Book of 1st John Chapter 1 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
We Touched Him
The Letter called First John was universally accepted by the Early Church. The young Polycarp, who was to become a 2nd century bishop of Smyrna, met John the Apostle and later authenticated that John was the author of this letter. Other significent Christian leaders such as Papias and Irenaeus also specifically attributed this letter to the Apostle John. Members of the Early Church met John, knew his style, recognized his writing and said: It's him. This letter was composed during the time John ministered in the city of Ephesus...the date was likely 90 AD.
How would it feel to be one of the original apostles chosen by Jesus? John was one of them and we catch a glimpse of his breathless excitement in Verse 1 of this chapter: "What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—" John the Apostle saw the Lord, the King of Glory, with human eyes, studied Him in a variety of settings over three years, touched Him with his hands on many occasions and came to know Him personally. He saw and touched the Lord after His resurrection and was given visions of Him in eternity. Jesus is the "Word of Life." We see life all around us and take it for granted, but John didn't—he learned that life was created and is maintained by Jesus Christ out of His love for us all. As Paul observed about Jesus, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created...through Him and for Him...and in Him all things consist" (Colossians 1:15-17).
What is "life" anyway? It's more than just existance, more than the ability to breathe, see, think and move. Life is a Person and His Name is Jesus Christ. Verse 2 continues, "the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—" Real life includes relationship. We were created with an unsatisfied "itch" inside that will never be satisfied until we give our hearts and lives to our Creator. We were made to be His. The Gospel of John relates, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...all things were made through Him...In Him was life and the life was the light of men..." The context continues from John 1:1 to Verse 14—"the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Do you want to know God the Father and be accepted by Him? The next verse reveals the way to do it: through "His Son Jesus Christ."
Here's Verse 3—"what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." How can we be in "fellowship" with someone like John the Apostle, who lived 2000 years ago? The answer is that we are to do what he did—give ourselves to the Lord. In doing so, we enter into fellowship with God and with all who trust in the Lord, then and now. No matter what's happened, no matter what you have lost (or gained) in life, no matter who you think you are (or are not), you gain EVERYTHING by placing your faith in the One seen and touched by John the Apostle. Have you thought about the people selected by Jesus to be His followers? They were not educated, brilliant or widely traveled as we might expect...instead they were FAITHFUL. They did what God wanted, gave up everything for Him, wrote as He directed, and became willing to live or die in concert with His will. He gives LIFE, eternal life, to the faithful in Christ Jesus. We can have fellowship...based on faith in the Lord.
God's gift to John and to all who follow Jesus, including you and me includes—"joy." Why did John write? So we might find the completeness, the deep joy that only God can bring. John said in Verse 4, "These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete." John experienced joy as he responded to the Lord in writing these words for you and me and we are to have the same joy through trusting in Jesus Christ...John saw Him perform miracles, heal with a word or a touch, die on our behalf and rise from the dead so we might have the life that God intends for us.
John revealed something specific to each of us in Verse 5—"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." Why do you turn on a light in a dark room? The answer: So you can see! The statement "God is light" in this verse is more than just seeing with our eyes—He is the Light that enables us to understand. He is transparent, utterly honest, nothing is hidden. He is "light" in who He is...and those who have faith in the Lord become like Him...open, honest, nothing hidden...light! When Jesus said in Matthew 5:19, "You are the light of the world," He meant we won't hide anymore...what you see is what we are! Those who give themselves to Him no longer live in the duplicity of this world... we become honest and open. Jesus also said in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world"—we are to be like Him.
You may have noticed this is a dishonest world. For every truth there are counterfeits. Thought systems can sound like truth, but be a lie. Many religions and religious people are traps to trip us up. Verse 6 observes a way to tell the difference: "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." It's hard to imagine a religion that is a lie, but it's actually quite common. We don't look to a mere religious system of thought or some person with a religious reputation or title—we look to the Lord. He is the one we must have "fellowship" with. We look at those who purport to be His...are they hiding something? Do they live in "darkness?" And finally, we are to look fearlessly at ourselves...what are our motives? Are WE hiding something?" As it says in 2 Corinthians 13:5—"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?..." As you look, take your motives to the Lord. Don't be afraid. If you are His, He will know it and reveal who you really are. Jesus loves, protects and authenticates His own.
One of the ways we know we are His can be seen in Verse 7—"if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." If you are hiding something, take it to the Lord and be healed...the more you open up to the Lord, the more transparent you become, opening the door to true "fellowship with one another." And the amazing bonus is that "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." The very sin we have been trying to hide will be forgiven and healed. You'll find the peace of God that passes all understanding, as seen in John 14:27, where Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Far too many people have run away from God because of a feeling they have committed some kind of "unpardonable sin." The reality about all of us is seen in Verse 8—"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us." None of us measure up which is why we need the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid the price in dying for our sins. The only "unpardonable sin" is to reject the Lord.
The remedy is in Verse 9—"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Note the process here. We are sinners in need of everything! What we must do when we finally decide to "walk in the light" is actually the easy part—we "confess our sins." We tell the Lord what we have thought, said and done, and "He is faithful and righteous," infinitely qualified to help us. After we confess, He is the One who does the hard part—He forgives and makes us clean. Do you want to be forgiven? Do you want to be clean inside? The Lord is everything good that we are not and He is waiting right now to "cleanse (you and me) from ALL unrighteousness." We can't do it, but He can. Notice that John, the good man, said if "WE" confess our sins... John was a sinner, too. He understands what we need...and so does the Lord.
If we keep our sinful ways and don't tell the Lord, here's the result in Verse 10—"If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us." Romans 3:23 teaches that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." That's you, me...every one of us. The smug attitude that "we have not sinned," brings a twofold result: 1) We call God a "liar" which is very dangerous, and 2) we demonstrate that "His word is not in us." Give your heart to the Lord. Go to God and confess to Him as led by the Holy Spirit of God. He will forgive you and make you clean. He is full of forgiveness and you will know the touch, the peace of God.
Lord, I confess my sin, my unbelief. By my rejection of You, I have called You a liar, and I am sorry. Please forgive me and make me clean. Thank You. I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.