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Below the Surface

Below the Surface

The Bible records what is necessary to become a Christian.  To hear the gospel (Mark 16:15), believe in Jesus as the Son of God (John 3:16), repent (Acts 2:38), confess our faith in Him (Acts 8:37) and be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38).  Yet even after we become a Christian, there are still things that we need to work on, deal with and address in our lives:

  • “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
  • “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
  • “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
  • “And now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8).

The Other Side of You

The Bible not only pictures two eternal destinies, heaven or hell (Matthew 25:46), and two paths in this life (Matthew 7:13-14), it also reveals that there are two sides or potentials in man.  We can either walk by the Spirit or walk by the flesh.  We can either walk in the light or in the darkness.  We can either become a new man or remain the old man.

  • “That, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:22-23).
  • “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another” (Galatians 5:16-17).
  • “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead” (Romans 6:13).

In Romans chapter 7 Paul speaks of the conflict that raged within himself prior to His conversion, and this conflict was present, even though he had been a very religious person (Acts 23:1).

  • “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

Motivation to Address It

There are various examples in the Bible that should give us the heads up that even the most religious of people are capable of committing far reaching evil.  Judas had the Holy Spirit, could cast out demons, spent years in the presence of Jesus, and betrayed Him.  King David was a man after God’s own heart and yet he committed adultery and had an innocent man put to death.  Saul of Tarsus was a very conscientious believer and yet he persecuted Christians and had become a blasphemer, persecutor and a violent aggressor (1 Timothy 1:13).  So, none of us should be so naïve to think that we are only capable of just a little evil.   After pondering these examples, no wonder the New Testament exhorts us and has a definite sense of urgency about dealing with the sin that is remaining in our lives, “But now you also, put them all away” (Colossians 3:8).  In addition, there is an equal urgency concerning addressing all the darkness that remains:

  • “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).

In view of the above examples (David, Judas and Saul), I think we can understand why God says “all”, because in the life of Judas, his greed took precedence over all else.  With David, his lust took priority over all else.  Jesus warned us concerning how such could and can happen, that the darkness within us can overwhelm all else:

  • “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23).

Observe how darkness or evil can fill, overwhelm and take over all else that is within us.  Therefore, the urgent need to take very thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 

No Firm Root

  • “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.  These seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity” (Luke 8:13-14).

As I pondered the above verses I was struck by the fact that the person with no firm root would be someone who had neglected to count the cost, and the person who ended up choked with worries, riches and pleasures of this life, would be the person who had failed to address the underlying or remaining issues of darkness in their lives.  Such should also give us a sense of urgency, for the parable reveals that such unresolved issues will not only grow, but they will overwhelm and choke out the good and bring about a situation in which we are unproductive and fruitless. 

What Will Test Us

I have observed that there are events in life that definitively will test us, in which, if we have not addressed the selfishness or remaining darkness in our lives, that such neglected or hidden darkness will often surface in such times.

  • When you leave home, move out, go off the college, live on your own for the first time.
  • When you move to a new town, away from all friends and family.
  • When you marry.
  • When you have children, become a parent.
  • When your kids leave home.
  • When prosperity shows up and life becomes more comfortable.
  • When all people speak well of you, when you are popular.
  • Your first preaching job.
  • When you retire.
  • When your parents die.
  • Aging, facing your mortality, and old age.

What this means, is that I need to be prepared.  I cannot be naïve.  I need to work on myself and be honest about my own desires and motivations.  For, if I bury things beneath the surface of my life, if I never address my own sins, then such events will only give them opportunities to break the surface and create a lot of pain, trouble and drama.  For example, Joseph and Daniel do not fall apart when they leave home, because they had already prepared themselves (Genesis 39:9; Daniel 1:8). 

What Will Not Fix You

Marriage, children, etc…, are all great blessings, but none of these things are the cure for the darkness that remains within us.  Such things can help, but they are not the fix.  The great news is that we know the cure and where it is found  (John 8:31-32; James 1:21; Ephesians 4:23-24).

Mark Dunagan/mdungan@frontier.com