Don’t Fall in Love with the World

Paul Yarrow of South London has a weird hobby. He seems obsessed with appearing in the background of any news camera he can find. He has appeared in the background of live reports almost daily and across various networks throughout London, reading the newspaper, standing and loitering, staring at the camera, or smiling and waving. It seems that if there is a camera crew around, Yarrow is there as well. He loves appearing on the news.

We all love something. John recognizes this and challenges us about what we love. Last week we remembered that genuine believers love one another. They do this because they are forgiven, have a true knowledge of God, have overcome Satan, and know the Father. However, in the following few verses of 1 John 2, John challenges us about what we should not love. 1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

If we summarized this text into one statement, it would be that God calls us to be holy. To be holy means to be distinct and separate. We also see this challenge in 1 Peter 1:15-17. While we have entered into a new loving relationship with God, our old nature and its temptations have not ceased. For this reason, John challenges the believer not to love the world.

John begins this section with a reminder to us to be holy. He states this with two distinct challenges. First, don’t love the world. Two choices stand before everyone – even in the church: we love the Father or the world. But what does it mean to love the world? Isn’t this a contradiction to John 3:16? In his commentary, Danny Akin notes, “In these epistles and the gospel, John employs this term in three distinct and basic ways: (1) the created universe ( 3:17; 4:17; John 1: 10 ); (2) the world of the human person ( John 3:16; 1 John 2:2); and (3) an evil organized earthly system controlled by the power of the evil one that has aligned itself against God and his kingdom ( 4:3 – 5; 5:19; John 16:11).” So, when we speak of the world as the people in the world, we are to love them. But when we speak of the world as an evil system organized under Satan’s rule, we must not love it.

One cannot love both the world and God at the same time. While loving God, one cannot become infatuated with the world’s systems and goals. What equals a successful life for you? What must happen to reach the end of your life and think, “I was successful?” We could even simplify it and ask what equals success in life for you now? Is it possessing a lovely family, advancement in your job, or the ability to buy bigger and nicer toys? The reality is that success in life is faithfulness to God. The ability to stand before God one day and hear Him say well done because you lived with eternity in mind. Anything else demonstrates a love of the world.

However, we see second that John goes further and states that we are not to love the things of the world. We are not to fall in love with stuff. It is not wrong to have something in this world. For some, God has chosen to entrust them with lots of stuff in this world. Worldliness does not reside in things, but it does undoubtedly reside in our concentration on things. I am reminded of the words of Christ in Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Can you live without your stuff? If God took it away, would you be ok with it? This is the measure of an idol. You can’t live for your stuff, friends, family, job, or yourself and live for God simultaneously. God is exclusive.

Too many Christians are in love with the world. God takes a back seat to the things we love more than Him. We quickly allow our families, jobs, seasonals, ATVs, and sports to move God to the backburner. We give our funds to these things and choose not to give God his own money. Sadly, through these actions, we demonstrate that God is not the most important. Have you fallen in love with the world? Does it bother you when you miss church, miss serving others, or fail to give sacrificially because you are too busy doing other things? May God strike into each of us a love for Him. Next week we will look at verses 16-17 and examine the motivation for abstaining from a love of this world.

A New Commandment – July 15, 2022

Last week we looked at the need to love one another as a mark of true belief in God. As we draw close to God, we naturally love one another. John addresses this reality in 1 John 2:7-14. Yet, we understand that hate is often easier and feels more natural than love. As a result, John addresses the varying motivations for loving others.

John begins with the motivation for new believers (those he calls little children). They must remember that their sins have been forgiven. New believers demonstrate zeal and excitement over their newfound forgiveness and purpose in life. Frankly, this should never wane. We all ought to seek to cultivate this attitude. Yet, John states that this should translate into love for one another. Because we have been forgiven, we ought to be quick to forgive others. Because we did not deserve salvation, and yet God still showed us mercy and grace, we should show mercy and grace to others.

John then moves to the motivation for maturing believers (those he calls old men). To these, he gives three motivating factors in their lives. First, John states that they have overcome Satan. How have they overcome Satan? The following two motivations tell us. Second, maturing believers demonstrate that they are strong in the Spirit of God. They have a passionate personal relationship with God, so they have spiritual strength to live lives that please God. They can love the unlovable. But how is this possible? Third, they have the Word in them. Through consistent meditation on the Word of God, they have become strong in their faith and begin to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Sadly the average evangelical Christian spends less than one hour a week reading their Bible. As a result, they are weak and listless in their spiritual life. One might even argue that this evidences unbelief. We cannot fulfill God’s commands without consistent meditation on the Word of God.

Finally, John moves to the motivation for elders (those he calls fathers). They have known God and seen God work through the years. They have traveled the Spiritual journey, walked the Calvary Road, and have seen God tried and tested in their life. They have seen God emerge faithful and loving over and over. Thus, they are motivated to obey God’s command to love one another because they have seen God’s love toward them.

Where do you fit in this conversation? Do you love others because God loves you? Or, are you marked by anger and bitterness because you assume God’s love? We must humble ourselves and seek a passionate relationship with God so that His love might pour through us into others’ lives.

A New Commandment – July 8, 2022

Over the past few years, our society has fractured around us. Whether the fault lines break around immigration, black lives matter & white lives matter, gun-control & 2nd amendment supporters, pro-life & pro-abortion, Republican & Democrat, we seem less unified as society progresses. However, the church should stand as a light of something different. We should be a model of unity and love. We must always understand that unity and love are fragile and can shatter in an instant without constant, intentional care. John understood this, and 1 John 2:7-14 reminds us of the new command from Christ in John 13:34-35. 

John begins with the confusing statement that the command is new and old. To start with, what John was writing to them was not a new command but an old one. They had learned it before because John had taught it before. They had known it from the beginning of their Christian life. The apostles taught the church this outworking of the gospel from day one. While the command was not new, Jesus Christ invested it in several ways with a richer and more profound meaning: Emphasized quality – It was to be true heartfelt love, not just a fulfilling of obligations; Emphasized extent – It was to go to all people, not just people like us; Emphasized fresh apprehension of it – We gain it through the Spirit of God. 

Further, John informs us that when we fail to love, we demonstrate that we walk in darkness. When we fail to love others, we act like Satan’s children. If you find your identity in racial or geopolitical politics and not in the kingdom of heaven, and if you are characterized by hate, you are in unbelief. 

On the other hand, John states that if you love your brother, you are walking in the light. In other words, if you love your brother, you walk in truth and demonstrate that you are a child of God. What does it mean to love one another? First, it will mean that when we fail to love and sin toward each other, we will go to each other and say sorry. Second, because this offense is often the other way, we must show our love through forgiveness. Third, we must show love by practical demonstration, even when it is costly. 

As believers, we are marked by our love for others. How are you doing in this area? As a fruit of the Spirit, this love occurs as we draw closer to God. For, your view of God dictates your view of life. May God grant in each of us a passionate love for others. 

A Win for Life – July 1, 2022

Sometimes, God reminds us that He controls this world’s events. Last week was one such time. Friday, as my family exited a White House tour, we noticed a large media contingency off towards the west wing. Wondering what was happening, we did what every self-respecting modern person does: we took out our smartphones. We learned that Roe V. Wade had been officially overturned.

While we heard rumblings for months that this day was coming, one never counts on the decision until it is official. Now we rejoice! Psalm 127:3 informs us that children are a gift and reward from God. They are not an inconvenience that needs to be eliminated. Friday’s decision will save countless lives. May God be praised!!

Yet, there remains work for us to continue. The work of pregnancy centers continues in importance. As a church, we must continue (and even increase) our partnership with Helping Hands. We ought to encourage our legislators to make adoption cheaper and easier to accomplish. And we must pray that God will continue to move in His sovereignty to change the course of our culture.

As we consider our current efforts, two actions rise to the surface. First, we must fight for life on the state level. Our governor has continually made one of her more true statements. She claims she will “fight like hell” for the right to murder unborn children. Indeed, the powers of Hell are the ones behind this satanic push. We must encourage our legislators to also fight for the unborn. We must pray that the State Supreme Court rules correctly and holds to the rule of law on the books. The battle has just begun at the state level.

Second, we must return to a Biblical sexual ethic. The foundation of the abortion movement is that sex must happen anywhere and anytime. Too many Christians fail to hold to the Biblical view that sex must only remain inside the marriage union. God, however, does not take a soft stance. Hebrews 13:4, Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. We must train our children when they are young and rebuke them when they are old that sex must remain only inside of marriage. The one-flesh relationship pictures God’s perfect relationship with the church. When we move sex outside of marriage, we mock the gospel. Hold to a Biblical sex ethic!!

While work remains, we do not cease to rejoice in this victory. God is great and greatly to be praised!!

Genuine Believers Obey God – June 17, 2022

Growing up, we had a plant in our back yard that looked like a cross between a tree and a bush. For years we wondered what sort of plant this could be. Then one year, we discovered the truth. The bush tree was an apple tree (it had not been cared for after the previous owner had planted it). We found that it was an apple tree because one summer day, we noticed that something was growing on it, apples.

When Christ walked the earth, he stated that just as we can identify trees by their fruit, we can recognize people by their fruit. Men can claim what they are all they want, but their fruit tells the true story. As a result, John states in 1 John 2:3-6 that genuine believers obey God. Your view of God dictates your view of life. So, if you are a genuine believer (thus possessing a proper view of God), you will seek to obey God out of gratefulness for all that God has done for you in salvation. So, John states that you can have confidence in your relationship with God if you obey Him. Genuine believers obey God. John illustrates this obedience in three areas.

First, John states that those who know God keep his commandments. The “knowledge” of God describe throughout the text of Scripture is not only intellectual but also experiential and dynamic. John further explains that this personal knowledge of God is not devoid of action. Those that know God keep his commandments.

Yet there is one more essential facet to this phrase. This verb, keep, means more than the observance of the command. It implies duration and perseverance: to observe diligently, guard carefully, and suddenly realize a truth. In other words, “to keep God’s word” goes far beyond mere conformity to law. It expresses a zealous desire to adhere to God’s will.

Christ illustrated what this looks like in the Semon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In this text, Christ examined the ten commandments and revealed that keeping those commandments went well beyond the letter of the law. For instance, although one might refrain from actual murder, if one becomes angry with another, he murders his heart. The heart action is the same as the physical action. When the believer seeks to obey God’s command, he is not simply content with outward conformity but with inward change.

This mark of a believer raises an essential question for each of us. Do we seek to surrender or accomplish the bare minimum for God or willingly submit entirely to God’s commands? When you serve, do you serve only when convenient, or do you serve wholeheartedly and sacrificially? When you give, do you count down to the exact 10% tithe, or do you give sacrificially out of the abundance of grace God has given you? Genuine believers obey God’s commands, all the way down to the heart behind the command.

Genuine Believers Live A Life of Forgiveness – June 10, 2022

1 John 1:9 informs us that when we confess our sin, God is right and faithful to forgive our sin. Believers often struggle with forgiveness because we don’t understand it. We have false views of what forgiveness means. For us to value God’s forgiveness and pass forgiveness on to others, we must understand it correctly.

Peacemakers International presents a valuable picture of forgiveness through their book, Resolving Everyday Conflict. The author, Ken Sande, begins by describing some false views of forgiveness. Many find themselves struggling with these erroneous views. First, forgiveness is not a feeling. Often, individuals struggle to forgive because they don’t feel like forgiving. The hurt, bitterness, and anger remain so deeply seated that they cannot be overcome. But forgiveness is not a feeling. As humans of emotion, feeling and truth often clash. Our hearts deceive us (Jer. 17:9). But forgiveness is an action, not a feeling.

Second, forgiveness is not forgetting. Sometimes individuals state that they cannot forgive because they could never forget the sin against them. However, this statement misunderstands forgiveness. God forgives us and yet knows all. He does not forget our sin. Instead, God chooses not to remember (Jeremiah 31:34 and Hebrews 10:17). When God asks us to forgive, He is not asking us to forget. He is asking us to choose not to remember. While this is incredibly difficult, it is an important step.

Finally, forgiveness does not mean we need to excuse the sin. Sin is always sin. Sin must always be called sin. Forgiveness does not alter the nature of sin. Many times when someone seeks forgiveness, the response given is that they should not worry about it. Or that is it fine. However, sin must be acknowledged and addressed.

What then is forgiveness. True forgiveness involves four promises. When understood, these promises provide freedom and release. The first promise of forgiveness is that I won’t dwell on this incident. When God forgives us, He informs us that He will cast our sin as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). Often, we love to dwell on the sin against us. We think about it at night. We ruminate on it throughout the day. And as a result, we never truly let it go. We must choose instead to think about other things.

The second promise of forgiveness is that I will not bring up this incident and use it against you. God does not bring our sin back to us once it is placed under the blood of the cross (Is. 43:12; Hebrews 8:12). So we should not weaponize all that has happened against us. Instead, we must move forward and seek healing in the relationship.

The third promise is that I won’t talk to others about this incident. Often, others take up our offense. Yet, when reconciliation arrives, they are not a part of that reconciliation. We must ensure that we keep the circle of conversation only as large as the circle of offense. Don’t sin by gossiping about others.

The final promise is that I won’t allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our relationship. I must choose to repair the relationship. Although we have sinned against God, he does not hold it against us (Rom. 8:1). Relationships take hard work. This work requires humility. Ephesians 4:32 informs us that the motivation for this work is the incredible forgiveness of God for us.

Regardless of the sin against you and the pain you feel, God requires forgiveness by the believer. Yet, he also exemplifies this forgiveness to the believer. When we come to God in confession and repentance, God is right and faithful to grant that forgiveness to us. So also, we should give that forgiveness to others.

Genuine Believers Live a Life of Confession and Repentance, Part 3 – June 3, 2022

Corrie Ten Boom was a young Dutch woman during World War 2 in Amsterdam. From 1942-1944, her family hid Jews from the Germans in their home. However, they were discovered in 1944 and her entire family was sent to prison camps where they suffered unspeakable atrocities. When the war ended, Corrie was the lone surviving member of her family. After the war, she began to travel the world speaking to groups about the struggles of the war and the forgiveness of God. One day in 1947, the unthinkable happened. She relates the incident in her book, Tramp for the Lord.

“It was in a church in Munich that I saw him. It was 1947 and I had come from Holland to a defeated Germany with the message that God forgives … And that’s when I saw him working his way forward against the others. One moment I saw the overcoat and the brown hat; the next, a blue uniform and a visored cap with its skull and cross bones. It came back with a rush: the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking past this man. I could see my sister’s frail form ahead of me, ribs sharp beneath the parchment skin.

The place was Ravensbruck and the man who was making his way forward had been a guard – one of the most cruel guards. Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: ‘A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!’

And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course – how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women? But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face to face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.

‘You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk,’ He was saying, ‘I was a guard there. But since that time, He went on, I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein, will you forgive me?’

And I stood there – I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven – and I could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place – could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking? It could not have been many seconds that he stood there – hand held out – but to me it seemed like hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. For I had to do it – I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. ‘If you do not forgive men their trespasses,’ Jesus says, ‘neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.’

I still stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is not an emotion – I knew that too. Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. ‘Jesus help me!’ I prayed silently. ‘I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.’

And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being bringing tears to my eyes.

‘I forgive you, brother!’ I cried ‘With all my heart.’ For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then. But even so I realized it was not my love. I had tried, but I did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit as recorded in Romans 5:5, ‘… because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us’.”[1]

May God grant us this heart of forgiveness for all those that wrong us. True forgiveness is in short supply today. Yet, it is needed in great supply today. Next week we will spend some time examining some confusion around forgiveness that may help us learn to forgive.


[1] Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1994), 55-57.

Genuine Believers Live a Life of Confession and Repentance, Part 2 – May 27, 2022

Last week we examined the horrific results of covering our sin. Our society views the acknowledgment of sin as an admission of weakness. Which indeed it is. However, culture today views this weakness as a bad thing. Sadly, failure to acknowledge, confess, and forsake sin leads to immense guilt and shame. Further, the more we sin, the more we become ingrained in our sin through the searing of our conscience.

However, God views our acknowledgment and confession of sin entirely differently. We do not need to live in shame or fear. Instead, God gives an extraordinary promise to all who come to Him in faith. In 1 John 1:9, John informs us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This amazing promise transforms lives as we understand it.

First, we must understand some important terms. Sometimes, what comes to mind is the Roman Catholic confession when we think of confession. This practice of absolution stands contrary to the Word of God. This word means more than simply admitting we are sinners, but taking full responsibility, laying them before God’s feet, and seeking forgiveness. This confession involves repentance from our sin—a change of heart and an about-face in life.

When we confess our sin to God, He makes two crucial promises. First, we learn that God forgives us. Yet, John states it magnificently. God is faithful to forgive us. God’s forgiveness reveals God’s faithfulness. God does not forget his children. He does not turn his back on his children. Instead, God rejoices in showing his faithfulness to His children by forgiving them when they come to him in faith. Further, God is just or righteous to do this. It is right that God forgives us. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross means that no sinner is so far gone that God will not save them.

God does not want you to clean yourself up before coming to Him. God invites you into His presence so that He can forgive your sin. And it is right that he does this. Yet, he also cleanses us from unrighteousness. He removes the dirtiness of sin. He removes the guilt of our sin. And he makes us righteous. As you consider your life today, you do not need to live with the intense guilt plaguing many people. God invites you into His presence to find grace and forgiveness through the blood of the cross.

Genuine Believers Live a Life of Confession and Repentance – May 20, 2022

The more we grow in our relationship with God and the closer we come to God, we become more aware of our sin and lack of holiness. We gradually become more like Paul in Romans 7, where he reveals the Christian’s intense struggle against sin. This revelation then leads to the believer’s response to that sin. As John continues to present the tests by which one may know if he is a genuine believer, he informs the reader that genuine believers live a life of confession and repentance.

A genuine believer recognizes the ongoing battle with sin. Each of us responds to sin in one of two ways: either we hide it or confess it. In 1 John 1:6, the Christian learns the results of hiding sin. Some believe that through salvation, sin was eradicated in their life. Even today, some hold to the errant belief that they can come to a place of sinless perfection. Even those who would not stoop to the claim to be perfect regularly hide their sin behind other labels. We call sin everything but what it is. We call it a mistake, sickness, disease, alternative lifestyle, different choice, or simply who we are. These are all ways in which we seek to state in amicable terms that we are without sin.

We do ourselves no favors when we call sin by every other name. This is the message in Romans 1, where Paul states that those who began to glory in their sin declared themselves to be wise, but in all actuality, they were fools. Instead, the reality is that we all struggle with sin. So when we claim that we are not sinning or call sin by another name, we are deceiving ourselves. Until we come face to face with our sin and call it what it is, we cannot overcome it. Instead, we live in a state of self-deception.

However, the most severe reality is that we demonstrate that the Truth is not in us when we hide our sins. The Truth here is Christ. He is not in us because the very foundation of the Gospel is the acknowledgment of sin. Christ came to save sinners. This is the message of Romans 3:10-26. Christ came to conquer sin and grow us in holiness until the day when Christ fully and finally defeats sin at his second coming. When we deny and hide our sin, we reveal that we are not children of God.

We also see in I John 1 that when we hide our sin, we make God a liar. God clearly states that we all have a massive sin problem. When we pretend that this is not our problem and act as though we do not struggle with sin, we call God a liar. We are making God out to be a liar. When we say something is good that God says is not good, we are not simply aligning ourselves with the culture around us or seeking relevance in a changing world. We are stating that God lied.

What will be true of the individual if God is the light of his life? The light of God will be doing for him with light does. For one thing, the light will expose the darkness so that the dark places are increasingly cleansed of sin and become bright and fruitful places for God’s blessing. This does not mean that the individual will become increasingly conscious of how good they are becoming. On the contrary, a growth in holiness will mean an increase in a genuine sensitivity to sin in one’s life and an intense desire to eliminate from life all that displeases God. James Boice states well, “Instead of boasting in his progress, the person will be increasingly ready to acknowledge sin and seek to have it eliminated.”

Lastly, we reveal that God’s Word does not dwell in us when we hide our sins. Those who ignore the Word give themselves over to sin. On the other hand, as an individual spends more time internalizing God’s Word, there is always less sin. When one internalizes God’s Word, he begins to live out God’s Word.

This week’s challenge is to examine your life and acknowledge your sin struggle. Do you hide your sin, deny your sin, or defend your sin? Do you regularly recognize where you need to grow in your walk with God? Do you call sin by its name? True Christians recognize and acknowledge their sin. Next week we will move forward in 1 John and take great comfort in the reality that when we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive it.

Genuine Believers Walk in the Light – May 6, 2022

John begins 1 John 1:5 with the first test of Christianity. Just because you call yourself a Christian does not mean that you are one. As a result, we must look at the tests of life. Throughout this examination of 1 John, we will identify several tests of the genuine Christian life. The first test we identify in 1 John 1:5-7 is that genuine believers walk in the light.

John begins by summarizing the gospel’s message in a unique and exciting way. He states the sum of the message is that God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. Throughout the writings of John, John describes God’s nature in three ways: God is spirit (John 4:24), God is light (1 John 1:5), and God is love (1 John 4:8).

However, we must pause and note the lack of an article in each of these. John states not that God is the spirit, the light, and the love or even, in all probability, a Spirit, a light, and a love, but rather spirit, light, and love themselves. God is the very definition of these terms. However, we must ask, what does John mean when he states that God is light?

When we think of physical light, we think of that energy by which all else is revealed to our eyes. Intellectually when someone gains light, we mean that they gain knowledge. But when we speak in moral terms, light is purity. Throughout the Scriptures, God and his glory are often described in terms of light (Psalm 27:1; 36:9; 104:1-2; John 1:1-13; 8:12)

When John states that God is light and there is no darkness, John speaks of God’s holiness. God is entirely and whole separate from sin. This reality has two vital results: Those who walk in darkness while claiming to be in the light are not genuine believers; Genuine believers walk in the light.

John begins with the ones claiming that they have fellowship with God. To have fellowship with God is to have a relationship with God and be a believer, a child of God. John, however, continues that these people claim fellowship with God but walk in darkness. The idea of walking in darkness is to have a lifestyle and to live a certain way. And if the light in this text indicates holiness and purity, then darkness indicates sinfulness and impurity.

John states that the test is not your words but your actions. Do you live in a way that separates you from sin? Or do you live so that no one would know that you are a child of God? Do your actions back up what you claim here. When the neighbor is being very unneighborly, when you are having a bad day, when you suffer financial hardship, and when facing legal problems, do you respond in a distinctly and uniquely Christian way? Is your language different, your entertainment different, how you carry yourself different, and your attitude different?

The individuals who had left the churches around Ephesus taught that they could live however they wanted and still have fellowship with God. They followed the line of thinking Paul battled in Romans which forced Paul to ask in Romans 6, should we continue in sin so that we can keep receiving grace? These individuals believed that because they were Christians, it was all good. Sadly, today it is not uncommon for people to claim fellowship with God to see no necessity to go to the cross of Christ for cleansing and forgiveness or to lead a consistently holy life. It’s not enough to claim to know God. A holy life must follow. We must live in light of the truth, practice it, and avoid sin.

Why are these individuals called liars? Because secondly, they do not practice the truth. Jesus states in John 14:6 that he is the truth. He says in John 17:17 that the Word is truth. When we live lives marked by sin, we are not practicing God’s Word.

On the other hand, when one has a relationship with God, they will live a holy life (John 11:9; 12:35). Religious life is not merely a matter of spiritual reflection or intellectual persuasion; instead, it is comprehensive. It is a habit of walking, a way of living (cf. Proverbs 8:20; Isaiah 2:5; Ephesians 5:22).

John gives two results: Fellowship and cleansing. John reminds us again that fellowship with God results in fellowship with one another. When one walks in the light (in fellowship with God), God implants in him a love for the church. I am going to make a pretty dogmatic statement here, but please understand I am stating what John is saying here, a church that does not love one another is a church that is full of unbelievers. One cannot love God and hate God’s body.

When we seek to live holy lives, God has made provision to purify us from whatever sin hinders and mars our fellowship with God or His church. I believe that John is speaking here both of justification and sanctification. God’s blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness in justification once and for all. The eternal penalty of sin, the wrath of God, has been forever removed. When we walk in the light, we demonstrate that we have received the justification of Christ.