St. John, Apostle
December 27, 2020 A+D
1 John 1:1-2:2
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
John declares Jesus Christ to us as the Word of Life so that we would have fellowship with the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father is the Father of Jesus Christ. The Spirit is Life. Jesus is the only-begotten of the Father and the Word of Life, that is the Word of the Spirit. He is our Advocate and Redeemer.
He came by water and by blood. He was anointed with water and set to His holy mission. He is authorized, ordained, and blessed by the Father and the Spirit for this work. He is anointed likewise with blood. His first blood was His circumcision whereby He put that sacrament to rest, replacing it with a Baptism for all people. His last blood pours out on the cross instituting the Sacrament of the Altar. He comes by making Himself an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, reconciling the world to Himself and satisfying the demands of His wrath.. And so now He comes by Blood in the Holy Communion which forgives our sins because His life is in the Blood. Having fellowship with the Holy Trinity gives fullness to joy and fellowship not only with God but also with John and with one another.
Being in fellowship with Him means walking in the light. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Walking in the light does not mean committing no sins. Rather it means being honest about your sins. To be honest about your sins means confessing them and receiving absolution.
There are two obvious ways that men who claim to be Christians walk in the darkness and not in the light, that is, two obvious ways in which men might be dishonest about their sins.
The first way is to deny or hide one’s sins. Some people appear to be Christians but they are not. They are hypocrites who look good on the outside but who do not have faith. They are only keeping up appearances. Usually when we use the word “hypocrite” we mean people who say one thing and do another, but when Jesus uses the word He is mostly talking about people who both say and do the right thing but they do for the wrong reasons. They do it to gain praise from men.
The next way that people who claim to be Christiams walk in darkness is to make light of their sins. This can happen in several different ways.
One way is for a person to think that he is himself somehow righteous in himself, trusting in his own works or he can think that his sins just aren’t significant enough to need forgiveness. We usually call these people self-righteous.
Satan also tries to deceive us with what seems to be the polar opposite error. He tells us that if God’s mercy is really so great then it doesn’t matter what we do, we can walk in the darkness with impunity, we can enjoy our sins and not fall from grace. We usually call these people ant-nomians or universalists.
We should, of course, be very careful not to judge one another in these ways. One person may receive great accolades from men because he is, in fact, doing great works of mercy and truly is selfless. He is no hypocrite but a true Christian and he deserves our praise and admiration. Another may strive with all his heart to obey the law not because he is self-righteous or thinks he must earn God’s favor, but because he loves the law. We should praise this man and encourage him. So also all Christians should revel in the Gospel and extol the greatness of God’s mercy and His unconditional love, while still loving God’s Law and wanting to do good.
Now we certainly do want to hold one another accountable and be of assistance to one another in our faith walk, but John’s point is not that we would find one another’s faults or secret sins or judge one another harshly. His point is to warn us so that we would see our dangerous paths and tendencies and repent before it is too late. He wants us to enjoy already now the joy of fellowship with Christ and the goodness of His law.
We don’t say that we haven’t sinned or that our sins were mild or insignificant. We confess our sins. We ask for help in resisting them. We strive to amend our lives and separate ourselves from temptation. We walk in the light of God’s Word. And we rejoice that despite our sins and struggles, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ our righteousness. He, Himself, is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for us, but for the whole world.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.