Category Archives: 1 JOHN 1

The apostle John introduces the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, as the revealer of Eternal Life, and then applies certain tests to his readers to see if they are true believers or not.

1 JOHN 1

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE

Emphasis of the epistle
John and Peter were with the Lord Jesus when He ministered amongst men.  They emphasise that believers have eternal life.  The moment they are born again, they begin to share in the life of God.  The Son of God gave full expression to eternal life when He lived on earth.  So much so, that John calls Him “that Eternal Life”, He perfectly made it known, both by word and by deed. 
The apostle Paul, however, emphasises the consequences of the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus, hence he mainly writes of life as resurrection life, which is lived the other side of death.  This is the way Paul came to know God, through a risen and glorified Christ, therefore he writes about matters from that angle.  There is no discrepancy between these two approaches, for the life lived by the Lord Jesus when here in the flesh was a life suitable for His resurrection state.  We see this illustrated in the meal offering, which brings before us features of Christ that marked Him in His life down here.  One aspect of the meal offering is that of the first-fruits, which tells us that the Man who lived on earth was fit to live in resurrection too, Leviticus 2:12-15. 
The apostle Peter combines these two ideas when he writes that believers are “begotten again to a living hope by the resurrection from the dead”, 1 Peter 1:3.  The resurrection of Christ enables the life of God to be infused into the souls of those who believe.  The Lord Jesus must die to deal with Adam and his life as it is duplicated by unsaved men, so that when they believe they may be introduced to God’s life.  Of course, Old Testament saints must have had eternal life or else they could not have had communion with the living God, but they were given it in anticipation of the death and resurrection of Christ.

Purpose of the epistle
John tells us that he wrote his gospel so that we “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and believing might have life through His name”, John 20:31.  He wrote his epistle, however, to those “that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye might know that ye have eternal life, and that ye might believe on the name of the Son of God”, 1 John 5:13.  He writes to achieve two ends.  The first, “that ye might know ye have eternal life”.  The second, “and that ye might believe on the name of the Son of God”.  So John’s gospel is written so that we might believe and receive the gift of eternal life, the epistle is written so that we might know we have eternal life.  Having come to know, we keep on believing on the name of the Son of God.  We shall never discover anything subsequent to initial faith which will give us reason to not believe on Him any more.  John needs to speak of believing, because their faith would be under attack, and they must not falter in their faith.
Before he can assure his readers, however, he must test them as to their profession.  This is the character of the books of the New Testament from Hebrews onwards; they test whether their readers are genuine believers.  So it is that John applies two sets of three tests.  The first set, 1:6-2:2 is for those who claim to be in relationship with God, to see whether they are or not.  The second set, 2:3-11, is for those who seem to pass the first tests, and is designed to confirm the genuineness of their claim.  The first tests begin with “If we say”, 1:6,8,10, a statement of profession, and is countered by “if we walk”, 7; “if we confess”, 9; “and if any man sin”, 2:1.  The second tests begin with “He that saith”, in verses 2:4, 6, and 9.  In the first tests the apostle includes himself, emphasising that no-one, not even an apostle can avoid the test.  (After all, Judas was an apostle, but proved to be unreal).  The second tests do not include the apostle, for he is content to now teach his readers and instruct them, as they show themselves to be genuine.  They assure themselves of their genuineness, however, by living lives in fellowship with God.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

(a) Verse 1 Eternal Life personified
(b) Verse 2 Eternal Life manifested
(c) Verse 3 Eternal Life shared
(d) Verse 4 Eternal Life enjoyed
(e) Verse 5 Eternal Life’s message- God is light
(f)  Verse 6 False profession
(g) Verse 7 True position
(h) Verse 8 False declaration
(i) Verse 9 True confession
(j) Verse 10 False estimation

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN CHAPTER 1, VERSES 1 TO 4:

1:1  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;
1:2  (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;)
1:3  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.
1:4  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

(a)    Verse 1    Eternal Life personified

Note: Verses 1-3 are one complicated sentence, with the main verb being the word “declare” in verse 3.

1:1  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;

1:1 That which was from the beginning- in the first verse of the Bible Moses takes us to the beginning of the universe, and then in subsequent verses brings us forward through time.  In the first chapter of his gospel John also takes us to the beginning of the universe, and then in the same verse takes us backward into eternity.  Then he proceeds to show in verses 4-14 how the One who inhabits eternity manifested Himself in different ways in time, culminating with the Word becoming flesh, and dwelling amongst men. 
In this epistle, however, that same apostle shows the results of that manifestation.  Christ came into flesh at His conception, but the beginning of the public manifestation of eternal life through Christ began on the banks of the Jordan, as He emerged from the waters of baptism.  Acts 13:24 refers to John the Baptist preaching before the coming of Christ, which cannot mean before He was born, but rather before He was introduced to the world.  This introduction was by way of the word from heaven declaring Him to be God’s beloved Son, and the testimony of John the Baptist to the same effect, John 1:32-34. 
Isaac, Abraham’s only-begotten son, had three manifestations to the world; at his birth, Genesis 21:1-7, at his weaning when he was presented to the world of men as Abraham’s son and heir, Genesis 21:8, and then on Moriah, as the appointed sacrifice, Genesis 22.  So Christ was born, was baptised, (at which point the word came from the Father that He was His Beloved Son), and went to the place of sacrifice, all to manifest Himself, and His Father, to the world.
Just as the ark of the covenant introduced the people of Israel into the promised land where their lives could be lived to the full, and have “as the days of heaven upon the earth”, Deuteronomy 11:21, so Christ the true ark has crossed the Jordan in baptism, and introduces His people to heavenly truth, enabling them to have meaningful fellowship with God.
Moses wrote of the beginning of all things, and then spoke of seven days of formation and filling.  John wrote in his gospel of the one who was responsible for the beginning of all things, then spoke of seven days of fellowship he had with the Son of God, culminating in the wedding at Cana of Galilee.  John is now writing this epistle so that we may share in the fellowship he enjoyed from the beginning, so that just as Christ brought the wine of holy joy to the guests at the wedding in Cana, so we may have full joy through fellowship with Him. 
It was the prime qualification of an apostle that he should have been with the Lord Jesus for the whole time of His public ministry.  As Peter said, when a replacement for Judas was needed, “Wherefore of these men that have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of His resurrection”, Acts 1:21,22.
The apostle uses the impersonal pronoun “that”, rather than “He”, because he tells us at the end of the verse he is writing concerning, or about, the word of life.  Since the words “word” and “life” are abstract and not personal, he must use the impersonal word “that” at the beginning of the sentence.
Which we have heard- the apostle is telling us of the word of life, or in other words, one who in His capacity as the Word, spoke words that were “spirit and life”, John 6:63. As the Word, He is the embodiment of all that God has ever had to say.  John the Baptist was a voice, John 1:23, but he announced the one who is the Word, the expression of God’s thought.  His ministry may be summed up as “words and works”.  In other words, what was to be heard, and what was to be seen.  And what was seen by way of miracles was of deep significance, (hence John calls the miracles signs), and furthered and complemented the doctrine. 
This is one reason why the Lord Jesus could claim to have done works that none other man did, John 15:24, for His works were accompanied by unique and ground-breaking teaching.  This could not be said of any other, whether prophets in the Old Testament, or apostles in the New Testament who worked miracles.  For them, miracles were simply acts of power by which Christ was glorified; the miracle drew attention away from themselves and towards Christ.  As Peter said after the healing of the lame man, “why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power of holiness we had made this man to walk”, Acts 3:12.  And he went on to make it clear that it was by the name of Jesus, God’s Son, that the man was made strong, verse 16.
Another reason why Christ’s works were unique was because He was acting of His own will, as the Son of God.  As He Himself said, “The Son quickeneth whom He will”, John 5:21.  This does not mean independence on His part, but rather the reverse, for He did what He saw, (in the sense of “had full insight into”) the Father doing.  He did the same, in like manner, as equal with Him, John 5:19.
So John is speaking for the apostolic band when he uses the word “we”.  Luke tells us that many had undertaken to write some sort of account of the life of Christ, Luke 1:1.  But only the four gospels have been preserved.  Luke does not disparage honest attempts by sincere believers to record the things they saw.  Who would not want to preserve the impressions gained about Christ?  But even these have disappeared. 
But what shall we say of the fantasy-writings of wicked men who wrote what are known as the Apocryphal gospels?  There are those who believe these writings have equal weight with Scripture.  They must have forgotten that the Lord Jesus promised His apostles that they would be led into all the truth, so we may rest assured that nothing that is outside of the canon of Scripture, as these writings are, had the approval of the apostles.  John is writing as the last-surviving apostle, and in the wisdom of God he was allowed to live for a long time, so that the last writings of the New Testament were completed by the time he passed from this scene.  In fact, as he closes the canon of Scripture he records the curse that the Lord Jesus pronounced on any who added to or took away from the word of God, Revelation 22:18,19.  Those who wish to elevate spurious writings to the level of Scripture would do well to take note and be warned, for it is not a matter of indifference to God. 
Which we have seen with our eyes- John does not write of a mystical Christ, who only seemed to have a body, (which is what some heretics, called Docetists, were teaching in John’s day), but one who was really to be seen with the human eye.  But there was more than this, for He performed miracles which John calls signs, being acts of great significance, and a visible expression of the truth He taught. The Lord rebuked those of His day who did not believe even though they were able to see and hear, declaring that many prophets and righteous men had desired to see the things they were seeing, and to hear the things they were hearing, but had not done so.  Eternal life was manifesting itself in the world of men, and they refused to see and hear, Matthew 13:14,15.  As a result, judicial blindness descended upon the nation, Romans 11:8,25.  This blindness is only in part, however, for some individuals of the nation of Israel have seen and heard, but it is only a remnant, and it is by grace.
Not only does John refer to his eyes because Christ was physically present to view, but also to emphasise that he was not using his imagination to construct a scenario, but was recording what he actually saw.  As he said of his record of the crucifixion, “And he that saw it bear record, and his record is true:  and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe”, John 19:35.  It is a great mercy that we have the eye-witness record of sincere, honest and sane men, so that we may know the certainty of the things we most surely believe. 
John has told us so far of what he heard by way of teaching, and what he saw by way of miracles under-girding that teaching.  The signs were doctrine in action, and the words were His person in manifestation, for He is the Word, and they were also His Father in manifestation, for the Word is the expression of His thought.
Which we have looked upon- John now changes from the perfect tense for “seen” and “heard”, (emphasising that these were real-life historical events), to the aorist tense for “looked upon” and “handled”, (emphasising the deliberate action which is needed to gain the benefit of what Christ came to manifest).  The word for look means to contemplate, to gaze upon, denoting a sustained and earnest appraisal on the part of one who has been attracted to the one in view.  It is possible to hear and see things accidentally, (although that was not the case with John), but is not possible to contemplate and handle anything without purposing to do so.  And this is what John is encouraging us in.  He had “looked upon Jesus as He walked”, John 1:35-39, and impressed with the sight, desired to abide with Him to know more.  John wants us to be like him in this.
And our hands have handled- again there is the mention of the physical action of handling with the hands, reinforcing the lesson as to the reality of the body of the Lord Jesus.  The mention of hands reminds us of the meal offering, and the offerer taking his handful of the offering and putting it upon the altar so that God might be satisfied, Leviticus 2:2.  The extent of the satisfaction depended on the measure of the man’s grasp.  So the more we get to know about God’s Son, the more we shall be able to offer to God in worship.
Hands speak of fellowship and identification in Scripture, and what John had fellowship in and identified with is available to God’s people as a whole.  This is emphasised in verse 3.
The ark of the covenant could not be seen, for the veil covered it from sight when it rested, Exodus 40:3, and when it moved through the wilderness it was out of sight beneath its coverings.  It was not to be touched, either, hence the provision of staves by which it was to be carried.  And the blood-sprinkled mercy seat covered over the tables of the law, so that their condemning voice was not heard.  But because the one the ark typified has come in grace, we can see, hear and handle Him.
Just as seeing and hearing involved more than physical actions, but included the seeing and the hearing of the significance of what was seen and heard, so with the word handled.  The Lord in resurrection said to His disciples “handle Me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have”, Luke 24:39, but we do not read that the disciples actually did this.  Even Thomas, when invited to put his fingers into the nail-prints, and thrust his hand into the spear-wound, does not seem to have needed to do so, for he immediately exclaimed, “My Lord and My God”, John 20:28.  In fact, the Lord said to him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”.  So he seems to have believed without physically touching, just as many others have done.  But for all that, they could have handled Him, and by this know that His resurrection body was also real.  It is a spiritual body, but not a spirit-body.
Of the word of life- the word “of” is the preposition otherwise translated “concerning”, indicating that life and its communication through Him who is the Word, is John’s theme. 
In John’s Gospel, the Son of God is simply the Word, who was with God, equal with God, and was made manifest in flesh, 1:1,14.  So the focus is upon His person.  In the epistle, the focus is upon His people, and these are they who have life from Him initially, and who need to grow in the knowledge of Him continually, hence He is the one in view when John writes about the word of life.  In the Book of the Revelation, He is called the Word of God, 19:13, for all that He spoke when here the first time, (which men either rejected because they did not believe it was the Word of God, or rejected because they knew it was the Word of God but were not prepared to believe it as such), will be vindicated when He comes the second time to the world that rejected Him.

(b)    Verse 2    Eternal Life manifested

1:2  (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;)

1:2 (For the life was manifested- this verse is in a parenthesis, as John pauses to make clear that the “that” of verse 1 refers to the one who is eternal life personified.
John was privileged to be one of Christ’s chosen apostles, and to see and hear Him at close quarters.  This is why he was able to see, hear, look upon and handle.  His desire is that we might do the same.  He wrote, “And the word was made 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”, John 1:14.  So he saw one who dwelt amongst men full of grace and truth.  There was no deficiency with Him; He was full of grace, and equally full of truth.  Grace is an expression of love, and truth is an expression of light.  The reason there was fullness was that all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in Him, Colossians 2:9. 
And we have seen it- John and his fellow apostles saw with calm and detailed scrutiny the glory of Christ, He giving them ample opportunity to do so.  With this we may compare the experience of Moses when he requested a sight of the glory of God.  He was put in the cleft of the rock, covered with God’s hand, and only saw the back parts or afterglow of God’s glory, Exodus 33:12-23.  There were no views of Christ’s glory barred to the apostles, however, for the knowledge of the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:6, and that face is not veiled.
If an earthly only begotten son and his father were to manifest their relationship in an ideal way, there would be a glory about that relationship.  How much more so when the Son and the Father are both Divine persons.  And this is precisely the glory that John saw and wrote about.  As God’s only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus is deeply loved of His Father, and stands in dignified and intimate relationship with Him.  This relationship is expressed in mutual affection, complete unity of intention, and absolute confidence.  These features are glorious, and John was privileged to see the glory of them.  Thereafter he recorded what he saw and heard, so that others might have a share in the sight of the glory too.
And bear witness- John is careful to tell us he writes as an eye-witness of the things he saw and heard.  Witness is one of John’s keywords, sometimes translated “testimony”, or “record”.  He is emphasising that he is not writing as a casual bystander, but a chosen testimony-bearer, who took note of what he saw, and was infallibly guided by the Spirit of God to record what he saw.  The promise of the Lord Jesus to His apostles in the upper room was that the Spirit of truth would guide them into all truth, John 16:13, and this He has done.  He also brought things to their remembrance, John 14:26, so that the gospel records are not guesswork, but the result of the Spirit working to ensure that all was true and accurate.
And shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)- the word shew does not mean to demonstrate, but has the idea of announcing, so not only did the apostles bear witness to what they saw and heard, but ensured that we are aware of it by announcing it.  The reason there is something to announce is because He who is eternal life personified has come out from His eternal place with the Father, and has been manifested in the world of men.  If He was with God as Father, then He must have been the Son before He came.  It was the Son of God who was sent when the fulness of the time was come, Galatians 4: 4.  God is love, but love must have an object.  Who was it that the Father loved in eternity?  Let the Son Himself give us the answer, “For Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world”, John17:24.  And since He spoke as the Son of the Father in that chapter, then it was as the Son of the Father that He was loved. 

(c)    Verse 3    Eternal Life shared

1:3  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.

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you- we now come to the main verb of John’s complicated sentence which consists of verses 1-4.  The two major acts on John’s part are the seeing and hearing. The looking upon and handling are developments of this, and all believers, having “seen and heard” through the writings of the apostles, can go further, and look upon and handle.  They become involved by taking an interest in the writings of the apostles. 
That ye also may have fellowship with us- the purpose of the granting of eternal life to those who believe is that they might not only initially know God, but that they might progressively know Him too. The word “that” in John 17:3 involves both thoughts.  Seeing and hearing what the apostles saw and heard is the same as having fellowship with the apostles.
And truly- because this concept might seem incredible, the apostle assures us it is true and real. 
Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ- all believers have a share in the eternal life which Divine persons possess eternally, and which is granted to those who believe. This gives them the capacity to enjoy the things which Divine persons enjoy.  That which the Father and the Son enjoy between themselves, we may now share. 
The believers of the Day of Pentecost and after, continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, Acts 2:42.  Note that both “doctrine” and “fellowship” are governed by the word “apostles”.  So they continued to believe what the apostles taught, and they continued to share in what the apostles had fellowship with.  This made their lives very simple.  They had only to ask themselves the question, “Do the apostles believe this?”, and “Do the apostles have fellowship in this?” 
John had spoken of the Word in abstract terms in John 1:1-3, and did not refer to Him in personal terms until verse 17.  It is the same here, for he has referred to the Son as the Word, and “that eternal life”, and now, without explanation, refers to Him as the Son.  For John it goes without saying that the one who was with the Father must be the Son.

(d)    Verse 4    Eternal Life enjoyed

1:4  And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full- in the Old Testament, the burnt offering was accompanied by the meal offering and the drink offering, see Numbers 15:1-10.  The drink offering was an expression of holy joy, Psalm 104:15.  However, the amount of wine to be brought was to be commensurate with the size of the sacrifice offered, but never exceeded half a hin of wine. This is typical of circumstances under the law, which could not make perfect, Hebrews 7:19.  There was no possibility of full joy under the law. What Christ brings in, however, is fulness of joy, a “full hin of wine”, so to speak.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN CHAPTER 1, VERSES 5 TO 10:

1:5  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.
1:6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1:7  But 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.
1:8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1:10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 

(e)    Verse 5    Eternal Life’s message- God is light

1:5  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.

This then is the message which we have heard of Him- having set out his purpose in writing, the apostle now develops his theme, hence the “then”.  Nowhere in the gospel records does the expression “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” occur, but John is not quoting a sentence uttered, but is summarising a deep impression gained.  That general view which comes over through the manifestation of Christ to His own is that God is light, so this is the message that came to the apostles.
And declare unto you- so the message Christ brought was declared by the apostles, and they did it not only orally, but by writing.  So we have in the pages of God’s word the very message of Christ.  If we are to have fellowship with Him, therefore, it will be through reading what is written.  Fellowship is not a mystic thing, open only to dreamers.  Current thinking in the New Age movement is the same as with the Gnostics of John’s day, who despised written revelation.  True fellowship with God involves the reading and assimilation of the written word, given by inspiration of God for our learning and encouragement.  The fact that it is written means it is settled, and no development is to be expected.
That God is light- this is one of the two definitions John gives us of God, the other being, “God is love”, 1 John 4:8.  Now light and love are the expression of the life of God, so the three-fold emphasis of the epistle is coming into view here.

Light does at least four things:
Light radiates.  So God beams forth His glory for those enabled to see it.  Christ is the brightness of God’s glory, and the express image of His person or essence, Hebrews 1:3, and is uniquely fitted to display God, and this He has done.  So by seeing and hearing God’s Son when He was here, those who had an interest could see the glory of God.  An illustration of this is His very first miracle, for John writes that “Jesus manifested forth His glory; and His disciples believed on Him”, John 2:11.  When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God expressed His glory in words telling of His character, Exodus 34:5-8.  Only a partial view of that glory was seen by Moses however.  But believers see the full glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:6.  What God expressed Himself to be to Moses could be summed up in the words grace and truth, and the Lord Jesus was full of grace and truth, expressing them, not just in words, but deeds and attitudes too.
Light illuminates.  As the Lord Jesus said, “I am the light of the world”, John 8:12.  This was spoken after the great lampstands in the temple had been dismantled, another Feast of Tabernacles over.  They represented the pillar of fire that had led Israel through the trackless desert.  Now Christ presents Himself as the one the pillar of fire typified, which would never be dismantled.  Those who believe may have the light of life, and walk in the light of His presence now and for ever. 
Light investigates.  When light shines, things become apparent.  Men loved darkness rather than light, and refused to come to the light, lest their deeds should be exposed.  Those who sought after God, however, and in that sense did the truth, came to Christ, and still do, John 3:19-21.
Light discriminates.  When light was caused to be in Genesis 1:3, then immediately there was a division between day and night.  As the Saviour said, “For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not may see; and that those which see might be made blind”, John 9:39.

And in Him is no darkness at all- there is no darkness with God, so He is not a mixture of light and dark.  He does not compromise with the unfruitful works of darkness, as the false professors John will address in the next verses seemed to think.  If we have fellowship with God then sin in its entirety must be thoroughly dealt with.  His nature must be satisfied.  After all, as Amos said, “Can two walk together unless they be agreed?”, Amos 3:3.  Those who have any sin upon them at all are disqualified from walking with God, whatever they may claim. 
So Christ was manifest here as one in whom there was no sin at all, to provide the test.  He is the standard by which God judges men; if they come short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23, it is because they are not in harmony with the character of Christ.  In Old Testament times the test was whether men had kept the law.  Now it is whether they are like Christ.  By nature and practice they are not, which is why the apostle will go on to speak of the blood of Christ and propitiation.  These are the means whereby men may come into harmony with God and be fitted for the light.

The tests the apostle applies may be summarised as follows:

First test
FALSE PROFESSOR, verse 6                           
Claims to have fellowship with God.   
Walks in darkness.       
Lies, does not the truth,
Continues uncleansed.       

TRUE BELIEVER, verse 7
Walks in the light
Has fellowship with the Father and the Son.
The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses from all sin.

Second test
PHILOSOPHER, verse 8
Says he has no sin.
Deceives himself.
The truth is not in him.
Continues unforgiven.

TRUE BELIEVER, verse 9
Confesses he has sin.
God is faithful and just to forgive his sins, and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.

Third test
INFIDEL, verse 10
Says he has not sinned
Makes God a liar
Shows God’s word not in him.
Has not gained the benefit of the propitiation and the advocacy of Christ.

TRUE BELIEVER, verses 1,2 of chapter 2
If any man sin.  The apostle, by not offering a real contrast to the infidel’s position, treats with contempt the idea that no-one has sinned.
We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only.

(f)    Verse 6    False profession

1:6    If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth

If we say that we have fellowship with Him- the apostle now begins to test whether his readers do in fact have fellowship with God.  He does not do this by asking if they have believed, although that would have been one way, but he insists that the claim to be in fellowship with God will be shown by being comfortable in His presence, who is the light.  Not only will a believer be comfortable in the presence of God, but will enjoy being there.  It was a feature of Adam that, having sinned, he no longer wanted to be in God’s presence.  In fact, the prospect caused him to be afraid, Genesis 3:10.  He was full of fear, whereas before, when walking with God, he must have been full of joy.
And walk in darkness- to have fellowship with the God who is light, and to walk in darkness, are mutually exclusive positions. Darkness is ignorance, and in this setting the very worst ignorance of all, namely ignorance of God.  This leads to the works of darkness. 
Since there is no darkness with God, as John has made clear, a person walking in the darkness cannot be walking with God.  God does not come into our darkness to walk with us, but we have to go into His light, but on His terms.  The man in this verse is trying to set the conditions for fellowship with God.
We lie, and do not the truth- note that to make the claim, “we have fellowship with Him”, and not do so really, is to lie, and is also an offence against the truth. What we say and what we do must be in harmony. Those who walk in darkness are unbelievers, who have never gone to Christ for eternal life, and are not fit therefore for fellowship with God.
Just as the One who expressed the light of God not only spoke the truth but acted it out to perfection, so here we have the reverse, the speaking of a lie and the acting out of a lie.  Both are contrary to the light.  Notice that the apostle includes himself in these tests of genuineness.  After all, one of the apostles had gone out, “and it was night”, John 13:30.  Judas went out from the apostolic band because he was not of them, not a genuine believer.  If he had been, he would have remained with them, as John wrote later about those like him, 1 John 2:19.  Peter denied his Lord, but he remained with the apostles, showing that his lapse, although sad, was not the lapse of an unbeliever.  When Mary Magdalene came with the news of the empty tomb, both John and Peter ran together to the tomb, showing where their interests lay. 
It is important to see that John is writing about great principles here.  He is not commenting on the degree of spirituality of a person, though that will come later in the epistle once he has made it clear what marks a true believer and what marks a false professor.  He is not dividing between different sorts of believers, but between professed believers who are not real, and genuine believers.  The contrast is between light and dark, not between shades of grey.

(g)    Verse 7    True position

1:7 But 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.

But if we walk in the light- that is, govern our lives by what God has shown Himself to be in Christ, namely, light.  John is now writing about a true believer. 
As He is in the light- God dwells in the light of what He is in Himself, in all His glory.  He does not need an external light to reveal Him, least of all to enhance Him..  And the Son has revealed Him to perfection when here.  We simply have to move, with repentance and faith, into the light.  Having done so, we then live in that light, allowing it to govern our lives and conduct.  We are to walk in the light as He lives in the light.  In other words, just as God is consistently in the light, and never moves out of it, then we should constantly live as those who are in the light.
We have fellowship one with another- instead of making a false claim about having fellowship with God, the true believer really does have fellowship with God.  Before, John had spoken of believers having fellowship with the apostles, whose fellowship was with the Father and the Son, verse 3, as they enjoyed the contemplation of the life of Christ.  Now the emphasis is on the direct fellowship that a true believer has with God.  It might seem a very bold statement to say we and God have fellowship “one with another”, for that might seem to suggest that the fellowship is between equals.  But then to say we have fellowship with the apostles is a bold claim too, because although we have the same faith as they do, they had the privilege of being with the Son of God when He was earth, and so have that advantage over us.  So it is not presumption to say we have fellowship with God on a “one with another” basis, for we are sharing together in a mutual interest in God’s Son.  The believer is doing the same thing as the Father; but of course the Father’s appreciation of His Son is complete, whereas ours is not.
And the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin- it is the common condition of all who believe, whether apostles or not, that they are constantly kept fit for the light of God’s presence by the blood of Christ.  It is not that the blood needs to be constantly applied.  There is no such idea in the New Testament that the blood of Christ needs to be re-applied; that every time we are conscious of failure we need to “go back to the blood” as some speak.  If that were the situation, we would be in no better position than men under the law, who feared lest they died before they could offer a fresh sin offering. 
No such legal fears need torment the minds of God’s people, for God has seen to it that there is provision so that His people are kept right in His sight.  It is grace wherein we stand, Romans 5:2, and not law.  The very Jesus Christ who came to give the message that God is light, is the one who has gone to Calvary to ensure that His people are kept fit for that light after they have believed.  And He is God’s Son, so we can rely on the work He did, for He has Divine competence.  He purged sins in full knowledge of God’s mind about the matter, and has sat Himself down at the right hand of God in all His Majesty, confident that the demands of the Majesty of a sin-hating God have been fully met, Hebrews 1:3.
On Israel’s Day of Atonement we read that “on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord”, Leviticus 16:30.  The only conditions were that the national cleansing that the high priest made that day would be forfeited by individuals if there was not cessation from work, (in other words, faith), and affliction of soul, (or in other words, repentance), Leviticus 23:26-32.  Now these two vital things were missing in the hearts of the false professors John is concerned about in these verses, and as a result they were outside of the blessing the cleansing blood of Christ brings. 
The fact is that the blood of Christ is here said to have particular character, namely that it cleanses.  The time of cleansing is not in view; it is the constant virtue of the blood that the apostle is emphasising.  Far from being effective for only a year, as was the case with the blood of the Day of Atonement, the blood of Christ has eternal efficacy, and at any moment is preserving God’s people in a state of cleansing. 

(h)    Verse 8    False declaration

1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

If we say that we have no sin- having been presented with the fact that nothing contrary to God can be in His presence, and therefore sins must be answered for, the false professor now claims that he has no sin of the sort that bars Him from God’s presence. He persists in His claim that he is walking in the light, but has a distorted view of sins which deludes him into thinking that some sins are not serious enough to need to be forgiven.  He thinks fellowship with God is possible without a thorough dealing with sins.  Perhaps he is a religious person, who attends “Christian” services, and thinks he is thereby having fellowship with God, without having had dealings with God about his sins.
Part of Christendom teaches that some sins are not so serious as others, and do not need the same severity of judgement.  This is foreign to the Scriptures, for all sin is obnoxious to God.  It is true that judgement will be in proportion to the severity of the transgression, but all sins will be dealt with severely.
The Gnostic heretics of John’s day were teaching that knowledge was everything, and the body was worthless, and could not get any worse than it was.  So they taught that the body may engage in anything, however sinful, so that further experiences, and hence further knowledge, might be acquired.  They believed that the soul could not be polluted.  We can see how that a person, infected by these errors, might cling on to them, whilst at the same time professing to be a Christian.  He would deny that the sins he had committed were sinful, since they were committed for the worthy end of gaining knowledge, and in that sense would say “I have no sin”.
We deceive ourselves- even if an apostle said that, he would be deceiving himself, for God’s word clearly states that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.  He may deceive himself, (for the human heart is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”, Jeremiah 17:9), but he does not deceive his fellow-men, and least of all does he deceive God.
And the truth is not in us- it is not only that the specific truths in God’s word about sins are not in us, but the truth as a mode of thinking is not in us.  We have gone over to lies and deception, and begun to think in a perverted way.

(i)    Verse 9    True confession

1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we confess our sins- John now turns to the opposite attitude.  Instead of denial of sins, there is confession that they exist.  This is one of the characteristic features of a true believer, that he does not deny sins, but confesses to having them.  There was no mention in verse 7 of confession being the condition on which cleansing from sin is known.  There was the assurance in that verse that if we are true believers, (that is, walk in the light), then the cleansing is ours.  Building on that, we may say that confession is not the itemising of a list of sins in the presence of God so as to confess them one by one.  If that were the situation, what if we miss one?  Just one sin is enough to render us unrighteous, for “whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all”, James 2:10.  To confess our sins therefore means the opposite of saying “we have no sin”; it is a constant attitude of mind that admits to failure, thinks the same as God does about sins, (as explained in the Word of God), yet rests on the precious blood of Christ.
After all, when a sinner turns to God, he is not expected to list his sins one by one, stretching back, it may be, for many years.  It is the attitude of mind which readily confesses to having sinned that matters.  God knows each sin, even though we may have forgotten. 
He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins- God’s attitude to those who admit that their failures do amount to sin, (and who thereby show that they are believers), is one of forgiveness.  He forgives the moment the sin is committed because He is faithful to His promise that “their sins and iniquities I will remember no more”, Hebrews 10:17.  The New Covenant is unconditional, and does not depend on any input on the part of the believer, for Christ is the surety or guarantee of its blessings, Hebrew 7:22.  It is the blood of Jesus Christ His Son that enables God to forgive in this way.  As the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, referring to the cup of the Lord’s Supper, “this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many, for the remission of sins”, Matthew 26:28.  And in Luke’s account He adds, “shed for you”, Luke 22:20.
He is also faithful in the sense that even whilst forgiving, He is true to Himself.  The apostle Paul wrote, “He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself”, 2 Timothy 2:13.  This assures us that God is always faithful to what He is in Himself.  He is true to Himself even when forgiving.  For God to have fellowship with one whose sins had not been confessed and forgiven would be to undermine His very Being, and this is something He cannot do, for He is unchanging.
He is also just when He forgives.  He behaves righteously to the believer, for He does not condone sin because it is one of His children committing it.  Would we want it otherwise?  Would be easy in our minds if we thought for a moment that our sins were not taken account of righteously? So the sin is forgiven, and the relationship with the Father is maintained, in full recognition of what Christ did at Calvary.   
There is no suggestion here that the relationship a child of God has with his Father is broken by sin, or else it would be all over as far as security is concerned.  What if the believer dies in that state?  The truth is that the apostle Paul can write of any believer, without qualification, (and without mentioning confession), that he has, (in the present), “redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins”, Ephesians 1:7. 
Notice that God is faithful and just to forgive.  The idea is that He is faithful and just in order that He may forgive.  It is not that He forgives despite His faithfulness and justice, but because of them.  He has found a means whereby He may maintain His justness, and yet justify and forgive the sinner.  As Paul wrote, “that He might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus”, Romans 3:26. 
The blessing of the forgiveness of sins, like all the other blessings listed in that chapter, is vested in Christ.  So the apostle goes on to write that we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, Ephesians 4:32.  What God thinks of the blood, and what He thinks of His Son, are the determining factors.  The apostle John can write without reserve later on, (once he has established he is writing to believers), “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake”, 1 John 2:12.
And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness- not only is there need for forgiveness when a believer sins, there is also need for cleansing, for sins defile us, as well as offend God.  God said about sinners, that “they are altogether become filthy”, Psalm 53:3.  This cleansing is found in the blood of Christ.  Just as forgiveness is based on it, cleansing is done by it.  John himself wrote, as he ascribed praise to Christ, “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever Amen”, Revelation 1:6.  Just as water has the power to wash away literal defilement, so the blood of Christ has the power to wash away moral defilement.  Dirt is washed in water, sin is washed in blood.
God dwelt in the midst of the camp of Israel as they travelled to the land of Canaan.  He did not dwell on the perimeter of the camp, but in the centre.  This raised a question.  How could He do this, considering that the people were constantly sinning?  What did this tell onlookers about the character of God?  In order to defend His honour, God ordained that once in the year there should be a Day of Atonement, the purpose of which was to “make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgression in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness”, Leviticus 16:16.  And again, “And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year”, 16:34.  Notice it is “for” all their sins; in other words, because of their sins.  The presence of their sins, and the presence of God, were incompatible, hence the need for blood to intervene and cleanse.
We might have expected John to write, “cleanse us from all unholiness”, but he uses the word unrighteousness.  This alludes to the fact that God is just to forgive sins, as the beginning of the verse states, so sins are described in relation to the righteousness of God in His forgiving capacity.  Despite the sins being an offence to His righteousness, they are nonetheless righteously forgiven. 
None of this should make the believer complacent about sin.  Just because forgiveness is ongoing does not excuse sin, or make committing it of no account.  Far from it; the believer has an enhanced sense of the heinousness of sin to God, and will do his best to avoid committing it.  Should he do so, then the attitude of confession should be sustained.  So the forgiveness and cleansing are in the present, and so should the confession be.  This is reinforced in the first verse of the next chapter, where the apostle assures us he is writing so that we sin not, not that we regard sinning as of no importance and seriousness. 
We should beware of thinking in a legal way about sin.  By giving the law in awe-inspiring circumstances, God brought fear into their hearts so that they feared to sin, Exodus 20:20.  Christians should fear to sin, also, but not because of the law of God, but the grace of God.  Impressed with the grace of God expressed through Christ at Calvary, we have the greatest possible incentive to not sin. 

(j)    Verse 10    False estimation

1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

If we say that we have not sinned- those who deny that they have done anything to offend divine righteousness, must have a gravely faulty view of what sin really is.  They have never considered it in the light of God’s glory. 
We make Him a liar- it is God’s estimate of actions that matters, and He has clearly set out the truth about sin.  To go against that is to reckon God to be a liar.  Of course, no-one can make God a liar in fact, but a man may so speak that he makes God out to be a liar.  He has made His thoughts about man and his sin very clear in the gospel, yet this man rejects that testimony, and by so doing sets his opinion against God’s word.  He clearly is not a believer.
And His word is not in us- the thinking is contrary to the Word of God, plainly set out.  First the practice is wrong, “we do not”, verse 6; then the thinking is wrong, “the truth is not in us”, verse 8; then the very means of regulating our practice and thinking is lacking, “His word is not in us”, verse 10.  If we do not allow God’s word its rightful place in our hearts, then our thinking will be astray.  If our thinking is astray, then our practice will be too.