Tag Archives: walking in the light

I will Guide You WiTh My Eye

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.

Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.

(Ps 32:8-9)

The essence of walking with God is knowing where God wants us to walk. We “walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh” because we are born-again children of God, with new hearts that have His Law of Love inscribed upon them, and so, as I have already written, our inclination is to walk in the light and not in the darkness. But how often do we stay on that path – or return to it – because we have been “harnessed with bit and bridle,” not because we have an understanding of where the Holy Spirit is wanting to lead us, but because we are responding to the tug on the reins and the pressure of the bit in our mouths that is pulling us away from the trajectory that we are on?

A horse cannot see its rider; it can only see what is in front of its nose. All of us who are serious about following Jesus want to be people who will respond quickly to the lightest touch on the reins from the Holy Spirit. But when I read this psalm again recently I realised how my responses to the Holy Spirit’s prompts are often the response of that horse or mule being led back onto the right path, rather than of someone who is choosing God’s direction of his own volition.

To be like the animal with “no understanding” who needs to be guided by the bit and bridle is to consistently behave in a self-centred way that does not direct God’s love into the lives of those with whom He has put us. Yet as people whose lives are, by our own confession, committed to being God-centred, we could be expected to understand that this is not why Jesus died for our sins and called us into His Kingdom. If I am walking with an understanding of the Holy Spirit’s purposes for my life I will not react to people in a manner that is in any way damaging, hurtful or otherwise destructive. This is all the work of the evil one, the thief who only came to “kill, steal and destroy,” and whose work Jesus came to eradicate. If we are living through Christ, everything we do and say will in some way “bring life, and that in abundance.” (John 10:10; 1 John 3:8) If we understand this, we should not need a tug on the reins to remind us.

So how does God say He will teach us in the way we should go? He says He will guide us with His eye. If someone is guiding me with their eye they do not need to speak: they just need to see that I am looking at them and direct their gaze to the thing or person that they want me to notice, so that I  look where they are looking. It’s a universal form of communication between people who know each other well.

Psalm 32 tells us that this is God’s intention. He wants us to live lives that are focussed on Him, and to know Him so well that we can see what He is showing us with just a look, and to walk in that direction with an understanding of His purpose. God is love, and God is light: that is who He us, so the general trajectory of His purpose is never difficult to understand. We may not know how He is going to accomplish His purpose on that occasion, but if we are walking in faith we will know that He will give us what we need to know when we need to know it, because

“the eyes of (our) understanding (will be) enlightened; that (we will) know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” (Eph 1: 18-21)

All in all, this is a far preferable alternative to a tug on the reins.

Walking in the Light (2)

Just after I had published the article “Walking in the Light” last night, Anne called up the stairs: “Bob, can you help me get the chickens in?“ It was about 11 pm. We had both forgotten to shut in Jessica Hennis and Roadrunner, the two hens that have the run of our garden. The long Summer days are already starting to draw in, and Anne actually commented: “It’s dark now!“  I took my phone and said “it’s okay I’ve got my torch,“ and switched it on to shine a light up the garden. And then I realised that I had just written about exactly this, and that God was speaking to me prophetically.

So what was He saying?

We shine the torch of love on the path ahead of us so that we don’t stumble. But we also shine a torch for others to keep them from stumbling as well. And what was the purpose of our walk? To shut in the hens so that the fox didn’t get them. God has given us responsibilities. The chickens go into roost by themselves, but it isn’t enough for us to just leave them to it: we have a responsibility to keep them safe.

The purpose of our walk together was to keep the enemy out. Jesus came to destroy the works of the evil one.  So we walk in the light and we help others also to walk in the light in order to thwart the work of the enemy within the realm of the responsibilities that God has given us. To paraphrase 1 Peter 5:8: the devil prowls around like a sly fox, to see what chickens he can devour. But God has given ministries and allocated responsibilities within the church so that we can walk together in the light; and it is as we grow in love and look after our “chickens” that the boundaries of the darkness are pushed back and the devil – who can’t come into the light – has less and less room to roam.

Today the Lord says to us: “Is your torch switched on? Who are you holding it for? Are your chickens safe?

Jesus said “the devil has nothing on me.” (John 14:30) The day will come when he has nothing on the church either and no darkness within it for him to roam in: that will be the day when Jesus comes back for his bride.

Are your chickens safe?

Walking in the Light

Before  I became a Christian in 1984 I was immersed in “new age” thinking: I believed that there was a higher level pf consciousness that we called God, but that there were  ‘many paths up the mountain.’ (I write a bit on how I met with Jesus in the middle of this fog of deception – including my conversation with a demon masquerading as the spirit of the pharaoh Ahkenaten that I was writing a novel about –  in “Two Seconds to Midnight.”) So I was fascinated by all things spiritual, unless of course it was the Truth – that can only be found in Christ – and that had long been consigned to the intellectual bin of narrow-minded dogma. I love to think back sometimes on my winding road to salvation. The apostle John wrote “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining,” (1 John 2:8) and I think that is what happened to me: the light in the fog gradually came nearer, then one day I saw where – Who – it came from. (If you are a non-Christian reader who has somehow googled your way onto this page, that is happening to you now.)

One significant time marking the approach of that Light for me was when I read the first epistle of John. I can’t remember why I read it at that time, because I wasn’t yet a Christian, but it was the first book of the Bible that I ever read, and what struck me about it was its deep spirituality. I didn’t understand it (although I probably thought I did at the time), but I realised that here was something in the Bible that was talking to me about spiritual matters on a level that I enjoyed. It pushed my buttons. Ever since then I have been drawn to that book. I have been challenged by it, I have meditated on its many pithy statements, I have been encouraged by it, I have been swept along by the tides of its all-encompassing pronouncements such as “God is Love,” “God is light,” “Perfect Love casts out fear,” “By this we know Love, that Jesus Christ laid down His life for us,” and many more. But only now, after 37 years, do I see the point of it. John himself tells us plainly why he wrote this letter: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” (1 John 2:1).

It’s easy to lose sight of the basics in our complicated, hyped-up modern world. Our senses look for more and more stimulation, and we expect it to come more and more easily. And just like the world constantly lures us with calls for “more,” we can bring the same consumerism into our Christian lives: we can look for “more” of God and heightened levels of spiritual experience, and at the same time lose touch with the whole point of the Christian message, which is that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Tim 1:15.) Jesus went to the cross so that we would stop sinning.

John’s logic is clear and compelling: when we are born again we are born of God; we are no longer of the world. We have “passed from death to life.” (1 John 3:14) God is light and God is love: there is no darkness in Him and He cannot sin. Sin is from the devil who “sinned from the beginning.” Jesus came to “take away our sin” and to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3: 5, 8). “Whoever has been born of God,” writes John, “does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.”

If we are born again we cannot sin and we don’t sin. Hmmm. Have you sinned recently? I know I have. Are you born again? I know I am. How do we reconcile these contradictory statements? John even writes himself: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) It must be possible to square that particular circle, because John himself clearly has no problem with it. Strong’s tells me that the meaning of “commit sin” is to have nothing to do with God’s law, to wander away from it; to miss the mark. It means to persistently live without reference to God’s righteousness: in other words, to sin is to walk in darkness. If we are born of God, who is Light, we cannot spend our time walking in darkness because there is a “seed” of light that remains within us.

What happens of course is that there are times when we don’t walk on the path where the light is shining; and when we stray from that path we stumble. If we are not born of God we remain in the world, “and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one;” (1 John 5:19) however if we are born of God, we have overcome the world: “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

If we are not born of God by faith, whatever we do and  however we worship (however good it may seem in the world’s light) remains in darkness, because the world and all that is in it is in darkness and is passing away. As Jesus Himself put it: “If your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matt 6:23) On the other hand it is possible to walk by faith and stumble because we have looked away from the light, because “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

So the difference between walking by faith and having religion is this: religion is thinking you are walking in the light while your “eye is bad,” whereas faith is knowing that we are children of the light even if we have stumbled out of it, and knowing that Jesus will always bring us back from the shadows and into the eternal sunshine.

Our path in the light doesn’t have to be a haphazard one, though, because we have been given a torch to keep hold of: “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” (1 John 2:10). We all know Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet. And a light to my path.” This light to our path is not difficult to hold, or as John puts it “God’s commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3 b). In fact all of the law is summed up in one verse: “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8) If we obey the command to love, His word is a lamp to our feet. And as loving God is keeping His commandments, (1 John 5:3 a) if we don’t love one another, not only have we dropped the torch, but we aren’t loving God either. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” (1 John 3:14)

Jesus didn’t just command us to love one another so that the Church could be a reflection of the values of the Kingdom: He told us to love one another because His purpose was to rid the world of sin. He told us to love one another because “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Pe 4:8) He told us to love one another because the world is dark and we need a torch if we are going to we can walk in the light. It’s not by memorizing pages and pages of scripture, it’s not by reading a new devotional book every week, it’s not by praying in tongues for two hours every day or playing worship music from the beginning to the end of every car journey. All of these things help us to know where the torch is and where the light comes from, and they can help to keep the battery on charge. But the only way to walk in the light is to take hold of that torch with both hands and shine it on the path before our feet. If we don’t love one another, we stumble straight into sin.