Divine Fellowship

1 John 1  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 4
1 John 1
It is a great mercy that God has not left us in the dark as to our state before Him. Now men, by nature, have a notion of judgment. Even the heathen have this; and much of the Christianity of the present day is little more. Men try to conduct themselves in such sort as to stand in judgment, tempered perhaps by mercy. They confound what is never confounded in the word of God -judgment and mercy.
Now Christ did not come to leave men there; He did not die to leave men there. He came to put men in a totally different condition. If the Son of God came into the world and died, it must have been for some great purpose. He brought down into this world the whole light of grace and truth,-all that was needed to change the whole relation of a man to God:- He came with it.
In the third verse we get the object of writing this scripture, that we may have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. It speaks of such an entire putting away of sin, and such a knowledge of God's thoughts about the Father and the Son as that we may have fellowship with them. What a wonderful thing! Not a mere natural thought of judgment, but companionship of heart with the Father and the Son. Does that leave any uncertainty as to our state at the great day? No. He is not to have fellowship and intimate friendship with us and then condemn us. No. There is such a cleansing as that all that could, hinder this fellowship is forever put away.
Mark how far a man's thought is from that naturally. He says, I have not this fellowship, this joy. God is in heaven and I on the earth. Well, if it is so, you have not got the good of the gospel. If you have not fellowship with the Father, you are not thinking about Him at all, or else you are dreading Him. You have not fellowship, cannot have fellowship, if you feel criminal before Him. It is anything but fellowship. The will is not broken down when there is dread. But how is this? Why! is not your heart given to pleasure, to money? Are you not after the flesh, after things which are quite contrary to God, and contrary to fellowship with God? " The carnal mind is enmity to God." That is our state naturally, and what the word of God calls " darkness;"-not merely being in the dark, but darkness itself, just as God is light. It is in you that the evil is. There is the insensibility of a drunkard; but besides this, there is the fact that he loves to gratify a vile lust. "Ye were sometime darkness."
And what is this darkness? Corruption of nature. Compare yourself with Christ. He is the pattern of what is good. Are not you just the very opposite? How came you to be so? All the objects for which you are living are just the opposite of that for -which Christ was living. You are living for pleasure, for money, for fame, and for a thousand other things, while He was ever living unto God. I am not speaking of your outward life, but of your motives. All that is governing your life is the opposite of what governed Christ. Suppose a person brought up in filth from his youth; be does not know that it is filth. He has got accustomed to it! And why? Because his heart is as filthy as his clothes or his house. Now we are so accustomed to sin that we do not see it to be sin. What does that prove? Just that we love it. " This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." The rejection of Jesus is the proof of it. You may say that if you had lived then you would not have done as they did, you would not reject Him. Are you sure of that? What are you doing now? Do you see any beauty in Him? Do you see one bit of darkness in yourself? When He is brought in testimony before you, you do not see beauty in Him. That is darkness. We love our lusts, and we do not love the Lord Jesus Christ. That is our state. Christ is not the thing that governs and possesses our hearts day by day. If so, how can we have fellowship " God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." But you are darkness, and how can you have fellowship with Him P You are darkness in your conduct, in your will, and in your judgment; for your judgment is governed by your will, your motives, desires, &c. He is holiness itself, "light," which is pure and which manifests everything. But if He manifests everything in you, how then can you have fellowship with Him?
Now this is a message of what God is, " God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." He cannot give up His light, He cannot have fellowship with darkness; and it would not be a blessing if He did. But it is a message brought down here. It is not in heaven, but here that we have the message, " God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." If you call yourself a Christian, you are saying that you have fellowship with him; but if you are walking in darkness you are deceiving yourself. This is a fearful thing. God is so totally out of men's minds, that they have not the sense that they have got away from Him. God is light. There cannot be the slightest communion with darkness. God cannot undo Himself, and destroy His own holiness to have fellowship with darkness. You are deceiving yourself.
Now there is another thing; " 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." God will not leave you away from Himself. If He makes you happy, it is in Himself. Now this is what natural conscience dreads to be in God's presence. God, as He is, without modifying one bit of His holiness, puts us there in the light. Then I am in the light as God is in the light. This was in Christ. What do we see in Christ? Holiness in every thought. Israel undertook to obey God under terror, Christ in love. Men undertake this as Israel did, under terror of judgment. Men do undertake to do God's will in view of judgment. Now Christ said, " Lo, I come to do thy will, 0 God." That is what Israel undertook, and we know how they failed. That is what men are doing-undertaking to have to do with God in prospect of judgment. God dealt with Israel so to prove that they could not do it. But that is what Christ did in grace. So when He came on earth He was all obedience and love. Christ comes, and what do we find in all His ways? Separation from evil. He kept evil outside of Him in passing through it. He touched the leper and was undefiled. He was love; never did anything but love. He was the living expression of the holiness and love of God in the midst of sin. When that is brought into the conscience, when I see that I have slighted this Christ, and preferred idle vanities to Him, how it shows me what I am. When I see the love of Christ, does not that come and say, ' 0 you are a wretch to prefer a bit of dress to Christ, to take anything when Christ is disliked for it!' And when thus brought into the light, in the presence of God, we judge ourselves. 1 judge rightly what I am, and what I have been doing all the while I have been in darkness. I must, of course, see the light; therefore it is by faith. Not that I may realize all, but yet I judge all in God's presence and hate myself.
And it is just when we begin to think that God does not hate us that we begin to hate ourselves. When the spirituality of the law comes, we hate sin, but dread the consequences; but when the light of Christ comes, we hate sin through and through, and there is humbleness. I hate sin, and abhor myself. How, there is a real moral change. I am brought into the true light. O what a difference when a man is brought to God; not in terror which makes him run away, nor in full peace, but yet to a God who, in love, has brought me into His presence to show me what I am. Then, I repeat, it is getting into the light. There is distress at first, but so much the better, for the heart is set right.
" The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." Here is something more than hating sin. We are in the light. God will not enfeeble that light so as to allow one shade of darkness. He loves us so much as not to dim one ray of His glory, but He is doing that which will make us happy in it. Instead of allowing it, He cleanses it away.
If walking in the light as He is in the light, how do I get there? Not in Christ's life merely, for I get His death. There the light was more shown than in His life. There God is shown to be intolerant of all sin. God Himself has marked there, in the cross, that He cannot tolerate sin. And if Christ was holiness Himself, it shows more clearly the fearfulness of sin put upon Him. If God and Christ are to settle the question of sin between them, they must do it according to the perfection of their own knowledge of it. There light and sin met. Light is turned into judgment against sin. Light did meet the sin, and in judgment. Where are we? To get the fruit of this. Now take love. There He was giving Himself up, all that He was for us. There never was a time in which light and love came out so as on the cross-the perfection of light, because of obedience; of love, because of giving up of self. Never was there such obedience as when Christ was made sin. All is brought to the same focus, that I may see light and love in Christ. Why all this? That the blood of Jesus Christ His Son may cleanse us from all sin.
Now that I am brought into the light, what do I see? Sin on me? No, I see it was laid on Christ. I see light dealing with sin on Him. When I learn the extent of sin, then I learn the extent of love. When brought into the light as God is,-in the cross -I see that Christ has put my sins away; and my being in the light it is that enables me to see it. When I come to see sin in its fullness, I see that it is on Christ. And now there is not merely the cleansing of my conscience, but peace with God. It is in the light. I am in the light, as God is in the light; and the very thing that brings me to see sin, brings me to see sin put away. I know too that God is love, and here I have peace. Then we get truth in the inward parts. If I confess sin,-own all sin as such-that is truth in the inward parts. (See Psa. 32) So we are brought in the consciousness of forgiveness into the presence of God; and there I know I am cleansed according to God's mind. Then I learn God's love. In Isaiah the 43rd, God says, " Thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities." What then? " I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own name's sake.
Now this is the message that " God is light." He cannot change, you must. The place where this takes place is the cross. The message is God's perfect love. God, in love to your souls, has not waited till judgment to tell you what sin is, but has told it out in Christ as in His sight, and He has done so in putting it away. Hence the fearful guilt of despising such grace.