19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
Verse 19 begins by telling us that there is a judgement and the judgment that it speaks of is the light coming into the world, to expose the works of men. The light is going to show what works are evil and what works are true. Remember, unbelievers are condemned already. The judgment, which is the light coming into the world, is simply going to expose and reveal that.
One of the things our text does is compare two types of people: those who do wicked and evil things, and those who do what is true. We will do the same thing here today, and see where we may fall.
Those Who do Wicked Things
Love the Darkness
“…the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness…(v. 19)” Those who do evil love the darkness. Those who do evil are not victims to the darkness, they love the darkness. It’s where their affections lie. Their life revolves around being in the dark and avoiding the light.
Hate the Light
“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light…(v. 20)”
Not only do they love the darkness, but they hate the light. This is like we mentioned last week: you cannot serve two masters. You will love one and hate the other. If you are not for Christ, you are against Him. There is no neutrality.
A lot of people have a problem with this. But this is what the Bible says: “…everyone who does wicked things hates the light…” Many people get offended at this. They say, “Oh, come on, I don’t hate Christ.” You can tell me all you want that you don’t hate Christ. But this is what the Bible teaches: “…people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light…”
The Light is Christ
Before we go any further, let me state it clearly in case you are confused: The “light” here is a reference to Christ. Christ is the light that has come into the world to expose the deeds of men. This is what we saw in John 1:9-11, “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” It is Christ they hate. They don’t mind doing relatively good charitable deeds, or being religious people, or adhering to a certain moral standard. But loving and obeying Christ? No way. He demands too much.
Natural Light Gives is an Illustration of the Exposing Light of Christ
The light is Christ who comes into the world to expose deeds done in the dark. It is interesting to note that natural light from the sun is an illustration of the exposing light of Christ. The natural light from the sun is such a prick on the conscience of men, and it testifies against their evil deeds to such a degree that most often, the worst sins are done at night, or in the dark. You’ve heard people tell others not to go to a certain part of town at a certain time of night. Why is that? Why is sin often intentionally done in literal darkness? It’s because the darkness cloaks us to other humans and they can’t see what we do. We think that it covers us. Most people are sleeping, the darkness covers you, nobody is watching or can see you – it feels secret and easy to get away with. Of course that’s foolish but that’s what sin deceives us into believing. That’s why when a crime is done in the light, people will exclaim, “And he even did it out in broad daylight! Can you believe that?” Our sensibilities understand how people can sin at night, but out in broad daylight? Have a little respect. It’s bold. It’s shamelessness of what is shameful. It’s shocking because it shows no shame over sin. Sin should be shameful. That’s why Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves up with leaves. They were ashamed. Sin is shameful.
Imagine a nasty dark basement, it’s damp and smells like mold, you pull down an old string to turn on a light bulb, and as soon as you do, you see these vile, hellish creatures instantly scatter back to the shadows. You couldn’t tell what they were, they looked like those creatures from Stranger Things. They hate the light. It exposes them. What you want to do is go down there with the brightest possible lights and a shotgun and get rid of those suckers. What you don’t want to do is to turn the light off, run up stairs, and never do anything about it, so that they can grow bigger and stronger and more vile, and one day destroy you and your home.
Don’t we hate being exposed? It’s terrifying, because we all know there are dark corners of our hearts and minds that are worse than that basement of hellish creatures. Even as true Christians, it’s terrifying to come to the light, we’ve got nasty things down in the basement of our hearts.
Physical darkness that sin is often done in, is just a picture of spiritual darkness and light. Men who do evil hate the light of day because it reminds them of the light of Christ, whom they hate even more.
Think about it this way: evil men who love their sin hate the spread of the gospel and the spread of Christian influence in their society because they love their sin. Why do you think Christians have been so persecuted throughout history? Evil men love the darkness and don’t want Christianity to spread because it exposes them for what they are. Evil dictators and kings throughout history who have persecuted Christians have done so, in large part, due to the fact that the spread of Christianity is a threat to their tyrannical rule, and thus their lavish lifestyle of sin. If the people become Christians, the ruler won’t be worshiped anymore. If Churches rise up they will call the ruler to repentance and obedience to Jesus, which will require him to quit being a tyrant. Certain evil businessmen hate it when the people become Christians because certain types of establishments and industries are going to go out of business. Evil men have an interest in wanting their society to be in spiritual darkness. They are not neutral.
They Love Their Sin
Last week in verse 18 we saw that those who do not believe in the name of the Only Son of God are condemned already. But after verse 18 we might ask the question: Why do people not believe? Verse 19 and following answers: Because they hate the light. Why do they hate the light? Because their works are evil and the light exposes their works and they love the darkness because they love their sin. Unbelievers refuse to believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, because they love their sin, and coming to Christ would mean parting with their sin, and they don’t want to do that.
Spiritual ignorance is moral.
Do you love your sin? Does it cause you to squirm away from the light? I was in the car with my wife the other day, and we drove by a billboard for a big church, and on the sign it said, “A Church for everyone.” That was how they were advertising themselves. We began to talk about how false that is. The Church is not for everyone in the sense that membership belongs exclusively to Believers. Professing believers who live in unrepentant sin will either not be allowed to join or will be put under church discipline. We began to talk about how people living in unrepentant sin ought to feel uncomfortable coming into Church. If a man who’s having an affair comes in to church, he ought to feel uncomfortable. There is a sense in which each and every one of us ought to feel a bit uncomfortable as we bring in sin that we have not confessed and repented of in our lives. It ought to be an uncomfortableness because we know that we cannot continue to live that way. It ought to be an uncomfortableness that drives us to Christ for forgiveness and a clear conscience. We don’t want to feel comfortable in our sin! It ought to make us so uncomfortable that we just have to get rid of it, and of course the only way that we can, is to bring it to Christ!
The light of Christ exposes our sin, so that we can see it for what it is, and so that we can drag it out of the basement and kill it. The light of Christ exposes our sin so that we can be forgiven of it, and rid of it.
Those Who Do What is True
Come to the Light
“But whoever does what is true comes to the light…(v. 21).” This person is not hiding any evil. This person does not love sin or darkness. Their works are true and they come to the light.
God is Glorified
“But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” This is not a self-righteousness, but it’s an exposure to the light that shows that the good in them, God did in them, and God is glorified.
When we live in the light and do good works, it is clearly seen to be carried out in God, because in our own flesh we are not capable of such good works. The work of God’s grace in our lives is the only explanation.
Think about your own life: Do you do evil, or what is true? What will the light expose? Do you come to the light or hide in darkness? When your heart is laid bare, what will be there?
To be honest, this ought to be a bit frightening to each one of us, because we all know that there are some dark and wicked places in our hearts that we don’t want exposed. We can’t honestly really put ourselves in the category of those who do what is true and come to the light.
But there is one who did. The Light of the World, who perfectly loved and did what is true, hated the darkness, and cherished no sin in His heart. That Son of God was hung up on a cross for the world to see, and when the sun went black, there was never a brighter light that shone, and it shines into our hearts today, and burns up the sin and wickedness of our hearts with it’s radiant light. We can be forgiven, and made new, and made righteous. Because Jesus died for us, and we are justified in Him before God, we can now live our lives out of gratitude to Christ. The justifying truth of the gospel is that though we do not do what is true and come to the light, we are counted as if we have always done what is true, because the Light came to us. In our darkest night, the light of Christ came. We, who do not do what is true, are counted as if we have always done what is true, because Christ did what was true for us. Because of this we are called righteous, and we can do what is true, and we come to the light, and live in it, and we can be described in this way.
The gospel truth can do away with our fear of exposure. Christ can do away with our shame. Because we know that when we are exposed by the light, it will expose that you are covered in Christ’s righteousness. When all is exposed on judgment day, those in Christ will be exposed and be found to be in Christ, sin gone, and full of His righteous works.
In thinking about the judgement being that of light coming into the world and exposing the deeds of men, I can’t help but have this picture in my head of these themes of darkness and Christ bringing light, along the story line of redemptive history. In the beginning, God creates the world. He walks in the garden. The earth is full of radiant light. Then Adam sins, and some lights go out, it’s a little darker. Then as sin begins to work itself out in the world, darkness spreads and spreads, we get farther and farther from Eden… I just picture the patriarchs, the prophets, and the remnant throughout exile as carrying around these little tiny lanterns, barely enough light to see in front of their faces…and of course some prophets had better lanterns. Isaiah could see quite well. But by the time Christ comes, the light of Israel is dim and barely flickering. Then Christ comes and is crucified, and then His resurrection is a great burst of light, and then the early church moves with power throughout the world… And Christ continues today, through His Church, going throughout the earth searching for every lost sheep, seeking and saving the lost, shedding light to every dark cave and corner of the earth till the whole earth is filled with the glory of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. As we shine the light of Christ throughout the earth by preaching the gospel unto every creature we’re going to come across some creatures that don’t like the light shining on them in their darkness, and they hiss and snap back. But it’s too late, we got ‘em, the light has advanced, another stronghold taken for Christ.
In the New Heavens and New Earth, there will be no need for the sun, for Christ will be the light, and there will be no darkness and no place for sin to exist – no part of the world left in darkness.
You Can’t Hide
Bring Your Sins out of the Dark
Sin not brought into the light is sin that forgiveness is not sought for, and sin that is fostered and nourished, till eventually it grows into a beast that destroys your house.
Think about your own life. How easy it is, and tempting, to keep your sin in the dark. It’s embarrassing to bring it out to the light. It’s safe there in the dark. But you’re not. Bring it out to die.
Hide in Christ
Our desire to hide can only be rightly cured by hiding in Christ. Let Him be your city of refuge. Let Him be your cleft of the rock. Let Him be your covering and your clothing. When you are afraid, when you are ashamed, Hide in Christ. He is a loving Savior.
Bring Your Sins to the Cross to Die
When you feel that shame over sin, and it’s gross, humiliating, and embarrassing, don’t try to cover your shame up with fig leaves. Instead, remember that Christ took our shame to the cross so that we could take our sins to Him. So don’t just bring your sins out of the dark, and try to deal with them in your way. But bring them out of the dark and to the cross of Christ. That’s where they are dealt with. That’s the only place they can go to die.