by Mike Ratliff
1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1-3 NASB)
On this last day of 2014 looking back on the themes of the posts the Spirit has led me to write and post this year, especially in these last few weeks, I have never been more convinced that God’s people are being called to draw nearer to Him, to examine their walks with Him and, from that, come to a deeper and fuller understanding that God’s truth is knowable and also that we will be held accountable for how we handle it.
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.
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 are 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 announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself 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 that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10 NASB)
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. If 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 fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because 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 the sound of a trumpet, 11 saying, “ Write in a book what you see, 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 NASB)
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.
Soli Deo Gloria!