Light in the Darkness

“I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he… Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me”(Jn. 13:19, 21).

In Jesus’ final hours, we see Him troubled by the darkness surrounding Him. One of His closest friends betrayed Him unto death, and the devil himself takes on a personal assaulting role. Jesus seems utterly alone and victimized as the night intensifies.

However, Jesus is not merely a passive sufferer. No, right in the midst of this deepest darkness, Christ makes Himself known as the God of light. Moreover, God is revealed in Christ as the truly sovereign ruler of all – even the darkness.

We see the God of the Bible as one who is greater than we ever knew and more awesome than we could have imagined. His power and might extend far past the boundaries we often envision in our finite assumptions. To the watchful eye, God shows His brilliant light in the midst of darkness. For He is the God who forms light and creates darkness, and He is the God who has promised that darkness will one day be no more.

Are You in the Dark or the Light?

In the Bible, God often uses themes and imagery to make His teaching clear. Light and darkness are presented to us in the opening pages of Genesis when God tells us that He created light to dispel darkness at His command (Gen. 1:2-3).

This theme is picked up throughout the Bible, and it is especially prominent in the Gospel of John. John’s Gospel presents a world of darkness, inhabited by wicked people who want to remain in the shadows rather than be exposed to the light.

We find this to be true in our own experience, don’t we?

When someone does something they know they should not do, they often try to hide their activity under the cover of darkness. Either literally or figuratively, wicked things are generally done in darkness (in secret).

Additionally, when these secret things are exposed (when the light shines upon them), the nearly universal response is to run away from the light. How many times have we witnessed people lying to cover up their wickedness? Do the lies stop when someone is caught in a lie? No! The lies continue and become increasingly complicated. This common experience is not only found in the activities of others; it is found in our own activities as well.

What we read about in John’s Gospel aligns perfectly with our own experience: wickedness loves darkness and hates light.

The world of darkness and its wicked inhabitants is disheartening, for sure, but there is hope to be found in the light. John’s Gospel also teaches us that God’s light is both exposing and enlightening. God’s light of truth simultaneously condemns wickedness and provides a clear path towards redemption.

The essential message of Christianity is not a message of personal improvement or moralistic ascendency… quite the contrary.

The good news of Christianity is that God has shown love and mercy towards those who are morally filthy and personally blameworthy. However (and here is the rub), the mercy God offers is only available to those who are willing to expose their own wickedness to the light of His judgment.

If you want to keep pretending that you aren’t as bad as you really are, then you may remain in darkness (at least until you stand before God at the final judgment). But, for those who will come into the light, expose themselves of guilty and disgraceful, there is a great hope.

The hope we may have is provided in the reality that Jesus Christ is the substitute for all who trust in Him.

Jesus (fully God and genuinely human) was born without darkness and guilt. He lived a life of perfect obedience to God’s law, exposing Himself as morally and personally pure in the light. However, when Jesus died upon a Roman cross, He was counted as filthy and blameworthy on behalf of all those who would trust Him as their substitute. In this way, God both exposes wicked sinners for who they are and provides hope for their escape from His righteous judgment.

Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free;

for God the just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me.

Since our first parents disobeyed God, creation (including humanity) has become dark. Truth and righteousness have been dulled and obscured in disobedience (Rom. 1:18), and humanity has happily sided with the darkness (Jn. 3:19). However, God’s light is an overwhelming beam (Jn. 1:4-5), both exposing sin and bringing life to those who humbly receive Him (Jn. 1:12-13; cf. Jn. 3:16-21).

May the light of Christ’s truth shine upon us today.

Freedom in Darkness?

Does darkness really free us at all?

Does a shadowy covering make sinners free from guilt, condemnation, and shame?

NOT in the slightest!

There is no freedom in darkness! There is the empty promise of freedom, but there is only greater and more destructive bondage. How free is the disease-ridden man who only stays locked up in his home so that his friends and his doctor will not notice his disease? He is not free! He is a slave to his disease! He is a slave to his foolish desire for a false freedom.

If this is true of a physical disease, how much more bondage do you prefer because of your sin and your love of darkness?!

Is the frivolous spender free because he acquires more credit cards with greater limits to hide his foolish spending? Does he not enslave himself to those creditors and his foolish desires?

Is the insecure mother free because she rarely invites company into her home in order to hide the chaos of it? Does she not enslave herself to the fear and anxiety of an unexpected guest?

Is the irresponsible father free because he spends a great deal of time away from his family in order to avoid the painful reminders of his lacking involvement? Does he not enslave himself to those very constraints on his time that he so regularly uses for an excuse to be away?

Is the disobedient teenager free because she hides her activity from her parents? Does she not enslave herself by hiding her true feelings and struggles from those who love her most? Does she not make herself unknowable by the very ones who yearn to know her best?

What about the freedom of the liar, the cheat, the thief, the lazy, the proud, the greedy, or the lustful? Do any of these experience freedom in darkness?

What about the homosexual, the promiscuous, or the adulterer? Are these free because they practice their deeds in darkness? Are these free because anyone says a kind word to them in the shroud of their sin? What relief can be given to one who clings so tightly to that thing which he knows condemns him?

Hopefully, you see the absurdity of placing any hope in darkness.

May it be that God would graciously remove your contentment to remain unknown and unexposed. And may God enable you to come into the light, through the person and work of Jesus Christ.*

 

*Please see my article “Where is your shame?”