Light and Holiness-Biblical Perspective
Dr. Domenic Marbaniang
Light, in the Bible, often signifies purity, holiness, transparency, knowledge, wisdom, life, and freedom. The Bible declares that “God is light” (1Jn. 1:5), and that we who were once darkness are “light in the Lord” (Eph.5:8) through Christ the Light of the world (Jn. 8:12; Matt.4:16). God the Father delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear son (Col.1:14). We are, therefore, called upon to walk as “children of light” discerning and recognizing what is pleasing to God (Eph.5:8-10). We are called upon to walk in the light as He is in the light (1Jn. 1:7), to walk as He walked (1Jn.2:6).
Darkness is symbolic of obscenity, sin, hiddenness, shame, ignorance, foolishness, death, and bondage. The world lies in darkness, under the dominion of Satan; but, when a person’s eyes are opened by the light of the Gospel, he or she is delivered from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18; 2Cor.4:4-6).
For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2Cor 4:6)
The Bible divides the human world into light-haters and light-lovers. Light-haters love darkness, live in sin, and are intolerant towards the children of light; their deeds are evil (Jn.3:19,20). They live in deception, falsehood, and unrighteousness (2Thess.2:10-12). Light-lovers love the truth and shun darkness (Jn.3:21). There is no fellowship between light and darkness (2Cor.6:14). One can either choose to love and live in darkness or choose to love and live in the light. Therefore, the call to separation from the world of sin is imperative upon a Christian.
Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you (2Cor.6:17)
The Pervasion of Darkness in the World
The darkness of sin and godlessness pervades the world. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1Jn.5:19). Satan is the god of this world who blinds people’s minds to prevent them from experiencing the light of the Gospel (2Cor.4:4). He rules over the domain of the air and the spirit that energizes the children of disobedience who walk in the cravings of the flesh (Eph.2:1-3). This darkness pervades the minds of many political rulers, lawmakers, religious leaders, intellectuals, entertainers, artists, celebrities, and tycoons to make them speak and act out the desires of the ancient liar, deceiver, and destroyer - the devil (Jn.8:44). In fact, darkness masquerades as light to deceive the blind; for, Satan comes to people not as a power of darkness but as an angel of light and his emissaries masquerade as servants of righteousness (2Cor.11:13-15). These false apostles and prophets easily deceive carnal men and women who love darkness rather than the light (2Tim.3:6).
While darkness pervades the minds of the spiritually dead and godless, it can also easily cloud the minds of professing Christians who become proud, lustful, greedy, angry, and unwilling to learn. Cain is one example. Though cautioned against sin, he let anger grow into resentment, giving a foothold to the devil, and murdered his brother Abel (Gen.4:6,7; Eph.4:26,27). John describes him in the words “Cain who was of the evil one” (1Jn.3:12).
Paul lists out several characteristics of a darkened mind that include the following (Eph.4:17-5:6):
1. Futile personal thinking
2. Darkened personal understanding
3. Separation from the life of God
4. Ignorance due to hardening of hearts
5. Loss of all sensitivity
7. Indulgence in every kind of impurity
8. Extreme greed
11. Bitterness, rage and anger
12. Brawling and slander
13. Every form of malice
14. Sexual immorality
16. Foolish or coarse joking
Christians are called to separate themselves from these fruitless deeds of darkness and walk as children of light in the way that pleases God.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (Eph.5:8-11)
Living as God’s Light in the World
It is important to understand that this light is the light of Christ and not our own. When this light shines in our dark hearts to drive the darkness away, we become “light in the Lord”. When something is exposed by light, it becomes both visible and light (Eph.5:13, RSV). For example, the moon becomes visible when sunlight falls on it; but, it also becomes light by reflecting the light of the sun that makes it visible. Similarly, when Christ’s light shines in our hearts and we receive it through faith and confession, we become “light in the Lord”. Those who believe and confess are saved. But, every heart that is blinded and hardened by sin and craves for the works of darkness denies sin rather than confessing what has been exposed and remains condemned.
Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains (Jn.9:14).
If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. (Jn.15:24)
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn.1:8,9).
As Christ’s light in the world, we bear some responsibilities that include:
1. Renouncing and saying “No” to all sin (Eph.4:25-31)
2. Walking in Christ’s love with a compassionate and forgiving heart (Eph.5:1,2)
3. Exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness (Eph.5:11)
4. Living wisely (Eph.5:15)
5. Making best use of time on earth (Eph.5:16)
6. Understanding what pleases God (Eph.5:17)
7. Living and walking in the fullness of the Spirit (Eph.5:18)
8. Worshiping corporately and personally (Eph.5:19)
9. Doing good works (Matt.5:16)
10. Testifying with a clear conscience (1Pet.3:16; Phil.2:16)
The Fruit of Light
The Bible tells us that “the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (Eph.5:8). The works of darkness are fruitless. Worldly and carnal people might appear to be materially prosperous, politically powerful, and intellectually influential; however, all earthly prosperity is only transient and impermanent. The fruit of this world will perish with this world; but, the fruit of God’s kingdom will last forever. Therefore, Christ declared to the influential Jewish leaders:
“I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce ITS FRUIT.” (Matt.21:43, emphatics mine).
The kingdom of God has nothing to do with the materialistic quality of life on earth; it “is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom.14:17). Therefore, we are only truly fruitful when our life demonstrates goodness, righteousness and truth and we lead lives not according to the comforts and pleasures of this world but according to the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!…Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil.4:4,6-7)
When facing adversity, the children of light do not grumble and complain like the Israelites did in the wilderness (1Cor.10:10) but rejoice in the Lord and offer prayers and thanksgiving instead. Their hearts are governed by divine peace and their lives shine forth God’s resplendent light.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Phil.2:14-16)
Since they are ever thankful to God, they abound in good works generously. They do not complain about what they do not have, but are always thankful about all that they have in Christ and are willing to freely share with those who do not have. They abound in goodness for they are children of God’s kingdom of light. They also speak and do the works of righteousness, obeying and pleasing God rather than trying to please men. This righteousness of God is revealed to us in the Gospel of faith (Rom.1:17). It is rejected by those who hate the truth; but is received by those who love the truth. The righteousness of God’s kingdom is unlike the law and order of earthly nations that are a matter of written laws and interpretations of judges. The righteousness of God’s kingdom is the rule of the Spirit of Christ.
…. that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.(Rom.8:3,4)
As children of light, we are expected to have no communion with darkness. It is not sufficient to profess to be children of light. There are many false preachers and professors who masquerade as servants of righteousness but are nothing but emissaries of the false angel of light, the devil. As a tree is known by its fruits, so are the children of the kingdom differentiated from the children of disobedience by their works. Jesus said “by their fruits you will know them” (Matt.7:20). Christ looks for the fruit of the kingdom in us. By being rooted in Christ and walking in the Spirit we can shine in this crooked world “like stars in the sky” holding “firmly to the word of life.”