Faithlife Sermons

Born of God, Part 6 - Come to the Light

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:25
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Please open your Bibles to John chapter 3. We are studying through the Gospel of John together each Sunday. Over the past several weeks we have been looking at Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus. One of the most well-known passages of scripture. Today we will conclude our study of John 3:1-21. Let’s read the passage together in its entirety.
John 3:1–21 NIV
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 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. 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.
Let’s look at 3:19-21 more closely.
John 3:19 NIV
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Light has come

John opened his account of the good news of Jesus talking about him as the Word of God. He mentioned how he created the world, and that in him was life and that life was the light of all mankind. In another of his letters, he says that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Jesus is the light of the world. What is it about light and life?
When God created the world, the next thing he created was light. He lived for eternity before the creation without light. He did not need it. So, why make it? For us. For life.
Most living things need light, crave light. In northern places like Alaska that has prolonged darkness for the winter months, suicide rates increase. We need and crave light for life. After a series of cloudy days, most of us revel in a day of sunshine. It warms our hearts and lifts our spirits. It is like it breathes fresh life into us.
This is the way God has hardwired us. We are attracted to light. Light is connected with our life. And just as we need light, we need our Creator. We need God for life.
So, when the world was dark with sin and despair, because sin brings death, and death brings despair, Light has come! Even though we are sinful, we rebel against God in so many ways everyday, God so loved the world, that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believers in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life.
Jesus came into the darkness of this world, as the light to shine and bring the hope of life!
But sadly,
John 3:19 NIV
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

People loved darkness.

Why did people love darkness when the light, the hope of life, came?
Because their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 NIV
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

People fear exposure.

Most of my life, when I read this, I thought of evil people. Do you know what I mean? Well, something like Job described.
Job 24:13–17 NIV
“There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths. When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up, kills the poor and needy, and in the night steals forth like a thief. The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed. In the dark, thieves break into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they want nothing to do with the light. For all of them, midnight is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness.
I usually thought of this passage as describing people like Job was talking about.
And, actually, I think this does address those people. They do not want to come to the light so that their deeds are exposed. They want to remain hidden.
When people are arrested, they usually don’t thank the police. When convicted they don’t typically thank the judge. When children are caught, they don’t usually thank their parents. When any of us are caught doing wrong, we do not like it. Why? Because our deeds are exposed. It may come out as anger, and blaming the other person of being unfair, unkind, judgmental, etc. But really, what is going on in our hearts is hatred at being exposed for who we are.
But, I think this passage is hitting a little closer to home than that.
Look at the next verse.
John 3:21 NIV
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.
Whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that what it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in God!
I think this last expression is the key to understanding the other verses in their context.
Let me put it this way.
The one who does what is right comes to the light, so it can be seen that what they did was done in God
The one who does what is evil does not come to the light, so it will not be exposed that what they did was NOT done in God.
Do you see what I mean?
Context is always key in interpretation.
When Jesus is speaking of people doing evil, and not coming to the light for fear of exposure, he is talking with Nicodemus. What was Nicodemus?
A Pharisee. Pharisees were some of the most righteous people in that day. Paul was also a Pharisee, who wrote in Philippians that as far as the written law went, he was blameless!
These guys were good! But most Pharisees did not want to come to Jesus who was the light of the world.
They wanted to get into the righteous kingdom, but they did not want to come to the Light, because as good as they looked to other people, they, like Nicodemus knew the truth.
As Job put it,
Job 25:4–6 NIV
How then can a mortal be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes, how much less a mortal, who is but a maggot— a human being, who is only a worm!”
No matter how good we are, no matter how good we act, we are still not righteous. In fact, even our ‘righteous’ deeds can be evil, right?
Isaiah says,
Isaiah 1:10–16 NIV
Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.
God is the one who commanded that they observe certain feasts, and that they bring the sacrifices as a reminder of their sins.
They had turned those sacrifices around to appear righteous before other people.
Or, as Jesus described,
Matthew 6:1–5 NIV
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
Too often, even when we do good things, we do them for the wrong reasons. Too often we do them to look good before others, or to impress others. Too often, we do ‘the right thing’ for what we can get out of it. We do ‘the right thing’ thinking that in doing it we will earn righteousness.
We do ‘the right thing’ for the wrong reasons. We don’t do them out of love for God, or to glorify Him. We don’t do them in His strength. We do them on our own, for our own glory, to earn our own righteousness.
I think this is what Jesus is speaking of here in John 3. When he speaks of those who do evil, he isn’t just talking about the thief, the murderer, and the adulterer as Job did. He is speaking of those who think they are righteous because of what they do. Unfortunately, when we do the right thing for the wrong reasons, well, that is what Isaiah speaks of in Isaiah 64:6.
Isaiah 64:6 NIV
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
Those righteous acts aren’t so clean. They are tainted by our motives, resulting in them being evil.
And, like the Pharisees of the days Jesus walked on the earth, we don’t like coming to Jesus for fear of exposure, because He is the one who judges not by outward appearances of goodness, but by the heart.
Where is the hope that light is supposed to bring? What can we do?
Come to the light.
Micah 7:9 NIV
Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.
Again, in the context, Jesus told Nicodemus that if he wanted to enter God’s righteous kingdom, he needed to be born from above. He needed the spirit to give him new life.
How? By believing in the Son.
For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, though He could have because we are evil. Rather, He sent the Son into the world to save the world.
For God so loved the World that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life!
If we come to Jesus, He will plead our case. He will bring us into the light and give us His righteousness.
Then, He invites us to stay in the light.
Ephesians 5:8 NIV
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
How can we live in the light? How can we do righteous deeds, the right thing for the right reason?
We do it in God! We stay in the light, and enjoy fellowship with Him!
We spend time reading His Word daily, multiple times a day. We take the time to pray throughout the day. We rely on Him to do what is right for the right reason, to glorify Him.
Some people think that now I am getting legalistic. I am not.
Too often we look at these things, at doing devotions or spending time in God’s Word, spending time in prayer as something we have to do. We treat them as a chore, or some legalistic ritual. Something you have to do.
The elders and I were reading a book about Shepherding, and the author, Tim Laniak, shared a story from when he was a camp counselor. He had a child that had Asperger’s syndrome.

I didn’t try to push Franky to do activities he shied away from. I let the current of the group’s interests move him along with us. But I really wanted Franky to enjoy swimming with the group. Although he knew how to swim, every afternoon that we went to the pool Franky refused to go in. When I asked him to join us he would say, “My mom says I have to put on my swimsuit, but I don’t have to swim.” He would just circle the pool on his tip toes, belly bouncing with each step, repeating this pat answer to himself.

One day as Franky was circling I got inspired to try a new tactic. I got down on my knees in his pathway and purposely disrupted his routine. “Franky,” I asked, “will you go swimming today?”

“My mom says I have to put on my swimsuit, but I don’t have to swim.”

“I know Franky. You don’t have to swim.”

“That’s right. I don’t have to swim. My mom says I don’t have to.”

“Franky, I know you don’t have to swim; you get to swim.”

Franky seemed disconcerted by the variation in our well-practiced dialog. A small crowd of fellow campers was now waiting to see how the conversation would turn out.

“I don’t have to swim,” he repeated.

“But you get to swim,” I continued. We tried these new lines out a few more times.

Then Franky Moore’s face took on an unusual look of pleasure. He announced with conviction, “I don’t have to swim. I get to swim.” He repeated his new mantra and then, before an astonished little crowd, jumped into the pool! You should have heard the applause.

I can still remember Franky’s beaming face bobbing up to the water’s surface after his first jump. “It’s cold, Tim!” he yelled, treading water vigorously.

“I know Franky. But after you get used to it, you’ll like it.”

“I already like it, Tim.”

You don’t have to walk in the truth, You get to.

Will you come to Jesus? Will you come to the Light that came into the world to give you hope. Trying to be righteous on your own is tiring. It is depressing, because no matter how hard you try, you always fail. And, even if you don’t fail, when you come to the light, you don’t want to be exposed because your motives were wrong.
Be done with that. Come to the Light. Jesus did not come to condemn, but to save. He wants to plead your cause. He wants to clothe you with His righteousness.
Then, let’s go out and walk in fellowship with Him. Let’s walk in the truth doing what is right in His strength, not because we have to, but because we get to.
This week, let’s study the Light, that is the Life of all mankind. John 1:4-5. How is light and life related?
Read Psalm 104:2 and Ezekiel 1:26-28. God is often associated with Light. What is He trying to tell us about Himself when He uses Light as imagery? Also read Hebrews 1:3. What does this tell us about Jesus?
Read Numbers 6:25, Psalm 84:11 and James 1:17. What is God revealing about Himself using light in these verses? Why would He use light in this way?
The Light was foretold to be coming in the Old Testament. Read Numbers 24:17; Isaiah 9:2; Isaiah 60:1-2; Micah 4:2. What was the hope of this Light coming?
Light not only brings hope, it also reveals things we would rather not have exposed. Isaiah 51:4. God speaks of His justice being like light. Read Micah 7:9. How does God deal with us as the light exposes our dark hearts and sin?
Scripture speaks of us walking in the light since we are His children. Read Ephesians 5:8-14. How will you live in the light instead of the darkness?
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