Fifth, we are taught,
(1 John 1:7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
“Purifies” is in the present tense rather than the aorist tense. In Greek, the aorist would refer to something happening at a point in time. Present tense refers to continuous action. “Purifies” means “continuously purifies.” Thus, many even very conservative preachers argue, correctly, that so long as we “walk in the light,” we remain continuously saved, even though we are imperfect and so obey imperfectly. That’s right.
Some of the very same authors argue that we don’t “walk in the light” if we sing with instrumental music, because instrumental music is a sin. That is obviously self-contradictory.
Rather, John tells us exactly what “walk in the light” means (we’ve already quoted and considered this passage) —
(1 John 2:7-11) Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. 9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
Ponder this one carefully: “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble” and “if we walk in the light, … the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Whose sins are forgiven continuously? The man who loves his brother. What if he loves his brother and worships God with a piano? “There is nothing in him to make him stumble” and Jesus purifies him from all sin. That’s what it says.
Sixth, if you understand this well, then you should begin to wonder whether God even cares about the instrumental music question. After all, it has nothing to do with what he says is truly important:
(Gal 5:6b) The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
We should at this point begin to question how well we’ve inferred some things. We’ve plainly in correctly inferred where the line is that results in apostasy. Could it be that the same experts have incorrectly inferred God’s desires regarding worship?
(Gal 5:14) The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
(Mat 7:12 ESV) “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Could it be that worship is more about loving God and loving our brothers than adherence to a set of inferences from the silences of the scriptures?
Seventh — and seven is a good number to stop at — the one element I would add to all this, to help someone understand God’s will for his people at a deep level, is the story of God’s redemptive work. To hang some meat on the bones of love, we need to know what God is trying to do so we can participate with God in his loving mission.
Understanding God’s purposes allows us to properly infer from God’s word what he really wants from us. I’m covering this in the Surprised by Hope posts on “Mission and the End of Time,” but I covered it in more detail (although from a different perspective) in the Blue Parakeet series.