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1 John : Our Meeting with God Summary

Key to Life
1 John 1:5-2:2

Paul J. Bucknell

Key to Life
This is part '2/3' to a study entitled 'The Key to Life' on 1 John 1:6-10.

1 John 1.5-2.2 The Key to Life provides for us the foundation for our spiritual life. 1 John 1:6-10 shows us that it is not what we say that proves our confession but by what we do. John gives us several ways to detect whether people really have met God who is Light and belong to His fellowship.

    B. What do we really believe? (1 John 1:6-10)

    It is hard for people to talk and think clearly about what they believe about God. John knows this. So he gets very practical and helps us see what we really think by what we do. Our actions are often inconsistent with what we really say we believe. We must draw the conclusion from this that we do not very well understand ourselves and even less able to tell others what we really are like.  John points out here case after case how people often pretend to think better of themselves than facts would reveal.

    A. What is God Really Like? (1 John 1:5)
    B. What do we really believe? (1 John 1:6-10)
    C. How can I find help? (1 John 2:1-2) 
    Study Questions on 1 John 1:5-2:2

    Introduction to 1 John
    Summary to 1 John 1:1-2:2

    These next five verses all start with the same Greek word translated into English by “If.” John is unwilling to change his knowledge of God to accommodate man’s thinking about himself. Instead John examines what people say and do in light of the immutable and holy true God. It is most unfortunate that the churches are far too willing to adapt their view of God to make religion more appealing. They use soft lights and comfortable seats and most of all a soft message.  John, however, challenges rather than tolerates, man’s thoughts and assumptions in verses 6-10. Remember what we believe about God does not necessarily make it true. It is more important to evaluate what we believe so that we can live according to what is true. Let’s look at these five statements a bit more in detail.

    If 1 John 1:6-10 Our beliefs are detected not by what we say but by what we do.Verses 6, 8, 10 are beliefs or sayings (expressions of our beliefs) which are not confirmed through reality by a close examination of what they do.  They each begin with the phrase, “If we say that we have …” Verses 7 and 9 will be two affirmative ways to respond to the reality of God’s holiness. Let’s look at the inconsistent ones first.

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    The Wrong Responses to God’s Holiness

    A wrong understanding of God always gives us a wrong understanding of our own personal lives.  John has heard the things come from people around him just like us.

    1:6     Inconsistent lifestyle               don’t care about sin

    If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

    These people would confess to be a Christian. You might be one of them. They will point to a time when they were saved or had this experience. They are willing to base everything on their past experience and not objectively examine their lives. It makes sense of course, if a person really has met God, then they should no longer walk in the darkness. But these ‘Sunday Christians’ are not really Christians. They lie. Anyone who really knows God must live it out. Their lack of reflection of God’s holiness in their lives is clear evidence that they do not really know God.

    Professing Christians sometimes use doctrines to hide their sin. They don’t care about the truth but hiding their guilt and keeping their assurance of salvation.

    (1)  Eternal salvation. We need not focus on ‘once believe, always a Christian.’ This is true. The issue John is bringing up is whether they really believe at all. After all, how can they say they believe but it have not impact on their lives?!

    (2)  Carnal Christian. John will speak more about this belief that one can profess to be a Christian but live the life of the flesh (flesh=carnal) but still maintain the assurance of salvation. What this verse say?  He says if one walks in the darkness, no matter what we profess about knowing Christ, we do not have fellowship with Him. We really do not have fellowship with Him. Remember that it is not the good works that get us to have a relationship with God but it is the proof that we have a relationship with God.

    1:8      Ignorant perspective                have no sin nature

    If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

    These people claim to have no sin nature. This is hard for some of us to understand. They might rather alarmed wonder how can anyone deny the evil that is around us! But if you are a bit ‘New-Agish’ or caught into the ‘self-esteem’ movement then maybe you perceive things this way. Christian scientists would also adhere to this more Hinduistic idea that the spirit is good and that is our true identity. This thought is also part of the Gnostic cult that arose in the early Christian church.

    In order to make their consciences feel better, they not only emphasize the importance of the spirit (the part of the body that one cannot see) but they also say that the body is not what counts or is important. Some explain the flesh as a delusion or point of confusion. For them the spirit is what is good and holy. So they focus on the spirit. In most cases their salvation is ultimately tied up with coming to believe that this perspective is real. When one believes it, then they have escaped the delusion of life.

    Culture's views swing from spiritualism to materialism because they both don't work.I expect that as our culture has swung so far in the extreme of a materialistic (the denial of the spirit world) personal indulgence that many in rejection and disgust will swing back the other way in reaction to the excesses of materialistic world view. They will adopt spiritism or spiritualism (rejection of the material world). John quickly summarizes how this approach is totally unrealistic in light of God’s presence. We are simply deceiving ourselves whenever we think that we are beyond the taint of sin. It is not salvation to understand that matter is unreal but a convenient way to disregard how your have not been as good as you should have been. Of course we have sinned. Of course our bodies belong to ourselves. We made real life decisions to do things with our mouths, hands and feet. We are guilty before the holy God of not living holy lives. What we do with our spirit makes a tremendous difference.

    1:10    Insensitive spirit                      have never sinned

    If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

    This third category of people say or imply that they have never sinned are caught up in a spirit of arrogance. They do not deny the sin nature but only think that they are beyond sin’s reach. They are the righteous legalistic ones who can never allow their conduct to be judged by another. Like the Pharisees, they pride themselves on man-made laws and secretly pretend ignorance to those things that God says. John simply says these people make God a liar. God himself has said that all have sinned and far short of the glory of God.


    Although these perspectives of life seem so different, they are all ways man covers up his sins. The fact is that God is light and man senses his guilt. So either man changes God’s standards or insulates themselves from God’s light. The first group usually through doctrines think of themselves better than they are. The second group through false teaching find a way of dismissing the reality of evil. The third group through pride and a different standard of righteousness live in delusion.

    But do you see the common thread to all three perspectives? That is right, they all somehow figure a way not to live in the presence of the Light. They use denial, insulation, or pride, but in every case they will never find real hope. As long as man covers up His sin, he will not come to find God’s grace.

    John fortunately also gives us a better way to respond to God. Let’s look verses 1:7 and 1:9. The  ‘ifs’ also begin these two statements.

    The Right Response to God’s Holiness

    1:7      Walk is possible and necessary     Walk like Him is necessary

    But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

    If we really have met God, then what John simply explains is that we will walk like God. We will see the glory of living according to His standards. We will see that honor of loving one another just as Jesus has lived it out before us. Confession of Christ only is significant if we see a change in our lives. It is in these cases we can be fully assured of the blood of Jesus His son to cleanse us from all sin. ‘Assurance of salvation’ is to encourage the believer to keep on believing but never to further the delusion the unbeliever that he is a Christian. Now remember it does not say we are perfect. We still have need for forgiveness. In fact, even here we see the special provision of God for those who have discovered their sin before God.

    The difference with these people is not that they have not sinned but that they have discovered their sins. In a real way, the best evidence that a person has come to God is by seeing that they are repentant. They do not only say that they have sin but turn from that behavior. They see their sin in all of its horribleness. This is the true church of God. This is the koinonia fellowship. Their common link is having met God in His holiness, found forgiveness through Jesus’ blood (we will discuss this more shortly) and walk in a way that reflects God’s own holiness.

    Application:  So are you a genuine Christian? Ask yourself these three questions: Have you at a point in your life have met God in such a way that your became disgusted with your sins and that you found Jesus as the place to find forgiveness?  Notice it is not enough to have met or experienced God but never changed your lifestyle. That was not God. God is light. When we are in the dark and walk into a light room, our eyes all of a sudden could see many things they otherwise couldn’t see. Notice it is not enough if you only find yourself remorseful over your sins but never really change. That is not real repentance. Genuine repentance comes from a new hatred over your old lifestyle. Notice lastly that it also means that you do not try to find all these other ways to comfort your awareness of sin. You go to church, donate a lot, help out others. These are totally inadequate. They never make you right with God. The only way to find forgiveness is through Jesus Christ.  John amplifies this a bit in 1:9.

    1:9      Confession & repentance from sin

    If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

     John includes one other aspect of those that are part of God’s fellowship through Jesus. It might seem strange but it is very important. We know how to confess our sins. Now this might seem contradictory to what he has just said but it is not. The point is not whether we slip or fall. We will at times fail God and  others. The point is whether we hate sin enough to turn from the sin, confess it and strive to please the Lord. These people will see their sin and regret it. They will repent from it. They will seek God’s covering. They know of God’s light and know they need shielding. They hide in Christ and are found free from their sin.

    One aspect of repentance is confession. Repentance describes the change of heart having met God. Confession is an action that comes from that new heart. It is not to a priest or even to a counselor. The confession is to God through Christ. There are two kinds of confession: Confession that leads to salvation and confession that leads to sanctification. The first confession brings about a new relationship between God and man. The second kind of confession renews our relationship with God. It is like what happens when you offend someone. After a while, you discern that you made a mistake. You go to that person and apologize and ask for forgiveness. Although the context does lean to confession when one becomes a Christian, we should realize that it is okay to use this verse to speak about restoring our relationship with God. The truth is the same.


    Are you aware of your sin? If not, then you don’t know God.

    How do you handle your sin? If you try to act like you are better than you are, then you do not know God.

    But if you see the Lord’s holiness, then you will be very aware of your sins. You will seek forgiveness. You will turn away from the darkness in your life. You will seek God’s provision of Christ. You will begin to treasure Jesus more and more. You will be proud of Him and thankful for dying on the cross for your sins. Confession of your sins will be part of your life.

    But now let us turn and summarize everything in this third point. You might wonder if you are truly a Christian? Or maybe you are new to all this and wonder if such a wonderful fellowship is real? You just might be one of those who are trying to break out of a wrong concept of God. You have been a relativist but now realize God is light. You sense you need cleansing. Let us listen to this great apostle tenderly summarize all our questions with a few words. It is amazing how he does this.

    Next=> C. How can I find help? (1 John 2:1-2)


Links to main 1 John articles

Outline and Overview of 1 John
Intro & Outline | 1:1-2:2 | 2:3-2:17 | 2:18-3:24 | 4:1-5:21

John's Method of Detecting Error (1 John)

A.) The Creation of God’s People (1 John 1:1-2:2)
| Study Questions
The Key to Life
1 John 1:5 What is God really like? Questions
1 John 1:6-10 what do we really believe? Questions
1 John 1:8-10 "Only a little won't matter"
1 John 2:1-2 How can I find help for my sin? Questions

B.) The Confirmation of God’s People (1 John 2:3-17) | Study Questions
Optimized for Growth (1 John 2:3-11)
1 John 2:3 Optimized for Growth (2:3-11: Part 1/4) Questions
1 John 2:4-5 Profession on Confession (Part 2/4) Questions
1 John 2:6-8 Profession on Relationship (Part 3/4) Questions
1 John 2:9-11 Profession on Spirituality (Part 4/4) Questions
1 John 2:12-14 Discipleship's Three Stages

C.) The Character of God’s People (1 John 2:18-3:24) | Study Questions
Growing in Confidence (1 John 2:28-3:10)
1 John 2:28 A. John’s Hope for a Christian
1 John 2:29-3:10 B. The Spheres of Life and Death
1 John 3:1-10 C. The Pathways to Death and Life
1 John 3:5,8 D. The Final Battle–When Life destroys Death
Bible Study Questions on 1 John 2:28-3:10

D.) The Charge to God’s People (1 John 4-5) | Study Questions
1 John 4 God is Love: The Source of Love 4:7-21 Questions 1 John 5:14-15 Three Keys to Effective Prayer Questions
Qualifications for Prayer (1 John 5:13-14)
1. Ask for Anything (1 John 5:14)
2. Seek according to God's Will (1 John 5:14)
3. Knock Until He Hears (1 John 5:15) 
1 John 5:21
Understanding Life's Problems Questions
A. The Source of Life’s Problems
B. Understanding Idolatry
C. Guard Yourselves: Being Delivered from Idols
D. Describing Our Idols
E.  Making Room for the Lord

BFF Bilblical Training DVD for saleCheck out the BFF NT Biblical Training Library! It holds an incredible amount of training materials including easy to view and print pdfs, powerpoints, audio mp3 and even videos. We allow you to copy. modify and distribute material for teaching or personal edification. You don't need to ask!

Or see BFF's Resource Center for purchasing this low cost biblical training and discipleship resources.

Scriptures typically quoted from the New American Standard Bible unless noted: (C) Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1988

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