Sin and Walking in the Light

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I grew up with an in/out mentality of salvation. When you are baptized you are in. When you sin you are out until you repent of your sinfulness and then you are back in…until you sin again. I have been really thankful for 1 John 1:5-10 in sorting this out.

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But 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, purifies us from all[b] sin.

8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

In these six verses we see that John was writing to people he considered to be walking in the light. But he says that they still need forgiveness of sins and that if they deny their own sinfulness that they are only deceiving themselves. This flies in the face of what I was taught as a child and teenager. John is saying that walking in the light doesn’t mean we are sinless or that once we sin we cease to be in the light. Walking in the light includes confession of our sins and forgiveness.

No more of the old in/out dance for me. I know that I am God’s and he will be the judge of my life. And I know that he can deal with my sin and keep me in the light. Now, if I choose to go the other way and unrepentantly pursue darkness then we are talking about something else.

One problem this brings up is reconciling this with Isaiah 59:1-2 which is a verse that people use to say God hides his face from any and all sin,

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.

But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.

That is a proof text as that there were times in Israel’s history where they were sinful but not to the point of God’s hiding his face. So to say in and all sin result in God hiding his face from us misses much of what is taught in the entirety of scripture. I am sure grateful that God is so gracious and kind.

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