John 3:19-21 The evidence of faith is in one’s commitment to the call of discipleship
John 3:19-21 The evidence of faith is in one’s commitment to the call of discipleship
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
Jesus comes as Light into the world but humanity has brought judgment upon themselves by rejecting the Light. Loving the Light is synonymous with living like Jesus. And all who love the Light are led by love, while all who love darkness are led by fear. Today’s devotion teaches: The evidence of faith for salvation is in one’s commitment to the call to follow Jesus.
This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
In the earlier verse, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already,…” (John 3:18), believing in Jesus means committing to Jesus’s manner of life. Believing in Jesus does not mean a mental understanding of Jesus’s identity as Lord and Saviour or the doctrine of salvation. But rather a sincere commitment to the ways of Jesus. Indeed, God assesses a man’s heart and his deeds, not his cognitive understanding. Believing in Jesus is synonymous with committing to His ways: to deny one’s personal agenda and follow the way of the cross (see Matthew 16:24). And one who does not follow the ways of Jesus has been judged already.
The word judgment denotes eternal condemnation, which will be meted out to all who do not believe in Jesus. Here, ”men” refers to the majority of humanity who are opposed to the ways of Jesus. The Light is the truth that is preached and manifested through the life of Jesus. And the men who loved the darkness have brought upon themselves judgment by rejecting the Light of Jesus. They declined His call to repentance and discipleship and crucified Him on the cross.
The fate of man is not derived from a vacuum nor is it decided by a capricious deity but rather from man’s desires and the choices he makes. What does the majority of humanity love? Anything but God. Such are considered as loving darkness rather than the Light. In short, Jesus’s role as Judge is to assess the posture of each man’s heart and his deeds either penalising or exonerating him.
For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
Those who are self-centred and inclined to evil will inevitably develop a resistance against the Light. For they do not want to hear the truth that demands them to turn away from worldly and self-centred pursuits. Such will respond with distaste and repugnance whenever the truth concerning discipleship is preached. They hid themselves from the Light for fear of being rebuked or convicted for their evil deeds. For such, fear of punishment and self-centredness characterise everything they do.
However, one who is inclined to the truth (he who practices the truth comes) possesses a steadfast commitment to the ways of Jesus. His heart remains a fitting receptacle for the Light responding positively whenever the hard truths of Jesus are preached. Such a one draws near to the Light so that the Light may illuminate his path towards righteousness.
That said, one who is drawn to the Light will be imperfect. For the sin he commits he does not support, but seek to be delivered from them.
The evidence of faith for salvation is in one’s commitment to the call of discipleship.
When Jesus said, “But he who practices the truth comes to the Light…”, He really meant discipleship; to follow Him who is the Light of the world (see John 8:12). It is evident that in the days of Jesus, the people gathered primarily to be healed and fed by Jesus. But when He started teaching about repentance and discipleship: to deny oneself and to take up the cross and follow Him (see Matthew 16:24), many were repulsed by what He taught and left.
It is timely to make a distinction between two kinds of churchgoers: those who are drawn to blessing, and those who are drawn to the Light. Those who come seeking blessing and salvation will do what is necessary to obtain them. But those who are drawn to the Light will do their utmost to fulfil the call by bringing righteousness and salvation to the world. They are committed to spiritual growth in preparation for their mission. As they grow in wisdom, they are anointed with greater power and authority. Their reward is heavenly but nothing of this world: eternal beauty, knowledge, wisdom, faith and authority. Those who seek the Light are found in all walks of life, doing their part in establishing God’s kingdom. Although they do not seek blessing and salvation, they are assured of obtaining them in heaven. But those who seek blessing may have an appearance of godliness but their hearts remain uncommitted to the way of the cross. Make no mistake about it!! For such do not practice the truth and do not love the Light. We often hear them say, “I attend church service every week, and pay my tithes. I read and pray daily and do not harm others. Isn’t that enough? What else does God demand of me?” Their darkness is in putting the love of self above the love for the Light. Many held onto their possessions and fleshly ambitions because they love themselves more than God. Jesus, in response to a large crowd following Him says, “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.” (Luke 14:33). Their Christian routines are supposedly means to acquire divine favour and salvation for themselves, nothing more. Unfortunately, such people contribute to the majority of Christendom today.
Loving the Light translates into doing the following:
a. Be committed to study the Word daily and to grow in divine wisdom, love and power.
b. Be accountable to your cell group leader or disciple maker or pastor in regards to your life direction and growth.
c. Be committed to serve in ministries or charity organisations which require sacrifices in finances and time.
The men of the world are propelled by fear, but the disciples of Jesus are led by love
The world is afraid of the Light lest they are exposed and convicted by their evil deeds. But disciples remain in the Light not because they are perfect, but because they are committed to the ways of God. Hence, it is the posture of the heart that determines one’s responses when faced with the Light. In the presence of the Light, two different heart postures produce two very different responses:
- The men of the world are ridden with guilt and fear because their hearts would not fully commit to God’s ways.
- Disciples felt loved and empowered despite their imperfections because they have set their hearts to obey God in all things.
The men of the world respond with fear and hide themselves when the Light appears… whereas disciples draw near to the Light in love to sanctify themselves. Such responses do not come from the mind but instinctively from the heart. Many are trapped in guilt supposing it is due to the lack of knowledge. But in fact they are continually being judged by their own conscience. Many of them when told the truth retaliate by saying, “Why do you make me feel guilty? Guilt is not of God because He has forgiven our sins!” Such did not believe in Jesus and are in a constant state of being judged. Thus, they require constant nursing with assuring words and songs of divine forgiveness.
Are you attending a church but do not participate in the discipleship programme? You suppose that what you are currently doing is sufficient. But Jesus calls man to become disciples so that they may fulfil the great commission. If you are not being discipled, you cannot fulfil your high calling and lose your reward. Join a bible study group, and be discipled. Be diligent in the study of the Word. Our love for the Light is revealed through our commitment to obey the Word.
Are you focused on blessing or the Word? Do you seek blessing or the Light? Set your hearts aright. Love the Light and reject self-centredness, lust and greed. Read the word daily and obey Him. Honour God by giving the tithe. In doing so, we prove to ourselves and to God that we are lovers of the Light and are thankful for His salvation. In due time, God will reward you with eternal beauty, wisdom and divine authority.
Are you trapped by the lust of the flesh and the eyes? Under what circumstances do these temptations arise? The devil encourages gratification of the flesh. But Paul said, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22.
Dear Lord, I desire to come into the Light and be sanctified. Arrange for me to be discipled so that I may help establish your kingdom on earth. Strengthen me to resist the powers of darkness. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.