What does “God is light” mean in the Bible? (1 John 1:5)

In 1 John 1:5, the Word of God proclaims, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” This profound statement has long captured the imagination of many believers, myself included. But what does it mean exactly? Let’s dive into its deeper spiritual significance, supported by other related Bible verses.

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The meaning of “God is light” (1 John 1:5)

What's the meaning of God is light 1 John 1 5 1

The Bible frequently uses the metaphor of light. For example, Psalm 119:105 describes God’s Word as a lighted lamp that guides us. In Matthew 5:14-16, Lord Jesus refers to His followers as “the light of the world.” Moreover, through faith in Christ, God encourages us to move from darkness into His marvelous light, as mentioned in 1 Peter 2:9.

I think all these beautiful symbolic meanings help to affirm the central, everlasting truth of 1 John 1:5:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

1 John 1:5

In short, 1 John 1:5 means that God Himself is pure goodness, righteousness, and absolute Truth. He doesn’t merely represent holiness – He is holiness, the true and only light of life. On the other hand, darkness symbolizes all the things of sin and evil (John 3:19-20), which are entirely separate from God’s character and who He is.

God is light metaphor

Further to this, “God is light” is far more than just a poetic metaphor. It is a stunning declaration of His inherent nature. God is the light who dispels darkness and brings forth “holiness, goodness, knowledge, wisdom, grace, hope, and God’s revelation”. And, as we walk by His light, we too grow a deeper understanding of our true purpose on earth. More on this in a subsequent section!

How does “God is light” relate back to Jesus?

Glory of God Bible verses 2

As believers, we know that Jesus is God made flesh (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16). He is part of the Holy Trinity and, through our faith, he becomes our only path to our heavenly Father – to an eternal life of joy (John 14:6). This is part of the Good News that makes up the Gospel’s message of salvation.

Because of who Christ is, he too is “the true light that gives light to everyone” in the world (John 1:9). Jesus himself directly states this, without ambiguity:

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

Amid other metaphorical meanings, this Bible verse points to and affirms Jesus’ sinless and Godly nature, a light completely untainted by evil (Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The Son stands righteous before the Father and it is by his atoning blood alone that we, as children of God, are redeemed (Romans 3:21-26).

What does all of this mean for us as Christians?

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Considering that God is light, what does He call us to do as true believers? I think 1 John 1:6 gives us further insight:

If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.

1 John 1:6

This verse underscores the essence of being genuine in our faith. If God is light, and we call ourselves His followers, this by extension means that we must also choose to walk by His light. To claim a desire a relationship with God but continue to actively and willfully sin and live in dark ways contrary to His teachings is contradictory. It makes us liars.

In short, walking in God’s light does not merely mean acknowledging His existence or superficially attending church on Sundays. Rather, it implies our hope for a deeper spiritual transformation in Christ, a passion to live a life that aligns with God’s values (2 Corinthians 5:17) – even as we will inevitably stumble and make mistakes along the way (1 John 1:8-10).

The narrow path Bible verses

Embracing God’s light also involves recognizing our sins. It means seeking repentance and earnestly desiring to embody Christ’s teachings in our daily actions (2 Chronicles 7:14; Acts 3:19). Not out of dry ‘religious’ obligation, but because we continually and authentically hope to love God and other people in what we do and say (Matthew 22:36-40).

That is what living in His light truly looks like. It is an active, ongoing process of surrender, joy, obedience, learning, humility, challenges, freedom, and growing transformation – for the glory of God.

When we slowly learn to walk in God’s light, we also become His “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14)

Jesus reminds us that we shouldn’t keep God’s light in our lives to ourselves, for our own sake. Instead, we should let it shine before others. We are to beam like the “light of the world” so that people around us may come to also know of His goodness that inspires us.

If you’d like to delve deeper into this specific Bible verse, please check out my other blog post. But, in essence, Jesus invites us to spread God’s light amid a world of darkness filled with sin, evil, and an unbelief or rejection of Him.

This can take on many everyday and pragmatic forms. For example, we can learn how to better share the Gospel with others, doing so in genuine love. Alternatively, we can seek to show sincere kindness to people, do good deeds, practice forgiveness, and so on.

What does God is light mean?

However, our aim shouldn’t be to gain personal praise or recognition for being a ‘good person’. That would be self-righteous pride in disguise. Instead, our greater hope as followers of Christ is to show others the nature of God’s love. It is about doing our part to shine His light amid our relationships, life’s purpose, and in any situation.

“God is light”. And I pray that, even amid our struggles and imperfections, we may all look to serve as candles for Christ! Amen.

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