Figure of Speech called an 'Idiom' where the peculiar use of language is used to express some thought. Obviously, no one can make God a liar. We know from verse five (5) that God is all light and in Him is no darkness at all, so God can't lie.
In conclusion, we should first clear up a very important point. We do not sin in the spirit, but in the body and soul. The spirit within us is perfect and stays that way. No man can live in fellowship with God if he lives according to any other principles than those of God's Word. When we walk in other paths we sin, which is unrighteousness. If, when we are out of fellowship, we confess our sins to God, God is true to His promise to provide legal justice. God is able to absolve us of all broken fellowship, a sin of which all sons, at some point in their walk with God, are guilty. Staying in fellowship is the key to getting prayers answered and manifesting the more than abundant life.