Three weeks ago I said that there is a great spiritual conundrum for many people. For some, the spiritual dilemma is not much of a dilemma; we have made God our dwelling place. For others, there is a great dilemma because they want to serve in righteousness while also dwelling in wickedness. We saw in my previous sermon – Living Spiritually in the Gray – that doing such a thing is not possible. Now, there is one more group we must take a look at in this great dilemma – those who choose to live in the dark.
The greater light and the lesser light
We must understand what it means to live in the dark. So, what is light and what is darkness? A scientist would have a field day with that question, but I am not a scientist so I could not give you a scientific answer to that question. I can, however, give you the answer that comes from scripture.
During the creation, we are told that after God created the heavens and the earth, that He called forth light and there was light (Gen. 1:3). Understand that the light in that verse was not coming from the sun or any other stars. God did not create those heavenly bodies until the fourth day.
Let us note that when God saw the light He declared it was good. God then divided (separated) the light from the darkness and called the light Day, and the darkness God called Night (Gen. 1:4-5). Again, I cannot tell you what this light was but I can tell you that it was not of stars; we will see those in a moment here as we take a brief look at the creation event.
God will now draw a bigger difference between the day and night within the fourth day of His creation. On the fourth day, God filled the void of space. Now, I want you to pay very close attention to the light of the sun and of the moon as it is described in scripture. We are told (Gen. 1:16) that God made two great lights: the greater light (the sun) to rule the day, and the lesser light (the moon) to rule the night.
I find it very interesting how the Lord views light and darkness. Two contrary parts where generated light is the greater light and darkness is simply lesser light. When the sun (the greater light/ruler of day) is out, we can see everything. All is revealed to us!
However, at night time, when it is dark, we cannot see as well! Little is revealed to us compared to being under the ruler of the day. The sun generates light whereas the moon can only reflect 3%-12% of the sun’s light back on earth. The moon provides lesser light and is not as great a ruler as the sun. In fact, some nights the moon isn’t even there! Now, let’s take this understanding and apply it spiritually.
Living on the dark side
We know that in our faith, there are two contrary parts (rulers) separated by the light and the lesser light (dark). Jesus proclaimed that He is the light of the world (John 8:12; John 9:5). He also stated repeatedly that those who chose to believe in Him would not walk (abide) in darkness (John 11:9-10; John 12:35, 46).
So, if we can equate this back to the sun and the moon for a moment. The one who chooses to genuinely follow Christ abide in the greater light and He is their ruler. As the sun reveals everything that is around us, so does Christ for us spiritually. The light of Christ has revealed the truth to those that abide in Him. The truth: all of us have sinned and are sinners; we have fallen short of the glory of God and can be saved from the wages of sin (Rom. 3:23-26)!
I choose to be a servant of the light and a slave to God’s righteousness! You see, I much rather dwell under Christ’s rule than under the ruler of the lesser light. At the very same time, there are many who choose to live absent of the greater light.
Dwelling in the dark condemned
Someone may ask, “why so, Preacher?” Well let’s look at a couple of truths to answer this question. Firstly: there are many people who do not think of themselves to be, or believe themselves to be, a sinner. This is hard for some folks to accept but the light reveals who we are and the practitioners of wickedness hate that (John 3:20).
The very idea that they are wicked or in need of saving goes against their beliefs because they believe they’re a “good person”. Even if you are a “good person”, you’re still in need of Christ. You see, all good people need saving from their sins but there are many people who do not see themselves in that light because it means they are not as perfect as they think. I accepted the fact that I was not perfect a very long time ago and all genuine believers must accept that same fact.
Secondly: there are many people who simply love the night! (I say that speaking of the night in a spiritual manner.) While living in the lesser light, they believe they can live in a more fun and exciting manner because their actions aren’t as exposed. To compare it to what we know with worldly logic: it’s possible to throw a party during the daylight hours but the better party happens at night. At night, people feel they can get loose and get wild because nobody will see them and if they do see them, that person is likely doing the same thing as them (John 15:19).
This sounds great, but in actuality, we are not meant for the dark! Jesus condemns living in the lesser light. We know this to be true because if it were not a problem to live in the lesser light, God would have never sent His only begotten Son! Jesus taught that (John 3:18), “he who believes in [Christ] is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already.”
Paul writes (Eph. 1:7), “we have redemption through [Jesus] blood.” Again, we know this because He has given to us the greater light for us to now abide in instead of dwelling in the lesser light. It’s much easier to live, spiritually, when the truth has been revealed to us. There is no more wandering in the night and no more feeling lost and helpless.
Paul then writes (Eph. 1:11), “In Him (Jesus) we have obtained an inheritance, predestined according to the purpose of Him [Jesus] … according to the counsel of His will.” With this statement, Paul turns his attention to our purpose – our calling, if you will. You will notice that Paul states here in this scripture that God had/has a purpose – a will – for mankind. We cannot serve His purpose and will if we are not abiding under His rule.
Mankind’s free will
It is when we start talking about the Lord’s will, that the ire of many gets raised. Trusting in someone else’s purpose (their plan) over our own can be a big issue for us. For example: One may be all about their career while the other would like to start a family (or maybe take time out for the family). In another example, one may want to travel the world while the other much rather stay in one place because they feel there is no need to travel.
In our heads, we all have the ability to make our very own decisions, right? This, we would say, is the free will that God has given to us. If I want to wake up in the morning and eat steak and eggs, I can do it; who is going to stop me? If I want to go out and catch a movie because I have nothing else to do, I can do it; who is going to stop me?
In our free will, we believe that we can do whatever we want — whatever is best for us. The things we feel aren’t in our best interest, those are the things we put off. So, when someone’s plans do not fall in line with our very own plans (our will), we butt heads! The very idea of somebody thinking for us is something that goes out the window very early in our life.
Results of choosing free will
This very thing we have learned is what has created much of the dilemma for those who choose to live in the lesser light. I tell you, this is the thing that has put a strain on many folks’ relationships with God. It is not that all of those who live in the lesser light are bad people, but they are unable to let go of their own will and be submissive (obedient) to God’s will. There are many people who are wondering in this very minute whether or not God’s will has their best interest in mind. (Does God’s will include what is best for me?)
I would ask, does your will include what is best for you? Right away, many of us would likely answer yes to this question because we all believe we know what is best for us. Yeah, well, let’s examine this thought for a brief moment.
I thought I could push through a cold last week and instead of resting, as is this common thing to do, I made things worse by not resting. Then my body gave up and I could not push through any more. I’m not the only one that has done that and there are several other examples I could pull from to show that we do not know what is always best for us.
To believe we know what is best for us over our Creator is another form of self-righteousness. When we take that sort of self-righteous thought and live by it, we should know what the results are for living that way. Solomon wrote about the vanity of living life without God in it. Living in a self-righteous manner, for your own cause, your own will and purpose, will lead to living in the dark (lesser light). Yes, there are some who become “successful” people while living in the lesser light but that success is in only one part of life.
A better purpose
The one thing I have concluded about God’s will – His purpose – is that God wants us to experience success in not just one part of our life. You see, the physical, the now, is just one part of our lives. I don’t know about you, but I am still storing up for myself a good foundation for the next part of our life to come (1 Tim. 6:18-19). That is the second part — the part that resides in eternity.
The Lord had a plan for mankind in the beginning when He created this reality we now occupy. God planned for mankind to be His people! Our penchant for sin ultimately got in the way of God’s plan but now we can do better while still living in this first part. Instead of settling for my own purpose that does not hold a candle to God’s will, I can come out of the dark and step into the greater light.
I saw a video clip of Joe Biden speaking about his faith at a CNN town hall this past week and Joe said a good word. Joe said, “Faith allows me to see best in the dark … it gives me some reason to have hope and purpose.” He said he had to find purpose after losing his loved ones and he turned to his faith for that purpose. Biden concluded that he could not close himself off but that his purpose was in service of others.
Glorifying the Lord
I don’t want you to think I am giving a political endorsement here, but I referenced that clip because I understood what he meant. My spirit moves when I hear someone genuinely speaking about their faith in God and what it does for them. Genuine faith recognizes that God made us for Himself and for each other. We are meant to be for His glory and a testament of His glory for each other. How can we be those things if we abide in the night? We cannot.
When we seek to live without God, we can become a person that is closed off and without empathy – void of light. Let us come out of the dark and become children of the light. You may live for a good purpose but your will and purpose can grow to be so much better in the greater light. A plant needs the greater light for it to reach its full bloom. You are that plant that should want to reach that full bloom.