Commentary by Walter Albritton


November 2


What a Fellowship We Enjoy as Children of God


1 John 1:1—3:10


Key Verse:  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. – 1 John 1:7


            One of my favorite old songs is “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” The writer, Elisha Hoffman, exclaims “What a fellowship, what a joy divine….what a blessedness, what a peace is mine….O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way….O how bright the path grows from day to day….What have I to dread, what have I to fear….I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.”

            The chorus offers us that joyous refrain: “Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms.” This is what God offers all who “lean on Jesus.” And this is precisely what John is describing in his first letter!

            The fellowship we enjoy as children of God is indeed quite remarkable. There is no other like it in the world. Not only are we privileged to have fellowship with one another; we also have fellowship with God. In addition, it is within this extraordinary fellowship that our sins are cleansed.

            John teaches us that our God is not aloof and unapproachable. In pagan religions, people would cut themselves, shout and scream to awaken an indifferent god. John portrays our God as a loving Father who is available and accessible, eager to enjoy rich fellowship with all who accept their position as his children.

            There are conditions we must meet in order to enjoy the benefits of Christian fellowship. John makes these conditions very clear.

            We must choose to walk in the light. We cannot have fellowship with God as long as we prefer to walk in darkness, indulging in lying, sin, and deception. Since God is light, we walk away from God when we decide to walk in darkness.

            We become liars if we say that we have fellowship with God but continue to walk in darkness and untruth. Moreover, if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and deny ourselves the rich benefits of genuine fellowship with God.

            In this first chapter of his First Letter, John offers us one of the most glorious promises of God found in the Bible. It is worthy of our memorizing so that we can recall it for our own blessing, and be able on occasion to share it with others who are searching for God:

            “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9).

            Many have found this verse a doorway into fellowship with God. I have used it often, inviting hungry nonbelievers to trust God, to confess their sins, receive his forgiveness, and experience his cleansing. It is remarkable how God honors his word, and changes the hearts of those who trust him, when we are willing to invite people to claim his promises!

            I want us to explore more of verse seven where John makes this astonishing claim that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. Think deeply about what John says.

            There is a condition. We must “walk in the light” as Christ is in the light. However, when we do so, God honors us with the precious gift of rich fellowship with each other, but there is even more!

            Observe that it is within this fellowship that his precious blood cleanses us from all our sins. The cleansing power of the blood is released in us through the fellowship. This being true, it becomes most important that we treasure the fellowship, with fellow believers and with God, and resist the temptation to settle for a solitary relationship with God.

            One of the most challenging passages in today’s study is 1 John 2:15-17. Modern day Christians tend to skip over these verses. We want to love Jesus and the things of this world. We think John may have been a bit loony when he said, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

            Examine your own heart. Look at your own home, even as I look at mine. We want all the latest toys, gadgets, cell phones, palm pilots that are commonplace in the secular world. We want all the conveniences available to any one, and we do not want to wait until we can afford them.

            The key may be in the word “love.” John teaches us that we must love God and God alone. When we allow ourselves to “love” things, we endanger our fellowship with God. The test is whether we want most of all to do the will of God, and to allow God to give us victory over our lust for things.

            Look at the sad conditions in southern California, where hundreds of homes have been destroyed by raging fires. We look at homes burning on television, and learn that most of these families have lost everything. But have they really? Surely not, if by faith they have been enjoying fellowship with God!

            John reminds us that the world, and all the things in it, will pass away. However, those who do the will of God will abide forever! Perhaps, as we reflect on the tragic loss of things in California, it is a good time to remind ourselves what matters most.

            Surely our greatest treasure lies in doing the will of God, walking in the light rather than darkness, and enjoying that blessed fellowship wherein our sins are cleansed!

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