If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:6-7).
We are familiar with the general facts regarding God and man presented to us in Scripture: God is holy, man has sinned, man is not able to cleanse himself from his sin, God sent Jesus so that man’s sin could be forgiven, and God wants man to be saved (cf. Romans 3:20-23, 5:6-11, 1 Timothy 2:4, 1 Peter 1:16). But what is the ultimate purpose of all of this? Why has God acted as He has toward mankind? What does this tell us about His desires and expectations for us today?
When God made mankind, He maintained direct, unbroken association with him. In Genesis 2 and 3, God spoke face to face with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were innocent, naked, and unashamed, for they had no reason to be ashamed (Genesis 2:25). God made man to work in the garden and to bear His image, allowing for a relationship with Him– and that is what He desires from mankind (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:15).
But sin entered into the picture and man became separated from his God (Genesis 3:1-19, Isaiah 59:1-2). Man stood ashamed before his most holy God because of his insufficiencies and transgressions (cf. Genesis 3:10). Man’s impulse was to declare himself God in some way or another, refusing to subject himself to the God who made him, instead imagining or creating gods for himself (cf. Romans 1:18-23). As this led to greater ungodliness and immorality, God gave such people over to the desires of their hearts, and throughout time, many have believed the lie (Romans 1:24, 26, 2 Thessalonians 2:11). Since they have turned from God and refuse to turn back, God can do nothing for them– they are delivered over to their own will and desires (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
But that is not what God wants for mankind! He has always sought for man’s redemption and the restoration of relationship with Him. When mankind was thoroughly evil He still found Noah and Abraham through whom He would bless the earth (Genesis 6-9, 12-24). He chose Israel of all the nations of the earth to give His law and to be their God so that they would be His people (cf. Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 4-7). And then, in the fullness of time, God became flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, showed us how to live, died for our sins, and was raised again in power to give us hope (Romans 5:6-11, Philippians 2:5-11).
Through Jesus God has done the work necessary to reconcile mankind to Himself, if only they would seek Him so as to restore that relationship broken by sin (Acts 17:27, Romans 5:6-11). As God has sought to save man, man must seek after God his Creator and the life-giving and life-sustaining relationship that can exist only with Him (John 3:16 et al).
When mankind is restored in his relationship with God, he can then stand before God through Christ with confidence (Hebrews 4:16, 10:19). The redeemed man must walk in the light as Jesus is the light–in holiness–not out of obligation or with a spirit of slavery, but as a thankful servant, as of a son loving and appreciating his Father (Romans 8:12-18, 1 John 1:6). Redeemed people who walk in the light look forward to a glorious future that mirrors our distant past: dwelling in eternity with the fellow people of God, with God dwelling in their midst, sustained and refreshed by the Tree of Life, without shame before their most holy God (cf. Revelation 21:1-22:6). Let us develop and maintain that restored relationship with God, now and forever!
Ethan R. Longhenry