October 2, 2012

The Darkness of Sexual Sin and the Light of Grace

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Do you like being in the dark? I’ve never met a child who wasn’t afraid of darkness. In the Bible, darkness is often directly connected with evil spiritual forces. It always has a negative connotation. This is why I love John’s teaching that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5, ESV).

Echoed twice in the last two chapters of Revelation, we’re promised that there will be no need for the sun or moon in the glorious city to come because God will be our light, and the “night will be no more” (Revelation 22:5, ESV). Darkness will be vanquished forever.

But not yet. There’s still a whole lot of darkness in this fallen world, and it deeply impacts our souls. Further, it’s not always something we can avoid. Although in a spiritual sense God has “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13), the darkness of life under the curse relentlessly persists.

Isaiah 50:10 gives a surprising description: “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” What is this verse saying? God is not surprised by our dark circumstance. The Scriptures testify throughout that he is sovereign over it. There is probably nothing scarier than to be in an unknown place in pitch blackness and called to walk blindly. God doesn’t say it’s okay to cower in a corner waiting for light. In whatever dark trial we’re facing, obedience looks like walking “blindly” by faith. He calls us to walk, risking that we might stub a toe, fall headlong, or plummet over a cliff because he promises that we won’t.

This is not normal for us. We don’t like walking by faith at all. We want to see clearly where we’re headed. Isaiah addresses this reality in the next verse: “Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment” (Isaiah 50:11). Not wanting to walk by faith in the darkness, trusting and relying on God, the default of humanity is to light a “torch.”

What do you use for a torch? Sexual sin is a perennial favorite. We don’t turn to sex because our hormones are raging. We sin sexually because the chaos of life is raging around us and we want relief. Our trials feel like being in utter darkness—so we light a torch. We try to make our own way apart from trusting God to take care of us. But the result is disastrous. We go from darkness to torment. The trials of providence are nothing compared to the misery we create through our sinful responses. The torment of our sin looks like job loss, squandered time and money, fallout in our relationships, and increasing discontent in our soul. And if you’ve ever walked by the light of a torch, you know the darkness beyond its trembling glow feels even more oppressive.

What’s the good news? The invitation still stands to begin walking by faith. You may have exacerbated your lot in life through your sexual sin, but even now God calls you to extinguish your torch and embrace him in the darkness. Although it feels like it, it is not a blind faith! He has given us great and precious promises. He will not let your foot slip. He will deliver you from all your fears. Your story has an ending so amazing that your puny mind can’t conceive of the wonder. Your current body couldn’t handle the glory of his presence. You need a resurrected body to experience the eternal pleasure of that relationship.

That relationship and unity with him (to which sex points) is just looking in a mirror darkly right now in this life. And he invites you to begin experiencing that relationship now as you walk by faith. In Jesus, we have a Savior not calling out to us from a remote place, but one who walks right ahead, facing our dangers for us and promising to deliver us safely into his Father’s house. Will you trust him and step out in faith?

What “torch” (sexual or otherwise) are you tempted to light when the dark trials of life overwhelm you? Compared to the torment that results, how would it be different to walk by faith in the darkness?

Updated 5.4.2017

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