Out of the Darkness
Apparently, I don’t need much sleep. Sometimes my brain will bring something to the forefront, and the thought will be so overwhelming that it pulls me from sleep and there’s no going back. The other night we got the blessing of a July cold front, and we had the windows open throughout the house. I woke up initially because I felt a little cold and I knew if I was feeling cold, my wife certainly was. I put more blankets on the bed but then I thought of my daughter; she has the hottest room in the house and as a result has two fans going in her room. I couldn’t help but wonder if she was cold. I snuck upstairs and while the first floor thermostat read the house temperature as 74, the temperature gauge on her tower fan showed 82. I knew she was fine. However, the thought of her being cold had woken me fully, and while I laid in bed for another few minutes, there was no going back to sleep.
This used to lead me into a lot of sin. In the quiet moments while everyone else in the house slept, I would be pulled to temptation, and before I began following Christ I would give in every time. I know I’m not the only one with this story. Becoming a follower of Christ does not stop the temptations, but it does bring the Holy Spirit, who is described as a helper, advocate, comforter, encourager, counselor. It’s funny—we often turn to people for these characteristics; for instance, if you were looking for an accountability partner you would want that person to possess all of those qualities, but we find we have them in the Spirit living within us. Maybe we don’t think to talk to Him as much as we should. Maybe we don't turn to him or lean on him as much as we could.
Jesus said it was best for us that he go away so that the Spirit could come, because, as pastor Kyle Idleman points out, God in us is better than God with us.
“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
I mostly read my bible through the YouVersion Bible app on my phone, and I tend to do so first thing in the morning. Also, I get a notification on my phone every morning with the verse of the day. Well, here I am sitting downstairs since 3 a.m. I finished two movies and I began to feel the pull of temptation—an annoying scratching at the back of my head, reminding me of all the ways I know of to find visual material that is sinful and unclean. I put my phone beside me and prayed, Father, I’m feeling tempted and I don’t know what I need to do to avoid it. Instantly, the verse of the day popped up on my phone.
“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
In a moment when my sinful nature was tempting me to go back to giving into my sinful desires, God reminded me: “But you are not like that.” I read those first six words of the verse probably ten times before I continued on. “You are a chosen people. Royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession.” What a reminder: I belong to God, not myself!
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I can’t do what my sinful nature wants me to do, I don’t belong to myself! “…for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” I no longer live in that darkness of sin and shame and giving into whatever desire comes my way. I have been called out of the darkness and into God’s wonderful light.
“‘…so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’” (Acts 26:18)
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)
This is an example of the power of the Holy Spirit. I did not overcome this temptation by any power of my own. Through the Holy Spirit, I reached out and God sent His perfect Word to me. I found help and grace when I needed it (Hebrews 4:16) and I experienced 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” God does this on a (sometimes) daily basis for me, and I pray you experience it too. We have the power of the Holy Spirit within us (Acts 1:8) and the sword of the Lord at our disposal; we would do well to use them when the enemy attacks. When the temptations come, speak out through the power of the Holy Spirit; reach out and God will not remain silent; He is faithful and true to all of His promises, and He will show you a way out so that you can endure.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.