settings icon
share icon

What does it mean to walk in darkness (1 John 1:6)?

walk in darkness

The idea of walking in darkness is mentioned in several parts of Scripture, including 1 John 1:6, “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.” This verse serves as a warning and challenge to everyone who claims to have a relationship with God. Christianity goes beyond words and is revealed through our actions.

To walk in darkness denotes a sinful lifestyle, persistently engaging in actions that God hates. The term walk is often used as a metaphor for daily living. So, John is addressing those who profess to be followers of Christ but carry on with ungodly living. Elsewhere, Scripture lists behaviors commonly associated with living in darkness, such as “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:20–21). Living in darkness revolves around self-centeredness, satisfying personal desires (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 1:24–25). This raises the question: Are we seeking to please God or only ourselves?

It is expected that those who reject God would live for themselves and walk in darkness. But it is also possible to identify with Christ yet live in a self-serving manner. This was the temptation that led Eve and Adam astray. The serpent invited them to turn from God and pursue self-rule, saying, “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Throughout history, humanity has since desired to be like God, establishing their own notions of reality and morality. The problem is, in our fallen state, we view as good what God calls evil and then denigrate what He calls good.

What about adherents of other theistic religions who also acknowledge a transcendent Being: are they living in darkness? Do they not know God? The issue with other religions is is two-fold: 1) their denial of the universal human condition—moral imperfection and an inability to meet God’s standard—and 2) their rejection of Christ. True religion stems from approaching God through Christ, acknowledging that only He is righteous and only He can bridge the gap between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). When we believe we can attain righteousness through our efforts, we either become self-righteous or despondent; either way, further sinful behavior results.

The opposite of walking in darkness is living in the light, starting when we turn to the Light of the world. Through Christ’s redemptive work and the Holy Spirit’s regeneration, we move from the kingdom of darkness to that of light (Colossians 1:13–14; see also Acts 26:17–18; 1 Peter 2:9). Because we are in the light, we should “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Our manner of life should reflect our claim to know God; otherwise, we rightly appear as dishonest. “We lie,” as 1 John 1:6 says. “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Critics often point to the contrast between belief and behavior in many Christians as an argument against the gospel. While this accusation can be biased, we cannot ignore that, when we associate with Jesus, even outsiders expect to see changes. Numerous people come to Christ due to the godly lifestyle of a Christian friend or family member. Are we genuinely living out the truth of the gospel in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, and churches? Or do we still walk in darkness?

Return to:

Questions about 1 John

What does it mean to walk in darkness (1 John 1:6)?
Subscribe to the

Question of the Week

Get our Question of the Week delivered right to your inbox!

Follow Us: Facebook icon Twitter icon YouTube icon Pinterest icon Instagram icon
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy
This page last updated: November 30, 2023