Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face,
who exult in your name all the day
and in your righteousness are exalted.
For you are the glory of their strength;
by your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the LORD,
our king to the Holy One of Israel. Psalm 89:14-18 (ESV)
W. J. Tenney wrote, “First John is symphonic rather than logical in plan; it is constructed like a piece of music rather than like a brief for a debate. Instead of proceeding step by step in unfolding a subject, as Paul does in Romans, John selects a theme, maintains it throughout the book, and introduces a series of variations, any one of which may be a theme in itself” (p. 323).
What if we were to approach this letter to Christians as we would a beautiful piece of music? A symphony, that uses a few musical notes and creates variations and instruments that build upon each other into a crescendo. Then pianissimo or soft. Pausing to rest or as in the Psalms, we say “Selah.” Then build into an even greater crescendo and end in a whisper.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life–the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us– that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.” 1 John 1:1-4 (ESV)
John begins moderately quiet as he addresses the physical by telling the readers that he saw, looked upon, touched, and heard Jesus. Building in volume, he reveals why he writes this message—so that we can have fellowship with each other. Why? Because our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
With a crescendo, he writes so that his joy and the believers’ joy can be full or complete. Throughout 1 John, the author builds upon this with variations of this reason that all point to having fellowship with the Father, His Son, and each other. Our response? Fullness of joy.
Dr. J. Vernon McGee wrote that 1 John, “takes the child of God across the threshold into the fellowship of the Father’s home. It is the family epistle; John is writing here to the family of God. Father is used thirteen times and little children eleven times.”
The word “fellowship” or koinonia, appears twice in verse 3, and in verses 6 and 7—four times in 10 short verses. The Greek word, koinonia, means a living, breathing, sharing, … a loving relationship.
Koinonia, sharing a deep, loving, intimate relationship with the Father. Koinonia with Jesus. Koinonia with the Father. Koinonia with each other.
Did you have a best friend, maybe your husband or another friend, that you spent lots of time with, and you knew inside out? Could you tell what that person was going to say before that person said it? Did that friend bring you joy?
You had an intimate relationship – koinonia – sharing life together, loving each other to the point of serving each other.
That’s the kind of relationship that we can have with God, with Jesus, with other believers – a shared life.
John Piper wrote, “In order to create and nurture deep Christian fellowship you have to talk about who you think Christ is and what He taught. That’s what John begins to do in verses 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.” 1 John 1:5 (ESV)
“God is light.” Spiritually pure. Exposer of darkness. “Light” points to God’s holiness, purity, goodness, truth, and revelation. It points to life.
When Jesus came to earth as a man, John described Him as “life, and the life was the Light of men” in John 1:4.
In Exodus 34, we’re told that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets that held the Ten Commandments, his face shone because he had been with God. And later, after he met with the Lord, his face shone so much that he put a veil over his face when he met with the Israelites. Moses was in the presence of God’s holy glory, and it touched him physically. What a crescendo in Moses’ life!
Has God’s holy glory touched you? Do others see God’s holy glory in you?
God is light – pure light – in Him is no darkness. When the new Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, we’re told that there will be no darkness. God’s holiness and glory will pierce and dissolve the darkness. It will illuminate the city.
Do you hear the whispered song of wonder?
The Bible begins with God creating Light. His Word, this love letter, lights our paths. Jesus entered the world to bring eternal light to our paths and to conquer evil –darkness. In the new heavens and new earth, there will be no darkness, for the glory of God lights the new Jerusalem. The timpani pounds … Light!
“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” 1 John 1:6 (ESV)
We can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are having fellowship with God even when we are sinning. The Gnostics who were gaining popularity during this time thought that their bodies weren’t important, so they thought they could sin and still be spiritual.
Base Drum pounds: WRONG!
Throughout the Bible, light is contrasted with darkness. There are no shadows here.
“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.” 1 John 1:7 (ESV)
A mellow cello makes us smile as we ponder this beautiful promise. If we walk in the light (in purity, in God’s glory, in God’s holiness), we have fellowship—koinonia, intimacy, a love relationship with God. When we live in the truth and holiness of who God is, when we abide in Him and He in us, we have communion with Him.
How is this possible? The second half of verse 7: “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” Sins washed away.
A flute’s breath lingers in the air for a moment.
Verse 7 says that if we’re walking in the light, then two things are true about us.
- We have fellowship with God AND
- The blood of Jesus cleanses us.
A tuba rumbles in verse 8.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” 1 John 1:8 (ESV)
Violins beckon us to a second promise. If we confess our sins, Jesus forgives and cleanses us, 1 John 1:9
Selah … rest … pause and think about it.
“But Jesus already cleansed us.” Think of how Jesus taught His disciples to pray in Matthew 6:9-13.
“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Jesus told us to ask for forgiveness. But what does it mean that He cleansed us if we still need forgiveness?
In John 13, after supper, Jesus rose and began to wash the disciples’ feet. When He came to Peter, Peter stopped Jesus, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”
Soft drum roll.
Jesus said, “If I don’t wash your feet, you have no share with Me.”
Peter held out his hands and asked Jesus to wash his hand and head.
“Jesus said to him,
Softly, gently, strings whisper.
“The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, …” John 13:10a(ESV)
I wonder if John was thinking of this when he wrote 1 John 1:9.
We walk in a dirty world. Have you worn sandals while you took a walk? You thought your feet would remain clean, but when you got home, you had to rinse off your feet. Or maybe you went for a hike. You had your socks and hiking boots on, but when you got home and removed your boots and socks, your feet were sweaty and smelly.
When we step out of the light of God’s holiness—out of His way, truth, and life—our fellowship with God is hindered, and we need to acknowledge that our lives need cleansing. We’ve sinned and need to ask for Him to forgive us. He will forgive. He is faithful. He washes off the dirty parts when we confess them.
“The mark of the saint is not sinlessness but sin-consciousness!” John PiperTweet
We can’t walk in the Light by our own strength. We need the fellowship of God, of Jesus, and each other. We need to know who we are … sinners cleansed by the blood of Jesus. As we walk in the Light, we strike a wrong note, and we acknowledge it before our loving Father, and we let Jesus wash our feet, harmonize our melody, and reenter His fellowship.
Observe Psalm 89:14-18 in the New Living Translation.
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
Unfailing love and truth walk before you as attendants.
Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship,
for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD.
They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation.
They exult in your righteousness.
You are their glorious strength.
It pleases you to make us strong.
Yes, our protection comes from the LORD,
and he, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.“
The harp soars to the heights of heaven and cascades to the Living Water. The harpist softly plucks a string … that which we saw. Another note … that which we looked upon. A gentle stroke … that which we handled. Selah … that which we heard.
Son of Man … Son of God … Eternal Life … Fullness of joy.
The soft breath of the flute … we kneel in wonder before the God of the Universe … King of Kings … Lord of Lords.
Light in His Fellowship … Koinonia.
Our righteous and loving Lord of All, You are the symphony of life, beauty beyond our comprehension. We are in awe of Your love for us. We confess our sins. Wash us, cleanse us. We bow before You and give You our lives, our thoughts, our actions, all that we are and have. Pluck our heartstrings to create beautiful melodies that point others to the beauty of Your lovingkindness. Amen.
What is the melody that God is creating in you today?
For more in-depth teaching, view this video.
Featured photo from Pexels.com.