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What does it mean that people loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19)?

people loved darkness rather than light

Throughout the Bible, light is contrasted with darkness. God is light (1 John 1:5), and living in the light metaphorically refers to living in God’s truth, goodness, and wisdom. On the other hand, living in darkness metaphorically describes living in sin or living a life apart from God. Light came into the world (John 8:12), but, sadly, people loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19). Those who trust in God for salvation come to the light and receive abundant life; those who love darkness will face eternal separation from God in “blackest darkness” (Jude 1:4–13).

John 3:18–19 says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” People naturally love the darkness—they love their sin—and this keeps them from coming to Christ: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed” (John 3:20).

As a result of sin, all people are born in a state of spiritual darkness that separates them from God. Sin blinds people to the truth and darkens their understanding of reality: “Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him” (Ephesians 4:18, NLT).

Despite people loving darkness rather than light, God made the way to rescue them from sin and its consequences. Isaiah described the Messiah as a great light who would come into “the land of deep darkness” (Isaiah 9:2). Jesus referred to Himself as the light of the world (John 8:12), thereby connecting Himself to the prophesied Messiah who would bring true light into the world (John 1:9). He is the “light of all mankind” (John 1:4) and the light and salvation for those who trust in Him (Psalm 27:1). The One who opened blinded eyes can bring us out of spiritual darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

John 3:21 describes a believer as one who “lives by truth [and] comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” Believers “live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)” (Ephesians 5:8–9). Having been rescued from the kingdom of darkness (Colossians 1:13), believers no longer hide in the darkness of sin. They live in the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5–6; 1 John 1:7). Believers will not reach perfection on this earth, but they do not continue to actively live in sin (1 John 3:6; 5:18). They allow God’s light to shine in and through them as they are transformed by God’s love and truth and reflect His character.

Jesus told believers, “You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16). We are no longer the people who loved darkness rather than light. Instead, we are “children of the light and children of the day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). We allow the light of God’s truth and love to shine in our lives and out into the dark world around us.

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What does it mean that people loved darkness rather than light (John 3:19)?
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This page last updated: September 14, 2023