Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All Scripture references are to the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. This lesson can be found at: <URL:http://www.cameronlaw.com> INTRODUCTION: Lets review for just a minute. Remember we learned last week that John had a message for us about the Word of life(Jesus). That message was that he was a competent witness to tell us about the Word of life; and that if we listened to him we could enter into fellowship with John, Jesus and God the Father. To enter into this fellowship would make God's joy complete! Lets dive into the beginning of that "fellowship" message now with our lesson this week! I. THE MESSAGE ABOUT LIGHT AND DARKNESS A. Read 1 John 1:5-6. When you are walking through the woods, you often have to make a choice of trails to follow. In these two verses I see a fork in life's road. What are the two options according to John? (Light and Darkness) [Split blackboard with captions] 1. What other descriptions does John make of these options? (Verse 6, end, "true/false") 2. What are some other terms you would use to describe these two options? ("Good/evil," "Right/wrong,"Righteous/Unrighteous.") 3. Where does John put God? (Light-exclusively) B. Last week I asked you why Jesus was described as "the Word of life." Let me ask you this week, why is God described as "light?" Why is this word appropriate or properly descriptive? 1. What comes to mind when you think of light? (Power.Ability to see. Activity. Exposure. "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness...." John 8:12) 2. Last week as we were leaving church Margie was talking with me about another idea on my question last week about why Jesus is called the "Word." She said that if you think about creation, the world was created by a "word." Word also signifies the power of Jesus. a. Thinking back to creation again, what was created first? (God spoke "light" into existence. Gen. 1:3) b. Do you see a connection between God's first act of creation and what He is called? (Light defines God. He created us in His image. Therefore it is natural, perhaps required, that when He began "speaking" creation into existence He started with light.) C. When I started out I asked you about the options (on the road of life) "according to John." In v. 5 John puts in a little note about the source of his message. Did it begin with him? (No! He says, "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you...." Who is this "him?" (The Word of life -- Jesus!) D. Jesus' message to us is that God is light with no darkness at all. Why add this note that there is no darkness in God?(Three reasons: first, the gods that existed at the time had a "dark side." You had to be careful how you dealt with them because you could trigger injustice. Second, you need to know the nature of the fellowship. You are now fellowshipping with "someone" who is completely light -- completely good. Third, evil did not proceed from God.) II. HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT "TRAIL." A. Reality check one: Read v.6 again along with v.7. Remember John starts out in the first four verses to tell us how to have fellowship with God. Then we started out saying that this was like a trail in the woods: you have options to go left or right. One trail takes us to this fellowship with God. To know whether we are on the right trail John continues in v.6 with a kind of "self-test." 1. What is this first "test?" (Walking in darkness. If you walk in darkness, you are not on the right trail and you will not have fellowship.) 2. Notice what we have to add to the "darkness" side of our chart to help us understand what it is: a. Those who falsely claim to walk in the light; b. Liars; and, c. False life. 3. Let's look at the word "walk." The contrast is between walking in the light and walking in the darkness.What do you think is meant by "walking" in light or darkness? (The greek here is "peripateo" which Thayer says is Hebrew for "to live." (Not sure what Thayer means by saying a greek word is Hebrew for something.) Vines adds that while this word means a physical walk in many places in the N.T., it is never means a physical walk in John's epistles. From this I understand John to say "our custom" is to do evil or do right.) 4. Do we see this today? That people call darkness light?(I cannot know I'm on the wrong trail, I cannot head toward the road to reform unless I admit that sin is sin. If I call sin righteousness, I will always continue on the wrong trail until it kills me.) B. Reality check two: Read v. 8. What is the second test of whether we have fellowship with God? (If we claim to be without sin.) 1. Is this a test of our actions, like v.6? (No. This is a test of our attitude, our thinking. Instead of using the word "claim," lets use the word "think" to make it more personal.) 2. Therefore self-test two is: Do you think you are without sin? 3. If you flunk this test, what is the result? (A lack of truth in us. This places us on the wrong trail and on the darkness side of the blackboard, right?) 4. Do you think these people know this? If someone claims to be without sin, you would think these would be "good" people. (v.8 we "deceive ourselves.") 5. Under what circumstances could a person think or say they were without sin? (a. Claimed perfection. I once heard a lady who claimed to be a modern prophet also claim to have lived the last six months without sin. Those who claim that we can reach perfection in our actions need to carefully consider this verse.) b. Claim that sin is no longer sin for the righteous. This is the idea that we can do what we want, because sin is not longer sin for Christians.This is the opposite extreme from perfectionism.Sin does not matter because it is somehow transformed into righteousness. John says that sin is sin and we need to deal with it.) C. Reality check three: Read v.10. What is the third test of whether we are on the trail to fellowship with God? (If we claim (or think) we have never sinned.) 1. Is this a more outrageous claim than those described in v.8? (Yes. They claim not only present sinlessness, but the claim that have never sinned.) a. Are these people just confused? (In v.8 John suggests that those who claim present sinlessness are "self-deceived." But those who claim to have never sinned make God out to be a liar and God's word "has no place" in them!) 2. How do these people who claim they have never sinned "make [God] out to be a liar?" (God has clearly revealed to us the natural state of our hearts in Gen. 8:21: every "inclination of [our] heart is evil from childhood."Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?") D. Reality check four: Lets go back to v. 7 again. John gives us not only "negative" tests for whether we are on the right trail, he also gives us "positive" tests. 1. What is the test to know that we are on the right trail? (We walk in the light.) a. What do you think this means? 2. Does walking in the light mean you are without sin? Taking into account what we have already discussed, does John strongly suggest that those who walk in the light are keenly aware of their sins? (Praise God! We are on the trail to fellowship even if we have sin. The fact that you have sin in your life does not disqualify you from being on the "correct" trail. But remember if you are walking in darkness, you are not on the right trail. 3. It seems a contradiction to walk in the light yet have sin. What happens to our sin?(v.7 The blood of Jesus purifies us from sin.) E. Reality check five: Let's look at v.9 again. What is the "positive" test here for whether we are on the trail towards fellowship? ( Confess our sin. We do not deny it. We are honest with ourselves about our sin. Once again we are told (as in v.7) that God will "purify" us from our sin. If we say we are perfect, we have nothing to purify, God has nothing to forgive.) F. How is it with you friend? Do you readily confess your sins? Or do you claim to be without sin? 1. Are you on the trail to fellowship with God or on the trail to everlasting darkness? III. Next week: "Walking Life Jesus." We study the first part of John chapter 2. Study!