Jason Free

A Message of Honesty

by Jason Free on April 14th, 2024
1 John 1:5-2:2

If there is one thing I don’t miss from my younger years – high school, college, that time frame – if there is one thing I don’t miss, it’s the whole dating game. I’m not sure if your experiences were ever the same as mine, but there were always these weird labels that I never fully understood in the dating world. If you went out with someone, maybe out to eat or something, afterwards your friends would wonder if you’re now going out, or maybe going steady, with that person, or if you’re dating, and I always thought those were the same things, but often they weren’t. Then there was the whole question of whether your girlfriend or boyfriend, which apparently was something you actually had to ask to make official. Social media only made this worse.

When Facebook came out – do some of you remember this? – you could label your relationship with someone and there were a number of options. My favorite was always “It’s complicated.” Yeah, that about sums up all my relationships. But not too long ago (though I am getting older) – the labeling of your relationship – this was a big thing. It was confusing, and I never got it figured out to be honest. 

Now, my current relationship status is “married,” and I’m pretty sure that one is accurate, but it doesn’t change the fact that often when it comes to our earthly relationships, there can be some uncertainty, there can be some confusion. And if that’s true of our earthly relationships, how much more in our relationship with God? All this finally makes me wonder, if someone were to ask you about your relationship with God, what would you say? How would you describe it? 

In our lesson for today, John wants to talk about your relationship with God. You see right before our lesson John is talking about his own relationship with God. And it sounds good; it sounds great – and it can be! But John also knows that relationship with God can seem complicated and difficult, so right away he brings up something that hinders our relationship with God, something that we can’t avoid. Here is what John says, “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.” 

God is light he is not darkness – John writes – but now what is the darkness? Well, it’s the problem, but often we don’t see it or know it.There is a parable I read by David Wallace. He wrote that “there are two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning. How’s the water?” The two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them asks the other, “What’s water?” 

Fish don’t know anything except water, that is until they’re pulled out of the water, then suddenly they realize what they were born in and been in all their lives – water! When John talks about darkness here, he’s talking about something we naturally walk in every day of our lives, and we often don’t even think about it. Look, for instance Why are so many people in pain, why do people hurt others, why do people do things that they know are wrong– that’s darkness! It’s confusion, a lack of understanding, and a twistedness. It’s a brokenness. Why is there death, and more, why are we afraid of it? It’s not difficult to prove that the world is a dark place and that there is a darkness about us and our existence. 

So, do you see the problem? All this is going on and we’ve gotten so used to it we don’t even think about it. We just accept it. Yep, that’s life that someone did that awful thing. Yep, there’s war over there. Yep, someone is abusing someone else. Yep, that accident happened. Yep, that person died. We just take this all for granted, but John will not. He wants you to have a relationship with God, and so while he could point at all the darkness out there in the world, he instead turns to you and says, “What darkness are you walking in?”

It’s a direct question, I get it, but it’s an important question to answer, because again God is light, and when we start to look at ourselves with any sort of honesty, we find there is a darkness here in each of us – it’s called sin if we really want to give it a name. And that sin, well, the Bible says it separates us from God. So, let’s get real here for a moment. What’s in your darkness that you wouldn’t want exposed to anyone else in this room, what don’t you want anyone to see or know about? What’s your shame, your guilt, your sin? And would you be okay if God knew about that darkness, about that sin?

You see in a relationship. Honesty is paramount. A relationship filled with lies and deception is destined to fail. It won’t last. And you don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who’s always lying to you, always deceiving you, always cheating you. So, why would God settle for a relationship like that? He wouldn’t. He doesn’t. So, what does he do? 

It’s interesting. He does two things, and we can’t dwell on these for too long or we will run out of time, but let’s take a look. Go back to verse 5 of our lesson, what does John say? “This is the message we have heard…” And what is that message? It comes moments later, “God.” John’s message starts with God. That might seem obvious, but so often we don’t see it, or fail to remember it. The way to have a relationship and fellowship with God is God. 

The whole Bible shows us this over and over and over again. Go back to the very first verse and chapter and book of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, what does it say, “In the beginning God.” The rest of the Bible is an elaboration on those first four words. How about when Jesus came to this earth, what does Paul tell us? “When the time had fully come God sent his Son…” Do you see this? The way out of darkness into light, the way to have a relationship with God, starts with God, not with us. We need to understand, and contemplate, and know who God is, and that is what John is declaring to us. Here, through John, God tells us about himself, and the only way to have a relationship with him is to listen to what he has to say. 

Now, let me be clear as to what that means. If someone said to me, “You know Jason, you say you’re a pastor and that you were born in South Dakota, but I’d like to think you’re a truck driver from Mexico City, Mexico and you lived there for 20 years before you found your way into the states, but somehow you don’t know a lick of Spanish – weird.” Well, that’s nice that you think that, but you don’t really know me, do you? And you obviously have not been listening to me. 

To have an honest relationship with God, the first thing we must do is to start with God. We need to listen to him and let him tells us exactly who he is and what he’s all about, and that leads nicely into my second point because who is God and what is he about? Look at what John writes, “God is light.” There is no darkness in him at all, no sin. He is holy, perfect, just – that’s God! If we are honest, that is who he is. Now, what about us? What if we are honest with ourselves? Well, John helps us out with that. You see this in verse 8 and in verse 10. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves…If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar.”

Remember my questions from before about the darkness, that sin, you have in your life and what guilt or shame you wouldn’t want others to know about, even God to know about? I’m not sure if anyone in this room would claim they don’t sin – as John writes here – that they don’t have any sin to confess or repent of, but I am pretty sure that a lot of us would rather not talk about those sins. I don’t think any of you would happily turn to the person next to you and say, “Hi, I’m Kevin and I’m an adulterer, or I’m a liar, or whatever.” You wouldn’t do that. Except you do. 

We all confessed our sins earlier in this service. We weren’t overly specific, sure, but we still confessed – you still confessed – those sins. And that confession, that repentance, do you know what that is? It’s walking in the light. It’s honesty. It’s saying what is true, even though it makes you look bad. It’s letting go of what you wish people would think about you and admitting to them, but more often to yourself what you really are right now. Walking in the light doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It means you know where you go when you are anything but; you find forgiveness in Christ, in God who is light. 

So, why would you ever hide your sin when God has a solution for it, a real life changing, eternity fixing solution not just for you but for all people? To you’re not sinful, or your sins aren’t that bad, what a waste! A claim like that diminishes what Jesus did on the cross, his sacrifice – everything! So, confess that sin; stop lying to yourself – live in the light! What does John say? “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Instead of claiming we don’t sin, what does John want us to claim? That we do. So, tell God what you have done. Stop making up stories to justify your sins, and step into the light. And, know this, that confession is actually faith. It’s letting God be God, and it’s trusting that Jesus is your advocate, not you, not Jesus’ mother, Mary, not some sort of work, just Jesus. He is the light that drives out the darkness. He is the means of forgiveness. “He is the atoning sacrifice for your sins, and not only for yours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

So, you want a relationship with God. You want the certainty of heaven, and the bliss of a clean, guilt-free conscience? Do you want to walk and live in the light, to have that peace? Do you wish you could have all of that? Well, let me be very clear with you today. You already do – how? Because “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” That is God’s honest message to you. Take him at his Word. Don’t make it complicated. You have a relationship with God. You are walking in the light because of him.

And maybe just one last point then. When you are in a relationship with someone, often you tell people about it. You let people know in some way about that relationship. If you’re married, you wear a ring, that sort of thing. So, how do you let people know about your relationship with God? What do you do? What do you say? How do you act? Because here is the thing – and we can’t be jealous about this – your relationship with God is not exclusive; it’s for all! Which means, you have a meaningful message to share. Amen. 

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