1 John 1:1-5
AUDIO FOR THIS SERMON CAN BE FOUND HERE
What I would like to address this morning is truly nothing new. We’ve spent some time on it before. But it is so essential, both in terms of our current study in the Book of Revelation, and in the Christian’s everyday life and thought process – that I thought it would be very fitting for the start of this new year of 2018.
Of all the damage done to the human soul in the Fall, nothing is so pervasive and must be so continually resisted as is the inward suspicion of God. The recurring thought that when things go wrong, or are hard, painful and difficult to understand, that God’s love or power or both, are somehow defective. Or that He harbors some dark or secret agenda which does not have the good of the Believer at heart.
This would have been at the forefront of those first readers of the Book of Revelation as they see the coming persecutions and the outpouring of God’s judgment on the world.
First you have those in the 7 churches each facing their challenges.
And one might ask – where is God in this?
Then as one reads on in Ch. 6, you read of global conquest, civil war, famine and death. One scene has the martyrs, those who have already died for the cause of Christ under the altar and the text reads: Revelation 6:10 “They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And God responding that such a day is coming, but more yet need to be killed as they were.” Where is God?
Chs. 8 & 9 detail global disasters of all kinds, and even more brutal wars.
In one place a ¼ of mankind perishes and then in another 1/3 more perish. And there is persecution and mayhem as God pours out His wrath. And from what I can read, the saints will be here for these extraordinary and terrifying events – the same way the Israelites were present when Egypt was judged, and Noah and his family went through the flood. Unharmed, but not unaffected. And again we might ask – where is God?
All the way through Revelation John is taken from these very troubling scenes to scenes in Heaven where we see God sitting on His throne, ruling all, and of countless men and angels worshiping in unspeakable joy – and one could wonder – how can these two things co-exist?
How can a God who the Bible paints unequivocally as Holy and just and good allow sin to wreak its ravages on the human race?
Perhaps this has entered into your own thinking as you’ve wrestled with the disappointments, pain, suffering, and unexplained difficulties you’ve endured or are even enduring now?
Maybe you haven’t formalized the thought or said it out loud, but is there a nagging shadow in the back of your heart and mind – is God secretly angry with me? Punishing me for what – I don’t know? Is there some dark place in Him that leads me not to believe He is ALL good in all ways?
Does the combination of physical weakness, the way life hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would – the stresses and the circumstances of job and family and the nation and the world – find you casting some slight shadow of suspicion on God?
It is for just such a purpose that John reminds the readers in his little letter of 1st John: “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— 2 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— 3 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. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 5 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.”
Bound up with the message of the Gospel and all of its glory, this message must be heard and heard again and again and again by God’s people – or we will fail to have true fellowship with The Father, the Son Jesus Christ and with each other: God is light. And in Him is NO darkness at all!
For you cannot draw close to anyone you suspect as having some dark ulterior motives in their relationship with you. You cannot live in faith with someone you don’t trust. It is true on the human level, and especially true in the Spiritual life with God.
It is a very common phenomenon among believers, that when we go through hard times, especially those with unexplained or seemingly senseless suffering attached – to grow inwardly suspicious of the purity of God’s love toward us.
Mentally, theologically we say to ourselves, I KNOW God is good and loves me – but in truth, we don’t feel it, and begin to question His wisdom in what He allows us to suffer, but more fundamentally, His secret attitude toward us.
And so it is many who suffer, instead of drawing closer to the Lord in their trials, actually grow farther from Him – for as I said above, you do not, can not, WILL NOT draw close to someone you suspect harbors ill toward you. If you cannot trust them, you cannot, you WILL NOT draw close to them.
So it is, when the Holy Spirit of God is the very Comforter of our souls, and we reject Him in suspicion, we rob ourselves of the comfort that may be ours in the midst of our trial.
Beloved this is so vitally important to the health of our spiritual lives and to having any growth in the depth of our relationship to Him.
These cannot be separated.
So it is I want to unpack just 3 ways we need to understand this indispensably foundational truth, that God is LIGHT, and in Him is NO darkness at all.
- There is no darkness in His CHARACTER.
There is no flaw of any kind, no even slight tendency toward sin in Him. He is altogether – HOLY.
Remember how we saw that in such detail in chapter 4 of Revelation – that amazing scene where the Revelation 4:8 [Where] “the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
That isn’t for show. It isn’t some vain pageantry – it is the declaration of who He is at the very core of His being. And as Holy – He cannot sin. He cannot plot wrong or evil or anything less than the very best for His own and still be God.
Certainly there are times when we do not understand what He is doing, or be able to directly discern how it is some events, experiences and circumstances can possibly be redeemed for our good – but because He is absolutely and undefilably holy – it must be so!
God is no more constitutionally capable of sinning than you and I are of capable of blowing out the sun like a match.
So it is, even when God is rebuking Israel for its sin He reminds them: Malachi 3:6 “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
And we are reminded in Hebrews 6:13–18 “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”
It is not that God WILL NOT lie, the appeal to our faith in His promises is based upon the fact that “it is impossible for God to lie.”
Child of god, no matter how mysterious your circumstances might be; No matter how strangely the world around us might seem; no matter how dire, unchangeable or dark the things you are facing might be – if you are in Christ – God is FOR you, and is constitutionally unable to act in any other way toward you but in perfect, uninterrupted holy love.
When Adam and Eve fell, they did so because they believed the suggestion that God was not entirely good in what He had provided for them, and forbidden from them. They believed He could do them wrong.
And it is inevitably where we fall as well – even today.
God is light, and in Him is NO DARKNESS AT ALL.
- There is no darkness in His MOTIVES.
While this idea is closely related to the first, it differs some.
A person might be paralyzed and for that reason, unable to harm someone else physically. But that does not mean they might not have ill-will toward them.
So God might be constitutionally unable to DO wrong, because He must act in holy ways at all times. He cannot pervert justice.
So when Abraham is bargaining with God over the fate of Sodom he argues: Genesis 18:25 “Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”
But mere actions and motivations may differ.
There is an old story told about Clyde the farmer. One day Clyde was out in his field plowing, when lightening struck, tipping the tractor over pinning Clyde underneath with his legs broken. The fuel spilled out of the gas tank, which when ignited by another lightening strike, burned his entire crop to the ground, spread to the house and burned it down too. Soon Clyde’s wife appeared, berated him for being such an idiot and a loser and announced she was leaving him with his farm hand.
As hail began to fall and Clyde remained pinned under his tractor, in pain, confusion and anguish Clyde looked up into the heavens and cried: “Lord! Why me?” And in a moment, the clouds parted and a voice boomed back: “I don’t know Clyde, something about you just bugs me!”
I dare say there are some even here today who have imagined that to be the case between themselves and the Lord. That He just seems to have it out for you. Nothing goes right. Everything you try fails. No matter how you try to pick up the pieces and do right, it just seems that everything falls apart over and over. And deep down you suspect God just has some undefined thing against you.
So while you would never accuse God of actually doing you wrong, you do suspect He has it in for you in some way. You doubt that His motives toward you are completely and wholly loving and good.
No, He cannot DO us wrong, but do we really know His heart? Might there still be dark motives in Him somewhere? Might He not have the best interest of His children in view even if He cannot actually sin against them – might He just let evil roll over us?
And the answer is – NO! No!
We could spend the rest of our lives plundering God’s Word for all of the expressions of His unfailing, unerring, perfect love toward His own.
But if there is one passage that to me transcends them all it is the one captured in the midst of Jesus’ High Priestly prayer for Believers in John 17: John 17:22–23 “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”
Did you hear that? Jesus prays that the world might come to understand that God the Father loves the Redeemed, even as He loves Jesus Himself.
That the world might know it? That BELIEVER’S might know it! And believe it. And rest in it!
Oh if we could only grasp it for a moment.
If you are a Christian here today, know that the purity, the holiness, the perfect of God the Father’s love for His only Begotten, incarnate Son, in no way surpasses the love He has for you as in Christ today.
What possible ill-will could the Father have toward Christ? What possible dark or nefarious motives against Him? How could He have anything but the very highest regard, love and desire for His Son?
So much so then is it true for all of us who are in Christ by faith.
Believer, He loves you even as He loves the Son. And His motives toward you are all wrapped up in making you one with the Son and with Himself in eternal, unimaginable bliss having perfected that which He has begun in you.
God is LIGHT! And in Him is no darkness at all.
- There is no darkness in His KNOWLEDGE.
Satan is a skilled adversary. And if he cannot win the day by convincing us that there is no darkness in God’s character, and no darkness in His motives toward us – but perhaps there is something lacking in His knowledge. In other words, maybe He just doesn’t know how badly I am suffering right now, how hard I am struggling.
Yes He is good. Yes He loves me. But if He only knew what was really going on in my life and in my heart – surly He would intervene and change things.
But of course, that is simply because we have forgotten His word to us. Remember David’s Psalm 139:1–24 “O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. 13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.”
Oh Believer, He knows you. He knows your every care and concern – no matter how slight or how dire.
And He is holy in His sovereign appointments in your life.
He is unspeakably loving toward you in all of His providences.
And He knows you infinitely better than you even know yourself.
You can trust Him. And as you do, the more you do, the more you will find your relationship with Him deepening and comforting.
For He is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.
And Unbeliever today, because these things are true, because God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, then know too this means He cannot overlook, excuse or condone your sin either.
Because He is holy and just, and cannot change – He MUST judge sin. And everyone will stand before Him to give an account even of our secret thoughts one day.
His holiness will not allow Him to ignore your sin. You will either stand before Him robed in the righteousness of Christ, cleansed by His blood and purged of your guilt in bowing the knee to Christ Jesus as your Savior, substitute and Lord, or you will stand on your own, to suffer the just wrath of God against your sin. And in the Light that He is, no dark spot in you will be missed.
The bad news is, God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
But the good news too is: God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
Come to Him who knows your every sin, and be forgiven, cleansed and made a new creature in Christ – to know Him as He is.
Child of God – trust Him. More and more and more. And you will know Him more and more and more. And your joy and comfort will have no end.