Today’s Scripture Focus: I John 1:1-2:5
“Use it or lose it” is a familiar expression in our culture. It speaks to the idea that if we don’t remain physically or mentally active, we tend to deteriorate. A recent TV program followed the progress of a woman who refused to get out of bed for several years. When she was finally convinced to move, she found she was no longer able to walk. Even worse, a blood clot formed in her legs due to her sedentary condition, became dislodged, and moved to her lungs, threatening her life. A filter had to be surgically implanted in her veins to “purify” her blood before rehab could begin.
I John applies “use it or lose it” to our spiritual lives. It uses “walking” language to illustrate the Christian life. I John begins identically to John’s Gospel, by talking about light and life. However, while the point of John is to prove that Jesus is Light and Life, I John is written to show how Christians should then live in the light. It is a letter, but it doesn’t have the characteristics of most formal letters of the time. There’s no greeting, introduction, or stated purpose. Think of I John as written from a grandfather to his beloved grandkids (the phrase “dear children” is used throughout). There’s no need for formality; the author just jumps right in.
The problem the recipients of I John were facing was that they had experienced a schism. A group had split off from them, probably due to a heretical teaching known as Gnosticism. Gnostics had several different false beliefs, such as that it was impossible for Christians to sin, that Jesus was never a human being, and that God had a dual nature—both a good side and an evil side. I John is anonymous, but the author is possibly the apostle John writing to those who were left in the house churches of Ephesus after the split. He wanted to encourage them to continue to walk in truth, deal with sin rather than deny it, and love one another.
“How can we say that we love God when we live in and love the darkness? How can we say that we love God when we are leading others into darkness and enabling them to take up permanent residency there? How can we say that we love God when we refuse to confess our sins, refuse to forgive others, and or refuse to be in fellowship with them because they have sinned against us? Are we afraid of the dark or afraid of the light? Before we can be the light, we must see the light. God’s light saves, heals, cleanses, and restores us, despite our brokenness.” – from The Wesley Study Bible sidebar on I John:1.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Have you found “use it or lose it” to be true in your life?
Why do you think John talks of “walking in the light” rather than “sitting in the light”?
For thought—is it possible you have any areas of denial in your spiritual walk? We don’t believe Christians should sin intentionally, but we all fall short sometimes. Are there any areas of unconfessed sin in your life that could be affecting your spiritual walk?