Our society is bathed in artificial light, and submerged in spiritual darkness. Everywhere there is light, except in the hearts of the people. Spiritual enlightenment is our greatest need.
Two thousand years ago a man came preaching in the wilderness of Judea. He was called John the Baptizer. He cried out against the spiritual darkness of his time, warning people to repent of their sins, to change their ways, to submit to God.
Thousands responded. They decided to turn their lives around and to live the way God wanted them to live. They were immersed in water, baptized, that their sins might be forgiven (Mark 1:4).
John's task was to get people ready for Someone else who was coming: the Messiah, the Christ, who was coming to bring spiritual enlightenment and forgiveness of sins to all mankind.
We read about this in the Gospel of John, chapter one: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world" (John 1:1-9 RSV).
Jesus is the true light, sent from the Father, that we might have spiritual enlightenment. He is the morning star, who has come: "To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:79).
Why is there still so much spiritual darkness even though Jesus came to bring us light? We find the answer in the Gospel of John, chapter 3, verses 19 through 21: "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 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."
To be enlightened spiritually, one must find the light, believe in the light, come to the light, put on the armor of light, and walk in the light.
Where can we find the light?
It is not difficult to distinguish light from darkness. Darkness is simply the absence of light. But as we read in John, chapter three, some people hate the light because it exposes their evil deeds.
So first we must want spiritual enlightenment, we must want to find the light. But where can light be found?
Can you find spiritual light in a disco? I have never been to one, but I understand that they often have hypnotic flashing lights of many colors, and loud, deafening music. No, discos and dance halls are dens of darkness, places to avoid if you are searching for spiritual light. The flashing lights are to prevent you from seeing, and the loud music is to prevent you from hearing. You will become blind and deaf.
Can you find spiritual light in the universities? The Apostle Paul said: "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God" (1 Corinthians 3:19). There is not much spiritual light in the universities. Philosophy and theology are human endeavors of limited value, but they have never been significant sources of spiritual enlightenment.
Can you find spiritual light in the traditional churches? Some light is there, but it is hidden under a basket of human dogmas, religious politics and financial interests. Jesus said to the pious traditionalists of His time: "Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men'" (Matthew 15:6-9).
Can you find spiritual light in the sects? Some people are attracted to sects because they require extreme devotion from their members. The problem with a sect, however, is that it is a human system based on social pressure, brain-washing and mind control, rather than being an expression of spontaneous personal faith in the word of God. A sect usually has one, powerful leader at the top. He is sometimes called 'father'. He is often considered to be infallible, and the ordinary members must always submit to his authority. A sect uses hierarchical, army-like control.
Jesus said: "But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ" (Matthew 23:8-10). God is our spiritual father and we may not have any other father in a spiritual sense. Jesus is our spiritual Leader, and we may not have a spiritual guide, mentor or 'discipler' other than Jesus Himself.
Jesus also said: "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant" (Mark 10:42,43). All hierarchical religious systems are fundamentally anti-Christian. Beware of anyone who tries to control you in the name of religion. Your service to God must be spontaneous, coming from your heart. It may not be based on social pressure, coercion or hierarchical control.
Jesus Himself is our source of spiritual light. We must go directly to Jesus for spiritual enlightenment, and not allow the divine light to be filtered and obscured by traditions and hierarchies of human origin.
Jesus said: "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12).
We must believe in the Light
Jesus is the light of the world, He is our God-given source of spiritual enlightenment. But we must believe in the light. Jesus said: "While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light" (John 12:36). And: "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness" (John 12:46).
Many people continue to stumble along in spiritual darkness because they do not believe in the light. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).
We must come to the Light
Many pious people have been deluded into thinking they can be saved by faith alone. It simply is not true. As we read in the Letter of James: "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." ... "For as the body without the spirit is dead; so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:24,26).
Faith in the Light is the first step, but we must also come to the Light. This means that we must turn away from our sins, and dedicate our lives to God. This is called 'repentance' in the Scriptures.
"For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20).
Many people have a superficial faith in God and in Jesus. They know exactly where the light is! And they hate that light, because it exposes their evil deeds. To come to the Light, we must be willing to have the evil in our lives exposed by the word of God.
To be saved it is not enough to believe in the light, we must also be willing to turn away from our evil deeds and come to the light.
Jesus told Paul that he was being sent as an apostle to the nations "to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:18).
And as Paul wrote to the people at Rome: "The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:12-14).
We must put on the armor of light
This passage tells us to "put on the armor of light" and to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ." What this means is clarified in Galatians 3:26,27. "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
We put on the armor of light by being baptized into Christ on the basis of our faith in Him.
This must be our own, personal decision. The so-called baptism of babies, for example, is contrary to the word of God.
Just as John the Baptizer told people to repent and to be baptized to prepare for the coming of Christ, we too must repent, turn away from the works of darkness, come to the Light, and be baptized. As Peter said: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
When we put on Christ in baptism, God removes us from darkness and clothes us with an armor of light. We can then rejoice "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:12-14).
We must walk in the light
After finding the light, believing in the light, coming to the light, and putting on the armor of light, we must walk in the light.
"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), proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: 'Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light'" (Ephesians 5:8-14).
Notice that walking in the light means that we must separate ourselves from the works of darkness. As Paul warned the believers at Corinth: "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14).
And as he explained to the brethren at Ephesus: "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
It is not easy to walk in the light, surrounded by a world of darkness. Paul encouraged the believers at Philippi: "Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life" (Philippians 2:14,15).
Jesus is our source of light. We learn about Him, we learn to be like Him, not via some tradition or some sect, but through the word of life, the Holy Scriptures: "We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:19-21).
The Holy Scriptures are a beacon of light in a dark world. Through the Scriptures we learn of God the Father and of His Son Jesus Christ.
"Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes" (1 John 2:8-11).
"But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-8).
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy" (1 Peter 2:9,10).
"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).
To be a church of Christ, we must be a congregation of believers who have found the light, who believe in the light, who have come to the light, who have put on the armor of light, and who walk in the light.
By the grace of God, through the blood of Jesus Christ, you can come to the light, become a child of God, and walk in the light of the gospel. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, that He died for your sins, that He rose from the dead the third day, if you are willing to turn your back on the works of darkness and come to the Light of God, if you desire to put on the armor of light, to put on Christ in baptism, let us know, and we will put you in contact with believers in your area who can help you.
Unless otherwise indicated, the Scripture quotations in this article are from The New King James Version. Copyright ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers. Permission for reference use has been granted.
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