“To know you make mistakes makes you human; to act like you don’t makes you a hypocrite.”
I heard this comment in passing in a seminary class a long time ago and it stuck with me. We all make mistakes. We’re human. When we act like we don’t, we’re hypocritical because we actually do make mistakes.
In theological terms, we can say the same thing: to know you sin makes you human; to act like you don’t makes you a hypocrite. If we actually conclude this statement in alignment with our passage today, it would be “to act like you don’t [sin] makes you an unbeliever in Jesus.”
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.John 3:19-21
New International Version
Like a judge in a legal case, the Holy Spirit through the ink and quill of John the Apostle renders the decision: the difference between a follower of Jesus and someone who is isn’t a follower of Jesus isn’t their feelings. It isn’t how guilty they feel. It isn’t how good they feel.
The difference between the believer in Jesus and the unbeliever of Jesus is their reaction to the light.
The perfect light of the Lord shines on our sinfulness and exposes us.
Now you might not feel that’s a good thing—it’s a little unsettling, right? But hang on, look at what verses 20-21 tell us the response of unbelievers and believers is to the light: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
There is no condemnation for the disciple of Jesus (Romans 8:1). We do not fear the light of the Lord. When His perfect light shines on us, it exposes our sins. BUT. We live in the truth of the Lord and His light lets us see the sin in us so we can receive restoration and forgiveness.
The Lord’s light warms the soul of the saint because Jesus uses it to bring us closer to Him through the gift of forgiving grace.
For those who reject Jesus, the light of the Lord is a frightful thing. The sin breeding in the shadows of their soul is hidden at all costs. There is no desire to have it dragged into the light. There is no desire to go through any level of pain to gain restoration in the Lord. If anything, the unbeliever would be angry that the Lord’s truth and light would attempt to expose them at all!
We are all in darkness before the Lord shines His light in us. When we respond to His grace with committing our lives to Him, we confess our sins. We are restored. Renewed. Redeemed. His light, then, is not a source of fear, but a source of hope.
After all, the love of God is not to be admired because the world is so big. It’s to be admired because the world is so bad.
When His light reminds of that, we are drawn closer to Him in worshipful adoration and gratitude. We don’t have to deny our sin. The Lord Jesus has provided a solution to our sin.
What sin do you need to confess to Him? Ask forgiveness for? Receive restoration for?