Walking in the Light | God is Light | Study Series | Part 2 of 8

Scripture: 1 John 1:5

There are two important aspects of this verse: (a) the message, and (b) God is light. Let us begin with the words per se. The Greek root for the word message in Strong’s concordance is epaggelia[1]; which is further rooted in another Greek word epaggellomai[2]. To simply put, the meaning of the message in this verse can be reduced to: (1) an announcement of a promise, (2) that elicits an act, (3) that the promise finesses the skill to act upon. Now let us put this into the perspective of the scripture.

In the preceding verses (1 John 1:1-4) we find, the Apostle John revisiting the gospel. The message here is the same that the Apostle Paul (Gal 1:8), and others vehemently pressed believers to believe, obey, and guard it as true doctrine.[3] And John here, keeping true to his words re-asserts that Christ is indeed – YHWH. And just as in his account of the Gospel, he re-emphasis that Christ is the LOGOS – the sole principle of life (John 1:1). Christ is He, God himself, incarnated as man to absolve our sins and unite us to the Father. And the promise is this: He is true. And in Him is life.

[Note: We will discuss the act and the skill aspect of the message in the succeeding verses.]

Proceeding to the second aspect of this verse – God is light, the word light, i.e. phōs[4] is used here in both literal and metaphorical sense. Here, phōs is ascribed to God as a noun – He is the light. He is not a light, or of light, but simply, God is light. God is spoken here in the most literal sense, as to say, the apple is red. Metaphorically, phōs here means, the truth; again – not a truth, or of truth – but, the truth. Meaning, God is light means God is truth. This is in perfect alignment with all the earlier revelation of YHWH’s identity in the Bible. And this is also, the exact introduction of Christ that John himself gave in his account of the Gospel.

God is truth means, there is no duality in Him. God is not like yin and yang. Meaning, YHWH is pure. There is no blemish, or error, or any kind of falsehood in Him. It also means, He is not the origin of sin and suffering. It further means, He is Holy. Therefore, what YHWH has revealed about Himself, Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the scripture is true. What YWHW says about sin and salvation is true. The fact that John emphasizes God is light is to remind us that the message is true, and it should be taken without any further speculation. Because YHWH does not lie, because He is the truth.

As mentioned in the introduction, the audience of this epistle had swayed into the realm of speculation, and false doctrine. They had departed from believing the gospel as a spiritual fact. Religion was dominated by speculations influenced by culture, education, society, social quo, struggle for dominance-leadership, et cetera. This error in religion is not unique to John’s audience, it is one quite common to believers. We are often led into a speculative understanding of God, and His decrees. Because this is the same pattern Satan has been deceiving us with from the very beginning. To Eve, he asked, did God really tell you you’ll die if you eat the fruit, subtly raising speculation in God’s commandments. (Gen 3:1) To Jesus himself, he asked, won’t God send His angels to save you if you were to throw yourself off the height. (Mt 4:6) In short, it is known throughout the scripture that Satan has a way of leading people to speculate on God by playing on their will.

John hereby reminds his readers that God is light, and in Him is no darkness. He focuses on light as to both literally and metaphorically, to remind us that God is Holy and there is no duality in Him. He is who He says He is. There is no darkness in Him, no sin and evil. He does not speak in the language of secret or hidden meanings. Therefore, there is no room for speculation in Him or about Him or in His Word. God leaves nothing to the realm of human intelligence. He has revealed everything. The revelation of His identity is the True Doctrine. Therefore, those who are in Him know Him for who He is – they take the message of His Gospel as it is – the exact way it is revealed in the scripture. And so, those who are in Him believe Him for who He is; and they do not stumble in the darkness of speculation or confusion. They grow in purity and truth, because the God who leads them is able, because the God who leads them is YHWH who Himself is Holy and true; He is the God that John here repeatedly calls to remind us – God is light.  


Series Index: (1) Introduction


Further Reading: Below is a brief comparison of light vs darkness as seen in the scripture.

LIGHT VS. DARKNESS[5]

In many places in Scripture, the realm of God and the realm of evil are contrasted by the differences between light and darkness:

DarknessLightReference
Despairing conditionHopeful conditionIsaiah 9:2  
Inability to recognize the lightAbility to enlighten the worldJohn 1:4-5, 9
The Power of SatanThe Power of GodActs 26:18
Evil DeedsGood DeedsRomans 13:12-14
Natural Heart ConditionCondition of a Born – Again Heart2 Cor 4:6
Fruitless worksSource of all that is goodEph 5:8-11
Spiritual forces of evilArmour of GodEph 6:12-13
Powerful Captivity, enslaved to sin, sinful livingFree from the power of sin, redeemed, forgivenCol 1:12-14
Inability to exist in God’s presenceFellowship with God1 John 1:5, 7
Transient naturePermanent nature1 John 2:8-11

References:

[1] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g1860

[2] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g1861

[3] https://www.biblestudytools.com/nirv/passage/?q=1-timothy+6;+2-timothy+1;+2-timothy+2;+2-timothy+3;+2-timothy+4;+titus+1;+titus+2;+titus+3;+philemon+1;+hebrews+1;+hebrews+2;+hebrews+3;+hebrews+4

[4] https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g5457

[5] Bruce B. Barton, Philip W. Comfort, Linda Chafee Taylor, David R. Veerman, Len Woods, “1 John 1:1-2:11” in Life Application Bible Commentary: 1, 2 & 3 John (USA, Tyndale Publications, 1998), page 20


Feature Image: The Transfiguration of Christ (Saint Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai) Copyright: Public Domain

Mourning into Joy | Conclusion: How to Persist in Joy | Holy Week | Devotional Series | Part 10 of 10

I feel people often mistake joy for two things. One, they believe it is a sentimental thing. And two, they believe it is about happiness.

I want to begin by acknowledging that this understanding is not entirely wrong. But then again, it is also not entirely right. Joy is sentimental, by that I mean, you can feel it. It is emotional, psychological… et cetera. But at the same time, it is much about discipline as well. The Psalmist made it a point that they begin their day by seeking God as their all satisfying good. (Ps 90:14) And then, they would devote their mornings and evenings in meditating the Word of God. (Ps 1:2) Because this granted them joy. They delighted in this. And this, I believe, it is nothing but the makings of a disciplined life. It trains the mind and the heart to focus on God and heavenly things – as all disciples should. (Col 3:2)

Secondly, joy is also about happiness. But happiness in this context does not mean an elevated sensation. If godly people were happy (that way) all the time – they’d be useless. They won’t understand what suffering is, what compassion is, what mercy is or love or what grace is. The kind of happiness this joy consists, is the subtle kind of gladness. (Is 35:10) It is the peace that comes from knowing and believing YHWH reigns supreme over our lives. (Ps 16:11) Therefore, the only way we persist in the joy of salvation is by persisting in prayer and in the Word of God.

There is a simple ideation that I follow. I make it a point that I devote the best hours of my day to God – in prayer and in reading the Word. I call it tithing my day. You see, I believe God instituted the law of tithing, so that we learn to prioritize Him. I believe time (like money) is also a privilege possession that God has gifted us. And as the Apostle stated, once in Christ, our time becomes a redeemed time. (Eph 5:16) I think giving the best of our day is (also) a proper response. But that is just (about) me. I don’t know what would suit you. But there’s one thing I know for sure – persisting in joy is a disciplined act. And good disciples, joyous disciples, fruit bearing disciples are known by their Christ-ordered disciplined life. I pray that God would intervene in our lives and grant us the heart that seeks such discipline. So that we could know Him more, love Him more, and serve Him more. To God be the Glory.


I am grateful to God for the successful completion of this devotional series. I am grateful to God for you as well, dear readers. I am grateful for the encouragements. I am grateful for all the new things I’ve learned during this period. I am grateful for my health and resources, and the necessary environment needed for me to study, and write this short series. I had a blessed time preparing and sharing these words. I hope you had the same experience as well. Until next time. Shalom!


Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy (3) Holy Monday: Tough Love (4) Holy Tuesday: Who do we say this Jesus is (5) Spy Wednesday: The Temptation of Worldly Logic (6) Maundy Thursday: Jesus, Truly Human, for You and Me (7) Good Friday: I Find No Fault in this Man (8) Holy Saturday: Silent Prelude (9) Easter Sunday: Dawn of an Indestructible Joy


If you want to read a thorough scriptural exposition on Redeeming the time, you’ll find it here: Ephesians 5:16 / Redeeming the time

Mourning into Joy | Holy Saturday: Silent Prelude | Holy Week | Devotional Series | Part 8 of 10

By the time Jesus was crucified, His innocence was evident. The witness at the Cross exclaimed, indeed He was truly the son of God. While the fervent accusers, shook in remorse, and went home only to escape the unpleasant sight. At a distance, the women patrons of Jesus stood, afraid – weeping from afar. But amidst all this, I am not sure why the whereabouts of Jesus’ disciples aren’t mentioned. Whatever the reason may be – I can attest one thing for sure – they were all caught in a grip of fear and uncertainty.

I suppose, the day between the death and resurrection must be a cold – silent one. I imagine the disciples mourning over their guilt; having rejected Christ. I believe at this point they knew Jesus was Christ, the Messiah – whom they had completely overlooked for a worldly king. These are all my minuscule, and perhaps worthless speculations of what events must have painted this particular day. But I know one thing for sure – I know how guilt feels – I know how it feels to be cold, and lonely – to feel like you’ve driven yourself too far away from God. And although, this is an awful experience… it also means two things. One, the silence never lasts. And two, there is always a dawn of immeasurable joy awaiting. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Cor 4:17, NLT)

Yes. The day before the resurrection must have been awful for the disciples. But that lasted only a day. Yet on the other hand, the glory that Christ revealed on the next day – will now last forever. I believe, the only reason why the scriptures seem to suggest, the disciples receding into fear is to encourage us. God knows that his later generations of followers like you and me will also face such unfortunate days. So, when that day comes, we now not only have teachings on why to persist, but also a reasonably documented event as an example, as to why we should persist.

Dear readers, I understand there are many times when our guilt overpower us. When we hate ourselves, and believe we are unworthy of any kind of love and care. But I want to encourage you, reminding you of the disciples’ darkest days, that we should use these moments to grow stronger in faith. Because God is faithful. He will never leave you nor forsake you. And most probably, the silent – guilt-ridden days might just be a prelude, to a dawn of glorious eternal life. To God be the Glory.


Series Index: (1) Introduction: Why Observe the Holy Week (2) Palm Sunday: Sovereign Mercy (3) Holy Monday: Tough Love (4) Holy Tuesday: Who do we say this Jesus is (5) Spy Wednesday: The Temptation of Worldly Logic (6) Maundy Thursday: Jesus, Truly Human, for You and Me (7) Good Friday: I Find No Fault in this Man