Monthly Archives: August 2023



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 is not in us. (1John 1: 8-10)

I had a recent experience when this Scripture came home to me very vividly. I was in a group of believers and told a story which contained a lie. It came out so unexpectedly that I was caught out and could not wriggle out of it without great embarrassment. On reflection I tried to tell myself that it was nothing and that it didn’t matter, but I could not shake it off my conscience.

This passage of Scripture came repeatedly to my mind. It was not the content of the story that mattered but the fact that I had embellished it with a lie that bothered me. Not even confession to the Lord and taking responsibility for what I had done would give me peace. I knew that I had to own what I had done to a trusted fellow believer.

I am very close to my pastor and I chose to write a letter of confession rather than speak to him because I am able to express myself more freely in a letter. His response was kind and gracious. He said something like this: “Don’t you just love the Holy Spirit? He so gently does everything He can to protect our fellowship with the Father.” That’s it, my dear readers! And the moment I received his message and knew that I had acknowledged my sin to another person, God’s peace once again flooded my heart.

How difficult it is for us to face our sin and own it! Why are we so reticent to acknowledge what we have done when we leave the path of God’s Word and go our own way? John said that we deceive ourselves. Self-deception is just as damaging as Satan’s lies because they have the same source – the devil; and his intention is to disturb our fellowship with the Father and keep us away from enjoying our union with Him.

From God’s perspective, it is not our sin that is the problem – He has taken care of that through the death of His Son. It’s our unwillingness to own it and to come clean with Him. Why do we keep lying to ourselves and to God when we know that He knows our deepest and most intimate thoughts and actions? Pride keeps us from being honest with ourselves and God and robs us of the fellowship we could and should enjoy with Him.

He did everything possible to restore us to Himself so that we could return to the state of innocence and righteousness that Adam and Eve enjoyed before they chose their way above His. It cost Jesus His life to bring us back to the Father. Why do we forfeit the honour of closeness to Him just because we won’t acknowledge that we have sinned?

God is not demanding that we drag up everything we have done since birth. That’s not the issue although some people tag the same refrain onto their prayers over and over again, “And forgive my sins,” as a blanket statement just in case they have forgotten something that God might be holding against them.  Have they forgotten that God has cleaned the record, once for all?

John’s first chapter is about fellowship. What is it that gives us the confidence that we can have fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ; and what disturbs our fellowship with Him?

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John 1: 3

Did you get that? We have fellowship with one another and with the Father and the Son because we know and believe the truth about Jesus. What disturbs our fellowship with one another and with God? Not our initial sin but our dishonesty because we deny responsibility. We are still in the flesh and in a fallen world. Sin will still be a part of us until we shed this body and depart for the realm where we are no longer subject to sin.  

The Holy Spirit does not convict us of sin; He convicts us of righteousness (John 16: 8-10). He holds up God’s standard of righteousness so that we can come back into line with God’s Word. When we are honest enough to take responsibility for our sin, He responds by washing away our unrighteousness and restoring our fellowship with the Father.

Isn’t that worth a little bit of humility?

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



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 and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out 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. (1 John 1: 6-7)

Amazing, isn’t it, that so much of Christianity today is about holding to the right doctrine, and not about living the right life! John was a Jew – and a practical man. He gives us a simple test for what He calls “walking in the truth”. How do you get along with you brother or sister in the Lord?

There are two words which John uses to describe the essence of God in a nutshell – light and love. He does not say that God is a light, or even that one of God’s attributes is light. He says that God IS light. What does he mean by light? He is not talking so much about physical light – although God is the source of light which includes physical light. He means that God is the essence of everything that is right, pure, and untainted with corruption or imperfection. God illuminates everything so that no imperfection of any kind can be concealed.

The second word John uses to describe God’s essence is “love”. God harbours nothing in His being that is detrimental to His creation, no animosity, impure motive or attitude that will adversely affect anyone or anything, regardless of their response to Him. His attitude towards His creation is positively good.

God’s essence is in perfect balance: He is good to everything He has made because He is love; He always does the right thing and acts with perfect justice because He is light. He cannot be anything else because He is holy – He is always true to who He is.

Those who do not know, understand or believe the true nature of God, attribute to Him the imperfections of human nature. Many reject God’s forgiveness because they do not understand His righteousness. God is light – He cannot sweep sin under the carpet, but He is also love – He could not ignore man’s plight. He is in perfect balance; therefore He made a way by sending Jesus to become a man, live a perfect life and die as a sinner in our place. It’s as simple as that.

But where does that leave us? I said that John was a practical man. God’s provision for us demands a response. He provided forgiveness for the whole world. There is not a single person who is excluded from returning to the Father and being restored to His family but – and this is where the great divide comes between those who are in the kingdom of God and those who are not – everyone must respond, individually and personally by receiving His forgiveness and coming back under His authority.

God effects a change in our hearts from hatred and enmity towards Him to trust, love and allegiance to Him. The Holy Spirit takes up residence in us as God’s temples, and exerts His influence to guide us along the way of God’s instructions. When we live in obedience to God’s word, we walk in the truth. Part of God’s requirement is that we love our neighbour as ourselves. That means playing open cards with our fellow men as we do with God, desiring and doing what is best for them.

John uses this as a test of our obedience to God’s way of truth, not do we believe the right things but how do we get on with each other? It’s no use claiming to be in fellowship with the Father if we have unresolved issues with His children. John says that’s lying, because fellowship with God and with one another go together. Fellowship implies that we have a common basis for living, allegiance to Jesus as Lord, and that we do life together. That is not possible if we harbour grudges, hide our issues and don’t live transparently with one another.

That certainly does not mean that we drag every little perceived hurt out into the open and make an issue of it. The problem, a lot of the time, is that we imagine things about the other person that are not true because we are self-absorbed. Why do we think that other people are always thinking about us – good or bad – or that they have ulterior motives when they say or ask something? That kind of thinking reveals our hearts, selfish – not theirs!

Paul’s counsel and the counsel of the New Testament writers is “live at peace with everyone; forgive as the Lord forgave you; be tolerant towards one another; love one another; give each other the benefit of the doubt; be honest with each other; don’t put on a show or wear a mask; don’t pretend to be who you are not.” This kind of attitude makes for harmony and shows that we are really walking in the light with each other and with the Lord.

We may slip up now and then but do the right thing – communicate. Admit you blew it and ask for forgiveness, Forgive quickly when another has offended you. The bottom line is – show mercy because you have received mercy. Another’s offence against you is miniscule compared with your offence against God, and He freely forgave you.

This is the acid test of fellowship – not adhering to the right doctrines but walking in the light with one another if you want to walk in the light with God. Take responsibility for your own life before you hold grudges against others. When we do that, we can be assured that the blood of Jesus will perpetually keep our hearts clean.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



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. (1 John 1: 6-7)

John did not mess around with theological concepts and abstract ideas. He came right to the point.He assured his readers that the one of whom he wrote was indeed the one who came from the Father, who lived on earth as a real human being and who was the living Word, representing the Father in all He said and did.

John and his fellow disciples were eyewitness of the truth that Jesus was a man and yet more than a man. They had seen, heard and touched Him and their lives had been changed forever because He came, not only because He lived and died as a perfect Son, but also because He had a message from God for them.

What was that message? Jesus reaffirmed the message of the prophets who spoke for God against the backdrop of His people’s persistent disobedience over centuries of calling them back to Himself. Their constant refrain was …God is holy! He has no part of anything that is tainted with corruption or imperfection.

Even the effects of Adam’s sin over which they had no control, like the shedding of blood during childbirth, was an affront to Him because any form of bloodshed was the outcome of sin. Every hint of corruption or imperfection had to be atoned for by the shedding of blood. Death was the penalty He demanded for imperfection, the death of a perfect and innocent animal as a foreshadowing of the death of God’s perfect Lamb.

John declared that God is light. Like love, light is the essence of who He is. If God were only love, there would be no guarantee that He would act in perfect justice towards those who transgress His laws. To be love without the balance of light would leave us with a wishy-washy God who would gloss over every infringement of His perfection in the name of “love”.

That’s the way some people want Him to be, and even believe Him to be so that they can continue in their evil ways with the assurance that God will do nothing about it. But where does that leave others who suffer at the hands of the perpetrators of evil?

We do have the assurance, however, from the mouth of God Himself that His nature is in perfect balance. He is both love and light. He loved the world of sinners, but He could not pass over their sin without demanding just payment for what they had done. When the time came, He sent His Son into the world to live out a life of perfect obedience to Him, and then to die as a sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the world.

Where does that leave us?

He calls for a response from us to what He has done, not only to deal, once for all, with our state of alienation from Him when we respond to His invitation to believe in His Son, but also to enable us to live in daily fellowship with Him. That means that we remain in oneness with Him by walking in the light of who He is and what He requires of us as His sons and daughters. There is no value in believing that Jesus is the Son of God, and that God raised Him from the dead if we do not follow through with a life of transparency with Him and in fellowship with Him and with our fellow human beings.

Unfortunately, so devious is the human heart that we fool ourselves into thinking that we are okay even when we have sinned. Like Adam, we blame others and make excuses for our sin. We may even acknowledge our sin but . . . taking responsibility for it is another story.

That’s where God wants us to be with Him – not just acknowledging we have done wrong when we are caught out but coming clean with God. The Holy Spirit never, let me repeat – never – beats us over the head with our sin. Accusation is the devil’s work. Our conscience, if trained by God’s word, will point out where we have gone wrong. The Holy Spirit points us back to who we are – holy and beloved sons and daughters of God whom Jesus has made righteous by His blood.

We do ourselves a terrible injustice of we insist that our deviation from God’s way are “mistakes” or “indiscretions”. God calls it sin. If we are unwilling to acknowledge that we sinned because we chose to, not because “the devil made me do it” or “because of what my father or mother did to me” or for any other reason, we remain in the darkness of self-deception and self-denial, and forfeit the delight of fellowship with the Father. 

Painful as it is to have to acknowledge that we are deliberately walking in the darkness, and come back to the way of truth, it’s the only way to keep our faces towards Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life and who is the only one who will take us to the Father.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. (1 John 1: 3-4)

John makes it clear from the start that he was not propagating another religion in opposition to the religions that were already in the world. He was writing of something far deeper and more real than that. He testified to being an eyewitness of what had happened when God broke into history through the coming of His Son into the world. He had seen, heard and touched the one who had come from the Father. There was no denying the witness of someone who had been that close, especially when there were others to back up his story.

But what was the purpose of Jesus’ coming? Did He come from God to tell the people of the world how sinful they were and to bring judgment on them from an angry God? No way!

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. (John 3: 17)

What did He mean by “saved”? Salvation, in modern times has been pared down to mean “saved from hell so that we can go to heaven when we die.” Is that the best that Jesus could do; shed His blood so that we can have a passport to heaven? What about now? Do we just go on living as we have and hold on until we die?

Salvation from God’s perspective is far bigger than that. When Adam and Eve plunged the world into darkness by their disobedience, it affected every part of creation. Every creature, every plant and tree was doomed to die. Animals turned on each other; humans turned on each other and, worst of all, we turned on God and became His enemies. The fellowship God so delighted in with His children went out the window and the people God created to be His beloved children were thrown out to make their own way in life, which was the choice they made.Advertisement

But God didn’t leave it there. He went to enormous trouble to prepare a nation – one He painstakingly built from one childless couple whom He trained to trust Him, to obey Him and to raise their miracle-born son to do the same – to receive His Son when the time came. It took many centuries and much frustration on God’s part to bring them to the point where He could send His Son into the world, born among them into a human family as a helpless infant, raised by a godly couple to show His people what He was really like.

What was His intention? Just to rescue people from hell so that they could go to heaven? What a pathetic purpose if that was all He could do! No, Jesus came, first of all, to reveal the heart of the Father. Was He the demanding, disciplinarian God His representatives, the religious leaders made Him out to be? Far from it! He was a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness. The prophets of the Old Testament knew that and taught and wrote about it, but His people ignored what they said because they were bent on rebellion.

Jesus specifically came to show His people that God was a gracious and loving Father. He, Jesus, was the exact replica of His Father. But He did something even more wonderful than that. He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father and then gave His life as though He were a sinner, so that sinners could be reconciled to their Father.

Why did He do it? Just to save sinners from hell? No, He did it so that sinners could be forgiven, washed clean of all their sin, given a new heart, a new start and restored to God’s family as His holy and beloved sons and daughters. But best of all, from the moment of their “new birth”, their new beginning, they are restored to fellowship with the Father. The problem that they were out of fellowship with Him. Despite their rebellion against God, they were still in a relationship with Him as His children, although they were estranged from Him because of sin. This happens in families the world over all the time. Kids rebel, run away and dissociate themselves from the parents. This does not make them “unborn”. It cuts them off from fellowship with their families.

God’s desire, when Jesus did all this for us, was to bring us back into fellowship with Himself, not when we die, but here and now. And He did it! Jesus died to clear away all the barriers to fellowship and to restore everything that we lost through sin so that we can be one with the Father again. Fellowship with the Father has great benefits for us – the more time we spend with Him, the more we get to know Him and become like Him, shedding our old self-centred ways and learning to do what pleases Him.AdvertisementsREPORT THIS AD

But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is learning to do God’s will so that His purposes on earth are fulfilled through us. That’s what fellowship with the Father accomplished for Jesus. John’s gospel is full of assurances that Jesus lived in such harmony with the Father than they did everything in tandem. No one could accuse Jesus of sin because He only said and did what He heard the Father saying and doing. How did He learn these things from the Father? Through many hours of fellowship with Him.

With no more obstacles in the way, John assured his readers that they, and we, can also have fellowship with those who are one with the Father, and with the Father and the Son. And how that delights the heart of God, fulfilling His desire from the beginning!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.



The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1: 2)

This was no thumb-suck. John was proclaiming to his readers what had actually happened. What if John were making it up as he went along? What if he were pulling off the greatest hoax in history?

But he wasn’t. There were many witnesses to the real Jesus who would ratify what John was proclaiming. If he were making it up, many would have stepped up to declare that he was talking nonsense and spinning lies. Although John wrote his letters years after the other New Testament writers, he was expanding on and recording the truths that had already been disseminated by them.

John equated Jesus with eternal life. No other figure in human history would dare to call himself that – eternal life. Jesus did not give those words to Himself as a title but as a function. He came from the Father to bring life to the world, not only endless life but a new quality of life that belonged to the realm of the eternal.

We humans equate the word “eternal” with “never ending” as though we will just keep on living the same sort of lives we are living now but with no death at the end of it. Our imagination does not stretch far enough to conjure up a real picture of the eternal realm. Eternal life is much more than never-ending. It has to do with a quality of life in a realm that is not ravaged by sin or time, or limited by the limitations of this present world.

What did Jesus mean by “eternal”? He also used the term, “the age to come”. This present age is the age in which we live now, an age of imperfection where everyone and everything in the world is influenced by Adam’s sin. Even the natural world was corrupted by sin and awaits an age when all corruption will be removed and the earth, with its plants and creatures will be restored to its original perfection.    

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation is groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Rom. 8: 19-22)

It was sin that brought death to the world. Jesus’ death removed sin and restored the life which God intended for His children from the beginning. When we receive by faith the forgiveness of sin, God removes the penalty, death, and restores us to the realm where there is no death. Although we are still a part of this fallen world and subject to the death of our physical bodies, we are already the recipients of eternal life. When we shed these mortal bodies, we enter the eternal realm where there is no more death.

It is Jesus who brought us the gift of eternal live by removing the penalty of death from us; therefore, we can say the Jesus is eternal life.

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5: 11-12)

The perpetrators of false religions can say what they like and teach what they like but they can never make or prove the claim that those who believe and follow what they teach have the indisputable promise of eternal life. How do we know that Jesus, and those who proclaimed what He taught, was telling the truth? The resurrection!

He claimed to have the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again.

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. (John. 10: 17-18)

These are either the words of a madman or the sober words of truth from the Son of God. He proved He was no madman by doing what He said He would do!  Eternal life in Jesus Christ is a free gift on offer to those who believe that He is the Son of God, and that God raised Him from the dead and who confess that Jesus is Lord. It’s as simple as that.

If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10: 9)