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.” (1 John 1:5, ESV)

Thus begins the first great division of the book of 1 John with the message: God is light.  This message must have had particular resonance in a world lit only by fire in the form of torches and oil lamps.  When darkness came over the land at night, it really took over as an almost heavy oppressive presence.  The contrast between light and darkness must have been sharp and obvious.

In God there is no darkness at all and if we are walking in darkness we will not meet God there.  What does John consider darkness in a metaphorical sense?  In the following verses we learn that darkness is lying, not practicing the truth, sinning, deception, lack of truth, and the lack of Jesus’ word in us.  All of these actions are incompatible with God and God’s nature.

God is light then means that he is the opposite of all those things.  He does not lie, he practices the truth, and he does not sin nor deceive.

John calls his readers to walk in the light because God is light and it is impossible to walk in darkness and have fellowship with God.

This is a simple message, but quite convicting when we shine the light on our own lives.  Who among us can claim to be free from all of those characteristics of the metaphorical darkness?  John, practical man that he is, understands this and so he has a remedy:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, ESV)

God, light of all lights, can cleanse us when we indulge our propensity to dabble in the darkness.