As I’ve been reading the gospel of John, I’ve noticed how much he talks about light (16 times in his gospel; 5 times in his first epistle), and this started me on a journey into the significance of light in Scripture. As I mentioned last time, he uses this word metaphorically, to speak of the unveiling of true reality as it actually exists. We only see it dimly, as Paul said.
This post is the longest I’ve ever written. It’s long because I’ve had to include so many Scripture references so you would believe me. It’s really that important. I only ask that you indulge me and consider what’s being said.
This light is what exists in the Trinitarian life of God.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4*)
This light is true reality, for God Himself is this light.
5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5*)
Light and truth are synonymous in this regard. Not only is Jesus Christ the Truth because He is the light and life of humankind and the reason for existence itself (John 14:6), He came into the world to unveil the truth about God, about us, and about the world around us.
“…I have come into this world to prove what truth really is. And everyone who loves the truth will receive my words.” (John 18:37b TPT*)
I like how the Mirror translation brings out this most fundamental truth:
1:18 Until this moment God remained invisible to man; now the authentic begotten, the blueprint of man’s design who represents the innermost being of God, the son who is in the bosom of the father, brings him into full view! He is the official authority qualified to announce God! He is our guide who accurately declares and interprets the invisible God in us. (John 1:18 MIRROR *)
When we open our heart to receive Jesus at salvation, we come into the lowest level of light. Not that it’s less significant, it’s where our journey begins. But, like with any new life, we must grow.
We grow in this light by walking in the life of God with other believers.
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 Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7*)
There are three things to consider here. First, we’re to walk in this light, as already mentioned. Second, we do this in relationship with one another, which is why belonging to a vibrant local church is critically important. We can only truly grow in God in this relationship (see Eph.4:11-16). Finally, as we do this, Jesus cleanses us from sin (Greek word: hamartia).
Now, I’ve talked about hamartia many times before. It literally means tragic flaw: to err in judgment, to fail one’s purpose, or stray from the path (for more discussion on this, see my post, “Missing the Mark.”)
This is an important distinction, because if we think of sin as breaking some arbitrary set of rules, we’ve missed the whole point.
There’s no brokenness, sadness, death, sickness, hatred, fear, envy, conflict, or illusions of any kind in this light…only wholeness (Shalom), pure joy, pleasures, and delight (Psalm 16:11). It’s full of love and peace. Walking fully in this Light would mean perceiving and living in the world exactly the same way Jesus saw and lived in the world.
To the degree we receive this light is the degree that we’re made free (John 8:32).
5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:5*)
As I mentioned last time, the darkness is personified here. It’s a construct that’s alienated from the light of God. It always paints God’s face with the Serpent’s brush. It even hides behind the fig leaves of religion. It’s a force that resists the light and tries to blind humankind from receiving it. It’s both psychological and demonic (2 Cor.4:4).
And this gets to another fundamental problem. The ONLY separation between us and God is between our ears. It’s the lies we believe about God and about ourselves. Humankind’s problem is not actual separation from God but blindness. Since this illusion of separation from God is not my subject here, I will refer you to “Are Sinners Separated from God? – Part Five.”
I know this may be hard for you to accept if you were taught a dualistic view of God (which finds its origin in Plato, not Scripture). I only ask that you believe what the Bible actually says and think for yourself.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot comprehend it (or diminish it). This strange phenomenon is actually pretty easy to illustrate. A totally blind man may walk in the brilliant sunlight, yet he will not comprehend it. The bright sunlight and his blindness are coexisting. The light shines on him, yet he doesn’t see it. His blindness also cannot affect or diminish the light.
Jesus didn’t come to judge us; He came to save us from our blindness, which begins with our wrong view of God. First, we see God’s intention:
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17*)
I hope you see that the problem is not on God’s end. His purpose was to bring us into the Light—His life—so that we would stop stumbling through life in the darkness. But, like Adam, we misjudged God’s intention and hid because we feared punishment. The Message Bible brings this out more clearly:
19-21 “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.” (John 3:19-21 MSG*)
This is our greatest error in judgment. We judge God wrongly. So, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to show us just how wrong we were about God, and that our only real sin is unbelief:
8 And when he comes, he will expose sin and prove that the world is wrong about God’s righteousness and his judgments. 9 “‘Sin,’ because they refuse to believe in who I am. (John 16:8-9 TPT*)
Therefore, our “sin” (tragic flaw) is that we have misinterpreted God’s intention for bringing us into the light, so we hide in the darkness. Pure pleasure and joy comes from knowing and walking in God’s infinite love (Psalm 16:11; John 15:9-12). But we’ve become addicted to the weak and beggarly counterfeits because our unbelieving heart has made us blind.
This goes back to Adam and Eve. They tried to fix themselves by putting on fig leaves and hiding from God. We’ve been hiding behind these “fig leaves” of religion ever since because of guilt and shame and fear of punishment. (If we won’t go to God because we’ve been “sinful,” we can be sure we’re being religious!)
This is why it matters. The world we live is broken and stumbling in the darkness. Yet, we are changed as we walk in the Light; this transformation is stunning and beautiful to behold.
This is the undiluted Gospel. It will astonish you and captivate your heart! It’s what captivated the hearts of the New Testament writers and the early church; they got a glimpse of it and were ruined for the counterfeits forever! Don’t let empty philosophy and religion rob you of this unveiling that changes everything (see Col.2:8-10).
This is my invitation and challenge to you… Will you open your heart and learn how to walk in the light, so you can invite your world into this light? Beloved, it’s time to shine!
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isa.60:1-3 NIV*)