Notes on 1 John 1

1 John 1
THE great leading truth of all this Epistle is what is expressed in the first verse. That eternal life has come down—a real positive life. That eternal life that was with the Father, actually entered this world in the Person of Christ. The old thing—what the first Adam was, is entirely rejected. It is true, we have got both in its as long as we are in the body. But there is a Second man, the Lord from heaven, who has come in, because the first man was turned out. In blessed grace He comes down. And we have seen it, he says, land heard it—the word or life—that is, in Christ. He was walking about this world, another kind of life altogether. That is what He calls “from the beginning.” It was an entirely new thing, manifested here below.
Wherever there is the fullness of grace brought in, i.e. our privileges and relationships, we get the Father and the Son. Of course it is God, but God brought out in these relationships.
The first thing we have here, in virtue of the life of God given to us, is the fullness of the privileges of the saints in Christ. They have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. That brings a second point out, and it is this: —If you say you have that kind of fellowship, and walk in darkness, it is all false, because darkness cannot have fellowship with light. If you have perfect grace bringing in divine life—the life that was manifested in the person of Christ, and then communicated to us, he next says, “It is light.” God does not change the holiness of His nature; and therefore the pretense to have fellowship with it, if we are walking in darkness, is all false. Then he presents the remedy as regards our state; that is, that Christ cleanses us and makes its fit for the light. And the second thing which routes out in the next chapter is, that when, in our weakness, we had fallen into sin. “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Grace has provided for the evil, though there can be no communion with God in it. First, we have the fullness of the blessing; next its nature and character—God's light and purity; and then the means by which it is possible that such sinners as we can have all this blessing —first, by the cleansing, and then by the advocacy, of Christ.
“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 of the Word of life.” Christ is looked at in this world as the beginning or everything. It is not that the saints before had not received life from Him above, but the thing itself had never been manifested.
“'That which was from the beginning, which we have heard.” &c. It was in a man bodily. It comes by the power of the word now, but they had seen this eternal life in the person of a man walking about in this world. Just as we can see natural life in Adam, so we see divine life in Christ. If we look at the life in us, it is united with failure; but I can see and know what the perfectness of the life is by looking of “And the life was manifested and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested unto us.” There we see and know it; and our spirituality depends on the degree in which we realize it. They had seen it as come in the flesh, amid it is declared unto us, that we may have fellowship with them and their fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. It is not merely a person justified before God by the work of Christ, but it is fellowship with God in virtue of a life which was in Him before God—a life perfectly conformed to all that God is. Looking at the new nature given to us, in its holiness, and its love, it is the same thing as that which is in God. He gives me this life that there may be power. It cannot reveal things to me, but it can give me fellowship with God: It is not merely that I am justified before Him, but I have the same thoughts and feelings: He has them in and we having them from Him, they are the same. There is fellowship. There are common thoughts and joys and feelings with the Father and the Son, and that we know and have. He has given us the Spirit that there may be power, if the Holy Ghost works in us. All that was perfect in a man's feelings, according to the divine nature, Christ has had. If my soul delights in Christ, and sees the blessedness of what is in Him, do not I know that my father delights in Him too He delights in holiness and love, and so do we: that, is fellowship. You get fellowship with the Father and the Son. This is the blessedness that I have got. It is not merely the fact that I am accepted, who was once a sinner, but that, Christ having become my life, I get the blessedness of fellowship with the Father and with the Son. The, Father loved the Son—the Son loved the Father— and I get their divine affections and have fellowship with them. This is where He brings us; it is perfect blessedness.
Nor is this merely true in heaven; because Christ had not communion with His Father in Heaven. He served His Father upon earth—gave up His will in everything. The life was manifested to us here, not in heaven. Of course the full blessedness of it will be known in heaven, and therefore he says, “These I things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” We have fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. There is nothing beyond that in heaven, itself. Therefore it is, “These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” That is the blessing He puts us in.
Now he brings in the test, that there may be no self-deception. This then is the message which we have heard of flint, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” if He manifested this eternal life, He manifested God too, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” With the thought of this life, He brings in that which tests everything in us too: that is the other side of it. It runs all through this Epistle. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Here it is said, God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” The light is the purest thing, and it manifests all else. That was what Christ was—perfect purity, and as such He manifests everything. “If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.” It is impossible in the nature of things. If there is not the purity of this divine nature that is light in us, there is no fellowship with God. If we say that, there is, we lie, and do not the truth. There is no limit short of God Himself. The thing that is revealed is God. You cannot give man light, nor find the light for yourselves. It was in Himself. Now God has been manifest in the flesh, and therefore you have to “walk in the light as be is in the light.” And if we do, “we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his son cleanseth us from all sin.” We have in that seventh verse the three parts of our Christian condition looked at as men walking down here. We walk in the light as God is in the light, everything judged according to Him with whom we have fellowship. Next what the world does not know anything of, we have fellowship one with another.” That is, I have the same divine nature with every Christian—the same Holy Ghost dwells in me; so that there must be fellowship. I meet a perfect stranger traveling, and there may be more communion with him than with one whom I have known all my life, just because the divine life is there. It is a natural thing to the new creature; there is fellowship. But besides these, I am cleansed— “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”
We are in the light as God is in the light; we have fellowship together; and we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Then he enters a little more into the practical condition of our own conscience. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” There is where truth in the inward part comes out. The new nature in us judges all the sin that is in us. He does not deny that we have learned the truth; but if Christ is the truth in me, it must judge all that is of the old man and sin. If a person has only learned the truth outwardly, he may gloss over all the rest. But if the truth is in us, everything comes out. If I say, I have no sin, looked at as in the flesh, I deceive myself and the truth is not in me. Yet it is not merely saying that there is sin in me that is the thing. It is when really the heart and conscience are touched so that I own I personally followed the flesh. It is not a doctrine then. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” His hearing towards us is gracious and forgiving, and he cleanses us completely.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” If we pretend not to have sinned, we make Him a liar; it is not merely that the truth is not in us, but I am making God Himself untrue in His Word. To say that I have no sin is to deceive myself; but to say I have not sinned is to deny God's truth even outwardly, because He says all have sinned. I am denying really the whole truth of God. But these are the two things that are called for: first, to know that the truth is in us; and then to confess our sins. A man may be dreadfully proud and not like to confess it; but when a person has, through divine grace, got the upper hand, he hates himself instead of excusing his sin, he confesses it, he has got right with God, and God says, I will forgive you; it is all done with. We stand before God in the sense of His favor. But besides that, we stand before God with the consciousness of being perfectly clean in His sight.
If I get into the light, with any dirt upon me, I see it there; if I am in the dark I see no difference. If we are in the light before God, all is seen. But if I am cleansed and in the light, I only see the more that there is not a spot in me. The two opening verses of chap. ii. are the means of maintaining us in the light.
The first chapter takes up these two things: first, the fullness of the blessing, in fellowship with the Father and Son; and, secondly, the nature of the fellowship, and then how a sinner can have it—the individual state of soul as judging and confessing sins, and truth in the inward parts. I cannot say I have no sin, and yet I say I am clean before God. There is where people mistake. They want a divine nature, which, instead of pretending to works, judges everything according to the light. Wherever there is sin on the conscience there cannot be communion, though there is a blessed means of grace that does cleanse. “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.” in chapter ii. 1, 2, we have the remedy for daily defilement. There it is Christ, not to maintain righteousness, but to restore communion.