Theology Type Stuff

Fruit in the Light

It is impossible to engage sin and not experience its consequences. It is impossible to control sin and not experience its chaos.

Being a Transportation and Security Administration agent is not a job that I particularly care to do. That is in no way, shape, or form an insult to TSA agents or even the TSA. Rather, it’s an inditement on humanity. Most folks struggle to be kind to one another under normal conditions. But throw in the inconvenience of public travel, the stress of time management, and the fact you’re about to fly through the air on a 970,000 pound tube of metal with wings and it’s fair to say you won’t experience the best of mankind. Sadly, it is your friendly TSA agent (and flight attendants) who takes the brunt of most passengers’ frustrations. Sure, no agent does their job perfectly and they too are guilty of lacking congeniality. But the ultimate irony is that passengers get upset with the very people who exist to make their travel safe.

Take the check points for example. There are so many rules! “Here, stand in this giant clear tube and hold your best disco dance move for 10 seconds…” Yet, my experience has been that not every airport actually follows all the same rules. So, you never really know what to expect. Shout-out to Denver International though – their TSA agents took time to wrap padding around the legs of the tables, so you won’t stub your toe walking around in your sock-feet. (But I digress.) What makes a checkpoint so valuable is the ability to x-ray luggage. Properly trained agents are able to see past the exterior shell of the luggage and into the inside. No compartment, no pocket is off limits. It’s impossible to hide what should not be there.

How guilty are we as Christ-followers of attempting to hind our sin? It is rarely a question of if your sin is “right or wrong.” If you’ve surrendered your life to Jesus hopefully you know His teachings well. But it is whenever the Holy Spirit convicts our lives, whenever He attempts to illuminate the sin we’ve hidden in our hearts that things get ugly.

Paul is very straight forward in Ephesians 5. He admonishes Christians to, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes up on the sons of disobedience.” I submit there is a sense of listening to empty words within your own heart and mind as well as the obvious external voices. An attempt to convince yourself that whatever it is you are doing, whatever sin you are part of in the darkness is not truly that bad – or perhaps worse, you can keep it in the darkness. You experience a wrestling match, a mental tug-of-war, between knowing what is right but indulging in your sinful desires.

The scripture continues by describing the need fruit has for light. Works that are done in darkness will be unfruitful. You don’t have to have a green thumb to understand this teaching. I attempted to grow a small potted plant in my office, but because of a lack of direct and consistent sunlight, it never grew. It is ultimately died. The pot is a tiny – albeit cute – tomb for dead seeds. Whenever you attempt to live with a portion of your heart in darkness, you will produce unhealthy, sickly fruit. Fruit that will surely infect the rest of your heart’s garden.

Consider a spiritual remedy.

V. 8 Walk as children of light. Take time daily to re-center your heart and mind on the goodness of God. The old adage, “out of sight out of mind” is true about your Heavenly Father and His blessings. The minute you take for granted His grace and mercy towards you is the time you start to walk in spiritual shadows. There is a proactive element to your faith. Spend time in God’s Word daily learning from Him. Spend time in prayer daily, hearing from Him. These spiritual disciplines not only position you in correct spiritual posture – which produces healthy spiritual fruit – it also continuously exposes all the works of your heart to the light of God’s truth and love.

V. 11 Take no part in unfruitful works of darkness. There is a Cherokee legend of a little boy and a rattlesnake (you can read the whole story here). The principle is that the rattlesnake convinced the little boy to pick him up and take him to the top of a mountain. At first the little boy refused out of fear the snake would bite him. The snake promised he would not bite the little boy. But at the end of the story, after the little boy carried the rattlesnake close to his chest, the snake did bite the boy after all. When asked, “Why did you bite me?!” the rattlesnake simply replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”

It is impossible to engage sin and not experience its consequences. It is impossible to control sin and not experience its chaos. Resolve in your heart to declare sin your enemy. Commit your mind to immediately recognize unfruitful works – no matter how happy they make you or how good it feels to indulge in them. Have the courage to say “no” to sin. Determine to be convicted by the Holy Spirit and not enticed by your emotions. Easier said than done? Absolutely. But what is guaranteed is if you attempt to hide your unfruitful works in the dark, you will never know victory. Christ-followers, myself included, have the hardest time confessing our sins one to another (James 5:16). I propose it is because when we confess, we expose our sin to the light. Once you expose our sin to the light, you will no longer have control. A double whammy. You miss out on the life-giving experience of confession because you cling to control you don’t actually have. Unwilling to confide in a brother or sister about your struggle with pornography? Reluctant to share your secret sin or heart-idol? It’s because you have convinced yourself you can control your unfruitful works if you keep them in the dark. If no one knows, no one sees.

Matthew Henry writes it best, “Those who flatter themselves with hopes of impunity in sin do but put a cheat upon themselves.” But there is good news. You have forgiveness and freedom available to you in the light of Christ. You have promises and power available in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Confess to Him. Come clean with a brother or sister. “Awake, o sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

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