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What Does it Look Like to ‘Walk in the Light’ Today?

  • Dawn Wilson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Updated Jul 14, 2020
What Does it Look Like to ‘Walk in the Light’ Today?

“At one time you were darkness,” the Apostle Paul told the early church in Ephesians 5:8, “but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”

The world today attempts to redefine light and darkness, but God’s standard of light remains. Becoming a child of light is the first crucial choice to make if we want to overcome darkness with the light of God. And then, walking in the light does two things: it changes us, and it has the potential to point people to Christ.

So, as world culture grows dark with lawlessness and immorality and becomes increasingly chaotic, what does walking in the light look like today? How can the Christ-follower’s walk in the light make a difference? God’s Word gives us insight.

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The World Tries to Rewrite Scripture and Redefine Sin

The Bible describes sin as breaking God’s law in rebellion against Him (1 John 3:4; Deuteronomy 9:7). What comes out of the heart defiles man and leads to spiritual death. All have sinned, and all sin offends God. We keep falling short of God’s holy standard.

A criticism of people in Ezekiel’s day was “they have put no difference between the holy and the profane” (Ezekiel 22:26). That’s exactly what is happening in many churches today. Believing the idea of sin is archaic and not relevant for today’s progressive culture, some professing believers are walking in a “light” of their own design—re-writing scripture and redefining sin.

Some justify compromises in the name of love; but real love requires us to speak the truth about sin, not to redefine it for our comfort or convenience.

Job’s companions described those lost in spiritual darkness as people who “grope as in the night.” The way of the wicked is “like deep darkness.” They often can’t discern what lies they’re stumbling over. Rosaria Butterfield wrote that some things make us feel good, but they’re not always good for us. There’s a war between the desires of our flesh and the desires of the Spirit (Galatians 5:17) that “doesn’t end until Glory.”

Rather than redefining light and darkness, we need to ask God to help us see them more clearly—from His perspective. 

Redefining sin diminishes the seriousness of the cross. God desires to restore us from our fallen condition and show us the way to living in the light, but our recovery is not a matter of lessening the gravity of sin or even focusing on the symptoms of our sin. Rather, it is to root out the heart of sin—pride, fleshly desires, and selfish rebellion against God—and place sins at the foot of the cross.

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The Source of Light Is God Himself

Because God is God, He sees and knows all things. Even the darkness is not dark to Him. All light in the universe comes from Him; but beyond that, God is light. He’s the “Father of lights,” and in Him is no darkness at all (James 1:17; 1 John 1:5). Light is His nature and character. He is righteous, holy and good.

God “dwells in unapproachable light” because of His radiant holiness (1 Timothy 6:16)—there is no stain of sin whatsoever. His light pierces the darkness, and because of what Christ has done in conquering sin, “the darkness has not overcome.”

The Bible says God, who created light, shines His light in our hearts. He created spiritual light so we can see the truth and not walk in the world’s darkness (2 Corinthians 2:14). 

The Gospel Enables Our Walk in the Light

“Walking in the light” as a metaphor in some Christian circles has come to mean acting correctly or living transparently before others. But it’s much more than that. It is the concept of relinquishing sin as we walk closer and closer with the Lord. Life and light are in Jesus, and His life is “the light of men” that allows us to stand in God’s holy presence (John 1:4; John 14:6). 

Satan blinds unbelievers’ minds so they will not see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Paul said he was sent to the Gentiles “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God.” The Gospel message calls sinners to turn to Christ “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

The urgency of Jesus’ message reminds us we don’t know how long we have to receive the light of the Gospel. John 12:35-36 shows Jesus in a Gospel encounter. After He raised Lazarus from the dead, many people had questions, and Jesus used the opportunity to share what He came to offer: light for their darkness.

There is a strong connection between light and truth in scripture. Jesus calls us to be light as we share Gospel truth. People can be in the presence of light, but until they receive the One who is the Light and Truth and walk in truth, they are still in darkness (John 1:9; John 8:12; John 14:6). The Incarnate Word is “the true light” that makes light possible for all of us.

Light dawns in the midst of deep darkness when Jesus delivers us from the domain of darkness and turns us from the power of Satan to God (Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:18). This is why the Savior came. He delivers us from death through the power of the Gospel so we can abide in Christ and walk before God in the light of life.

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Jesus Teaches Light vs. Darkness

In John 3:19-21, Jesus discussed light and darkness with Nicodemus. The Pharisee came to Jesus by night—sneaking off to see this teacher who was making such a stir. As a member of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus wasn’t supposed to be around those who followed the Lord. But he was curious.

Jesus shared truths that no doubt unsettled Nicodemus—and those truths unsettle people today. People love darkness rather than light, Jesus told the Pharisee, because their works are evil. Their hearts are darkened, so they prefer the darkness; and they will not come to the light, because they know their wickedness will be exposed. Without God’s light, walking in the night, people stumble around in sin and confusion. But those who “do the truth” will want to come to the light so people will plainly see they are doing what God wants.

With the enemy’s lies multiplying around us, Christ-followers need to speak the truth and live the truth. God might use any one of us as Christians to draw people to His life-changing light.

The light people come to is both the written and living Word of God. Someone once said, “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” The Bible is light for our lives, showing us how to live. And Jesus, the living Word, said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Two Critical Steps to Walking in the Light

The natural result of our identification with the Lord of Light should be a desire to walk as children of light. Here are two important steps:

1. Put aside what hinders your walk. First, we will want to separate ourselves from sinful attitudes and habits. We won’t want to walk in the ways of the world.

What might this look like today? We won’t want to walk with wicked companions, we will purposely eliminate anything that doesn’t enhance our walk with God, and we’ll seek to bring Him glory (Psalm 1:1-3; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Corinthians 10:31). We will desire to “put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” 

If we say we have fellowship with God but we’re walking in the darkness of sin, John says we “lie and do not live out (practice) the truth.” If we allow sin to control us, we can live a “dark life” even though we belong to the Lord (Matthew 6:22-23).

2. Ask God to sanctify you. We will want to cooperate with God in the process of sanctification—being set apart as holy. God has called us to live in holiness and to mature in our faith. As truth takes up residence in our hearts, we become more conscious of, and convicted of, sin. We agree with God about our sin. We hate it. We grieve over it. We want none of it!

Church planter Ben Sternke wrote, “Walking in the light has nothing to do with perfect behavior and everything to do with being known.” When we walk in darkness we hide or try to present an image that doesn’t align with our heart’s reality. “Darkness,” Sternke said, “helps keep reality hidden.”

Walking suggests we’re going somewhere. We’re making progress toward a destination or goal. We walk in the light one step at a time as God guides us. We determine not to be distracted by the darkness around us. Instead of taking part in evil, we expose the works of darkness.

The scriptures describe our walk with God in many terms: “walk in the Spirit,” “walk … as wise,” “walk in love,” and “walk by faith.” Walking in God’s light makes us sensitive to anything that would displease Him, such as being unequally yoked with unbelievers. Why? “What fellowship has light with darkness?”

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Three Powerful Benefits of Walking in the Light Today

1. Testimony

Matthew 5:14-16 identifies Christians as lights and light-bearers. We are not to hide our light, but to let our light—a reflection of God’s light—shine so the world will see God and glorify Him. It’s our responsibility to shine, manifesting God’s light to a “crooked and twisted generation” of people who are still living in darkness. We can’t sit idly by and watch people continue in the darkness of sin, knowing their eternal destination. Light makes those who are used to darkness uncomfortable, but we need to point them to Jesus anyway. 

2. Fellowship

John gives us a warning: “Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark” (1 John 2:9-11). Hatefulness is one of the signs of walking in darkness. But John also says, “If we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another” (1 John 1:7).

As we walk in righteousness, we are renewed and refreshed, and God allows us to nourish and refresh others we encounter every day, practicing the one anothers of scripture.

3. Blessing

According to Psalm 89:15, we are blessed when we walk in the light of God’s presence. How?

- He enables us to live without blame in the ways of God.

- He gives us direction.

- He conquers our fears.

- He encourages us in dark times or when the enemy comes against us.

- He shows us how to live wisely in evil days.

- He empowers us to stand against the powers of this dark world.

- He helps us understand the times and anticipate His coming.

- He will bless all nations through the future glory of Israel.

Someday, there will be no need for the lights of this earth. As God’s children, we will dwell in His presence and He will be our “everlasting light.”

Our time on Earth is our opportunity to practice walking with Him and to become victorious children of light. Truly, “the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

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Dawn Wilson 1200x1200Dawn Wilson has served in revival ministry and missions for more than 50 years. She and her husband Bob live in Southern California. They have two married sons and three granddaughters. Dawn works for Revive Our Hearts Ministries. She is the founder and director of Heart Choices Today, publishes Truth Talk with Dawn, and writes for Crosswalk.com.