Walking in the Light: Basic Instructions for Every Believer in Christ
I'm guilty of this. When I think certain thoughts, or behave in a certain way, hearing a sermon or reading my Bible can make me squirm. Because light exposes darkness.
- The Liberating Secret;
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The light of God's Word exposes the things I desperately try to hide. Living in the light requires that our hearts, actions, words and thoughts align with God's heart and His character, not with our sinful nature and fallen character. God isn't asking for perfection. He simply asks us to walk step by step in the light. It's a daily walk. But, we don't walk alone. We walk with a loving, forgiving Father who empowers us through His Holy Spirit. One way to ensure we continue to walk in the light is to align our hearts with a community of believers, a local church.
A group of people who believe as we do and who will not only affirm and encourage us but also hold us accountable when temptations come. Another way to help us daily walk in light is to check our thoughts, meaning we learn to recognize and interrupt our sinful thoughts before they lead to action. The best way to do this is what you are doing now. Be in the Word. Familiarity with God's Word sensitizes our hearts to the leadings of His Holy Spirit, who convicts and reminds us of the tempting, unforgiving, unholy thoughts that are unacceptable for one created in the image of God.
That sense of conviction is our loving Father intervening in our mess to draw us back to perfect fellowship with Him. Agreeing with God about our sinful thoughts brings them into the light. It allows God to work in our hearts and minds to not only correct us but also train us to think, speak and act in new ways. If we don't take immediate action to walk back into the light, we leave the door wide open for the enemy to take full control of the reins of our heart and lead us deeper into darkness and further into sin.
Remember, we don't do this alone. God equips us and empowers us with spiritual discernment to alert us to the emotions, people and situations that seek to lead us away from the light and into darkness. His Spirit provides the courage to resist temptation and to stand firm on the truth. Walking in the light day-by-day, step-by-step, ensures who we say we are and who we really are match.
Thank You for teaching me what it looks like to walk in the light. I know there are places I still walk in darkness. It's hard to hear Your convicting words. I confess I've allowed anger and pride to hold me hostage. I no longer want these thoughts to fill my mind and these words to spew from my lips. Forgive me, Father. Renew my thoughts.
Fill my heart and mind with thoughts that honor You and others.
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Lead me to my next steps so I know how to handle this situation in a way that honors and glorifies You and You alone. In Jesus' name, amen. He writes,. We must understand him either as referring to many exhortations of the Old Testament Scriptures, the substance of which he condenses in the few words here used; or as giving the spirit of some one passage, though not its words. Both these methods of explanation may be sustained by appeal to similar passages. It is conceivable that though Ephesians is in the final analysis rooted in Isa. The hymn, in other words, may have been based on the Isaiah passage.
Contemporary Christians often have difficulty understanding how the writers of the New Testament employ Old Testament texts, even when it is clear which text is being quoted. The reason is that our understanding, interpretation, and application of biblical texts is often too narrow. We expect the connection between the Old Testament text and its use in the New to be both obvious and direct. Sometimes there is a direct, obvious correspondence between the Old Testament text and its appearance in the New.
Such would be the case with some of the commandments see Romans If an Old Testament prophecy, this may have been evident even before the prophecy was fulfilled see Matthew The connection with New Testament events may also not have been understood beforehand see Matthew It may come as a complete surprise:. At other times, a text is cited, but somewhat loosely, and without a precise reference to its location:. Hebrews Not infrequently, an Old Testament text is cited in the New, but in a form that is less precise than the original text.
This is sometimes due to the fact that the quotation is cited from the Septuagint the Greek translation of the Old Testament, frequently employed by the New Testament writers , a sometimes rather free paraphrase of the text, rather than a precise Greek equivalent of the original Hebrew text. At other times, the quotation by the New Testament author may not precisely follow any known Old Testament text. It may even be that the New Testament writer deliberately departed from the Old Testament text, for his own reasons.
Sometimes, a New Testament author may apply an Old Testament principle in a way that appears to go well beyond its original instruction. In seeking to show how the Old Testament Law supported his teaching that those who minister the gospel should be financially supported, Paul cites this text which refers to the treatment of an ox:. I am not speaking these things according to human judgment, am I? Or does not the Law also say these things? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops 1 Corinthians I believe that there is yet another use of the Old Testament Scriptures, which both the Old and the New Testament authors often employ, which often goes over our heads, unnoticed.
The Basics of the Christian Walk
This is the use of symbolic terminology, which refers to previous events or to prominent biblical themes, with which the reader is expected to be familiar. Let me seek to illustrate this from the Old Testament. In the prophecy of Isaiah, for example, the theme of creation is often employed. God created the heavens and the earth. He also created the nation Israel. These events involved great miracles. The God who accomplished creation is the same God who now promises to do great things for His people.
In Isaiah, both the creation and the exodus are drawn upon to give the readers courage and confidence in the words which God is speaking through His prophet, Isaiah:. Do you not know? Hove you not heard? His understanding is inscrutable Isaiah When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. Paul frequently employs the imagery of light and darkness in his preaching and in his epistles see Acts ; ; Romans ; 2 Corinthians ; ; ; Colossians ; 1 Thessalonians ; 1 Timothy Let us pause to consider the development of this prominent and powerful image through the Scriptures.
The first creative act of God recorded in Genesis chapter 1 is the creation of light:.
And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness Genesis At the beginning of this creation account, the earth was dark and in disarray formless and void. At the end, it has light and is ordered.
The progress is from darkness to light and for disorder to order. Light was created by God to separate darkness and light. Paul will later draw on this creation of light and relate it to godly living see 2 Corinthians In the Psalms, light and darkness are used symbolically.
Darkness symbolizes ignorance Of particular importance, light is symbolic of the Christ who is yet to come:. The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. Proverbs speaks of the conduct of the godly using the imagery of light, while using darkness in reference to the wicked:. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; They do not know over what they stumble Proverbs It is in Isaiah, however, that the symbolism of light and darkness becomes most prominent in the Old Testament:.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to His word, it is because they have no dawn The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them ; see Matthew And the light of Israel will become a fire and his Holy One a flame, And it will burn and devour his thorns and his briars in a single day I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains.
Therefore, justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness; For brightness, but we walk in gloom And nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him Daniel My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. He will bring me out to the light, And I will see His righteousness Micah It will be darkness and not light; As when a man flees from a lion, And a bear meets him, Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall, And a snake bites him. Amos , Matthew also spoke of our Lord as the light.
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When our Lord died for sinners on the cross of Calvary, darkness supernaturally fell upon the earth for three hours. Walk while you have the light, that darkness may not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen 1 Timothy And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it Revelation Our overriding purpose in life is not just to preach the gospel, to win souls, or even to make disciples. Our overriding goal is to reflect God to an ungodly world, and to a heavenly host, to the glory of God.
The goals of missions, evangelism, and discipleship are an outgrowth of our function as lights. We proclaim the gospel and make disciples because this is what God has done, in Christ. We do these things because they are a part of living as lights in a dark world. What does it mean to live as lights? Paul does not leave us without guidelines in this matter. Light produces certain fruit. The fruit of the light, Paul tells us, is goodness, righteousness, and truth. Righteousness encompasses all that is consistent with the holy character of God and which meets the standards set down by His Word.
Living as children of light is living so as to manifest goodness, righteousness, and truth, as Paul has indicated in verse 9. The children of light desire to live as light. Therefore, they do not merely avoid the thinking and the deeds of darkness out of a fear of divine chastening alone, but they genuinely desire to do what is right in order to please the One who delivered them from darkness to light.
Where there are negative motivations for avoiding sin, the motivation of which Paul speaks here is a positive one. The children of darkness have pleasure as their goal, too, but they live in order to please themselves, not to please God. While it is true that living as lights is for our own best interest, this should be a secondary motive, not a primary one.
We should seek to please God and others before seeking to please ourselves see Romans All too often I hear evangelical Christian leaders urging Christians to act in a certain way primarily because it serves their own interests best. It suggests that learning to walk as children of light is an on-going process. The commands of the Scriptures, Old Testament and New, provide us with some clear absolutes as to what we must and as to what we must not do.
But these commands do not cover every choice we are called upon to make. Let me illustrate this in terms of marriage. When we marry, we make vows which express our commitment to our mate. We are obligated to keep our vows. But in addition to the keeping of these vows, there is a process of getting to know our mate see 1 Peter , so that we may please them see 1 Corinthians So it is with pleasing God.
God delights in His children learning to know Him, and then doing that which we believe gives Him pleasure. What we decided to do or to avoid doing may not be what another believer chooses to do, but this is a matter of personal conviction, not of keeping a command. Pleasing God is a life-long process, one that is never complete, but one in which there should be both perseverance and growth. We have already seen this indicated earlier in the epistle. While we Gentiles were once alienated from Israel, her covenants, and her blessings, we have now been reconciled to God in one body, the church.
We who were once at odds with Israelites are not united with them inseparably. This union was not grasped by the Old Testament saint chapter 3 , but it has become clear to the church through the teaching of Paul If, in Christ, we have become one new man and one new building , we also discover that in Christ we have a new relationship with unbelievers, those who are still the children of darkness see ; As children of light we now have far greater intimacy with those who, like us, are in Christ.
But we also experience a corresponding detachment from the children of darkness. Paul describes this detachment in terms of two prohibitions. In some of His final words to His disciples, our Lord indicated to them that their relationship with Him would bring about a corresponding animosity from those who rejected Him:. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Years later, Peter writes to those who are suffering persecution at the hand of unbelievers and assures them that such is the normal reaction of those in darkness, whose deeds have been exposed by the light:.
For the time already past is sufficient for your to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excess of dissipation, and they malign you 1 Peter In Ephesians , Paul urges the saints to not become partakers with those who are godless because their actions are 1 improper for saints and 2 because the wrath of God is the fate of those who live in sin In verse 11 Paul presses the matter even further.
Light reveals that which darkness conceals. Darkness conceals sin and even promotes it. Light exposes sin and thus living as children of light has the function of exposing the sins of those in darkness, which is the first and fundamental step in evangelism. Those who acknowledged their sin turned to Him for salvation, while those who preferred darkness to light rejected Him see John We, like Christ, are to live as children of light as a part of our calling to reflect and reveal Christ and to proclaim the gospel.
It is the contrast in our conduct with that of the world which makes the gospel clear.