And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:4)
Here, at the very beginning of the Bible, we find an essential characteristic of God that is reiterated over and over throughout the whole of Scripture. God does not change. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. If we truly wish to know God – as completely as is humanly possible – and to understand the full implications and astonishing grace of the cross, we should rejoice in the teaching of the Old Testament. It is a rich and vibrant revelation of the awesome God we serve, revealing His unchanging nature. Here, right from the beginning, we find a foundational truth about Him and what He desires for us.
The very first thing He did when creating the world was to bring light, and today’s verse tells us that He saw that it was good. This clearly demonstrates that His intention has always been that His people should know the light, a purpose fulfilled in Christ who came to us as the Light of the World. Right at the very beginning, we see the fundamental principle of light, which is traced on throughout His Word – consider all the references of light, glory, walking in the light, etc. This subject alone is a study that would keep us involved and excited for a long time.
But then, having created the light and seen that it was good, our Creator-God makes a very deliberate statement-in-action. He divided the light from the darkness, and in doing so reveals the outworking of His purpose for His people. Every single thing, every single interaction between God and His people from this point on, demonstrates this enormously significant act and its relevance to believers. His purpose was and always will be to separate the light from the darkness. We who live in the light must manifest this separation from darkness in every aspect of our lives.
I’ve heard Christians justify their mingling with the world by declaring that Jesus Himself ate and mixed with sinners of the worst kind. While the truth of this cannot be disputed, the principle of it has been perverted. His interaction with the world was to shine His light in their darkness, not to mingle His light with their darkness. At no point did Jesus compromise His being holy and set apart for God. His impact on the world did not come out of His being a man, but out of His being a man wholly dedicated to the will and purpose of God.
We are told countless times in so many different ways to follow this example. The reality of life is that we cannot shut ourselves off and have nothing to do with the world. We encounter the unsaved in every aspect of our lives – the supermarket queue, the workplace, the hairdresser and the doctor, and every other circumstance we move through. Like Christ, however, we should, through faith and being ‘in Him,’ remain separate in our spiritual integrity and the holiness that He Himself imparts to us as we surrender to His will.
Think for a moment of an oil lamp. The wick must be saturated with the oil – the type of the Holy Spirit – and, once alight, will burn as long as the oil lasts and will provide a clean and effectual light by which we can see beyond the darkness. The problem, however, comes in if the wick is not trimmed and the oil tainted with impurities. When either of these happen, the lamp will give off smoke, which ultimately coats the lamp glass. The result is that the glass will begin to compromise the pure light and diminish the effectiveness required and intended.
This is a wonderful example for us. We must, at all times, ensure that we keep that light burning pure. The only way to do this is to remain holy in Him, to keep the impurities of the world out and retain our spiritual integrity. We are to shine a pure and holy light in the darkness, to witness in the darkness not mingle with the darkness. From the beginning of time, God’s purpose was to divide the light from the darkness and we cannot justify anything less.
If we look at the life of Christ, His impact on the world manifested in two ways. The sinners who recognised their need flocked to Him. That is the first measure of our effectiveness as light – it will always draw others to salvation, a natural response to light that is reflected throughout creation. The second response was offence. Those steeped in darkness were always offended, because the light manifested their darkness. It brought things hidden out into the open and challenged their fleshly indulgence.
There really were no other responses, and we should expect nothing less. It could be said that this is a good measure for our effectiveness as Christians. What is the response of the world to our witness? Our light is both what we say and what we do, the sum total of our lives and our commitment to Christ. If we do not stir these responses in the world around us, perhaps we should reconsider our Christian walk and growth and make some adjustments. Are we truly separate, divided from the darkness, or is our light a diluted version of the pure, life-changing reflection of His glory that He intends?
Lord, help us to walk in Your light and to manifest it as You intend. Help us to submit ourselves to You constantly as living sacrifices, that You may cause Your light to shine through us to the world. Help us to remain separate, divided from the darkness, so that Your love and truth would not be compromised, and so You can reach those who need the light through our lives.