True Confessions (1 John 1)
July 11, 2015
Within a few years of the beginning of the Christian movement, spiritual counterfeits sprang up wherever the gospel spread. Some early examples include the Judaizers, the Gnostics, the Docetics and the Cerinthians. Already some professing Christians had been led astray by these false teachers. In his old age John writes to his “dear Children” to encourage them to stand fast, to remain in fellowship with God, to reject false teachers and to show true Christian love to each other. This short epistle offers a glimpse into the Christian world at the end of the first century. Here we see Christianity confronting paganism both inside and outside the church. John has written a tract for his times that speaks eloquently to the moral and spiritual confusion of the 21st-century.
He weaves the triple themes of truth, love and obedience throughout his epistle. If we want to have fellowship with God, we must . . .
- Know God’s truth,
- Obey God’s commandments, and
- Love God’s children.
I. Basic Facts About First John
- Written near the end of the NT period, approximately AD 90-95.
- Written when John was a very old man—last living apostle.
- Time of confusion and compromise.
- Theme: Authentic fellowship with God and his people.
- Mostly like written from Ephesus where John was considered the “Bishop of Asia”
- John writes as a beloved spiritual leader to believers he knows very well.
II. The Basis for Fellowship with God 1-4
Note that the book does not begin with a greeting. Similar to the way John began his gospel.
A. Life Revealed 1-2
1. John wrote on the basis of his personal experience with Jesus Christ.
2. John preached a gospel based on a real, historical Christ.
3. Jesus is not a mystical idea but the actual Son of God in human flesh.
B. Theme Stated 3-4
1. The essence of the Christian life is intimate fellowship with God. 3
2. Deep joy is the natural result of fellowship with God. 4
3. Christian fellowship is based on a shared experience with Jesus Christ.
III. The Conditions for Fellowship with God 5-10
Note the three stages of self-deception. “If we say . . . If we say . . . If we say . . .”
#1 We lie to others about our fellowship with God. 5-7
“I can still sin and have fellowship with God.”
1. Light illuminates reality and reveals what is hidden.
2. God’s light both illuminates and exposes those who know him. 5
3. Light demands a moral choice.
4. Walking with God requires total honesty. 6
5. As we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin so that we can have fellowship with the Father and with other believers. 7
#2 We lie to ourselves about our true condition. 8-9
“I am living without sin right now.”
1. To claim to be sinless means that we are blind to our true condition. 8
2. True confession includes both an admission of guilt and a cry to God for forgiveness. 9a
3. Continual confession leads to continual cleansing that leads to continual fellowship with God. 9b
#3 We lie to God about our actions. 10
“I haven’t sinned in the past either.”
1. To deny our sin is to turn deliberately into the darkness. 10
2. Our greatest need is deep honesty about our true condition and total dependence on Christ to deliver us.
Key Statement: Unless I confess my sins and live my life open before the Lord, I cannot have fellowship with God or with his people.