I want to elaborate more on John 3:16-21
"For God so loved the world, the He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it maybe clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God."
This was so clear to me as I was reading over it and talking myself through it today.
I was thinking of how people are afraid that pure grace would cause them to sin, and I guess Rob Rufus' idea that grace only reveals what is already there made a light bulb go off in my head. "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
Jesus, I think, was telling Nicodemus that He is grace and truth (the light). I believe He was showing how people, who know they are evil, want to stay in the dark, lest their deeds should be exposed or made manifest. I have definitely noticed a change in my behavior since coming to grace, and some of it hasn't been good. But, just as Rob said, grace is only revealing what is already there. People are so afraid and trapped in a religious mindset that God will condemn them for their sin, that they're terrified of coming to the light. They don't want to sin, because it will leave them broken, with no one but Jesus to trust in. And when they do that, they're automatically forgetting what Jesus said just a few sentences before, which is: "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him."
It's all a fear of grace, running to the law for comfort and assurance. Which is self-righteousness and darkness.
It all makes me think of a kid who has a cut or a scrape or something, who, when their parents get out the stinging medicine to keep it from getting infected yell, "No, no!! It will hurt too much!" Then the parents reply, "It has to hurt if it's to heal". A doctor, when checking a broken bone, has to first expose the pain.
It makes me think about the verse "Even though the outer man is perishing, the inner man is being renewed day by day". God cares nothing for appearances. He wants to expose the root of the problem, which hurts.