For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.…
I. THE ESSENTIALNESS OF FAITH.
1. Affirmatively. Our Lord mentions only the relation of faith to the legal aspect of salvation. This was enough, for he who apprehends believingly the work of Christ as the ground of his justification will not fail to experience it as a regenerative power. Many stumble through the simplicity of faith. They suppose that something difficult is required. But faith is identical with that implicit unquestioning confidence a person ordinarily exercises almost unconsciously in relation to almost everything he appropriates to his use: the food he eats, the garment he wears, the medicine he takes, the bridge he crosses, the train by which he travels.
2. Negatively. Without faith salvation is impossible. It is not that the unbeliever shall be condemned, he is actually so. It is a solemn truth that, notwithstanding all that Christ has done for us, it will avail us nothing without personal faith, for God cannot save men without their will.
II. ITS NEGLECT BY SOME. The light here referred to is Christ (John 1:9; John 8:12).
1. Men are voluntarily in the state indicated by darkness. Men are not unbelievers by compulsion. They love darkness. What a perversion of natural taste and judgment would such a physical predilection imply! "Truly the light is sweet," etc. Yet a course of conduct that would be deemed the grossest folly physically is followed by thousands spiritually.
2. This is not an absolute preference. A degree of love for the light is implied. Many who remain in darkness cannot help feeling a measure of admiration for the light in which they refuse to walk: they attend the ministry of it, grant their passive assent to it, and yet remain in the darkness of unbelief.
III. THE CAUSE OF THE NEGLECT: Love of sin.
1. How explicitly our Lord brings the responsibility of men's perdition home to themselves.
2. How sad that condemnation should be the portion of those who occupy a position so near salvation. Bunyan says there is a way to hell from the very gate of heaven.
(A. J. Parry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.