What does it mean that God is light? How do we walk in the light of Christ? How should we take the light of Christ’s gospel to the world?
1 John 1:5 says, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” Note that we are not told that God is a light but that He is light. Light is part of His essence, as is love (1 John 4:8). The message is that God is completely, unreservedly, absolutely holy, with no admixture of sin, no taint of iniquity, and no hint of injustice.
If we do not know light, we do not know God. Those who know God, who walk with Him, are of the light and walk in the light. They are made partakers of God’s divine nature, “having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4).
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). To “walk” means to make progress. Therefore, we can infer from this Scripture that Christians are meant to grow in holiness and to mature in faith as they follow Jesus (see 2 Peter 3:18).
It is God’s plan that believers become more like Christ every day. “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). He is the Creator of physical light, as well as the Giver of spiritual light, by which we can see the truth. Light exposes that which is hidden in darkness; it shows things as they really are. To walk in the light means to know God, understand the truth, and live in righteousness.
Christ’s followers must confess any darkness within themselves – their sins and transgressions – and allow God to shine His light through them (see 1 John 1:9).
Christians cannot sit idly by and watch others continue in darkness, knowing that those in the darkness of sin are destined for eternal separation from God. The Light of the World desires to banish the darkness and bestow His wisdom everywhere (see Isaiah 9:2; Habakkuk 2:14; John 1:9). In taking the light of Christ’s gospel to the world, we must by necessity reveal things about people that they would rather leave hidden. Light is uncomfortable to those accustomed to the dark (John 3:20).
The Apostle Paul tells us how we should let the light of Christ’s gospel shine through us: “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:1-7).
The best of men would be disheartened by the difficulties which they met, if they did not receive mercy from God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped us on, thus far, we may rely upon to help us even to the end. The apostles had no immoral and wicked designs, covered with fair and specious pretences. They did not try to make their ministry serve a turn. Sincerity or uprightness will keep the favourable opinion of wise and good men, whereas dishonesty or deception can only cause confusion and lead people astray (see Isaiah 9:15-16). Christ by his gospel makes a glorious discovery to the minds of men. But the design of the devil is, to keep men in ignorance; and when he cannot keep the light of the gospel of Christ out of the world, he spares no pains to keep men from the gospel, or to set them against it through deception and manipulation. The rejection of the gospel is here traced to the wilful blindness and wickedness of the human heart. Self was not the matter or the end of the apostles’ preaching; they preached Christ as Jesus, the Saviour and Deliverer, who goes all out to save all that come to God through him. Ministers are servants to the souls of men; they must avoid becoming servants to the humours or the lusts of men. It is pleasant to behold the sun in the firmament; but it is more pleasant and profitable for the gospel to shine in the heart. As light was the beginning of the first creation; so, in the new creation, the light of the Spirit is his first work upon the soul. The treasure of gospel light and grace is put into earthen vessels. The ministers of the gospel are subject to the same passions and weaknesses as other men. God could have sent angels to make known the glorious doctrine of the gospel, or could have sent the most admired sons of men to teach the nations, but he chose humbler, weaker vessels, that his power might be more glorified in upholding them, and in the blessed change brought about by their ministry.
Jesus, the sinless Son of God, is the “true light” (John 1:9). As adopted sons of God, we are to reflect His light into a world darkened by sin. Our goal in witnessing to non-believers is “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).
Let the light of Christ shine in our hearts as we sing the song “Christ, Be Our Light”: