The apostle John taught us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men" (John 1:1-4).
In the Book of Genesis we read, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep...And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good" (Genesis 1:1-4).
In the beginning, there was God. In the beginning the earth and all things that are upon it didn't exist, and darkness filled the place where it now stands. Then God created everything that has been created, and there is nothing that has been created that wasn't created by Him. Part of that creation process was the creation of life - in man, in animals, and in plants, both above and below the water.
To help maintain that life on this planet, God created the Sun. Without the light from the Sun, Earth would be nothing more than a frozen piece of rock in space. Without sunlight, plants could not produce the chlorophyll needed to remain alive, and, without living plants, there would be no oxygen produced for man and animals to breathe, nor would there be food for them to eat. As such, it can be said that without light there could be no life.
In the scriptures this word "light" is used to mean "an illuminating radiance emanating from a central source", such as the sun, a candle, or a torch. However, there are many other times when the word "light" is used with a completely different meaning. For example, in 1 Samuel 18:23 we read "And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king's son?" Here, the word "light" means "insignificant, trivial, or unimportant" In 2 Samuel 2:18 we learn that "Asahel was a light of foot as a wild roe." The word "light" in this instance means "quick or sure-footed." In other scriptures the same word can represent something being "easy" or "non-heavy" or someone being "enlighten" or receiving understanding.
But there is still another way that this word is used. Consider these scriptures:
In these instances, the word "light" is often thought to be used symbolically, rather than in a literal sense. Instead of meaning a visible, illuminating radiance, the word is thought to be meant as a comparison between our righteous deeds and actions, and a candle or sunlight. Thus, when Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16), it is translated in some Bibles as, "Live your life in such a way that others will see the good things you do and will feel impressed to praise God" (International Children's Bible).
However, that may not be exactly how the writers of the scriptures meant to use this word. The apostle John stated, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...In him was life; and the life was the light of men" (John 1:1-4).
In the beginning, God created everything, including life. John tells us that this life-force was in God; it originated with him. Then, using that power within Him, God imparted it to...what, or whom?
Does a plant have "life" within it? Do animals have "life" within them? The answer is "yes". Without this life-force, which originates from God, there can be no life - plant or animal. We depend on sunlight, food and nutrients to sustain life, but there is a force that must first be present for inanimate objects to become alive, and that force comes from, and is a part of God.
But John explained that this "life was the light of men." What does that mean?
One translation puts it this way: "Eternal life is in Him, and this life gives light to all mankind. His life is the light that shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it" (Paraphrased New Testament). According to this version, the word "light" is used symbolically to represent goodness and righteousness, but is this what John really meant?
Jesus declared, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). Was He speaking symbolically, or did He meant that literally? What is meant by the term "light of life"?
Consider the words of Job when he said, "The light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine. The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him" (Job 18:5,6). The clear indication here is that the word "light" refers to the life-force that is within man, and Job declares that the wicked shall have this life-force snuffed out like a candle and they shall no longer live.
The common assumption is that, in this instance, the word "light" is again being used symbolically, rather than literally, but perhaps that is not a correct assumption. Consider the following scriptures:
Taken together, these scriptures teach that God is light, literally speaking, and this light is what gives life to all things. Can this really be true, or am I mischaracterizing what these scriptures say? Consider the following verses:
The scriptures clearly state that the place where God lives needs no light because He is the light. There is no sun or moon or candles and the saints who inherit the place where the father lives will dwell with Him in everlasting light.
How do we know this is not meant figuratively? Because people have seen God and have described Him thusly:
A similar description was given by Joseph Smith when the Father and Son appeared to him, and when he saw the angel Moroni (Joseph Smith 2:17,25, 30-32). This is a literal light. It is an illuminating radiance which emanates from a central source - in this case, from God Himself - and this light gives life to all things. Thus John is speaking literally when he says that "In him was life; and the life was the light of men."
Notice, however, that John didn't say that that "the light was the life of men" (although that would be correct), instead he chose to say that "the life was the light of men." Paraphrasing John's words, we could say, "In God dwelt the power to have life, and this life-force is that light which is within every man." Because the ancient apostle worded his statement this way, he has taught us still another important truth: Men are creatures made alive because there is literal "light" within them.
The Lord revealed this truth to Joseph Smith as recorded in the 13th verse of the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. He said, "The light which is in all things,... giveth life to all things, [and] ... is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God."
Because we have life within us, like God, our Father, we too are also creatures of light. We literally have light inside of us, which is what gives us life. Thus, we can take literally the scriptures which declare that we are children of light and God is the father of lights.
Although this may be true, we cannot infer that our light is comparable to God's. The scriptures tells us, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). If there is no darkness within Him, then God must be all light. Jesus taught, "Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light" (Luke 11:35,36).
The question that can be asked is: How can the light within us be darkness? If the word light, by definition means "an illuminating radiance", then how can there be darkness where there is light? The scriptures gives us the explanation:
These scriptures do not use the word "darkness" as a metaphor. Doing that which is evil, wicked, or unrighteous, literally creates darkness within us! When we commit iniquity, our actions diminishes the light God has given us, and instead of glowing brighter, our light grows dimmer. Since there is no evil within God, there is no darkness in Him; since there is no darkness in Him, He is all light.
We, on the other hand, commit both good and evil acts, therefore we are a combination of light and darkness. The more righteous we become, the brighter our light shines because the less darkness there is in it.
Consider these scriptures:
From these verses we learn that light is made up of truth, righteousness, and intelligence. The more of these qualities we possess, the brighter our light shines - literally. The brighter our light shines, the more glorious and glorified we become. As we read earlier, light is the law by which even the power of God is governed. When we forsake these qualities, just the opposite is true; our light grows dimmer, and our life-force literally becomes darker. Those who become filled with darkness will not live in everlasting light with the saints, since light and darkness cannot exist together, but will live in outer darkness, where there is no light.
However, the apostle Paul warned us that even Satan can appear as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). After God had appeared unto Moses, "Satan came tempting him saying: Moses, son of man, worship me. And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou...for behold I could not look upon God except his glory should come upon me, and I were strengthened before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man...where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God" (Moses 1:12-15).
Moses could tell the difference between the glory of Satan and the glory of God because Satan's glory, or brightness of light, was as darkness by comparison. We are striving to become more like Christ and our ultimate goal is to become like our Father in heaven; to have the power to become gods ourselves. To be a god means having the power to create life, or, in other words, to impart a life-giving force to something to make it come alive. But, before we can do that, we literally have to increase the light of life which has been given to us by Christ in the beginning and become glorious beings of light ourselves. We do that by increasing our righteousness, developing our intelligence and dealing in truth.
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12).