Friday, August 13, 2010

The Awesome Restraint of God - Part Two Restraint of Darkness

In continuing the series on Restraint, today I want to look at the Restraint of Darkness. In John 3:18-21 we read:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

Sin is a pseudo form of well-being. It clouds the mind and entangles a person so tightly in its cords that it literally chokes the life right of him; and oftentimes, the person does not know it is happening. I like to envision the forces of Hell as tentacles that are reaching up through the ground adorned with a candy-coated sweetness that with taste will addict the victim and take them down. Once it is in the mouth and swallowed, it morphs into a poison that spreads within until it consumes their life; then like a veil it blocks the light of God from reaching the soul. The tentacles then squeeze out the very life that is within until death knocks at the victim’s door.

The Restraint of Darkness is a stronghold that blinds one to truth. It is so sad to see how many people are living under this veil and will not even acknowledge it. This restraint literally keeps them from desiring to come to the light. Only God can lift this veil and only His word has the power to do it. We must teach the truth, in love, and without error. We must allow God to use us to be His mouthpiece to those we know and love. In doing so, we are allowing the words of God to be the judge, not ourselves.

However, God can also use this restraint as a tool in two ways. One is simply to warn others of the results in living a life under the control of its persuasion. The other is disciplinary in nature and used to retrieve a backslidden child. We wish the first example was unnecessary, but unfortunately, that is not the case.

The Rich Man and Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31, illustrate how a life lost to this restraint can be used to warn others of its effects. In the story, God elected to use the reality of death to point out to us that all of our possessions and comforts in life—tools often used to veil God’s light—will not buy us eternal life with Christ. The restraint of darkness kept the rich man from coming to the Lord. In this case, it was expedient for the one to be lost that many may come to know Christ. Romans 9: 22-24 NKJV, read:

"What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, …that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy...even us…?"

In other words, God endures, as Paul says, “with longsuffering, vs.22” people like the rich man who never make a decision to come to Christ. In the parable, He used the rich man as an example, showing what death and hell was like—the rewards of darkness—in order to persuade others to come to the light.

In the second case, the Parable of the Prodigal Son Illustrates for us how unbearable a life can really be, without God and His word lighting our way. It opens up to us the value of what we have in Christ as opposed to the temporal things the world offers. The restraint of darkness then can be used to bring one to deaths door, as the prodigal was, where a decision must be made to live in darkness, resulting in no physical blessing, or to realize that their only hope is in Christ. This is a disciplinary use of the restraint. God will never restrain us from falling away from His fellowship if we choose to ignore Him. But He will use this type of restraint to bring us back to Him, we just need to look for it.

The above restraint is a very powerful stronghold that binds the life of the lost. The Lord, however, can use it as a deterrent from living in a life of sin. No one really wants to live in darkness. Lord help us to show them your light!

God Bless