Creating a Purifying Place
In 1 John 1, John is talking about confessing in the light. Too many confess in the dark. Some people get a little somethin’ in them, and all of a sudden they start confessing things…revealing what’s in their heart of hearts. They start saying things they wish they could say in public without libations, without the truth serum as it were. Speaking truth about yourself because you’re relaxed, confessing your sins, confessing the things you worry about, the things you do wrong, because you let your hair down, because you decided to be free and vulnerable is not good in the wrong social context. It won’t be good at the holiday BBQ. Just because you’re there doesn’t mean the light is on. It takes more than your presence to turn on His light. It takes your fellowship.
So, get this now, my fellowship with you is based on me being in the light. Members and friends will come talk to me about something they’re struggling with because they expect me to bring His light into our meeting. And that’s important, as a pastor, that is critical because I am an equipper, according to Ephesians 4, who is supposed to equip you for works of service, and speak the truth to you in love, so that the whole church body may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith. But here’s the thing, it doesn’t take the senior pastor to bring in the light. Anyone who loves the Lord, who is in fellowship with Jesus, can bring the light into the room; can bring the light into a gathering; can bring the light into an interaction, into a situation.
Your fellowship with Jesus causes you to have Christian fellowship with others. Our fellowship with Jesus lights up our interactions with others.
(Read v.5-7 again)
You have to understand the context of this letter the apostle John is writing. John was the last disciple alive to have seen Jesus. So this is personal for John. So this has to be personal for you in order for you to really get this, to embrace the equipment I’m about to give you and actually put it on so that you use it in your everyday life. As the last disciple alive to have seen Jesus, to have fellowshipped with Jesus, to have been in the same room with Jesus, to have had a meal with Jesus, to have seen Jesus heal people, console people, direct people, teach people, preach to people, stand up for people, and because he has dedicated the rest of his life to Jesus, there is no question John is bringing light to people. But the light brings more than teaching. The light brings Christian fellowship. The light brings unprecedented interactions, an unparalleled gathering, an unfathomable fellowship that transforms the hearts and minds of God’s people. This is what we bring that no other people can bring to a gathering on the face of this universe.
What makes our fellowship different? Yes, the presence of the Spirit of the living God. Most definitely. But there is something quite specific that John is highlighting here that is the very foundation of our fellowship, and must be every time we meet, very time we come together.
It’s the blood. It’s what the blood does when we are in active fellowship with Jesus. And when we have active fellowship with Jesus, it’s what the blood does when we have fellowship with one another. The blood purifies us from all sin. When we have fellowship with Jesus and then fellowship with each other, the blood begins to flow in the Body of Christ, and all those body parts that are connected to each other, all of us who are a part of that Body are purified from all our sins, by the blood.
Let me clarify again, this only happens in the light. This purification cannot happen in darkness. Just because someone decided to purge themselves after a few drinks that loosened them up, or just because someone has created some intense fellowship because they all of a sudden wanted to keep it real, keep it 100, doesn’t make it a most productive moment. Nor does those kinds of fellowship, those kinds of honest conversations, make them your closest and dearest friends. It just makes them ignorant. They may not know any better. But you do. At least you know now even more than you knew yesterday.
Think about it logically, nothing good happens in a dark place. So the ability to recognize a dark place, the ability to define a dark place is a critical equipping to have, it is critical equipment for you to put on and use every day. Too many Christians don’t recognize dark places. This is what Apostle John is equipping church members with right in this letter, this was his intent—to equip them with the ability to distinguish light places from dark places, to distinguish light fellowships from dark fellowships.
What turns the light on is the confession. We have to confess where we fall short. We have to be vulnerable in that lighted place. We have to be introspective in that lighted place, we have to look within ourselves and be brutally honest about where our sin is. If we don’t do that, then a place, a conversation, a gathering, an event that’s supposed to be lighted will end up being covered by darkness. You see the blood doesn’t cover us when we don’t recognize our personal sins.
8, 9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Well you may say “I have no problem confessing my sins,” but to what end? Are you confessing them as a badge of past glory and honor? “Yeah, I used to be this and I used to be that, but now I’m sold out for Jesus, Hallelujah!” To what end have you confessed your sins? Have you confessed them as a way for you to claim that you are true to yourself. “I know who I am. I’m not going change. Either you love me or you don’t.” You don’t even love yourself—that’s why you let people know you’re not going to change. You’re saying it yourself—you are a lost cause in that area of your life. What, you don’t think Jesus can change you? You don’t believe His blood is enough to change you? You don’t believe that His death and resurrection is enough to make you a new creature?You don’t believe the Scriptures? You think you would have to put in too much work to change now?
Live into the fact of your faith—that the work has already been done, that the sacrifice has already been made, that your debt has already been paid. All you need to do is confess, and then turn… Jesus will forgive you, His blood will purify you from the things you are doing right now that are not like Him. His blood is the representation of the death. His death is not only enough to save you, His death is enough to change you. What are you doing without change in your life? What is your witness if you are not being made new as each day goes by?
If you don’t change, you’ll end up being an old church man, or an old church lady with a bunch of church ties and hats and useless anecdotal stories and gossip columns about life that will touch no one but the Devil and Hell. But what if you do allow God to change you? Not only will you change, you will create the opportunity for someone else to change because you will have the ability to bring light to a gathering.
This is what Apostle John is suggesting when he says in chapter 2, v.2 “He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” John is suggesting that you and I have an opportunity no one outside of the body of Christ has—to create a place where people are purified from all their sins. In our presence, people, they don’t just talk about their sins, they just don’t laugh about their sins, they don’t just continue in their sins like God gives them a pass, because “God knows my heart,” they feel compelled to confess them and turn away from them and Jesus purifies them from all of it. This is the centerpiece of what it means to have Christian fellowship. We create that place for people to get clean.
“Ah, I don’t won’t to be in a place where people are always getting clean…” Well, you don’t want to always be where Jesus is. “I’m saying, that’s not a fun place.” The problem is that we always want to enjoy ourselves. But John is not talking enjoying ourselves, he’s talking about joy. Joy is seeing lives change. Joy is experiencing lives transform before your eyes. And the enjoyment you get out of that is indescribable. Stop looking for places to enjoy yourself. Instead, create places where people find joy.
(Read chapter 2, v.1 & 2)
Jesus is available to anybody. No one is beyond redemption. But you’ve got to bring that light to people who live in darkness. You don’t enter a dark situation and join in with the darkness, you shine light. Not the fake light of self-righteousness; but the light of having present fellowship with Jesus, and the light of knowing that you’re a sinner in need of continual confession.