Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Abiding in the Light By Ron and Nathele Graham Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began. “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46). The Greek word meno can be translated as: “abide, tarry, remain continually, and endure.” As followers of Jesus Christ we are to remain (abide) steadfastly in His light. There should be no variance or movement out of the light into darkness. Jesus came into this dark and fallen world to bring light. We who call ourselves Christian are to allow His light to shine through us and not cloak it in darkness. It seems, though, that Christians are abiding less and less in the light of Jesus and embracing the darkness more and more. Temptations are all around us. Living in this fallen world means we need to be ever on our guard to avoid the darkness in which the enemy would have us abide. Satan and his minions use temptation to lure us away from the straight and narrow path that is lit by the light from Jesus. How do we cope? How can we abide in the light when the darkness is so tempting? “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Resist that liar Satan, and abide in the light of truth found in Jesus. Make choices based upon God’s Word rather than taking the path of least resistance and aligning yourself with darkness. The enemy doesn’t have a chance when you submit your life to God. As Christians we are not only to avoid abiding in the darkness but we are to avoid even the appearance of darkness in our life. “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). This is good advice and should be taken to heart. The born-again believer in Christ has an awesome responsibility to honor Him in all we say and do. We represent Christ and therefore we are to hold ourselves above even the appearance of darkness and evil. By the way, Christians need to know what constitutes the appearance of evil. The Bible is our authority, and makes it clear what is light and what is darkness. Since the beginning God has not changed His view of right and wrong. His truth is found in His Word because He wants you to know the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Study your Bible and apply it to your life. Our entertainment industry is one of the main places where darkness reigns. Years ago I made the decision to stop watching television programming. The programs were filled with evil and by watching them I was not only stepping out of the light, but I was embracing the darkness. I have heard people talk about the plots of television programs and am sickened by what passes as entertainment. Soap operas, which have always been vulgar, now embrace homosexuality as normal and mock Christian values. Talk shows focus on sexual conquests and mock Christian values. Sitcoms make a joke of families and mock Christian values. Dramas embrace the sexual idolatry that God’s Law call an abomination, and they mock Christian values. Award shows include Satanic rituals and other things that are pure evil, and mock Christian values. How can Christians invite this filth into their homes on a daily basis? Is that abiding in the light? No, it isn’t. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Isn’t it odd that Christians say they don’t have time to study the Bible? They spend hours watching sin-filled television shows but don’t have a few minutes to spend with Jesus. Instead of abiding in the Light they embrace the darkness. Does God notice this? “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). This truth alone should be enough to shame every Christian to make better choices as to how we spend our time. Our friends and family can only laugh at our feeble words, “I am a Christian,” when we don’t submit every part of our being to Him. How can we be His light to the lost if we are stepping back and forth in and out of darkness? “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). What would Jesus do? That is a question that should rule every step in the life of a Christian. He gave His life to purchase our salvation, yet we take His sacrifice for granted when we continue to abide in darkness and embrace sin. Sexual sin is an area where the powers of darkness are trying to blur the truth and overshadow the light of God’s truth. Homosexuality is not the only abhorrent sexual sin that is commonplace today. God holds marriage in high esteem, yet adultery and pre-marital sex are the norm in today’s society. Brethren, this is not normal, this is embracing Satan’s darkness. If you are a part of sexual misconduct then you are not abiding in the light. People don’t seem to be embarrassed when their infidelities become publically known. Under normal circumstances, fornicators (those who join in any sexual act other than within a one man/one woman marriage) would be outcast until they had repented (turned away from their sin) and asked for forgiveness. Today fornication seems to be commonplace and accepted. Where’s the outrage from God’s people? God’s Word is not held as truth and instead of abiding in the light, many Christians embrace the darkness. The Ekklesia (the called out body of Christ) has even allowed the darkness to manifest itself right inside the sanctuary. Darkness can only enter when God’s light is switched off. God’s Word is true and unchanging but even Christians erroneously try to change the light of God’s Word to conform to the darkness of this world, thus turning off God’s light. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that we have grown to a higher way of living. God takes this and every sin seriously. Abide in the light of God’s Word and don’t allow darkness to overshadow it. People invent a plethora of excuses in an attempt to condone their own sin. Once they stop abiding in the light, darkness begins to overtake them. They begin to flaunt their sin since they’ve been able to make it right in their own eyes. Then they begin look down on those who find it evil. “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23). How great indeed. Those who belong to Jesus must flee from even the slightest manifestation of evil in their lives. The next time you are tempted by darkness ask yourself this: “How will what I’m about to do glorify God?” Answer that question honestly. If it doesn’t glorify God, abstain. It’s that simple. Resist the devil and he will flee. Many Christians have become lax in their attitude toward sin. Because of the influence of the world and the temptations put before us by those who are lost, many followers of Christ stumble and some make a habit of stumbling. We live in a fallen world and many people we spend time with are not Christian. Our jobs often require us to work side by side with those who live abhorrent lifestyles and who embrace the darkness, and that cannot be avoided. God knows this but Scripture says: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11). The Greek word “sygkoinōneō” is translated “fellowship” and means “to become a partaker together with others, or to have fellowship with a thing.” In other words, you might have to work with someone who embraces the darkness, but don’t make them a part of your life…don’t “hang out” with them. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Abide in the light and pray that those who embrace darkness will see the light and come to know Jesus. Don’t be joined to the world. Since we’re only passing through to get to our permanent home we should keep that home continually on our minds. It should be our privilege and honor to lead others into the light of Christ while abstaining from all appearances of evil in our own life. How can we lead someone to the light of God if we don’t abide in it? Abiding in the light means just that…live your life according to Jesus’ truth as found in the Bible. Don’t base your “theology” on what the History channel teaches, or what your friend thinks while watching the latest Katy Perry video. Jesus was and is the light of the world and Christians need to radiate His truth. If we want to bear fruit, we need to live in Him. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). As Christians, everything we do must reflect Jesus. We draw our strength to resist temptation directly from Him. Our boldness to share His gospel with someone living in darkness comes directly from Him. Live according to God’s Word and don’t become intertwined with those who abide in darkness. Be a light to them, but don’t yoke yourself with them. The lost can have a devastating effect on the saved if we let them. They may very well bring you down to a level that will be difficult, if not impossible, to separate from. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). If we follow Paul’s admonition we shall find it much easier to abide in the light rather than to embrace darkness. “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28). We will all see Jesus one day. If you do not abide in His light you will be ashamed of yourself when you see Him. Today is the day to turn from darkness and be in the light that Christ has ordained for you. Jesus Christ entered His creation in order to give us the opportunity to have eternal life with Him. Don’t take that gift lightly. It is up to each person individually to accept His death, burial, and resurrection as payment of sin. Only then can you step out of the darkness and abide in the light…the light of Jesus Christ, Lord of lords and King of kings. There is salvation in none other.