I was telling a friend the other day that reading the Bible is like listening to classical music. No matter how often I hear a classical piece, I continue to find unnoticed nuances which enhance the experience. Today, while reading John chapter 3, something popped out at me that, though I’ve read it countless times before, took on new meaning.

“Now this is the basis for judgment: that the light has come into the world, but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. 20 For whoever practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, so that his works may not be reproved. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that his works may be made manifest as having been done in harmony with God.”” (Joh 3:19-21 RNWT)

Perhaps what comes to your mind at reading this are the Pharisees of Jesus’ day—or perhaps you’re thinking of their modern-day counterparts. Those ones imagined themselves walking in light surely. However, when Jesus showed up their bad works, they would not change, but instead tried to silence him. They preferred the darkness so that their works would not be reproved.

Whatever a person or group of people pretend to be—ministers of righteousness, the chosen of God, his appointed ones—their true nature is revealed by how they deal with light. If they love the light they will be drawn to it, for they will want their works to be manifest as being in harmony with God. If however, they hate the light, then they will do what they can to avoid being exposed by it for they do not wish to be reproved. Such ones are wicked—practicers of vile things.

A person or group of people demonstrates a hatred for light by refusing to defend their beliefs openly. They may engage in discussion, but if they find they cannot win—as the Pharisees never could with Jesus—they will not admit wrong; they will not allow themselves to be reproved. Instead, those who love darkness will coerce, intimidate and threaten those who bring the light. Their goal is to extinguish it so as to continue existing under a cloak of darkness. This darkness gives them a false sense of security, for they foolishly think that the dark hides them from the eyes of God.

We do not need to openly condemn anyone. We merely have to shine a light on someone and see how they react. If they cannot successfully defend their doctrines from Scripture; if they use intimidation, threats and punishment as tools to extinguish the light; then they manifest themselves as lovers of darkness. That, as Jesus says, is the basis for their judgment.