I love the way that John begins this letter with an echo of the gospel that he had also written, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard…” feels like the same writing style as John 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…”
Perhaps it’s his practical background as a fisherman that influences his thinking but I also love the down to earth way that he wrote to his audience. It’s as if he feels he needs to tell them that thinking deeply about theology is great but that at the end of the day if you can’t apply what you learn it’s all a bit of a waste of time. We know that he was writing to counter the teaching that came from a certain group known as the Gnostics who claimed to have a greater revelation or knowledge than the Christians of the time did so he gives good solid, practical advice.
He starts out by asking us to have a good look at ourselves. So we must ask, “Do I claim to have fellowship with God?” If the answer to that is ‘Yes’ then our next question should be, ‘Am I living that out?’ And, it therefore follows that we’re also going to need to ask ourselves, “How am I living that out?” These are questions that need a high degree of self-examination and honesty and many of us prefer not to do too much about that because we know that we’ll find things under the surface that we don’t like to look at. But John says, “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives” (v.10). Ouch! I read that and found, myself asking, ‘Have I called God a liar in that way?’ Answer…’quite possibly’.
John wanted people to recognise that being honest with ourselves and with God is a critical part of living out the Christian life. He reminds us that we shouldn’t sin but if we do (it’s the nature of who we are) there’s no point in concealing it. So when we fall out with someone, or we get caught up in worldly things, are consumed by lust or with our own self-importance it’s better by far that we recognise it, put it at the foot of the cross, repent and move on (see 2:1-2). It’s what a practical Christian should do.
Lord Jesus would you show me where my sin lies and help me to repent of it so that I might walk in deeper fellowship with you. Amen.