The Bible refers to God’s word as a light and lamp. When properly used by faith, it enlightens our understanding and guides us into righteousness.
“The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” – Psa 119:130
Yet, the Bible remains a dark book for many who find it hard to understand. It is not uncommon to find one passage instructing one thing and another instructing a contrary thing. With so many different “lights” the Bible can be confusing.
The answer to identifying the right light is to know that God’s word is revealed progressively, and so must be rightly divided.
It is Satan’s strategy to shine all the lights at once so as to confuse the light of prophecy with the light of the mystery of Christ (2 Cor 11:13-15).
Light Given to Israel
When God raised up Israel to be his chosen people he gave them his law as light from the Lord. As David wrote in the Psalms the law was a lamp to his feet and a light unto his path (Psa 119:105).
It was Israel’s responsibility and covenant to be light to the other nations who would go to Zion to learn God’s law (Rom 2:19).
“And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.” – Isa 60:3
“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” – Isa 2:3
Jesus confirmed Israel’s position as a light to the nations in Matthew:
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” – Matthew 5:14
Walking in Israel’s Light
Walking in Israel’s light meant obeying God’s law and commandments.
“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light;” – Prov 6:23
The way to be in this light of the law and prophets was to do good works.
“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
If anyone transgressed the law they were not in the light, but rather in darkness.
“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” – 1 John 2:9-10
The Glorious Light of the Gospel
However, God’s revealed light does not end with Israel and prophecy. There was still a mystery that God had kept secret until revealed to the apostle Paul (1 Cor 2:7-10).
Paul’s mystery gospel of the glory of the cross is also called light from God:
“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.” – 2 Cor 4:6
It was a further revelation of God’s will (Eph 1:9-10), that all men could be saved freely by faith alone in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
It was to the church that God entrusted this manifold wisdom to enlighten all men to see the fellowship of this mystery (Eph 1:18).
“…to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” – Eph 3:9
Walking in the Light of Grace
Since God has revealed his light in the gospel of the mystery of Christ, obedience to the law is no longer walking in the light.
Now, walking in the light is walking in the understanding of God’s gracious provision of salvation by the cross. We must reckon ourselves dead unto sin, and that we are not under the law (Rom 6:11-14).
When we live by faith in Christ according to the mystery, we are living in God’s light without the law (Rom 3:21, Rom 8:3-4). The difference is that we are living in light of the glorious gospel of Christ according to a mystery, not the light of prophecy given to Israel (2 Cor 4:4, Rom 16:25).
“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.” – 2 Cor 4:4
There are many lights in the Bible. Following the wrong one may lead someone away from the gospel of Christ that saves today. Don’t think Satan is ignorant of this.
It is Satan’s strategy to confuse God’s word rightly divided by presenting as many contrary lights as possible (2 Cor 11:13-15).
When we rightly divide the light of prophecy from the light of the mystery, we are able to discern God’s will and word for us today.