1 John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
John Piper asks, “What does John mean that God is light?”
One answer would be that God is TRUTH. This comes from verse 6: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the TRUTH.” He might have said, “When we walk in darkness, we do not live according to the LIGHT.” But he puts truth in the place of light. So it seems that truth is virtually the same as light. (See also 5:20.)
In other words, God is light means that God is the source and measure of all that is true. Another way to put it would be that nothing is truly understood until it is understood in the light of God. This is why the Old Testament says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). You don’t even get to first base in true knowledge if you leave God out of account. Which is why secular education is such a mirage of hope in the contemporary wasteland of our culture. GOD is light. That is, GOD is truth. He is the source of all that is true and whatever is true is true because it conforms to him.
Truth Full of Joy and Hope
But John chose the word light not truth in verse 5. And I think he chose the word light because it carries a positive connotation that the word truth may not always carry. For some readers the word truth may leave open the possibility that the truth of God is a dark truth—a foreboding truth, a truth that is not inviting. So John chooses the word light because it promises that the truth of God is a truth full of joy and hope. You can see this if you reflect for a moment on the value of light.
What is the main value of light? Negatively, it helps you avoid danger. Positively, it helps you reach what you are after. When you walk in the darkness, you may stumble over a log, or step on a rattlesnake, or fall off a cliff, or hit your head on a low-hanging branch. Darkness is full of threat. It frustrates your ability to attain your goal. But light changes all that. It exposes dangers and frees you from their lurking power. It opens the way to your goal. It is full of hope and promises the glad attainment of your goal.
No Hidden Agenda, No Small Print
The first picture of God that John wants to put before us is this picture of God as light. “God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” It means that if you draw near to God, you do not find a dark and foreboding truth. You find freedom and hope and joy. In God the stumbling logs and rattlesnakes and cliffs and low-hanging branches are all exposed and we are made safe from them. Our goal of ultimate and eternal joy is secured in God because there is no darkness in God. That is, there are no lurking shadows in God. There is no hidden agenda, no small print. He is light, and in him is no darkness at all.