Out of Darkness Into Light

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 3:18-21 | February 11 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
February 11
Out of Darkness Into Light | John 3:18-21
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor
View Series: That You May Believe Download Audio Printable Transcript

Oh, Lord, what we have just sung is true, it is. We will all die. If you tarry, Lord Jesus, we will all die and we will breathe a final breath, and we will stand before You. We want to be ready for that day, and so as long as it is called “today,” give us ears to hear. May it not be that anyone within the sound of my voice would leave this morning without considering the awful depths of eternity apart from Christ. Give us hearts to believe, give us eyes to see the good, the true, the beautiful, give us feet to walk out of darkness and into Your marvelous light. We pray in the name of Jesus, amen.

You may be seated.

Our text this morning comes from the Gospel according to John, chapter 3, picking up at verse 18 through verse 21, John chapter 3, verses 18 through 21.

Verse 18: “Whoever believes in Him (that is, Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 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. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. 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.”

We sang it, I prayed it, we’ve just now read it, the uncomfortable and undeniable truth that there is a judgment for the wicked and the unbelieving. You see that right in the verses that I read. It’s not something the pastor made up, it’s not something that comes from some tradition somewhere in the church, it’s right here in the Bible.

You see the word that we focused on last week in verse 16 “whoever.” Last week we saw the beauty of that word “whoever” believes in Him. There were lots of Jewish writings in the first century talking about what God would do for Israel, how God wanted to vindicate the Jews, how he wanted to throw off their Roman oppressors and then in burst this word “whoever,” no matter Jew or Gentile, whoever believes will be saved. It’s a beautiful word.

This week we see there is another “whoever.” You see it in verse 18. “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned.” So we have two “whoevers,” we cannot ignore either one. Both are without exception, without discrimination. Both the whoever of good news, Jew/Gentile, black/white, Asian/Hispanic, male/female, North Korean/South Korean, baby boomer/millennial, whoever. Where you come from, what your background is, where you live, what language you speak, what money you have or don’t have, whoever believes in Him will be saved, will have eternal life.

And if that’s how the first “whoever” works, then that’s how the second “whoever” works. It doesn’t matter who your daddy is. It doesn’t matter that your grandma played the organ in church. It doesn’t matter how many times you put in a check in the offering plate. It doesn’t matter how many questions you can answer from the shorter Catechism. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve gotten dressed up and gone to church. It doesn’t matter how rich and deep is the history of Christianity in your family. “Whoever does not believe is condemned,” without exception, without discrimination. The “whoever” cuts both ways.

And so we have to come to verse 18 after verses 16 and 17. Now I know a lot of Americans have a Bible that ends after John 3:17. In fact they have a Bible that has John 3:16 and John 3:17, and it also maybe has Matthew 7:1, “judge not lest ye be judged.” That’s the Bible. And then it has 1 Corinthians 13, you need something for a wedding, and it’s got a few other parts, but that’s it. The Bible ends after John 3:16, maybe verse 17. But notice, notice, you’re smart people, look in your Bible… It’s not over. There’s verses after that. Jesus has something to say.

Now depending on your Bible, if it has red letters, it probably has verse 16 through 21 in red letters. It’s actually ambiguous whether or not Jesus is speaking. Most translations will put quotation mark, assuming and thinking there is good reason to assume Jesus is continuing to speak here. It could also be that John the writer is now narrating. Either way, it’s still the Word of God, but most people think Jesus is the one speaking this.

Many of us would prefer a different Jesus. We prefer a Jesus of our own making. Now, lots of pro-Jesus people here in this country, lots of pro-Jesus people here in Mecklenburg County, but it’s a Jesus that, that we make. It’s a Jesus of unconditional acceptance, it’s a Jesus of limitless hugs and no standards. It’s a Jesus that’s into whatever you’re into. As someone once said, God created us in His own image and ever since then, we’ve been returning the favor by creating Him in ours. So we like Jesus, yeah, He loved the world, He sent His Son to die for us that we can have eternal life. And some people think everything they want to say about God gets, just gets crammed into there and love becomes this ambiguous, amorphous, super-spiritual sort of word that just means you can’t say anything bad to me, don’t tell me anything that I don’t like. Don’t you love me? Don’t you know that God is love? Well, of course He is.

But after verses 16 and 17 comes verses 18 and following. The Father did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, that is true, that is wonderfully true. We will preach it, we will pray it, we will sign it with all our heart. The mission of the Son was not to retaliate, but to redeem. And yet when the world rejects the Son who is infinitely worthy and infinitely precious, that rejection cannot be overlooked.

Now you may notice, look at these verses, they deliberately use courtroom language. You can see it in the English. It’s even clearer in the Greek. You look at verse 18, it has the language of condemn, verse 19, and this is the judgment you could translate it “this is the verdict, this is what the judge is decreeing as your verdict before His divine tribunal.”

Look at verse 20, we have the word “exposed,” which elsewhere in John’s Gospel translated as “convict.” We have verse 21, so that it may be clearly seen, or you could translate it to make manifest or to testify.

So we have here the language of a courtroom, testifying, condemnation, judgment, verdict. The picture that we have in John’s Gospel is a tale of two trials. There is a trial at the end of the book, it’s a trial of Jesus. And that trial, as you know, is a travesty of justice. There are false witnesses, there are slanderous accusations, and He is found guilty though he had done nothing wrong. That’s one trial.

But it’s a tale of two trials, and here’s the other one: The world stands trial here at the beginning of John’s Gospel. And whereas Jesus’ trial was a travesty of justice, we see here that when the world stands before God on trial, it will be the fulfillment of justice, and God will give His verdict.

We all know that something is not right with the world. We all know that. If you don’t know that, get on Facebook, okay? If you don’t know that, turn on the news. We all know that. Things are not the way they should be. We feel that, we can see it. So the question becomes, if things are not the way they should be, there shouldn’t be this kind of pain and suffering and affliction and hatred, why, why is the world like this? There are two options, and everyone in their mind puts somebody on trial. The world’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Okay, somebody needs to stand trial for this mess that we’re in. Some people put God on the trial. Hey God, some God you are. Must not be all powerful, you must not be all loving. Look, look at this world, and we put God in the dock, meaning in the witness stand. There He is, on trial before us, and we’re going to render a judgment on God for the things that He’s done or not done.

Or we put ourselves there. You’ve heard the famous line from G.K. Chesterton, English writer in the beginning of the 20th century. There was an essay contest to write into the newspaper, “What’s wrong with the world?” All of these long essays and answers, and G.K. Chesterton’s response, “In response to your question what is wrong with the world, I am. Sincerely, G.K. Chesterton.”

There’s two options. You put God on trial, where you say “You know what? The world’s not the way it is because of people like me, people like us. I deserve to stand trial.” The world here in verses 18 through 21 stands condemned. Why? Why is the world condemned? Or let’s personalize it. Why would you or I stand before God on that day and stand condemned? If God will give to us on that day when we stand before Him, as we sang in the hymn, when we draw that fleeting breath, and our eyelids close in death and we stand before Him, if we are condemned, why will be condemned?

There’s three reasons from our text, and we’ll spend most of our time on the third. First, because we already stand condemned, the second because of unbelief, and third, because we love darkness rather than light. Let’s look at each of those, the first two more quickly.

Why does the world stand condemned, or why if we are condemned on the last day will God say “guilty”? Why do you get that stamped on your transcript, “guilty”? Jesus gives one answer, because we already stand condemned. You see verse 18? “Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whoever does not believe is condemned already.” So we enter the world in need of a savior. The world was in need of a savior before God sent the Son. Now we see this teaching more plainly in Ephesians chapter 2 where God tells us we are born children of wrath, sons of disobedience, or Romans 3, there is no one good, no, not one. So this verse is not mainly about total depravity or original sin or inherited guilt, but it is certainly the implication in verse 18. The default position you enter into the world as one who stands under the just condemnation of God, both because Adam was our representative and we participated in Adam in his sin, and because we are inheriting that sin, actual sinners, inherited corruption, and now actual lived out depravity. So the question why do bad things happen to good people, the Bible’s question is just the opposite. Why do good things happen to anyone?

You may ask the question, if you’ve heard of that, okay, well, what about the innocent tribesman, somewhere in Africa, the innocent tribesman who’s never heard of Jesus, will he be condemned? Well, the answer is, no, the innocent tribesman who’s never heard of Jesus will not be condemned. Now you’re saying, pastor, are you sure? Yes, yes, the innocent tribesman who’s never heard of Jesus will not be condemned. Only problem? He doesn’t exist. There is no innocent tribesman somewhere. We all enter into the world as sinners, inheriting that guilt from Adam, living out sin from day to day, as Romans 1 tells us we see the truth about God, we can see from creation His eternal power, His divine attributes, and we suppress, we suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

Remember last week all we saw about the world hating God. If it was shocking that God would so love the world, remember that? I bet a lot of you were saying oh, that’s so good, that’s so, he’s right, that’s right, it is shocking. Why would God love the world? What great news!

Well, if it’s shocking that God would love the world so much to send His only Son, then it should not be surprising when He judges the unrepentant, unbelieving world that lives in disobedience to His Son. So why will we stand condemned? Because we are already condemned entering into this world, with guilt, and sin.

Second, why does the world stand condemned? Why would we receive that condemnation before God? Well, because of unbelief. You see that at the end of verse 18. Because he has “not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” You know, God, I think has all unbelievers in mind, but especially those in open contempt of the Gospel. As one commentator put it, “to refuse His gift is to be judged.” Do you realize that to be in a Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching church on Sunday is the greatest privilege in your life and it is a position of great danger? Great privilege because you get to hear, if the preacher is doing his job, the words of life, how to be saved, how to be forgiven, how to live forever, and dangerous because you will be judged for all the light that you receive.

Remember Jesus says “woe to you, Bethsaida, Chorazin, woe to you” these cities in which He had done His miracles. He said it will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah than for you on that day. Jesus said it’ll be better for those quintessentially immoral pagan cities than it will be for you religious people who heard of Me, who saw Me, who knew Me, and had no time for Me. It’ll be worse for you. Think of all that they saw in Jesus’ day. Jesus in front of them, they saw the healings, the exorcisms, disciples saw Him walk on water, there were a multitude that saw Him feed the 5000, there were witnesses to the cross and the empty tomb. And how many believed? Not many.

Think of all that many of you know. Now some of you maybe are in church for the very first time or you’re just checking this thing out and you’re just learning, but a lot of you have been doing this for years and years and years. How many sermons have you heard? How many Bible studies? How many songs on the radio? How many Christian movies? How many Christian carols have you heard in the mall? You have a Bible in every house, maybe a Bible in every room. You have Christian books, Christian education, the benefits that some people and some places have of a Christian culture. All of that, and we think that unbelief is no big deal?

Unbelief, at least in part, is a failure to recognize the immeasurable greatness of the Son of God. It’s a failure to recognize who Jesus really is. And I don’t mean a belief that just says “yep, Jesus, sure, take Him, Son of God, whatever, I can do that. You got, there ain’t no statement of faith that you can’t put in front of me that I won’t sign if it gets me out of hell. All right. I’ll sign. That didn’t cost me anything.”

No, we’re talking about a faith that means something, not only in a sense but a trust, a treasuring of this Christ. To know all that you know of Christ and to be indifferent to Him? How is that a small sin?

So a little heads up. It’s Valentine’s Day this week, guys, so just do something, anything. A flower, a card, “hey, good morning, I’ll get you next year,” something. Now, men, how would we look at another brother here in this church if his wife gets up on Wednesday and she tells him “honey, I got a sitter lined up, I got reservations at your favorite restaurant, I got a new dress just for the occasion, I’m getting the house clean, I’ve got your favorite gift, I got in-laws to watch the kids for the rest of the week [laughter], and we’re going to go out and we’re going to eat your favorite food, we’re going to come back and I was just hoping we could maybe just watch some sports on TV or something [laughter]. Maybe you could tell me about a time you went fishing [laughter].” And your wife does all of that, and the husband never even says thank you, the husband is too busy with his own stuff to recognize how precious this gift is, to recognize how, how precious she is, all that she is and has done for you. And all he can do is change the clicker, “not now, not now.” No matter what he says about “yeah, yeah, I love her,” we’d say “mmm, I’m not buying it.”

What about when you think all Jesus has done? All that God has done in sending His Son? And we think unbelief if no big deal? We think indifference to Christ is no big deal? Unbelief says “I’m not impressed, I’m not grateful, I’m not enthralled.” Unbelief.

Let me give you a third reason, and here’s where we’ll camp out for the remainder of our time. Why is the world condemned? Because of being condemned already with sin and guilt, because of unbelief; there’s much more that the Bible says about both of those categories, but here in these verses the focus is on the third point, in verse 19, 20, and 21. “We stand condemned because we love darkness rather than light.”

You may think, “Look, am I going to be judged for failing to give mental assent to some proposition about Jesus, I got a question wrong on my heavenly doctrine exam?” Well, faith is not less than doctrinal integrity, but it is definitely more. Jesus says this is about what you love and about what you hate. You see that? This is the judgment, verse 19: “Light has come into the world, and people loved darkness.” And then verse 20: “Whoever does wicked things hates the light.”

There is a simple, straight-forward, painful explanation for unbelief in our world, and perhaps for the unbelief in your heart. And it’s found there in verse 19 and 20: “The light has come into the world and people loved darkness” and here’s the word “rather,” you could translate it as “more, more than, rather than.” This is the explanation for so much unbelief. People prefer darkness to light. People reject the Gospel because they want to live the way they want to live.

Quite often, the smartest people, the people with all the degrees, the people who write all the books, the people you’re so impressed with, the smartest people, they are not led into unbelief because they sat back and just had cool-headed, rational deduction and just said “well, mmm, I don’t think it all adds up, I don’t think I can believe.” That may be what comes out on the other end, but so often what leads to it is a personal, moral commitment that they’ve already made. There is already a preference for walking in darkness more than the light. The head can come up with all sorts of reasons to justify the heart. We are not so much rational people as we are rationalizing people. And the smarter you are, the better you are at it. You know how to come up with the right framework that gets you to let you do the things that you already decided that you want to do.

Paul Johnson, in his book “Intellectuals,” describes how many of our most famous thinkers, typically enlightened men you learn about in school, have been shaped by their own personal moral failures. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was vain, irresponsible, sired five illegitimate children, abandoned them to an orphanage. Karl Marx was anti-Semitic, lecherous, unfaithful to his wife. Leo Tolstoy, a gambler and alcoholic and adulterer. Bertrand Russell, the famous philosopher, was a misogynist, a serial adulterer known to seduce younger women. Jean-Paul Sartre, the famous existentialist philosopher, had an unwed lover, Simone de Beauvoir, and Jean-Paul Sartre was notorious for escapades with younger female students, sometimes procured by his own lover.

Of course, Christians have their share of failures and hypocrites. The point isn’t that non-Christians do bad things and Christians don’t, the point is rather that we should not imagine that great intellectuals were just writing and reasoning apart from their own moral inclinations. They have a preference for darkness rather than light.

You may now the name Margaret Mead. It was lionized in the 20th century for her groundbreaking book “Coming of Age in Samoa,” 1928. She was an anthropologist. She argued that the Samoans enjoyed this free sex with anyone, with everyone, they were completely happy, they weren’t bound by Western religious notions of adultery or monogamy, it was just sort of everyone just, just had sex all the time and they were just, just happy. And her arguments were important for the coming sexual revolution. “Look, this is what a sort of primitive people look like when they’re not in the shackles of some Christian tradition.” It wasn’t until after her death that the New Zealand anthropologist Derek Freeman argued, convincingly in my mind, that her findings were dubious at best and completely manufactured at worst, that they actually had very strict moral code, adultery was punished, and it’s since been found with the help of newly published letters that biographers have shown that Margaret Mead herself was a serial adulterer involved in lesbian relationships with two other anthropologists. Again, not to say that non-Christians do bad things, Christians only do good things, but to say that our moral commitments shape our intellectual discoveries.

Here’s probably the most obvious example. Aldous Huxley, have you ever heard of him? He wrote the book “Brave New World.” He was one of the 20th century’s most renowned intellectuals. He actually died on the same day as JFK and C.S. Lewis, November 22, 1963. And there’s been different books written about that, that these three men who were so different, JFK, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley, all died on the same day. In a moment of candor, here’s what Huxley said about his own nihilism. Nihilism is the belief in nothingness, nothing matters, there is no moral code. Here’s what he says, “for myself as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was especially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.” One of the greatest intellects considered of the 20th century, there in a moment of candor said “yeah, we had moral commitments, we had a way that we wanted to live, we had a freedom, we had a liberation we had embraced, and we developed a system that supported it.”

We think unbelief leads to immorality, and it can. But more often I would argue immorality leads to unbelief. Or to put it another way, unbelief is usually moral before it is intellectual.

People would sometimes ask me when I was at my previous church, which was right by a major university, “well, what’s it like ministering to college students?” And I grant that Michigan State is not Harvard or Yale and you have different challenges at different schools, but there’s plenty of smart people there and people would ask “well, what’s it like? How do you minister to college students? What are the apologetic answers that you need to give people?” And yeah, some of that can be helpful, for sure. But you know why most college students are not coming to Christ? It’s not because they’re reading Jean-Paul Sartre, it’s not even because they’ve been steeped in Bart Ehrman. It’s because they would say “well, that sounds okay for you, but I, I kind of want to get drunk and hook up this weekend. Um, I’ve got things that I want to do, I’ve got parties I want to go to, I’ve got fun that I want to do. I have a certain way to live. That’s fine, you do your Christian thing if that works for you, you can do whatever, but I’m, I’m not going to walk in this… ” They prefer darkness to light. Of course, they don’t calI it darkness, but that’s what it is.

Unbelief is usually moral before it is intellectual. We have a certain way we want to live. We have certain things that we prefer. We have certain things that, that our world tells us those are inviolable standards of personal freedom, and if God Himself gets in the way of them, then God must be reshaped.

The purpose of the light come into the world is to draw the world to it, but the light also exposes, unmasks the darkness, so that the coming of Christ divides. Remember, this was said at the very beginning, announcing Jesus’ birth when Simeon, the prophet, said this one is going to be for the falling of many in Israel and His sword will pierce your heart. He will divide. That’s what light does. Now don’t blame Christ. You are what you love and you get what you love.

Jesus says they hate the light, they hate it. Not just, they hate it. Why do they hate the light? They hate the light because they see what it is. Light makes you conscious of guilt. We hate Christ, the Word, the Truth.

We hear stories sometimes of, I’ve heard stories of college students, they, you know, and everyone else on their floor or in their house has drinking and partying and come home and they’re a mess and then the one person who doesn’t, you know, comes and “let me help you” and boom! They don’t what that person around. Why? Because it’s light. I don’t want your light around here. Light is painful when you’re in the darkness.

Some of you have really thoughtful children who come in, you know, early in the morning when they think that mom and dad should be awake already, and they don’t gently, or more likely you have siblings who will do this. You ever make that mistake? And tell one of your kids “hey, could you go wake up your brother?” Ohh, oh yeah, I can sure do that. Anything else the rest of the week, no no no. Wake up a sibling? Vroom, up the stairs! It’s not “brother, sister, mom is beckoning us to get ready for church. [laughter] I poured some juice for you downstairs.” No, it’s pouncing, covers off, lights on, strobe lights, flashlights, search lights, powww, haaaa.

I’ve said before, I cannot, I need it very dark. When I come in, the last thing I do before I go to bed, I unplug the nightlight, I make sure every door is locked, my wife has to get up and, you know, use the restroom or something, it’s “why is that burning with the light of 10,000 suns over there?” because the darker it is, the more a little light hurts your eyes. It’s a little bitty light in the midst of so much darkness.

We hate the light. Not just because it exposes, but because darkness, apart from Christ, is our natural habitat. You cannot expect bats to start flying at midday. Just as light exists in and of God, so the world exists in and of darkness.

So let me ask you the painful question: Are you running from Christ? Are you far from Christ? Have you convinced yourself you’re just sort of, you know, you’re just not going to be real serious about Christ. But you know deep down who you ought to be. You know deep down the right way to live. And so because you’re in darkness and He is light, you keep Him at arm’s length. You keep Christians at arm’s length. You keep the church at arm’s length. And yes, you’re very smart and you have lots of intellectual problems, but really, if you’re honest in your heart of hearts, it’s not the intellectual problems, it’s not even that somebody hurt you in the church, though that happens. It’s that you love darkness rather than light.

Many of us have not realized how comfortable we have become with the darkness. We can’t see the darkness until we begin to squint and look at the light. You ever have this experience? I hope that you do, sort of. You look back and you see some of the movies or some of the things that you watched when you were younger, and you go “I can’t believe I thought that was okay.” Have you ever considered that you’re watching some of those things right now? That 20 years from now, walking with Christ, you’ll look back, but because we’re so familiar with the darkness, we, we don’t even see the light? We need the light to crowd out our darkness.

Some of you may have read this blog post from a few years ago by John Piper. It was called “Why there are no windows in porn shops.” Let me read part of it. He said “Do you know why there are no windows in adult bookstores? Do you know why there are no windows on certain kinds of night clubs in the city? I suppose your answer would be well, because they don’t want people looking in and getting a free sight. That’s not the only reason. You know why? Because they don’t want people looking out at the sky. You know why? Because the sky is the enemy of lust. And I just ask you, you think back on your struggles, the sky is a great power against lust. Pure, lovely, wholesome, beautiful, powerful, large-hearted things cannot abide the soul of a sexual fantasy at the same time.” He writes “I remember as I struggled with these things in my teenage years and in my college years, I knew how I could fight most effectively in those days, and I’ve developed other strategies over the years that have proved effective, and one way of fighting was simply to get out of dark places, get out of lonely rooms, get out of boxed-in places, get of places where it’s just small, me and my mind and what I can do with it, and get out where I am surrounded by color and beauty and bigness and loveliness.” He says “I know that when I used to sit in my front yard at 122 Bradley Boulevard with a notepad in my hand and a pen and try to write a poem, at that moment my heart and my body were light years away from sexual fantasizing. The kind of fantasizing I was tempted by again and again in the late night quiet, secluded, in-house moments.”

And then he says this: “There’s something about bigness, something about beauty, that helps battle against the puny, small, cruddy use of the mind to fantasize about sexual things.”

Light exposes darkness and casts out darkness. Get outside, look up at the stars, sit out under the sun, see light in the midst of darkness. What are you looking at? How are you walking? The verdict from God’s judgment seat is that light has come into the world and the people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. They said “in the darkness is where I can keep doing what I want to do. In the darkness is where I can keep fantasizing like I want to fantasize. In the darkness is where I can determine my own sense of morality, in the darkness.”

People do not want their deeds to be exposed. You see this word, I mentioned it earlier at the end of verse 20, his work should be exposed. The Greek word elenxei, it’s the same word used in John 16:8 where it says “the Spirit will come to convict,” same word, “convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment.” To expose. The light in chapter 3 is exposing darkness, the Holy Spirit in chapter 16 is exposing sin. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit to shine light into the dark places of our lives, to convict us of sin, to expose the darkness. He shines a light, and I just wonder if the Holy Spirit is trying to do a work in your life this morning or for the past weeks to shine a light into a dark place, and you, you, you do not want to look at that light. It’s just a pinhole right now of light coming into your darkness and you don’t want it there, you don’t want the Holy Spirit messing around in your business, you don’t want God in your darkness, but there He is.

Are you going to look at that light? Going to stare into it and squint at it. Or are you going to throw another pillow over your head and another blanket and bury yourself into the darkness? The Holy Spirit is speaking to some of you through His Word, and you hear His voice. Do not run back into the darkness. Run, run to Christ.

And let me just finish with this word of hope, lest you think all we have to look forward to is condemnation for our sin, condemnation for our unbelief, condemnation because we love darkness instead of light. You see that little phrase at the end of verse 21? “So that it may be clearly seen that his works,” so this is the one coming to the light, “that his works have been carried out in God.” In God. See, if you’re here this morning and you love light, Jesus doesn’t say “congratulations, you are an intrinsically better person, and you just had better parents, and you’ve just become, and you know what, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re one of the light brigade.”

No, it says if that’s you, it’s only because God is at work in you. It’s only because the Spirit has blown to give you new birth, as Jesus said to Nicodemus. It’s only because you have done these things, you’ve done the truth, you’ve walked according to the light, in God. It’s only of God, in God, and through God.

So friends, this is not fatalism. Well, they’re light, I’m dark. God calls you to come. He beckons you to do the truth, that is to walk according to the truth, to admit your sin, free from hypocrisy, to respond to the Gospel invitation. The Holy Spirit is a spotlight into the dark place of your heart, saying you don’t have to live there. If you live there, you’ll die there. But you don’t have to die there. There’s a sky to see, there’s bigness, there’s beauty, there’s colors, there’s a sun, there’s light. So come, come, out of your bondage, out of your darkness, come into the light.

Let’s pray. Our Father in heaven, set us free from this darkness, that some of us here prefer. We love it, we love it. And some of us hate it, but we keep coming back to it, and we’re torn. Give us freedom. Give us hope. Give us the grace to repent, to respond, to believe, and to come out of the darkness, out of the bondage, and into the light. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.