Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Where Are You Walking?

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” Psalm 1:1 (ESV)

In my devotion time recently, I spent some time in 1 John 1: 6-7. There the author writes, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (ESV).

Lets begin with a couple definitions taken from the “Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology” by Millard J. Erickson. (1) Darkness, “a scriptural symbol of ignorance, evil, and destruction.” (2) Light, “In Scripture, the term used to refer to God and the good that comes from Him. By contrast, evil is associated with darkness.”

Where do we tend to walk? In the darkness or in the light? I do not really believe that it is possible to walk somewhere in between the two; it has to be one or the other. We cannot be walking half in the darkness or half in the light any more than a pregnant woman can be only half pregnant. She is either pregnant or she is not pregnant. Likewise, we are either walking in the light, or we're not walking in the light. And if we are not walking in the light, then that means we are automatically walking in the darkness. Those are our only two options. It is one or the other. So where are we walking?

If there can be a middle ground, it is a very dangerous ground. Jesus has less patience for the “lukewarm” than He does for the cold. In Revelation 3:15, our risen Lord says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I would spit you out of my mouth” (ESV). Are you still walking that fence between darkness and light? It is time to make a decision one way or the other, but get off that fence! “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

The problem is that we can and do tend to justify ourselves, often to the point of making Scripture say what we want it to say. For example, if I enjoy “walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, and sitting in the seat of scoffers” (Psalm 1:1), then I will also justify my doing so in whatever way necessary. I will say to those who confront my actions, “well, that's 'your' opinion,” or perhaps, “you can't take that passage literally!” We might even call those who confront us in this as being “religious.” Certainly we don't like it at all if we are made to feel that we are wrong. Then again, maybe we don't even see ourselves as walking with the wicked, the sinners, and the scoffers. However, when did sin become a trivial matter to God?

In “Rees Howells: Intercessor,” biographer Norman Grubb quoted Rees Howells as saying, “The closer a person is to God, the more terrible the least sin is seen to be.” Now here's the question: how terrible do we view the 'least' sins in and around our lives? The answer to that question likely also reveals the path that we are apt to walk; either the path of darkness, or the path of light.

The problem with “walking” amongst the wicked is that sooner or later we stop walking. It is then that something has caught our eye and we “stand” in the way of sinners. Then, once we have stood there long enough, we take root, becoming like them, and find ourselves “sitting” in the seat of scoffers. Taken together, this is the walking in “darkness” that John speaks of in the above passage. Instead of running from the darkness, as Joseph did, we're content to hang around with Potiphar's wife (Genesis 39: 11-12).

The old acronym comes to mind, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do). Just because Jesus was able to hang around tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners – doesn't necessarily mean that you and I can do likewise and still remain clean before the Lord. While Jesus remained sinless in those circumstances, you and I unfortunately wouldn't likely fare as well. How did Jesus respond to the devil's temptations? How did Jesus respond to persecutions, slander, and other mistreatments? How do we respond in similar situations? In the “light” as Jesus did? Or in the “darkness” as the rest of the world tends to do?

If we can truthfully say that we respond to the world like Jesus would, only then can we also claim to have real fellowship. Fellowship is impossible if we persist in walking in darkness. One simply cannot have real and meaningful fellowship with God's people when we insist on walking in darkness. If this is true, then our claim to have been cleansed of our sins by the blood of Jesus is also suspect. How is it even possible that someone be cleansed by the blood of Christ if they persist in walking in darkness? Truly, such a person is deluded because they “do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).

In speaking of the tongue, James says: “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs?” (James 3: 8-12; ESV). In the same way, how can we say we are believers in the Lord Jesus when we persist in walking in darkness? Isn't that a bit presumptuous? We are only really believers in the Lord Jesus if we strive to always walk in the light.

So what does that say about so-called Christians who have no guilty conscience about their walk in the darkness? Have they misread the Bible? Were they subjected to some false teachers? Has the blood of Jesus 'really' cleansed them from all their sin? (1 John 1:7). Remember Jesus' parable of the narrow and the wide gates (Matthew 7: 13-14). Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction (darkness), and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life (light), and those who find it are few.”

Where are you walking? Where am I walking?The road of darkness that leads to destruction? Or the road of light that leads to life? The Lord is patient with you and me. He doesn't want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9). But unless we do repent, we will perish (Luke 13:3). Where are we walking? I wonder.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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