“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
We come to the first major division in the epistle. John now turns to the fundaments of fellowship with God. We measure the reality of our fellowship with God by the principles in 1:5-2:2.
Verse 5 sets the stage for everything that follows to 2:2. God’s character is the standard for salvation, and it is the standard for sanctification. He is the standard against which we evaluate everything in the Christian life. His character lays bare our phony and false claims: 1) that sin has no bearing on fellowship (1:6), 2) that we are not responsible for our sin (1:8), and 3) denying the fact that we sin (1:10).
This is the message which we have heard from Him
John’s message came by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1-2).
Ga 1:12, “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The word “message” occurs only twice in the New Testament, here and in 3:11. The idea is promise. There is a promise in resolving the daunting thought that God is absolute.
and declare to you,
The word “declare” means announce. The Son announced the message to the apostles in 1:3; now, the apostles announce His message to the church.
that God is light
John often describes God as “light” (Jn 1:4-5, 7-9; 3:19-21; 8:12; 9:5; 12:35-36, 46; Re. 21:23). God is absolutely pure in all that He is, whether it is truth or character. He is totally set apart from how man is; He is “holy.” God’s nature is completely incompatible with sin. This is the argument in 1:6,8,10. Christians who claim that they can sin and at the same time have fellowship with God are inconsistent with the nature of God. John argues against this idea with three, “if we say” claims or slogans. Those who have active, unconfessed sin in their lives cannot fellowship with an absolute God.
Three “if, then” clauses argue for how we can fellowship with God (1:7,9; 2:1-2). Jesus Christ and His work are the basis for fellowship with an absolute God. Jesus argues His death on the cross as our Advocate [lawyer]. It is only His death that can expiate our sin before such a God.
We cannot reverse the statement “God is light” to “light is God.” Christians do not worship the sun or light. Since “God is light,” what light is to the physical sphere, God is to us on a spiritual sphere. God is the Revealer – especially of His holiness. We do not discover God; He reveals Himself, for His nature in itself is self-revealing.
Ps 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?”
Jo 12:36, “’While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’ These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.”
1 Ti 6:16, “…who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”
What God is in Himself determines what we should be.
God is more than a light or even the light; however, one of His attributes is light. He is light. This is one of His essential conditions. He subsists in inscrutable, incomparable, exquisite light. He cannot tolerate sin to any degree. That is why there is no hope within us to measure up to the character of God (Ro 3:10,23).
There is no shadow of turning in God. There is no shade, much less any darkness. He is so infinitely holy that He is mutually exclusive from sin. God, in essence, has certain characteristics. God is righteous and just both in Himself and in His expression to others.
God is immutable; He cannot change His attitude toward Himself, and He cannot change His attitude toward others. We change our attitudes constantly toward God, but He can never change His character or attitudes toward us. We can count on what He promises us. He is always faithful to Himself and us. His promises last for time and eternity. God is perfectly stable; we can always count on Him.
2 Ti 2:13, “If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.”
God cannot deny Himself or His word. He can never go back on His word because He is immutable. Human character is unstable, but God is always stable. God knows each of our unfaithful acts toward Him. He does not treat us based on how we treat Him; He always treats us on the basis of His own character.