Biblionomicron – 1 John

If you are confused as to why I am writing about the Bible, you can read more about this 5 year long project back at the beginning of this thread. But basically I am writing at least 1 thousand words for each book of the Bible. Why? Well, an atheist was doing it, and I figured… heck, if he can do it, then so can I.

So we are nearing the fantastic and gloriously cataclysmic ending of this transcendental love story between God and man. And I really believe that is what this story is really about. After five or six years of coming and going with this project, I really do believe that this is what the Bible is all about. Sure, we could all get hung up on the Old Testament prescriptions for a desert culture not dying from food poisoning. And rules about not eating hooves or whatever. Ok. But the enormous take away for me in this project has been just gracious the creator of the universe has been with all of us. The fact that He has created a covenant with us, and He is fulfilling both sides of said covenant on our behalf is just mind blowing. Why would He do that for us? Well, uh, because He is crazy, madly, and perfectly, in love with you. We have been right jerks to Him, but He is making a way for us to be restored into relationship with Him. Man is that mind blowing.

Well, for this entry in our excursion in to First John I figured we’d do something a little different. This time, I’m going to talk a look at a conundrum posed at the end of chapter 1. Alright, let’s take a peek at this mental mindjob of a spiritual complication:

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 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 say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

Did you catch it? Here, let me put it a little more simply in the Taylor Holmes Translation Edition:

“First things first. God is perfect. Heck, he’s basically light He’s so perfect. And by the way, there is absolutely no imperfections to Him. No darkness. Now, with that said, since we Christians like to say that we walk with Him, and yet we walk in darkness, we are liars. But if we walk in this glorious and amazing light, we will walk with other fellow Christians because Christ and His death on the cross has saved us from our sins. And if we say we have no sin, we are also liars. But if we confess our sins, He will forgive us and wash us in a tidal wave of grace… but if we kid ourselves by saying that we don’t sin, we make a mockery of what He did for us at calvary.”

Not sure if that was clear enough. One last try:

God is perfect and can’t abide sin. So don’t sin. Or else we are liars.

But also, don’t say we don’t sin, or else we are liars.

It’s hard to point out just how mindblowingly confusing this is theologically… well, for me at least. Don’t sin, or else you can’t walk with God. BUT, don’t lie, and say you don’t sin, or else you make a joke of what God did for us. Well, which is it? And I really do think this is the conundrum of being a Christian. I’m a complete and utter failure living a good life, compared to the amazing brilliance of who God is. Literally daily, heck, moment by moment, I screw up and fail in some way or another. Maybe the Christians you’ve come in contact with like strut with their chin up high, and they proclaim their holiness. Trust me, that isn’t godliness. That’s a Christian who is afraid to be vulnerable in their walk with God because they’ve been tricked into believing that in order to be a Christian, they need to be perfect. But that is the opposite of what God is calling us to. I mean, take a look at Paul, and what he thought of himself over the course of his life as a Christian:

First he said in, 1 Corinthians 15:9 “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

And a little later in his life he said in, Ephesians 3:8 “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ”

Then in 1 Timothy 1:15 he stated, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”

Did you catch that? He went from the least of the apostles, to the least of all Christians, to least of all sinners. What was happening here? This was Paul, over the course of his relationship with God becoming more and more aware of the magnitude and impact that sin has in his life. His sin meter, his gauge for sin has gone through the roof. The closer to God he walks, the more overcome he is by his own sin and the difficulty really, and honestly, living a Godly life.

And yet, this verse says, you must live a Godly life in order to truly walk with God. You have to live a perfect life! Here, I’ll quote the verse again, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Paul, one of the founders of our faith, his life became worse and worse the longer he lived. Did he have fellowship with God? YES! He definitely did. BUT HE SAID HE WAS CHIEF OF ALL SINNERS MAN! Well, yes, he did say that. And yet, what he was getting at was, as he became more and more aware of God’s perfection, he became even more aware of the enormity to his own sin. It wasn’t that Paul wasn’t trying to live a godly life, he was. But in his attempt to live a godly life, he was just overwhelmed by the surpassing goodness of God. So much so, that comparatively, he was the chief of all sinners.

So there is this crazy balancing act involved in walking as a Christian. I must be perfect to live life walking with Christ. And yet, I am the chief of the chief of all sinners. So how is that possible? Thankfully, it is possible through the crazy puzzle that is God’s forgiveness on the cross at cavalry. Because of what He did for me, in spite of my utter failures at this thing called life, He has made a way for me to walk with Him. As Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” I am living this life out in faith, trusting that the work He has already done is enough to cover my daily increasing list of failures. That the miracle of the cross is enough for me. And that through this miracle, I can daily walk with Him, and that through this walk, I will continue to become ever more aware of my sinfulness, and I will change those things, through His strength and power, in order that I might continue to live more and more like Him each day.