The Book of 1st John
"In Him there is no darkness at all."

J. Deering,

Quick Links to specific locations in the text below: 

1.     The Visualized Text
2.     Questions To Be Explored
3.     Brief Outline
4.     Cross References
5.     Commentary
6.     The Horizontal Chart

THE VISUALIZED TEXT (NASB)  (conjunctions & prepositions underlined, words not in original text in italics)  (alternate text in purple)

    this is the message
        we have heard
from Him and
        (we) announce
to you, that
            God is light,
in Him there is no darkness at all.

    we say
        we have fellowship
with Him and
        (we) yet walk
in the darkness,
                 we lie
                 (we) do not practice the truth;

        we walk
in the light
as He Himself is in the light,
                    we have fellowship
with one another, and
                    the blood
of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

    we say that we have no sin,
            we are deceiving ourselves,
            the truth is not
in us.

    we confess our sins,
            He is
to forgive us our sins and
to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    we say
that we have not sinned,
            we make Him a liar,
            His word is not
in us.

Questions To Be Explored:

What is God's message concerning Himself?
What is the Biblical perspective of God's holiness?
Why the metaphor of "light?"
Why state that there is no darkness "in" Him?
Why go even further to state that there is no darkness in Him, "at all?"

Supposition #1
What is fellowship?
Between what two persons is this fellowship?
Why would I "say" that I have fellowship with Him?
What does it mean "to walk in darkness?"
Why would "saying that I have fellowship with Him" and "walking in darkness" make me a liar?
What does "practice the truth" intimate?
Do "sins" break our fellowship with God?
Do "sins" break our fellowship with each other?

Supposition #2
Why "but?"
How can we "walk in the light?"
In what manner would we "walk in the light?"
Why use the term "He Himself?"
How would it be possible to walk in the light "as" He Himself does?
Why would doing this bring us into fellowship with one another?
Why "one another?"
Why "and?"
What is "the blood of Jesus?"
Why "blood"
Which "Jesus" are we speaking of here?
Whose Son?
How does blood cleanse?
Explain "cleanse from."
How much sin are we cleansed from?
What is the difference between "sin" and "sins?"
Is this a contradiction (walking in the light = cleansing from sin)?
Is this works?

Supposition #3
Why would we say that we have no sin?
How much sin is "no" sin?
What is deception?
Who does this apply to?
How much truth would not be in us?

Supposition #4
Who is to confess?
What does it mean to confess, in biblical definitions?
Which sins are to be confessed?
Why doesn't it say "sin" is to be confessed, instead of "sins?"
What is sin?
What are our "sins?"
Who is faithful?
What is the attribute "faithfulness?"
Why is it important that God is faithful in this context?
Who is righteous?
How can God be righteous and forgive "sins" against Him?
Why is it important that God forgive in a righteous manner?
Who forgives?
What are we forgiven?
Who cleanses?
What does John mean "cleanse from unrighteousness?"
How much unrighteousness?

Supposition #5
What's our probl in these 6 verses?
Why do we insist that we do not sin?
Why would I want to "make Him out to be a liar?"
What meanings can "His word is not in us" have?
Have I hidden His word in my heart?
Have I hidden His Son in my heart?


I.          Introduction:  The Purpose of the Letter, 1:1-4
II.         Conditions for Fellowship, 1:5-2:2
            A.        Conformity to a Standard, 1:5-7
            B.         Confession of Sin, 1:8-2:2
III.       Conduct in Fellowship, 2:3-27
            A.        The Character of Our Conduct - Imitation, 2:3-11
            B.         The Commandment of Our Conduct - Separation, 2:12-17
            C.        The Creed for Our Conduct - Affirmation, 2:18-27
IV.       Characteristics of Fellowship, 2:28-3:24
            A.        In Relation to Our Prospect: Purity, 2:28-3:3
            B.         In Relation to Our Position:  Righteousness and Brotherly Love, 3:4-18
            C.        In Relation to Our Prayers:  Answers, 3:19-24
V.        Cautions of Fellowship, 4:1-21
            A.        Concerning False, Lying Spirits, 4:1-6
            B.         Concerning a True, Loving Spirit, 4:7-21
                        1.         The ground of brotherly love, 4:7-10
                        2.         The glories of love, 4:11-21
VI.       Consequences of Fellowship, 5:1-21
            A.        Love for the Brethren, 5:1-3
            B.         Victory over the World, 5:4-5
            C.        Verification of Christ's Credentials, 5:6-12
            D.        Assurance of Eternal Life, 5:13
            E.         Guidance in Prayer, 5:14-17
            F.         Freedom from Habitual Sin, 5:18-21


A "Work in Progress:" Its in RED - Unfinished

words about the structure of using negative statents to instruct in positive truths

(1:5)And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you:
John moves now to a right understanding of how the believer's relationship with Almighty God works. He has already laid the groundwork for just who "The Word of God" is and now begins the foundation for the believer's everyday walk with God.

Many people think that God has a big computer in the sky that logs our every transgression and sin. This computer keeps long records that accumulate over our life time, and then displays everything on the "Big Screen" when we get there, for all to see. I've found no such evidence in the Scriptures. Quite to the contrary, in fact. Our personal relationship and or privacy are extrely improtant to Him. The next few verses are some of the most important verses in the Sdcriptures for maintaining a wonderful, long term, lasting, fellowship with Him - on His terms. Many people live a life of Christian failure and have no idea that it doesn't have to be that way. God calls upon us to LIVE and not accumulate sins. He calls upon us to have close fellowship with Him, and not be under constant conviction of the sins which so easily overtake us. But how is that possible? How is it possible for Almighty God, pure perfection Himself, to have an abiding fellowship with a mere dirty human being (me!) who is so different than Him at every turn.

The basis of that relationship is simple faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. But, that's only the basis, the foundation. Faith upon His Son certainly makes you a mber of God's Eternal Family, but it doesn't keep you in daily fellowship with the Almighty when you choose willfully to commit sins.

It's important at this point to rber that God has taken care of our "sin" at the cross of Jesus Christ. The sin of being human (born in sin) was dealt with there, and the sin of unbelief was overcome, by God's precious Holy Spirit, with our conversion. John is not talking about the eternal salvation of the believer. He is, instead, addressing the daily "walk" sin probl. How is it that we who have been saved continue to walk in sin? And what are we to do about it?

"if we desire to enjoy Christ and His blessings we must be conformed to God in righteousness and holinesss." (3)

The following verses outline a simple procedure for maintaining that fellowship, in fact, the only procedure. He does make up the rules you know. And His rule is simple to understand and follow, but so few do. It's so sad that so many either don't know or refuse to follow these words.

It would almost se that many people enjoy their broken fellowship with God in such a way that they never try to fix any of the broken areas. Or perhaps, many don't know that God has made provision for the sins of their daily walk.

The Cycles of Forgiveness:
God wants to have fellowship with us.
Our lives stand in the way of this fellowship.
God has provided a way to accomplish this.
Keeps us aware of fellowship
Maintains fellowship with Him
Maintians fellowship with each other
Provides encouragent to maintain fellowship
God dealing with us on the basis of who He is, not who we are.

Old Testament Examples (God speaks five times on the same subject)
1. 2 Cronicles 6:24-25
2. 2 Cronicles 6:26-27
3. 2 Cronicles 6:28-31
4. 2 Cronicles 6:36-39
5. 2 Cronicles 7:11-14

Sin, Chastisent, Confession (humble thselves, Pray, seek my face, turn from their wicked ways), Forgiveness, Restoration.

Then I will hear from heaven,
I will forgive their sin,
I will heal their land!

Similar to the Cycle of Renegotiation - expand

God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all:
God is ultimate perfection, no imperfection, totally pure, totally good. There can be no fellowship with such a one if you are not completely clean, completely sinless. There was only one who could fill that bill. Only Jesus Christ, is able to satisfy The Father's need for pure fellowship with mankind. But we're told that God the Father looks to us for fellowship. He has made a way for us to have continuing close fellowship with Him. Is the answer in trying to live a sinless, pure life. Yes, one answer would be to try and do that, but who possibly could?

There are those who believe that you do have to keep your life spotless to keep our salvation. That concept makes Christianity a rather crude and hateful game. You can be a mber of the family, but you have to be perfect. If you sin, you're out. You can get back in, but if you sin again, you're out. Flip-Flop/Flip-Flop, doesn't sound like my God, or the God described in the Bible. More importantly, it totaly denies the Word of God, and the effective and effecient work of Jesus Christ.

God does seek us and choose us, and call us. He desires us. If this is true, and it is, then there is no hiding from Him. There is no hiding from His presence, there is no hiding from our sin, there is no hiding from our broken relationship with Him. He knows our sins before we do.

"We have to walk in the light because God is light!" (4)

Satan is the Prince of Darkness

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth:
For all the reasons above, God cannot fellowship with sinful creatures. So the Holy Spirit through John states that if we SAY that we have fellowship with Him, yet continue to practice sin, we're LIARS. Sinning is portrayed here as "walking in darkness." What a wonderful description of our daily walk when we are not in His fellowship, "Darkness." Walking around with no light. No idea of where the furniture is, no idea where the rocks are, no idea where the door jambs are. Everything in our path is a lethal weapon, just lurking in the darkness ready to jump out and hurt us.

If you've experienced the loving close fellowship of The Lord and then been separated from it, you know darkness. You've lost your joy, you can't pray, reading the Bible brings no satisfaction or understanding - that's it alright, out of fellowship with The Lord. If that's the characteristic of our lives and we say that we're walking with The Lord, then we are liars.

An important distinction in the words here is the word "practice." For the importance of the verse is that living out of fellowship has become your practice, not just a moment of separation, but a life of separation.

"The Grace of Jesus Christ serves to scatter darkness and kindle in us the light of God." (5)

But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light:
Here's the question ... are you walking in the light, and are you walking in the light AS HE HIMSELF is in the light? Is that really a pretty tall order? What if walking in the light was an easy task?

As a young pastor I heard the story of the three ministers who were fishing in a small boat, not far from the shore. The first minister says, "I'm hungry, I think I'll get a snack." He gets up and steps over the side of the boat and walks on the water to the shore and retrieves a snack pack from his car, then walks back across the water to the boat and sits down. The second minister, seeing this, say's, "I'm really hungry, I think I'll get my lunch." He gets up and steps over the side of the boat and walks on the water to the shore and retrieves his lunch from his car, then walks back across the water to the boat and sits down. The third minister, seeing the other two walk on the water, decides to do the same and get a drink. He says, "I'll just drop over to my car and get a beer." He steps out of the boat and promptly splashes into the water and gets soaked. The first minister asks the second, "do you think we should tell him where the rocks are?"

If you're living a life separated from the fellowship of the Lord because of daily sin, then the probl is that no one has told you where the "rocks" are. For here are the rocks, right here in 1 John.

We have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin:
Rock number 1 and 2
Have close reliance on other mbers of the Body of Christ, and knowledge that what Jesus has done at the Cross has taken care of the "sin issue" in you life. This does not mean that you have no sin, it only means that the sin you do have has been dealt with in a manner that is acceptable by God. This does not mean that the sin in your life no longer needs to be dealt with, it means that your sinful nature has been dealt with at the Cross.

Be carefull here. 2 Peter 1:20 (6) rinds us that no verse of scripture stands alone. It would be very easy to take this verse and say. "if I walk in God's light and have fellowship with other believers, then the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin." This interpretation would place all the phasis upon what I could do to bring about His forgiveness. This is a similar situation as Mark 16:16 16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved." The salvation came about because of the belief, not the baptism. Here, the blood of Christ already has the power for cleansing, and it is applied to our daily walk only when we approach Him accoring to His word.

"He is said to be like God who aspires after His likeness, however distant from it he may be." (7)

"... the free pardon of sins is not given to us only once, but that its benefit dewlls for ever in the church and is daily offered to believers." (8)

The rich fellowship spoken of here is not between belivers, but between the individual believer and the Father.

God produces a two fold fruit through our confession.
God is reconciled to believers through Christ's Sacrifice, therefore:
1. God forgives our sins.
2. God provides correction and reform.
The work God does through our confession is a sure sign of our union with Christ.
Christ's blood is sufficient and efficient.

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us:
Rocks 3 and 4
If we say (whether we believe it or not) that we have no sin (to ourselves or to others or to God), then we are caught up in self deception. A good modern term would be "denial." It's impossible to live without sinning. Why, because you're just not God, and only He can do that. No sinless perfection found here, only the knowledge that you must confront your sins and admit th to yourself and to God. God's Holy Spirit says, through John, "the truth is not in us." So the second step is to see that denial, or self deception, makes us liars before God and before our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Martin Luther wrote:
"A Christian is at the same time a sinner and a saint; he is at once bad and good. For in our own person we are in sin, and in our own name we are sinners. But Christ brings us another name in which there is forgiveness of sin, so that for His sake our sin is forgiven and done away. Both then are true. There are sins ... and yet there are no sins ... thou standest there for God not in thy name but in Christ's name; thou dost adorn thyself with grace and righteousness although in thine own eyes and in thine own person, thou art a miserable sinner."

Christians are sinners who are forgiven. But there is more to it than that. They are regenerated persons whose root core has been changed. They are forgiven, but also their heart -- the spring of their life and their true identity -- is new.

We are all lost without His grace, if He had not sought a redy there would be none!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness:
Rock number 5
What is that this verse says? If I confess my sin to Him, He is faithful (faithful to His word and to His Office as High Priest) to forgive my sin and righteous (commits no sin in forgiving my sin) to forgive my sin.

The Bible says this is what I need to do:
1. Confront my sin,
2. Identify it,
3. Understand it for what it is,
4. Bring it open faced and boldly before Almighty God and
5. Confess to Him (agree with Him) that it's sin and I know it (He knows it anyway!).

In response to my openness, and my knowledge, and my confession, He is faithful and righteous to forgive me my sin, and that's it!

That's where the rocks are. That's how to have fellowship with Him. Too Easy, you say. No one said it was easy! It takes knowledge, it takes will power, it takes guts, it takes willingness, it takes humility, it takes a selfless heart and a yeilded spirit, it takes doing it.

How often? Jesus told Peter (10) that forgiveness was 70 X 70 times, intimating that you can't run out of forgiveness, either when you forgive others, or when the Lord forgives you.

I have often given the illustration of "the baby learning to walk" in connection with these verses. The baby crawls, and eventually tries to stand, then falls. Now if we all gave up on walking every time we fell as a baby, none of us would be walking. Then why is it so hard to learn to "Walk with The Lord" in the same manner. We crawl and try to stand. After all we're people, not gods. Our lives are filled with difficulties, probls, sinful desires, sinful actions, anger, frustration, depression, etc. We crawl. Along comes our introduction, by simple faith, to Jesus Christ, and we try to walk. We stand, and immediately fall. What should we do? Give up and never try to walk again, "Oh, poor me!"

God says, "Confront your sin (the reason for falling), call it what it is, know what it is, and confess that you know that it is not what God wants for you, that it is against His ways, and that even if you don't know how, at least you'll try no to do it again (confession).

So you are forgiven at that very instant for your sinful action(s). And you walk in His light.

And then you sin, and fall all over again. Give up? No, Confront your sin, acknowledge it, confess it and seek His forgiveness. Then Walk in His light.

When I was a lad, we had Ivory Soap. It floated on water. Their slogan was "Ninety-Nine and forty-four one-hundredths percent pure." You can live a life like that, not because Jesus Christ gives you sinless perfection, but because you are human and you sin, and when you sin God the Father has put in place Jesus Christ's work at the cross and the promise that if you are faithful in confessing your sins, He will be faithful and righteous in forgiving you your sins. One step at a time, knowing where the rocks are. The rocks, of course, are the knowledge of God's precious word and how He wants you to handle sin in your life that "you would be able to Walk in His Light, and have fellowship with Him and with other believers."

Maybe you can't live in full fellowship 99.44 percent of the time, but that's the point. You maybe start out and 0.44 percent of the time. When you sin and become separated (one event) acknowledge it, confess it, agree with God (and to God) about it, and it's done. You are forgiven, fellowship is restored - not because you feel like it, but because God's Word Says So! Then you are back in full fellowship until the next fall.

Then, maybe, because you have taken the time to do what God's word tells you to do about your sins, you get to 0.88 percent of your time is in-fellowship. You've doubled your average, that's wonderful, not dreadful. When you sin, acknowledge, confess, agree, and start over again.

If God is keeping a giant blackboard in the sky, with your name on it, and He's keeping track of your sins, then these verses say that when you confront th, acknowledge th before Him, and confess th before Him, He cleans off the blackboard, and FORGETS what was written there. As human beings we can forgive but not forget, we almost always rber. But when God forgives, He FORGIVES and FORGETS! Rber that, and continue your journey toward 99.44 percent pure.

Augustine fought with the pelagians over this issue of confession -- they saw humility as the main result of confession, Augustine feared that without confession we would become liars and be self deceived.

He desires reconcilliation

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us:

God did not want to be reckoned righteous without forgiveness and forgiving.

John re-phasizes this very important principle of walking in fellowship with Him. He wants us to understand that the biggest handicap in maintaining fellowship is the big "ME." In my family we have a saying, "I, Me, My, Mine," whenever we want each other to rber that our biggest probl is our selfishness, our own ego. I don't want to let God set the rules, I don't want God to forgive me, I don't want to acknowledge that I'm not God. If I let Him bring forgiveness then I can't work and prove my self worthy of forgiveness.

But His word says that I'm not worthy of His forgiveness, that I can't do anything that is worthy of His forgiveness. He makes forgiveness possible because He loved me first. He loved me so much that His only begotten, unique, one of a kind Son went to the Cross to provide for my forgiveness, not only the forgiveness of my sin nature, but of my daily sins. I need to follow His directions to do it, and learn to "Step on the rocks."


1 John 3:11 - "and this is the message you have heard from the beginning ..."
John 1:19 - "and this is the witness of John ..."
1 timothy 6:16 - "... Lord of Lords... dwells in unaproachable light ..."
James 1:17 - "... the Father of Light ..."

John 8:12 - "I am the light of the world"
2 Corinthians 6:14 - "... what fellowship has light withdarkness?"
Ephesians 5:8 - "... you who were formerly darkness, but now light ..."
1 John 2:11 - "The one who hates his brother is in the darkness ..."
John 8:55 - "you have not come to know Him, but I have ..."
1 John 2:4 - "The one who says, 'I have come to know Him, ..."
1 John 4:20 - "If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother ..."
John 3:21 - "... he who practices the truth comes to the light ..."

Isaiah 2:5 - "... let us walk in the light of the Lord."
1 timothy 6:16 - "(He) dwells in unapproachable light ..."
Hebrews 9:14 - "... cleanse you conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
Revelation 7:14 - "... they have washed their robes and made th white ..."
Titus 2:14 - "... purify for Himslef a people for His own possession .."

Job 15:14 - "What is man, that he should be pure ..."
Proverbs 10:9 - "... he who perverts his ways will be found out ..."
Romans 3:1 ff. - lesson on sin and abounding grace of God
James 3:2 - "... for we all stumble in many ways ..."
1 John 2:4 - "The one who says, 'I have come to know Him,' ..."
John 8:44 - Words concerning the Devil and his knowledge

Psalm 32:5 - Very important verse:
I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"; and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.
Proverbs 28:13 - "He who conceals ... he who confesses and forsakes ..."
Hebrews 9:14 - "... cleanse you conscience from dead works to serve the living God."
Revelation 7:14 - "... they have washed their robes and made th white ..."
Titus 2:14 - "... purify for Himslef a people for His own possession .."

Job 15:14 - "What is man, that he should be pure ..."
Proverbs 20:9 - "Who can say, I have cleansed my heart ..."
Romans 3;1 ff. - lesson on sin and abounding grace of God
1 John 5:10 - "The one who does not believe God has made Him a liar ..."
John 3:33 - "... God is true."
1 John 2:14 - "... the Word of God abides in you, ..."


1. All Bible Text is based upon the NASB version and edited using words from other translations and versions to further expand the meaning of those verses. See note Number 2 for NASB copyright information.
2. "Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988. Used by permission."
3. John Calvin, "Calvin's New Testament Commentaries", Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 237
4. John Calvin, "Calvin's New Testament Commentaries", Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 237
5. John Calvin, "Calvin's New Testament Commentaries", Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 238
6. 2 Peter 1:20 "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, {21} for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." NASB
7. John Calvin, "Calvin's New Testament Commentaries", Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 238
8. John Calvin, "Calvin's New Testament Commentaries", Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 238
9. Martin Luther, Werke, Erlangen ed., 2.197; cited by Warfield, "perfectionism," 1:116
10. Matthew 18:21-22 "Then Peter came and said to Him, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' {22} Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'" NASB


Quick Links to specific locations in the text below: 

1.     The Visualized Text
2.     Questions To Be Explored
3.     Brief Outline
4.     Cross References
5.     Commentary
6.     The Horizontal Chart