This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. I John 1:5-6 NIV
Here’s the thing about light and darkness, they can’t co-exist. Light expels darkness. The Bible uses the analogy of light and darkness again and again to help us understand the relationship between God and sin. John reminds us that “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” God is holy, completely pure, and completely righteous. Think back to the garden. Why were Adam and Eve forced to leave the garden? Why couldn’t they just stay there and enjoy fellowship with God? When they chose to sin, they introduced darkness. God is light and light and darkness can’t co-exist, right? Holiness, purity, and righteousness cannot co-exist with sinfulness, because they are opposites. We are either in fellowship with God or we are walking in darkness, we can’t do both.
Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. John 12:35 NIV
Jesus acknowledged two very important aspects of sin; it has the ability to overtake us, and it has the ability to blind us. We simply cannot, as Christians, continue to walk in sin. It just doesn’t work. It’s not possible to maintain fellowship with God and fellowship with sin. When we try to do both, we walk in blindness, we lose perspective and our sense of direction. We can’t play around with sin, because it has the ability to overtake us. We very quickly lose control, and that’s a very dangerous place to be. We must commit to completely give it up!
But 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. 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. 1 John 1:7-9 NIV
I’m glad these statements followed John’s first ones because it gives us a more complete picture. God knows that we are going to struggle with sin and even while pursuing righteousness, will at times fall short. He has made provision for our forgiveness through the blood of Christ. While God doesn’t expect perfection from us, He will not allow us to walk in darkness. We must hate our sin as much as He does, we cannot walk in it. As soon as we realize we have gone down the wrong path, we must redirect. If we realize our actions are sinful and continue walking in the same direction, we are walking in darkness and not living out the truth. Repentance is not simply feeling bad about our sin, it’s stopping and making a commitment to immediately change our behavior. Nor is repentance a decision to pause the activity, leaving the door open to return to it later, it’s an agreement with God that the behavior is offensive and a pledge to completely reject it.
Notice how Jesus responds to this woman caught in sin and take note of what He says to her after offering her forgiveness.
At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” When 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 8:2-12 NIV
After offering her grace and mercy, He commands her to leave her life of sin. Then He says something extremely important to the people listening, ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus brought this woman to a moment of decision. Now that He had wiped the slate clean and given her a fresh start, was she willing to leave her life of sin? Would she choose to follow Him? If so, returning to her sin was not an option. Those who follow Jesus, as he reminded the people, never walk in darkness. They abandon their sin, they give it up forever, so they may walk with Him.
How about you, where are you in this process? Are you where the woman was before she got caught, still enjoying a life of sin, never having stood before God to receive His mercy? If so, don’t wait until your sin is exposed, go to Him now and ask Him for forgiveness. Are you standing before Him, His offer of forgiveness on the table? If so, gratefully accept His mercy and embark on an amazing journey with Him. Or perhaps you are at that point of decision, where He has chosen not to condemn you but has also commanded that you give up your life of sin and come follow Him. You cannot continue to walk in sin and follow Him, for light and darkness cannot co-exist. Are you willing to give it up, not for a season but for a lifetime so you can enjoy fellowship with God?
For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. Ephesians 5:8 ESV