Lesson Three – Walking in the Light

Walking in the Light


Matthew and Luke began their Gospels with the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.  Mark and John skipped the first thirty years and began with Jesus preaching the kingdom of God and the eternal life quality of the kingdom culture.  The Sadducees held the High Priest office in the Levitical Priesthood at the time Jesus began His mission of the evangelism of Israel.  The Pharisees controlled the minds of the general population with their philosophies about an unwritten Law of Moses (Matt. 15:7-14).  We need to read the teachings of Jesus to understand the law of life.  God has revealed it to us in this Jewish context in the four Gospels.

Jesus’ challenge was to move their thinking about life from the legal nature of the Law of Moses to the law of life (Matt. 5:17-20).  The law of life describes the phenomenon of the growth of a living soul just as the law of nature describes the growth of plant life.  The key words in understanding how these two laws complimented each another are “fulfill” and “requirements.”  See Matt. 5:17; Rom. 8:3, 4.  The Law of Moses required God’s people “not to covet” things belonging to their neighbor (Ex. 20:17).  The Apostle Paul said, “But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.”  Rom. 7:8.

How do Christians fulfill the requirements of this law?  Just as Jesus explained in the Sermon on the Mount about preventing the act of murder and adultery, we must deal with the source of the problem Matt. 5:21-32.  We first examine ourselves to discover the flaw in our character.  We then listen to Jesus’ teaching about the law of life in order to remove the flaw.    The Law of Moses was a spiritual law. It related to the spirit of mankind.  It served to help the Jews recognize their act of coveting as sin (Rom. 7:13).   Christians “have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, not in the old way of written code.”  Rom. 7:6.  The new way of the Spirit required the grace doctrines based on the blood of Jesus and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:1, 2).  Please read II Cor. 3:1-6.  The law of the new covenant does not impute sin like the Law of the old covenant (Rom. 5:13; Heb. 8:7-12).  It describes the phenomenon of the growth of the human spirit.

If they cared to accept it, the people who lived from Adam to Moses had the Melchizedek Priesthood and the law of life (Gen 14:18-20; 26:5).  There was no imputation of sin because the law of life, like the law of nature, does not convict sinners (Rom. 5:13, 14).  Even though there was no “taken into account” of the peoples’ sins, they did not have life.  A farmer will not be convicted for failing to follow God’s law of nature; however, he will not reap a good harvest.

Grace did come through Jesus.  We need to ask, “Why does mankind require grace?”  The truth about life is why mankind needs grace (John 1:17).  We must understand the grace of God was given because of the purpose of God in His creation.  In the previous lesson we studied about the purpose of God from John’s Gospel and his first letter.  In this lesson we will study the grace Christians continue to receive because of the sacrifice of atonement in Jesus’ priesthood.  The Priesthood of Jesus Christ functions to serve mankind with both the truth about God’s purpose in creation and the grace required to accomplish His purpose.  The Hebrew epistle is the only document in the Bible that fully explains this priesthood.


Paul appealed to Timothy:

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me His prisoner.  But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  II Tim. 1:8-10

Christians have been born again (John 1:12, 13).  We have “passed from death to life.”  I John 3:14.  This happened because of our faith in the message of the kingdom of God and our place in it as children of God.  The “evidence of things not seen” about our role in God’s kingdom moved us to accept the new covenant in our repentance (Acts 20:21, 25; Heb. 8:10-12).  Our faith in the power of God in baptism for “putting off our sinful nature” moved our habitat on earth from the kingdom of Satan into Jesus’ kingdom (Rom. 6:3, 4; I Cor. 6:11; Col. 1:13, 14; 2:11, 12).  We can now “count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Rom. 6:11.

This happened because “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Rom. 4:25.  Jesus was delivered over to death on the cross so that sinners from the world realm can be born again.  God raised Jesus to life so Christians can have a justified life in Christ (Rom. 5:18-21).  The purpose of God for the creation of mankind and His new covenant is now being worked out “in Christ.”  Please read Ephesians 1:3-14 and note carefully how God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  “God exalted Jesus to His own right hand as Prince and Savior” to reign over the “man dimension” of His kingdom “in Christ.” Acts 5:31.  God’s purpose for all these spiritual blessings Christians receive by grace is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:27.

The grace of “justification by faith” presently allows Christians to enjoy fellowship with God, our Father (I John 1:3).  The Greek word translated “fellowship” in the context of John’s letter carries the same meaning as it does in the partaking of the Lord’s Supper and other New Testament communions (See my book “The Letters to the Corinthians,” Part IV, Lesson Five).  There is no darkness in this fellowship because of Christians’ faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  II Cor. 1:3.

This transparent quality of fellowship had not been enjoyed between God, the Father, and His children on earth since Adam and Eve broke His first covenant.  Those great people of faith identified in Hebrews, chapter 11, had been blessed with the gift of righteousness because of their faith.  Still they did not have the immanent quality of fellowship with God Christians now enjoy (Heb. 11:39, 40).  They did have a wonderful relationship based on their faith and God’s program for them.  Their fellowship was more on the transcendent level.  Faithful and repentant Christians enjoy both an immanent and transcendent quality of fellowship with our Father.  In other words, we have fellowship with God Almighty enthroned in heaven.  At the same time, we have fellowship with God, our Father, and Jesus Christ, because God has given His Holy Spirit to dwell with us in these last days.  Please read I John 3:21-24 and 4:4, 12, 13; II Cor. 13:14; Acts 2:17, 38; 5:32.  Jesus told His disciples:

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!  Luke 11:13

But Jesus also said this could not happen until He was glorified.

‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scriptures has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’  By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.  Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not been glorified.  John 7:37-39

The grace of the doctrine of justification by faith was the basis for fellowship between God and His people from the time Adam and Eve sinned.  Abel was justified by faith; howbeit, the quality of faith required to activate this doctrine was faith that had been tested and proven to be genuine (Heb. 11:4; Jas. 1:2-4; 2:16-24).  This doctrine was documented in the scriptures at the time God promised Abraham a son by Sarah (Gen. 15:6).  A gift of righteousness based on faith is needed by mature people “in Adam” in order to be in fellowship with God – who is holy.  People have the capacity to discern good and evil but we must learn what is good and what is evil.  While Christians learn, we are counted righteous because of our faith in the blood Jesus shed on the cross as a sacrifice of atonement (I John 2:2).

Christians’ motives are, and must continually be, to practice righteousness.  We decided in our repentance before our baptism to offer our “selves” to God and to offer the parts of our bodies as “instrument of righteousness.”  Rom. 6:13.  Neither our repentance nor our practice of righteousness warrants God’s gift of righteousness.  It is our faith in the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross; however, the quality of our faith must be “perfected faith.”  See KJV of James 2:19-26.  Having perfected faith means our motive is to practice righteousness.  We plan to choose good but we don’t always know, or have the spiritual strength to “drink the cup Jesus drank.”  Mark 10:38.

Christians do fall short of the glory of God but that is not what we plan to practice.  Because we do often fall short of the teachings of Jesus, God sent Him to the cross to give us the grace of our new birth and the doctrine of justification that follows for Christians.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.  God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.  He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.  Rom. 3:21-26

The difference in the grace of the doctrine of justification by faith enjoyed by God’s people today and those who lived before is found in the quality of the sacrifice.  The animal sacrifice did not serve to purify the consciences of those faithful people (Heb. 9:11-14).  The new covenant in Jesus’ blood is this:  “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”  Heb. 8:12.  Faith in the animal sacrifice did give faithful people a gift of God’s righteousness but it did not cleanse their consciences of guilt (Heb. 10:1-3).  They could have fellowship with God but not with the immanency Christians enjoy.  The Holy Spirit did not indwell those living souls.  Christians are aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence; therefore, we “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  Eph. 4:30.

 The purpose of the doctrine of justification by faith in the last days is to give Christians peace with God, our Father, so that His purpose in creation can be consummated in us.  See Rom. 5:1-5.  Because of this grace, we can examine ourselves without feeling guilty about what we discover is broken in our characters and personalities (II Cor. 13:5).  The recurrence of unrighteous behavior is our clue; we need to examine our inner selves.  We do this with our own spirits (I Cor. 2:11; 9:27).  After we discover the flaw needing to be fixed in our “selves,” we will want to confess this sin to ourselves and God.  If another person was harmed by our unrighteous behavior, we confess our sin to them.  This grace maintains a guilt free conscience for faithful Christians about weaknesses and ignorance while we grow from glory to glory (II Cor. 3:18).

John’s references to the doctrine of justification by faith are scattered throughout his letter.  He merely referred to the doctrine because he believed the recipients knew and understood all the foregoing points and scriptures in this lesson (I John 2:27).  The following scriptures refer to Christians’ justified lives.

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, purifies us from all sin.  I John 1:7

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1:9

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.  2:1, 2

If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does (practices, NASB) what is right has been born of Him.  2:29

Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.  But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins.  And in Him is no sin.  3:4, 5

All wrong doing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.  We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.  5:17, 18

In our attempt to determine the meaning of the foregoing scriptures we are reminded to follow correct biblical interpretation principles.  Please review the exegetical information presented in the Introduction and the overview of this letter in Lesson One.  A group of people who were caught up in Docetism had joined themselves to the church at some time in the past.  John identified them as the “antichrist.”  One of their basic beliefs was that the Christ could not have come in a physical body.  This was based on their philosophy; “what is good is spiritual; therefore, what is not spiritual is evil.”  They appeared to have accepted Jesus Christ; however, their claim was “it only seemed” he lived in an “Adam” type body.  Furthermore, they claimed to have fellowship with God.  At the time John wrote his first letter, they had left the church, perhaps different congregations, but they were still trying to lead the church astray (I John 2:26).  The church appeared to be “befuddled” about what is the full truth and nothing but the truth.  John wrote to convince them they were fully informed (I John 2:21, 27).

John approached the task of restoring the confidence of the recipients in this manner:  He first answered the question philosophers love to talk about; “What is the life?”  Then he introduced the subject of fellowship with God (I John 1:5, 6).  John methodically showed how the antichrists were inconsistent in their philosophy.  In chapter one he showed how no mature person “in Adam” could claim fellowship with God without a sin offering.  They claimed fellowship with God but did not believe “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.”  I John 4:2.

This is the One who came by the water and the blood – Jesus Christ.  He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.  For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.  We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son.  I John 5:6-9

John actually witnessed water and blood flow from Jesus dead body while it still hung on the cross (John 19:33-35).  Before identifying the antichrist in chapter 2:18, John pointed out another inconsistency:  No one can claim to be in fellowship with God without loving the members of the body of Christ (I John 2:9).  The antichrist had gone out, but they were still trying to lead God’s people astray.  This was not an act of love.

John embedded in his first letter the information we need to understand the topic of this lesson: “Walking in the Light.”  Let us consider the scriptures listed above in a summary statement.  Christians live on the “mercy seat” in heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 6:19, 20; 9:23-26).  This gives us an environment wherein there is no darkness – a habitat suitable for Deity to fellowship the future children of the kingdom of God.  It is the same mental/spiritual environment mankind enjoyed before Adam and Eve became aware of good and evil.  God and mankind had an immanent fellowship in the Garden – a primary relationship.  Since sin and death entered the world realm, it required the Priesthood of Jesus Christ to give Christians God’s grace to fulfill His purpose for creating us (I John 3:1).  Jesus offered His blood for us on the cross once and for all (Heb. 7:27).  Jesus our High Priest offers His own blood continually in justification by faith.  Faithful Christians live on the mercy seat in the presence of God “behind the curtain.”   Heb. 6:19, 20.  The laws of life offered in God’s new covenant can now be written on Christians’ hearts and minds because we are guilt free.  God and Jesus Christ are with us by the presence of the Holy Spirit (I John 3:24; 4:12, 13).

There may be some questions about the scripture; “And in Him is no sin.  No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.” I John 3:5, 6.  We need to read this scripture in the context with other statements John emphasized:  For instance, “if we claim to be without sin we deceive ourselves.”  I John 1:8.  If Christians did not sin we would not need Jesus as our atoning sacrifice; however, Jesus’ blood was not shed to cleanse Christians who deliberately sin (Heb. 10:26, 27).   Deliberate sin is a sin unto death unless this Christian confesses it and asks for forgiveness with a repentant attitude (I John 5:16; Acts 8:22).  “There is sin that does not lead to death.”  I John 5:17.  This would be a sin of ignorance or weakness (I Cor. 8:11-13).

“He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.”  Christians’ aim is to practice righteousness.  This attitude along with our faith in our atoning sacrifice gives us a gift of righteousness.  This is how we have peace with our Father who is holy, while we are led by the Spirit in our sanctification (Rom. 5:1; I Pet. 1:2, 15).

Questions for Discussion

1.  What is God’s purpose for creating mankind?  When did God need to give grace to maintain His purpose?

2.    List the two grace doctrines based on the cross the Apostle Paul spoke of in Romans 4:25.  How did these doctrines provide a spiritual/mental environment equal to the Garden of Eden scenario?  What is the purpose for this environment God is now providing for Christians?

3.  How do Jesus’ atoning sacrifice and the presence of the Holy Spirit improve conditions for God’s people over previous arrangements God had provided for fallen man?  What are God’s expectations from Christians because of His new arrangements?

4.  In what sense can Christians’ fellowship with God, our Father, be described as both “immanent and transcendent?”  How does this fellowship differ from a religion where God is only transcendent?      How does the blood of Jesus serve God’s people better than the blood of bulls and goats in relation to immanency?

5.  What did John mean in I John 3:7?  He wrote; “He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.”  How righteous is Jesus?  How do we understand that Christians are as righteous as He is righteous?  How does the doctrine of “justification by faith” enter into this discussion?  What are the parts Christians have in this doctrine?  How does “a sin not unto death” enter into the foregoing?

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