Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
I. THE ADVENT OF LIGHT. In the spiritual world light is the emblem of knowledge. Christ is designated by the evangelist "the true Light;" he calls himself "the Light of the world." He brings the knowledge of God, and consequently of salvation and of eternal life. This spiritual sunrise involves the diffusion of purity, peace, and joy.
II. THE PREFERENCE OF SOME MEN FOR DARKNESS OVER LIGHT. In itself light is best. "Light is good, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun." Those who live and walk in the light of God are spiritually blessed. If any person rejects and loathes the light, the fault is in the eye of the soul, which is manifestly diseased. The captive may prefer the dungeon to liberty. Of many of the Jews - Christ's own countrymen - it was justly said, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not." And even now, when the gospel is preached, and men are invited to come into the sunshine of God's favour, there are found those who prefer to lurk in the dark caves of ignorance, superstition, and sin.
III. THEIR REASON OR MOTIVE FOR THIS PREFERENCE. Our Lord speaks explicitly and powerfully upon this. His doctrine, his religion, condemns sin; his gospel is good tidings of deliverance from sin. His own hatred to sin was such that he was crucified by sinners who could not endure his purity, whilst he endured crucifixion that he might redeem men from the power and love of sin. Hence Christ's society was distasteful to impenitent sinners when he was upon earth, and his gospel is distasteful, is repugnant, to the same class today. Those whose works are evil will not come to the light, for thus their evil works would be exhibited in their monstrous heinousness, and they themselves would be reproved.
IV. THE JUDGMENT THUS INCURRED.
1. The ground of judgment is here plainly stated; it is not so much for sin, as for that content and delight in sin, which leads to the rejection of the gospel, to the refusal of deliverance from sin, to the hatred of that Saviour who came to vanquish sin.
2. The court of judgment is implied. The lovers of darkness are condemned by their own conscience, whose dictates they disregard in order to follow the impulses of passion. Yet it is Christ himself, the Word of God, who speaks in human nature, and utters the sentence of disapproval and of condemnation. Thus it is that Christ is to all men either their Saviour or their Judge. His coming to this earth was the cause only of salvation, but to many it was the occasion of judgment and of confusion. - T.
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light... but he that doeth truth cometh to the light.— These words may have taken their form from the fact that Nicodemus came by night, and may have been a gentle rebuke, and a test for self examination. One of the saddest things in a spiritual sense is that man shrinks from the light. With a nature and position before God such as his this ought not to be. One of the most blessed things is when men welcome the light, and have nothing about them that they wish to hide (Psalm 139:28).
I. DOING EVIL AND THE HATRED OF LIGHT CONSEQUENT.
1. The word doeth, in relation to evil, πρασσώ, indicates —(1) The easy and natural way in which a thing is done. So we need no self-constraint or unusual exertion to do evil. We are too readily inclined to it. It required not much temptation to lead our first parents astray; and their children have followed them with easy steps.(2) Habit. There is a tendency in what is easy and natural to become habitual. A thing once done is not difficult to repeat, and each repeated action makes us more accustomed to it. From the little men go on to the great, and so silence the inward monitor. Evil is fine as a gossamer web at first, but at last a man is "bound with the cords of his sin."(3) The transient and worthless result is in the word. So sin's gratifications leave a sting behind, and are only "for a season." How little satisfaction had Samson or Achan in their sin.
2. The evildoer hates the light. And no wonder if that which reveals his guilt and folly humiliates and disgraces him, and threatens punishment, is feared and hated. No wonder that Ahab hated Elijah and Michaiah, that Jehoiachin destroyed the prophets' roll, that Herodias hated John, and the Pharisees Christ. Here is the explanation of every unhumbled man's distaste for the truth. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." This shows the need and blessedness of the Gospel.
II. DOING THE TRUTH AND THE BLESSED RESULT.
1. The word doeth, here, ποιεω suggests.(1) The exercise of resistance. The man who will do truth opposes the evil impulses of his nature. He will fight against wrong feelings. With noble superiority he contends against subtlety and deceit. See instances in Joseph, Daniel, the Three Children, and Cornelius.(2) Decision of character. The man who does the truth has no vacillation or hesitation. He is steady, unmoved by caprice. He applies himself steadily to the course he adopts, like Moses, Samuel, Nehemiah, Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea.(3) The permanent and satisfactory result. Good is not temporary or unstable in its results. What peace and joy it imparts!
2. Doers of truth love the light. They are neither ashamed nor fearful. Let the light shine, and it will justify them, and reveal the glory of God in their truth doing. Conclusion:
1. The sentiment of a man towards the truth is an index to his character.
2. The doing of truth in every man is of God.
(G. McMichael, B. A.)
I. THIS WAS SO WITH THE JEWS. When Christ came, Judaea was over-run with profligacy. Christ rebuked it, and was consequently hated and crucified. Wherever the religion of our Lord is promulgated, it allows no truce to sin, but Christ came to save men from sin. Had He come to condemn men His contemporaries would have shrunk from Him equally. Their sensuality and pride had led them to expect a triumphing Messiah, who would give full scope for their licentiousness and arrogance; and when He preached His pure and spiritual kingdom, their habits of evil rose up in protest against Him and it. It was not that He was not armed with credentials; the exhibition of His greatest credential, the resurrection of Lazarus, sealed His doom.
II. IT IS THE SAME NOW. What produces infidelity is not weakness of evidence; it is the wish to prove the Bible a fable, and this goes more than half-way towards the result. If the Bible be true, evil deeds must be reproved, and hence some men have an interest in disproving its preten-tions. In this desire lies the secret of open, also of practical infidelity. Selfish, lustful men would view conversion as a positive calamity. They know that they cannot have religion without renouncing much that they loved, and doing what they dislike. In conclusion —
1. God has erected no barrier against the salvation of a single soul.
2. If any man is finally condemned, it will be by his own choice.
(H. Melvell, B. D.)I. God is to be honoured by the truth.
II. Men are to be benifited by the truth.
III. Opposition must be expected on account of the truth.
IV. For the truth we should wish to five.
V. For the truth we should be willing to die.
(Prof. J. H. Godwin.)I. IT IS AN ACTUAL HATRED (Proverbs 1:22).
II. IT IS A PASSION OF THE HEART.
III. IT IS A PASSION WHEREBY THE HEART RISETH UP AGAINST A UNION WITH THE WORD. A wicked man hates not the Word so long as it keeps within itself; but if it begin to pluck sin from him and his pleasures from him, then he hates it. I put this union of the Word in opposition to four things.
1. Against general preaching. A wicked man may hear a thousand sermons and like them all, but let one of them come in particular to him and tell him this is thy sin, and thou must go to hell for it if thou repentest not, then he hates it. John the Baptist was heard by Herod gladly so long as he kept off his personal sin.
2. Against merciful preaching, which can never stick a sermon on to a profane heart. Ahab loved his 400 prophets well enough, but when Micaiah came, "Oh, I hate him, for he never prophesieth good unto me!"
3. Against preaching when the minister is dead. A wicked man can endure that, because there is none to urge a union of the Word with his conscience. He can read St. Paul, St. Peter, St. John, etc., and the books of dead ministers, but if they were alive to tell him if this be the Word of God then thou art a damned man, they would not be loved.
4. Against now and then preaching. The wicked can endure the word so long as it doth not stand digging in their conscience and galling their hearts day by day. Occasional rebukes they can stand, but to be convicted every Sunday for condemned men, this they hate.
IV. As it is an actual affection whereby the heart riseth up against a union, so IT IS AGAINST THAT WHICH IS DISSONANT AND REPUGNANT TO HIS LUST. Therefore wicked men may love three kinds of preaching.
1. Quaint preaching that savours more of humanity than of divinity. Dainty phrases, acute stories, eloquent allusions are heard well enough.
2. Impertinent preaching, when, though it be never so pertinent to some in the church, yet if it be not pertinent to him, he loves it. The drunkard does not cavil at a sermon against hypocrisy, nor the profligate at one against covetousness; but if the Word strikes his own particular corruption, he hates it.
3. So much preaching. A wicked man's conscience tells him that he must have some religion, and therefore so long as the minister calls only for some hearing, he responds. The vilest drunkard will be content to hear of calling on the Lord Jesus at his death; otherwise their consciences would not be quiet.
V. THUS YOU SEE THAT WICKED MEN HATE THE WORD OF GOD. They hate it because —
1. They hate the truth, and being of the Word, a man hates the being of that which he hates, and he would destroy it. Now, though a wicked man cannot destroy the Bible from being in itself, yet he would destroy the Bible from being in his life.
2. They hate the nature of the Word (Romans 8:7).
3. This being the case, he hates the being of the Word in his understanding (Job 21:14).
VI. USE IS TO REPROVE THE WICKED AND INVITE THEM TO REPENTANCE.
(W. Fenner.)I. THE ENMITY OF THE WICKED TO THE TRUTH. This enmity appears —
1. In their opposition and resistance to it.
2. Their persecution of it (John 8:40).
II. THE CAUSES AND REASONS OF THIS ENMITY.
1. They are afraid the evil of their actions should be discovered to themselves, because that creates guilt and trouble.(1) It robs them of that good opinion which they had of themselves before. Truth flatters no man; no wonder, therefore, that so many are offended at it.(2) Truth carries great evidence along with it, and is very convincing, and gives a good deal of disturbance.
2. Bad men are enemies to the truth because it discovers the evil of their actions to others, which causeth shame.
1. We learn the true reason why men are so apt to reject the principles of natural and revealed religion; they are loath to be under the restraint of them.
2. This is a great vindication of our religion that it can bear the light, and is ready to submit to any impartial examination.
3. This is the reason why some are so careful to suppress the truth and to lock it up from the people in an unknown tongue, because their doctrines, dogmas, and deeds are evil.
(Abp. Tillotson.)I. THE TRUTHS OF GOD WHICH RESPECT THE SINNER ARE, AS FAR AS THE NATURE AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF THEM ARE CONCERNED, AS EASILY FELT AND SEEN AS ANY OTHER.
II. THE MIND CANNOT TURN FROM DIVINE TRUTH WITHOUT CHOOSING TO DO IT.
III. MEN RESORT TO ARTIFICES TO HIDE THE TRUTH, TO TURN ITS FORCE AND RESIST ITS PRESSURE.
1. One is infidelity.
2. Another is found in the excuses offered for disobedience.
3. The indulgence of false hopes.
4. Reproaching religion and ministers.
1. The common complaint that sinners must wait for the Spirit of God before they can feel the importance of religion is unfounded and impious.
2. Ministers must not be afraid of alarming and distressing sinners.
(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(H. C. Trumbull.)
(A. J. Parry.)
(J. Dyke.)I. There is the blindness which is the result of passion, covering us, whilst we are under the dominion of passion, with the darkness of sin, and hiding from us the light of truth.
II. There is the deeper blindness which is caused by sinful habits, and by indulgence in continuous sin, until truth becomes odious to us.
III. There is the still blacker form of sin, which not only drives us away from the light, but which hurries us on until we trample upon and persecute the doers of righteousness.
(H. C. Trumbull.)
Biblical Museum.A gentleman once visiting an acquaintance of his, whose conduct was as irregular as his principles were erroneous, was astonished to see a large Bible in the hall chained fast to the floor. He ventured to inquire the reason. "Sir," replied his infidel friend, "I am obliged to chain down that book to prevent its flying in my face." Such persons hate the Bible, as Ahab did Micaiah, because it never speaks good concerning them, but evil.
(Biblical Museum.)Matthew 18:15, where it is rendered "tell him his fault," idea is exactly illustrated by the action of light, which makes manifest the wrong, and leads the conscience to see it and repent of it. It is through this chastening that the man passes from darkness to light. It is because men shrink from this chastening that they hate the light (comp. the remarkable parallel in Ephesians 5:11 et seq.).
(H. W. Watkins, D. D.)
(Knight's "England. ")
But he that doeth truth
I. "He that doeth truth." This would seem to mean, first of all, HE THAT BELIEVETH THE TRUTH. We can no more shut up the Book of Revelation than we can shut up the book of experience, and say it does not matter. Can we say, for instance, to any young man entering on the study of medicine, "It does not matter the least what system you follow — homoeo-pathy, allopathy, or even herbalism; all are equally true or equally false, as long as you mean well." Or shall we tell him, if he wishes to become a soldier, that drill and tactics and the modern science of warfare may be taken up or let alone, provided that he is brave? or that engineering depends on mechanical skill, or botany on his love for flowers, or chemistry on a taste for analysis, or mathematics on skill in computation? No; we know that all these things have their Bibles, compendiums of exact truth; so that he who enters on the study of them, enters on it enriched with a heritage of precise fact wrested by the patient interrogation of phenomena. And so it is with religion. The truth as set forth in the Creed is that which is exactly adapted to the needs of mankind. What we should do if we were constructing a new religion is one thing, and what we ought to do when God has told us what will make us truly religious is another. And to do the truth, is faithfully to believe what God has spoken, as a duty which we owe to Him and to our fellow-men also.
II. "He that doeth truth." This, perhaps, means, secondly, HE THAT LIVES THE TRUTH. A true life is no butterfly existence wasted in so-called pleasure and idleness, never serious, never earnest; where all experience is but as pictures on the wall, all talents merely ornamental for self-display; where grace is received in vain, as the water in the fabled penance of the Danaides, which flows away as fast as it enters in; where sin and want of seriousness have riven the soul so that it cannot contain grace. But the true life will be one which is faithful to all God's influences and modes of approach, which says in its joy, "My soul truly waiteth still upon God;" towards Whom there is the aspiration of prayer; from Whom comes the message to the soul; at Whose coming the door is opened in Holy Communion, and all the approaches cleared by which God may enter into the soul To live the truth is to trust more to prayer and sacraments and holy things than to mere human culture, self-reliance, strength, or cleverness. Think of that description in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 10:1) of the servant of God. And as the angel is mighty, so the servant of God will be strong in firmness and fidelity, and in the knowledge of the truth. He is "clothed with a cloud;" there will be a seriousness about him, as of one who is still under the influence of the luminous cloud of Sinai, where he has been communing with God, or the half-sadness of one who is compassed about with the earth-drawn sorrow with which sympathy has enveloped him. "A rainbow is upon his head;" he has a brightness within him which lights up the rain-cloud of life, because God is shining upon it. "His face is as it were the sun," because at each prayer-time, and frequently throughout the day, he drinks in light from that Sun to which he turns. "His feet are as pillars of fire," for he is not easily shaken in his steadfastness; he is active, vigorous — yes, graceful as the image Of God who created him.
III. And then, thirdly, "He that doeth truth" means, obviously, HE THAT SPEAKETH THE TRUTH. Is it absolutely unknown, for instance, for people to screen themselves when they have done wrong by the easy lie? Dishonour, ruin, disgrace, stare the man in the face. "Say you have not done it," says Satan; and the evil is put off, only to return with a tenfold aggravation of malignity as the net of deceit winds itself tighter and tighter round its hopelessly implicated victim. The old German legend is full of instruction. "A huntsman to forward his own purposes seeks the devil, and together they cast seven bullets. Six of these are to strike wherever the caster wills, but the seventh is to be the devil's, and is to recoil and strike the caster, who is never certain which of all of them he is putting into his rifle, and at last is struck down by his own shot." The fraudulent lie succeeds for a time, but at last comes the fatal one, which recoils upon him who uses it with shame and disaster. Do we scrupulously adhere to the disagreeable appointment, or the unpleasant duty, or the invitation which we have pledged ourselves to accept? Or are we always careful to avoid that exaggeration which piles up rumours and reports, which mixes truth with fiction, Which stays not to inquire whether a thing is correct or not, which aims, rather, at "saying a new thing that is nut true, rather than a true thing which is not new"?
(W. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.)John 8:31-36; John 14:5, 6; John 17:17; John 18:37; 1 John 3:19; 1 John 5:6). Now it is plain that these statements of Holy Scripture — and there are a great many more like them, particularly in the inspired writings of St. John — make the truth (the Divine truth) to be something very sacred and very deep. Whatever it be in itself — and this is too hard and difficult a question for us to enter upon — it is plain that when possessed by a man, it is full of precious blessing to him. Possessed by a man, and possessing him, he is not what he was before. The truth has made him free who was a slave. The truth has made him who had no ears able to hear the words of Christ; the truth has sanctified him; the truth has made him God's son. What relation then (it may be asked), does doctrine bear to the truth? for it is plain that it is not the same thing. If the truth be thus something mysterious and real, which, coming forth of God, and being Divine, taketh, possesseth, occupieth a man, what relation does it bear to doctrine, Divine doctrine, the true revealed declarations of God, His nature and His will, which He has been pleased to give us? for these are often called truths, or the truth, though plainly not in the high and mysterious sense of the truth which we have been considering. I suppose that it is quite beyond our power to answer exactly. It is only clear that they are very nearly and closely connected. It is certain that the truth cannot possess a man and bless him with all the great blessings which belong to it, unless doctrine be duly known, and received, and believed. Doctrine is, as it were, truth projected on some medium which the mind can see; a shadow of the invisible and blessed truth cast, as it were, upon a cloud; and this the mind must see, and know, and own, and believe, or else, such is the order of God's will, a man cannot have the freedom indeed, the sonship, the sanctification, the open ears, the various great and precious blessings of the indwelling truth. Learn then from hence the sacred value of doctrine; its sacred, deep, unfathomable preciousness. If then we undervalue doctrine, who shall insure us against losing the truth? If we tamper with it, or lose our hold of it, who shall insure us of our freedom and sanctification, which we should derive from the indwelling truth? If we should allow others to seduce us from our simple, earnest, obedient subjection to it, who shall assure us that they have not robbed us of our precious estate of being in the truth? Thus far then we have regarded the truth as it is a real and precious thing, possessing which we are in an estate or condition of high blessing — the estate of being Christians; our text rather leads us to regard it in a further view, as being something practical, something to be done. Being in the truth (that is, our estate, or condition), we must do truth (that is, our duty). "If we keep not His commandments, the truth is not in us." "If we say that we have no sin, the truth is not in us." "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we do not the truth." The truth then, in which we are, is to be done; and keeping of the commandments of God, and walking in the light, and acknowledging our own sins, are doing the truth. Truth, then, means holiness. Being in the truth, we must do the truth; and we must do it, as the truth is in Jesus. And so our law of holiness is a law of holy truth. It is a straight and direct law: "O that my ways were made so direct that I might keep Thy statutes." It admits not of deflection, or voluntary imperfection. As doctrine is the intellectual phase, if I may so speak, of essential Divine truth, so is obedience its practical one. To deviate into heresy, or to deviate into sin, are alike to depart from the influence of that sacred, central truth, in which we are sons, in which we are free, and in which we are holy. It is plain (as soon as we regard the law of God in this light, in which the Holy Scriptures so often present it to us) that the law of truth must needs be a very holy and righteous law. It is also plain that it is far higher, and holier, and more searching than it is often thought. How it cuts like a sword through all the easy living, the self-indulgence, and lazy half-service which characterize these later ages of the Church! If there be a truth of holy thoughts, surely there is much unlicensed and random thinking — much letting loose of the imagination on things trifling, and enervating, and unprofitable, which must partake in a great and serious degree of the nature of falsehood. If there be a sacred truth of holy words, there must be much idle and frivolous, and satirical, and bold talking, which must be very far below that high standard of truth, and so be really false. Above all, if there be a real sacred truth of duty and holy living, there must be a vast deal of practical and dangerous falsehood, in the waste of time, the imperfectness of service, the very easy and self-complacent way of life of very many baptized Christians. Indeed, we may readily see, that the ordinary rule of living, as we may judge of it from seeing how men live, is quite of another kind from the rule of truth. As long as they refrain from clear and notorious sins, and discharge certain clear and undoubted duties, men think themselves more or less at liberty to live in the rest of their behaviour as they like best. There are, as it were, certain buoys marking out particular shoals of sin, and these they must take care to steer clear of; but meanwhile, they have a free choice of navigating in a wide and easy channel, following their own fancy, and doing as much or as little therein as they please. And meanwhile, while practical truth is thus widely neglected among us, there is nothing which is more earnestly insisted upon as a virtue of the first necessity to the existence and well-being of society than veracity, or worded truth. Truth in words is held to be a virtue of such magnitude and necessity, that a clear breach of it ruins the character of a man amongst men more than almost any sin, however gross, which ordinary society knows. Worded truth, or veracity, precious as it is, is but as the outside, as the husk, of a more precious reality inside. Worded truth is the outside, and acted truth is the inner kernel. Oh, believe me, the essence of falsehood is deeper, deeper far than words! Believe me, it is a hollow philosophy which magnifies veracity, and lets the daily habits loose in self-indulgence and neglect: a miserable worldly code which exacts truth of words under the severest penalties, and makes it innocent and even honourable to depart, ever so far, from truth in deeds I No; the essence of truth is in duty, in heart-whole devotion of duty to the sacred law of God's truth.
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