I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen; not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
(from C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)
“… the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”
(Matthew 4:16 ESV)
As the light that shines in the darkness, Christ’s gospel illuminates all things, both natural and supernatural. Naturally it would repel those who are used to the darkness, and even prefer it. Why else would Christ’s enemies take such militant stands against him?
In his early years, Lewis counted himself among those standing against Christ, but he differed from militant atheists in that he still sought truth. So God, knowing he could be open to the gospel, unmercifully pursued him with it until he could no longer deny it. Sometimes God has to figuratively pry open our hard-shut eyes so we can see the world as he sees it, in the light of his truth.
Like Lewis, my rearing in formal religion alienated me to that background, but unlike him, I believed that God was the only source of all truth, even though I could have hardly been considered a Christ-follower. When I came to the point where I acknowledged my need for Christ’s control in my life, my ineffective repentance and stubborn insistence on my own way made my growth in him painfully slow. Nearly forty years later, I still fight my undisciplined mind, praying for victory over it even though Christ tells me that I’ve already overwhelmingly conquered it. For a dead foe, my carnality is surprisingly agile.
Apostle Paul addressed my problem in the seventh chapter of his letter to the Roman church:
Romans 7:10-25 ESV The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. (11) For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. (12) So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (13) Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (14) For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. (15) For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (16) Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. (17) So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (19) For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (20) Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (21) So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. (22) For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, (23) but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (24) Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (25) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Romans 8:1-2 ESV There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Years ago, when I finally mastered that passage’s complex sentence structure and understood what it was telling me, I realized that I’m not unique in my failures.
Verse thirteen teaches an important aspect of sin’s seriousness; once we realize what is sinful, our sin-guilt grows “beyond measure.” That’s called, absolute sinfulness. We don’t have to be a Hitler or a Dahmer to be guilty of sin.
Apostle John punctuated Paul’s liberating message:
1 John 1:5-10 ESV This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (6) If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (8) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.