Big Words of the Christian Life: Illumination (Part 1)

June 20, 2019 at 9:32 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 4 Comments
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Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:18

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I Peter 2:9 (emphasis added)

Every person comes into this world (which is a dark world, spiritually speaking) in a state of spiritual darkness himself. God’s truth is present in the world and it is the only source of light. Jesus is the Light of the World, but the existence of light – alone – does not bring about spiritual vision or the comprehension of truth. In order for light to be effective, there has to be the ability to see. Blind eyes have to be healed and spiritual blindfolds have to be removed. This can not be done by physical force, nor by debate, nor by fleshly enticement. It is part of the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration when it happens – when an unbeliever becomes a believer. When a lost person gets saved – when someone who has been born only once (physically) gets born again (spiritually) – the Holy Spirit opens His eyes to the Truth.

That part of illumination is purely a gift of the Spirit. We do not cooperate with it, any more than a thief who is sneaking around a dark house hiding from the cops cooperates with being exposed once they shine a spotlight right in his face, but there is an aspect of the doctrine of illumination which does involve our cooperation – after we are saved.

Illumination is the Holy Spirit’s work in giving spiritual sight to unbelievers, and thereafter teaching believers the Scriptures, helping us to understand them, and empowering us to apply them to our lives.

I. Illumination Indicts Iniquity

It exposes, and makes us aware of, our own sin.

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

Psalm 90:8

We often have trouble seeing our own sin, or understanding the pervasiveness of it. We are like fish who do not understand they are wet because “wetness” is all they have ever known. We are very accustomed to darkness – until we become of aware of how God sees our sin. Nothing is done in secret from His point of view. Once His spirit illuminates our self-awareness, we recognize our guilt and our terrifying position before a righteous Judge.

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

Proverbs 6:23

God’s Word shows us our true condition, and the condition of the world around us. We should be convicted when we read the Bible, but not merely convicted. We should also find hope: reproofs and instruction.

Light helps us see what’s around us, but it also shows us safe paths to take and ways of escape from trouble.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

John 3:19-20

We need the Holy Spirit’s help to come to the light. It hurts our eyes. It shocks us. It throws us into a state of shame or embarrassment. BUT… if we will come to it instead of running away from it, then illumination will expose, and make us aware of, our own sin. It will give us insight into our spiritual nature. It will allow us to discern the sins of others and sin in the world.

II. Illumination Initiates Interest

Evil needs a covering, or an excuse, or a rationalization. People don’t want their deeds exposed along with their motives.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:21

Those who have been illuminated by God, and who come to the light, want their deeds to be manifested – to be made known – but isn’t this a form of pride, of bragging, of showing off? No, it’s a way of glorifying God – because only His light has made it possible to do these types of deeds and it is obvious they are wrought in God. They are His good works, really, merely done THROUGH us. We are not light sources; we are light reflectors. We’re not the electricity running through the wires; we’re the bulbs: the diffusers of God’s glorious light.

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1:79

God’s light gets us moving – it “motivates” us to make peace, to try to help reconcile people to God. Most people, whether they admit it or not, have a nagging sense that they live under the shadow of death – the awareness that life will end relatively soon and judgment awaits. God’s light puts death in the shadow of God’s glory instead of vice versa.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

II Corinthians 4:4

A physical blindfold can be removed by force, but mental and spiritual blindness, like physical blindness, requires supernatural intervention.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 4:5-6

God, in Christ, has illuminated our hearts and minds, but not just for our “enlightenment.” (I prefer the term “illumination” over “enlightenment” because of the baggage and selfishness associated with Eastern mysticism, and to avoid connecting it to the historical period known as the “Age of Enlightenment.”) He has given us His light and placed it in our formerly darkened hearts so that we can shine it into other blind hearts and minds.

Illumination creates in us a desire to read and study God’s Word. Illumination attracts us to God’s Truth.

III. Illumination Implements Instruction

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination does not stop when a believer receives the gift of salvation.

Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

Psalm 112:4

Those who are “upright” – who stand before God in Jesus’s imputed righteousness – are given light to know God more and more, in ever-increasing measures. I mentioned earlier that believers participate in it, but it is still a gift of God’s grace and compassion, and it is for the purpose of directing us toward righteousness.

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Isaiah 8:20

Illumination is about understanding and applying the Word of God. It is not about feelings, fantasies, or fables. It is not about private personal promptings. The Holy Spirit inspired the same Scripture for everybody to read, and He illuminates it for each person to study on his/her own with a goal of reaching a common, mutual, and CORRECT comprehension of it. The Holy Spirit gives greater understanding to those who obey what they have already been shown.

Next time we will see that illumination imparts insight.


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