John used the metaphor of darkness and light to describe a life of sin versus a life in Christ (1 John 1:7). God is pure and perfect light (v. 5) shining through an obedient person. However, when we invite darkness—sin—into our life, there is immediate conflict. Darkness and light cannot mix.
The way to keep a pure spirit in this world is to confess sin. We are made clean by Jesus Christ’s work on the cross, and nothing can change a redeemed believer’s identity as God’s holy child. However, wrongdoing does interfere with the fellowship between us and the Lord (Isa. 59:2). Left unchecked, sin can so thoroughly choke our spirit that only thin shafts of the light of Christ can squeeze through.
What breaks the stranglehold is confession, which simply means we agree with God that our actions, thoughts, or words are in violation of His law or will. While it is tempting to confess in a general sort of way—“I’m sorry if I’ve sinned against You”—that isn’t a helpful method for chasing darkness out of our life. We must be specific about our wrongs. The Holy Spirit isn’t general in His conviction; He points to the exact problem. And God expects us to deal with sin promptly so we are neither tarnished by it nor tempted to continue on that path.
Believers who honestly acknowledge their sin and take responsibility for it stay in right relationship with the Lord. John’s letter confirms God’s desire to cast out darkness and keep us fully in the light of His love. Our job is to deal promptly with the dirt that Satan throws at us.
Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 33-36