Have you ever looked in the mirror and said, “How did I get here?” I know I have.
Have you ever caught yourself saying or doing something that you said you would never do (again)? As that dreadful feeling passes over you, you offer up a silent prayer for forgiveness, begging the big, loving God of the universe to forget what you just did.
And He mercifully does! Yet we still have a problem: How did that sinful thought, word, or action happen again?
The answer: it’s in our sinful nature to cater to the desires of the flesh. And Satan, our enemy, uses this to separate us from God, or at least make us feel that we are. But we can’t pin all of our problems on the devil. We must realize that WE are inviting the darkness in.
Luke 11:34 makes it clear that what we let in determines our actions and character. Sure, we are made new and reborn at the moment of Salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17), but Salvation is not the same as Spiritual Growth. We continue to grow and mature in the direction that we willingly choose (or allow by not choosing). 2 Peter 3:18 makes it clear that we grow and must choose to do so.
Salvation makes us right with God, bringing us back into a real relationship with Him. This, however, does not negate our free will to continue to choose Him daily.
A Dark Story
A married couple, new to faith in Christ, walk out of the bank with smiles on their faces. “We did it,” the man says. “We sold that old house and made a killing on it!” The couple goes about their week, enjoying freedom from the financial burden much in the same way they enjoyed the freedom from their sinful past the moment they put their faith in Jesus. They even decide to donate a substantial sum of their financial gain to their church.
Sunday rolls around and they make a choice. “Let’s give this amount, but say that we sold the house for less so it looks like we’re giving a larger percentage.” A little light leaks out, making room for darkness. Satan watches from a distance, a wry smile touching his lips.
This obviously is a modern retelling of the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-10.
Choosing Light, Turning from the Darkness
Another great example comes from a massively popular video game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I realize that many of you probably are not video game nerds but hear me out! In the game, you are free to make small choices through hundreds of conversations and decisions to choose the way of the Jedi or the Sith. A few good decisions and your character slowly begins to glow and unlock good powers. A few bad decisions and your character begins to grow dark and transform, opening evil powers.
Do you see the correlation? Our small decisions, day by day, affect our character and our relationship with God. We either fill up with light or leak out the light, allowing darkness to creep in.
Invite the Light In
I want to end this with some practical opportunities to intentionally choose to invite the light of Christ into your life. This, of course, is the life of discipleship, a topic near and dear to my heart.
- Pray. Talk to God. God is light (1 John 1:5). His light fills us as we spend time with Him.
- Get involved at your church. Spending time with like-minded people to further the Kingdom of God will lead you further than you could ever go on your own.
- Along with number 2, confession with a trusted follower of Christ is a great way to invite the light in and expose and relinquish the darkness within us. Richard Foster goes into great detail discussing this in chapter 10 of his book, Celebration of Discipline.
- This last one is a bit different. One way to ensure we are pursuing light is to understand how the enemy is working against us. C.S. Lewis has a wonderful book on this called The Screwtape Letters. Keep in mind that it’s a work of fiction but I believe it can be extremely helpful.