Practicing the Truth
2nd Sunday of Easter – B LSB #’s 687, 584, 526
Text – 1 John 1:6
If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie & do not practice the truth.
PRACTICING THE TRUTH
A bishop once said to a friend: “Albert, you tell so many unnecessary truths.” He was not challenging the truth of his utterances. He was saying that their truth was not welcome. That attitude does not fairly represent the NT idea of morality, but it is all too prevalent. It’s why people want to believe that each of us can have our own truth, or even create our own truth.
You & I are not living morally unless we welcome, in fact, run out to meet truth whatever its source, or the changes it demands in our thinking & practice. Faith that lives in fear of truth is not faith at all, but lack of faith. If Jesus says, “I am the truth,” how can it possibly hurt us? You will never hear the devil whispering those words in your ear. He is the father of lies.
As John 3:16 boils down to a nutshell, the Good News about Christ Jesus, the sermon text boils down the essence of unbelief. Saying that we have fellowship with God, while walking in darkness, reveals that we are liars who do not practice the truth. And to top it off, if we deny our sins we are actually calling God a liar.
Let me remind you, what the sermon text told us about God: “If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie & do not practice the truth.” What does St. John mean when he writes of practicing the truth? Can you give me an example from your life story? If you’re a child of God you should have at least one story ready to go at all times!
I say that because the Apostle Peter wrote, “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV) He’s telling you that having a story ready to go at all times is how we honor Christ the Lord as holy. Having a story ready to go at all times is one way to reveal the hope that is in you. It is one way of practicing the truth. If you’re not ready to share the hope you have, it might be that you are walking too much in the darkness. Could it be that you need more light in your life? Have you been avoiding the Son, I mean your Lord & Savior?
Specifically, what St. John is driving at is this: children of God will practice the truth through confessing their sins. Any time we speak these words we are speaking truth, “…we confess that we are by nature sinful & unclean.” To deny those words is the same thing as calling your heavenly Father a liar.
For the purposes of St. John’s letter it does not matter what the particulars are of your sins, just confess them. Don’t allow the world to deceive you into thinking you can be like God. You & I are not the truth as Christ is. Our lives prove that deficit every single day. The brokenness we experience simply confirms what St. Paul wrote in Romans 3:
“For all have sinned & fall short of the glory of God.” (3:23 ESV) We experience that deficit, that falling short, every time we lose our balance & stumble. We experience that deficit, that falling short, every time we cough, or pull a muscle, or hit a pothole while driving down the road. Our lives prove that deficit each time we have a disagreement with someone we love.
And if those circumstances prove the deficits of our lives, what about cancer or heart disease or Alzheimer’s? You & I are not the truth as Christ is. Our lives are not truth, but corruption instead. All of us are in need of healing. You & I are in need of peace & harmony. For all of those things our Lord has given us the waters of baptism.
As St. Paul wrote in his letter to Titus: “But when the goodness & loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration & renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (3:4-5 ESV) Gracie Lynn received that regeneration this morning. Now, it’s true, you can’t see the effects of it today. You won’t see those effects tomorrow either. You & I do not have the eyesight needed to see the inner workings of her heart. Yet, as long as she continues to receive the Words & promises of Yahweh Elohim, the Holy Spirit will renew her day by day.
Every moment she chooses to walk in darkness she will be walking away from the Words & promises of her Creator. As Adam & Eve found out, through their firstborn son, there is no life at the end of that road. For that reason, God the Father sent another firstborn Son, this one to bear the judgment upon sin.
This firstborn Son would eliminate the deficit from our existence. He would make up for all the ways in which we, & our lives, fall short of the glory of God. Jesus would make this regeneration available to everyone who puts their trust in Him. Right after the sermon text, St. John goes on to explain:
“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, & the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, & the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful & just to forgive us our sins & to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1:7-9 ESV)
Maybe you noticed another ‘word’ being shared in those verses, besides confession. We call that ‘word’ absolution. It is the unconditional declaration that for the sake of Jesus’ death each & every & all of our sins are forgiven & paid for.
Like the word confession, we only speak absolution by the power of God’s Spirit working in us. They are foreign words to our sinful nature, yet, as the Holy Spirit creates the saintly nature in us, those words become our native tongue. Once God has converted us from unbelief, to being one of His children, we practice the truth speaking words of confession & through words of forgiveness. If you want to know how to be a godly parent you practice the truth through following the Ten Commandments. If you want to know how to be a godly employee, or employer, you practice the truth through following the Ten Commandments. If you’re wondering how to be a good Christian – confess your sin & believe the absolution.
The letter of First John was written to Christians whose faith was being endangered by heresy. This letter was written to take direct aim at false teachers who, by definition, are not practicing the truth, but walking in darkness instead. There are many, many false teachers with loud voices in our culture today.
This letter leaves the church no possibility of doubt as to where she must stand. The Truth is the Life & the Way. Yes, the truth can & often does hurt because we live in the sinful, broken world. That pain & brokenness is not the fault of truth, however, but the fault of sin & the men, women & children who commit those sins.
Like rubbing alcohol on a wound, truth brings cleanliness, which then promotes healing. When we hear the truth we should run to it, not from it. In running to the truth we are practicing the truth. This letter from St. John also is a help to us in our culture which is filled with false teaching today. Fake news is not the only problem. So are fake religion & fake gods.
For that reason 1 John is useful in our lives, as it says, “that which we have seen & heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; & indeed our fellowship is with the Father & with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1:3 ESV) Amen.
Faith & truth & life bestowing, open now the Scriptures, Lord, seed to life eternal sowing, scattered on the wind abroad. Let not hearts, Your Word receiving, like a barren field be found, choked with thorns & unbelieving, shallow earth or stony ground. May the Spirit’s power unceasing bring to life the hidden grain, daily in our hearts increasing, bearing fruit that will remain. So in Scripture, song & story, Savior, may Your voice be heard. Till our eyes behold Your glory give us ears to hear Your Word. Amen. LSB 584:1-2.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet