Now, how can I maintain fellowship with God? How can I enjoy His presence and blessing in my life as a Christian? In 1 John chapter one I see several things required to stay in fellowship with the Lord. Look, if you will, at two phrases in this passage of scripture.
In 1 John 1: 7 , notice the phrase, "if we walk in the light." We must walk in the light of the Lord and His truth. As Christians we are supposed to behave like children of God. We are to live the right kind of life. We are to live according to the Bible. In verse 6 the apostle John speaks of those who "say" they are in fellowship with God, but "walk in darkness." This is the kind of person who "says one thing and does another." This is the man who doesn't "practice what he preaches." This is the fellow who "talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk." This is the "holier-than-thou" Christian who is blind to his own hypocrisy. The cure for this is to get in the Bible, to read it and to study it, and to get under the preaching of the word of God. When you expose yourself to the Bible, you allow God to shine the light of His truth on your life. To "walk in the light" means to let God show you where you are wrong and where you need improvement, and then to apply the truth to your heart and life. It means to walk in obedience to the word of God. If you want to enjoy God's blessings and maintain fellowship with Him, you are going to have to "walk in the light." The other phrase I notice is found in 1 John 1, verse 9: "If we confess our sins." To stay in fellowship you will have to confess your sins to God. Not to the preacher, not to the priest, and not to the rabbi, but to God. The thing that breaks our fellowship with God is sin. When we disobey the Lord and rebel against His commandments, the fellowship is broken. We do not lose our salvation, we don't fall from grace, but we become "at odds" with our heavenly Father. The Bible isn't as real to us, church becomes a bore, we find ourselves "out of step" with other believers, and we don't enjoy the things of God like we once did. Simply put, we lose the "joy of our salvation." We find ourselves backslidden.
From these two phrases, I believe we can see that there are two things that are key to maintaining our fellowship with God - we must be careful not to live a lie, but to "walk in the light"; and we must be willing to come clean with God by confessing our sins to Him. If we will do these two things, the Bible says in 1 John 1:7 that the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, will cleanse us from all sin.
One of the most familiar hymns of the Christian faith is "Trust and Obey." Some of the words go like this:
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His word, What a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, Or we'll walk by His side in the way; What He says we will do, where He leads we will go, - Never fear, only trust and obey. And the chorus says: Trust and obey, for there's no other way To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.
Let me summarize what we have said this morning about Relationship and Fellowship. Relationship is established by the New Birth, which is experienced when you by faith receive Christ as your own personal Saviour. To "get right with God" as a non-Christian, you must establish a relationship with God by being born again. (Are you saved today? Do you know Christ as your Saviour? If you died today, would you be in heaven or hell? If you are not saved, our prayer is that you will receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior today.) Fellowship is maintained by walking with Christ daily, which is experienced as you read the Bible and pray and trust God to meet your needs. When you sin as a Christian, you do not lose your salvation - that was determined once and for all, for time and eternity, when you got saved, and your relationship with God was established - but fellowship is broken, and must be restored through the confession of your sins to the Lord (1 John 1:9). To "get right with God" as a Christian, you must admit when you are doing wrong, and then confess those sins to God, and get your fellowship restored. (Christian, are you walking in fellowship with the Lord? Are you reading your Bible, praying and going to church as you should? If you are not, then why don't you make things right with the Lord today?)
I close with this illustration:
Years ago a London newspaper held a contest. A prize would be given to whoever best answered this question: "Which is the shortest way to London?" Of the thousands of answers, the one that won the contest was this answer: "The shortest way to London is good company." If you have traveled you know that this is true. The trip seems shorter when you have good company. And let me say that the shortest way to heaven is to travel the road of life in the company of God's Son, Jesus Christ. If He is your traveling companion, the journey will be that much sweeter, the road that much easier, the trip that much more enjoyable, and the destination sure.
Solid Rock Baptist Church - Serving the Lord in the Memphis/Mid-South area