“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” — The words of Jesus in John 3:19-21
We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. — 1 John 5:19
There is simply no question to any biblically literate Christian believer that we are living in spiritually dark times that are getting darker and darker with each passing day. In St. Pauls’ final epistle before his martyrdom which he knew was coming, he writes in 2 Timothy chapter 3 that terrible, difficult times would be coming in the last days.
I know of a beautiful, talented young woman who wants to be a singer or an actress. In and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with that, is there? We should want Christians in the field of entertainment, which holds so much sway over our increasingly toxic culture and over the increasingly degenerating morality of our youth. And yet the field of entertainment is so filled with horrible predators who would promise a young woman the world in order to use her and ultimately throw her away that the entertainment industry is truly a dangerous field to enter.
But what to do? You literally cannot walk outside your house without entering the darkness of this world. And even if you remain in your home, lock your doors and shutter your windows against the spiritual darkness, you literally cannot turn on your television or turn on your computer – and nowadays even turn on your phone – without being exposed to profound spiritual darkness.
Should this beautiful young woman live the life of a monk in some distant, secluded monastery?
No. Because Jesus didn’t want us to hide our lights, but to let our light shine. And line shines brightest when it shines in darkness.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 5:14-16
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. — 2 Corinthians 4:6
God sent us as lights shining in the darkness.
But when we walk through the darkness, it is sadly more the tendency of fallen, sinful, flawed people to be affected by the darkness we walk through than that we triumphantly shine as lights and as examples of Christ.
Ultimately, Scripture tells us, the human race will fail. Even God’s people will fail. And it will be Jesus Christ in His return as King of kings and as Lord of lords who will triumph over evil and usher in His Kingdom on earth according to Revelation 17:14 and 19:11-16.
How should we live as Christians who must walk through the darkness of this world until that glorious day when Jesus Christ returns to make ultimately right the world He created according to the Father’s plan?
I have an analogy from my own experience that I hope some of you will find helpful.
I live in the Coachella Valley, which is located in the Colorado Desert section (the northwesterly part) of the Sonoran Desert.
One of my favorite activities is hiking. Three days a week, I go for a 10 mile hike through the desert. But due to my schedule and due to the heat, I can’t leave until late afternoon or early evening. It’s just too hot for my favorite hiking companion – my dog – to go any earlier.
And given the fact that – since the equinox marking the first day of summer on June 21 – it has been getting darker earlier and earlier, I find myself walking through the desert in the darkness for a good share of my hike.
In my neck of the woods, that means I’m exposing myself to a great host of nocturnal predators. There are coyotes that would be thrilled with the prospect of eating my dog; we’ve had sightings of mountain lions in my area; and rattlesnakes are all around. We’ve got Sidewinders; we’ve got Western Diamondbacks; we’ve got Red Diamonds. And they all bite.
I’ve seen giant tarantulas, I’ve seen scorpions. You name it, it’s walking or crawling around out there, hoping something it can kill and eat will stumble into its path.
As I walk through the darkness, several awful things can happen to me:
1) I can stumble and fall. It is extremely easy in the darkness to get tripped by one of the trillion rocks jutting up; it is easy to stumble over one of the equally numerous elevation changes as your feet suddenly encounter a sink or rise in the sand. You can easily inadvertently angle off the trail and find yourself caught in the nasty thorns of one of several varieties of shrub and cactus that abound. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tripped up and lost my footing in the darkness.
2) I can get turned around and literally become deceived into thinking I’m heading in one direction when I’m actually heading in the very opposite direction further and further into darkness. It gets so dark – especially during new moons and especially in the canyons – when I literally cannot see my own hand in front of my face. In that kind of darkness, there are no frames of reference and no way to collect your bearings if you let yourself get distracted and turned around and confused. People regularly get lost in the desert and their bodies are found days, weeks or even months later.
3) You can get bitten by a poisonous serpent. And literally die. If you’re bitten by a rattlesnake, the poison travels through your body faster if you move. But where I’m going I would HAVE to move to get within ambulance range because there aren’t even very many four-wheel-drive vehicles that are capable of getting to me.
The only protection against these dangers is my flashlight. With it, I can walk through the darkness shielded, covered and protected by a cocoon of light.
There’s nothing wrong with my desire to hike. There’s nothing inherently wrong with my hiking at night. But I am a fool if I don’t take all the proper precautions, aren’t I? So I’ve got my cell phone with me and I know where I’m out of range and where I need to be to get back into range; I’ve got my snake bite kit. And I not only have a flashlight, I have a spare battery and a spare flashlight to go with it just in case I drop one.
I stay on the paths and I keep my light on.
In the light, I can see the pitfalls; I can see all the rocks that would trip me up and all the rises and sinks that I would otherwise stumble over. I can shine the beam and see the landmarks that serve as my foundations for my sense of direction so I will not get lost. I can see the poisonous serpents in my path and I can detect the glowing green eyes of the hungry predators who might be stalking nearby.
In my analogy, I am comparing physical darkness to spiritual darkness. And I am comparing the consequences of foolishly walking in physical darkness to the consequences of walking in spiritual darkness. And what is the light in the latter case that keeps me safe as I walk through the spiritual darkness that is all around me? It is the wisdom and truth found in the Word of God.
In the desert at night, I can get distracted. There’s always the temptation to put that light down – just for a few moments – to have a drink of water, or play with my phone, or take a pill or something. But even those things that seem harmless or even good are dangerous and even deadly if they distract me and keep me from paying attention to the illumination of my light.
There are a lot of situations in this dark world where the light of the Word of God gets put down by people who ought to know better. And sometimes it only takes a moment for disaster to strike and even destroy us.
Hey, I’ll just put my light down and look at this internet site for a little while; we don’t want to shine God’s light on that content, after all. Because if we were shining God’s light on that site, we would see the danger and we would never wander over there in the first place. And that’s when your wife or your kid walks in.
We get in heated situations with people and we’re putting God’s light down when we need to hold it up the very most. And look at me stumbling around just like a fool in the dark instead of representing Christ with my light.
In just one bad moment, you can destroy your witness and even destroy your own life with one utterance or act.
And man, if I just had one nickel for every “Christian” who is flagrantly abandoning God’s light as they have become so deceived and so perverted by the darkness all around them that they celebrate the murder of sixty million innocent human beings and as they celebrate the perversion of homosexuality and even the perversion of the marriages that God ordained.
In the light of God’s Word, these things are detestable. But in the darkness, in the absence of God’s illuminating light, they seem right.
There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. — Proverbs 16:25
There are so many ways in which sinful, fallen man has been deceived into literally believing that good is evil and evil is good:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! — Isaiah 5:20
Just imagine how different your life would be if you held up the Word of God and directed it’s light at every situation and every circumstance you encountered.
The Bible gives us our moral foundations; it sets our landmarks and our boundaries, teaching us where we can safely go and where we dare not tread. When left to ourselves, we WILL choose wrongly and go the wrong way and stumble and fall and ultimately be bitten by the serpent – satan – and destroyed. The Bible doesn’t tell us that temptation will never come upon us, but instead teaches us how to view temptation and how to overcome it by focusing on our Lord rather than our destructive desires.
God’s Word is our “flashlight” as we walk through the spiritual darkness of this world:
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. — Psalm 119:105
The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple. — Psalm 119:130
God never wanted us to hoard our light, to hide ourselves away in some distant monastery. He wants us to engage culture and confront its evil with the reality of God and encounter its sin with the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Whatever field of life we choose, whether it be in entertainment, or law enforcement, or banking, or whatever, we will face dangers. We will be tempted to do things the ways “that seems right to a man,” we will be tempted to cut corners, to give in to peers or superiors and do things we know are wrong, to put down our light just for a moment. And destruction can overtake us.
Whatever your path, whatever your career path, God wants you to walk His way in His light. And when you do that, when you stay in His light and see in His light your landmarks that serve as your foundation for what is right and what is wrong and what is good and what is evil, you will remain safely headed in the right direction.
The alternative is a life of stumbling, injury, deception and death.