Fighting the Pull of Darkness, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #58)

Pilgrim's Progress
Pilgrim’s Progress

TEXT: Ephesians 5:1-8

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 sweetsmelling 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:

Fighting the Pull of Darkness, Part 2 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #58)

As Christians, we are called to walk as “children of light.” This means being an imitator of God and striving to be holy as He is holy. As we have seen, however, when we strive to do this, the devil will come alongside us and try to get us to go down a different path. He will try to make us — either willingly or by trickery — choose a path of darkness, to go back to our old ways of sin. His primary goal is to stop us from serving God in any way that he can.

Paul admonished the Ephesian believers not to give in to the devil’s temptations. He admonishes them and us to follow God, to not forget that we have been delivered from darkness and are thus expected to live as such. He talks about the lifestyle of a believer and compares it to the lifestyle of one who is not saved. As Christians, we are to walk in love and to live a life of sacrifice just as Jesus Christ did. We ought not to be engaged in “fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, or jesting,” as these and other such things are not befitting for the children of God — they ought not to be named among saints.

However, today, we see that just in case this positive appeal does not reach us, Paul gives us a more negative appeal. Paul says in verse 6, “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things [the sinful actions he just named] cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Paul is saying that just as the wrath, punishment, and displeasure of God will fall on those who are not saved through the Tribulation Period and the lake of fire (“the children of disobedience”), it will also fall on us if we disobey and engage in actions that are not becoming of the Christian life. However, the Bible tells us that if we as saved Christians, do not judge ourselves, we will be judged in this life through chastisement. For the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 11:31, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” Hebrews 12: 5-8 says, “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ said in Revelation 3:19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

We ought not to allow ourselves to be deceived by “vain (or empty) words.” The devil will come to us and tell us that God isn’t watching us, that He won’t notice if we do something displeasing to Him, or that God is so loving that He won’t chastise us for our sins. Those are all empty words, empty promises. Paul says, ‘Don’t be deceived! Don’t believe the devil’s lies!’ How many Christians have gotten into trouble with God doing something they had no business doing because they thought they could get away with it?

In the classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan gives a vivid depiction of what happens when the children of God follow the path of the children of disobedience. As you recall, when we last saw the pilgrims, Christian and Hopeful, they were trapped in a net that they could not get out of. As they journeyed, they came to a fork in the road and could not decide which way to go. Instead of consulting the map the Shepherds had given them, they followed a ‘dark man’ dressed in white robes who claimed to be a fellow pilgrim. He said he knew the way that they should go; however, he was a servant of the devil, and he led the pilgrims out of the straight and narrow way. When the pilgrims realized their mistake, it was too late. The dark man trapped them in his net and left them to languish. Notice what happens next as John Bunyan tells it:

At last, Christian and Hopeful noticed a Shining One coming toward them with a small whip made of thin cord in his hand… He tore open the net and let the men out. Then he ordered them, “Follow me so that I may redirect you back to the way again.”

Then I saw in my dream that the Shining One commanded the pilgrims to lie down; having done this, he severely chastised them so as to teach them the good way in which they should walk; and while he was whipping them he declared, “As many as I love, I also rebuke and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” Having done this, he directed them to be on their way and to pay particular attention to the other directions of the Shepherds.

What is God telling us through His Word and through this famous allegory which is based upon the Word of God? He is telling us, very simply, that if we act like the children of disobedience — if we do things that ought not to be named among saints, He will deal with us accordingly. He will rebuke and chastise us to help us learn our lesson.

Our past sins no longer have a hold on us. As Paul says, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.” The Greek word for “sometimes” means “formerly or aforetime.” Before now, darkness had a hold on you, sin had a hold on you — but that was before now. NOW, “you are light in the Lord.” Therefore, you should “walk as children of light.”

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles used to sing a song titled “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”:

I don’t like you
But I love you
Seems that I’m always
Thinking of you
You treat me badly
I love you madly
You’ve really got a hold on me
You’ve really got a hold on me, baby

I don’t want you,
But I need you
Don’t want to kiss you
But I need you
You do me wrong now
My love is strong now
You’ve really got a hold on me
You’ve really got a hold on me, baby

I want to leave you
Don’t wanna to stay here
Don’t wanna to spend
Another day here
I want to split now
I can quit now
You’ve really got a hold on me
You’ve really got a hold on me, baby

Yes, sin had a hold on us before we trusted Christ as Saviour, but sin does not have to have a hold on us now. Will we be tempted to go astray throughout our walk with the Lord? Yes, we will. The devil is busy building off-ramps on the straight and narrow way. But God wants us to take heed to His warnings and His rebuke and choose to remain on the path of light.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

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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