“If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
God does not want anyone to live in the dark or die in the dark. He wants all people to come into the light. Notice that the cleansing of the blood depends on our walking in the light. What is the apostle telling us? For many years I was very confused about this. I thought it meant that if I was very careful about obeying every command of God—that if I walked according to all the light I might have—He would cleanse me. But we find that the worst sinner may have this cleansing. When do we get it? When we turn away from the darkness and come to the light.
It is where we walk, not how we walk—it is to walk in the presence of God. By nature we do not want to come into the presence of God. But when the Holy Spirit has done His convicting work in my soul, I come to the light, face it, and let it fully shine on me. What does it reveal? It reveals my sin and my iniquity. But I am not alone there, for “we have fellowship one with another” (1 John 1:7). I find that I am simply one of a great group of people who by nature are all just as bad as I am.
The first time you come into God’s presence, you must come with all your sins, either in this life or in the day of judgment. If you come into His presence with your sins in the day of judgment, you will be lost forever. But if you bring your sins before Him in this life, then you will find that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
The word cleanseth suggests to many a continual cleansing, but I do not think that is the meaning. The marvelous thing about salvation is that when you put your trust in the Lord Jesus, the blood of Christ cleanses eternally and completely in the sight of God. There is never a moment that the blood is not there before God. I may fail in words, actions, and thoughts, but the blood abides and it cleanseth from all sin.
As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I stand before God on the grounds of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Can we then go on living in sin? No, not at all. But “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). You see, I come to God not only wanting my evil record omitted from the books of eternity, but also wanting practical deliverance by His power. I want to know what it is to have actual cleansing in my life in word, thought, and deed. This is our practical cleansing by the washing of water by the Word (Ephesians 5:26).
As the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to reveal the failures in my life, I must come to God acknowledging the wrong I have done. Oh, dear friends, if you want blessing, do not be vague in your confession. Go into the presence of God and tell Him all about your sins. Tell Him about all the things you do that grieve His Holy Spirit. He will cleanse you by the washing of the Word and give victory in your life.
May God enable us to be real with Him and with one another. Then we will know the blessing of fellowship in the light.
—Adapted from The Epistles of John and Jude by H. A. Ironside.