And this is the message which we have heard from him and announced to you, that God is light and there is no darkness whatsoever in him. 6 If we would say that we have fellowship with him and we walk in the darkness, we are lying and we do not do the truth; 7 and if we would walk in the light as he is in the light, we are having fellowship with each other and the blood of Jesus his son is cleansing us from all sin. (note: author’s translation)
This short book of the Bible has intentional literary and theological connections with the Gospel of John, and one of those very strong connections is in the imagery of darkness and light, imagery that stands out starkly at the beginning of John’s Gospel (1:4-9) contrasting Jesus and the life (=light) He brings and the darkness that the world was in before He got there.
Clearly 1 John is taking this theme and running with it, but to a slightly different place. Instead of turning light solely into life, though it is that, light here is also a stand in for the impact of God with respect to how one lives. Darkness is equivalent to Paul’s walking in the flesh and being in the light is equivalent to Paul’s walking in the Spirit.
Another major theme in 1 John, also directly related to John, is the idea of truth and lies. Truth is found only and simply in the person of Christ, whereas lying and lies are what one does when not in Christ (to steal another Pauline metaphor).
Now what should catch one’s notice in my translation above is the impact of the present tense verbs, especially that we are lying and are not doing the truth. Fellowship with God, Jesus, and the church is predicated upon a right standing before God. However, a right standing before God does not simply rest on “praying the prayer” and then living as one wishes, instead John makes it clear through his use of the present tense that each decision can impact one’s fellowship. We must be in the light, doing the truth, and not walking in darkness. Again, all are present tense, all are instantaneous in terms of impact. Sin blocks fellowship, plain and simple.
Now the answer to this sin is given in the next few verses, but what we need to focus on today is not the solution to sin but rather the impact of sin on the Christian. Sin does not separate us from God permanently, rather sin causes a barrier to be erected between the human and God in terms of fellowship.
For Arminians, this should come as no surprise. We understand that every action has a matching ramification. Our temporal actions may not always affect our eternal destiny, but they certainly cause our interactions with God and His church to be different.