Big Words of the Christian Life: Illumination (Part 1)

June 20, 2019 at 9:32 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

Psalm 119:18

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I Peter 2:9 (emphasis added)

Every person comes into this world (which is a dark world, spiritually speaking) in a state of spiritual darkness himself. God’s truth is present in the world and it is the only source of light. Jesus is the Light of the World, but the existence of light – alone – does not bring about spiritual vision or the comprehension of truth. In order for light to be effective, there has to be the ability to see. Blind eyes have to be healed and spiritual blindfolds have to be removed. This can not be done by physical force, nor by debate, nor by fleshly enticement. It is part of the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration when it happens – when an unbeliever becomes a believer. When a lost person gets saved – when someone who has been born only once (physically) gets born again (spiritually) – the Holy Spirit opens His eyes to the Truth.

That part of illumination is purely a gift of the Spirit. We do not cooperate with it, any more than a thief who is sneaking around a dark house hiding from the cops cooperates with being exposed once they shine a spotlight right in his face, but there is an aspect of the doctrine of illumination which does involve our cooperation – after we are saved.

Illumination is the Holy Spirit’s work in giving spiritual sight to unbelievers, and thereafter teaching believers the Scriptures, helping us to understand them, and empowering us to apply them to our lives.

I. Illumination Indicts Iniquity

It exposes, and makes us aware of, our own sin.

Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

Psalm 90:8

We often have trouble seeing our own sin, or understanding the pervasiveness of it. We are like fish who do not understand they are wet because “wetness” is all they have ever known. We are very accustomed to darkness – until we become of aware of how God sees our sin. Nothing is done in secret from His point of view. Once His spirit illuminates our self-awareness, we recognize our guilt and our terrifying position before a righteous Judge.

For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:

Proverbs 6:23

God’s Word shows us our true condition, and the condition of the world around us. We should be convicted when we read the Bible, but not merely convicted. We should also find hope: reproofs and instruction.

Light helps us see what’s around us, but it also shows us safe paths to take and ways of escape from trouble.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

John 3:19-20

We need the Holy Spirit’s help to come to the light. It hurts our eyes. It shocks us. It throws us into a state of shame or embarrassment. BUT… if we will come to it instead of running away from it, then illumination will expose, and make us aware of, our own sin. It will give us insight into our spiritual nature. It will allow us to discern the sins of others and sin in the world.

II. Illumination Initiates Interest

Evil needs a covering, or an excuse, or a rationalization. People don’t want their deeds exposed along with their motives.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:21

Those who have been illuminated by God, and who come to the light, want their deeds to be manifested – to be made known – but isn’t this a form of pride, of bragging, of showing off? No, it’s a way of glorifying God – because only His light has made it possible to do these types of deeds and it is obvious they are wrought in God. They are His good works, really, merely done THROUGH us. We are not light sources; we are light reflectors. We’re not the electricity running through the wires; we’re the bulbs: the diffusers of God’s glorious light.

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 1:79

God’s light gets us moving – it “motivates” us to make peace, to try to help reconcile people to God. Most people, whether they admit it or not, have a nagging sense that they live under the shadow of death – the awareness that life will end relatively soon and judgment awaits. God’s light puts death in the shadow of God’s glory instead of vice versa.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

II Corinthians 4:4

A physical blindfold can be removed by force, but mental and spiritual blindness, like physical blindness, requires supernatural intervention.

For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 4:5-6

God, in Christ, has illuminated our hearts and minds, but not just for our “enlightenment.” (I prefer the term “illumination” over “enlightenment” because of the baggage and selfishness associated with Eastern mysticism, and to avoid connecting it to the historical period known as the “Age of Enlightenment.”) He has given us His light and placed it in our formerly darkened hearts so that we can shine it into other blind hearts and minds.

Illumination creates in us a desire to read and study God’s Word. Illumination attracts us to God’s Truth.

III. Illumination Implements Instruction

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit’s work of illumination does not stop when a believer receives the gift of salvation.

Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.

Psalm 112:4

Those who are “upright” – who stand before God in Jesus’s imputed righteousness – are given light to know God more and more, in ever-increasing measures. I mentioned earlier that believers participate in it, but it is still a gift of God’s grace and compassion, and it is for the purpose of directing us toward righteousness.

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

Illumination is about understanding and applying the Word of God. It is not about feelings, fantasies, or fables. It is not about private personal promptings. The Holy Spirit inspired the same Scripture for everybody to read, and He illuminates it for each person to study on his/her own with a goal of reaching a common, mutual, and CORRECT comprehension of it. The Holy Spirit gives greater understanding to those who obey what they have already been shown.

Next time we will see that illumination imparts insight.

Why Some People Just Don’t Get all that Jesus/Church/Religion/Christianity/Gospel Stuff

August 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm | Posted in Salvation, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 7 Comments
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albino alligator

Here in the South (U.S.A.), it can sometimes seem more likely to encounter an albino alligator than somebody who freely admits that he or she is not a Christian (although here in Louisiana many of my Roman Catholic friends say, “No, I’m a Catholic,” when someone asks them if they are Christians). Here are the most common responses I get when I ask people, “Are you a Christian?”

-“Yes, I’ve been a Christian my whole life.” (This is actually an impossibility. No one is born as a Christian, which is why the Bible says you have to be “born again.” By the way, no one will become a Christian after they die, either.)

– “Yes, I was baptized when I was ____ years old.” (This is actually irrelevant. Getting baptized does not make anyone a Christian.)

-“Yes, I go to such-and-such church.” (Again, this is irrelevant. Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than – as the common cliche’ goes – going into a garage makes you a car.)

-Yes, I pray every day. (Still irrelevant. Many people become Christians during a prayer, but praying itself does not make anyone a Christian.)

-Yes, I read my Bible every day. (Okay, I admit it. Almost no one ever says this to me any more, but if they did, they would be wrong. Reading the Bible in and of itself does not make anyone a Christian.)

-Yes, I ‘just know’ I’m a Christian. (While I don’t see how anyone could be a Christian and not know it, this response only begs the question. “Just knowing” something doesn’t make the something true. A true Christian would be able to state why, how, when, where, and upon what authority he or she became a Christian.)

Every once in a while, I run into somebody who pretends to be an atheist, but that is much more common on the internet than in real life. By far the most common type of non-Christian that I know is the person who “just doesn’t get it.” And even this category breaks down into sub-types.

There’s the “I don’t get it because it makes me uncomfortable” type. These folks were taught that it’s bad manners to talk about religion or politics because the topics are too volatile, or because it’s their own personal business, or because it makes them feel guilty or “judged.”

Then there’s the “someone religious hurt my feelings one time” group. They were mistreated at church, or somebody told them they were going to hell without first explaining why, or somebody told them something untrue about Christianity or the Bible.

Then there’s the “it’s all a hoax” crew. Their main experience of so-called Christianity has been the lying and greedy prosperity preachers on TV. They think anybody religious is secretly trying to swindle them out of their money. Somebody coerced them into coming to church on Easter Sunday one time, and, at the end of the service, the ushers passed an offering plate around, and they were highly offended that anybody would talk about Jesus and then give them the opportunity to contribute money to His Church.

There are some other categories, too, and some of these bleed into each other, and somebody is going to read this and say, “Ha! I don’t want to hear about Jesus for a whole different reason that you haven’t even thought of, you stereotyping bigot!” I know, I know, everybody has their own story and their own bruised little inner child that’s crying out for understanding, but I can make the whole thing really simple. Because, underneath it all, at the real crux of the matter, there is only one big foundational reason whey people aren’t Christians. They are rejecting the Truth.

We think sympathetically of blind people, and we should. They can’t help it. I doubt we would feel sorry, though, for people who are blind simply because they refuse to take off their blindfolds. Spiritual blindness is a whole different thing. People who “just don’t get it” when it comes to Christ and His Gospel are not people with blinded eyes. They are people with blinded minds.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

II Corinthians 4:3-4

If a person with a blindfold on his eyes says to me, “Sorry, but I just don’t get this whole ‘vision thing,'” I’ll just reach up and snatch off his blindfold. No sympathy. When a person says the same thing about Jesus’s Gospel, though, I can’t snatch it away. Only the Holy Spirit Himself can do it. The “method” that He has chosen for this procedure, though, is the proclamation of the Word of God: The Truth about our sin, God’s Son, and and His salvation.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

The spiritually blind person is 100% at fault for his own blindness, but God still has to do something miraculous and supernatural to give him sight. That’s why real Christians keep preaching to non-Christians who don’t get it, don’t want to get it, and don’t even want to hear about it. Not because we like to annoy people. Not because we get a sick thrill out of telling people they are damned and under the wrath of God (although they are), and not because we think we’re better than them. It’s because Jesus is amazing and wonderful and absolutely deserves to have His story told. It’s because He commanded us to do it. And it’s because we love the people who “just don’t get it” enough to tell them the only Truth that can save them, even when they don’t want to hear it.

The Trap of Looking too Low

September 11, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 3 Comments
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Samson: a man known for his tremendous, albeit supernatural, physical strength. Among his various exploits, the most well-known is probably his tryst with, and betrayal by, the Philistine seductress, Delilah. If pressed to name another Samsonite adventure though, the average church-attender would probably say, “One time, Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey!”

And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.

Judges 15:14-15

When Samson had accomplished this mighty task, he found that he was parched, but he still had the energy to pause and compose a little ditty to celebrate his victory:

And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.

Judges 15:16

This verse loses some of its lyrical wit when translated into English, but the idea is that there is a play on the Hebrew words for “ass” or “donkey” (chamowr in Hebrew) and “heap” (chamorah in Hebrew). The theologian James Moffatt tried to capture the flavor of the pun by paraphrasing the verse. In his translation, Samson’s song or poem would go something like this:
With the jawbone of an ass
I have piled them in a mass.
With the jawbone of an ass
I have assailed assailants.
With the jawbone of an ass
I have slain a thousand men.

Catchy, huh? From Samson’s point of view it was just another day in a life filled with whatever came to pass as he pursued his passions and battled his personal demons. We might expect a man with Samson’s calling and endued with such power to use this miraculous feat as the launching point for a concerted effort to unite his countrymen, draw near to God in gratitude and trust, and to throw off the yoke of the Philistine oppressors once and for all. Alas, it was not to be. In the very next chapter Samson goes into Gaza to visit a prostitute.

What was Samson’s problem? It appears to have been a vision problem. Instead of looking up to God, he kept his sights trained on the day-to-day, the mundane, and the instantly gratifying sensations of fleshly adventure. In other words, he looked – and aimed – far too low.

May we not fall into this trap ourselves. We were made and redeemed by God for purposes far greater than the temporal pursuit of pleasure. But we need to fix our eyes in the right direction, or we will quickly forget our holy calling.

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:18 (emphasis added)

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:1-2 (emphasis added)

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 (emphasis added)

The Trap of Losing Long-Sightedness

August 2, 2013 at 10:54 am | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 1 Comment
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The birth of Samson is recorded at the end of Judges Chapter 13, and the next three chapters tell the story of his life. As his deeds are being described, the phrase “and it came to pass” is found seven times.

In Judges 14:11 he was about to celebrate the feast at his wedding to a woman he had no business marrying. In Judges 14:15 his wife was being persuaded by Samson’s enemies to betray him by revealing the answer to his riddle. In Judges 14:17 he gave in to her. In Judges 15:1 he bickered with his father-in-law. In Judges 15:17 he had just finished making up a silly little song to celebrate killing 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. In Judges 16:4 he made another bad choice in romancing a forbidden woman. In Judges 16:16 he was annoyed with her for trying to coax another secret from him. Sinful partying, illicit lust, gambling, fits of anger, marital squabbling, family bickering, and pointless word games. Judges 15:20 tells us that Samson “judged” Israel for 20 years. You would think, in that length of time, a man with Samson’s tremendous supernatural strength and Holy Spirit-anointing would have been able to make more progress in delivering his people from Philistine oppression.

Alas, it appears that he was more preoccupied with the here-and-now than he was in accomplishing the long-term objective assigned to him by the Lord. If you are a Christian – especially a Christian man – are you thinking about (and living) your life with the “eternal” or the “temporal” in view? Are you planning mainly for the next weekend or for the next generation? Are you building your Heavenly Father’s eternal kingdom or playing games in the personal little kingdom you have constructed around yourself?

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 4:18

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

It is important to take a “long-term” view of our lives in light of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in light of the fact that what we do here on Earth, during the brief time we are given, does matter.

Here is the last time the phrase “and it came to pass” is used in the account of Samson:

And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.

Judges 16:25

Samson, who had lived much of his life as if it were one big joke, was now being made the butt of his enemies’ joke. Will you and I pass through this world lightly skimming the surface, seeking shallow entertainment and amusing distractions? Or will we plunge in with a determination to make a lasting impact, with the ripples from our lives spreading on into future generations, and even into eternity, to the glory of our great God?

Prep Time

June 20, 2013 at 11:25 am | Posted in Esther | 1 Comment
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Lord, help Your people to be dedicated to You, and help us to stand against the attack of the enemy. Give us the wisdom to know when we need to use the methods of confrontation or separation in dealing with our problems, but help us to deal with people always in love. In the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

God often uses people to accomplish His purposes. One example is the gift of the Gospel, which is a great treasure. God could appear to people in person and preach it directly to them, but He has entrusted it to us.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:6-7

This is possibly the most well-known and often-quoted verse in the Book of Esther:

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

It shows the providence of God, but it also shows that we may miss out on the blessing when God accomplishes His purposes anyway without us.

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what is thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. And Esther answered, If it seem good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him.

Esther 5:1-4

Esther was receiving Godly favor and influence. Why wasn’t she more direct with the king? There are some similarities in the way subjects approach an earthly king and the way God’s people approach the Heavenly King, but there are also many differences.

Esther prepared for her meeting with the king, including putting on her royal apparel. We should be thankful that God hears “emergency prayers” (Nehemiah 2:4), but most of the time we should make some preparation for our prayer time.

Breaching Reality

April 13, 2012 at 8:37 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Biblical Violence, BiblicalSwimming, Uncategorized | 28 Comments
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You may have seen this on television. It is one of my favorite images from nature documentary footage. In the frigid waters off the coast of South Africa a great white shark (by some estimates weighing close to one and a half tons) comes bursting up through the water’s surface, breaching explosively with its torpedo-shaped body, clenching a terrified fur seal tightly in its razor-sharp serrated teeth and powerful jaws!

https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQlK6LJGUxJfSk1avZC78jPPDdh-vGb3MWUUVIUnHDpsjAKQ0yY

The voice-over narrator goes on to explain that this “sneak-attack” method of predation is used by sharks to overcome the agility and elusiveness of the much-smaller seals. The viewer is left to ponder this question: “How in the world did the seal not see that coming?”

The answer lies in the seals’ inability to see what needed to be seen, and to hear what needed to be heard. A seal-lover, anticipating the attack, could scream at these fur seals, and even wave his arms frantically as a warning of what is coming from below, but it would do no good. Christians who share the Gospel with unbelievers can sometimes feel a little of the same frustration. Lost sinners know that they are sinning. Why can’t they grasp the danger of God’s impending judgment and wrath? Like fur seals, they are suffering from a type of sensory deprivation.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

II Corinthians 4:4

According to Scripture, the little “g” god of this world, Satan, has blinded – not the eyes, but the minds – of unbelievers. They are swimming obliviously through a sea of worldly conformity, and no amount of screaming, gesticulating, logical reasoning, pleading, or emotional manipulation is going to convince them to swim immediately to the safe harbor of God’s love. What hope is there, then?

There is the same hope that we ourselves (born-again Christians) have experienced:

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 4:6

The only light bright enough to shine into the heart of a person whose mind has been blinded is the glorious light which God has placed in our own hearts, and which can shine like a spotlight on the crucified and resurrected face of Christ the Lord.

Some of us reading this were given our sight just in the nick of time to avoid – not a great white shark – but the place of the condemned before the Great White Throne of God’s judgment. Now, it’s our turn to aim the darkness-defeating, sight-giving light straight into the minds of the other seals. Their Satanic affliction is not a cause for frustration; it is an opportunity for God to get glory.

Light Is Stronger than Darkness

December 16, 2011 at 11:38 am | Posted in Biblical Light, John | 7 Comments
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When we find ourselves in darkness, and that darkness is scary, inconvenient, depressing, frustrating, or confusing, our minds turn immediately to a simple solution: Turn on the light.
The world in which we live, spiritually speaking, is often dark, disturbing, and dismaying. Therefore, it is crucial that we have a dependable source of light. Jesus says:

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

John 12:46

It is difficult to make a room totally dark. Even with the lights all turned off and the windows covered, one little ray of light shining from under a door will soon begin to illuminate the darkness. A tiny spark will, if only briefly, totally defeat the darkest dungeon. The same is true with Christ. His light is stronger than all the powers of darkness.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 4:6

Key Words for Bible Teachers: Treasure

July 27, 2011 at 10:52 am | Posted in Biblical Teaching | 7 Comments
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As we learned previously, Bible teachers have a responsibility to teach the Truth and to make a “type.”

Treasure: Bible teachers must realize that the Gospel is a valuable treasure which we hold in “trust.”

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

I Timothy 6:20 (emphasis added)

The Word of God is a treasure because of its value. In fact, it’s so valuable that I am not completely sure why God has entrusted it to us. From what I can tell, it somehow serves His glory to see that if He placed it in a weak vessel, the power of the Gospel itself would be seen to come completely from Him, and not the vessel itself.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:7

God could have sent angels to deliver His Word. He could have written it in the sky. But He has given it to us in trust. Something given in trust must be protected, but it also must be put to work so that it “grows,” bears an “increase,” or bears “fruit.” So, as we teach, we must guard the Word of God. We must keep it from being stolen or contaminated. We do this by teaching it to our students as though it were a thing of great value. When you teach, be serious about the Word of God. Show your students how to treat their Bibles, how to read Bible verses, how to memorize Bible verses.

We treat the Word of God as a valuable thing held in trust by guarding it, but also by putting it to work. We will give an account for what we have done with our Master’s treasure. He will not be happy if we just dig it up, dust it off, and say, “Here, I’ve protected it. I didn’t lose it and I didn’t let anyone steal it.” He will say, “But did you invest it? Did you sew it? Did you plant it in hearts? Did you spread it around like seed? Has it earned interest? I trusted you to know that I was the kind of Owner Who let you use My treasure in such a way that it would multiply in spiritual fruit.”

Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord.

Matthew 13:51

When the Disciples answered affirmatively to Jesus’s question that they understood all those principles that Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of Heaven, do you think they really did?

Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Matthew 13:52

A scribe is similar to a teacher. Bible teachers must teach the basic things and new things (things that we find on our own in the Bible – things that are dear to us and are shown to us by God). These “new things” are not “fresh” Words in the sense of being private revelation. They are “fresh” in the sense of being “living” Words, and they are just as applicable today as they were when they were written, but they are new to your students – and maybe even to you.

Bible teachers are to teach Truth. We are to deliver a type of teaching. And we are responsible for a treasure.

Light Can Be Offensive

June 15, 2011 at 10:06 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Biblical Light | 12 Comments
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When a person is sound asleep and someone suddenly shines a bright light right into his face, the sleepy person is going to have a tendency to get angry. In a similar way, the Light of the Gospel can be very offensive to a lost person.

My wife is a big fan of bright lights first thing in the morning. If she could have her way, she would spring out of bed and immediately turn on all the brightest lights in the house. That probably speaks well of her spiritual condition, because, as Christians, we should be lovers of light more than darkness. I have to admit that I like to wake up a little more slowly. If I get my way, I’ll get up, take a shower, and get dressed – all in the dark (which probably explains why my tie seldom matches my shirt and I’m wearing mismatched socks).

We live in “dark days,” spiritually speaking. 21st Century America is very similar to the time period described in the Book of Judges. People are mainly doing “what is right in their own eyes” instead of what God has commanded. It seems like the people whose eyes are most adjusted to darkness are some of the the most influential in our society. This does not bode well for our future. When small men cast long shadows, it’s a sure sign that the sun is setting.

Light has a tendency to make things brighter and more clear. We use words like “luminous;” “luster;” “illuminate;” and “illustrate.” When things are clear – when they are seen in their “true light” – we can be prepared and alert. Can you imagine a security guard charged with protecting someone’s life and property, understanding the importance of staying awake, and yet deciding to turn the lights out during his watch?

People who desire to commit acts of shame or evil often seek out areas of darkness. Most nightclubs or barrooms are dark. Most major cities have a “bad side” of town where the streets are dark.

The “color” black (which is really the absence of light) is the color of mourning and sadness.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:2-4

God said the light was good. He didn’t say that about the darkness. And in the very beginning He divided them – He separated them. As Christians, we have the “Light of the World” shining within us. We shouldn’t try to turn this Light down in order to fit in with the world, nor in order to allow the world to keep sleeping, nor out of fear that we might offend the darkness with Light. We need to shine brightly into the darkest parts of the world.

We sing, “Send the light, the blessed Gospel light; Let it shine from shore to shore! Send the light, the blessed Gospel light; Let it shine forevermore!” Many Christians agree that we should send the Light, but few want to help pay the light bill. There is a financial cost, as well as a comfort cost, in sending forth the Light. There is also the cost of ridicule and embarrassment when we shine our Savior’s light.

Light can be very offensive. There’s a right way to be offensive and a wrong way to be offensive. I must remember that the Light does not ultimately come from me. It is the Light of God – hopefully reflected – but only reflected – off me. Satan got in trouble over this issue back when he was still an angel.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15

The name “Lucifer” meant “light-bearer” or “bright one.” He was not a light “source,” and neither are we – but we should be mirrors, and light “amplifiers.”

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

John 3:19-20

Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.

Hosea 6:5

Christ Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament type of sacrificial offerings, but He wasn’t a “burnt offering,” because He produced His Own light.

Biological eyes are dependent on light in order to work properly. Even eyes that work well are useless in the dark. In Scripture lost people are compared to blind people – they are spiritually blind. It is not so much because their “spiritual eyes” don’t work. It is more because they are choosing to remain away from the Light. A lost person hates the true Light. He wants to remain in the dark. But God has given Christians the responsibility – and the awesome privilege – of shining His Light into the dark, and showing lost people the way out of the dark and into the light of His glory.

Strange Weapons Lesson 3: The Pitcher (spiritual application)

April 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Strange Weapons | 4 Comments
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The factual summary of the account of Gideon highlighted the use of some of the strangest weapons in any Biblical battle: pitchers. In the spiritual warfare which Christians are called to wage, we have a corollary for Gideon’s pitchers: our bodies. The Christian’s body sounds like more of a physical than a spiritual weapon, but the key is in how God works in us.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

II Corinthians 10:3-4

1. Pitchers can contain.

The purpose of a pitcher is to hold something. Just as Gideon’s pitchers were used to contain something, our bodies also serve as containers.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

The bodies of born-again believers are the containers of God’s Holy Spirit.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

Is God’s Spirit directing your body, and controlling it? Are you an obedient container? Do your feet go where God wants them to go? Do your hands touch only what God wants them to touch? Are you placing in your mouth and your stomach those things which help, instead of hurt, your body? Are your eyes looking at what God wants you to see? Are your ears listening to what God wants you to hear? Is your tongue saying what God wants you to say? Pitchers don’t decide for themselves what goes into them. The owner of a pitcher puts into it what he thinks is best.

When Gideon’s army brought their pitchers to the battle, God had a plan for them. In the spiritual battles we fight every day, we have our armor to protect us. We also have have prayer, the Bible, and love to help us fight. But don’t forget, your physical body is a part of the spiritual battle, too.

2. Pitchers can conceal.

Gideon’s pitchers concealed lamps. As Christians, we are to be light in a dark world, so we do not want to conceal the light of Christ, but there are times when the container of your body must be used to conceal things.

Nothing can be concealed from God. He looks on the inside, at the secret things. He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. The pitchers of Gideon’s army concealed their lights from the enemy until the time was right. The devil can’t read your mind, but he is watching you. There is a principle in the Bible of controlling yourself so that your weaknesses are not exposed.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:25-27

We are to bring our bodies under self-control. Gideon’s pitchers contained nothing but light.

3. Pitchers can crumble.

Gideon’s army had to use pitchers that were breakable.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:26-29

God has given us a great treasure – greater than wealth, health, fame, or influence. It is the Gospel message. He could have entrusted it to an angel. He could have given it only to powerful, wealthy, or influential men.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:4-7

This way, God gets the glory, not men. Pitchers are fragile, but there is power even in a broken pitcher.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:10

When we are broken, empty, and weak, then His glorious light shines forth and frightens and confounds the enemy, and causes him to flee.

Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

II Corinthians 13:3-4

When we look meek to men, we are strong in Christ. His power is strong in us. When Jesus was going toward the Cross He emptied Himself out of everything we tend to rely on for strength – He had no wealth, no reputation, no family, no friends, not even any clothes! On the Cross He was the emptiest Man Who ever lived. He even lay His Own life down when no man could take it from Him.

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

Psalm 31:5

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

Psalm 31:12

Pitchers can contain. Does God’s Spirit live within you? Pitchers can conceal. Are you able to surrender to His Spirit and be controlled in your body? Pitchers can crumble. Have you ever been broken before God? Does His light shine through your brokenness? Will you make noise for the Lord in the midst of His enemies, even if it means you have to be broken into pieces to do it?

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