The Lamp of the Body

September 4, 2020

"The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23)

It is our posture towards God--a posture that ought to be simultaneously towards Him and opposed to "Mammon" (that is, the personified deity of worldly wealth, v. 24)--which determines how well "the lamp of the body" (v. 22) works in us. Just as a good eye fills the body with light, so too does a holy heart fill the soul with God's light. But the negative principle is also true: just as a bad eye prohibits light from filling the body, so too does an idolatrous heart darken the soul. How horrible, then, for the human soul to be flooded with darkness!

God wants us to experience His light. He created light, itself, on Day One, and called it "good" (Genesis 1:4), separating it from the darkness. He promised, through Isaiah the prophet, a day when the people who walk in darkness will see "a great light," and when, for those who dwell in the land of the death-shadow, "a light" (Isaiah 9:2) will shine. He will, one day, bring Heaven to earth with a warm, wonderful effusion of divine light: "Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you" (60:1).

And yet, men love darkness rather than light, for "their deeds [are] evil" (John 3:19). Instead of letting their spiritual eyes fill their souls with the light of God, they "put darkness for light, and light for darkness" (Isaiah 5:20). Instead of posturing their hearts towards God, they "seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter" and thus they will "see trouble and darkness, gloom of anguish; and they will be driven into darkness" (8:19, 22). In sum, rejecting God in favor of the idolatry of worldly wealth and the spirituality of man-made religions, this present generation cries out, "Therefore justice is far from us, nor does righteousness overtake us; we look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness!" (59:9).

How long will the blind go on leading the blind? Why are our restaurants, our dinner parties, our lecture halls, and even our churches so dimly lit? Whence came the darkness of lies told in the public, of injustice performed in the courtroom, of idolatry taught in the name of scholarship, and of immodesty paraded in the streets of our nation? Why are our very pulpits so choked by the fumes of a dark, liberalized theology? In a world of such darkness, will we ever see the bright hope of God's light again?

Our Lord speaks of bright, shining treasures of light: "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The lamp of the body is the eye..." (Matthew 6:19-22a).

The difference between a soul flooded with darkness and one filled with light is the difference between a man who stores up treasures in Heaven and a man who amasses for himself the idols of this world. The stark contrast between light and dark in Matthew 6:22-23 is representative of greater contrasts: the Kingdom of Heaven versus the Kingdom of Mammon; the patient faith that waits upon Heavenly rewards versus the squandering of life on earthly lusts; and, ultimately, God versus idolatry.

Light represents righteousness. Darkness represents wickedness. But for the one who finds himself "having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12), his darkened soul discovers that it is disgusted with its own darkness. It reaches for vague, distant memories of light. It recalls from earlier years, in the same way that one nostalgically recalls a childhood song that his mother used to sing to him at night, brief flashes of light that had beckoned him to think upon God.

There is hope for the soul that is yearning for freedom from the darkness of a sin-soaked, self-governed life. That hope is found in the historical Jesus of Nazareth: "I, the LORD, have called You [Jesus of Nazareth] in righteousness, and will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house" (Isaiah 42:6-7). This is Jesus, who is "the light of men" (John 1:4). He is "the true light which gives light to every man" (v. 9). He, Himself, declares, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (8:12).

What, then, shall the one with the blinded "eye" do? What shall you do if you find your soul flooded with darkness, and you have come to loathe that darkness? (Here, the Bible speaks to unbelievers. But Matthew 6:22-23 also speaks to us as believers. It issues the warning to us that sin clouds our hearts with darkness, and thus diminishes the light of Christ within us. Not all believers are equally filled with light. We, too, must repent of the sin in our hearts).

You must repent. You are to disavow your former gods. You must plead for the aid of Christ, through the power of His Holy Spirit, to help you turn away from, and walk away from your former lusts. In the light of the knowledge of a holy God--the one and only God, and your very Creator, whose eyes are too pure to look upon evil, and who casts into Hell those who will not repent of their evil deeds--you must throw yourself down, abasing yourself, and plead for God's mercy and forgiveness. You must recognize your sin to be as ugly and dark as it really is, and ask God to remove it from your heart.

In the same manner (the manner of faith), you must believe upon the saving power of the cross of Jesus Christ. It was at the cross that darkness had its day. There, the Light of the world, Jesus Christ, was slain. His lamp was snuffed out. The Jews, the Romans, and all of humanity crucified Him; we snuffed out the light of His life, even as He bore our sins, our darkness in His body on the cross. If you desire freedom from your own prison of sinful darkness, and if you want to see the light of day and the flowers of the meadows of Heaven, you must believe that in Christ's death the darkness of your sin was buried in His dark tomb, and that in Christ's resurrection from the dead (on the third day after His crucifixion) the light of God gave life to all who would believe in Him, including you.

And what shall happen to you if you cry out to God, by faith, for the saving power of Jesus Christ in your life? If you surrender yourself to the Kingship and Lordship of Christ, by softly whispering to Him, "I'm Yours. Save me," what shall happen to you?

You shall become a child of light! "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord" (Ephesians 5:8). God shall send His Holy Spirit to live inside of you, and you shall know the light of Christ: "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).

And you, therefore, shall begin walking in the light, rather than in the darkness: "Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them" (Ephesians 5:8b-11). You shall be made new and discover that you are re-created (spiritually reborn!) in Christ to be and to walk as a child of light. And then you shall discover that you are made to have fellowship with other children of light: "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

Blind "eyes" are opened only by the Gospel of Christ Jesus. In Him, darkness is expelled and light enters in: "If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light" (Luke 11:36). And what this means is that we, who have received light in Christ, have been given a love for Christ that jealously and worshipfully excludes our former love for Mammon. It is Christ, our God, who has become our greatest love, and thus our only light:

"God is light" (1 John 1:5).

And,

"In Your light we see light" (Psalm 36:9).

Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God, alone.

-TLF

Copyright Timothy L. Fan 2020. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

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