How Can Christians Overcome the Darkness of Life?
When I was a little girl, I was terrified of the dark. I clutched under my teddy bear and tried to identify figures in my room. My mind played tricks on me sometimes. Sometimes I became afraid something bad would happen in the dark.
I slept with a night light on for many years when I was young. Darkness, when no light is present, can be a very scary thing.
When my room went dark, my mind deceived me into thinking things were worse than they were. But once the light permeated the darkness, the truth of reality set in, and my mind was no longer deceived.
Darkness Has Always Existed
Darkness has been in existence since before the Fall. In Genesis, God created both darkness and light. He designated light for the day and darkness for the night. As humans, we’re created to accomplish our work during the day and rest at night. All activities and productivity cease at night.
But once sin entered the world, darkness took on a whole new meaning. Light symbolized good, and darkness symbolized evil. Satan is associated with darkness, and Jesus is associated with good.
But even in Genesis, darkness took on the shape of a serpent and hovered around Eden. When Adam and Eve ate from the apple, darkness became a part of their lives as well. This is why they hid:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you? He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:8-12).
Interestingly, Adam and Eve had the freedom to walk along in Eden as they chose if they lived within the boundaries the Lord had set for them. But when they broke the boundaries, they no longer walked — they hid!
When we live in darkness and sin has entangled us, we live in hiding. Jesus does not want this for us. He wants us to walk in the spirit, living out the gospel of grace, knowing that Jesus paid the price for every sin we have — or will — commit.
Create a Culture of Confession
Despite our good intentions, we all are sinners, which means there are times when we walk in darkness and deceive ourselves into thinking we are doing better in our lives than we really are. 1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” It is important to become a part of a community of believers so we can live like Jesus with no darkness in our lives.
When we become deceived, we can seek counsel from those who know us well enough to point out our sins and allow us the space to confess them so we can go back to walking in the light.
If Jesus does not allow any darkness to permeate his being, then we shouldn’t either.
Darkness Isn’t Always Easy to Spot
But darkness isn’t always easy to spot. Satan masquerades as an angel of light. It is easy to rebuke or avoid events or people that are blatantly evil. But there are some Christians who seem godly but allow sins that are more widely accepted to destroy themselves, their churches, and their reputations.
Sins like pride, gossip, and gluttony are pervasive in church environments and can do just as much damage as seemingly worse sins like adultery. Because most churches accept some sins and reject others, darkness is harder to identify than ever.
Every Christian is accountable to their churches to live the godliest lives possible. But what about those who profess Christ, yet their behaviors and actions are less than Christlike?
Discernment Is Key
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The word for fool here describes someone who lacks a moral foundation. When we live clinging to the Lord and his wisdom, he begins to give us his wisdom.
We know that Jesus knows what is in the thoughts of man. He had this gift because he lived in tandem with God the Father. God gave him the wisdom and gift of prophecy to know what was in people’s hearts and discern people’s intentions.
This is key if we want to create a culture of living in the light. We often worship with those who appear spiritual on the outside but inside carry with them sin and other soul wounds that, when not addressed, can wreak havoc on a congregation.
Leaders must be above reproach, meaning they must be above the line of sin. They must attain accountability from those who can help them walk in the light of Jesus, not in darkness and hiding like Adam and Eve.
1 John 1:7 continues, “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, purifies us from all sin.” Although we will never be sinless in this life, it is important to create a culture of confession so we can live in the light as best as we can.
To walk in the light means to walk in step with Jesus. Jesus wants us to walk in freedom. This takes transparency and vulnerability with others.
Although this can be tricky to navigate regarding whom to be transparent with and what level of our lives to share, there needs to be some level of deep conversation to live in the light.
This means a confession of sins to mature believers and repentance of destructive behaviors. The current model of accountability is such that one person confesses the same repetitive sin each week and the other consoles him and prays. This is sin management, not living in freedom.
This is not the life Jesus meant for us to live.
Accountability Is Essential
Sin management still allows darkness to rule our lives. Walking fully in the light means freedom from the bondage sin can cause. This means confessing to the person who the sin hurts the most. If the sin is sexual and the person is married, confess it to the spouse.
Witness their hurt firsthand. Allow the spouse to create firm boundaries to stop the behavior. Seek professional counseling, if necessary, to get to the underlying root of why the sin is a struggle in the first place.
In other instances, allow elders or other trusted leaders to keep you accountable. Create a consequence if the sin continues, like stepping down from ministry or termination of leadership abilities.
Do what it takes to rid your life of the darkness that leads you away from walking fully in the light as Jesus is fully light.
No matter how dark things may seem, light can spread through the darkness and illuminate our lives. No matter what level of darkness is present in our lives, Jesus gives us the hope to live in freedom.
When we let others know our sins and confess to God and others, we keep our souls clean, ridding of any sin that may hinder us from living fully in the light.
For further reading:
Was Jesus Referring to Hell When He Said the ‘Outer Darkness’?
What Is the Power of God’s Light Over Darkness?
How Will Light Shine on All Your Ways?
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Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.