Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
There is a passage found in Ephesians 4:26 & 27 that states: “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. These verses are full of insight… but for this devotional, I’d like to focus on two points. First, this scripture clarifies a common misconception – that with God, we are no longer allowed to be sad, angry, or hurt. We live in a world of sin. We will feel disappoint and sorrow. It’s up to us, however, as to what we do next. The second insight and area of concentration for today’s Bible study is this: we’re able to give place to the devil.
Such a concept is not widely discussed. Instead, we talk about not falling into temptation or withstanding the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). We make it seem as though our time with the devil is momentary or just for a season of tribulation… and for some, this could be true. Yet for many of us, there is another issue at hand. If we aren’t careful, we’ll allow darkness to take residence in our souls, and then, we’ll spend our time nourishing it.
Intentionally or unintentionally, it’s strange to think that we might nourish darkness… until we take a closer look at our actions. When we repeatedly choose behaviors that are outside of the will of God, we’ve created an open invitation for sin to stay in our hearts. In this state, we become more willing to hold onto anger as we find comfort in its consuming power. Our emotional dysregulation breeds chaos and hurt, to which we evade accountability. We’ll want vengeance at all costs because self is now leading. Our harmful habits are relabeled as personality traits because we feel no desire to change.
The Results of Darkness
Unfortunately, the result is that we’re building houses upon the sand. We’ve been deceived into believing that God’s ways are restricting, and that true freedom comes from self. And in some ways – it does. It’s up to us to choose whom we will follow, but we need to understand we’re always making a choice. We’re either serving God or serving darkness… and the truth is, there is no freedom or peace in darkness.
Instead finding contentment, we become slaves to an unsatiable appetite for carnal desires. We define our value by what we can obtain, whether that be money, careers, social status, external validation, or relationships. We seek after them, no matter the cost, but somehow we still find ourselves unsatisfied. In turn, we keep chasing “the next thing” that will make us happier – but it never works. There is no joy in darkness. It also hinders us from making authentic connections, that are steeped in love and light.
The Price of Sin
Yet even when we experience the fulfillment of our desires, the feeling is short lived. The emptiness afterwards is overwhelming. It consumes us, so we chase our next “thing” as to avoid the discomfort, but we cannot quiet the darkness. Distractions run high as we try to numb the pain. This is the price of sin. It blocks us from contentment, peace, and experiencing pure love. We do not heal, and so we operate from a place of trauma and brokenness. We’re cynical, compromising, and limited because we no longer embrace the limitless nature of God.
As we lose our connection with God, we lose our ability to recognize His light. If you consider those who were in the presence of Jesus and could not recognize Him as the Son of God, then you can understand that the same can happen to us. How many of us hear the word of God, but refuse to accept the message? Jesus spoke of those who would disregard Him in Matthew 13:14-15, when He answered the disciples’ questions about why He spoke in parables. In part, Christ said:
And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.’
Consider the Options
When we decide to give place to the devil, we block the understanding of God’s word. His guidance is cast aside, because in darkness, we’ve chosen self in its place. We might even start to believe that darkness is actually light. Even when we’re going down the right path, we have to be careful to not give up too soon should challenges arise. It’s not always easy to know what to do next, but if we consider the prophecy we just read, we know that light dispels darkness. No matter what Satan wants, he has no choice but to exit when God enters the equation. Darkness does not have to consume us. We still have choice.
In order to grow our relationship with God, we must face the darkness within us. In moments of self-reflection and devotion, we need to not only be willing to ask God to show us the parts of us that need to be cleansed, but to then also do the work needed to make the change. If not, we are giving place to the devil. That’s the other option, and in this world of sin, it is an option.
In closing, let’s go back to Ephesians 4. This chapter ends with the following statement in verses 31 & 32: Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Here we are cautioned against nourishing the darkness. Instead, we have the option to allow God to reside in our hearts. When we do this, the fruits of His spirit form and shape our characters as we embrace kindness but also forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an essential part of our journeys. It allows us to let go of the wrath and bitterness that tries to grow within our hearts. When referencing forgiveness, Christ also referred to the forgiveness we receive from God. Through God’s example, we learn the value in forgiving ourselves and others, not as justification, but as an act of compassion. By living out this truth, we experience God’s love in its purest form as we are able to share it with others. God’s light is contagious and powerful. Through Him we dispel the darkness, so be intentional with your choices, because when we choose God, darkness can no longer hold us captive.
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