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God Is Perfect and He Perfectly Forgives

Written by Mark Vroegop on

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But 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 cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 1:5-2:2).

Taken from the sermon “You Are Forgiven” by Mark Vroegop.

The book of 1 John was written to help people know what is true, and John starts this letter with the foundational concept of revelation and the character of God. In other words, God is delivering truth about himself to us.

False Teaching and Doubt

John wrote this letter because there were people promoting false teaching. The effect was not only that people began believing things that weren’t true, but it also caused them to have doubts. Human beings are terribly impressionable, and it is very easy for us to begin to flirt with ideas that we normally wouldn’t. Or perhaps we begin to doubt something we used to strongly believe in.

You’ve surely had it happen where the opinion of a group of people caused you to second guess what you believed—even in something small. The advent of social media has only made this more challenging, as anyone can be a publisher of what they believe.

As a reminder, this is one of the values of being together as God’s people in worship. As Christians sing together, pray together, and listen to the Word of God together, we are reminded of what is true. When you actively listen or when you are “all in” as you worship, it encourages others who might be struggling. And their engagement no doubt helps you as well.

If I encounter someone who is struggling with assurance and doubt, I will often probe regarding a number of things. Particularly, I’ll ask about their connection to a local church. You see, the failure to regularly engage with God’s people and to hear the truth about God will result in a lack of assurance. Distance from the Word of God creates doubts.

John begins this section with a reminder to his readers about where truth is coming from. Notice in verse 5 he says, “This is the message we heard from him and proclaim to you . . . .” John is delivering to us truth that he received from Jesus—that is the “him” to which John is referring. Jesus taught many things while on earth, and John is simply telling his readers what Jesus said. False teachers and our false internal narratives have their own sources. John identifies that the message he proclaims came directly from Jesus.

God Is Light

What is that message? God is light and in him is no darkness at all. John starts by establishing who God is and what he is like. This is an important starting point.

John loves the metaphor of light. He uses it frequently in 1 John and in his gospel (see 1 John 1:7, 2:8-9, 2:10; John 1:4-9, 8:12, 12:46). Let me give you two examples:

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:1-4).

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Notice the connection between “light” and “life.” John is pulling language from the creation narrative in Genesis 1, where the first act of creation was God saying, “Let there be light” (v. 3). By using this language, John is saying three things:

1. God is the source. To say “God is light” is to connect God’s nature to the source of everything human beings need. Everything in life proceeds from the light of the God of existence. But he means more than physical life. He means spiritual life as well.

2. God is the revealer. Light has the capacity to reveal what is true and what is not. John uses “light” as a word for the God-centered consistency that should be a part of the believer’s life. Light exposes what is wrong, and it reveals what is right.

By referring to God as light, John is reminding his readers about the foundational truth of God as creator, the giver of life, and the revealer of what is true and what is not. Light, in this respect, is a powerful metaphor to use. But there is one more thing that John says here.

3. God is perfect. John says that there is no darkness in him at all. The word “darkness” is connected to what is wrong with the world and passing away (2:8). It is also connected to the immoral behavior of people—like hating one’s brother (2:11).

Do you see what is happening here? There is an important foundational point from which our entire understanding of forgiveness flows. God is the source of what is right. God is the revealer of what is right. God embodies what is right. Holiness, truthfulness, glory, righteousness, beauty, and perfection are all words that we could use to describe him. Everything flows from him, and nothing that emanates from him is compromised in any way. God is perfect in his essence: in character, in actions, and in motives. He is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.

God’s Perfect Forgiveness

If you understand that God is holy, perfect, and life-sustaining, it determines how you think about the concept of forgiveness. A wrong view of God undermines our view of forgiveness. It changes how we think about confession of sin. It impacts our connection between what we believe and our actions.

Your view of God matters! For many Christians, our sense of God is probably too small, too limited, too tame, and too much like us. A low view of God causes us to dabble with sin, tolerate hypocrisy, justify our shortcomings, and spend very little time confessing our sins to him. Just think of all the things that you’ve prayed about this week. What percentage of time was spent asking God to change your circumstances or to meet a need versus spending time in worship or confession?

How you view God is foundational and determines how you approach the subject of forgiveness of your own sin and in the lives of those around you.

Listen to the full sermon “You Are Forgiven” from the series Be Sure.

Mark Vroegop

Mark was called as the Lead Pastor of College Park in 2008. In this integral role, he is the primary teaching pastor for the North Indy congregation, and he works alongside the pastors and elders to implement our mission of igniting a passion to follow Jesus. He is a graduate of Cedarville University and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (M. Div.). Mark approaches ministry with a unique blend of passion for Jesus, a love for the Word, and a desire to see lives changed. He is a conference speaker, Council Member of The Gospel Coalition, contributor to 15 Things Seminary Couldn’t Teach Me, and author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament and Weep With Me: How Lament Opens a Door for Racial Reconciliation. Prior to serving at College Park, Mark served at a church in western Michigan for 13 years. He married his wife, Sarah, in 1993, and they have four children, as well as a daughter in heaven due to an unexpected still-birth in 2004.
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