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God's activity is light, bringing order to Creation, fellowship to believers and judgment to the world.

Chapter 5 in About God
this chapter by Ian B. Johnson.


God is light. Light defines His activity. We may walk either in light or in darkness.

God is light. I John 1:5. Just as love defines God's character and spirit his substance, even so light defines his activity:

This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and don't tell the truth. 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.
I John 1:5-7 (WEB)

The language in this passage is not metaphorical. John does not assert that God is "like light" or that he "can be compared to light." He asserts that God is light, and contrasts this light to darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. God is light with no darkness intermixed. If we walk in darkness -- by closing our eyes(1) to the light which is all around us(2)- we cannot truthfully claim that we have fellowship -- partnership or complete sharing of all things (koinonia ) -- with God.

However, if we walk in God's light as Jesus does, we do indeed have perfect partnership with God and with each other and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. We have fellowship with each other because we are each individually full of light and belong to the light. Matthew 6:22-23; I Thessalonians 5:5. Since God is light and is also love, when we are full of light we manifest God's love, the source of our fellowship. Ephesians 5:8-10; I John 2:8-11.

As we walk in the light, Jesus' blood also cleanses us from sin. That which we hide in the darkness cannot be cleansed out of our lives. But as we come more fully into the light in the earnest expectation that we will become like the light, we will both purify ourselves (since we are now able to see where this must be done) and will be continually cleansed by Jesus' blood. I John 1:7 & 3:3. Being inwardly full of light already, we will ultimately become outwardly just like him also. Matthew 6:22; I John 3:1-3.

Light and darkness are spiritual forces in this world, but it was not so from the beginning. In the beginning, only light was a spiritual force.

Both light and darkness are spiritual forces in the present world, but it was not so from the beginning. God's first act of creation was to speak light into his formless, empty earth and into the darkness which lay on the face of the deep. Genesis 1:3; compare Psalm 119:130. He then separated the light from the darkness, bringing the first order into the world, calling the light day and the darkness night. Genesis 1:4-5. Though God is creator and fills all things from beginning to end, order did not come to creation until he made himself active in it by bringing his light into it (3).

Moreover, while God created night on that first day of creation, absolute darkness never again existed in all creation after he released his light into it(4). The darkness of night is only a relative darkness -- there is less light visible at night than during the day -- it is not absolute darkness such as existed before God spoke light into creation. This is underscored by God's work on the fourth day, which included both the creation of a firmament to separate day from night and the creation of the moon and stars -- light sources to illuminate and so "govern" the night. Genesis 1:14-19; Jeremiah 31:35. Nothing can hide from God in darkness, because God is light and darkness is therefore as light to him. Psalm 139:12 (5).

From the beginning, then, light was a spiritual force, but darkness was not -- it was merely the relative absence of God's activity. Darkness was not associated with evil. Indeed, God saw that the arrangement he had created of day and night, light and darkness was "very good." Genesis 1:31. It was only when sin entered the creation that darkness became an evil spiritual force

The entry of sin into the world made the darkness into an evil spiritual force. Man learned to know evil and fear God's light, and the whole creation was subjected to futility.

While it is true that Lucifer's sin was pride, his pride really began with something more fundamental -- to become able to assert that he could exalt himself above God, he necessarily closed his eyes to God's eternal power and deity. Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-17; compare Matthew 13:14-15; Romans 1:18-23. Lucifer chose to close his eyes to pursue his own glory apart from God and thus to walk in the darkness. This brought a spirit into darkness, which now became a place where God's light was unwelcome, and the darkness became a spiritual force. Many angels then, not keeping their first estate as God's messengers, followed satan into the darkness. Jude 6.

Sin entered the world of men in much the same way. Although the serpent's question to Eve was meant to make her doubt God's goodness and the desires of her flesh and mind made the forbidden fruit seem attractive, the serpent´┐Żs underlying lie was this:

You won't surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
Genesis 3:4-5 (WEB)

The first man and woman were already like God -- made in his image -- had a perfect environment and daily intimate conversations with God himself! Genesis 1:27, 2:4-25, 3:8. They already knew all good. The only thing they could "gain" by eating the fruit was the knowledge of evil -- the knowledge of what it was like to close their eyes, turn their backs on God and become their own "gods," as satan had already done. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he followed satan into the darkness, and brought with him all of his descendants, who would henceforth be born with eyes blind to God and a fear of the light. See, John 3:19-21; Romans 5:12 & 18-19; 2 Corinthians 3:4; Ephesians 2:1-3. Now there are many spirits in darkness, all resisting and hating the light, and darkness has great power.

Moreover, because God had given Adam dominion over the earth, when Adam departed into darkness, he took the earth with him, making the whole creation subject to futility and appointing satan as the god of this age by his obedience to satan's words. Genesis 1:28, 3:17-18; Romans 8:19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Ephesians 2:2.

The power of darkness is not like the power of light. God is the light. Darkness is an impersonal force, the rejection of God. The devil is in the darkness, but is not the darkness, and his power is dependent on men believing a lie.

However, the power of darkness is not like the power of light. Light is a person, God himself. Darkness is impersonal, the rejection of the light. The devil is not darkness in the same way that God is light; instead, while he claims usurped authority in the realm of darkness, he is only one of many spirits there each of which is in rebellion against authority (6).

While the devil maintains a chain of command in his kingdom, his power depends entirely upon his ability to deceive those who recognize his authority into continuing to do as he suggests (7). Because the premise of his kingdom is that every member of it may be his own god, satan has no true subordinates. While none of the demons in his employ have the option of returning to God, the demons alone are incapable of accomplishing anything on earth (8).Instead, to accomplish anything, the devil must have men and women who will do his will, and every human who has ever lived has had the capacity to see and return to the light if he would but open his eyes (9)

More contrasts between light and darkness. Light possesses its own real power, darkness only illusory power. Light is living, darkness is dead. Light overcomes darkness.

The light, which is self-existent, possesses its power in and of itself. The power of darkness, which is a false and illusory "power" defined only by a negation, exists only when men close their eyes and has only the power given it by the spirits which walk in it (10).

Light is a living force, the light of life (11), but darkness is dead, the shadow of death. Jeremiah 13:16; Luke 1:78-79. Light grows and produces living fruit -- goodness, righteousness and truth. Ephesians 5:8-10. Darkness produces only dead, unfruitful works. Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11. Light and truth are allies, as are darkness and the lie. Psalm 43:3; I John 1:5-7.

Moreover, light overcomes darkness but darkness cannot overcome light (12). Even today, light overcomes darkness through the Gospel in those who are being saved. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6. Ultimately, light will overcome darkness completely, giving the whole world light through Jesus directly. Revelation 21:23-24 & 22:

The judgment is that men choose darkness and God ultimately gives them what they seek -- hell, the outer darkness, a place where he is totally inactive. God does not judicially sentence anyone to hell; we make this decision ourselves.

In that day, the realm of darkness, and all who walk in it, will be given for all eternity exactly what they sought in the present age -- a place where God is inactive, the "outer darkness" or "lake of fire (13)." However, since it is God who maintains the order of nature (14) and those who walk in darkness are not the true gods they believe themselves to be, they will find the outer darkness to be something they had not imagined -- a place of intense heat (15), complete darkness and complete loneliness (16), where painful decay continues unabated without ever consuming the person. Mark 9:42-48.

Yet, the judgment which leads to hell is not made by God judicially, in a human sense. There is not crime, followed by trial, conviction and a judicial sentence to punishment. No, the judgment is a single step, and it is decided by every person for himself:

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness. If anyone listens to my sayings, and doesn't believe, I don't judge him. For I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and doesn't receive my sayings, has one who judges him. The word that I spoke, the same will judge him in the last day.
John 12:46-48 (WEB)
This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God.
John 3:19-21 (WEB)

In this life also, whether we follow the light or ignore it is the difference between blessings and curses.

In this life also, our decisions whether to walk in the light or to turn around, close our eyes and pretend there is no light make all the difference. God demonstrated this to his people Israel twice while they were in Egypt. On the first of these occasions he left the Egyptians, whose ruler had rejected Moses' words, under a "darkness that can be felt" for three days while giving his own people in Goshen light. Exodus 10:21-23. On the second occasion, God in the pillar of cloud and fire gave his people light, but the Egyptians pursuing them darkness. Exodus 14:20.

Later, God gave Israel his Law and informed them both that blessings would come upon them if they obeyed the Law and that curses would come upon them if they disregarded it. Leviticus 26, passim ; Deuteronomy 28, passim. Chief of the blessings promised was that God, the light himself, would put his dwelling place among the people, "walk among" them and be their God, and they would be his people. Leviticus 26:11-12. This was the chief blessing because all of the other blessings flowed from it. Psalm 89:15. The curses of disobedience, however, included "madness, blindness and confusion of mind" as a result of which "at midday you will grope about like a blind man in the dark... you will be unsuccessful in everything you do." Deuteronomy 28:28-29.

Likewise, at the present time, the decision whether to follow the light or to ignore it is the difference between the blessing and the curse. God still gives light to all. But only those who will open their eyes and seek God can see this light. Thus, it is rightly said that God provides light to those who seek, believe and follow him. John 8:12 & 12:46 (17). With this light come blessings from God. Psalm 89:15, 97:11 & 118:27.

God's light and truth guide his own, but the entry of light is gradual. Light is withheld from the wicked, who do not want to see it.

God's light and truth guide his own. Psalm 43:3, 119:105 & 130; Proverbs 6:23. Yet, the entry of God's light is gradual: the way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter until the full light of day. Proverbs 4:18. When we open our eyes to the light, a process begins which ultimately banishes the darkness.

By contrast, God told Job (a righteous man) that light is withheld from the wicked. Job 38:15. It is noteworthy, however, that God did not say that he withholds light from the wicked. No, today God always says "come out ... be free" to those captive in darkness. Isaiah 49:9; compare 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 & Romans 10:8-15. Rather, as previously stated, the wicked withhold light from themselves. The way of the wicked, the path they follow, is deep darkness, darkness in which they stumble. Proverbs 4:19; John 11:9-10.

Though the wicked choose darkness, God remains light. He gives light forever to those whose eyes are open.

End notes

  1. Isaiah 6:9-10 (this people has closed their eyes, otherwise they might see); Isaiah 44:18 (the idolater's eyes are closed so that he cannot understand the foolishness of what he is doing); Jeremiah 5:21 (the people have eyes but see not); Matthew 6:22-23 (if your eye is good, your body is full of light, but if it is bad your body is full of great darkness); Matthew 13:15 (the people have closed their eyes lest they hear Jesus' words); John 3:18-21 (he who does evil does not come to the light); John 12:35-36 (put your trust in the light while you have it, before the darkness overtakes you); I John 2:8-11 (he who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks around in the darkness and the darkness has blinded his eyes).
  2. Jesus is the light which shines in darkness, which gives light to every person coming into the world. John 1:1-5 & 9.
  3. Modern physics teaches that light is lowest "entropy" form of energy -- i.e., the most orderly form of energy. This finding can be easily explained when it is observed that light is the activity of a God who, by nature, brings order.
  4. This is true even as a matter of physics. Even in the most carefully darkened room, there is infrared light ("black body" radiation) emitted by the objects in the room. God has truly made a universe in which all things are revealed by his light.
  5. See also Exodus 10:23 (in the midst of the plague of darkness on Egypt, Israel had light); Exodus 14:19-20 (God, in the pillar of cloud, gave light to Israel and darkness to the army of Egypt); Psalm 18:28, 36:9, 78:14, 89:15, 104:2, 118:27, 119:105; Isaiah 2:5, 9:2, 29:15, 45:7, 50:10, 60:1-3; Ezekiel 8:12; Daniel 2:22; Micah 7:8; John 3:19-20; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11; I Timothy 6:15-16.
  6. Psalm 82:5 (this world's "gods" walk about in darkness); 2 Peter 2:4 (angels that sinned); Jude 6 (angels that kept not their first estate); Matthew 12:25-26 (how can satan's kingdom stand if he is divided against himself?).
  7. John 8:34 & 43-47; Acts 26:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Ephesians 6:12. Because God has given us freedom to choose our way, he cannot force us to act. Neither does God allow the devil this power which he has denied to himself. Just as God relies on people who have faith in the truth to do his will in the world, so the devil relies on those who believe his lies.
  8. Until Adam sinned, both the earth and the human race were unaffected by the devil's sin. Genesis 1:31 (creation -- very good); Romans 5:12 (sin entered the world through one man); Romans 5:19 (through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners).
  9. Luke 8:26-33; John 16:32; Acts 10:38; Ephesians 4:27; Ephesians 6:11-18; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; Hebrews 2:14-15; I Peter 5:8 (seeking whom he may devour); I John 3:7-8 (our sin is the devil's work which Jesus came to destroy). There is not a single instance in scripture in which any spirit in darkness accomplished anything in the physical world (as opposed to the mind or emotions of a vulnerable person) without acting through a yielded physical body. Because the devil is not the self-existent creator of the universe, he lacks the power God has to change physical things without using a physical body to effect or participate in effecting such changes, and is entirely dependent on the power -- spiritual and physical -- of men who have joined him in the darkness.
  10. Job 24:13-17; Psalm 82:5; Isaiah 5:20, 48:8-9 & 59:2-9; Luke 11:33-36, 22:53, 23:44; John 1:5, 1:10-11, 8:12, 12:46; Romans 1:18-22; Ephesians 5:8-11, 6:12; I Thessalonians 5:5; I John 2:8-11.
  11. John 1:4 & 8:12; Psalm 36:9 & 56:3.
  12. Where light goes, it is no longer dark. Darkness flees before the dawn. See, John 1:5; Ecclesiastes 2:13; Psalm 4:6, 37:8, 43:3, 97:11 & 112:4; Isaiah 29:18, 45:3, 48:8-9, 50:10, 51:4, 60:1-3 & 60:19-20; Hosea 6:5; Micah 7:8; Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 8:16-18; John 8:12; 2 Peter 1:19; I John 2:8; Revelation 21:23-24.
  13. Matthew 8:10, 22:13, 25:28; 2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 20:11-15.
  14. Colossians 1:15-17.
  15. 2 Peter 3:7. The place of eternal judgment described in the scriptures sounds like the theoretical physicists' picture of "entropic doom" -- all heat with no light.
  16. No one will see his friends in hell. No one will see anything in hell (where absolute darkness reigns) except the unattainably distant blessings of the saints in heaven. Luke 16:22-26.
  17. See also, Psalm 112:4; Isaiah 50:10; Micah 7:8; John 1:12.

Ian Johnson
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© 1998, 2005 Ian Johnson

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