I John 1:5-10
Some years ago I was asked to teach a class at the Baptist church in Monument, NM.
- They wanted to know what the Church of Christ believed…and they had some questions regarding baptism.
- One of their questions was: “If we believe that our sins are washed away by the blood of Christ at baptism…do we have to be baptized every time we sin…how many times does a person have to be baptized?
A statement that I have heard several times from some of my brethren in reference to committing a sin is, “If you commit a sin…in order to be forgiven of that sin you must confess that sin as soon as you can. If you are out in public when you commit the sin, then as soon as you can get home you need to pray to God and confess that sin…and then He will forgive you?
- If you don’t confess that sin then there is no forgiveness…and you are lost until you make that confession.
- If you die before you can confess your sin…well, it is just too bad.
- This last idea gets its birth from verse 7 here in 1 John.
Are these ideas true?
- Vs. 8 and 10 tells us that, even though we are Christians, we are still sinners.
- When I commit a sin do I need to “hurry home and pray to God, confessing what I have just done, and ask Him to forgive me? Am I lost until I do?”
- And when I sin do I need to be baptized again since that is where the forgiveness of sins takes place?
The answer to these questions is found in these 6 verses so let’s go through them. Look at verse 5:
- Now, John is writing to counter the influence of the gnostics.
- There were the Docetists, Cerinthians, the Libertines, Ebionites. Denialists, Ascetics, Monastics, and the Essenes.
Now, some of these said that “Since man was made of flesh…and since all flesh is evil…there is no way that a Holy God could have anything to do with man.
- Well, John pretty well dismantles that idea in the first four verses of this letter when he says in verse 3 that the apostles “saw and heard and proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
- They had experienced the fellowship…it was personal with them…and it was multiple…it wasn’t something that just one claimed.
- So for some of these Gnostics to say that “man cannot have fellowship with God” was untrue.
But then, some of these Gnostics, like the Libertines, were saying that what you did in the flesh had no bearing on the spiritual…so they could live an immoral, ungodly, pagan life and still have fellowship with God.
- Well John deals with that starting in verse 5.
- Look what he says…here in this verse he sets the standard.
5 And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
- John is talking about fellowship here and if you are going to have fellowship with God there are some things you need to understand.
First of all, “God is light”…this refers to God’s moral quality.
- “Light” is a symbol of God’s moral perfection.
- He does not fellowship darkness…darkness refers to sin.
- There will be no sin permitted in His presence (Adam and Eve).
- There are no gray areas with God…there is no “darkness at all.”
- So God is the standard!
Now, verse 6: If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
- This just contradicted the Libertines…and it contradicts a lot of people today.
- A lot of people today think they can walk in a sin-filled way and still have fellowship with God.
- And it is no wonder that they believe this because there are all kinds of pastors and preachers telling them this.
To say that there is fellowship is to say that God doesn’t care about sin.
- If you walk in darkness there is no vertical fellowship.
- And the man who walks in darkness and says that he has fellowship has no need for Christ.
Now, I want you to notice the word “walk”…”and yet walk in darkness.”
- A “walk” has certain characteristics.
- It has direction…either toward darkness or toward light.
- It has separation…progression (Farther you walk in light the farther you get from darkness.
- A walk is never static…there is no such thing as a non-walk.
- A walk has destination: darkness – hell; light – heaven.
- A walk has companionship: darkness – Satan; Light – God.
What we are talking about here refers to a certain lifestyle.
- When John speaks of a man “walking” in darkness he is speaking of that man’s lifestyle…his practice.
Now, look at verse 7: …but (here is a contrast to the man in verse 6) if we walk(lifestyle) in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another(God, the apostles, and fellow Christians), and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
- This verse contradicts the lie of vs. 6.
- In verse 6 they said they were in the “light” even though they walked in “darkness.”
- The only way to be in the “light” is to walk in the “light.”
This verse sets the standard by which we are to walk.
- Walk by His standard when it comes to right and wrong morally and He will have fellowship with you.
Now, does this mean that your walk will have no sin in it?
- Well verse 8 answers that for us.
- “IF we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
- Your walk as a Christian is not going to be perfect…you are going to sin!
Oh no! What do we do?
- Does this mean that I am lost?
- Do I need to be baptized again?
- How do I get rid of this sin?
Well, look at the end of verse 7.
…we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
- First of all, see where it says “and” the blood of Jesus…
- That “and” speaks of simultaneous action…”we have fellowship with one another and simultaneously the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”
- The “cleansing” power of the blood of Jesus keeps us in fellowship with one another even though we sin.
Now, the word “cleanses”…that is present tense…which means it is continuous action.
- This means your sin does not break your fellowship.
When you were baptized into Christ the blood of Jesus washed away all of your sins.
- And that blood continues to wash away all of your sins.
- But there is a condition…and that is your walk.
- If you are walking in the light…you are walking where God wants you to…you are headed in the right direction…and you sin…not if (vs. 8 and 10) takes care of that…as soon as you commit that sin guess what?
- The blood of Christ immediately washes it away. It is gone! Fellowship has not been broken.
Do you need to be baptized again?
- No…the blood of Christ that washed you clean at baptism…still cleanses you of all
When you sin fellowship with God is not broken.
- How do you know?
- Are you still walking in the light? Have you changed directions of your walk?
- Are you walking in darkness? What is your progression…what is your direction?
- Your continued fellowship with God depends on your walk…the standard you are trying to keep.
- Are you trying to walk according to His word?
- What guides your decisions: Darkness or the Light?
Now, verse 8: If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
- This contradicts the Monastics and the Ascetics… because they denied their sins…therefore they were lying to themselves.
- The thing is, they do not deceive God.
Now, verse 9; it is from this verse that we get the idea that we must confess our sins in order to be forgiven.
- Got to hurry home and confess before something happens to me.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- In this verse the word “confess” is the opposite of the Gnostics denial found in verse 8.
- In verse 8 the Gnostic said; “I am not a sinner” and therefore I don’t need God…here in this verse we are talking about someone who says, “Lord, I am a sinner”…and I need you.”
Let me ask you this…who do we confess our sin to? Brothers? God?
- What if you leave a sin out during your confession? Will it not be forgiven?
- What if you commit a sin and before you can confess it to God you get killed…are you lost?
- A lot of people believe this.
- And basically what they do is they make verse 9 nullify what they have been told in verse 7.
That word “confess” is the Greek word “homologeo.”
- It means “same word”…and the idea is “to agree…to say the same thing as…to acknowledge.”
- Do you really need to confess your sins to God? No, He already knows.
What this word is talking about here is to say the same thing about yourself that God already knows about you…”God I am a sinner…and God says, “I know that.”
- The acknowledgement to God that you are a sinner tells God that you acknowledge Him as the only One who can forgive…and He does…immediately…vs. 7…and the fellowship is not broken.
- Acknowledging that you are a sinner makes it possible for Him to forgive you.
But the Gnostic doesn’t acknowledge that he is a sinner.
- He doesn’t agree with God…instead he says, “I have no sin…therefore…I don’t need God and I don’t need Him to forgive me”…and when he does that…guess what?
- No forgiveness…and no fellowship.
This passage is not talking about having to confess each and every sin for fear of losing fellowship.
- This passage is talking about agreeing with God that you are a sinner in need of constant forgiveness…and fellowship is not broken.
Now, verse 10: If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
If you are walking in the light…that is the direction…the progression…the destination of your walk…when you sin…and you will…you do not need to be baptized again.
- The blood of Christ cleanses that sin immediately and fellowship has not been broken.
What if you change the direction of your walk…start walking in darkness?
- No fellowship….but like the Prodigal Son…you can always come home.
And brethren, you do not have to confess your every sin like some teach and practice.
- All you have to do is acknowledge what God says…that you are a sinner…and you are in need of God’s forgiveness…and God is faithful to forgive.
© Sunset Ridge Church of Christ 2023