Forgiven; Walking in the Light

1 John 1:5-10 (NIV)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

Of the verses above probably the most quoted is verse nine, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  It is a great verse.  At face value there is a simple formula; confession equals forgiveness.  However the context, as always, is critical.  The formula is valid, yet the genesis of forgiveness is a recognition of sin.

Many years ago a pastor friend of mine encouraged me to play golf with a member of his congregation who had a lot of influence.  Although the man was not on any leadership boards, he was seen as a strong Christian with a strong knowledge of the Bible.  Four and a half hours of golf with someone is very revealing.  At first, we shared a lot of small talk getting to know each other.  He shared with me his religious convictions and where he felt the “church” was making mistakes.  He told me about the ways he helped others. Over time something very interesting happened; my “partner” began to show his true colors with every missed shot or hook.  His language became very “colorful.”  What really surprised me was my new acquaintance did not realize he was cussing or in some cases using God’s name in vain.  His anger (with his golf game) revealed his heart.  There was a dark cloud hovering over his life and he thought he was basking in the sun. 

I am not saying this man was not a Christian.  I am not in the position to make that judgement.  Only God knows his heart.  Our verses today remind us that to be forgiven, we must recognize that we need forgiveness.  I cannot claim God’s victory in my life if my actions deny his influence.  A good yardstick to measure my conversion is what has changed. 

When I turned to Christ in faith things changed.  Before my “conversion” I liked to drink in excess, my language was laced with profanity.  I often told profane jokes, even in mixed company.  When I came to faith I told my wife that I needed to make some changes.  I stopped drinking alcohol.  I stopped swearing.  My jokes no longer embarrassed. None of those changes were possible by my own will.  God intervened.  Light replaced darkness.  

The Christian theme song is not Frank Sinatra’s, “My Way.” As long as you try to keep control and chart your own course without God, the lights are probably out.  Are you a Christian?  Have you been forgiven?  Has your life changed?  God stands ready to turn the lights on. 

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