God is light – What does that mean?

The phrase "God is light" appears in 1 John 1:5, where the apostle John is explaining that the message we have from Jesus Christ is that God is light and there is no darkness in Him at all. Light is the nature and character of God. He is not a light or a kind of light; He is light itself. All light comes from Him. At the beginning of time, He created the light to dispel the darkness and chaos that was over all the earth (Genesis 1:1–5). Then He created the lights in the sky, the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14–16). As light itself and the source of light, He had only to speak and light came into being.

Darkness represents everything that is anti-God: the wicked (Proverbs 2:13), judgment (Exodus 10:21), and death (Psalm 88:12). The light that is God is the opposite of the darkness that is evil. The light of God is His holiness, righteousness, and goodness, which is in contrast to the darkness of evil and sin. Light is part of the essence of God. He is completely, unreservedly, absolutely holy, with no sin, no taint of iniquity, and no hint of injustice.

Throughout the Old Testament light is regularly associated with God and His word (Psalm 119:105), with salvation (Isaiah 9:2), with goodness (Genesis 1:4), with truth (Psalm 43:3), with His commandments (Proverbs 6:23), and with life (Psalm 56:13). In Psalm 27:1 David declares God to be his light and salvation. God was the light that guided and led David through dark and difficult times of persecution. Darkness is the emblem of distress, trouble, perplexity, and sorrow. Light is the opposite of these. God furnished David with such light that he was filled with confidence and his fears were dispelled.

The New Testament picks up these themes, describing the holiness of God in different ways. God "dwells in unapproachable light" (1 Timothy 6:16); He is the "Father of lights" (James 1:17). John's statement "God is light" is a regular theme in his writings, especially as it relates to Jesus Christ. God's Light is revealed in Christ, whose light of love shines into lives darkened by sin (1 John 1:5–7). Jesus declares that He is the "light of the world" (John 8:12; 9:5). John describes Jesus, the incarnate Word, as coming into the world to be the "light of men" and "the true light which gives light to everyone" (John 1:1–9). Jesus came as the light of the world, breaking the power of the darkness of sin by His shed blood and death on the cross.

Jesus also describes His disciples as light and light-bearers (Matthew 5:14–16), encouraging believers to let their light so shine before the world that they see God in them and glorify Him. Paul picks up that theme, indicating to the believers in Asia Minor and Macedonia that their lives are a shining light of witness to the world around them (Ephesians 5:8). It is the privilege of all believers to pass on the divine light they have received. Jesus told His disciples that the light they received in the dark, meaning His personal revelations to them through parables and obscure sayings, they would one day say in the light and shout from the housetops (Matthew 10:27). All who have entered into the light of God through Christ have the responsibility to "shine as lights in the world" with the light of God himself to a "crooked and twisted generation" of people who live in darkness (Philippians 2:15). Because God is light, those who belong to Him must shine forth His light, becoming more like Christ every day. "For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness" (1 Thessalonians 5:5). God is light means that He creates spiritual light by which His children can see the truth. Without His illumination, we would walk in darkness as the world walks (2 Corinthians 2:14). To walk in the light means to know God, seek His wisdom, understand His truth, and live in the light of His righteousness.

Related Truth:

The attributes of God, what are they?

What does holy, holy, holy mean in reference to God?

The glory of God – What is it?

What does the Bible mean when it calls God a consuming fire?

What does it mean that God is love?

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