I picked up a crumpled foil gum wrapper by the staircase. Three steps up I found another one. And then another. At the top of the stairs I found a few more. Curiosity piqued, I turned the corner to peer into my son’s room. Under a maroon-colored blanket I saw the shape of a preschooler. In front of the mound of blanket-covered-preschooler, I found a pile of gum wrappers. I walked up to the mound.
“Michael? Are you under the blanket?”
The shape shook his head.
“Michael? Are you chewing gum?”
Again, the shape shook his head.
I lifted the blanket to find my son, cheeks stuffed like a chipmunk. His mouth was so full, he couldn’t bring his lips to close. Barely able to chew, Michael had managed to stuff an entire pack of chewing gum in his mouth.
When it comes to sin, I’m not so different from my preschool-aged son. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, my first response to sin is to hide and cover (Genesis 3:7-10). Instead of an actual blanket, I often hide under a cloak of defensiveness or rationalization when I sin. You know what happens in the place of hiding and covering? Rotting, stinky, cold, isolated living—that’s what happens in the darkness.
Paul brilliantly establishes in the first half of Ephesians our position in Christ and then spends the remainder of the letter addressing the practice of the Christian life. Our position should inform our practice, but often we confuse the order and attempt Christian conduct apart from understanding our standing before God. When we flip practice and position, we may seek to adhere to stringent dos and don’ts out of fear, or to earn brownie points. But living the Christian life through self-effort is unsustainable.
God did not abandon us to live the Christian life in our own strength. He is our Source and Provider. We invest time studying God’s Word in order to know Him, not just know about Him. As we know Him, we will love, trust, and obey Him, and our conduct flows out of this love relationship. We know Him by walking in the light, and we walk in the light by knowing Him.
What’s more, God provides His Spirit to empower us to walk in the Light. The secret of the Christian life is being filled by and walking in the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:16), which comes through confessing our sin and yielding our lives to God in response to His goodness and mercy (Psalm 145:9). The word “confess” comes from a word meaning “to speak the same.” Speaking the same about our sin is to admit we blew it. No rationalization, no excuses, no hiding, no hiding under the blanket of our shame— only recognizing the beautiful truth that our forgiveness is complete because of Christ’s finished work on the cross.
When we know our position— children of God who are forgiven, renewed, and provided for in Christ Jesus — then we can practice walking in the light, being imitators of the God who created us and saves us (Ephesians 5:1).
Like lifting the blanket to expose my gum-chewing son, the gospel of Christ gives us the freedom to throw off our old sinful nature and be renewed by the Spirit (Ephesians 4:22-23). The darkness may feel deceivingly comfortable to us for a time, but true healing, freedom, warmth, connection, and community only happen in the light of Christ.
Father, we want to know you and walk in the light. Show us through your Spirit the places in our heart where we hide and cover. Give us courage to yield our whole lives to you. Thank you for your perfect timing and perfect provision. We love you. Amen.
Vivian Mabuni is an author and speaker, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, coffee-with-friends-lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 26 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Vivian is the author of Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts.