Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bright Lights and Dark Secrets

John 3:20 "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

Pam and I have always enjoyed watching mysteries, whether it is movies or television shows. Last night we watched Diagnosis Murder. During the show a young medical student killed a nurse who he had been dating. He found out she was pregnant. The problem, besides the obvious, was he was in the third year of medical school and didn't want to drop out to care for a family. Did I mention he was also engaged to another gal? Oh the tangled webs we weave! He took a whole bottle of gel caps she had a prescription for and dumped the contents into some soup he had purchased at a local Chinese restaurant. He then left for a short time and returned later to clean up the mess. There she lay, dead on the floor. He grabbed her underneath her arms and drug her over to the couch. He then pressed her fingers on the empty pill bottle so there would be fingerprints, giving the perception of suicide. While he was out he also purchased more soup. He then dumped the contents of the drugged soup down the drain as well as some of the new soup so it would look like some of it had been eaten. It was a carefully thought out plan, he thought of everything, well, almost everything. Did you know you can see things more clearly in the day than you can at night? What he didn't realize was that during the daylight hours there were visible tracks on the carpet where he drug the nurse after she died. He couldn't see them at night, but with the sunlight streaming through the windows they were clearly visible. That made Dr. Mark Sloan a little suspicious. And soon they had their murderer. If only they had done their investigation in the evening.

In today's passage we see something similar. John 3:20 says, "Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed." The truth is, just about everyone has secrets. Either things in their past, or even things in the present, that they would just as soon remain a secret. Thing we aren't proud of, worse yet, things we want to hold on to. In some cases, we rationalize that since we do these things in the private, there is no reason that they can't remain private. In other cases, we may rationalize, that we really aren't hurting anyone. Maybe the secret is just within the realms of our thought life. A grudge, a refusal to forgive, animosity towards another… the list of secret sins is virtually endless. I guess the real question is, are there really any secrets? Sure, we may be the only person who knows about it or them, but what about God. Can we keep secrets from Him? I think we all know the answer to that question, but lets look at the Word of God just in case. In Psalms 139:7-12, the Psalmist writes:
7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
12even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

The reality is, there are no secrets from God. I must admit, that doesn't necessarily make me feel very good. Be honest with me for a minute, aren't there certain things you would just as soon God not know about? That is not the case, there are no secrets, the Word of God is very clear, there is nothing hidden from the eyes of God.

Perhaps you may be thinking, "Yea but my stuff really isn't that big a deal. In fact, much of the world wouldn't even have a problem with my "secrets". I'll bet you that there was a time Isaiah the prophet thought the same things. By the worlds standards he was a righteous man. Practically everyone, if not everyone who knew him would have described him as blameless. Then one day, he stood in the presence of the glory of God. Let’s take a minute and look at what this "blameless man" said at that moment. It is recorded in Isaiah 6:1-5;
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another:

"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."

4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

"Woe to me."
Isn't it amazing that this righteous man would feel so guilty in the presence of God's glory. I remember one time when Pam and I were looking for a house or apartment to call home. We looked at one place in the late evening. The place looked good enough that we decided that we ought to take another look. Sometime later, over the next few days, we went back to see the place during the daylight hours. Boy were we in for a surprise. The walls were filthy, there were dead bugs everywhere. We couldn't see any of those things at night, but the light of day opened our eyes to things we couldn't see before. I believe that is exactly what Isaiah was stuck with. Compared to other people, Isaiah really was righteous, but in the presence of God's glory, his eyes were opened to things he couldn't see before, and what he saw was anything but righteous.

One of the things I really love about the Word of God is that the passage doesn't end there. It goes on to say;
6Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."

"your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
What an awesome statement! What did Isaiah do to receive atonement? Basically, he agreed with God. He saw himself for what he truly was, a sinner in need of God's grace. Are we not the same? We are certainly far from righteous. In fact, I'll bet, that most of us don't even approach Isaiah's righteousness, let alone God's righteousness. However, it is no harder for us to receive atonement, that it was for Isaiah. The truth is, it's easier, we don't have to experience a hot coal. Actually, the coal is basically a picture of cleansing. God frequently used fire to cleanse sin. That is what we see hear. The coal wasn't used to hurt Isaiah. It was used to cleanse him. Our cleansing comes from something else. Something just as strange from a human standpoint. It comes from blood, not our own, but the blood of Jesus. Like Isaiah, we can have our guilt taken away and our sin atoned. Like Isaiah, we must see our sin for what it is, agree with God and confess it to him. Only then can we say to God, "Here am I. Send me!" So lets remember that we are never hidden from the light of God's glory, continually confess our sins to God, turn form them and go where He sends us.

In His service,

Jim Canady

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