Human beings long for intimate relationships. We develop close friendships and tell select individuals things that we would never tell anyone else. Marriage is the closest and most intimate friendship of all, and typically we will tell our spouses things about ourselves that we would not even tell close friends. Having such relationships is truly one of the greatest blessings of life.
Although we reach a level of intimacy with our spouses and close friends that we do not reach with anyone else, we still do not tell them everything. We have dark thoughts that we hide, sinful desires that may never bear fruit in deeds but that we share with no one else. In fact, we do not want any of these things exposed to others.
If we trust in Christ, however, we will confess these hidden things to Him. Having been exposed to the light of His grace, we confess our sins and wicked thoughts to our Lord because we know that is what loving the light of truth entails. But for us to come to the light takes a special work of God’s sovereign, irresistible grace. Otherwise, we prefer darkness. It is not that we want the light on our own and are kept from it; we choose to love the darkness rather than the light. That is why people are condemned, as we read in today’s passage. Already in darkness because of sin, we stand condemned (John 1:5; Rom. 3:9–20), but then our condemnation increases when the light of Christ shines and we reject Him. Without God’s grace, we want no part of the light. He has to first grant us the new birth before we will believe (John 3:1–15). As Dr. R.C. Sproul writes in his commentary John, “It is against the nature of a child of darkness to come to the light because he knows the light represents exposure and humiliation.”
We cannot blame God for unbelief; rather, Scripture is clear that those who remain in darkness stay there because they love the darkness more than the light. Moreover, impenitent sinners love the darkness and their dark deeds while at the same time they fear the exposure of their sin. Hence the irrationality of evil—apart from God’s grace, we love evil, and yet we are so ashamed of it that we never want its totality exposed. We may even think, for a time, that we can keep it hidden from God. But the darkness will finally be exposed. We will come to the light of Christ and be saved, or on judgment day we will have to justify ourselves before God. And if we choose the latter, we will have nothing to say, for it will be evident that we deserve to be condemned (Rom. 3:19–20).