The fact that darkness means an absence of light is used by the Scriptures to illustrate truth in five different aspects. No physical reality is more impressive—unless it be life and death—than the phenomenon of darkness and light. The various uses of the term darkness in the Bible are connected with:
1. Opposition to the Character of God. Writing of the holiness of God, the Apostle John has said, "And in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Similarly, James has said, "With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of [cast by, R.V.] turning" (James 1:17). Light thus becomes a vivid illustration of the transparent purity of God. His glory is radiant with Shekinah light. Some of Christ's intrinsic glory was manifested in His transfiguration. Perfect holiness can be indicated only by celestial light.
2. Moral Estate of the Unsaved World. When Christ came into the world, it was said of Him that He appeared as Light which shineth in a dark place, and yet the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:5). The perfect Light which God is cannot be comprehended by the darkness of this world. Darkness first came into this world when sin entered. Its reality is faithfully described by God in His Word, but men do not heed or understand the divine testimony. They "loved darkness rather than light" (John 3:19). In the beginning there was light enough, but men turned from the light. The Apostle states: "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened" (Rom. 1:21). The experience of the blind man is symbolical, "Whereas I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25). To the lost world about Him Christ declared, "This is your hour, and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53). When one is saved he is translated out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God's love (Col. 1:13). Truth is itself as light and the lack of it as darkness. Of the believer it is recorded that he has been "called out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:5).
3. The Carnal Christian. Having declared that "God is light," the Apostle John asserts further: "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" (1 John 1:6). Fellowship or communion depends upon agreement, and where sin is practiced and defended by a believer there can be no perfect fellowship with God. To walk in the light is to be subject to the light, that is to say, when God reveals to one whatever in the life runs contrary to the Light which God is, there should be adjustments to that new revelation. To walk in the light is not to be sinlessly perfect; it is to be adjusted to all that God discloses unto the heart concerning His will for one's individual life. For one to say as a pretense or supposition that he is walking in the light when evil has been tolerated, is to assert that which is not and could not be true. If, however, the believer walks in the light of God by being adjusted to His will, fellowship with God is maintained without effort and the stain of all sin is removed by the blood of Christ, for this blessed provision goes on cleansing (1 John 1:5-7). The darkness in which the believer may walk must be distinguished from the darkness of the lost estate; his darkness is due to carnality, and its limitations are seen in the fact that his sin has not disturbed personal union with God, but only his communion with Him. There are various drastic costs which the believer pays when he walks in darkness; loss of fellowship with God is one of them.
4. The Tribulation. It is specifically revealed that when Christ returns to the earth He will come to a universal condition of "gross darkness" which shall cover the people (Isa. 60:2). The tribulation period which is ended by Christ's advent with power and great glory will be a time "of darkness and of gloominess" (Joel 2:2). According to all major references concerned with it, the tribulation is the hour of supreme darkness and distress over all the world.
5. Final Estate of the Lost. There is a place called "outer darkness" (Matt. 25:30) which becomes the last and unending abode of those who go there. That such a place has existed from the time of the fall of the angels is evident since some of the angels are in "chains of darkness" due to that early departure from God, awaiting a day of judgment (2 Pet. 2:4). They are not merely in physical darkness, but a place and condition utterly void of that Light which God is.
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