1 John 1:5: This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
What is your attitude toward God’s character? Because what you and I think about God is one of the most important question in our lives. It has implications for all our lives as well as eternity. And verse 5 forces us to ask this question.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, John writes. John, known as the disciple in whom Jesus loved. John, who witnessed the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus. He has heard the message from Jesus, and now He proclaims this message to us here in 1 John. And the message begins with this simple, yet life changing truth. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
And in one verse, we get a clearer picture about who our God is. And this makes all the difference.
So often, what we do as humans is try and make God out in our image. By that I mean, instead of allowing the Bible to define or describe the nature and character of God, we instead allow our traditions, or our own minds, or what we hear from others to define our God.
So we incorrectly think that God is just slightly more wise, loving, forgiving, gracious, strong, or merciful than us. Or we envision a God who is like a grandfather who sits back in his rocking chair, winks at us when we disregard what he says, pats us on the head and slips us a piece of candy afterwards. Or we envision a far off, distant God who doesn’t seem to care about us, or only concerns himself with global issues. Or we envision a God who is going to bring justice to the murderer, or person who commits crimes against humanity or children, but not you and me, because, well, we’re not as bad as ‘those people.’
And when we do that, we are making God out in our image, or an image that appeals to us, rather than allowing the Bible to be the source for how to describe the nature and character of our God.
John starts with God’s character. And we must as well. If we start with us, and make God in our image, then we will create a picture of a God who conforms to our desires and wishes. Who is there when we have got ourselves in a bind, but who we can ignore when we want to do what we want to do.
Where He signs off on our actions, no matter what they are. So when it comes to relational conflict, or marriage, sex, dating, parenting, integrity at work or in school, money, our willingness to show compassion and be generous…when we run up against things in Scripture that call us to live differently and we disregard them, then we are ultimately placing ourselves at the center of our faith, rather than God.
This is one reason that when we read our Bibles, we do not start with, ‘where do we find ourselves in this passage’, but rather, ‘what do we learn about the nature and character of God in this passage.’ And then the next question is ‘who are we and what are we to do in light of that truth?’
God is light…in him there is no darkness at all.
God gets to define God. We don’t have that authority. The creation doesn’t have the authority to define the Creator.
God is light…in Him there is no darkness at all. So what does that mean or clarify to us? God shines, illuminates, reveals, exposes, purges. God is light. This refers to God’s perfect, spotless, beautiful, awe-inspiring holiness. His perfection. That in Him, there is no darkness, evil, or brokenness. And honestly, you and me struggle to get our heads around that because we’ve never experienced anything like that. We’ve never come face to face with the drop to your knees, breath taking, causing you to fear holiness of God.
And we might say to ourselves, what does this have to do with anything? Why does this matter to me that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all? Because knowing that God is light, and there is no darkness in Him, quickly tells me…that I am not like Him. And neither are you.
In me, and in you, is darkness. I don’t care how good of a show that you and I can project outwardly. And church folk can be really good at it on Sunday mornings correct? We can live one way the week before, and then walk in and put on this fake, outward appearance where we are hoping the people around us won’t see the darkness in us.
There is no darkness in God…but there is darkness in us. We’re sinful. We’re broken. There are dark corners, dark recesses in our hearts. And we’d all admit that. Even if you are reading this and don’t follow and trust in Jesus, you’d be the first one to say, yeah, I’ve got some darkness. I’ve got some actions and thoughts and attitudes that I know are not holy, perfect, or pure like God.
And this is one of the major areas that we want to redefine who God is. I mean, we know that God is grace, love, merciful. We don’t want to redefine those. But when it comes to God being light, well, that is going to expose us. It is going to reveal, so maybe we really hope that God is light for those ‘other people’, but not us.
God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. And that truth collides with the darkness in our hearts. When we catch a glimpse of God’s holiness, His light, it allows me to see sin for what it is. And I can’t run from this light, and neither can you. We can’t hope it goes away, or that it just exposes the other person, and not our own heart.
So how do we respond to the truth that God is light? What is our attitude toward the character of God? Do we try and hide…or do we try and cover it up…do we just lay ourselves before a loving God saying, you know all, you see all, and so I’m not going to pretend anymore.
Without the holiness of God, we think, we’ll I’m cleaner than that person. But when held up to the perfect, radiant, holy, light of God, our darkness gets exposed. And some of us have been trying to clean up the sin or the dirt on your own, and all it has done is smear it around. Loved one, only Jesus is the One who forgives and cleanses us from our sin, who purifies us.
This is what John goes on to tell us in chapter 1.
1 John 1:7-9: 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 cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God is light and God is also love. And that perfect image of love and light came to us in a person and work of Jesus. So that through faith in Him, we might be cleansed from sin, and not only have fellowship with our Creator, but also one another.
So are you trying to remove the darkness of your heart by your own power? Are you making God out in your image and ignoring His holiness and light? Are you confessing sin, walking in the light, and rejoicing in the forgiveness and freedom found only in Jesus?