If we are going to have true fellowship it is going to be the result of us having adhered to the doctrine of Christ. Paul wrote in Romans 1:12 “That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me”.
Notice the word “MUTUAL” which is synonymous with common, reciprocated, joint, shared, communal, and reciprocal. The idea of fellowship should ring loud and clear. The Apostle Paul and the Christians at Rome have a mutual faith or trust and it is “in”, “by”, or “through” JESUS and His blood. The first Christians in Acts 2:42 continued steadfastly in fellowship.
In the book of 1 John we read “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1:3). Fellowship signifies both the communication of something to others, and the participation of something with others; a joint participation.
Fellowship with God is not merely accepting and affirming the truths of Christianity (Romans 12:1-2); it is also adopting a way of life — a life consistent with God’s character and will. This is the kind of life that Jesus led (John 4:34).
From a study of 1 John 1:5-10, we learn that the Christian life is more than a confession of faith (Matthew 7:21-23). It is possible to profess something that is not true. In order for us to know (1 John 5:13) that we have fellowship with God, what we say and what we do must correspond to God’s will because He is the Author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
1 John 1:5 And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1 John 1:7 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 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
As we reflect on these verses, we find out about some errors to avoid, and we are taught some truths to embrace.
In order to have “fellowship” with God we must avoid the following errors:
- We cannot walk in darkness (i.e., habitually live in sin 1 John 1:6; ref. Romans 6:1-4, 15-23).
- We cannot claim that sin has no real consequence in our lives (1:8; Ref. Isaiah. 59:1-2; Romans 7:14-8:9).
- We cannot assert that we have not sinned (1:10; Ref. Romans 3:23).
With this in mind, we must embrace the following: We can be cleansed of sin by the blood of Christ (1:7). And God is faithful and righteous to forgive us and cleanse us from “all” unrighteousness “IF” we walk in the light as He is in the Light (1:7).
What wonderful promises! But these are conditional promises (note the word “if” in these verses). We must walk in the light, and we must confess our sins (1:7,9). John gives five “If” statements (verses 6,7,8,9,10) or if you want to get technical five third class conditional sentences and each is followed by an aorist subjunctive or a present subjunctive. Simply meaning these are things we ourselves do, not something brought upon us.
True believers are those who dwell in Christ and in His fellowship which embraces all the members of the body of Christ which is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; Col 1:17-18). There is nothing vague or merely sentimental about this fellowship; it involves obedience to the command of Christ and faithfulness (obedience) to His doctrine (teaching) communicated through His inspired Apostles (Romans 1:5, 16:26; John 14:26, 16:13).