Fighting the Pull of Darkness, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #57)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 5:1-10

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Fighting the Pull of Darkness, Part 1 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #57)

Walking is a normal and frequent mode of transportation whereby we get from one place to another. People, of course, walk from one place to another with different intentions. Some are on their way to do good — to work, to volunteer at a charity, to a church service, or to visit a friend in the hospital. Others, however, are on their way to do evil — to rob a bank, to the bar to get drunk, to a secret rendezvous with someone they aren’t married to commit the sin of adultery, fornication or homosexuality. Simply put, some are walking in light while others are walking in darkness.

Christians, of course, are called to walk in the light. However, sometimes, though we may have started out with every intention of remaining in the light, we slip back into darkness. We backslide. We slip into sin. In the classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan describes such an event happening to the pilgrims, Christian and Hopeful. Listen as I read this portion of the story.

So they went on and Ignorance followed behind. They continued until they came to a place where another path joined in with the straight way. Now this new alternative way seemed as straight as the road to which they had become accustomed. Because of this the pilgrims were undecided as to which way they should take, for each seemed as straight as the other. So they stood still and pondered.

And as they were wondering which way to take, a dark man, dressed in a light colored robe, approached them; he then asked the pilgrims why they were standing there. They explained that they were going to the Celestial City, but did not know which of the two ways to now take. “Follow me,” said the man, “for it is the way in which I am now going.” So they followed him along the new way that had joined the old way, though this new path gradually veered away from the Celestial City so that they came to be facing the opposite direction. Now, as time passed by, before they awakened to their guide’s deception, he led both pilgrims into a net that completely closed itself around them. As a result, they became so thoroughly entangled that they did not know what to do. Then the white robe fell off the dark man’s back so that the captives began to understand what had happened.

Just as Christian and Hopeful were easily deceived into turning aside out of the straight and narrow way, we also are susceptible to the wiles of the “dark man” – the devil who often sends his wicked servants as angels of light in order to lead the child of God astray. How can we combat the pull of sin and evil on our lives as Christians? Paul’s letter to the Ephesians sheds light on this issue.

Paul writes to the believers in Ephesus, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” Yes, beloved, you and I are called to follow God. The Greek word that is translated as “follower” in our text is “mi-me-tes.” It literally means, “imitator.” You and I are supposed to imitate God. Typically, we think that our relationship with God involves such things as worshipping Him, loving Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, and serving Him. All of those things are good, but the Bible calls us to strive to imitate God, to be like God, to “be holy as I am holy.”

We call to mind Peter’s words as he echoes an Old Testament command: “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [or lifestyle]; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” If we follow the ‘dark man’, no matter how good they are, we can still be led astray. However, if we follow God, we will never be led off the straight and narrow way.

We know from Scripture that God’s character is perfect. He does not change; He cannot lie; He cannot be deceived. As First John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” If we walk with Him, we are walking in the light.

How do we follow God? Paul writes, “as dear children.” A child often imitates his or her parents. A child learns how to carry out the basic functions of life by following the parents’ example. We ought to follow God as little children.

Furthermore, Paul writes that we ought to “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Being imitators of God and Christ will cause us to lead lives according to a much higher standard than the world’s standard. The world says, ‘Live for yourself. Only what you want really matters.’ However, the way of Christ tells us to live for God first and to live for others. If you go through life seeking to fulfill only your own desires, it will be easy for the devil to lead you astray. He will tempt you with things that will be gratifying to your flesh. However, if your priority is pleasing God and serving others — even to the point of self-sacrifice as Christ offered Himself up for us — you will be more inclined to remain on the straight and narrow path.

Verses 3-6 read, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Paul contrasts the life of one who is imitating God and Christ with the life of one who is not. The ungodly life is one of sin and uncleanness — actions which are not in keeping with the calling of saints. He says these things are not “convenient” for us. The Greek word for “convenient” means “to reach to” or “to be fitting.” Are you reaching toward sin instead of toward godliness? Do you still think that sin is “fitting” or okay in your life? Someone who habitually commits acts of immorality, even after claiming to be a follower of Christ, cannot be saved, because, Paul says, such a person has no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

We cannot claim to be followers of Christ, imitators of God, and children of the light if we are still wallowing in the darkness of sin and disobedience. Of course, a Christian is not perfect, but a Christian is one who recognizes his condition and works to correct it. A Christian knows that there are just some things that he or she ought not to be doing — things that ‘ought not to even be named among saints.’ The longer we stay away from these things, the less of a pull they have on us.

Do you want to avoid being pulled back into an ungodly lifestyle? Do you want to avoid being pulled into the darkness of the world, the flesh, and the devil? Make a commitment today to be a follower of God. As long as you are walking with Him, you will never be led astray.

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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.

First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.

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