You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16—NKJV)

Darkness has long been the sign for foreboding and evil while light has been symbolic of right and good. From the days of my childhood, the guy in the black cowboy hat was the bad guy and the guy in the white hat was the good guy and hero. The roots of this imagery come from the Scriptures.

Romans 1:21 states, “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Ephesians 4:18 reads, “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” John 1:4–5 reveals about Christ, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” Accordingly, John 3:19 asserts, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Paul states his mission from God in Acts 26:18, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” Colossians 1:13 expresses that through faith in Jesus Christ “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” 1 Peter 2:9 declares, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

1 John 1:5 proclaims, “God is light.” Jesus Christ blazes forth in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” No wonder that those who claim to be born again have the responsibility of showing forth the light. 2 Corinthians 4:6–7 drives home this point, “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”

Light always diminishes darkness, and its effect is immediately evident for as long as the light burns. Our Lord is explaining the role of light in dark places in His Sermon on the Mount. Believers are bearers of the Light of the World. When believers refuse their unique role, they allow darkness to win either by rejecting their position (city on a hill), or by utilizing their light for only themselves (hiding the light under a bushel), or by refusing to allow God to place them on the lampstand for the greatest effect of vanquishing darkness in the sight of men.

Our text calls on all Saints to be employed in godly light-bearing. Christ is the only light for the entire world (v. 14). Don’t be surprised that light-bearers stand out to the eye of onlookers like a city on a hill (v. 14). Being born again is not just for yourself and your betterment (v. 15). Let God place you where you will have the greatest effect in spreading the light (v. 15) and giving light to men. Let your light shine and burn bright so that men may see the good work of God in you, and yield glory to God alone for the light that they receive through your life (v. 16).

Has the light of God been poured forth in your heart through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ? Are you aware of the darkness around you? How effectively used are you as a light bearer in the dark places where God has placed you? Trust and obey.