Living in Truth by admitting we have done wrong

Today’s verse is 1 John 1:7.

 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

What does it mean to live in the light “as God is in the light”? A long time ago I listened to a message by our youth pastor at the time, John Ulrich, who spoke about what “light” is. Light is such a powerful metaphor. It can be used for so many different concepts, but generally when the Bible refers to light, it’s using the term as a symbol for Truth.

Light reveals things. Light shows things that want to stay hidden. Light opens the eyes of blind people so that they can see what is real and what isn’t. Truth does the same thing, so I think it’s an apt comparison.

So with that understanding, the verse is saying that we need to live in Truth as God is in Truth. Well . . . God is Truth. There’s no separation there. So does that mean we need to live in God?

Instead of me fumbling around trying to understand this single verse, I’m going to put the whole section up, starting with 1 John 1:5.

5 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

Amazing how adding a few extra verses in there clears it up, isn’t it? It’s always best to let the Bible interpret itself.

God is light (God is Truth). There’s nothing bad in Him. But there are people in the world who call themselves Christians who are living in spiritual darkness. They don’t read the Bible. They don’t understand what it means to follow Christ. They either believe in a religion or they follow a man’s teaching. They have no interest in pursuing God’s truth because they are perfectly satisfied with what the world has pawned off as truth.

These verses say that those people who say they are Christians but continue to live a life that isn’t guided by Truth–by God and by the Bible–are lying. That’s kind of heavy.

But aren’t we saved by faith? Doesn’t the Bible say elsewhere that our works have nothing to do with our salvation?

That’s true. But in James, the Bible tells us that our works demonstrate the presence of our faith. It’s not our actions that save us (our by that same token our inaction that condemns us); our actions are an outward representation of an invisible change that has taken place inside our hearts.

So if someone claims to be a Christian but doesn’t follow Christ and has no interest in studying the Bible and feels no desire to learn more about God . . . . think about it.

But the main verse for today isn’t about identifying “real” Christians. Honestly, that’s not even our job. We aren’t supposed to go around deciding whether someone is saved or not. That’s not our business. That’s not our job. And we can’t do it anyway because we can’t see peoples’ hearts. The only person I am responsible for is myself . . .  Maybe if I can ever get myself under control I can move on to helping other people control themselves, but the chances of me ever achieving that one are fair to partly cloudy.

What 1 John 1:7 says to me this morning is that if I live my life by God’s Truth — that if I act and live and breathe and move based according to the principles in the Bible — I will have true, unbroken fellowship with other Christians who are living the same way. And what’s more, a life lived according to God’s Truth will keep me from sinning.

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross saved me from sin, but by living a life based in God’s Truth, I will have the strength and the weapons I need to keep myself from doing the things that hurt me and my walk with Christ.

And I guess all this leads up to the question of how do we live a life of Truth? Like I said, you need to apply biblical principles in your life. The biggest of which comes in this same chapter, starting in verse 8.

 8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. 9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Everybody sins. And by refusing to acknowledge that I sin, I’m lying to myself and I’m calling God a liar.

I am a sinner. That’s the truth.

God is just. That’s the truth.

God justifies the ungodly through Jesus Christ, and all we have to do is ask. That is truth.

The best way to live in Truth is to tell God what I have done wrong and trust Him to forgive me. That is Truth. And I need to keep doing that on a daily basis because I do wrong every day, every moment of every day, and by continually confessing my sins to God it keeps my perspective true. It makes me remember that I am not responsible for my salvation. It’s through Christ alone.

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Delusion, indolence, and the American Way

I don’t want to go to work today. So, I am going to stay home and watch DVDs of Batman: The Animated Series. And I’m going to believe that my boss won’t care if I don’t show up today. After all, she’s just another person working at the company, and she doesn’t have any real authority over me. Boss is just a title, and it doesn’t mean anything. And it’s not like they can fire me. Right?

What would you think if I said something like that? And what would you think if I said something like this:

  • “My seatbelt rubs my neck raw and it’s more trouble than it’s worth, so I don’t wear it anymore. People are just exaggerating about how it can save your life in a wreck.”

Or what about this:

  • “All the stuff people say about smoking cigarettes is so overrated. People just make a big deal out of it because they can. Maybe it’ll increase my chances for cancer, but they won’t kill me. And it’s my choice to smoke or not and it makes me feel better, so I’ll smoke if I want to.”

So . . . are you paying attention yet? If I were to say any of those things, I think people would believe I’ve finally had that nervous breakdown my brain has been threatening. But these statements are fairly common in our culture, don’t you think? I don’t know about you but I hear things like this all the time.

I don’t care who you are. If you think smoking won’t hurt you, you’re an idiot. I’m sorry to be so brutal . . . . well, no, I take it back. I did a post a little while ago about saying you’re sorry when you really aren’t . . . . so, I won’t apologize. I’m sorry if you get your feelings hurt, but I need to be honest here and I’ll do my best to speak the truth in love.

When you smoke, you’re inhaling chemicals into your lungs and you’re holding them there. That just doesn’t sound healthy to me. People die of smoke inhalation in fires all the time, and we still have this concept that smoking is okay?

The interesting thing about smoking, though, is that people who smoke oftentimes know the risks involved and they just don’t care. I don’t know if they think they’re like Superman — that the consequences of smoking don’t apply to them? Or maybe they need the drugs in the cigarettes more than they care about living. I don’t know.

And what about wearing your seatbelt? I’d say it’s pretty obvious that seatbelts save lives. I’m not a paramedic, but common sense suggests that seatbelt prevent people from getting hurt worse in an accident that could claim their lives. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t been wearing my seatbelt when I had my wreck. I probably would have been splattered all over the pavement.

Again, if straightforward communication about this offends you, don’t take it personally. I’m just trying to get people to think.

And what about your boss and your job? I don’t know about you, but if I suddenly decided that I didn’t feel like going to work and decided to stay home (especially without notifying anyone), I’d be in deep trouble. And my boss wouldn’t care that I’ve had a horrible week. I have responsibilities, and I can’t just drop everything and do what I want to do. They hired me for a reason. And they absolutely can fire me if they want to. Telling myself anything different is moronic.

And that’s the point I’m getting to this morning.

Any thinking person can take these three examples and see immediately what the right thing to do is. Any person who is thinking can see the truth here.

Smoking will kill you. Not wearing your seatbelt is inviting danger. Shirking your responsibilities at work will get you fired. It doesn’t matter what you tell yourself to rationalize your actions in these situations. This is the truth.

Someone once told me that a statement becomes truth when you believe it.

That’s a load of balogna. (It’s actually a load of something else, but I won’t say that here.)

Truth by its very nature is exclusive, and it doesn’t matter how much you deny it, if something is true, it’s true whether you believe it or not. And you deciding that you don’t want to believe it is like a child having a temper tantrum because they want to believe a red balloon is blue.

This is today’s verse:

Psalm 14:1

1 Only fools say in their hearts,
      “There is no God.”
   They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;
      not one of them does good!

I know people who say that there is no God. Most of the time, they’re like people who say the things listed above. The know the truth. But accepting the truth means they have to be accountable to Someone who knows more than they do. So it’s easier to deny the truth and make up some other story to believe.

The Bible says those people are fools.

The sky is red. The grass is purple. Drinking doesn’t hurt you. Having sex before marriage is a good way to know if you’re compatible with someone else. A baby is just a wad of tissue until it’s fully born. The terrorists on September 11 had every right to attack the U.S. because they were doing what was right for them.

Evidence of God’s existence is everywhere. People who say they don’t believe in Him are lying to themselves because they want to live in a way that is contrary to what God has declared is right. It’s the same as knowing that smoking will kill you and doing it anyway. It’s the same as driving around without wearing a seatbelt. It’s the same as not going to work when you know your boss will be angry.

But it is your choice. Absolutely. But Newton was right in more ways than one. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. You push something, and it will push back at you. Every choice you make has consequences. And you might not experience those consequences until you’re a grandmother or a grandfather. But they will come.

You can lie to yourself all you want, but it doesn’t change what’s true.