Read 1 John 1
The Apostle John opens His Gospel talking about the incarnation of Christ as the theological foundation that supports the rest of his book. He says there, of Jesus, “In Him was life, and that light was the light of mankind.”
John opens his first letter, though not in letter format, with the very same themes. Jesus is the incarnation of God in human flesh and He, being the very Word of God, brought with and in Him life. The life that Jesus brought, that He offers to us, is also the invitation to have fellowship with God, to be in a relationship with Him.
He then continues into a practical application of what this means as we live into this in the life of faith. Once again, John uses the contrast of light and darkness to describe those who follow Christ, the light of the world, and those who don’t.
There is a very important theological principle that is hidden in this first chapter. We often talk about the Gospel message and the “Good News” of Jesus Christ as being all about grace and being saved from our sins and this is entirely true. Yet to be saved from anything, there needs to be an acknowledgment of the need for saving. In John’s words here, if we say that we are without sin, we are deceiving ourselves and we continue to walk in darkness.
In Jesus Christ, God brings light, life, and salvation into the world, redeeming and restoring our ability to live in relationship with Him. Jesus is the only way that this could happen; there is no way we can save ourselves. So, while we rightly emphasize the grace of God, the only way that this grace is important is because of the sin we find ourselves in. John says that if claim that we have not sinned, we make a liar out of God. In reality, we know full well of our depravity and when we acknowledge that, as uncomfortable as it may be, we can embrace the saving grace of Jesus Christ and live true life, in true light and freedom.