30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

January 28, 2001

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"Walking in the Light"

Many years ago, an inspired Jew wrote: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psa. 119:105). He viewed the word God revealed as the illumination needed to travel through life. He felt surrounded by darkness. That darkness still engulfs the world. John wrote, "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John 5:19). Divine revelation is the only thing making it possible to travel safely through the darkness of this world. Bildad, the Shuhite, was surely correct when he said, "The light of the wicked indeed goes out, and the flame of his fire does not shine" (Job 18:5). Strangely, most of us do not know whether we are walking in light or darkness -- and care even less. Are you walking in light or darkness, dear friend? Please stay tuned; today we will study walking in God's light and what it involves.

Hello, this is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the the Clarksville church of Christ welcoming you to another presentation of"What Is Truth?" The Clarksville church of Christ presents this program every Sunday at this same time. Our purpose is to teach the truth and nothing but the truth. We always urge you who listen to let us know if you find us teaching what you think is untrue. We do not want to be wrong. You are very warmly invited to visit our meetings today. At 9:30 A.M. we have Bible classes for all ages. At 10:30 A.M. and 6 P.M. we worship congregationally, and each Wednesday we meet for Bible classes at 7:30 P.M. Our building is located at the corner of Hale Road and Hwy 131 in Clarksville. We would be delighted to have you come and visit us today.

Life has many traps, many pitfalls. Danger lurks everywhere. Darkness covers the world through ignorance and sin. "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ" (Eph. 4:17-20).

No mere man, unaided by God, can guide himself through the maze of ignorance and wickedness. Jeremiah said, "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jer. 10:23). Those who never learned the truth from Christ Jesus continue unsuccessfully stumbling through life blinded by the devil. Paul wrote, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. 4:3-4). They grasp for nearly anything that might offer some security, but, what appears to be secure in the world is never reliable.

God provides light to the world. He expects every accountable being to find it and walk in it. "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Darkness pictures sin, ignorance, wickedness and disobedience. Light represents truth, understanding, enlightenment, purity and holiness.

God, through Jesus Christ, is the only light the world has. the very "light of the world" (John 1:9; 8:12). Christians are "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14). As lights they reflect Christ to the world through spreading his word (Phil. 2:15).

Walking in the light is living under God's orders, His infallible standard of right. Men set up their own standards for living, but God's word is the only standard that counts. A sensible person will examine self to determine whether he is right or wrong with God Almighty."Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you are disqualified" (2 Cor. 13:5). When one no longer enjoys being a child of God, has trouble getting along with other Christians, and loses interest in standing for the truth of God's will, he is headed for the dark side of life.
John's letter was written, in part, to refute a very dangerous heresy. Guided by the Holy Spirit John responded. False teachers, called either Docetic or Cerinthian Gnostics, held a corrupt doctrine of the nature of Jesus while on earth. Jesus was God incarnate. Incarnate means God was in the fleshly body of Jesus. "Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, But a body didst thou prepare for me" (Heb. 10:5).

The Docetic Gnostic denied that anything divine could be physical. They claimed the physical form of Jesus was not real. The term dokeo is from the Greek word that means "appear." Thus they were known as Docetic Gnostics. The other heretics took their name from their leader, Cerinthius, who taught that Jesus was the natural son of both Joseph and Mary. He , like modernists of our day, denied the virgin birth of Christ. He argued that Jesus became "the Christ" when baptized by John in the Jordan river.

John effectively refuted both of these heretical positions. In the first four verses, he affirmed: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life - the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us - that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full" (1 John 1:1-4).

John shows facts about Jesus in denial of gnostic errors. First he shows Jesus has eternal being -- "that which was from the beginning." Next, he proves Jesus was real, in the flesh -- "that which we have seen, looked upon, and touched." Third, he attributes to Christ eternal life"with the Father" the life that was manifested to us. Fourth, he declares this is the basis of fellowship among all who walk in the light as a way of life. He says, "that ye also may have fellowship with us: yea, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (vs. 4).

Verse 5 tells us that "God is light and in Him is no darkness at all." God is the only standard by which his children are to pattern their lives. This also refutes the doctrine that claims humans are competent to set up their own standards for life without any divine aid. Men cry for freedom from any kind of restraint. They want nothing that calls on them to walk by a standardized, limited rule. This is man's fatal blunder. Everything about man's relationship to God is enclosed by divinely set limits and boundaries. We either accept them and walk with God directed by revealed truth, or reject them and walk in darkness holding hands with the devil all the way to hell. The choice is ours. We are not promised freedom to set up our own way of living.

God is light. We walk in light. Walking is a progressive sequence of steps, but God does not walk in light -- He is light. God makes no progress; He never changes (Mal. 3:6); He is from everlasting to everlasting A Psalm, attributed to Moses begins, "Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God" (Psa. 90:2).

The unchangeable nature of the Almighty is such that his light dispels darkness to the one who comes to Him through faith. The closer we walk in a godlike way, the more light we see. Driving down a dark lane at night the headlights of the car reach only so far in front, but the further one goes, the more the light reveals. As we walk in the light of God's truth, we continue to learn more. As we learn more, our practice of what is right gradually is perfected and we mature and become stronger in the faith.

Walking in the light is a beautiful way of life. It is available to every accountable being. Only those whose lives are so sodden in sin that they have no desire to do what is right will reject it. "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen that they have been done in God" (John 3:10-21). There are two classes of people: those who practice evil and those who do the truth. Dear friend, have enough concern for yourself to want to do the truth. Study the Bible, the one and only divinely revealed source of light. This is the only way to determine whether you are in the light or in darkness.

The light demands sinners to submit to Jesus Christ through faith. "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). The light demands repentance. " unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). Light demands one obey the sacred command to be baptized into the sacred name of the Holy Three, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in order to be saved. Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Baptism, to the penitent believer is the portal to light. If you haven't yet done so, why not make this the day you come to the light of Christ's way? In the words of the ancient prophet: "Come ye and let us walk in the light of Jehovah" (Isa. 2:5).

"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" wrote the beloved John (1 John 1:5). Darkness and light have nothing in common. Paul asked, "What communion has light with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:15). The obvious answer is none. 1 John 1:7 reads, "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." There is but one path of light from this life to eternal glory. It is the way prescribed and illuminated by the Bible. Let us consider a few more facts involved in this grand and glorious walk.

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Here are two magnificent blessings from God which are of great comfort to Christians. To enjoy those blessings, Christians are obligated to comply with the conditions God has stipulated. The conditions are comprehensively described as walking in the light, never turning back to the darker side of life.

God is light, and to be with God one must walk in the light. Walking is a figurative way of describing "the whole round of the activities of the individual life." (W.E. Vine). Walking in the light establishes a right relationship with God. Penitent believers who are baptized into Christ are "raised to walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Only those who walk in the new life are Christians and they are to be as much like God as possible. Paul wrote, "Therefore be followers of God as dear children" (Eph. 5:1). Fellowship is generated from an intense desire and willingness to live a godly life. B.F. Westcott wrote, "The Christian can in his measure imitate God, and as he does so, he realizes fellowship with the brethren, which is the visible sign of fellowship with God." (Commentary, The Epistles of John, page 19).

All who walk in the light are blessed with continued cleansing from sin. "... and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses (keeps on cleansing) us from all sin." In addition to being in fellowship with God, the blood of Christ keeps the Christian cleansed from all sin. Both fellowship with God and cleansing from all sin are possible only by walking in the light of God's word. 1 John 1:7 introduces these blessings with the word "if." "If" introduces a conditional sentence and is followed by a condition that must be met.

Walking in light is the condition upon which we may be in fellowship with God. He offers us His companionship and the cleansing from all of our sins. As one continues to walk in the light, fellowship with God is maintained and cleansing from sin continues. Neither fellowship with God nor cleansing from sin is automatic. There is a very clear procedure given in the New Testament by which the sins of Christians are forgiven. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all lawlessness"(1 John 1:9).

A faithful gospel preacher put it this way: "The Bible teaches that the blood of Christ continuously cleanses a Christian of sin -- if. If he walks in the light. If he confesses his sins (1 John 1:9). Confessing one's sins is part of walking in the light." (Edward Bragwell, The Reflector, July 1991, page 4). All humans will become guilty of sin at some time in life. Solomon wrote, "For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin" (Eccl. 7:20). Hundreds of years later, Paul added, "... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"(Rom. 3:23). John said, "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:10).

It is possible to cease walking in the light and thus forfeit the blessings of fellowship with God and cleansing from sin. The blood of Christ does not continue cleansing the sins of Christians who make no effort at all to confess and forsake sins. Some false teachers erroneously represent the blood of Christ as a blanket or umbrella that covers the sinning person all the time thereby preventing God from seeing the sin or the sinner. That false doctrine gives the false assurance that there is no need to worry about sin. The doctrine of "once saved, always saved" is an example of this perverted view. It is a hideous false doctrine. We must acknowledge that forgiveness of all sins is conditional. None who cease walking with God in the light should expect to continue enjoying benefits God puts in Christ.

Cleansing from sin is complete and constant. When God forgives His children they are completely cleansed. "Cleanseth" is from the Greek term katharidzo. It means to make something free from all impurities. Katharidzo literally means ridding something of pollutants, filth, or contamination. Used in a religious context, it means purification through propitiation (Hermann Cremer, Biblio-Theological Lexicon, page 317). It is an act of God by which he removes all our sins from our record. The Hebrew writer quoted a prophetic statement that when God forgives He forgets our sins. "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17).

There is an analogy between cleansing from sin and the cleansing of lepers in the Bible. Leprosy is a very deadly and loathsome disease. It is so contaminating that those afflicted with it are normally exiled from society. Miriam and Aaron who tried to usurp the function of Moses, the law giver, were punished and Miriam was stricken with leprosy. Aaron came quickly to Moses and pled with him, "Oh, my lord! Please do not lay {this} sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned" (Num. 12:11). Try to visualize the horrible nature of this disease in which the flesh literally decays and rots away. However, the Lord cured Miriam and no trace of it remained. Naaman, a captain in the army of Syria, was afflicted with leprosy but healed by God's power and "his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (2 Kings 5:14).

The comparison of cleansing leprosy and sin shows how totally and absolutely God cleanses the sinner. The leper was cleansed of every stain of the dreaded disease. Those who sin, even while walking in the light, who confess their sins and seek pardon, are wholly and completely cleansed. No trace of the sin remains. When God forgives a person completely, so should we. If others offend us and ask for pardon our forgiveness must be as complete as God's forgiveness to us when we sin against him. When God forgives us of our sins, we also have to forgive ourselves. We may never forget our blunders, but we certainly can bask in the radiance of the assurance that God, when he forgives us, has forgotten our past sins.

Fellowship with God is a partnership. Usually, partnership exists between equal partners, but that cannot be true when God is one of the partners. In verse 7 the phrase, "we have fellowship one with another"is interpreted by some to mean a fellowship of God, who is light, and those who walk in his light. If that is the true meaning it cannot be an equal partnership. A. Plummer wrote, "He (John) would scarcely have expressed the relation between God and man by a phrase which seems to imply equality between those united in fellowship." (Cambridge Greek New Testament for Schools and Colleges.)

"One with another" often is limited to those who walk in light. God does not walk anywhere. He simply is. Those who walk in the light are the ones who have the fellowship and form the partnership"one with another." Verse 3 mentions fellowship among members of the family of God. John calls it a "fellowship with us" and says that fellowship is "with" the Father. A passage that is somewhat parallel mentions Jehovah hearkening to those who speak "one with another"(Mal. 3:16).

John uses the expression "one with another" later in this same letter. He said, "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment" (1 John 3:23). Here "one another" means love from brother to brother. Jesus prayed, "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as you, Father, {are} in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:20-21). Those who are walking in the light are those for whom Jesus prayed, that by the words revealed through the apostles they might be one. Unity and fellowship in Christ are maintained when all Christians walk in the light, when they all follow the word of God. The light of 1 John 1 is the word of John 17.

Light represents the good in the Bible and darkness the evil. Where there is light, there is happiness, honesty, and association of good with good. The opposite is true of darkness. In darkness there is sin, depravity, disunity, discord, chaos, and ugliness. Fellowship with God is impossible outside his word. The children of Israel were slaves in Egypt. During their enslavement they were oppressed by Pharaoh. God sent Moses to emancipate them. To convince Pharaoh, God sent plagues on the land, one of which was absolute and total darkness."Then the Lord said to Moses, 'Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness {which} may even be felt.' So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days" (Exo 10:22-23). During the darkness all association and fellowship ceased. Only when light returned was communion between the people possible. In the spiritual world, when Christians walk in the light, they have fellowship, the tie that binds -- only in Christ. Salvation is not in darkness but light. Light fills the body of Christ, His church.

Faithful obedience to God is required in order to continue walking in the light. Belief that leads one to true repentance, which in turn brings one to be baptized for the remission of sins is what God requires. If you haven't done that, why wait any longer. The following comes from the late Charles R. Brewer:

"Many wise and great of this earth live in darkness because they have not accepted the simple teaching of the word of God. God has made His way simple and plain so that all may enjoy the blessing of heavenly light. And they are wise who accept the simplicity of the gospel, however foolish they may appear in the eyes of men. He gives light for one step at a time. We may not see all that God has for us, but we can take each step as we see it, and as we do that we can be moving onward toward greater knowledge and richer blessings.

"Here are some steps that God wants us to take:

1. Believe on the Lord with all your heart (Acts 16:31).

2. Repent of all sin (Acts 2:38).

3. Confess your faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9).

4. Be buried in baptism (Acts 2 :38; Col. 2:12; Gal 3:26-27).

If you obey those simple commands you will then be added to his church (Acts 2:41, 47).

This is Richie Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"