The Contrast of Darkness & Light
- 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day. Gen. 1:1-5 (NKJV)
In the scriptures, “light” can be found over 230 times and is used in both literal & symbolic senses. But in general it figuratively represents what reveals, openness, guidance, a sense of order, and is something desirable and good. In contrast, “darkness” can be found over 130 times and also has literal and symbolic uses. While sometimes associated with “blindness”, in general it represents what conceals, secrecy, a sense of chaos, lack of guidance, and is something not desirable and evil.
Two Beings in Opposition…. Throughout the scriptures we see two beings that typify the contrast between darkness and light. On the one hand, we have the adversary Satan or the Devil who deceptively “…transforms himself into an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14). His power and kingdom is associated with spiritual darkness (“to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, …’ and “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,” (Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13). On the other hand, we have God who is described as one who "lives in unapproachable light", is “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”, and “…is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 Tim. 6:16; James 1:17; 1 John 1:5).
With Two Roles… Consistent with the contrasting characterization above, we see that Satan spiritually “blinds” people: “3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” (2 Cor. 4:3-4) From 2 Cor. 11:14-15 we see how Satan can accomplish this through those who are deceptive ministers. Or as Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12),
In contrast, God, especially through Jesus as the incarnate Word of God “enlightens” people. He came as “…the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” and is “…the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." (John 1:4-9; John 8: 12). See also John 3:19; 9:5; 12:35-36,46; and Acts 13:47.
Resulting Belief and Doctrine…. As a result, we have a contrast in what people believe, teach, and practice. On the one hand, we have those who live in ignorance, error, and false doctrine.
- “9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”” (John 11:9-10)
- “5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. … And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” “John 1:5; John 3:19.
On the other hand, we can have the truth in God’s revealed word, the Bible.
- " 102 I have not departed from Your judgments, For You Yourself have taught me. 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. 105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…" (Ps. 119:102-105)
- “46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe,…” (John. 12: 46-47)
- "6 For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, ' make his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor 4:6)
And Resulting Manner of Life.... The scriptures often use the term “walk” to figuratively describe a person’s manner of life or lifestyle. On the one hand, we have those who are described as “walking in darkness”:
- “11 Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, 12 To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things, 13 From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice in doing evil, And delight in the perversity of the wicked;” (Prov. 2:11-14)
- "19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. " (John 3: 19-20).
- "20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; …21 Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight" (Isa. 5: 20-21)
- “8 … Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. ” (Eph. 5:8-12)
- “5 … God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)
- "14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid,… 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5: 14-16)
With Resulting Consequences in This Life.... Often those who walk in darkness suffer as a result. As Psalm 107:10-11 figuratively describes, “10 Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons-- 11 Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High,”. Sin often has consequences in this life (e.g., anger, greed, alcohol/drugs, porn, STDs, unwanted pregnancies, adultery/divorce, broken families).
On the other hand, those who walk in the light can often see ahead and avoid the pitfalls associated with sin (Isa. 58:9-11). In addition, they tend to be diligent on the job, exercise prudent financial responsibilities, are content with what they have, are humble, have a good outlook on life (and the after-life), get comfort via prayer, and such.
And in the Life to Come. Given its connotation as we have seen, it is no surprise that “darkness” is closely associated with eternal punishment in Hell (“blackness of darkness” per Jude 12-13; "outer darkness" per Matt. 25:30). One Bible dictionary suggests this “…refers to the darkness of the streets in the East, which are never lighted up by any public or private lamps after nightfall, in contrast with the blaze of cheerful light in the house.”
In contrast consider the well-lit attractiveness of Heaven.
- “23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb [is] its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, … 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). … 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 21:23-25; 22:5).
Application. We often like to think in terms of a variety of choices (e.g., “join the church of your choice”), shades of gray (e.g., “My sin isn’t that bad.”), and such. But as we’ve seen above, the nature of the spiritual realm is far more binary. As a result, let me briefly offer some practical applications for your consideration with pointers back to our website’s topical index for additional information:
Exclusiveness of Christianity
- “24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)
- “30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” (Matt. 12:30)
Falsehood of “Once saved, always saved”
- “5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:5-6)
Danger of becoming used to the darkness around us
- “11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Eph. 5:11)
- Slipping into darkness and/or thinking some sins are little/venial sins while others are big/mortal
Danger of growing weary
- “16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16)
- “9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Gal. 6:9; 2 Thes. 3:13)
Conclusion. We need to always remember that while darkness is powerful and appeals to many, light is more powerful and excels darkness. "Then I saw that wisdom excels folly as light excels darkness." (Eccl. 2: 5). The absolute, sovereign God ultimately rules over the darkness, the powers of evil, and those who walk in the darkness. Let us sincerely attempt to please God and conform to His light-imparting word in all things.
- “5 … come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Isa. 2: 5).
- “8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Eph 5:8)
- “7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)