“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by truth.” -1 John 1:5-6

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness.” 1 John 2:9

P1030210 by Dan Hatton

Disclaimer: I am not preaching and this is in no way meant to speak to anyone specific–with the exception of myself. As Beth Moore says, I can only teach you what God is teaching me. If it resonates with you, then I praise God, that He would use me to work in your life. But it is Him and not me that must do the true teaching.

We’re going to start with the obvious.

God is light.

Even though it the verse above states it, this fact bears repeating. God is light. He makes the sun look like a 60 watt lightbulb. The moon doesn’t even stand a chance. And the stars? Forget about the stars. You can’t see them, He’s that bright. He washes everything out. In the Greek the word used here is Phos, meaning light…the light. There is no other light like this light. Just like there is no other God like our God. He is light is it’s purest essence. He defines what light is.

And what darkness is.

There are two words used in these verses to refer to darkness. Skotia and skotos. Obviously these are conjugates of each other, so the meanings are simlar. But it’s the subtle differences that God loves to use. Skotia, which is used in verse 5 and 9, refers to wickedness or “the darkness due to want of light”. Basically, a life without God. Skotos is darkness. Used in verse 6, it can also mean “persons [or a person] in whom darkness becomes visible and holds sway”. Here it isn’t talking about just wickedness. It’s talking about people who claim to be of the light and of God, but for some reason or another have strayed, leaving God’s presence wanting in their life. People who are held by darkness, not light.

Now I’ve read 1 John before. And I’ve read over those first two verses many times in the last couple weeks (my Bible study plan has me focus on one segment of scripture for the duration of a month). Each time my thoughts have been, “Praise God, I’m in the light and not the darkness”. Because I have been born again. I am a new creation in Christ. My thought is that most Christians think like I did. I mean, yes, I sin. Yes, I make mistakes, but God is faithful and just to forgive me when I come to him in repentance. In my mind, darkness…let’s just name him for what he is, Satan had no stronghold in my mind. He could try and cause me to doubt, but my faith is strong because my strength is not my own. I couldn’t see where he was sinking his little hooks in and truly trying to separate me from my Lord.

This morning, 1 John 2:9 hit me like a slap in the face. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness.”

I’m sorry, what!

Now, brother in this verse can be taken to mean fellow man. So, God’s not talking (specifically) about your brother–the one that stole your Barbies and spent most of his childhood making airplane noises (though this does apply to him too). He’s talking about that guy that cuts you off in traffic. The lady in the next cubicle that talks a little too loud. The boss/co-worker/customer/acquaintance that just rubs you that wrong way. That’s who he is talking about.

I would say that I don’t outright hate anyone (not anyone real at least, with fictional characters it’s a different story). I get along with most people…and I tolerate those few who I don’t particularly like. I smile. I nod. I hold my tongue. But in my head, I’m thinking “I can’t believe, grumble grumble grumble grumble and they are a complete creative-dergatory-non-cuss-word-type-phrase”. My thoughts are not always nice and pleasant. And I knew, that it wasn’t exactly godly. That thinking mean and ugly things about others is not nice, because God loves them anyways. So I should to.

But today, it was like there was this glowing line linking these two verses together. The Holy Spirit showed me a connection, not only between the two verses, but between the verses and my own life.

These nasty thoughts, or as a pastor friend of mine, this stinkin’ thinkin’ was/is a stronghold of the devil in my life. It is something that he is using to drive me away from the person God wants me to be. God has called me to love as He loves. He has called me to be His light unto the world. And I can’t be that, can’t be a part of Him, if there is any darkness in my life. (Am I scaring you yet?)

And stinkin’ thinkin’ is skotos.

And it’s scary. Because it is in me. I can flee from sinful people and sinful situations. I can get the heck outta dodge and escape the temptation. But my thoughts are in my head. And as many days as I wish, I could remove my brain from my head and just not have to think period, I’m pretty sure it’s not good for my health. No, escaping stinkin’ thinkin’ is hard. It requires real work. It require repentance and changing the way I think.

Changing the way I think.

I’m sorry, but sometimes, it takes me a little bit of time to realize that I’m thinking the way I’m thinking. Sometimes I catch it a little faster than others. Sometimes, I still dwell on the nasty thought and let it build into something really ugly.

And that means that it is also going to require discipline.

I have to die to myself in my thought life. It requires putting my pride and feelings away. Because they get in the way. Nobody wants to admit that they are wrong, or that their feelings have been hurt. But I cannot let these things drive me if I want to love the way God loves.

Because that is the only way to love as God loves is to see through His eyes. And I can’t see through His eyes if I’m too busy massaging my bruised pride with angry, ugly, skotos thoughts. It don’t work. It’s like trying to use a hammer to clean a window. You end up with a painful mess. You lose friends and coworkers and employees and customers.

I end up bitter and holding a grudge that I didn’t mean to hold.

So it’s time for me to repent. To ask God to give the strength and discipline (which means that He will try me so that they develop within me) to stop the nasty thoughts the moment they enter my head. I can’t always help the thoughts that come into my head. But I can keep from dwelling on them and letting them become sin. And with God’s help and this thing called Grace, I can change the way that I do think and become that much more like him.