JOHN 3:17-21
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall

John 3:17 AFor God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.@

Jesus came not to condemn people, but to save them. In times past, visitors on short-term assignments had come to earth from heaven. Jesus came as a resident with the specific message of deliverance.

God could have sent Jesus solely to contrast His own goodness with our evil, thereby showing how unapproachable He was. This would have increased people=s despair. Jesus= purpose was exactly the opposite. He came to prove God is accessible, not unapproachable.

John 3:18 AHe that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only Begotten son of God.@

Dr. Harold Renfrow, missionary to Brazil, said this is the most important verse in the Bible. Unbelievers are condemned already. We Christians need to realize the grave truth presented here.

People are already judged and found lost. Their condition is not in question. They need a Savior. Living as if the verdict is not yet given, people keep thinking, AI=ll do my best and hope for acquittal after death.@ Everyone in the world has one of two verdicts on their life: guilty or guilty but pardoned.

The lost are headed for everlasting punishment and separation from God. There is no doubt about their ultimate destination. The only hope for heaven is the new birth. We must accept our condemnation and then flee to Jesus for pardon.

How can we be sure of this? Because the Bible teaches condemnation is the result not of inadequate belief or doctrine, or even of deficient morality, but of deadness of aspiration. Unbelief is the Adamning sin@ because it leaves us under the guilt of all other sins. It is a sin against the remedy.
Anyone who refuses to take medicine will die due not to disease, but to negligence. A business can go broke due to negligence alone. A farmer can easily enter bankruptcy through neglect. Unbelief is rebellious neglect concerning our relationship to God.

Jesus is not only God=s Word. Christ is also God=s Alast@ Word. Hence, if we neglect to accept Him, all hope is lost. People go to hell because they say either AI don=t need a Savior@ or AI don=t need Jesus as my Savior.@

John 3:19 AAnd this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.@

Rejecting the only possible means of escape from a doomed state is not the only reason unbelief is terrible. Unbelief also shows a deliberate preference for sin over God. It is the sin in which the deepest dislike for God becomes visible. People love darkness (representing evil) rather than light (representing good). Christ is hated because sin is loved.

Unbelief shows how perverse a lost person=s heart is and helps us see why unbelief is much worse than outward transgressions people commit. The committing of sins is not as abhorrent as the condition of sin (unbelieving separation from God). The bad fruit is springing from a rotten root.

ACondemnation@ in this verse refers to the process, not the sentence, of judgment. Evil people prefer darkness because it is their element, even though it is the cause of their condemnation. Their desire for darkness destroys them. They can not prevent the sun from shining, but can prevent it from shining on them.

John 3:20 AFor every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.@

Every one Adoing evil@ (present tense) hates the light. By seeking concealment out of a sense of shame and/or fear of punishment, they provide evidence they stand self-condemned. In their heart of hearts they know their attitude and actions regarding God are wrong.

AReproved@ means to sift, try, or test, in order if necessary to convict. Persistent wrongdoers do not like the uncomfortable process of having their darkness revealed for what it is. They fear Areproof.@

Due to this fear, evil people avoid every form of Godly light: God the Father, the Father of Lights (James 1:17); God the Son, the Light of the world (John 8:12); God the Holy Spirit, who bears witness to the Light; the testimony of believers, the light of the world (Matthew 5:14); the Bible, God=s lamp unto our feet, and light unto our path (see Psalm 119:105).

People in darkness have always felt uncomfortable in the presence of Godly lights. Adam hid from God, Ahab hated Elijah, Herodias despised John the Baptist, Pharisees hated Jesus.

Evil doers will always hate light. They know their deeds can not pass any worthwhile test.

John 3:21 ABut he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.@

A person doing truth (living in integrity) is not afraid of the light and even seeks it. Truth seeks no corners to hide in.

People of integrity are inevitably drawn to Jesus for they have nothing to fear in the exposure of their actions and motives to the divine light. People of truth want their sins revealed so they can repent and draw closer to God. God=s people desire to be thoroughly searched by Him.

The people of God sin, but hate to do so and seek reproof when they do. We have infirmities, but need to hold fast our integrity. Keep asking God to turn His searchlight on our hearts. AIf anything in us hinders our relationship to You, O Lord, reveal it to us that we might repent and forsake it.@

Which do we find ourselves desiring? Light or darkness. Our answer reveals which way the spiritual winds are blowing in our life.