Letting Your Light Shine In Dark Places
Morally, times are bad. Some say they are getting worse. Paul warned, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1). The word for “perilous” means fierce or grievous. The hymn, “Jesus Is Coming Soon,” begins, “Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear.” We are living in the troubling times of homosexual marriages, a 50% divorce rate, open sexual promiscuity, constant crime, corporate dishonesty, the prolific presence of pornography, etc.
How can 21st century Christians live in such a wicked world? How can we be faithful? Times are bad and maybe getting worse, but times have been worse. In those times men and women of faith learned to be faithful. By investigating how they lived as shining lights in dark places and times, we can discover how we can live faithfully today.
Noah in a Godless World – BE RIGHTEOUS
Noah’s world before the flood was awash with wickedness. People chose their mates primarily on the basis of looks (Gen. 6:1,2). Their thoughts were constantly evil (6:5-7). Violence was widespread in Noah’s time (6:11-13). Jesus tells us that it was a world filled with ignorance and moral unpreparedness (Matt. 24:38,39).
What did Noah do? First, he made the decision to live righteously. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God” (6:8,9). How do you live righteously. By doing what is right. God told him to make an ark. God told him to make it of gopher wood. God told him to make one door. God told him to make a window. What architect in his right mind would call for only one window? What about light and ventilation? How many of us would have tried to change God’s plan? How about a cruise ship instead of an ark or pine instead of gopher wood or additional exit doors in case the ark sprung a leak. Noah’s job was great and helpers were few. Yet, when it came to the building of the ark…“Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (Gen. 6:22).
Furthermore, to live a righteous life is not enough we also must proclaim it to others. God “and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;” (2 Pet. 2:5).
Lot In a Wicked City – BE SENSITIVE
Lot made a big mistake when he pitched his tent toward Sodom. Next thing you know Lot is living in the city. A city where angels were even sought by blinded homosexuals. What was a righteous man to do living in such an environment. Act tough and pretend that it does not bother him? Get used to it? Become desensitized? NO! Lot’s soul was vexed by it all “who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)” (2 Pet. 2:7,8). Tormented means “to wear down, to tire out, to harass beyond endurance. Pain of a naturally sensitive, righteous man.”
Several years ago the Israeli Government Tourist Office advertised trips to Israel in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. The full-page ad showed smiling man sitting in a relaxed position with his legs crossed and a tea cup in hand, floating on the Dead Sea. the ad said, “Cups and saucers float on it…And so do you…You can float clear to Sodom, if you like” Perhaps, you believe that this country is floating to Sodom. Remember, ten righteous souls could have saved Sodom! Suppose that there had been only nine! Suppose that you could have been that tenth one! Who knows; it may well be that you and your stand for Christ will mean the difference between the destruction or salvation of our society and nation.
Joseph in an Officer’s House – FLEE FORNICATION
A newspaper reported an unusual incident at a fast-food restaurant. The manager had put the day’s cash in a paper bag for deposit that night, but an attendant mistook it for an order and gave it to a couple at the drive-through window. A short time later, when the man and woman opened the bag in a nearby park, they were shocked by its contents. They immediately drove back to return it. The manager had reported a robbery, so police cars and a TV crew were on the scene. How relieved he was to get the money back! He said to the couple, “You should be featured on the evening news for your honesty.” “Oh, please, no publicity!” replied the man nervously. “She’s not my wife.”
Here is a man who was honest with money but not with his honey. Joseph, in contrast, was honest with all before God. Let’s face it, to be honest with another’s money but dishonest with another’s spouse isn’t being consistent. Potiphar had entrusted all he owned to Joseph (Gen. 39:6). And when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, Joseph maintained his integrity by refusing her advances (vv.8-12). It cost him dearly, but ultimately it yielded great rewards (41:37-50:26). We must look beyond cultural standards and, instead, see that ultimately we are responsible to God! Like Joseph, we need to ask, “How can I commit this great sin against God?” True, we live in a very sexually immoral world. Yet, God’s boundary concerning marriage has not changed “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). That’s right! Living together is a sin. This passages gives you the low down on shackin up. A few moments of sexual pleasure can bring great and lasting damage to you, to others, to your reputation, to your relationship with God, to your lifetime love, etc. Like Joseph we must maintain our sexual integrity.
Daniel in a Heathen Court – SAY NO
The Babylonians had destroyed the temple and Jerusalem. For the time being there really was no priesthood, sacrifices, temple, etc. Daniel was a lad in a foreign land with strange customs and diet that included unclean animals. What is he suppose to do? When in Rome…? NO! “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Dan. 1:8). I’ve never been a big fan of sweet potatoes. My decisions are based on taste. Not so with Daniel. His decisions were based on convictions which he held to with great courage. He could have been killed.
We live in a foreign land which is not our home. We are just pilgrims passing through. What shall we do? Live like that rest of the world or like citizens of Heaven? Do you have the courage of your convictions. Do you say no to smoking? Do you say no to drinking? Do you say no to speeding? Do you say no to forsaking the assembling of the saints to be with friends and relatives?
Prodigal Son in a pig sty – REMEMBER YOUR FATHER
The prodigal son found himself in troublesome times and evil places because of his on sinfulness. According to Luke 15 he was self-willed (12); selfish (12) separated from his father (12,13), sensual in lifestyle (13) self-abased by sin (14) and starving (15,16). These remind us of so many who leave their heavenly father for a life of sin. They are the steps to stagnation followed by the masses.
However, there is a road to recovery. The prodigal found it when he came to the realization that he did not have to live that way any more (17-19). He repented of his choice of life (17-19). He made a resolution to do something about his life (18). He returned home (20). He renounced his wickedness (21). As a result he found restoration to the family (22) which produced much rejoicing (22-24,32).
Yes, we are living in troublesome times. You are not alone. Many have lived in tough times and difficult places long before you were born. From their example we can learn to..
- Live righteously in an wicked world.
- Remain sensitive to sin.
- Flee fornication.
- Say no to the sinful customs of men.
- …and remember our Father in Heaven who longs for our return.
– Daniel R. Vess