Come To The Light
Tim Temple


John, the disciple, and later the apostle, of the Lord Jesus Christ, was called to follow Jesus while he was mending his net as a young fisherman. He was probably just a teenager. It seems for the rest of his life and ministry John had a ministry of mending just as he was mending those nets when he was first found. His writings in the gospel of John and in the three letters that he wrote at the end of the New Testament had a way of calling us back to the fundamental issues of our Christian life.

Sometimes the writings of John are dismissed as sort of elementary things that we don't need to give a lot of study to, but it is very important for us from time to time to come back to the basics. That is true in every area of life. I think the coaches and sports people are better at that than the rest of us; but just like the sports people, all of us, especially as Christians, need to keep coming back to the fundamentals and every so often remind ourselves of those basic truths. John's writings are that way.

As we saw in our last study, John presents to us a message which has appeared in human history in the form of a Person who could be seen and heard and touched. He was not some kind of an invented super hero, an invention of someone's imagination, a composite of the longing and hopes and desires of men through the ages. No, He was a real person. “He was a man who lived and walked among us,” John says. He was One who could be seen, touched, heard and handled, and John says we did that. We saw Him; we heard Him; we actually handled Him, the Word of Life.

The wonderful offshoot of that message from John is that there is a way to share in that wonderful life that was manifested. Even all these years later, we can share in that life and when we do, John says we will experience two wonderful things. First, we will experience fellowship and then the experience of having things in common with the God of the universe. As we said, two fellows in the same ship is one whimsical definition of fellowship that has been given. We can be fellows in the same ship with God Himself and that in turn will result in joy—not happiness, but joy. Happiness may come along with it, but joy is that quiet excitement within you that is not a result of circumstances, but of knowing that you are a part of God's intimate inner circle. These are not just hopeful words that John wrote. These are real facts, and John says, “That is the truth that I am writing to you about.”

As we come to verses 5-7, John goes further with that. All of those things that I have been talking about are a summary of what we saw in the last couple of weeks, but in these verses he is going to tell us that the life of Christ presents a standard by which everything in life should be measured, and if that fellowship which he has been discussing is going to be ours, there must be conformity to that standard. There are lives that on a human scale show us a standard. For example, Adolph Hitler's life has become a standard of measuring evil and hatred in man's inhumanity to man. Joseph Stalin and various men who demonstrate to us the depth to which human depravity can go present a standard of evil by which we can measure other facets of evil.

At the other extreme, there are people like George Washington Carver, that black scientist who, even though he was born into slavery, demonstrated that by hard work and humility and use of the gifts that God has given us, even prejudice can be overcome and greatness can be established. So there are people who present standards for us, but John tells us that the life of Jesus Christ is the ultimate demonstration of a standard, a standard that is on an eternal scale of what God wants for man.

Identification Of The Standard

The identification of the standard is in verse 5. Notice:

I John 1:

5This 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.

Let's stop and think about what God is saying. In the verses just before this, he said, “This is the message we have seen and heard and investigated as thoroughly as you can investigate any message because the message was in the form of a Person.” He now says, “Here it is. Here is the message we have seen and heard and handled and examined. The message is this: God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

There is a sense in which that is the whole message of the life of Jesus. That was the way John summarized everything that he had seen as an intimate follower of Jesus Christ. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” This is what He came to tell us and what He teaches us as we learn to follow Him. Notice John expresses it both negatively and positively. He wants to be absolutely clear about this. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. From either side of the scale, here is the message: “God is light.”

Let's think about the indications of the standard in the life of Christ. Is this just something that John pulled out of the air? Well, it is interesting if we went back to the gospel of John to notice that in the first few words of his gospel he said, speaking of Jesus Christ: “In Him was the life and the life was the light of men.” He says, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never put it out.” That is in the gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 5. Later on, Jesus, when He was talking to Nicodemus, said, “I am the light of the World. If any man follow me, he shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life (John 8:12). Not only did John speak of Jesus as light, but Jesus spoke of Himself that way: “I am the light of the World.” In John, chapter 3, verse 19, Jesus said:

John 3:

19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Over and over again Jesus Christ is identified as the light that John is writing about here in this first epistle of John. Interestingly enough, God Himself is light. John is talking about God in the Person of Jesus Christ. Of course, Jesus Christ is God and God is Jesus Christ. But it is interesting that in the very beginning of creation, the first thing that God said was, “Let there be light.” It is interesting to notice, as some close observers have, that that happened on the first day, but it wasn't until the fourth day that the sun and the moon and the stars were placed in the sky. That is another subliminal indication of the fact the God is light. There was light before there were these light givers that we think of in the sky around us. Paul tells us that the sun and the rest of the creation indicates God's glory to us, but God Himself is the light that lights everything, both physically and spiritually.

Since that is true, there are some very clear implications in that standard. What exactly does this message that God is light mean? The first thing to notice is that John does not say, “Light is God.” That may seem like a very silly thing to point out, but let me tell you that in this new age in which we live, there are several variances of the same heresy, which is that everything is God and God is in everything. John doesn't say it that way. He doesn't say, “Light is God.” If light is God, then the Indians who greet the rising sun with outstretched arms and incense are coming closer to worshipping God than we are. It is not as the New Age people would tell us and as the Hindus have been saying for many years before the New Agers picked it up; it is not that light is God, but that God is light.

What this means is that what light is on the physical plane, God is at every level of human experience. In other words, if you want to understand the character of God, then observe what light is because what light does, God does. What light accomplishes, God can accomplish in your life and in your being.

Light Reveals

Basically, light does three things. Scientists might think that this is a reduction beyond what is possible, but for everyday people, I think there are three things we can reduce it to. First and most basic, light reveals. We can see each other in this room today because there is light in the room. If the lights were turned off, we would still be able to see each other because of the light coming in from the windows, but not nearly as well. Light reveals.

I have a friend in Wichita Falls who, when he and some of his friends were teenagers, decided at midnight to drive to Dallas. This was before the days of the interstate, and as they were driving, they got sleepy. They decided, as boys will do, to just pull the car off the road and go to sleep. It was the middle of summertime, nice and hot; so one of them slept on the hood of the car, one of them went to sleep on the roof of the car, and one went to sleep on the trunk of the car. They were snoozing away and all of a sudden there was the most horrible noise that my friend had ever heard in his life. He sat upright, fell off the hood of the car because he didn't even know where he was, and a freight train was going by on a railroad track three inches from his face. They had pulled off that road in the night, and they didn't see how near they were to being killed because there was no light. They didn't wait till morning to assess the damage. They got in the car, and he said that they had no trouble staying awake the rest of the way to Dallas.

Why did that happen? Because it was dark. The light would have revealed to them exactly where they were, but because they did this in the dark, they weren't able to see what they had done. Light reveals things that have been there all along, but that we don't see until light shines, and that is exactly what God does through His Word. Light reveals; God reveals. I Corinthians, chapter 2, verse 14, says: “The natural man [that is, the unsaved man] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are spiritually discerned.” He goes on to say that the Holy Spirit shines the light of God in our lives, and through the Holy Spirit, He opens our spiritual eyes to the truth about ourselves and about life.

That doesn't happen all at once. It is a gradual process. We probably wouldn't be able to handle it if it happened all at once, but God is light. He reveals truth to us, and that is the purpose for which Jesus Christ came. John says, “He is the light of the world,” and Jesus said that about Himself. He is the light which makes it possible to see the truth about Himself and about our relationship to Him.

Light Measures

Light not only reveals, it also measures. Light is a great means of measurement. Did you ever see someone pick up a piece of lumber and hold it up and sight along it? What is he doing? He is measuring that piece of lumber to see if it is straight. Because light is straight, when you hold something up in the light, you can see if that object is straight or not. That is the a simple way that light measures.

In a more complicated way, surveyors use light to measure distances and angles with an instrument that has the ability to measure light. By that, they are able to measure distance and angles, etc. In the vast immeasurable distances of space, we speak in terms of light years, and that is the measurement of distance in terms of the distance that light travels over a period of time. So light measures things, and that is what God does. God is a measuring stick. God is a standard. He is a point of reference. Everything can be measured by God's standard in every area of life—political, social, economic.

We are confounded with mysteries that men can't solve. Things don't go like men thought they would and everybody tries to come up with a theory about why things don't go like they thought they would economically or why things don't go like we thought they would in relationships with other people or why things don't go like we thought they would politically. We look around at these various solutions that are offered, and we find there are contradictory answers. The experts don't agree on a lot of these things. We look at those, and we wonder which one of those is right about this political explanation or economic theory. Which one is telling the truth? How do we know? The light of God as He sheds it in His Word upon the situations of life is where the truth is.

We have to have a standard. I am absolutely convinced that the basic reason for the tremendous problems that we have in our nation today—the problems politically, the problems socially, the problems economically—are because we have thrown God out of the equation. In some instances, we have made it illegal to put God into the equation as we try to solve the problems of life. Our nation has abandoned the standard of the Word of God. It has not allowed it to be taught to our children. It has not allowed it to be quoted in public places and not allowed it to be any kind of standard in our national activities. That is not the way our forefathers envisioned it. That is the irony of it all. Our forefathers envisioned it exactly the other way around.

Of course, you have heard that we are going to remove the standard of God's Word from our lives. It is easy enough to say that a teacher cannot hang the Ten Commandments on the wall of their classroom or the judge can't have it in his courtroom; but we are going to have to spend millions of dollars sandblasting the Word of God off all the monuments in Washington, the quote from Scriptures as a basis for our nation. The Supreme Court building itself is going to have to be sandblasted. Our nation has done away with the one standard by which our constitution said that everything should be measured. God Himself, as He reveals Himself in His Word is the standard.

That is very, very practical if we are willing to accept it. Let's get personal about this. Is your business starting to fail? Are you getting all sorts of advice about what to do? Maybe it is conflicting advice. The light that shines from God's Word about business is the full truth about what makes companies work successfully and what makes personal finances work successfully. Did you know Jesus talked more about money than He did about Hell? The Word of God is full of instruction about finances, about how to use our money and how not to use it. The Word of God is a standard by which we can order our financial lives. If you measure the advice you get by that, you will know what to believe and which of the financial experts to listen to.

Let me get even more personal than that. Maybe someone is thinking you are in love with another person. Your marriage is beginning to look dull and lifeless, and you are being tempted to take off with that other person and start all over again. If you will measure that temptation by the standard of the Word of God, you will learn the unpleasant truth that that dream of yours will never work. It will only increase your misery. It will hurt you and everybody around you. It will perhaps destroy you or perhaps some of the people around you. If you will even have a little faith to believe that that is God's standard and that that is God's truth, you will say, “I am not going to do this, even though I want to so badly.” Later on, the blindness passes and you are so thankful, so eternally grateful, that God's light stopped you from going on in that darkness.

Maybe you have already made a mess of your marriage or your business or whatever else it may be. It is not too late because the light of God's Word shines into that mess that you have made and demonstrates for you what needs to be done to get back on the right track and to, as much as possible, restore the damaged relationship that has come about. God's Word is the standard by which we measure. God's Word is the light that reveals what needs to be done to get back to that standard if we have gotten away from it. “The light shines in the darkness,” John says, “and the darkness cannot put it out.”

Light Energizes

Light not only reveals and measures, but it also energizes. We know a lot more today than we used to know about the power that can come from light. We now have batteries that are charged by the light of the sun that run small items like calculators, etc., which are beginning to be applied more and more to other things. For many years we have known that the whole world of plants and vegetation take its life and energy from the light of the sun. There is a sense in which even the day catches energy.

I love to be up and around at dawn; for whatever reason, that is the way God has set me up. I begin to go to sleep about nine o'clock at night. By the same token, I usually wake up about four-thirty or five o'clock in the morning. It is just that way. Fortunately, most of our society is set up for morning people, so that has made it easier for me in a lot of ways; but I have also provided a lot of entertainment to people that I have been with after nine or ten o'clock at night.

One of the things that I love about being up at dawn is to see the sun come up over the landscape, and it really does seem like it wakes up the whole geography around it. As the sun brightens up, it seems like the world comes alive. I know that it is psychological, but there is a sense in which it is true. That is exactly what God does in our lives. As we come into understanding of who He is, as we take in His Word and it begins to shine the light in our lives of who He is and what He does, He leads us gently from darkness into an ever increasing experience of His life and His vitality produced in us.

People who don't know Him are seeking frantically to turn the lights on or to increase the low voltage light that they have in their lives already. If you are wondering what is wrong in your life, and if you are wondering why things aren't more of what you thought they ought to be and more what they would be, examine your relationship with Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Have you accepted Him as your Savior? Have you seen that light which is for lives of men, as John puts it in his gospel? If you know Him as your Savior, are you walking in His light?

At this point, someone is thinking, “I agree there are people whose lives have been turned around by Jesus Christ and to use John's terminology, the light has come into their lives and everything has been changed for them. I know that that happens for a few people, but why not to everyone? Why is it that all Christians are not like that? Why is it that some Christians seem to enjoy so much that experience with God through Christ and others seem hardly aware of it?” That leads to John's next point.

Reactions To The Standard Of God's Light

He has been talking about the revelation of the light, but in verses 6-7 he talks about the reaction to the standard of God's light. The first reaction that he lists is in verse 6 and that is the reaction of pretense about the light. Look at verse 6:

I John 1:

6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

What we have here is a summary of a whole range of reactions, a summary in just these few words: “walking in darkness.” Here is one kind of reaction to the light. It is pretense about the light, and it is complicated by the fact that while walking in darkness, we say that we have fellowship with Him. In effect we say that we are walking in the light when we are really walking in the darkness. John says that that reaction constitutes living a lie. He says that if we say that, we are lying.

Let's think about some details. John is talking about a person who has established a relationship with Jesus Christ. He has trusted Christ as his Savior. He is a member of the family of God, but his life doesn't bear out that claim. Maybe he is harsh and loveless. Maybe she is gossipy and critical and demanding of others. Maybe the person is sharp-tongued, cruel and full of bitterness, or maybe it is a person who is caught up in some kind of moral sin that he is trying to keep hidden and secret. They say that they are walking in fellowship with God, but their life is shallow and superficial and lived solely on the surface. What is wrong with people like that? They say they are Christians. It doesn't do any good to talk to them about trusting Christ as Savior; they have done that. But why is their life the way it is?

Nothing is wrong with their relationship. Let's get that settled. If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, if you have believed in your heart that Christ died in your place, you have a relationship with God, God says that the problem is not with the relationship. What does He say in verse 6? The problem is that he is walking in darkness. If we say we have fellowship with Him, but walk in darkness, we lie.

We need to think about this very carefully. These are familiar verses to most of us and one of the difficulties of teaching a book that is familiar to most of us is that it is so easy for us to read right through it and not really think about what it is saying because we have heard it before. But let's think about this very carefully. When we read, “walking in darkness,” for many of us that registers in our mind with the idea of someone's having fallen into sin. We used to use the term backsliding . We don't hear that term very much any more, but we think about walking in darkness as backsliding or having gotten into some kind of sin. But when we read it that way, we are confusing the results with the cause. We are confusing symptoms rather than the disease.

Think about this. The fact is that we are not in darkness because we have sin. We sin because we are in darkness. Let's think about this on a physical level. You are walking through a dark room in the middle of the night and you stub your toe on a piece of furniture. Now think about this. Did you stub your toe because it was dark or did it become dark because you stubbed your toe? You see, to think of darkness as backsliding, what we are saying is that a Christian stubs his toe and that makes it become dark. What God is saying is that the basic, underlying problem is that we begin to walk in darkness. When we begin to walk in darkness as believers in Jesus Christ, sooner or later we are going to stub our toe.

What is the solution to that? Of course, turn on the light and don't turn the light off in the first place. That is what John is saying in a spiritual sense. We who have the light of Jesus Christ in our lives, we who have the light of the Word of God available to us, need to be very careful that we don't turn off the light. When we turn off the light, we are going to begin to run the great risk of stubbing our toe or falling into sin. The longer we walk in darkness, the more we are going to keep stubbing our toes spiritually.

How would we go about getting this room dark? Would we turn on some kind of device to pump darkness in? Of course not. We would turn these lights off and get some cardboard to cover those stained glass windows. We would shut off the light, wouldn't we? We wouldn't do anything to bring the darkness in, we would just get the light out. You see, that is exactly the principle of God's Word. What we need to do spiritually is be sure that we don't turn the light off because when we turn the light off, automatically the darkness comes in. That is what John means here. To walk in darkness means to turn the spiritual light off, to turn God off if you will, to stop exposing ourselves to the light of God's presence.

How do we do that? Some people stop coming to church because that is where God's Word is proclaimed and that is where the light of God's Word is. That is certainly not the only source of it and let me say again, while we are on this subject, if all of the Word of God you are getting is what you get here on Sundays, you are walking in very dim light. We try to be faithful to give the light of God's Word in our services. That is the standard and ultimate goal in our worship services, but that is not enough. You have got to be taking in the Word of God every day because that is the light. That is God's means of shining His light into our lives. All you have to do to walk in darkness is to start turning off the light. You can start turning off the light by stopping coming to church, and that is significant for what I believe and what many believe is these last days.

The writer of the book of Hebrews said, “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together and so much the more as you see the day approaching.” Apparently, part of the last days is that people have a tendency to stop coming together as Christians. That is one way of turning off the light, Another way is to stop taking in the Word of God on any kind of a regular basis. Psalm 119, verse 105, says:

Psalm 119:

105Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Another way to turn the light off, even though you may still come to church and maybe sometimes read the Scripture, is to just not pay any attention to what you are hearing or reading. That will turn the light off right quick. All you are doing is exercising your eyeballs and exercising your ears if you are hearing the Word of God taught or if you are reading the Word of God, but are not paying any attention to it. James says that that is just as stupid as the man who looks in a mirror and sees something wrong with his face and goes away and does nothing about it. I am always fascinated that He didn't say woman . A woman would never do that. That is James' way of saying the same thing. You could turn the light off by hearing the Word read and hearing the Word of God taught and doing nothing about it, not thinking at all about how to apply it to your life. That will turn the light off, and you will be walking in darkness. No wonder we fall into sin when we walk in darkness, and no wonder we fall into sin when we walk in the dim light. What we want is to have the brightness of God's light to the best extent that we can.

I have in my bedroom and in the pathway that I go when I get up in the morning to go the kitchen a series of night lights all along the way. Even at that, sometimes I stub my toe on something. But these things that are true about light, John said, are true about God. These things that are true about the amount of light are true about our relationship with God, simple as that may seem.

What is the solution to that? Obviously, the solution is participation in the light, in verse 7:

I John 1:

7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

What does it mean to walk in the light? Let's go back to that dark room again. When you get up in the middle of the night and you take a flashlight or you turn on the light, what happens? You don't have any trouble, do you? If you move across the room and the light reveals a chair in your path, if you just keep on walking, you are going to stub your toe or fall or something. That is the pretense that we talked about in verse 6. But if the light exposes the chair and your mind says you need to alter your direction or you are going to collide with the chair, that is walking in the light. That is seeing what the light reveals and doing something about it. Ordering your life on what the light shows you, avoiding those things that the light shows is going to cause problems, and going in the path that the light shows you is clear. That is walking in the light spiritually as well as physically.

Result Of Walking In The Light

Verse 7 says the result is twofold. First, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. The problem with the pretense about our fellowship with the Lord that is described in verse 6 is that it carries over into everything we do, in our effort to pretend that everything is all right even though we are walking in the darkness. Sometimes we even do that physically.

We know that it is dark, and we are trying to get through the room without turning on the light, but have you ever stopped to think about how that would look if someone were watching you? How silly that would look! There are Christians who are walking in darkness, but are pretending to be in fellowship with the Lord. How silly that is! We do that; we put up this pretense, but John says to us, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” That is, we have fellowship with Jesus as He is in the light, and we have fellowship with each other as Christians who are walking in the light.

If you were in a dark room and your eyes had adjusted to the darkness and you could see someone else walk through that dark room, you could tell whether they could see or not, couldn't you? You could tell it quickly, and if you are walking with the Lord, you can see when some other Christian is only pretending to be walking in fellowship with the Lord. When we are walking in the light, we are able to see someone else is walking in the light. They may put on a pretty good show, but it is possible to really walk as though you are in the light if you are not. So we quit putting up those pretenses; we quit wearing those masks; we start just being what we are, just walking in the light. That brings us to other people who are walking in the light without pretending to be something they are not. That is the first result of walking in the light. We have fellowship with each other.

Then he says the second result of walking in the light is “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” That seems like something that is kind of extraneous here. Why does he bring that in here? It is important to know that the word cleanses here is written in the present tense in the Greek, which means that it should be translated “it keeps on cleansing us from all sin.” If we walk in the light of God and His Word and we make changes in the direction that the light indicates we should make, that is what is happening. The Spirit of God, the work of Christ on the Cross as it is revealed in the Word of God, is cleansing us from our sin. It is enabling us to avoid the sin that is in our path. If we should stub our toe, it gives the light about what to do to get back on the track—confess that sin, as we are going to see in our passage next week. That is the work of God in the light of His Word, cleansing us from sin and keeping us going. That is what it means to walk in the light, not stumbling along in the dark, hoping we won't stumble over something and messing up and pretending that we can see when we can't. We move ahead in the light of His Word and admit it when a change of direction needs to be made. We come to grips with that, confessing sin when we do foul up.

My wife grew up in coal mining country. Her Dad was a mining engineer. As you might expect, in their home there are several pictures of coal miners coming out of the coal mine. Have you ever seen one of those pictures? The coal miners are dirty and dusty. They are black from head to foot with one exception. In those pictures the men's eyes are almost glowing, and that is because that is the only part of their body that is not covered with coal dust. Why is that true? It is because the tearing system that God has designed keeps our eyes cleansed all the time and keeps the coal dust from settling in those miners' eyes.

I think that is what John means here in verse 7: “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us.” It keeps on cleansing us from all sin. If we walk in the light, that cleansing action takes place and we are able to continue in fellowship with Him. That is the provision that God has made for us, the provision of light. If we walk in the light as He is light, the blood of Jesus Christ is continually cleansing us and keeping us in fellowship with Him and with those around us. What a blessed, dramatic relief it is to be rid of that pretense and that building up of fences. What a wonderful peace it provides. Just bask in the sunlight of our fellowship with Him, and let the chips fall where they may, and let the relationships be what they will because we are in relationship with Him. We are in fellowship with Him, and thus we can be in fellowship with others.


Light is revealing. It is the standard by which we can measure and evaluate, but most important of all, it energizes and vitalizes and imparts strength to us. Let the light shine on you and listen to the voice of the Spirit. Don't hide or pretend to be something that you are not spiritually. Be honest with God about the sins and failures that the light exposes in your life. Take His strength to step around that object or step over it and to not collide with that thing His light exposes. God's promise is as you do that, the blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing us as we keep on walking in the light and we have fellowship shared with the Son of God Himself and therefore with fellow believers.

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