When God said, “Let there be light,” he revealed his glory to creation. This unveiling of his glory was the beginning of Yahweh forming the earth. If his light never shone the earth would have remained “formless and empty.” But the light did shine, bringing grace and mercy to a helpless and hollow world.
It is significant that God first brought form to creation by speaking light into existence. Light reveals form. We don’t realize the extent we fall short of God’s glory until we are in his light. Take a window as an example: it may look relatively clean, maybe even spotless, but when the sun shines directly on it, the light uncovers its smudges and grime.
Light has a wonderful way of exposing. Many times I have personally experienced God revealing my defilement. I thought I was clean, but when I came into the house of the Lord I realized my iniquity. It was the strength of God’s presence that brought all my sins to the surface. I became conscious of my anger or some attitude that actually polluted me. Only in God’s light could I truly confess my sins because I understood their severity.
In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus does not teach us to ask for forgiveness in the beginning, but only near the conclusion. Why? I believe for the same reason as stated before: we do not comprehend how marred we are—how far we have missed the target—until we are in the fullness of God’s presence. When we compare ourselves to ourselves we think we are good. But when we compare ourselves to God we cry out: “Woe is me!” A death to self is worked in us when we step into God’s glory.
We are often fond of quoting 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This Scripture is very true, but it can only be understood in its context. Before John wrote the above verse he reminded the people:
“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 and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 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, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)
When we put 1 John 1:9 in context we see that we cannot properly confess our sins unless we are walking in God’s light. We actually do not even recognize our sins’ depth unless we see them in God’s glory. Without this recognition, our confessions can be a mere product of our human effort, an exercise to expel an unclean conscience rather than a realization that we have sinned against heaven. Remember, Judas confessed his sins, he even made restitution, but he stilled committed suicide.
God’s light is a fearful and sobering thing. Jesus knew this full well when he said: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. All those who do evil hate the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But those who live by the truth come into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:19-21).
Prayer: Father, may I see myself in the light of your glory. May you expose my sins and lead me into authentic repentance and confession. In your light is true freedom and cleansing.