If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (ESV)
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (KJV)
Greek: Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν•
Transliterated Greek: Ean eipōmen hoti koinōnian echomen met’ autou kai en tō skotei peripatōmen, pseudometha kai ou poioumen tēn alētheian•
Literal Word for Word Translation: if we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
Vocab: κοινωνίαν, koinōnian, we have fellowship; σκότει, skotei, darkness; ψευδόμεθα, pseudometha, we lie; ἀλήθειαν, alētheian, truth.
Commentary: The Gnostics who John wrote his letter against claimed to have the light, a special knowledge which brought them above what they considered the evils of the material world. Through this special knowledge, they were “closer” to God. However, John is saying that if one is living their life, i.e, walking, outside of the life that comes from Jesus, then they are in darkness, since the life is the light of men. Jesus is said to be the light in John 1:9, and God is the light in 1 John 1:5. Jesus descended from God, and is God, and is the same light. Thus, fellowship with God would require fellowship with Jesus. Yet, to deny the life in Jesus, is to deny God. The higher knowledge that the Gnostics claim to have was actually deception.
We do not have to be Gnostics to fall into this trap. When we claim the wisdom of the world as opposed to the wisdom of God and Christ as the standard for which we live our lives, then it doesn’t matter what church we might say we are members of, we are not in fellowship with God. As such, we are walking in darkness. These days many, even in ministry, are preaching a version of the gospel that distorts its basic meaning to what makes sense to them relative to the world’s wisdom. We have to live in this world and we have to be effective in it. But if we let what liberal minded men who deny the truths of God dictate how we live our lives rather than God Himself, through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, then we are lost in the darkness, unable to find our bearings. The problem is that a person deep into a dark cave with no light is not going to find their way out. They will die in that cave. However, if light is supplied, and even a map, then it is possible to get out of the cave of which we are otherwise trapped and find fullness of life. How people think they can take the light of God and conform it to their own opinions and find their way out of the cave is beyond any kind of saneness.