In the introduction to this book, John gave pieces of his own story as supports for the humanity of Jesus. He used artistry gradually revealing Christ’s character. The fifth verse appropriately placed God the Father at the pinnacle of goodness. In no manner is God diluted by evil. While God is not diluted humanity is deluded.
When I wrote about verse 5 I wrote of those who were not claiming a relationship with Christ. In chapter one’s final five verses, John will put his word skills on display yet again by revealing how people claim relationship with God but have alternate views of sin. Jesus came and by his teachings and through his livings put our unrighteousness on display. Verses 6 through 10 give people’s reaction to sin, that three letter word for missing the mark, being unrighteous.
6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6–ESV)
Verse 6 represents the category of person who says, “I’m a Christian,” but whose life does not match up. One of my most memorable conversations about this type of thing happened at dusk one night long ago. I was standing outside of a building after some ophthalmology meeting had concluded talking with an ophthalmologist friend who happened to be Muslim.
Our discussion drifted toward a colleague who was an active member of a prominent Christian church. “Why does he do those things when he is a Christian?” That was the question this Muslim man asked me, and his tone was not skeptical, nor accusatory. It was inquisitive. He seemed pained that a person would claim to follow Christ and yet live incongruously with that claim. John calls such a man a liar.
I can almost see myself and this Muslim man standing beneath one of the building’s lights trying to hash through this. I want to type here that this third ophthalmologist was a liar, but that is tough to do. The words cramp my fingers; somehow such a label seems over the top. From another viewpoint, however, it is not going too far. My Muslim friend did not doubt that the misbehaving ophthalmologist was a Christian. He was ill at ease that a man could be a Christian and yet have a lifestyle that screamed otherwise.
The Biblical answer that provides the core response is found here in verse 6. To stake a claim in Christ and live a life of darkness is a life of lies. Such a person is unlikely to be a Christian. They are not a person in close fellowship with Christ for practicing the truth is the hallmark of a Christ follower.