1 John 1:5-7
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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 cleanses us from all sin.”
This passage establishes the central reference point for fellowship with God and with each other: God is light; there is no darkness in God.
Light = truth; what is right.
Darkness = error; what is wrong.
John makes a definitive statement that God is the source of truth. God establishes the standards of what is true and what is right. God’s character and commands are the reference point for how we should live in relationship to him and to each other.
Verses 6 and 7 then contrast two different spiritual conditions with regard to behavior: Walking in darkness or walking in light. When we walk in the light, we are in alignment with God’s standards, and we are in fellowship with God and each other. When we walk in darkness, we are out of alignment with God’s standards, and thereby out of fellowship with God and each other.
Again, authentic fellowship with God and with each other has standards of belief and behavior. Authentic fellowship is much more than simply gathering together for religious ceremony or ritual.
Note that the person who “walks in darkness” in verse 6 claims to have fellowship with God. They profess faith in God, but they do not practice fellowship with God. The question is, Who is this person? One view is that it refers to the daily challenge of every Christian. If so, then John is talking about those times in our walk when we disobey God. When our behavior doesn’t align with our belief. When our walk doesn’t align with our talk. And since no Christian is perfect, it is certainly descriptive of what Christians experience.
Another view is that this refers not to the occasional sinner, but to the perpetual sinner. The person who professes faith in Christ, but who habitually walks in darkness. The person who demonstrates a pattern of walking in darkness.
Either way, the point is the same. Walking in darkness disconnects us from fellowship with God. John is not talking about salvation; he is talking about fellowship. When we walk in darkness — that is, when we violate God’s standards — we do not lose our salvation, but our fellowship with God is broken.
Verse 6 makes the case even more strongly by saying that when our practice of fellowship with God doesn’t match our profession of fellowship with God, we are living a lie. We are contradicting our own stated beliefs.
Verse 7 says that when we walk in the light — that is, when we live and work in a way that is consistent with the life that God designed us to live — we have fellowship with God and each other, and we enjoy the peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven.
Every person wants to feel loved and forgiven by God, and every person wants to feel loved and appreciated by other people. Every person longs to enjoy the experience of authentic fellowship. This is because God designed us for fellowship. However, not everyone is willing to do what true fellowship requires: walk in the light and walk in love.
Scripture keeps it very simple. Walking in the light means to confess sin, receive forgiveness, live by God’s standards, and love others. John also makes it clear that to deviate from that simple path is to walk in darkness and drift out of fellowship.