Spiritual Survival (Part 6)

Light in The Darkness
by Rayola Kelley

I have been talking about spiritual survival. How do we survive the times we are living in? How do we get through the darkness that is consuming the world? How do we get above the environment of fear to embrace the ways of life and hope?

The key is we must be prepared to meet the tidal wave of darkness head on. If people run from it, the wave will grab their ankles and drag them under. If people try to find a place of safety behind walls of denial and indifference, the wave will strip away the fortifications and unveiled spiritual nakedness. It is for this reason that each of us must clearly face these times as well as our spiritual condition to avoid disaster. This means we must cease to be aimless in our Christian walk and begin to focus on what is happening in the world, as well as our spiritual condition.

Clearly, if a person is not focusing on the destination, he or she will become lost. In essence, such individuals will become wanderers in the world. They will go from one pinnacle to another, one problem to another, one crisis to another, and one cause to another. Such people will be able to tell you what they do not like about a matter, but they cannot tell you what they are after. In a way, they are shooting in the dark hoping they will hit the right target; and, when they do hit it, they hope that everything will make sense to them. The reason these people are in such a state is because they do not really know what they are looking for. They may know what they want to leave behind, but they have no idea as to what they are aiming at. If they did see the right target, they would not even recognize it. All they can do is strive to make sure that the unpleasant aspects of their life do not define them, but because they have no real direction or purpose to line up to, those aspects of influence they are rejecting will define them in the end.

I understand what it is like to be aimless in life. In my childhood I had dreams, in my teenage years I had ideas, and in my initial years as a young adult I had high opinions, but eventually life revealed that my dreams were unrealistic, my ideas unobtainable, and my high opinions ridiculous. When life finally slammed against my wobbly notions, all collapsed and were stripped away, causing me to realize I was indeed lost. What stood before me in relationship to identity and purpose had been shredded into so many pieces that nothing fit together, nothing made sense, and I found myself stuck in a muddy rut of ridiculousness.

At such points one must make a decision. Do you become a skeptic about life, bitter towards it, or do you decide to try to find something that will make sense out of it. I have to admit I fought bitterness up front. After all, I had become disillusioned with life for it let me down. Then, I had to realize that no matter how much life had made a mockery out of my existence, that I could not let it make me a skeptic towards it. I could not let cynicism become an endless pit of torment and despair for me; therefore, I wanted to find something that made sense out of the ridiculousness of my pathetic reality.

My problem was that I did not know who or what I was looking for. There was a sense that God was a key, but I did not know what I needed to consider when it came to my Creator. In essence, I was looking for Jesus, but did not know what I was looking for. After all, I already had a vague notion about Jesus; therefore, I could not see how or in what way He would be my solution.

It was not until the Holy Spirit parted the darkness of my state with the light of hope that I realized why Jesus was my solution. He alone would end my aimless search for the meaning to life.

Sadly, I still see this same aimlessness in some who call themselves Christians. Instead of standing on the Rock of ages, it appears they are wandering from one church to another, one doctrine to another, one gospel to another, and one religious experience to another. The truth is if we are not grounded on the foundation of heaven, we will not survive the times in which we live. If we are not lining up to the true cornerstone of eternity, we will not be able to weather the storm on the horizon. If we do not grow up in Christ, who is the head of righteousness, we will not have the means to finish the course set before us.

Perhaps the greatest example of someone who wandered aimlessly is Cain.  We can read about Cain in Genesis 4. Cain knew about God. He even prepared a sacrifice for Him, but he did not appear to know what pleased God. He was more interested in his own accomplishments and not how God viewed a matter. When Cain presented a sacrifice that was not acceptable to God, he became offended. After all, Cain had presented the best of himself, but Isaiah 64:6 is clear that the best of man is considered filthy rags before God. God was, and continues to be, the ultimate judge as to what is acceptable to Him, not man in his best form. In the end, the Lord did not regard Cain’s sacrifice but accepted his brother Abel’s sacrifice.

Keep in mind that Cain was quite proud of his sacrifice. Apparently, he had seen himself as being wise and clever in the sacrifice he had presented. We have all been there. We are so proud of how smart we have been in a matter that we are swinging quite high with expectation. Surely, our action will bring us honor. But, when we fail to find the next branch to swing from and come crashing down into the abyss of disillusionment, we become angry, giving place for a root of bitterness to be conceived. When Cain discovered his brother’s sacrifice was accepted over his, jealousy came to the forefront. This is the only way unabated pride can respond in such matters. It cannot afford to be overshadowed by someone or something else. It must be recognized and honored.

It is for this reason that James writes this exhortation in his epistle, “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:14-16).  Cain’s jealousy found its source in the wrong place. His handling of the matter was earthly in attitude, sensual in the emotions it produced, and devilish in behavior.

This is why the Lord warned Cain that sin was lying in wait at the door of his heart. If he opened the door, it would lead to strife due to his wrong frame of mind. Strife can only produce something that would be dishonorable. However, Cain possessed a worldly wisdom, not a heavenly one. He refused to be reasoned with because he wanted to maintain the intensity of his anger with the intent of expressing it. In the end, he murdered his brother.

Jealousy will set out to defame and destroy in order to silence the tormenting rage that is driving it. I cannot tell you how many people have thrown other people under the bus because of jealousy. They proved to be cruel and indifferent to the fact that the sin of jealousy rests with them, and that it does not belong to the one who has innocently stirred it up out of the cesspool of insecurity and lust.

When God confronted Cain about his murderous actions, he once again proved to be unreasonable. He refused to own up for his actions and repent. He had a short opportunity to throw himself on the mercy of God in humble repentance. Instead, he acted ignorant about his wicked behavior. However, the Lord knew what had happened. A curse was pronounced on him. Cain would become a vagabond, a fugitive in the world. Nothing would grow for him again.

Sin has broken man’s relationship with God. It brings him under the curse of always being a fugitive when it comes to his Creator. He will only know the bitterness of sorrow. He must hide, flee, and run from the presence of God. The Bible confirms this by telling us that Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and he ended up building a city. This is where man’s government was established.

Granted, Cain had to be an intelligent man to establish a government, but as I have pointed out, he had to leave the presence of the Lord to do so. He did it as a vagabond. Since his actions had no life to them, they could only result in death.

Except to use him as an example, Cain fades quickly from the pages of the Bible. He gave way to darkness, hid his sin in darkness, went out from the light to walk in darkness, and produced only that which emitted the fruits of darkness.

As I observe the times we live in, it is obvious that darkness is becoming gross due to iniquity abounding around us. It seems as if many people have opened the door to sin. It is clear that it is running rampant as darkness takes people’s hearts and minds captive. Under the cloud of darkness, people are trying to build their own kingdoms without any consideration of God. Granted, it may take shrewdness and abilities to build such kingdoms, but they will only emit the fragrance of death and the fruits of darkness (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). In the end, these kingdoms will lay in complete ruin as the dust of time entombs their silent, decaying remains.

We must take note of Cain’s plight. Pride set him up for a fall, jealousy took him captive, strife became his preference, and murder his action. Instead of repenting, he tried to hide the darkness of his own heart. Instead of seeking mercy, he held his wicked position as mercy fled his grasp and darkness claimed his soul and death his destiny.

In this present darkness it would be easy to be a Cain. Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” Vision points to that which is outside and beyond us. It is about having aim, taking aim, and hitting the target. Therefore, what should our vision be as believers?

In some translations, the word “vision” is translated as “revelation.” From this perspective consider Revelation 1:1a, “The revelation of Jesus Christ…” Jesus should be our revelation. Our spiritual vision must be on Him. We must take aim to know Him, and hit the target of knowing Him by walking according to faith towards Him. Scriptures confirm that Jesus should be our aim in life, knowing, loving, and serving Him. Meditate on the following Scriptures in regard to this issue:

      “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son; and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).

      Jesus said this in regard to the work of the Spirit, “He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14).

      “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

      “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

      “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Remember the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). The light in the Gospel is Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

      “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

If a person is seeking Christ, focused on Him, pursuing a greater knowledge of Him, and desires to be possessed by Him and to possess Him, he or she will cease to wander and will begin to follow the Lord’s light to his or her final destination.

As we consider this past year and consider the possible seriousness of the New Year, we should examine whether we have been found by the great Shepherd, or whether we are still wandering in the barren wasteland of the world—lost in its endless maze of vanity, entangled in its darkness, and groping at its fading or illusive promises.