This tract began as a teaching in our church about the contrast between spiritual light and darkness. Since presenting it, I have been impressed with several subjects concerning our relationship with God that address temptations to walk on the edge of darkness. This tract, then, will be the parent and defining tract for a series about the danger of “Walking on the Edge of Darkness.”
The Bible has much to say about light and darkness. Biblically, spiritual light has to do with God's love, mercy, truth, and life, as well as lives touched by the thrill of knowing Him. These expressions of spiritual light are all revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Physical darkness, on the other hand, is the absence of light, while spiritual darkness is characterized by the rejection of God’s true light, Jesus, His only begotten Son. Satan uses spiritual darkness to draw people into indifference (especially about the state of their eternal soul), self-centeredness, anger, depression, unforgiveness, etc. Spiritual darkness ultimately brings death. It is characterized by people devoid of the light of spiritual life, who do not know God as revealed in His Son. John, the apostle, wrote that the “the true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:9) Jesus boldly claimed in John 8:12 that He was that light when He said, “I am the light of the world and He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." He came into this darkened world to bring to us the light of God’s life (John 1:4-5). Those who are enlightened are delivered from the power of darkness and transferred into “the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13-14). He rescued us from the domain of darkness through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This rescue restored our relationship to God, providing us with access to the throne of grace where “we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). What wonderful promises! In “light” of these assurances, why would anyone choose to stay in darkness?
People make strange choices; and God has given us freedom to do so. The Bible says that man “loved darkness rather than light” (John 3:19-21). What is it that is so attractive about darkness that people cling to it?
1. Reliance on Intellect: There is a certain security in assuming that reality is limited to what one can comprehend. Such “security” comes from believing that man can control his destiny. But, a person who limits himself to intellectual understanding cannot know God, who does control his destiny.
The natural man does not receive the things of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned . . . For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18)
In Him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4-5)
2. Lust: People love the freedom to do whatever they want, when and where they choose. They seek to satisfy their selfish desires and fulfill their lusts without guilt by dismissing any prohibition of sin as “religious” bondage. But inwardly they know it is sin. Jesus understood this when He said:
Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed . . . (John 3:20)
3. Pride: The world considers man to be at the top of the “evolutionary ladder.” Then, without having to consider themselves as created in God's image, they can establish their own rules and patterns of life and so create “gods” to satisfy their own concepts (including theologies offered as “biblical” that misrepresent God’s plan of salvation and even God Himself).
. . . although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man . . . . (Romans 1:21-23)
4. Self-love and Self-esteem: In men’s desires to think well of themselves they are often drawn to a seductive philosophy that emphasizes self-love and self-esteem.1 How one evaluates oneself becomes a self centered driving force for many. In other words, what they can do to earn love, appreciation, and importance becomes the motivation of their lives. Many religions fuel this desire through a works oriented theology. Such philosophies include secular humanism, materialism, as well as most of the religions in the world (sadly now including much of institutional Christianity). Biblical Christianity stands in stark contrast to them all, emphasizing the grace of God.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves . . . boasters, proud . . . haughty . . . . (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
5. Habit Patterns: People find comfort in familiarity. Many, raised in nominally Christian environments, are unaware that they live in darkness and are comfortable with their particular lifestyle. Change can seem threatening to them. Their tendency is to resist change, including the light of God.
But those who choose to love darkness will not know God. Neither will they know the wonderful blessings of God that are available to all who walk in the light. Instead of a life of freedom with Jesus, they will be condemned to darkness for eternity, if they do not turn to Him and repent.
(Note to the Reader: Do you only know Jesus as an historic figure? Is your world controlled by one or more of the five characteristics of darkness listed above? Do you want to experience the glorious light of Gods kingdom as revealed in Jesus Christ? If so, please stop for a moment and consider Jesus as the Bible presents Him. He is Gods Son who was sent to die that you might be freed from the bondages and the ravages of sin. In turning to Him you can know the God of creation personally and walk with Him forever. The Bible describes God as our refuge, our strength, our rock, and our stronghold in times of trouble (Psalms 18:2; 46:1; 91:1-2). He can also be our comforter and healer when sadness and sickness confront us. (Psalm 23:4; 2 Corinthians 1:3-5; Acts 28:27). If you want to know more about God and the life He offers you, please find a mature born-again Christian and ask him or her about Jesus. The New Birth, 2 a tract referenced below, can also help you find out more about who Jesus is, what He has done for you, and what He can be in your life. Now read on to discover more of Gods blessings and some of the challenges of walking in the light.)
People who turn from darkness, who have come to Jesus Christ, and accept Him as their Lord and Savior are born anew2 into the Kingdom of God. This new birth opens up a whole new realm that can be filled with Christ's joy and peace as they follow and trust in God. Every follower of Jesus can know:
1. The love of God that surpasses understanding and fills their heart with the fulness of God. (Ephesians 3:19; 1 John 3:16)
2. The mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God. (1 Peter 2:9-10; Ephesians 1:7- 8)
3. The truth of God. (John 8:31-32; John 14:6)
4. The voice of God. (John 10:27-28)
5. That all things will work together for their good. (Romans 8:28-30)
6. The presence of Christ within them. (Ephesians 3:17; Galatians 2:20)
7. The assurance of everlasting life. (John 3:16-17)
8. God’s abundant life revealed in them. (John 10:10-11)
If this is all true, why should those who walk in the light be concerned at all about the darkness?
Satan prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). He often tempts Christians by trying to draw them back into the darkness that had been their world before they were born-again (Ephesians 2:1-3). Three important things to remember as we seek to overcome the temptations of darkness and to walk with God are: 1. Jesus has delivered us from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:12-14); 2. those who follow Him shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12); and 3. whoever believes in Jesus should not abide in darkness (John 12:46). These are very encouraging passages and would seem to inoculate us against the schemes of Satan. But note the words shall not and should not in the John 8 and 12 passages. It seems we have to choose! Can people of the light walk in darkness if they want to do so? I clearly think we can. Even though Jesus has delivered us from the power of Satan, we can open ourselves to his power through sin. Slippage into darkness usually begins when we make compromises by succumbing to his lies or our lusts and begin “walking on the edge of darkness.”
Can people walk around the edge of a fire without the risk of being burned? If they do it enough, they will be burned. How about walking around the edge of darkness? After all, it may only involve little compromises. I think Proverbs 4 addresses this and warns of the danger in not one, but six ways:
Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on. (Proverbs 4:14-15)
Paul in his letters to the Corinthians and to Timothy used the word FLEE in addressing moral issues:
Flee sexual immorality. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
. . . flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14)\
Flee also youthful lusts . . . . (2 Timothy 2:22)
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil . . . But you, O man of God, flee these things . . . . (1 Timothy 6:10-11)
These warnings should not be treated lightly because treading on the edge of darkness is dangerous! Satan masquerades as an angel of light looking for ways to seduce those who do (2 Corinthians 11:13-14). The consuming darkness of blatant sin is but a short step from the edge of darkness!
Hebrews 3 presents a progression from sin to apostasy, exposing the danger of “walking on the edge of darkness.” It begins with the deceitfulness of sin which may lead to a hardening of one’s heart (Hebrews 3:13). A hardened heart then can easily be led astray to the point it becomes full of evil thoughts continually (Hebrews 3:10). A person who moves into the darkness of unbelief in this way can eventually depart from God and His salvation (Hebrews 3:12). It all begins with compromising in some area of our lives when we fail to live up to the challenge of the following words of Christ:
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)
Jesus met this same challenge in following His Father's will when He faced His very difficult last days. He knew that He would encounter beatings, ridicule, humiliation, and finally crucifixion. Luke 22 reveals that Jesus, while alone praying on the Mount of Olives, was severely tempted in His emotions and thoughts to give up and take the easy way out (just as we are tempted in ours). He did not act on His feelings, but immediately turned and submitted to His Father’s call on His life to die for you and me:
He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” . . . And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:41-42; 44)
Obeying the Lord as He challenges us individually is not easy. We will face obstacles to do so every day. Failure places us on a slippery slope. It can start in our minds with such things as lust (including pornography and lascivious daydreams), pride, covetousness, unforgiveness, impatience, lying, anger, or a desire for revenge. When we entertain such thoughts, it is easy to rationalize giving in to them just a little. We then find ourselves “walking on the edge of darkness,” just a slip from the abyss of darkness itself.
How could someone who has walked in the light and tasted the goodness of God be drawn again to darkness? The desires of the flesh can have a strong influence on our choices. The things that keep people in darkness can also tempt Christians to look back toward them: lust, pride, self-esteem, reliance on intellect, and the draw of the comfort of familiar ways. In addition, the following patterns in our lives can place us on paths to the edge of darkness:
1. Letting Jesus take second place in an area of our lives. (Matthew 6:24)
2. Choosing close fellowship with those who walk in darkness and joining in some of their life practices. (2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:11)
3. Choosing not to practice the truth. (1 John 1:5-7)
4. Choosing to hate a brother who has offended us. (1 John 2:9-11)
5. Unforgiveness. (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-22; Luke 17:3-4)
6. Requiring more than Jesus for salvation, including religious works (such as keeping special days, doing penance to receive forgiveness, and abstaining from certain foods for religious purposes), and looking to any intermediary with God other than Jesus. (Acts 4:12; 1 John 1:9; 1 Timothy 2:5-6)
7. Choosing not to respond to God when He shines light into dark areas of our own lives, especially when He shines it through those closest to us. (John 3:18-21)
What can keep us from recognizing that we are walking on the edge?
1. Deception: Deception can come when pride leads us to believe lies or reject the truth, when lustful thoughts take control of us, when feelings become the basis of our faith rather than truth, or when we rationalize our sin away. We can’t even recognize the truth when we are deceived.
You he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind . . . . (Ephesians 2:1-3)
2. Following My Way: It is hard to hear His still small voice and those of others warning us of our wanderings if our lives are centered around what we want. This happens when we are distracted from walking in the light by our own priorities, ambitions, and dreams. In effect, our lives could be summed up by the philosophy of Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My Way” Our spiritual hearing is also dulled when we try to earn our salvation by works rather than by faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). Instead of trying to hear God, our focus is on how to earn points. God’s heart is that we would love Him so much that we want to follow His ways and desire to please only Him instead of ourselves.
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength . . . My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (Mark 12:30; John 10:27)
Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.” (Hebrews 3:10)
. . . you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable (or pleasing) to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10)
The choice to walk on the edge of darkness can be subtle. Satan usually doesn’t use “big” sins (such as robbery, rape, and murder) to ensnare us, but disguises his temptations as “fun” or “innocent” adventures. If that is the case, how can I tell if I am beginning to walk on the edge of darkness?
1. When my conscience weakens and sinning becomes easy or I find it difficult to repent or forgive others.
2. When I am no longer drawn by worship, prayer, His word, fellowship with other believers, or the assembling of the saints. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
3. If I break fellowship with other Christians or experience unresolved conflict in a close relationship, especially my marriage, the suspicion should arise that I may have ventured to the edge of darkness.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another . . . . (1 John 1:7)
We can experience hard times, even times that seem dark (these can be especially difficult when relationships are strained), and yet still walk in God's light. God’s love can sustain us through any difficulty as long as we trust Him in every circumstance. He is always faithful and calls us to walk in the light as He is in the light. When we do, “we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
4. If we water down the gospel (especially the truths that Jesus is both the Son of God and the only way to God [Galatians 1:6-9]), we rationalize our sin (Gal 6:7-8), we justify being ashamed of God (Luke 9:26), or we begin to believe that we can earn His marvelous salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)
5. Anytime we are tempted to hide our choices or ideas from others or try to keep our beliefs within a small group, hidden from the light, a warning flag should go up. We are very likely treading on the edge of darkness.
For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. (John 3:19-21)
For example, the leader of a particular home meeting in a nearby church taught a seductive theology that is a core belief of a cultic system of thought called “Union Life”. They believe that a Christian can’t sin (and therefore would have no need to repent). How appealing this is to people with low self-esteem! People in the group were not to spread this teaching to others in their church because “they are not ready to hear it.” (This choice to hide from others by itself was enough to put them on the edge of darkness.) This particular group ultimately became a separate church that ended up dissolving because most, if not all, of their marriages broke up and many of them walked back into darkness and left the Lord. Without repentance and godly sorrow, one will destroy his or her relationships and be far from walking in the light!
6. Anytime we have to force something to happen, even if it is based on a promise of God, we might also be treading near the darkness.
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. (Psalm 127:1)
Abraham tried to fulfill God’s promise of descendants in his own strength by sleeping with his wife’s maid (his wife was barren) and Ishmael was conceived (Genesis 16:1-4, 15-16). From the outset, Ishmael's descendants have generally persecuted the Jewish descendants of Abraham to this day.
7. When we won’t acknowledge emotional addictions to such things as alcohol, drugs (legal and illegal), or food. (1 Corinthians 6:12)
As we walk in the light with Jesus, we must be attentive to our relationship with Him and be aware that there is an enemy in the darkness who is trying to derail our walk and our relationships. He wants to draw us back into the darkness from which we were delivered by Jesus. But he will be happy if he can entice us to begin “walking on the edge of darkness.” There he can rob us of much of our victory and maybe even help us slide back into the full darkness of his world. Anyone who has fallen from grace and returned to darkness has first played games with the edge of darkness and lost! It is critical, then, that we repent whenever we are foolish enough to walk on the edge of darkness, as with any sinful choice, and return to the light (Ecclesiastes 10:1-3).
We were created to walk in the light, but sin has robbed us of many blessings God wants for His children. If you want to know the fullness of God’s presence and all He has for you, come to the light and walk in the light of His countenance. Never leave it. Your life will be rich beyond measure!
The following Scriptures encourage us to walk in the light of the Lord:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. (Ephesians 5:8-11)
This is the message which we have heard from him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and 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 Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)
All quoted Scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible.
1. Self-Love/Self-Esteem, Road to Bondage or Road to Freedom, by John Whritenor, Saugerties Christian Fellowship.
2. The New Birth, by John Whritenor, Saugerties Christian Fellowship.
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