1 John 1:1-2:6

If we walk in the light. To know God is to keep his commandments. To love God is to walk just as Jesus walked.

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Dear friends,

The first study hour, which focused on John's first letter, was full of lively debates. However, depending on each person's point of view, this letter led us to different conclusions. Here are some of the things we covered, along with my own personal comments:

IF WE WALK IN THE LIGHT

7If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)

What do you think of the expression “walk in the light”? If it means giving up sin? Is it truly possible for anyone to abstain from it?

On the other hand, if walking in the light means living by faith in Christ, to become a Christian, or a member of a church, then why did John write these words to them? This will make sense if John wrote these words as an evangelistic message for unbelievers. Therefore, the issue that I raised here is he’s writing it to the wrong audience.

Another significant point is the word “if” in “if we walk in the light.” It has the connotation of a condition. In the Strong Greek dictionary, this word is defined as follows:

G1437 ἐάν From G1487 and G302; a conditional particle; in case that, provided, etc.; often used in connection with other particles to denote indefiniteness or uncertainty.

The implication is in order for Jesus to cleanse us of all sins, we must abstain from all sins. Paul, on the other hand, claims that the only prerequisite for Jesus’ blood to cleanse us of all sin is that we believe in Him.

TO KNOW GOD IS TO KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS

3Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. 4The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.” (1 John 2:3-4)

According to John 17:3, knowing God is synonymous with having eternal life or being declared righteous, but there is a condition: “if we keep his commandments,” which means you must live under the law. Paul completely disagrees:

“For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)
“For we consider that a person is declared righteous by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Romans 3:28)
“For through the law I died to the law so that I may live to God.” (Galatians 2:19)

As a result, the following conclusions must be reached:

a. John was still a baby when it came to the reality of “the just shall live by faith,” or he hadn’t yet broken away from Judaism’s grip.
b. God allows the reality of church conflicts to be recorded in Scriptures, similar to what we saw in the book of Acts. Consider the issue of forcing Gentiles to follow Moses’ law or observe circumcision. This indicates that many of the apostles lacked a solid grasp of foundational truths.

None of Paul’s letters contain passages like 1 John 2:3-4, which I think is a good thing.

TO ABIDE IN JESUS IS TO WALK JUST AS HE WALKED

5But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. 6The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:5-6)

To “walk as he walked,” you must never break any of the commandments. It is due to the fact that Jesus never sinned.

I recall reading Thomas A Kempis’ The Immitation of Christ when I first became a Christian. He must have been inspired by John’s teaching in verse 6 that believers should walk as Jesus did. Do you see how impossible this teaching is? Jesus is described as follows in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

“God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us.”

Because Jesus is sinless, he is completely capable of performing actions of righteousness. On the other hand, the prophet Isaiah describes our works as follows:

“… All our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight..” (Isaiah 64:6)

So the chance for either the Apostle John and Thomas A. Kempis to walk just as Jesus walked is zero to none.

IN CONCLUSION

In chapter 2, John explains that “walking in the light” means “keeping God’s commandments.” And if you walk in the light, “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” This contradicts the fundamental truth that only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us of all sin, not the keeping the commandments.

It appears to me that John may not be led by the Spirit, because “… if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:18)

Nghi Nguyen

- Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This is my own opinion on the topic, which does not necessarily reflect the church's theology, or beliefs of the individuals in it — Nghi Nguyen

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