The meaning of “God is light” (1 John 1:5) and why it matters to Christians
What does “God is light” mean in 1 John 1:5? Let’s explore this Bible verse and how it shapes our walk as Christians.
What does “God is light” (1 John 1:5) mean?
The Bible is filled with many metaphors relating to light.
For example, Psalms 119:105 says: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path”. Jesus also refers to his followers as “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14-16). We as believers are called “out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).
A central truth holds all such metaphors together: God Himself is light – not simply a light.
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
1 John 1:5 means that God is the light of pure goodness, perfect righteousness, and absolute truth. He is the very definition of holiness itself. By contrast, darkness represents sin and evil (John 3:19-20) that are no part of who God is.
Jesus is the light of the world
Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16). Thus, he too is “the true light that gives light to everyone” in the world (John 1:9). Jesus himself states this:
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
In short, light is used to describe Jesus’ sinless and Godly nature, completely untainted by evil (Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He stands righteous before the Father, and it is only through our faith in Christ that we are redeemed (Romans 3:21-26).
What does 1 John 1:5-6 mean to us as Christians?
Given that God is light, what does He call all true believers to do? 1 John 1:6 gives further details.
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
As Christians, God wants us to step away from spiritual darkness and our desire to sin (2 Chronicles 7:14; Acts 3:19). He wants us to turn to His light, to live as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This means willingly repenting of our sins to follow Jesus’ teachings. Not out of obligation but because we seek to love God and other people (Matthew 22:36-40).
Of course, as humans, we can never ‘earn’ our sinless perfection in God’s eyes. Besides Jesus, that’s simply not possible since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (1 John 1:8-10). We will stumble, even as believers.
However, we can make it a habit to give our hearts to God. We can let Him guide our daily steps in life as we learn to walk in His light, bit by bit.
This is an active, ongoing process of surrender and obedience, done so out of our love for Christ.
When we walk in God’s light, we become His “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14)
Further expanding the metaphor of light, Jesus says:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:14
Read this blog post to find out why Jesus describes us as the “light of the world”.
In short, when we truly accept Jesus into our lives, we as believers are called to spread God’s light amid a world of darkness.
This means many things, including sharing the Gospel, doing good deeds to glorify our Father in heaven, loving people, showing forgiveness, and so on.
We do this not to bring any glory to ourselves. That would be self-righteous pride.
Rather, our hope is to show others the goodness of God’s light through Christ in us, so that they too may come to have a relationship with Him. God is the center of it all.