As He Is In The Light

by Patrick T. Donahue

In the controversy concerning whether or not a Christian is automatically forgiven of sins he commits in ignorance without actually repenting of and confessing that sin, a question that keeps coming up is, "is there sin in the light" as spoken of in I John 1:7? The Bible gives a clear answer to this question.

The passage reads, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." Some say that since this passage says that if we walk in the light, we will be forgiven of our sins, therefore there must be sins in the light or there wouldn't be any sins to be forgiven. But this human reasoning doesn't necessarily follow. The passage could be teaching that the sins that would be forgiven would be sins committed outside of the light, sins committed before the walk in the light began or resumed. For example, an alien sinner could begin his "walk in the light" ("keepeth His word", I John 2:5) by believing and being baptized (Mark 16:16). What sins of his will be forgiven at his baptism (Acts 22:16)? Obviously it would be the sins he committed outside the light, the sins he committed before he began walking in the light. Why couldn't it be the same for a Christian? If a faithful Christian, walking in the light, sins, thereby stepping out of the light, then repents of and confesses the sin, doing what the Bible says to do (walking in the light) about the sin, he then is forgiven of the sin, sin committed while outside of the light.

The Bible doesn't leave us in the dark on the question of whether or not there is sin in the light. In the Bible, light sometimes represents God (Psalms 27:1), it sometimes represents His word (Psams 119:105), etc.; it never includes any sin, ever.

Not only that, but I John 1:7 doesn't just say to walk in the light, but it says to "walk in the light, as He is in the light." How is He (God) in the light? Verse 5 answers that "God is light, and in Him is no darkness (sin) at all." So there is no darkness or sin at all in the light that we are supposed to be walking in. It almost seems as if God put in verse 5, looking ahead to answer those of our day who claim that there are sins in the light, and who conclude from that, that we can commit some sins and still be in fellowship with God without actually repenting of those sins.

Another way of looking at it, is to look at other phrases in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John that are equivalent to the phrase "walk in the light" in I John 1:7. I John 2:5 says "But whoso keepeth his word (synonymous with "walk in the light"), ... hereby know we that we are in Him (synonymous with "have fellowship with Him", I John 1:6)." I John 2:6 shows then how we must walk if we want to walk in the light and have fellowship with God: we must "walk, even as He (Jesus) walked." I Peter 2:21-22 tells us again how we are to walk: as He walked, "who did no sin." So our walk in the light is a walk as Jesus walked, who did no sin. When we sin, we cease to walk as Jesus walked, we step out of the light.

III John v.3 talks about walking "in the truth". Now ask yourself, are there any sins or is there any error in the truth? Any at all? Neither is there any in the light, as truth and light (I John 1:7) are equivalent in this context.

The phrase "walk in the light" in I John 1:7 is equivalent to the phrase "abideth ... in the doctrine" in II John v.9. "Abideth not in the doctrine" is the same as "transgresseth ... the doctrine" in the same verse. "Transgresseth ... the doctrine" is obviously equivalent to the phrase "transgression of the law" in I John 3:4. I John 3:4 says that "sin is the transgression of the law", which is transgressing the doctrine, which is not abiding in the doctrine, which is not walking in the light. So when you sin, you are out of the light.

The phrase "abideth in the light" in I John 2:10 is synonymous with the phrase "walk in the light" in I John 1:7. I John 2:10 says that "there is none occasion of stumbling in" a person who "abideth in the light." So a person who is walking in the light has no sins against him. Does that mean he has never sinned? No, it simply means he has met the conditions in order to be forgiven for any and all sins he has committed (I John 2:12), and that would include any sins he might have committed through ignorance or weakness.

[Editor’s Note: Thanks to Pat Donahue for the article! Pat can be reached at: Patrick T. Donahue, 4607 Old Railroad Bed Road, Harvest, AL 35749,]

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