I remember an event in 2010 that gripped our attention and the media focus for two months. Thirty-three miners were trapped 2,300 feet underground in northern Chile. Emergency officials were unable to communicate with the miners for 16 days.
The first communication received was a written note in red ink tied to a probe, that reads, “We are fine in the shelter, the 33 of us.” The entire rescue took 69 days. As the 33 miners were rescued they had to wear dark sunglasses to protect their eyes from the sunlight. This story is amazing.
One reporter writes, “To survive, they endured constant 90 degree heat, 90% humidity, avoid starvation, battle thirst, guard against fungus and bacteria, and stay sane enough to safely do the work necessary to aid their own rescue,” all while faced with the danger of constant darkness. One of the miners was nicknamed “pastor,” because he shared about the Good News with the other miners and several of the miners made commitments to follow Christ as their Savior. (CNN Library, “Chilean Mine Rescue Fast Facts.”cnn.com; Tracy, Ryan. “Chilean Miners: Surviving the Darkness.” 9/14/10; Newsweek.)
Today we all face a similar constant danger of darkness.
Read today’s text with me…1 John 1:5-2:2
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. 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. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
This is the Word of The Lord…Thanks be to God!
Who is God? In the Westminster catechism states, “the chief end of man is to know God”. We know that religion has to do with God but who is the God, we worship. What is God like? What are His characteristics? The catechism defines God as a spirit that is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
God is Light
In the book of 1 John 1:5-2:2, John answers this question of who is God. He says, “God is light.”
John does not stop there. He goes on to also tell us what God is not. He says, “In Him there is no darkness.” This means, there is nothing to question about God.
In Psalms 27, David writes, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”
In Psalms 104, he writes, “You are clothed with splendor and majesty; He wraps himself in light as a garment.” This imagery or picture of light describes who God is. “God is light.”
As we read in the Bible, we can find many imageries of this idea associated with light. Light is a symbol of holiness. Light is also a characteristic applied to Jesus. “Jesus is the light of the world.”
Sin is darkness
What about the darkness that John describes?
Darkness is sin. Darkness living is the false belief that we can live in a relationship with God and at the same time, live in constant (habitual) sin.
What is sin? Do you know if you looked up the word “sin” in the Junior Oxford Dictionary, you would not find the word “sin.” In 2007 the word was removed from the dictionary, because of its lack of use and was no longer relevant to young generations.
Author, Hank Hanegraaf says, that “sin is failing to do the things we should and doing those things that we should not.” Sin is anything that fails to meet God’s standard of perfection. Sin is the barrier between us and God.
Here is what we know…John lived alongside Jesus, the Son of God. He knew God first hand. John is bothered by this false teaching that has affected the people he is addressing in his letter. These false teachings were the Gnostic beliefs.
The Gnostics believed the spirit is separate from matter. They believed that their bodies had no effect on their spirit. John’s addresses his audience false belief, that they could walk in light as they walk in darkness.
The word “walking” refers to how we live our life. Our walk is our lifestyle (v. 6-7).
Then we have word, “fellowship” which means being in relationship with someone. It is how we interact with one another. John uses the word “fellowship” to refer to shared knowledge of God’s light and love. (v. 6)
As Christ followers we enter into a relationship with God. Our relationship allows us to know God. Overtime as our relationship builds we can fellowship with a holy righteous nature of God. God is light. Our fellowship with God must be in the realm of light. Only fellowship with God, in a relationship with God, we have fellowship and light. Fellowship with God is possible only as our nature and conduct corresponds to His. The problem is sin! Sin hinders or makes it impossible for us to have correspondence with him.
What do we do about our sin?…Our sin must lead us to repentance.
CONFESSION is walking in the light
Confessing is more than talking about sin. Blabbing our secrets is not confession. Spilling the beans is not confession. Just talking about sin is not the same as confession. Confession is not explaining it! We are more willing to explain our faults and failures. We want everybody to understand and appreciate the extenuating circumstances that we are forced to under.
Lewis Smedes says, “Confession is acknowledging our responsibility in our sin. Confession is sharing the pain caused by our sin. Confession is taking a risk on grace, because of our sin.”
Confession opens the door to forgiveness.
FORGIVENESS is Freedom
The door out of the darkness of sin, leads us into the light of forgiveness.
Have you ever thought about forgiveness? Think about forgivness for a moment. It is a miracle. I is something amazing! Forgiveness is a miracle, because it is something beyond yourself and myself. It is something that we can’t do outside of us. It is something that only comes from true forgiveness. If we confess our sins, God is faithful, and He is just to forgive us of our sin. That is a miracle. Forgiveness when we hurt someone or when someone hurts us.
What if God’s forgiveness of your failures hinged on your forgiveness of others failure?
In Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, he describes forgiveness as an unnatural act. I could not agree more. He writes,
I never find forgiveness easy, and rarely do I find it completely satisfying. Nagging injustices remain, and the wounds still cause pain. I have to approach God again and again, yielding to him the residue of what I thought I had committed to him long ago. I do so because the Gospels make clear the connection: God forgives my debts as I forgive my debtors.
Forgiveness is not easy. Forgiveness does not make sense, especially when we have to do the forgiving. Our nature is to seek revenge for the wrong done to us. We place limits on our forgiveness of others. What happens when we need forgiveness?
C.S. Lewis wrote, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
Do not forget that we need to be given grace and forgiveness over and over again. Be thankful for the endless love and forgiveness we have through Christ’s death on the cross. Be thankful that He initiated forgiving us of our sins even when we did not deserve His forgiveness.
“For God demonstrates his great love for us in this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
I want you to listen to Renee Napier’s story. Her story of forgiveness inspired Matthew West’s song, “Forgiveness”.
From Renee Napier:
I never understood why God would ask Abraham to sacrifice Issac, the son he waited so long to have. I also always hoped He would never require such a sacrifice of me. Once my first child, a son, was born I really couldn’t understand how Abraham just did what God told him to do. The love a parent has for a child is like no other. God also blessed me with 3 daughters, the last two being identical twins. I love my children with all my heart and could never imagine living without one of them.
I now have a mission I did not choose: DUI presentations.
May 11, 2002, 24-year-old drunk driver, Eric, killed one of my twins, Meagan, and one of her friends, Lisa, both girls 20 years old. This was devastating for all three families involved, and countless friends that mourned the loss of these precious girls. But this is also a story of forgiveness and healing. My family and Lisa’s family chose to forgive Eric. We even appealed to have his 22 year prison sentence reduced to 11 years.
Since March 29, 2004 I have traveled all over the country telling this story to thousands of people, mostly teenagers. I always talk about forgiveness because we have learned how powerful it is for everyone. Eric told me he has his eternal salvation because of Meagan and Lisa. I show him via video in my presentations and will soon have him as an inmate, standing with me, a living, breathing example of the dangers of drunk driving, but also of the power of forgiveness.
Lewis Smedes wrote, “when we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us.”
God is light and in Him there is no darkness. Even in spite of the darkness that remains in us, God will forgive us. With God there is no gamble on grace, because if we confess, He is faithful and just to forgive us all of our sins. We must depend upon His gift of salvation, because His one and only son, Jesus hung on a cross and shared pain for the sins of the world.