October 25

Where Sin Begins, Part 2

John 3:19-20 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.

Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.

Terrible things can happen in the dark. Many a novel, film and television show plays on our fears of what we can’t see. In Biblical language, sin is equated with spiritual darkness, and terrible things can happen there, too.

One of the greatest dangers to a believer is what can happen in the dark—the slow growth of sin that we don’t pay attention to. Whether or not we consciously feed our sin, left unattended it will still grow from bad seed to full-blown sin, which leads to some kind of death and judgment (see James 1:14-15 and yesterday’s devotional).

Many of the “spiritual tragedies” seen by the author began years before there was any outward manifestation. Somewhere in the quiet, dark place of the heart, a decision was made: to get out of a marriage, to leave one’s ministry, to follow a sinful desire of some kind, etc. What happens over time when that quiet decision is not brought to the light and dealt with, is that a spirit of self-deception begins to take hold.

Most Christians wouldn’t rush into fornication, adultery, walking away from their call, stealing, or outright sin. The thought of it would be repellent to us if the “full-blown sin” were presented to us in all its ugliness at the moment of temptation. So the enemy must work in near secret, in the quietest, darkest places of the heart. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes years. But if that inclination, or temptation, or even something of a decision is not brought to the light, repented of, and ministered to, it will grow and deceive us until it reaches its goal of sin and destruction.

We occasionally see an overt sin from someone we would never have suspected of doing such a thing. We are shocked, and naturally ask ourselves how that could have happened. There is usually one answer—gradually and in the dark.

Satan can come as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14), speaking quiet words of discontent combined with just enough “common sense” to seem acceptable. He will “repeat as needed” until, drawn away by our own lusts, we become convinced of a lie we would have been appalled by some time before.

Our only hope is to stay close to the Lord, asking Him to “search me…and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139:23-24a). God is full of grace and rescues us from more than we will ever know. “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” (I John 1:7) Let’s work to stay in that light.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Jesus’s constant intercession and for Your constant deliverance. Please expose any small deception and help me to learn to walk in Your light every day.

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