From Darkness into Light: Part I
The Believer’s True Coming-Out: Salvation

Introduction: This eight-part series: the believer’s true coming out: saved and being saved is intended to help the believer to understand and enjoy both. Salvation is a new life – changed thoughts, desires, and actions that are God-pleasing – begin at salvation and continue until God’s calls the person home – life after salvation. Salvation begets life after salvation. A person is saved for life after salvation!

The Christian life is one of movement. There is a movement from darkness (and deadness and depravity) into light.  The believer’s movement is a  radical, true coming out. It involves rescue and movement The believer’s true coming out is being save (salvation) AND being saved (life after salvation).

Darkness and deadness are hallmarks of Satan and those in his kingdom and family. God judged the first Adam and the whole human race born by ordinary generation because of Adam’s first sin and covenantal unfaithfulness. As a result, mankind has Satan as their father; every person is a member of Satan’s family and kingdom. Due to that membership- it is the kingdom of the unsaved – every man is in darkness or has been in darkness. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1-3 and 5:8 that prior to salvation, all believers were children of darkness. The original language of Ephesians 5:8 indicates that believers are darkness and not simply in darkness. This is part of the bad news.

There is the good news. All believers have been rescued, once and for all, from Satan’s kingdom and family and darkness and they have been brought into the kingdom of light (Colossians 1:13-14). In Ephesians 5:8-14, Paul writes that believers are now light as well as children of light. He calls them to function as such. The movement for the Christian is two-fold: at salvation, an instantaneous, non-repeatable move from self, sin, and Satan and after salvation, progressive growth in Christ manifested by a move to God. Over the next several blogs I briefly describe the two-fold activity of the believer’s coming-out.

The first coming-out is at the time of salvation. Regeneration ushers in Light – Christ – and light – truth (John 3:3-8; Ezekiel 36:25-27). The believer has union with Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Regeneration initiates a radical movement from death to life and darkness to light. It is the one-time work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. Regeneration (rebirth, born from above, and born again) is described in John 3:3-8; 6: 60-64. Spiritual birth, like physical birth is a one-time event. Your birth, both physical and spiritual, is non-repeatable. Moreover, God is the agent of salvation. His activity is 100%. Man is completely passive – 0 % activity. The believer is acted upon from the outside. Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). Correctly, once God changes a heart, the believer moves towards God because he is drawn toward Him (John 6:44-45; 12:32). The drawing is not against the person’s will. The desires to come and does!

In the case of salvation, the now-believer is in the light because Jesus is the Light and the believer is united to Him (John 8:12; 9:5; 1 John 1:5; Romans 6:1-11). The indwelling Holy Spirit illumines (turns on the light) the believer thus enabling him to think God’s thoughts, desire God’s desires, and act according to God’s will (2 Corinthians 4:6; 6:14; Ephesians 3:16-19).

The first chapter of 1 John highlights the coming-out of the believer from darkness into light. John refers to the light and truth of the gospel: sinners saved by grace through Christ due to His atoning work and received by faith alone. The gospel points to man’s problem and to God’s solution.

In 1 John 1:5, John writes that God is light and there is no darkness in Him. The statement about God is also a reverse statement about unsaved man – he is darkness and in the darkness. Darkness is not simply the absence of light but the presence of darkness. Similarly sin is not simply the absence of good but the presence of evil. However, the believer has been transferred out of Satan’s kingdom and family of darkness, deadness, and debasement. While a member of Satan’s clan, the yet-to-be believer loved the darkness and hated the light (John 3:17-19, 36; 8:44). He was anti-God, pro-self, a getter and taker who lived according to feelings and “I deserve” and “I want” for me right now. His focus was on what he sensed – taste, touch, feel, see, and hear. He interpreted what he experienced through the now: feelings, experience, and reason devoid of biblical truth.

In 1 John 1:6-7, John refers to the believer. He writes that walking (the term indicates lifestyle, patterned wanting, thinking, and doing) in the light means fellowship with God because of God’s fellowship with the believer. As a result of the Holy Spirit work in him, the believer follows after Christ. He attempts to apply biblical truth daily. He has a different mindset and decision-making mentality. He views himself, others, and God through the grid of saving faith and biblical truth with the goal to please God.

1. As you consider the two kingdoms record, as best you can, the predominant characteristics of the two kingdoms in terms of thoughts, desires, and actions.
2. Make an honest self-evaluation in terms of the patterns that you brought over into the kingdom of God.
3. Pray for insight.

From Darkness into Light: Part II
The Believer’s True Coming Out: Salvation

The coming-out/transformation of the believer began at salvation. As a result of regeneration, the believer is in the light via a relationship with Christ and the indwelling by the Holy Spirit. This is the believer’s first coming-out. The coming into the light continues after salvation. Otherwise the believer would continue to function as one still in darkness as if no change had occurred.

Post-regeneration, there is continuous movement from darkness. The believer sees but not clearly – there is dimness but he now has eyes – saving faith – and sees (1 Corinthians 13:11). The believer is in the light, in part, because he is a new creature in Christ and I the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). However, in practice, the believer still functions as if he has eyes but does not see and ears but does not hear even though he is a new creation and in the new creation. He still functions as if now and me are most important.

The saved believer sometimes functions as if the darkness is his friend. As a residual and legacy of prior membership in Satan’s kingdom and family (remember, Satan’s kingdom is a spiritual one), the believer has remaining corruption and habits of self-pleasing. These habits were developed and practiced in Satan’s kingdom. The habit pattern of thinking, wanting, and doing is pro-self and anti-God; it must be, and will be, put off but never completely this side of heaven (Romans 8:5-8). This is done as satanic-influenced thoughts, desires, and actions are replaced by a Holy Spirit-endowed and –actualized patterned lifestyle of pleasing God. This process is called progressive sanctification: growth in Christ, in contradistinction to growth in Satan and self.

1. Prayerfully record your most pressing self-pleasing patterns in terms of thoughts, desires, and actions.
2. Daily think, desire, and act as the new creature that you are and record as they enabled you to grow in Christlikeness.
3. What thoughts, desires, and actions need to be replaced and what will you put in their place?

From Darkness into Light: Part III
The Believer’s True Coming-Out: Progressive Sanctification

Previous blogs have affirmed that the believer truly comes out. The activity begins at salvation (regeneration – a one-time activity of the Holy Spirit who operates and gives the soon-to-be believer a new heart). Ponder the divine radical and supernatural activity in that change. Once the now-believer was an enemy of God and steeped in a satanic approach to life in terms of wanting, thinking, and doing. God performed heart surgery such that the believer was rescued from Satan’s kingdom and brought into God’s kingdom and family (John 3:3-8; Colossians 1:13-14). He began a new creature and entered into a new creation and mode of existence (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As a believer, he continues his coming-out (darkness into the light) in the process of progressive sanctification. The believer becomes less and less like Satan and his old self, he becomes more like Christ as a whole person – thinking, wanting, and doing. This, too, is a radical and supernatural process. Psalm 51:10 gives an insight into the awesomeness of sanctification. After David confessed his sins and sinfulness, David asks God to create in him a clean heart. The word translated create is bara the word used in Genesis 1 for God’s exclusive creative activity. In Psalm 51:10, the word indicates divine activity David was saved. He was not asking for salvation but for growth in his salvation what we call progressive sanctification or growth in Christ.

For the believer progressive sanctification is at least a two-fold process of put off and put on (Romans 13:12-14; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:8-10). It is lifelong and daily; it is 100% God’s domain and, unlike salvation, 100% the believer’s domain (see Philippians 2:12-13). The heart is the domain of the Holy Spirit both in salvation (regeneration) and growth in Christ (progressive sanctification). The Holy Spirit works in and with the believer but never for him or against him.
The kingdom transfer has resulted in an intense conflict within the believer pictured by Paul in Romans 7:14-25 and summarized in Galatians 5:16-18. Two controlling principles and conflicting principles are within the believer’s inner man. Therein is the problem. It is only for the believer because only he has the indwelling Holy Spirit and a relationship with Christ. The conflict is serious and consumes all the believer’s resources in every aspect of life. Paul pictures the conflict within the believer as a moral drama played out in the whole person (wanting, thinking, and doing) initially in the heart.

The two lifestyles are in direct contrast. One is Holy-Spirit directed and actualized which results in biblically-controlled thinking, wanting, and doing (the Light is Christ and the application of His work by the Holy Spirit). The other is a lifestyle in which self is center stage (the darkness). Proverbs 4:18-19 pictures this contrast: The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever so brighter till the full light of day; but the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble. The contrasts are increasing light and wisdom, righteous, and direction and dense, worsening darkness, wickedness, and ignorant waywardness are the contrasts.

The unbeliever, in his hear, knows the truth of God as Creator and Controller (Romans 1:18-23). He actively, but unsuccessfully in the end, suppresses that truth as he lives in darkness – unrighteous and self-righteousness. He loves the darkness because he hates the Light (John 3:16-19). He wants to “do his thing” according to his rules. He is the rule-maker and rule-keeper. Trained so long by and in the darkness, the believer seeks to hide himself from himself, others, and God. How deceptive, foolish, and irrational! Man lives in God’s world – God is man’s environment (Psalm 139). Man can’t hide from God. God is ever-present, all powerful, majestic, good, and purposeful. God is most worthy of every creature’s praise (Revelation 4:11; 5:9-13).

1. Write out your view of God and how that influences how you think, desire, and act.
2. Write out your view of yourself from the perspective of each kingdom.
3. Bring #1 and #2 together and record ways to please God rather self and tell why you should.

From Darkness into Light: Part IV
The Believer’s True Coming-Out: Progressive Sanctification

So what is the movement of darkness into the light in terms of progressive sanctification? What does it look like? The believer is called to live as a child of the light (Ephesians 5:8). He is in the light but he does not as yet reflect the light perfectly (Matthew 5:14-16). At least one aspect of this failure is the fact that the believer’s final authority is not yet the Word of God on which he bases all his thoughts, desires, and actions. The pull to the darkness (defined functionally as self-pleasing, self-worship, and self-trusting) is still strong. By the term darkness, I am also referring to the lifestyle learned and practiced while in Satan’s kingdom. It is patterned-wanting, thinking, and doing based on feelings and the now for self: “I want,” and “I deserve.” The person’s feelings, experience, and reason divorced from biblical truth determine his thoughts, desires, and actions. The contrast is living according to biblical principles in order to please God because He deserves it.

Consider the thoughts, desires, and actions of a believer who worries and fears. Those terms are rarely defined; they are simply accepted an assumed. When they are defined, they usually follow the psychologized culture that we live in. However, when the believer defines the terms biblically, he begins to understand that he is in the light but he does not see clearly God, himself, and circumstances. The pull of the darkness is still strong. As he hears gospel truth applied to his situation, his wants and thoughts are deeply engaged – he is not satisfied and may be confused. That is movement! However, he comes to realize that control is the issue. That is greater movement. He learns that worry and fear are fruit issues – the root is a heart issue of control: his over God’s. He begins to realize he is competing with God and losing! Praise God that he is in the light and is now coming more and more enlightened. His spiritual blinders are being removed and he is part of the removal process.

There is further movement when he articulates: “Trusting self is my darkness. I return to my vomit when faced with things I don’t want to happen” (Proverbs 26:11). He had convinced himself that pleasing self was the way to live happily thereafter defining happy according to self. He is faced with Proverbs 13:15b and 26:1: the self-truster has and can expect misery. He acknowledges God’s truth (Proverbs 3:5-8). His coming into the light is further manifested when he repents not only of worry and fear but the pattern of both, the excuses for them, the heart from which they flow, and for his attack on God.

He articulates that he was functioning as if God was not trustworthy. God was small at that moment and in spite of the cross, God was not there for him. He had relied on his experience as well as feelings with more darkness. He acknowledges that he was on God’s case. His words and actions are evidence of his coming into the light. He was in the light but now he was moving into the light. He expresses heaviness of heart and Godly sorrow and repentance according to 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.

The light and truth are brighter and clearer as he repents. His repentance was mixed with joy. Daily he reads, recites, mediates, memorizes, verbalizes, and actualizes these truths. He acts upon the fact that God is good and trustworthy. Every time he is tempted to worry and fear he trusts in God rather than self. He understands that his trust in self is longstanding and patterned. Each temptation to worry and fear is a choice to trust God because He deserves to be trusted or to trust himself. He develops proper patterns of thoughts and desires and changed actions in response to those situations in which he had trusted self.

He begins to regularly live according to the truth: “God is trustworthy” and “I am a trusting person by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work in the inner-man.” The full effects of the initial, radical transformation are not complete but the believer is growing. The believer adds: “I was a self-pleaser and a wanter, but now I am a God-pleaser because God is majestic, good, and purposeful – He is God and I am not (Psalm 46:10).

Lastly, the light is even brighter as he comes to discover that repentance is his friend. He does not fear situations as threats to his wellbeing and something to control. Rather, intimacy with his good God in spite of himself has been a blessing that he would not have imagined. In fact, as part of coming into the light, he now uses the situations that provoked him to anger, fear, and worry to trust God. Coming into and growing in the light is a desirable and sought-out activity for him.


1. Read Proverbs 4:18-19: write out ways that you are in or favor the darkness. Be specific.
2. Write out your darkness and the reasons that darkness is appealing.
3. Meditate on the facts that: God is majestic, good, and purposeful – He is trustworthy. 4. Write out all the reasons why you should trust God and what your trust will look like in thought, desire, and action in any situation.
5. Prepare a list documenting all the reasons that you should trust yourself. Compare the list in #3 and #4 and write out what you have learned about yourself and about God.

From Darkness into Light: Part V
The Believer’s True Coming-Out: Progressive Sanctification

The subject of the past several blogs has been the believer’s true coming out: saved and being saved This consists of movement/transfer from darkness (from Satan’s kingdom and family characterized by self pleasing) into light (into God’s kingdom and family characterized by God-pleasing thinking, wanting, and action). The initial change is instantaneous, radical and supernatural. The Bible calls this change regeneration or salvation (John 3:3-8). Change continues in the believer and is just as radical and supernatural as regeneration. Post-regeneration change in the believer is manifested as he puts off self-pleasing habits of thinking, wanting, and doing and puts on biblically-based thoughts, desires, and actions. The term for this change is “progressive sanctification” – it is God’s work of free grace whereby the believer is renewed in the whole person after the image of God: he thinks God’s thoughts, desires God’s desires, and acts according to biblical truth. The believer is enabled to die more and more to sin and live unto righteousness.

The believer is in the light (truth vs. falsehood and error; purity and godliness vs. a feeling and experience-driven lifestyle). He is in the light because he is light – he was darkness (Ephesians 5:8-14). How do children of the light live? (The word for walk in the original language indicates a patterned, whole-person mindset and activity.). An “in-the light” lifestyle is pictured in the Bible in a number of ways. I mention one from Ephesians 5:15-18:
v.15: Be very careful then how you live – not as unwise but as wise,
v.16: making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.
v.18: Do not get drunk with wine which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.

As part of the believer’s true coming out, the believer begins to and grows as a wise (in the light as light) but the reality of living as an unwise person (or in the darkness) is real. The wise person is a good steward of that which God brings into his life. I am speaking of God’s providence not simply life or events. The believer uses the moments in his life as God intended – as a tool to become more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29). He recognizes that believers are the most changed people in the world. Therefore, he is to be the most changing person. He knows that situations are the context for him to use as God’s instrument to develop changed thinking and wanting with resultant God-honoring actions. As a wise person he will be influenced, governed, and directed by the Holy Spirit as he practices biblical-based thinking and wanting. The process and the results are continued growth in Christ-like character (John 4:31-34; 2 Corinthians 5:9, 14-15).

In contrast, as an unwise person, he was and still be influenced, governed, and directed (the meaning of being filled) by feelings (the “I want” and “I deserve”), experience, and/or human reasoning not governed by biblical truth (Matthew 13:38-39; John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:8-10). The results will be growth in satanic-like character. These are strong words but express a great truth: the believer grows in Christlikeness or becomes more like Satan daily. Eventually, for the believer, growth in Satan will stop.

Discerning God’s will does not refer to decision making (v.17). Rather it refers to an understanding of God’s purpose, plan, and provision for the believer in any situation. God’s purpose for all believers is growth in Christlikeness as the way to honor the Son and glorify God (Romans 8:28-29). Discerning God’s will refers to the believer applying appropriate biblical truth in the situation in order to become more like Christ – which is God’s ultimate will.

The mark of membership in Satan’s family and kingdom is the desire to be like God knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:1-6). Covenantal unfaithfulness and competition with God flows from an arrogant, ignorant heart. This mindset remains in the believer in varying degrees and is most easily demonstrated when God in His providence brings unpleasantness. Paul teaches that the believer is to be properly vertically oriented: Holy Spirit-focused and Christ-gospel-centered which is summed up by love of God and love of neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). One’s vertical reference controls his horizontal focus. Paul, as Jesus did, taught that truth, and its application, sets the believer free (John 8:31-32). Truth and applied truth simplifies life (Matthew 11:28-30).

1. What pressures are there in your life? Write them down in order of priority.
2. Being in-the-light, at least, means having biblical truth at your ready and applying it in thought, desire, and action (Ps. 119:9-11).
3. Record your truth, its use, and the results of applying a faith-in-action plan that helps you respond to God’s providence in a way that glorifies Him.
4. Record what you put on in terms of God-pleasing thoughts, desires, and actions.

From Darkness into Light: Part VI
The Believer’s True Coming-Out: Knowledge and Wisdom

Over the past five blogs I have focused on growth as part of the believer’s true coming out. Every believer was a member of Satan’s kingdom and family. His kingdom is a spiritual one. His kingdom is characterized by anti-God and pro-self-thoughts, desires, and actions. The unbeliever is a fool. The believer often functions as one. Foolishness is bound up in his heart. The concept taught in Proverbs 22:15 (Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child..) applies to adults as well (Proverbs 20:30: Blows and wounds cleanse away evil and beatings purge the inmost being).God’s kingdom is also spiritual and is characterized by light, truth, life, and purity.

The wise man – and only the child of God is wise – still does not “see” clearly. He has new “eyes” – those of saving faith – and a new heart but there is still dimness (1 Corinthians 13:11). Believers are still prone to wander and leave the God who loves them with an everlasting love. Believers still want to think their own thoughts, desires their own desires, and act according to their own will. The paradigm shift (from darkness into light) is a reality but it is easy to return to former habits of thinking, wanting, and doing. The believer’s true coming out does not eliminate self-pleasing in this life. Therefore, in several places Paul and Peter pray for growth in knowledge and wisdom in order for their people to become more like Christ which is evidence of the believer’s true coming out (Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12; 2 Peter 3:18).

• In the Philippians passage, Paul’s prayer has a specific endpoint: love is to be informed in order to discern God’s will and develop and practice righteous living. Knowledge is never alone. It is always to be applied – for the purpose of godliness (Titus 1:1). As in Romans 8:29, the purpose of growth in Christlikeness is God’s glory.

• A similar message permeates the Colossians passage: wisdom and understanding which comes from the possession of biblical facts and the application of biblical truth so that pleasing God in thoughts, desires, and action become second-nature for the believer. In verse 12, Paul emphasizes the kingdom transfer – the Colossians were members and saints in the kingdom of light. They had the duty, privilege and blessing of functioning as a child of God.

• In the 2 Peter passage, Peter warned the congregation regarding false teachers. Earlier, he had stressed knowledge and its benefit (1:2-3, 5). Believers are called to be wise.

The Holy Spirit knew that knowledge alone puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1). Knowledge was never meant to be self-contained, personal, or isolated, Knowledge and wisdom are linked. Wisdom is reported to be applied knowledge. Knowing God is a wonderful thing. Being wise is a most wonderful thing. Even the demons knew that Jesus was the Son of God! (James 2:19). Knowledge and especially wisdom are gifts from God via union with Christ. They are nurtured by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The believer is a wise man as a result of the Triune God’s supernatural work in and for him. The believer is to function as such. The next time we meet I give some characteristics of the wise man,


1. Pray daily and fervently following Paul’s example in Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12; Ephesians 1:15-19.
2. Write out what you know about God and how you know it (your standard).
3. Write out what you know about man in general and yourself in particular and how you know it (standard).
4. Attempt to make a distinction between biblical truth (what the Bible says via your own reading and thinking it through for yourself – self-taught) and doctrinal truth (those doctrines that have been developed and maintained by and through the church – you stand on the shoulders of the saints who have gone ahead of you). What do you learn?
5. Give ways that daily knowledge has demonstrated itself as wisdom.

From Darkness into Light: Part VII
Knowledge, Wisdom, and Fear of the Lord

 I continue the series: the believer’s true coming out: saved and being saved The wise man is, and is to be, a learner. The believer’s true coming out places him in a different milieu. He begins to love the things of God. He loves discipline. The term for discipline in the original language indicates corrective education. Its purpose is for godly change – godly living. The wise man understands and acts upon the fact that he is not God and that there is much to be learned in God’s world as part of His family. The wise man is always a student. Learning as a child of God is a duty, privilege, and blessing (1 John 5:3).

In the book of Proverbs God brings together knowledge (facts about something or someone) and wisdom (the taking of that knowledge and applying it in a godly manner for the good of the person and others and God’s glory). Proverbs combines these two thoughts under the term fear of the Lord. A simple definition of fear of the Lord is a dominating awareness that God is; that He is majestic, good, powerful, and purposeful; and that He has something to say about your thoughts, desires, and actions. Fear of the Lord focuses on who God is and your responsibility to Him. It flows from a right relationship with God and manifests itself in growth in the character of Christ. Relationships matter. No person is wise without a proper relationship with God. having and developing fear of the Lord is evidence of the beauty of the believer’s true coming out.

The phrase fear of the Lord dots the book of Proverbs. Consider Proverbs 1:7: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and discipline. A proper understanding of the phrase is foundational for godly living. Verse 7 gives a purpose statement for the book of Proverbs. Wisdom and knowledge are there for the taking. They are to be minded (Proverbs 2:1-9). A proper and growing vertical reference is the key to getting wisdom and being wise. What follows is maintaining and acting toward God and others controlled by that God-given, Holy Spirit-energized, proper vertical reference. Wisdom and knowledge have a source (Job 28:20-28). They have demands which are spelled out in the Bible, particularly in the book of Proverbs.

The issue is not the presence or absence of wisdom and knowledge. The issue is one’s desire – do you want wisdom and knowledge – and the use of them. Do you want to know and be skillful in what you know? As a believer the answer must be yes. The yes is only possible because of the believer’s true coming out. He comes out of darkness into light. The Source and Giver of Wisdom is the source of Light who is God (Job 28:20-28; James 1:5-8). So how do you get fear of the Lord? How does one become wise and understanding? The believer’s true coming out – he must be saved – ushers in the desire and capacity fear the Lord? . Once saved, life after salvation begins. One of its chief features is developing and expressing fear of the Lord.  Proverbs 2:1-5 tell us: accept and store up words of the father/teacher (v.1), turn and apply them (v.2), put forth an effort to get wisdom (v.3), look for it as you would precious metals (v.4), and you will get it – a promise (v.5).

In summary, only the believer has fear of the Lord. Only the believer is knowledgeable and wise. Only the believer knows God (not comprehensively), desires to discern His will, and seeks to apply biblical principles to all of life. The believer knows that this is God’s world and that God has the right to declare it as such. As Creator and Owner, God demands complete allegiance and loyalty. He set the requirements for how life is to be lived in His world. Unfortunately and sadly, believers live as they did as an unbeliever. But this tendency to return to the vomit of self-pleasing becomes less and less as the believer grows.
Armed with these truths, the believer has no other logical choice than to follow Paul’s counsel in Romans 12:1-2: present your body as a living sacrifice, and think and desire according to who God is. And unless you know what God says (in His Word) about himself, you, the world, and the proper way for you to think, desire, and act, you will be the fool and relish your foolishness.

1. What is your definition of fear of the Lord?
2. What does Isaiah 11:1-4 teach about fear of the Lord in regard to Jesus?
3. Read Proverbs 2:1-5; 3:5-8; 4:5-7: what is their main point?
4. Compare the Proverbs passages with Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12; 2 Peter 3:18. How do they compare?
5. What does fear of the Lord look like in your daily life?

From Darkness into Light: Part VIII
Wisdom and Fear of the Lord

 I conclude the series: the believer’s true coming out: saved and being saved. As I have mentioned, the believer’s true coming out involves wisdom and fear of the Lord. They are twin pillars of gracious, godly living. Earlier, I defined fear of the Lord as the dominating and constant awareness of the presence of God – His majesty, goodness, and purpose – such that He has something to say about every thought, desire, and action. There are no private interactions in his world.

So what does fear of the Lord look like in your life? Psalm 111:10 (The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise) and Psalm 112:1 (Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands) give help in answering the question posed above. These passages teach, among other things, that the wise man is one who loves the law – God’s word and biblical truth – and applies it (Psalm 119:16,97,105).

Too often, law-keeping has received bad press. Too often, the law and law-keeping are contrasted with faith and grace. It is as if the law and law-keeping are opposed to grace and faith. Not so. Fear of the Lord motivates the believer to trust and obey. The two are linked and both are based on knowledge and wisdom. The believer’s obedience is not forced or burdensome (1 John 5:3-4). Let me explain.

Law-keeping has been around before and since creation. Pre-fall, the Triune God had law. There was no codified form of law. But the Trinity functioned in harmony and unity. The angels were faced with allegiance to God or self. Adam (before sin) was called to trust and obey and his obedience was not burdensome. He was a God-pleaser. Self- pleasing had not entered earth because there was no sin. Sin was in the heavens but not in Garden.

Obedience was part of God’s design for His creatures. In Adam’s state of innocence, God gave him three positive commands (Genesis 1:28). Perfect obedience was required. The question is open whether Adam’s initial obedience would have secured eternal life or whether perpetual obedience was necessary. God graciously called Adam to manifest faithfulness to Him by giving him one negative command with consequences – don’t eat or you die. Adam proved unfaithful. He lost original righteousness, gained a corrupt nature, and was guilty. Law-keeping became a personal crusade to get. It was burdensome. It was met with any number of schemes. A self-focus took center stage and self was preeminent. However, the law even in codified from was never intended for that purpose. The law was good and purposeful and had its place in redemptive history (Exodus 20:18-21; Romans 7:12; 1 Timothy 1:8-11).

Upon redemption which is the believer’s true coming out, the believer has the capacity to trust and obey but he is not perfected in that activity. The believer came to understand that God’s law is a revelation of Himself and His will. This fact is taught in any number of places in Scripture but especially in Psalm 119. It points to the perfection of God as Lawgiver and the Son as the Law-keeper. The law, when seen in its proper light, motivated the believer to depend on Christ’s perfect law-keeping in lieu of his own. The believer was able to view himself, God, God’s law, Christ, and the Holy Spirit differently. He developed an entirely different view of himself, Christ, and law-keeping.

As a growing believer, he eagerly seeks “a piece of God’s mind” as the psalmist so dramatically demonstrates (Psalm 119:2, 9-11, 17-18, 24, 52, 56-57, 97, 105, 129, 152). The law points to God’s holiness and justice, man’s impotence as a law-keeper, and the need for a perfect Law-keeper (Jesus Christ). From that vantage point, all believers will relish their salvation in Christ who is the perfect Law-keeper. Now the law is their friend and beacon (the mirror and lamp function of the law). In the gospel, where there is law, there is gospel and vice versa.

When saved which is the believer’s true coming out,  the believer views the law and lawkeeping in a different light. He understands and gladly accepts the truth that personal lawkeeping is no match for the perfect lawkeeping of the perfect Law-keeper. Therefore, even the saved sinner’s lawkeeping is not a substitute for Jesus’ perfect lawkeeping. The believer is no longer in competition with Christ. The believer trusts and obeys out of awe, respect, and gratitude for God’s gracious provision of salvation through Christ by the Holy Spirit (John 14:15, 21, 23).

The gift of salvation is secured by Christ’s perfect lawkeeping and His perfect death on the cross which is received by faith alone. By saving faith, the believer rests in Christ’s perfect obedience before the cross and on the cross. But as a faithful follower and a child of the King, the believer seeks to trust and obey not simply to get but to enjoy his place in God’s family and kingdom.

1. Think through the link between fear of the Lord, wisdom, and obedience/law keeping: jot down your thoughts as you read Psalm 119.
2. What are your thoughts concerning lawkeeping – yours and Christ’s?
3. What check points have you set for yourself that may go beyond God’s law?
4. Obedience is not simply an act of the will – it flows from the heart. It has an inside-out reference.
a. In what areas of your life are you called to trust and obey that you have failed?
b. Write out the reasons from your perspective for not trusting and obeying and then write out reasons from God’s perspective indicating that you should.