“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 (NKJV)
We know what walk means. It implies how we conduct our lives. 1 John is a letter written to a church congregation, and he is instructing church members that fellowship hinges on walking in the light. This is how we are to have fellowship with one another.
The context of this instruction is quite interesting. Most churches today focuses heavily on the initial forgiveness of sin that takes place upon belief and repentance at the beginning of salvation. Thus, their preachers have altar calls. People come down before the altar and confess their sins and accept Christ as their Savior. Once they do this, these people are considered “saved” and “born again.” Their doctrine—that of eternal salvation—continues in this vein, that is, once that occurs, salvation is basically assured. So a great deal of emphasis is put on the initial repentance, confession and forgiveness of sin.
However, notice this verse in its context. John writes, “If we walk in the light. . . .” An individual cannot walk in the light until he is called and converted. Of course we are called by the gospel and converted to God’s process of salvation. This walking occurs after conversion. He continues, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship. . . .” The fellowship depends on what we do after the initial repentance, confession and baptism into Christ (Gal. 3:26). Amos writes, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). It cannot be done. We do not have fellowship with people that we do not agree with. Agreement is shown by the way that we conduct our lives—by the way that we behave under our belief system.
“. . . and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” This phrase, in context, is the game-breaker. The apostle is teaching that further cleansing, further forgiveness, hinges on our obedience to God after we are converted, for “walking in the light” is synonymous to being obedient or living righteously. Forgiveness after conversion works exactly the same way as the forgiveness we were given before we were converted. It hinges on whether we have repented and have began obeying God.
Clearly, salvation is a process!
What we must understand here is that forgiveness, cleansing, and even fellowship is not a once-for-all act; but it is a process—even as growing in the grace and knowledge is a process, even as the writing of God’s law on our heart is a process. Cleansing is a process. The quality of the fellowship depends upon all of these things. So, if we walk in the light, we have fellowship and His blood cleanses us.