Walking in the Light: The Fundamental Pattern

John 1:5-9

This is the message we heard from Jesus[a] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

What does God want of me? What does God want of us? Probably every Christian has asked these very questions. They are asked in times of anguish, during crisis and decision making and, implicitly and explicitly, on a day-to-day basis. What does God require of those who want to offer their sincere allegiance and devotion?

The next section of 1 John (1:5–2:27) tackles this question, for the church to which John was writing debated this very issue. What does God ask of us? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? What does it mean to be a faithful Christian? To address this issue, John uses the image of “walking in the light.” And he lays out certain expectations of those who desire to walk in the light. We can summarize these expectations briefly: imitation of God’s character (1:5-7); dependence upon the cleansing from sin provided by Jesus’ death (1:7, 9; 2:1-2); obedience to the com mands of God (2:3-6), especially the command to love (2:7-11); and steadfast resistance to the lure of the ways of the world (2:15-17) and to false teaching (2:18-27).

So, if we do all these things, are we then doing what God wants? Are we walking in the light? We cannot simply mark these things off on a checklist. For there is a unifying thread woven through the pattern of “walking in the light.” These “expectations” are unified by an under standing of God’s character and of God’s activity in Christ. Thus John begins with an assertion about God, the simple statement that God is light. Everything depends upon and flows from that statement. It is worth examining at some length.