1 John 1:5 Only Light

1 John 1:4-7

“These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

When I looked up the verse for today, I mistakenly turned to the Gospel of John instead of to the letter 1st John. Thus, the first thing I read in my study time this morning was:

(John 1:5) “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

The writer of John’s Gospel Establishes a very important point here. The light and the darkness are not two aspects of the same divine being. This fact is confirmed in today’s scripture selection.

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1John 1:5)

This understanding of God’s nature differs considerably from New Age beliefs concerning God. The spiritual beliefs of the New Age movement largely consist of repackaged eastern religions and humanistic philosophies. God is seen as consisting of both light and dark – good and evil. The teaching about darkness often talks about our need to learn to accept the darkness that is in us, and in some philosophies, the expectation that we are to transform that darkness through our own efforts. The New Age movement often speaks of Christ or the master Jesus, but the being or man they speak of is not Christ Jesus who is described in the Bible. They describe an imposter. I am sure of this, because of the fact that the New Age Jesus does not transform lives. I tried to follow that Jesus for over twenty years, and my life never changed. My wounded heart, my dysfunctional attitudes, and my moral depravity only worsened.

The idea that “darkness is in God” has far reaching consequences. It means that the darkness that is in me is OK, because it is also in God. Therefore, God made me with darkness and God wouldn’t have made me this way if it wasn’t good. Out of this kind of thinking comes the belief that sin is OK, because we are powerless to stop sinning and should simply rejoice in the fact that we are sinners who are made in the image of God. Sadly, such thinking has slithered into many church denominations and is destroying them from within. I know, because I have been there; I was a living example of the next verse in 1st John.

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;” (1John 1:6)

In contrast, John’s Gospel and 1st John make it clear that God is only light. From this fact we can set our minds on true transformation through Christ. As I began to understand the true Christ and His true nature, I began to be transformed by His light. It was not my effort that brought about the change, but His light shining into my darkness. His light revealed the true nature of darkness. His light brought truth into a mind filled with lies. His light is transforming me and setting me free from the bondage of sin and the desire to live in darkness. I now know with complete certainty, that, “…God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”

Lord, I cannot do anything worthwhile without your help. Only through your strength can I live in your light. Lord Jesus, strengthen me so that I will no longer be deceived by the darkness in any area of my life.
I long to walk in the light, as you are in the light, and to have fellowship with those who are living in You and who are being cleansed from sin by Your blood. Amen.

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God is joyful and majestic light; God is never overshadowed

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. (Reference: 1 John 1: 5)

Lots of words below, but the essence is here:

God is light; nothing overshadows God. God’s light is joyful and majestic.

Light radiates from a source, following a path perhaps until it hits an irradiated object; the object cast a shadow following a path, perhaps until it hits a shadowed object. According to Leonard Talmy, this is the physical basis of light metaphors. With this in mind, consider today’s verse. The author of 1 John says the message of Jesus is this: God is the light source, and nothing casts a shadow on God.

One of the potential problems with theories like Talmy’s is that the don’t capture the complexities of metaphors. In general, the cognitive semantics approach is to create simple equational statements (LIFE is LIGHT) and look at the mixtures and interactions to capture the complexities. Miyazaki Kimie, in the article Light and Darkness in English and Japanese (pdf), describes some of the similarities and differences between English and Japan language and culture. For example, one way of describing Buddha is as the “Twelve Light Buddha:”

Buddha of Immeasurable Light, Buddha of Boundless Light, Buddha of  Unhindered Light, Buddha of Incomparable Light, Buddha of  Majestically Flaming Light, Buddha of Pure Light, Buddha of Joyful Light, Buddha of Wisdom Light,  Buddha of Unceasing Light, Buddha of Inconceivable Light, Buddha of  Ineffable Light, and Buddha of Light Outshining Sun and Moon.

I find interesting the similarities between Christian images of light and these images. Christians say God is Infinite (immeasurable, boundless, incomparable, unceasing, inconceivable, ineffable), All-powerful (unhindered, outshining sun and moon, majestically flaming), All-wise (wisdom) and the Source of every good (joyful), and Goodness itself (pure). I find the foreignness of some of the language helpful in understanding and enjoying and worshipping God. God, the Light, is a Joyful Light. God, the Light, majestically flames.