The Church: Exchanging Light for Darkness

Walking in the LightJesus Christ is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). We once “walked in darkness” and in the “land of the shadow of death,” but now we have “seen [this] great light”; the light of Christ has shined on us (Isaiah 9:2). He has graciously “called us out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Through Christ we become “children of light” (Matthew 5:14-16, Ephesians 5:8) and walk in his light (1 John 1:7).

What does this mean? We are no longer children “of the night or of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). We “have no fellowship with” these things; we expose the “unfruitful works of darkness” instead (Ephesians 5:11). In the last days, “darkness will cover the earth and gross darkness the people,” but the glory and light of Christ will shine on us (Isaiah 60:1-2).

So what’s happened? Why is the church, in its worship and lifestyle, suddenly exchanging the light of Jesus Christ for the darkness of sin, death, and hell? Why are we exchanging the truth of Christ for the lies of Satan? Why are we exchanging the freedom of Christ for the bondage of sin (Galatians 5:1)? Why are we calling good evil and evil good (Isaiah 5:20)?

worship churchThe enormity of this truth hit me last night when I attended a revival conference at a local church. Normally this church leaves the lights on during the worship portion of the service, as do most churches I’ve attended in the last decade. It did yesterday morning. Last night was a different story. During the worship portion, all the lights were dimmed except those over the choir and soloists. They then used roaming strobe lights, some with silly patterns. My eyes had to adjust to the darkness so I could see the people around me and the screen. The atmosphere was distracting. Fuming, I hated the gimmicks and couldn’t even pay attention to the songs.

Why would this church, or any church, make worship feel like cheap entertainment that one would find in a bar, disco, or club? I’ve eaten at some nice restaurants that had bars but I’ve never used them, even though I’ve been old enough to drink since the early 2000s. I’ve never visited a club or disco, but I know what they’re like thanks to modern feature films (to my shame). These places dim the lights for their customers because the consumption of alcohol reduces the pupil and therefore daytime vision. Alcoholics cannot handle bright light, so they tend to drink at night except when they’re in bars (1 Thessalonians 5:7). Clubs and discos also use strobe lights and loud music to produce a dance atmosphere. Apparently they like the feeling of a rush.

dark-roomPhysical darkness removes the distinguishing of colors. Everything becomes gray. And Satan loves gray! I used to think that spiritual light and darkness, good and evil, were absolutes. I’ve recently discovered another explanation. God is light and he is good because he is holy. Holiness is nothing other than separation, the status of being set apart. Darkness and evil are nothing other than this lack of spiritual separation, the absence of divine judgment.

Spiritual darkness refuses to distinguish between good and evil. Everything becomes morally acceptable. Evil refuses to separate light and darkness. Everything becomes spiritually gray. People who walk in darkness, in the twilight and the gray, hate light because it exposes their secret and immoral deeds (Ephesians 5:12-13). But this is just what the church is called to do. The world, like its ruler Satan, hates divine judgment because of sin. But this judgment is its final destiny.

Physical darkness also keeps us from seeing the path so that we can move forward. When it’s dark, we bump into things and stumble to our feet because we don’t know where we’re going. We end up keeping still so that we don’t hurt ourselves. Satan loves this situation! Spiritually, it means that we can’t see God’s future for us or make wise decisions. The Word of God is “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Psalm 119:105). God’s commandments are “a lamp and His law is light” (Proverbs 6:23). When we walk in darkness, the Word no longer influences our decisions or speaks life into our situations. We can’t see Christ in the Word either.

dark room faceFinally, physical darkness removes the distinguishing of faces. We can make out human shapes, when lights are dim or absent, but rarely faces or physical features. Satan loves this too. Then he can hide as an “angel of light”; his ministers, both demons and false teachers, can “transform themselves into apostles of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:13-15). Spiritual darkness is Satan’s greatest opportunity for deception. In this darkness we can’t distinguish good people from bad, those anointed by the Holy Spirit from those “anointed” by Satan. Neither can we distinguish the face of Christ, both in his Word and in his ministers of fire, so that we can be converted and transformed into his image (2 Corinthians 3:18). Spiritual darkness is like a veil (3:13-18).

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” — Isaiah 8:20 (KJV)

How are we as a church exchanging light for darkness, truth for lies (Romans 1:25), and freedom for bondage? The answer is simple. Righteous judgment is light, not darkness. Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven is truth, not a lie. Obedience to Christ is freedom, not bondage. When the church says “no” to righteous judgment and spiritual separation, the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, and obedience as the fruit of faith, then the result is moral confusion. When the church refuses to preach and live a whole gospel, namely that “the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23), then it has gone into heresy and apostasy.

gay homophobia homosexuality truthFirst, homosexuality is sin. Eternal death in hell is God’s righteous judgment for it. One cannot be “gay” and be a Christian. Conversion is necessary for spiritual transformation. All sinners walk under divine condemnation. It’s only lifted when they repent, turn by faith to Jesus Christ, and walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh (Romans 8:1). We should rejoice in this light. Any church that refuses to call homosexuality sin or declare God’s righteous judgment is walking in darkness, is teaching heresy, and has gone into apostasy.

The most recent movement is the NALT Christians Project (“Not All Like That”), founded by anti-Christian homosexual activist Dan Savage. Co-founders include John Shore (It Gets Better) and Wayne Besen (Truth Wins Out). More than twenty “Christian” organizations and churches, plus Auburn Seminary, have signed on. They include Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, and Presbyterians. This movement must be condemned as heresy and apostasy by all true Christians who uphold and cling to the inspired Word of God.

The purpose of the NALT Christians Project is to give LGBT-affirming Christians a means of proclaiming to the world—and especially to young gay people—their belief and conviction that there is nothing anti-biblical or at all inherently sinful about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. … The Bible is not a rule book.

jesus worship throne heaven revelationSecond, salvation is simply conversion to Jesus Christ (new birth) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6). No one else but Christ sits at the right hand of God the Father (Mark 16:9, Acts 2:33, 7:55-56, Romans 8:34, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 10:12, 1 Peter 3:22). Unbelievers who reject Christ in this life will see no one else but him at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-13). We should rejoice in this truth. Any church that preaches multiple ways to heaven or accepts Muslims (Ed Stetzer), Jews (John Hagee), and adherents of other religions without conversion to Christ is walking in darkness, is teaching heresy, and has gone into apostasy.

Finally, obedience is true faith in Jesus Christ. True salvation is submission to Christ as Lord. It is holiness – obeying his voice. We should rejoice in this freedom. Any church that says the grace of God is a license to sin (Romans 6:1, 15) or refuses to declare God’s righteous judgment on those who continue in sin is walking in darkness, is teaching heresy, and has gone into apostasy.

If the physically dark worship service I attended is any indication of the church’s spiritual darkness today, we are in serious trouble. The only path to spiritual light, truth, and freedom is repentance.

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