For centuries it appeared to human beings that the earth was stationary and that the sun moved around it. Then a man named Copernicus came along and proved that what seemed obvious on the surface was not, in fact, true. It was the earth that was moving around the sun, not the sun around the earth; and that discovery has changed our understanding of our physical reality ever since. What Copernicus did to our perceptions of the earth and the sun, the risen Christ can do to our understanding of our lives.

Those early conclusions we come to as children, that all of life revolves around us, may appear to be true from our perspective, but they are false. It is not just children who hold to this theory of “self” being the center of the Universe. We are faced with the dilemma everyday of who will call the shots for our life. Will we allow the laws of God to lead us through life and shape our decisions or will we determine the direction of our life and come up with our own answers to the questions that confront us? These truly are the only two paths that we can follow. We will either submit our wills and lives to living according to God’s will or we will write our own rules.

What we are talking about is a matter of morals and ethics, two words that have lost their luster in our day. The moral and ethical laws of our God are meant to bless us, to keep us from certain ruin, and to keep us in fellowship with Him. For more than thirty years, we as a nation, have sought to cast off God’s moral and ethical call upon our lives. In his powerful book, The Closing of the American Mind, Dr. Allan Bloom, Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, says, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of. Almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” It is sad, but true. We have taken the pursuit of truth, right and wrong, out of our classrooms and allowed our young people to arrive at the conclusion that they must write their own ethical standards.

Chuck Colson wrote about one such example in a commentary called Computer Confusion. Chuck says,

In educational circles today, there’s a big push to get computers into the classroom. But high-tech electronic gadgets don’t necessarily make for better education. In fact, there’s one kind of computer program that only makes a bad course worse. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education describes a set of videodiscs that were developed for teaching ethics. The disks present students with ethical dilemmas to solve. For example, there’s a disk called “A Right to Die?” showing the true story of a young man named Dax, who was severely burned in a car explosion. For months, Dax underwent excruciating burn therapy. He pleaded with doctors and nurses to let him die. Eventually he recovered, and today he is married and practicing law. But the students don’t know all that. The videodisc shows Dax before the accident, shows him horribly burned-and then stops. The students are asked to decide whether Dax should be allowed to live or die. And whatever they choose, the computer challenges it. If they say Dax should live, they are shown film clips of the patient begging to die. If they say he should be allowed to die, they see clips of him today, in his successful law practice. So what’s the right answer? The computer doesn’t tell. What’s the point of teaching ethics this way? If the method doesn’t teach students what course is right or wrong-what does it teach? The answer is simple: It teaches relativism-that there is no right or wrong in ethics. One of the professors who developed the videodisc program explains: “We never say the students get the wrong answer. We just put their decisions under duress.” That’s the key phrase: putting students’ ideas “under duress.” Dilemmas are chosen that are so difficult it’s hard for students to see how ordinary ethical categories apply-the ones they learned from their parents and teachers. The goal is to free students from everything they’ve been taught before so they can develop their own ideas about ethics. Lawrence Kohlberg, who pioneered this dilemma approach, says the situations are meant to be so hard that “the adult right answer is not obviously at hand,” and the student is, therefore, free to think up his own answers.

The idea that we can come up with our own set of rules dates back far beyond the advent of the computer to the Garden of Eden where Satan suggested God didn’t really mean what He had said, Eve could make her own decision.

Closer to our day, the philosopher Immanuel Kant, said the inner self should be absolutely free and autonomous. Kant’s intention was to enable us to reject any moral laws from outside ourselves — from parents, from teachers, and especially from God. The Autonomous Self, Kant taught, creates its own moral law. If you’ve ever wondered what’s wrong with our pursuit of truth, our decisions about what is right and what is wrong, it is this idea that we can come up with what is truly best for us.

When every person is left to chart their own course we tend to arrive at conclusions that are easiest and most pleasurable for us. We idolize ourselves. We make everything and everyone subservient to our whims and desires. What we need is a Copernican revolution at the most basic level. I came to tell you today that the risen Savior can bring about the change we need to allow us to see that we are not the light, but that we can walk in the light of His truth and salvation. This change can come about if we will open ourselves to His magnificent will and allow the light of His Truth to lead us in this life.

Today we are continuing our study of 1 John, this incredibly powerful letter written by the Elder who is dispensing God’s wisdom to the people of Asia Minor. The wisdom of God, communicated through John, is every bit as powerful and needed today as we approach the end of the second millenium as it was when John and the people of Asia Minor were beginning the first millenium. Let’s take a look at our study for today found in 1 John 1:5-10.

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:5-10)

There is no more needed lesson to share with people of all ages than these little verses in 1 John 1:5-10. We are living in a day in which many people among us, possibly even some of us seated in this sanctuary this morning, are trying to create our own “light,” trying to find whatever it is that will make us happy and fulfilled. We can’t create light while we are walking in darkness and as long as we are walking apart from Jesus we are walking in darkness. We are not the light! I do not care how intellectually astute you may be – you can’t create illuminating light that will bring you joy. I do not care what your status in society may be – you can’t create light that will bring you fulfillment. I do not care how great of a bulge you are experiencing in your bank account – you can’t create light because He alone is the Light! Jesus is the Light of the world who drives the darkness away from our lives!

The Bible is very clear about the source of light for our lives. There is hope for those who are walking in darkness today. Take a look at the following verses.

2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)

4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:4 NIV)

12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

What a wondrous thing it is when we who are born into darkness realize our need for the light of God’s truth to shine upon us! What a tragedy it is when we who are born into darkness, groping around trying to find our way, refuse to acknowledge that the night has fallen and is crushing us under its weight!

There may be some who would say, “You are entitled to your belief, but I would have to disagree with you.” This is merely another symptom of our sickness. We may be entitled to our beliefs, but our beliefs may be very wrong. John says that he didn’t come up with what he was sharing with the people – it had come from God. John writes, 5 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” John says that the message he is delivering was from God and not from people. This is the pivotal moment in our understanding of what is taking place in our society today. The relativism of our day leaves no room for God’s perfect holiness and purity, His absolute claim upon our lives and the way that we live. Relativism makes us the captains of our own destiny, but will inevitably leave us shipwrecked. John was not the only biblical writer who understood that truth rested outside of humanity. Paul wrote in Galatians 1:11-12,

11I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)

The truth that the great biblical writers shared with the people wasn’t subject to human error – it was given by God. This is so important for us. God is unchanging. The way He interacted with people in the beginning is the way He is interacting with us today. He is not subject to mood swings, experiences, or emotions – God is a Rock who is true to His character at all times. On the other hand, we are moody, always subject to external influences, and always changing. We can not trust our emotions. The events that we experience often lead us to do things that we regret later on. Our moods effect our relationships on a daily basis.

Because God is consistent then we can be sure that what He asks of us is always true and right. We need an anchor of stability my friends. We need the unchanging truth of God’s Word in this day of ours when everything is shifting and changing beneath our feet.

When we are confronted with the Truth of God and God’s Holy Spirit convicts us of its absolute truth then we realize that we must adjust our course, allow Him to change our ways, and set sail on a new course.

The story is told of an incident that happened in October of 1995. The radio conversation was between a US naval warship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland. The conversation was released to the public by the Chief of Naval Operations on October 10, 1995.

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the south to

avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship; I say again, divert YOUR

course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Americans: This is the Aircraft Carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the

United States Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied by three Destroyers, three

Cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course

15 degrees North, that’s one five degrees North, or counter-measures will be

undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.

Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call!!

The captain of the USS Lincoln may have felt that he was absolutely justified in demanding the Canadians to change their course because of his rank and the power of his fleet, but once he became away of who he was speaking to – he had a decision to make.

We are no different my friends. We convince ourselves that we are right until we are confronted with the absolute truth of God. Then we must make a decision as to what we are going to do with that knowledge.

John goes on to say in verses 6-7 that if we claim to walk in His light, but actually remain in the darkness then we are liars. Listen to John’s words,

6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

When John says that God is light He is declaring to us that God is absolutely perfect in every aspect of His being. In the Bible “light” and “darkness” have some definite qualities. Intellectually speaking, “light” is equivalent to biblical truth and “darkness” is equivalent to error or falsehood. The Psalmist said, 105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. 106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws..” Morally speaking “light” is equivalent to holiness or purity and “darkness” is equivalent to sin or wrongdoing.

God is calling us out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His glorious light. He is calling us from error to truth. He is calling us from sin to holiness. He is calling us from ourselves to Himself!

We are not to be like the false teachers who claimed to know God, but continued to live in the same way they did before they started making those claims. Paul wrote in Romans 13,

11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Romans 13:11-14)

We are to put away the deeds of darkness and walk in the light. Just being able to hear this truth today presents us with a wonderful opportunity to allow the Lord to search our hearts. Where are you walking today? Where has your path led during the past week? Are you in or out? Are you walking in the light? Are you merely claiming to know God, showing up at church, and wearing a thin veneer of Christianity, but actually walking in the darkness? God says that if that is the case then we are liars. We are actors and actresses living out of a script while our hearts are hardened and darkened.

There is no way for God to deal with your sin and mine until we are totally honest, completely open about our sin with Him. Throughout God’s Word we find the truth concerning our state of being apart from Jesus’ shining light. Let me give you a few examples.

20There is not a single person in all the earth who is always good and never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

23For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (Romans 3:23)

The Bible makes it clear that everyone of us are sinners. We have known God’s truth, but we have chosen to go against what God has asked of us. We have heard the voice of God calling us to Himself, but we have chosen to turn away in pursuit of what we want.

There are folks today who would say that “sin” is only “sin” as long as you believe in your heart that it is sin. If you take that logic literally then we can conclude that if I do not believe in the concept of sin itself then I have never sinned. John challenges that kind of thinking by saying, 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (! John 1:8) Whether we believe we are sinners or not we must realize that sin not dealt with will cause us great harm. The Psalmist said,

3 When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. 4 Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude 5 Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. (Psalm 32:3-5 NLT)

13 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Proverbs 28:13 NIV)

We refuse to acknowledge and confess our sin because of our pride. If I confess, or agree with God, that I have done wrong then you may think that I am weak, you may think “what else has he done that is wrong,” and you may hold my sin against me. This all may be true in our dealings with people, but not with God. If we confess our sin to God then He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, He will forgive us, and He will never throw it up in our faces again.

For the past fifteen weeks our men’s Promise Keeper’s group has been studying a book called, “The Pursuit of Holiness.” This little book has impressed upon me in such a powerful way that I need to continually pursue holiness in my daily living. “Walking in the light” is a constant attempt to listen to God’s voice, follow His leadership, and avoid the pitfalls in life that He points out to me as I go through each day. One of the big lessons for me has been the need for confession, to bear my soul to God, and to never make excuses for my actions that pain His heart. The result of such confession is a cleansing that is unknown to those who refuse to speak so bluntly and openly with God.

To find that cleansing we must bear our sin-sick soul to the Father. Chuck Swindoll shares,

Many years ago I decided to do that very thing. I was fed up with empty words and pharisaical phrases. In my search for new meaning, I came across this brief description of prayer, which I set on my desk and carried in the front of my Bible for years. I cannot locate the book from which it was taken, but I do know the author, a seventeenth-century Roman Catholic Frenchman named Francois Fenelon. Although written centuries ago, it has an undeniable ring of relevance:

Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them, talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and to others.

If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subjects of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back, neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved intercourse with God. (Strengthening Your Grip, Charles Swindoll)

John says that if we confess our sins, as we unload our hearts, then God is faithful to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) This is an interesting verse of Scripture. There is a word that is being used more and more often today in our society. We hear the word “Catharsis” being used by counseling professionals and psychologists in describing things that help people release some of the anxiety and emotion they have acquired because of experiences they have gone through in life.

The phrase, “and cleanses us from all unrighteousness” contains the Greek word, “kaqaro,s” Katharos {kath-ar-os’}. We get our English word “Catharsis” from this word which means, “clean, pure, purified by fire, like a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit, free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt, free from every admixture of what is false, sincere genuine, unstained with the guilt of anything.”

Through the shed blood of Jesus, there is forgiveness and redemption from sin. The word “cleanse” is in the present tense and communicates to us continuous action. If we walk in the light then the blood of Jesus “keeps on cleansing” us from all sin.

In the realm of counseling there are many different approaches to modern-day catharsis. Talking can be a form of catharsis where we get off of our chest what is plaguing us. I visited a webpage this past week that suggested that writing was a great form of catharsis, but after reading some of the poems on the website I am not so sure. Let me share one with you.

LIFE

by Dena McQuay (Iam NOTaFrk)

Life is no longer easy,

I can’t remember if it ever was.

My love is far away,

though still in my heart.

My friends have started to judge me,

I fail by their standards.

Life is no longer worth living,

I wish I were no longer here.

I’ve tried to leave this life,

someone wants me to stay.

I try to be alone,

there are those that won’t let me.

Life is no longer easy,

I’m sure it never was.

Not sure how to do this,

I don’t know how to get through.

I try to find something lean on,

but I’m told it needs to be me.

I’m not sure if I can,

I don’t know if I can hold myself.

I guess someday soon,

all questions will be answered.

Life is meant to be lived,

but I only exist.

I do not mean to be critical, but if “catharsis” is a cleansing, a purifying, then I do not see where Dena achieved any cleansing from simply stating what is. It is not cathartic for me to simply state my sin, I need to be cleansed from my sin, a cleansing that can only come from God. And this is my point – cleansing comes from God and from Him alone. He alone has the power to cleanse us from all of our sin and to make us right before His holiness.

This morning, before we leave this place, I need to ask you, “Are you in or out?” Are you walking in the light of His holiness or are you still groping around in the dark trying to make it on your own? Won’t you come clean before the Father this morning so that He can cleanse you with the precious cleansing blood of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ?

Are You In or Out?
1 John 1:5-10