A Study of 1st John 1:5-7

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
(1st John 1:5-7)

God is light!

That is the ground of all that the apostle John writes to the church. At bottom, if only the church understands that God is light, and that in Him is no darkness at all, then her joy shall be full.

For having fellowship with that God, by reason of that fellowship we also walk in the light. If we do that not, and still maintain that we have fellowship with Him, we lie in a very real and practical and serious sense, and we do not the truth. But walking in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.

Church of Jesus Christ, walk in the light, then!

Actually the light of our universe with which we are constantly surrounded is a constant parable and in incessant reminder of Him who is absolute light. And the meaning of this figure is unmistakable.

Light does not merely symbolize knowledge. Light is knowledge, to be sure, but it is much more than that. There are those who, proceeding from the idea that light is that which reveals, while darkness is that which hides, maintain that light is simply knowledge. In darkness men know not; where light it, things are revealed. God is absolute light, absolute knowledge. He knows Himself and all things with eternal perfection. There is nothing in Him or outside of Him that is hidden. There is no darkness in Him at all. Thus, if God reveals Himself, then He gives us the light of knowledge, and then we have fellowship with Him. And if then we walk in that knowledge, we know one another also, and have fellowship with one another.

Now, while God, also in respect to knowledge, is the absolute light, because he knows Himself and all things and lives a life of perfect consciousness, and while it is in His light that we see light, so that we know Him and all things in relation to Him, nevertheless we are mistaken if we imagine that light is merely knowledge.

Then indeed, knowledge would be virtue, and ignorance would be vice.

But knowledge is not virtue!

Nor is knowledge the only and most important element of light. It certainly is not on the foreground here in holy writ.

And you discern the danger, do you not? Take one more step along that path, and you land in the camp of modernism. Then sin becomes a question of the head, rather than the will. Then the way of salvation is the way of training and instruction and education. If only you educate the poor fool, then all will be well. Then Jesus Christ becomes the great teacher; and if only we learn of Him, then we can and will walk in the light.

And such a philosophy is not of God, but of the devil!

An educated fool is still a fool!

And the fool hath said in his heart, “There is no God.”

And with that carnal wisdom and knowledge he goes to hell!

For he is in darkness, and hath never seen the light!

No, light has spiritual, ethical meaning in Scripture. It stands opposite darkness. And darkness is the image of sin in all its horror. Sin seeks darkness because its works are evil. It cannot stand the light. It seeks cover. That is even literally true, so that the sinner actually seeks the cover of the night. The thief and the fornicator prefer to commit their evil works in the darkness of the night. Men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Darkness includes, therefore, everything that is of sin: impurity, unrighteousness, hatred, envy, enmity against the living God. He that is in darkness hates his brother; he has pleasure in iniquity. Darkness is death. And outer darkness is hell. 

Light is its direct opposite. Light is, in one word, all that is good in the spiritual, ethical sense. It is holiness, righteousness, truth, wisdom and knowledge, love and mercy and grace. He who walks in. the light loves the truth; he does righteousness; he reveals himself in the sphere of love; he has pleasure in all that is pure. To walk in the light is life, just as to walk in darkness is death. Eternal life is the eternal light of heaven!

A pertinent question is, do you walk in the light? 

God’s word often speaks of our walk and our way, in order to picture the entire spiritual direction of our life, and that too, not only as that life is revealed before men, but as it is before God, who knows the innermost secrets of our hearts. 

That life, to which Scripture often refers under the figure of our walk, issues forth from our heart, that is, from the spiritual center of our being. From the heart are the issues of life. Out of that hearty are determined the spiritual, ethical direction of our every thought and desire, inclination and plan. Our joy and our sorrow, our happiness and our grief, yea, all our life, receives its spiritual content from our heart. 

Would you answer the question concerning your walk? 


Then, first of all, observe whether your inner life is, dominated and controlled by the light, whether it is such that your entire heart is in harmony with the light! 

By nature our inner life is ruled by darkness, by hatred and enmity against the living God and against one another. The powers of impurity and wickedness, unrighteousness and filth hold it captive. The bands of death encircle it. Lies and darkness and deceit control it. We therefore walk in darkness, and we love the darkness. It is not so that we are good at heart. Man, all men, ourselves included, is darkness in himself. In his deepest heart he is darkness. Principally he is so that he cannot sleep without doing evil. He hates the light. And he cannot, and will not, and cannot will to do the good. 

But a walk in the light means that our inmost being is light. It means that our heart is changed, and with it our whole inward life. It implies the reality of which the apostle Paul speaks when he says: “Ye were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord!”

And of the greatest importance it is that we remember this aspect of our walk. Remember this: to walk in the light is not first of all a matter of our outward life. It is a question of our internal life and existence. What is only superficial and outward has no root in the heart, and it is an abomination to the LORD! For the LORD God is such a God that He searches the hearts! The Lord God is not superficial! He is superficial neither in His accomplishments nor in His searchings. That is why it is a terrible doctrine to teach that God in “common grace” improves the, natural man without renewing his heart. The LORD our God is concerned with the heart! To Him there can be really no “inner” and “outer.” The darkness and the light of day are both alike to Him. The secrets of the heart are as open to Him as the outward deeds! 

Hence, a walk in the light is a matter of the heart. And then, but only then, is it a matter to the outward walk. To love righteousness with the heart, and then to do unrighteousness in our walk is a contradiction. To love the truth in our heart, and then to speak the lie is spiritually incongruous. To seek after holiness in the heart, and then.in outward walk to wallow in the mire of sin is impossible. A walk in the light as respects our outward conversation can only arise out of a heart that is filled with the light of the love of God, righteousness, holiness, truth! 

Now answer the question! 

You say, perhaps, that you are afraid to say you walk in the light? You are so imperfect, so sinful? 

Answer this: is that really your life? Are you at home in the sphere of darkness? Does your life go out toward sin? Is there an inner harmony of heart between you and sin? 

If the latter is true, so that you never felt even a longing to be delivered then you are indeed a child of darkness. Then you must not say that you walk in the light. Then there is one thing necessary: the grace of God unto salvation! 

But if you are filled with true sorrow of heart, not because of the results of your sin, but because of your sin itself, that can only be because inwardly you love the light. That sorrow is the very first and unmistakable sign of a walk in the light. The apostle John does not mean that the children of light have attained to perfection. Nay, we deceive ourselves if we say that we are without sin. But he who walks in the light deeply abhors sin, confesses sin, may believe that God is faithful and just to forgive sin, and in the hope of eternal perfection fights the good fight of faith against sin, having a hearty desire to live according to God’s precepts in the midst of the world? 

Do you walk in the light?

Well now, that walk in the light can have but one source God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all! 

Mark you, the text speaks facts, not admonitions! 

Whoever walks in darkness is no child of God. He must not say that he is. If he does, he lies and does not the truth. Only he that walketh in the light is a child of God. Only he has fellowship with God. You may not say that you have fellowship with God while you walk in darkness! 

Why is this all so certain? Because God is light! 

That is God’s very being. It is His entire infinite life! As the triune one God lives a perfect light-life. There is in Him,—if you could fathom His divine depths,—no darkness at all. He lives a life of perfect fellowship in the light. 

Hence, nothing else than light ever comes from God. You can never say that the lie and unrighteousness and unholiness is out of God. He is only the fountain of all good. Hence, what comes from God, has fellowship with Him, must be light. For He is the Light! 

Then it is plain too that walking in the light you have fellowship with Him. That follows. If you are in the light and of the light, there can be only one reason: you have fellowship with Him! 

And thus it is with the child of God: in Christ he has fellowship with God! 

Yes, Christ is the center of that fellowship. For apart from Him we were in darkness. But in Christ crucified, raised from the dead, exalted into heaven, who sends forth His Spirit to abide with us, to regenerate us and to call us out of darkness into the light,—in Christ, God’s own Son, light of light, we have a communion of light-life with the living God. 

Therefore it is that we walk in the light. As far as that life is concerned, that new life which we have in fellowship with Him, there is no darkness in us. Darkness is not out of light. And the light is of God, in whom is no darkness at all. 

If we walk in the light, we have fellowship, first of all, with God!

And thus we also have fellowship with one another . . . 

Sharing that same light-life in Christ Jesus, we are bound together in the light. We love one another with the love of God in Christ by His grace. Together we love the light, because we love God. And in that love we are united by something which far transcends any affinity of character or personality, or whatever it may be. We love one another’ in the light, in as far as God’s life is revealed in our lives. That is the unity of the brethren! 

And in that same light we experience the cleansing power of the blood of Christ. For the more we strive to walk in the light, the more our sins are made manifest to us in the light. 

And the more we see our sins, the more deliverance becomes the burning desire of our hearts. And the more deliverance becomes the burning desire of our hearts, the more we experience the blessed cleansing power of His precious blood! 

Here that is all only in beginning,—the light and the walk in the light, the fellowship with God and one another, and the experience of the cleansing power of His blood! 

But presently, when we are freed from all sin, then we shall also walk perfectly in the light. 

Then our fellowship with God and with one another shall be full! 

And our joy shall be full!

Homer C. Hoeksema – 1954

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