Jesus Saves Us From Living A Lie

William C. Brownson Uncategorized

READ : 1 John 1:5-10

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to 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 cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:5-10 rsv

What do we mean when we say that someone is “living a lie”? It’s more than his doing something shameful. It’s more than her telling an untruth. It’s a divorce between appearance and reality, a break between profession and performance. We say one thing, but do something different.

A husband is living a lie if he pledges undying faithfulness to his wife while carrying on an adulterous relationship with another woman. A citizen is living a lie if she takes an oath of loyalty to her government and then proceeds to sell classified information to a hostile regime. You and I are living a lie if we claim to be devoted to Jesus Christ but continue deliberately in a way of living we know displeases Him.

Here’s a passage of scripture about that, and about how the Lord can deliver us from it. Listen. I’m reading from the first letter of John, chapter 1, beginning with verse 5:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to 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 cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Here’s a word about light, about darkness, and about how we can move from the darkness into the light.

LIGHT

John says that this is the message he and the other apostles have heard from the Lord and proclaim to us, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. That reminds me of a time when I was invited to sketch on a piece of paper the first visual image that came to my mind when I thought about God. What would you have drawn? Without any hesitation as I remember, I pictured – awkwardly but still recognizably – a sunrise. That’s what the Lord of the universe is to me, like a dawn, like a new day, like sunshine brightening the earth again.

What made me think that way? Why does sunlight seem to speak to us of God? The sun’s light, of course, makes our existence possible. It stimulates growth in all living things and keeps the food-chain going. It also has a way of kindling and renewing our joy.

I live by the shores of Lake Michigan. Ours is a lovely part of the world. In the winter time, however, we “Michiganders” don’t see much of the sun. I can remember periods as long as two weeks in some dark November or dull February when we never once got a glimpse of an unclouded sun. After a while, in ways we can’t quite explain, that takes its toll on us. We find ourselves feeling down, depressed. Life takes on a gloomy cast. But then finally spring comes, and with it the return of warmth and bright sunshine. In an indescribable way, that light lifts our spirits and cheers our hearts. It’s an unforgettable picture of what the Lord does for us, the One whose name is light.

Light suggests something to us about God’s character, about the kind of God He is. His nature has no darkness about it, the Scripture writers say, no blemish, no shadow caused by change. His goodness, His fidelity, His love, never grow dim. Like the returning light of the sun each morning, God is dependable. He can be trusted. We can count on Him to go on shining, come what may.

Perhaps the most notable thing about light is its power to reveal. Light makes it possible for us to see things as they are. I remember a few summers ago walking at night without a flashlight through a familiar stretch of woods. In the darkness, the surroundings somehow didn’t seem at all familiar. The looming shapes around me were strange and forbidding. Unexpected obstacles kept blocking my way. Where did they come from? The terrain around me seemed suddenly treacherous, unpredictable. I became disoriented, hardly knowing where I was. It seemed as though I had never walked through those woods before.

On the next day, when the sun was high in the sky, I went through the same section of woodland. It had a totally different feel to it then. The mystery, the eerie strangeness was gone. Now the trees seemed safe and ordinary. Here and there were ferns dappled with friendly sunlight. The daylight brought reassurance. Our forest glen hadn’t changed. Not at all. It was just as I had remembered it.

When light fades in the western sky, an untidy room may appear fairly neat. There may be rubbish lying still in the corners, smudges on the wall, but these are now veiled in shadow. No one notices the cobwebs, the cracked window, the peeling paint. But when we flip a switch and fill the room with light, there’s no hiding what’s in it then. The light exposes, opens up to full view, whatever is there.

When John writes to his Christian brothers and sisters that God is light, he’s talking about the revelation that came supremely in Jesus. In Him, a great dawning has visited this earth. God’s radiance came streaming into our world in the life of His Son. Jesus’ birth, you remember, was heralded by a star of great magnitude. He came like spring time after winter, like morning after a long night of gloom. “The people who walked in darkness,” says the prophet, “have seen a great light” (Isa. 9:2). Darkness had been over the people, gross darkness, as the Bible says. Now light has beamed forth at last. Jesus said it like this, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). He comes in person as the life-giver and the joy-bringer. He comes as the faithful witness, the speaker of truth. Yes, and He comes to scatter the shadows and show us the way things really are.

DARKNESS

Now for John’s word about darkness. Even though light has come blazing into the world, there are still those who walk in the darkness. Who are these people, stumbling along in the shadows? Perhaps we think of them only as persons to whom the light has never come, fellow human beings who haven’t heard the gospel. Or perhaps we envision vicious, hardened criminals. Guilty of terrible felonies, they lurk in the shadows to escape capture. We can see that these outlaws, kidnappers, murderers walk in darkness. But for John, the people of the dark are not only the ignorant or the felons. Some of them actually claim to know God and to be living in fellowship with Him. John declares that it’s possible to make such professions and still be walking in the darkness.

John seems to have in mind here people who have heard the Christian message, who have seen something of its light, but have chosen to avoid it. Like insects accustomed to living under rocks, they go burrowing down into the darkness when their world becomes suddenly bright. They hide in the shadows so as not to be found. They fear that the light will expose something which they would rather keep hidden.

Law enforcement authorities confirm with their statistics what all of us sense instinctively: the link between darkness and crime. Did you know that criminal activity in a densely-populated area varies in inverse proportion to the candlepower of lighting in the streets? You can count on it: the deeper the darkness, the more brazen the evil-doing. Light, on the other hand, tends to discourage crime. It’s the master sleuth, revealing hidden things, calling attention to whatever may be going on.

Sometimes all of us persist in something that we secretly fear is displeasing to God. As long as that’s going on, we’ll never move toward the light, will we? No, we’ll do all we can to keep away from it. We’ll cover up. We’ll make excuses. We’ll pretend to be something we’re not. We’ll try to keep certain areas of our lives safe from scrutiny.

When we don’t want God to see what we are, we’ll probably hide ourselves from others, also. They might find us out. Someone might see through our masquerade. We keep our distance from those most likely to expose us. As we walk on in the shadows, trying to fool everyone, we soon succeed in deluding ourselves.

What a way to live – always fearing deception! We dread the day when a tap on the shoulder, a phone call, a chance remark, may give us away. That pressure can ruin us, physically as well as emotionally. Think of this word of King David, remembering the days when he tried to conceal the evil he had done, “When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4).

But the most tragic result of our deception, our darkness-loving, our living a lie, is the death of fellowship. John writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie.” When we reflect on that, we see how it must be so. I can’t cherish a falsehood, live an untruth and still be near to the God who is light. Neither can I grow in my relationships with other people if I’m always projecting a false image and keeping my real self hidden.

FROM SHADOW TO SUNSHINE

How can I break out of that enshrouding darkness? How can I escape from the prison of deceit? Is there any rescue from living a lie?

Listen to this word: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” Jesus came not only to give light through His life but also to destroy darkness by His death. All the sin that drives us from God’s presence, all the guilt that makes us want to hide, all the disobedience that darkens our spirits, was overcome by Him when He gave His life for us and rose again.

When we put our trust in Jesus Christ, we are completely forgiven. We are totally accepted. We are brought into a new relationship with God in which we are continually being cleansed from all that would defile us and separate us from Him, from all that would compromise integrity or hinder fellowship. Because of His sacrifice of love, we can escape from the kingdom of darkness.

What would it mean to walk in the light? Obviously it’s not becoming perfect. In fact, as John says, if we claim we are everything we ought to be, that we are morally pure, we show that we haven’t actually left the darkness. We’re still deceiving ourselves and others. No, to walk in the light means simply to come near to God in Jesus Christ and live in His presence. It means a choice to leave the shadows, allowing our lives to be laid open before God, admitting what we are. Then when we’ve dropped our pretensions, when we’ve welcomed the light, John says we have “fellowship with one another.”

Have you ever thought of how large a part honesty can play in bringing us close to others? I often attend gatherings of ministers. Men of the cloth, like most other people, frequently ask each other how their work is going. The answers are predictably positive, “Fine, things are going well. The Lord is really blessing us.” One pastor tells of large additions to his church; another of his challenging new involvement in community affairs. Everything is upbeat.

But now and then a hurting brother or sister may give vent to feelings of frustration and pain, “I’m having a struggle. I’m getting a lot of criticism from my congregation and I’m not dealing with it very well.” Suddenly the atmosphere changes. The masks begin to drop. “To tell the truth,” someone responds, “things aren’t going so well for me either.” In the face of such humbling admissions, the sparring, the posturing, tends to recede. We begin to see ourselves as fellow strugglers, weak women and men, wanting to encourage one another. In shared weakness, we discover new depths of friendship.

That’s the way it is in coming near to God. Jesus has done everything needful for us to walk in the light, but we have to be willing to step out of the shadows and admit our need. That’s what we do when we confess our sins. Confession means “speaking the same as.” It means calling our sins what God calls them, acknowledging what’s really true in our lives. That’s coming into the light. That’s forsaking the shadows. That’s finding fellowship in Jesus Christ the Savior, the One who frees us from living a lie.