“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (John 3:19-21).
Why do people continually refuse the offer of salvation and reject Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? We could accurately say that it is because they are dead in their trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). We could also accurately say that it is because God the Father has not yet given them to the God the Son as a gracious gift (John 6:35-66).
However, today’s passage from John’s Gospel gives us another biblical reason for persistent unbelief. It is because the sinner would rather live in sin than live in a covenant relationship with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This begs the obvious follow-up question: Why would a sinner willingly choose to rather live in sin than be in a covenant relationship with God through the person and work of Jesus Christ? The answer is that the sinner loves their sin and would rather live in darkness or evil because their works or behavior is evil.
However, there are people who no longer love their sin but rather seek to live for Jesus Christ. Why? It is because they have been born again (John 3:1-15) and understand that Jesus Christ is not only their Savior but also their Lord.
Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “We must be careful here not to read John as teaching works-righteousness. John 3:21 does not describe how a person goes from darkness to light. That has already been presented in verses 1–15, where we see that the only way we can come into the kingdom is to be reborn spiritually from above through God’s sovereign work of regeneration. Upon regeneration, we believe and are saved (v. 16). Our good deeds do not avail for redemption; faith alone saves us (see also Eph. 2:8–9). John 3:21 simply presents a contrast with the wicked person of verse 20 in order to arouse people from their complacency and encourage them to come to Christ for salvation. It is easy for us to think we love the truth and are doing what is right when in fact we are lost in sin, but lest we fool ourselves, John tells us that those who love the light and truth are only those who trust in Jesus. They believe in Him and long for Him to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
John Calvin comments, “Those who act sincerely desire nothing more earnestly than light, that their works may be tried; because, when such a trial has been made, it becomes more evident that, in the sight of God, they speak the truth and are free from all deceit.”
May our good works be a testimony of our faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10), rather than our feeble attempt to become acceptable before Jesus Christ. There is only one work which is good enough to save the sinner from their sin. That work is the work of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
Soli deo Gloria!