Much is made of the idea of what it means to be “enlightened” these days. The word comes from the Middle English, as in the sense of to “make luminous”. In the past, the word formerly was also spelled “inlighten” – which of course drives the auto spellcheck insane! Yet for this offering, it is a better word to bring across the meaning of Biblical enlightenment – what we call the New Birth.
This word’s older form relates well to John’s Gospel where he informs us that “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” (John 1:9) This is a far better translation (NASB), in my opinion, than the KJV which reads, “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”, giving the impression that there is no need, as is taught in Eastern and New Age philosophies, to be converted or changed – that one is already “a Christ”. If that were the case, there would be no need for a Savior or the Gospel! This is one instance where the New Agers love to quote the KJV – the way it reads give the impression that everyone who comes into life is already enlightened by Christ!
We can see that this is at odds with the basics of Christian truth. We all need to be redeemed and restored through Jesus Christ. When we experience this rebirth, we know it, and if it’s genuine, we truly begin to be changed by Grace and the Holy Spirit. There is no way that these 2 opposite views will ever be reconciled, for the New Age Movement never calls for repentance. It’s an “I’m OK, you’re OK” view – a deception – allowing and even encouraging souls to remain in their sin. (Personally, I’ll take my cues from Holy Scripture over “channeled” material any day!)
In the focus passage of our little graphic, 1 John 1:5-7, St. John makes very clear what it means for those who name the name of Jesus Christ to be in-light-ened. Essentially he lays it on the line about the fact that it means walking in God’s own light through the power of the Holy Spirit – to be one with God through Jesus Christ, the Source of this holy light. In short, something has happened, as the light of God shines into us through the Holy Spirit, that frees us from the desire to sin. God’s own regenerative and restoring power makes this so.
Light enters; darkness flees. It’s pretty simple.
Being in-light-ened in this case is not referring to the bestowal of some heightened spiritual state, or advanced spiritual “knowledge”. For a disciple of Christ it’s about down to earth matters of conscience (that old idea hardly anybody wants to discuss) and sin – dealt with by God Himself, connecting His heavenly power with our earthly life – which of ourselves we have no power to control. He has set us free from bondage to sin! It is by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit that growth in resemblance to the holiness of Christ is bestowed. This new life flows by grace alone from God. It is bestowed, not achieved! It is Emmanuel – God with us!
We know that no one comes to the Father but by Jesus Christ! The Holy Spirit calls us to enter this new state of being. We come through the cross, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Lord! As St. Paul tells us, “ I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Self, the chief partner in crime with sin, has been put to death with Jesus! Self is / was / may be the problem, not the source of “enlightenment”. Thus sin is no longer “in” when by faith we see ourself as crucified with Christ. We are raised up in Him to a new life. The desire for sin and bondage to it no longer have power (authority) over us. It’s Christmas every day, we could say, since Christ is born in us – the gift of grace!
Darkness gives way to His Light, and there is nothing like the Epistles of St. John to clearly inform us how things really stand once we are in Christ and Christ is in us, our hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
There is no darkness in God the Son! If we claim to be in Him, then there is to be no darkness in us either – the son has risen; it’s a new day and we are a new creation. We no longer desire to participate in and fellowship with darkness. We no longer want any part of it, and will not find any darkness In Jesus Christ. If our “new birth” is real, it means that we are walking in our Lord as one with Him, in His light which is driving away the darkness in our hearts.
Thanks be to God for His gift that in-light-ens us! Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.