Walking in the Light

by Mike Ratliff

1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 ESV)

It seems that the theme so far this month on Possessing the Treasure is a discussion of the veracity of our stance that God’s truth as knowable. Also, His truth is as His attributes and character. He is immutable. His truth is never changing. He is Holy. His truth is Holy, separate from the corruption of the world. His truth, the Word of God, is precise. It supernaturally divides man’s “truth” and understanding from God’s genuine truth. It is sharper than a two edged sword.

I never thought I would write or say the following statement. Religion is the bane of genuine Christianity. It dilutes our devotion from where it should be, on God and God alone, while placing it on works and religious activities that suck all the devotion away from God while placing it on things that build up pride and feed the flesh. While genuine expositions of God’s Word by spiritually gifted men is necessary, many Church activities are so far from what Christians should be about that their removal would not in any way hinder the genuine work Christians should be doing.

I am not advocating the doing away with all churches. However, if we look at the primitive church from Acts and the Epistles, we must admit that what passes for “church” these days in most churches is nothing more than repackaged entertainment that is often just cheap ripoffs from movies and television. Genuine worship in spirit and truth is replaced with “entertaining” music accompanied with appropriate light shows and sound and visual effects. Instead of hearing the Gospel preached as it should be with the emphasis on man’s depravity and utter separation from our Holy God by their sin with the only remedy being belief and repentance in light of our Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross in their place, fleshly crowds hear feel good sermons that attempt to market Christianity to people as if they were taking Jesus out for a test drive.

Christians do need to gather each week to worship God, fellowship and hear edifying Bible teaching and preaching. However, if the alternative are churches as I described in the last paragraph then perhaps God has another plan. Are Christians called to be church going people who are bound to a certain local church financially, or are they called to walk in the Light?

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 ESV)

Walking in the Light is walking in fellowship with our Lord. When we do this we naturally have fellowship with other believers who are doing the same thing. This walk is a walk of continual cleansing. We cannot walk with our Lord without confessing and repenting of our sins. As we confess them to Him in repentance, He forgives us of our sins, cleansing us of our unrighteousness. This is how we walk in repentance as the Lord grants us repentance. This is how we grow in grace and become mature believers. This is how we walk in the Light instead of the darkness.

The only reference to “church” in that last passage was that we will have fellowship with other like-minded believers who are also walking in the Light. It this describes the local church that you attend then praise the Lord!

Our focus must be on God and our walk before Him yoked up with our Lord Jesus Christ while walking in the Spirit. If we do this, then we are walking in the Light. None of that is possible without the constant cleansing that comes from being in His presence. I have a hard time believing that the Apostle John meant for religious acclivity to substitute for this.

9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:9-11 ESV)

Where was John on the Lord’s day? The Lord’s day is Sunday. He was in exile on the Island of Patmos. There was a Roman garrison there and a few shepherds, but John was alone. What was he doing on the Lords day? He was in the Spirit. What does that mean? It means that He was doing the very same thing we do when we sacrifice our time to read God’s Word, pray, and worship Him. Folks, I know you know my stance on this. Most Christians use church as a surrogate for their relationship with God. Instead of praying, digging into the Word and worshipping our Lord every day as they should, they let a worship team, a Bible teacher and a Preacher do all that for them. They go to church and sit there absorbing all of that and never once do they worship our Lord in Spirit and Truth because they are just there hoping that the sermon ends in time so they can go do something else.

I have been in the spirit in my own devotions before. I have worshipped our Lord in Spirit and Truth on my couch in our living room with no one else around. I have worshipped deeply this way as I have shared before. I have rarely been able to do this in a church service. The issue is, we must do it. We must give God the time to work in our hearts. I find it very hard to believe that His intent was to have us in His building once or twice a week for a couple of hours each time and call that Walking in the Light, yoked up with Christ and being filled with the Spirit.

Our focus must be on God fully devoted to Him and His glory. This is an all day, everyday thing. I challenge everyone reading this to have devotional in the morning and another in the evening every day that is possible. Also, give God your free time. I’m not talking about doing church stuff. I’m talking about getting into the Word of God, praying and worshipping Him. Fast and pray whenever possible. Start taking time away from feeding your flesh and give that time to God. Fast from the world and feast on God. I challenge you to do this and see what happens. What will happen is that you will find yourself walking in the Light. When we walk in His Light we can see into the darkness. What will we see? We will see multitudes of professing Christians blindly practicing their religion thinking they are on the same path that you are when, in fact, they are on the Broad Way which leads to destruction. On the other hand, those walking in the Light are on the narrow way that is hard to find. This way is deadly to the flesh and pride, but it cultivates humility and walking in the spirit.

Fellow believers, let’s get very serious about our walk. Let’s get into the Light, walk in the Light and leave spiritual darkness far behind.

Powered by Qumana

10 thoughts on “Walking in the Light

  1. This is what happens when we take our eyes off Christ and not giving Him the glory in ALL that we do. He is the Light we must keep our eyes fixed on during the day and night… not just when we have a hard time and need help because we’ve gotten ourselves in the ditch of despair. I’m learning to quit being so introverted in every aspect of my life and to learn to keep my eyes on Him and what He wants done in His kingdom for His glory. It’s hard because of the flesh but….Phil. 1:6!

  2. Good morning brother,

    I thank God that there are still churches where one can walk with “other like-minded believers who are also walking in the Light” and who are passionate about the gopsel.
    I like this quote from Spurgeon:
    …providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ That is clear enough. So it would have been if he had added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him. Then again, ‘He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.’ Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

    1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

    Matt 16:18

    Take care,

  3. Good morning Mark!

    Good to hear from you. I am sure you are aware that I in now way had Providence Community Church in mind when I wrote this. :-) I do miss the fellowship. Please pray that God will work it out so we can again worship and fellowship with you.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  4. I agree that we have to spend more time in prayer and in reading and seeking the word of God. I know that I waste a lot of time in earthly things, and by reading your messages I am getting encouraged, and now when I an involved in other things it always keeps ringing in my mind that I have to pray and spend more time with God, Its true that the flesh does win a lot, but I am sure that with God’s grace and power and your encouragement i can win over my flesh and get closer to the Lord and seek and know his will. I also hope that i can find a community of people who believe likewise. But I sure am glad to have this online as well. God bless!

  5. Paul,

    I pray that God will continue to draw you into this close walk with Him. It is a awesome thing to have a close intimate walk with Almighty God. Lest we forget, He isn’t our buddy or pal. He is the Living God and we are His children. I find it a wonderful thing that God has laid it on your heart to seek Him this way. Also, thank you for your kind words. They are appreciated more than you know. :-)

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  6. Mike, I agree with you, there is absolutely no substitute for one’s personal devotional prayer and study time. It is one of the means by which God teaches, leads and grows us…..but please be careful. There are those who might read your words and take such ideas of yours and run with them, away from the church. During my own church search I ran into a lot of people who had jumped on the *church search bandwagon* even though they had no idea what they were looking for in a church, or why they had left their previous church. Others were looking for the perfect church for their children; they had been taught that their children were more important, it seemed to me, than Jesus Christ himself. It was not whether His Name and Person were being exalted, no, they were primarily concerned with whether their children would be “safe” or not. (I never did figure out where in the scriptures it teaches that our children’s safety in church is of the utmost concern.)

    There has to be balance here, as you are probably aware. The scriptures do tell us that we are not to give up meeting together with other Christians. Most believe that this means within the context of a gathering of Christians in a church. Please understand that I have been exactly where you are, though in my case, I kept seeking a church, visiting around, believing that God would provide. It was a time of testing and even at times it felt like a crisis of faith, for it seemed as though God was commanding something that was impossible for me to do. I was trying to seek balance between my desires for the “perfect” church, my grief over the current state of the whole church and my unwillingness to be any part of that, and yet still being willing to be obedient to God’s command of meeting with other Christians. It is quite true that in every gathering of Christians has those who are not being obedient and some may even be unregenerate. Scripturally, this should be handled in the context of the church (church discipline. The Corinthian church is an excellent example of what I am saying). However, you and I as individuals are not to let that stop us from going to church, we are to still be obedient to God. I believe that the Lord will lead us to a Christ exalting church if we will continue to pray, to seek God and to look. We even went to a couple of Presbyterian churches for a time, even though we are baptistic in beliefs. They were the only two churches in our small town which were not liberal or going seeker and purpose-driven. Eventually we found a reformed Baptist church, though it was an hour away from our home. Now we have moved to another state, and began the search again. We found a church, still a 30-40 minute drive, but faithful to the Scriptures. It has a few doctrines that are a little different from our last church (they are premil, for example) but otherwise reverent and Christ exalting. (I have since found out that there is another church, much closer to me that is also good). At the very least, I would urge you to regularly meet together with other Christians to pray for a church in your area, even if it is only with one other person, such as your wife. Please do not give up, for God is faithful.

  7. Julie,

    Yes, as I wrote that post I sensed the Holy Spirit setting up barriers when I started approaching dangerous territory. I don’t think I strayed from the truths God gave me though. Please understand, this is the first time in over 20 years of being a Christian that I have been without a church home. I have concluded that God told me to choose, either I sever my relationship with my old church or remain in an idolatrous relationship with it. It wasn’t until several weeks and months after we left that church that I finally realized (I hope) what God is doing. I am to have no idols. Church had become one. What God is doing in my heart is for me and I am not telling others that they should be churchless. I pray that this post did not convey that. :-)

    Thank you for your very well founded concerns. I love to worship in church. I love to sit under the teaching of good Bible teachers and hear godly sermons. I miss church very much. However, God has seen to it that we are churchless. I will continue to seek the church He has for us. Please pray for us to find it.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. God’s will was for seeking believers to gather together to worship, pray, and fellowship in the Lord. With the time restraints, the activities, and the lack of anything but some perfunctory prayer the gathering that once was the power of God has slipped into idolatry.

    And like Israel of old we have set up the high places in our churches and label any who would humbly speak the correction of the Spirit as divisive. It would be impossible to fully articulate how far even the most conservative American churches have strayed from what God intended. Just for an example it is eveident that the early believers observed the Lord’s Supper almost ever Sunday. Why not today? Time.

    I appreciate your humble expose not willing to go too far, but I really believe it is worse than we could imagine. And that includes all of us. Only a revival of deep, searching prayer will “rend the heavens” and allow the Spirit to move freely again in the body of Christ. May God anoint us in such a way that we can surrender our lifestyles of finances, entertainment, food, sports, and even religious verbage and boldly fall on our knees until we hear from the Father Himself. Do we not thirst for something more than we’ve seen heretofore?

    Let’s hold on the horns of the altar until all that is not of Him is consumed on that same altar and we come forth as gold…for Him and Him alone!!

  9. Rick,

    You do have a way of saying those things that need to be said. You nailed my intent in that post, or should I say the Holy Spirit’s leading in that post. All through writing that last night what you stated in your comment was flooding through my mind. I believed it might be a part two or something. However, you stated it brother. I am a messenger here not a problem solver. That’s the Holy Spirit’s function, but as He leads we must follow. Oh how I pray for that deep penetrating, cleansing revival throughout this land. However, the god “Prosperity” has usurped most of the visible Church’s devotion. We need a healthy dose of humility and repentance in the body of Christ in this country. When are we going to get it that church growth is an idol? God designed the local church to be a gathering of saints for edification, healing, et cetera. It was never intended to be a governing body or a business. However, I digress. Rick your comment was right on and I appreciate your insight brother!

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  10. Mike, I appreciate your follow-up comments. I too, was convicted by the Lord about my attitudes toward church when we stopped going to the church we had attended for 3-4 years. It was so painful to leave…and I realized that mainly that was because of the friendships we had formed there. I was also sad for my family for the same reason. Although we left because of the seeker/ entertainment focus moving into the church, what hurt the most at the time was not the state of the church per se, but the loss of friendships and fellowship! I began to see how much we had made an idol of church and expected from it things that it was never meant to be. this is mainly due to shallow and unbiblical teachings about church. After we left, it was a few years of searching before we found another church to join. As a result, idolatry toward church and church friends and fleshly wants were stripped away during those years. I am thankful now that God put us through that and taught us so much through it. I’m also thankful for the godly teaching that I have received in the years since, and the good books and blogs I’ve read since. They have helped me to understand the REAL purpose of the church, what it is to be and do. Right now, I am in a bible study on Ephesians and we will be getting into more biblical teaching about the church soon. As I read ahead a little, I noticed that Ephesians addresses “church growth” – what it really is and what causes it. See Ephesians 4!

    Henry, amen. You are one of the first Christians I’ve ever heard *wonder aloud* why we don’t have the Lord’s Supper every week. I have very often wondered this myself and have even asked about it. I felt like saying that I would personally pay for the juice and crackers myself if it would mean that we could have it every week! Some churches only have it once a quarter, and yet at the same time they teach that it is an actual means of grace for the participants. I just do not get it. Though some might think that having it too often smacks too much of Roman Catholicism? Anyway, thanks for sharing that and know that I for one am with you on that conviction.

Comments are closed.