It is a popular notion, as Americans, to call ourselves Christians. Ask just about anybody, regardless of lifestyle, beliefs or politics, and they will tell you they are Christian. This just points to the fact that the word, “Christian,” has become meaningless. As a matter of fact, many would hold that because they are Americans they are Christians as some sort of birthright into this “Christian Nation.” I suppose that since words don’t really have meaning but usage, they may be Christians, but the word Christian no longer refers to a Christ-follower or disciple of Jesus.
John points out the error in all of this thinking about being a Christian in name or label only. He mixes no words when he essentially says, “Hey, if you say you’re following Jesus but you’re living like the world, forget it. You’re lying to yourself and everybody else. If you think you’re ‘basically a good person,’ claiming you’re doing pretty well, you don’t even know the truth.”
John is very clear that it is impossible for us to follow Christ and walk in darkness, as though how we live makes no difference; as if simply claiming to hold to a belief system is enough. Yet, that is where millions of people are today. Scripture has no bearing on their lives and the call to holiness falls on deaf ears.
OK, so not to become judge and jury, it’s time for the whole “physician, heal thyself” thing here. I can be just as guilty of living like this in a thousand little ways all the time. My sins may not be so blatant and cavalier, but anytime I walk in darkness in even the smallest ways, darkness is still within me. Whether it comes through “white lies,” unforgiveness, arrogance, pride, anger, etc., it’s still sin. If, because I live an essentially “clean” life (according to what most would consider uncleanness), I say I have no sin, John’s words still ring true…the truth is not in me.
But, man, what great news this section ends with: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Today, we all have the opportunity to live in that forgiveness and to not only claim to be in the Light, but to actually walk in it!