These two words appear hundreds of times in the Bible.
We know what a light is. We know what darkness is. But what happens when the Bible starts speaking figurative about light and darkness? What does it mean when it says that Jesus is light? What does it mean when it says that we are in darkness?
Many misunderstand what light and darkness are in the Bible. The popular misunderstanding is that they refer to good and bad or virtue and sin. This is wrong.
Light and darkness refer to seeing the way things are and not seeing the way things are.
Turn off the lights. What happens? All of a sudden you cannot see anything. That is what darkness is.
A treasure map to a million gold coins could be in your hands, but it is no good to you in the dark because you can't see it. You will never see it without light. The truth is that God's treasures for you are all around you, but as long as you are in the dark, you do not see them.
If you want to see something in the dark, what do you do? You turn the light on, light a match, or shine a flashlight on it. Light makes it so that you can see.
"All things that are reprimanded are shown under the light. You see, everything that is shown is light." (Ephesians 5:13 from the Breakthrough Version)
Things that are apparent, that you know, that are consistent with truth, that are the way things are, are in the light.
Doesn't that mean that most things are in the light? People do have eyes. They do see. Most things are obvious, aren't they?
Most things are obvious but people do not want to look at the obvious. They prefer to hide the obvious. The problem is that "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19 KJV).
You have faults. You sin. You do things you are embarrassed of. And so what do you do? You don't want others to see your faults. You cover your fault with your hand, run into the house, pull the shades, shut off the lights, and hide in the dark closet. No one, not even you, can see your faults in the dark.
Your self-image is safe in the dark, but there is a lot you do not see in the dark. You don't see the truth about God. You don't see the truth about others. You don't see the truth about yourself. You don't see the truth in the Bible.
That does not stop you from living life and acting like you can see. You look around and even walk around feeling the air with your hands. You come up with a picture in your head of the layout of the dark room and the dark world outside of it. You are convinced that you can now see everything. When you stumble and do things you never would do in the light, you make excuses, criticize others, act happy, brag, rearrange the facts, ignore important things, and obsess about unimportant things. These are sure signs that you, who think you see, really are in the dark.
The Bible gives a simple test for determining if you are in the dark (1 John 2:9). Do you hate someone? If you do, you are in darkness. You are keeping certain facts, facts like, that person's strengths, your faults, the fact that God loves that person, and the fact that God said you should love him, in the dark. You hide all of this and say that you and God are close, but you are not because you are hiding His truths. "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" (1 John 1:6 KJV).
Darkness is actually the default environment that we live in. It is nighttime (Romans 13:11, 12). We live in a world where we cannot see the spiritual world. God is on His throne calling the shots. Jesus stands knocking at our door. The Holy Spirit informs us of things we need to know by putting thoughts in our head. Angels are helping. Demons are hindering. Satan is trying to ruin us. It is real. It is constantly going on all around us, but we don't see any of it. We are in the dark.
We also do not see the things that we can see: our sins, God's demands, God's image in others, God's remarkable design of the world, God working around us, and God's message in the Bible.
It is nighttime. It is dark out. We cannot just go outside and let the sun shine. The sun is not there. We can turn the light on, but there is this uncontrollable twitch in our finger that keeps turning it back off and then it is dark again. This is the world we live in.
In order to see we must have light. It is not enough to flash the light on once then off again and think that will show us everything. To see we must constantly come to the light. "But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:21 KJV).
How do you come to the light? God is light (1 John 1:5). Take a situation and put God in it. What would that situation be like with God in it. Look back at troubles, conflicts, stresses, doubts, and worries that you went through and bring God into those situations.
For example, you and your wife get into an argument. You storm off to McDonalds. You know that you were right and your wife was wrong. This is darkness. Turn on the light. While you are chowing down on the Big Mac, think about what God thinks about the argument (no, you can't just say that God agrees with you, that is wrong, that is darkness). God loves you and your wife. God sees that you are wrong for being stubborn, getting mad, and storming off. God also sees that your wife is wrong, but He does not condemn her. He loves her and sees her point. You realize that you need to overlook your wife's fault, look at your fault, apologize to your wife, see her point, and show her love. This is light.
When you read the Bible, shine the God light on it too. Ask yourself what God is trying to say in this verse. If you don't see it, read it again. Think about it. Pray about it. Ask God for wisdom. God will open up the meaning to you. Don't come to the Bible with your preconceived ideas, your traditional views, and your denominational positions and try to fit the Bible into them. This is darkness. It hides the true meaning of the Bible.
The more you come into the light and look around, the better. Expose yourself to the light after you have sinned. Look back at that sin and see the harm it is doing to you and those around you. Use your daily prayer time to shine the light on dark situations that happened the previous day. Figure out the truth. The goal is to take every action, every moment, and every thought and examine it under the light.
"For this reason, it says, 'Get up, the one who sleeps, and come back to life from the dead; and the Anointed King will be a light over you.' So look specifically how you traipse around, not as people who don't have insight, but as insightful people." (Ephesians 5:14-15 from the Breakthrough Version)
It's time to man up. Draw up your courage and shine the light on yourself. Hold it there. I know it hurts. Do you see it? Do you see the miserable failure that you are (yes, there are good things in there, but it is a big mess)? You need God. Only He can accomplish anything with your mess. But accomplish something He will, if you will trust Him and keep coming to the light. The more situations you shine God on, the more you will see. There is treasure out there. With the light you will find it.