Running Spiritual Red Lights
By Douglas Laird
It was not long after the invention of the automobile that mechanized cities had to pass laws and invent devices in order to provide the means to safely regulate the flow of traffic. At one point in America, the need for the installation of a traffic light in the local community was considered to be an icon of progress.
Disregarding traffic signals can result in penalties or accidents involving serious or even fatal injuries. The motorist that disobeys traffic signals not only places themself in harm's way, but all others who are in their immediate proximity.
Failing to install and/or to maintain signals can also contribute to the cause of accidents resulting in injury and/or death.
In the spiritual realm, we too, are provided with traffic signals along the "narrow road" (Matthew 7:14 NIV) of the post-salvation spiritual life. Failing to maintain, or disregarding these signals can result in serious injury or temporal death to the post-salvation spiritual life.
Temporal death, by definition, is a state in which a born again believer remains saved, as salvation cannot be lost, but is out of fellowship with God due to some sin that has not been confessed (1 John 1:9) and/or forsaken (John 8:11). While in temporal death, the believer is disabled from producing divine good under the filling (control) of God the Holy Spirit (John 5:15). The period(s) of temporal death can be as brief as the few seconds it takes to confess a known sin, or for the rest of one's post-salvation spiritual life, if one refuses to do so.
This principle emphasizes the extent of the damage to one's own spiritual life that can be the result of post-salvation sin that has not be confessed or forsaken. This is especially true of mental attitude sins such as judging or refusing to forgive others. There are many types of sin that can become a life or a lifestyle of sin (James 2:10).
Defective signals (false doctrines or practices) can also contribute to spiritual disaster. Just as the traffic signal devices must be properly installed, inspected, and maintained in the natural realm, the same can be said of the doctrines we have stored in our souls if we are to void the inevitable consequences.
When a believer is traveling along the road of the post-salvation spiritual life, he/she must do so at the pace (speed limit) that God has determined for each section of the roadway. Going too slow not only impedes his/her own progress, but the progress of others who are held back and unable to pass. Going too fast can result in the motorists going off the road, or failing to acknowledge or comply with the warning signals in time to avoid a disaster.
In the real world, the practice of "running a red light" is quite common. It occurs when a motorist decides to accelerate in order to "beat the light" before it turns red. Although this is, in itself, a violation of the traffic code in most jurisdictions, it is a practice that goes on all too frequently to the hurt of many.
A similar scenario can take place in the spiritual realm. It occurs when a believer traveling along the road of the post-salvation spiritual life sees a yellow light being displayed and decides to ignore the warnings and continue on, even though the situation is surely going to change to a red signal in which it will be too late for him/her to comply.
When "nothing happens" as a result of running a few lights here and there, the motorist can develop a false sense of security thinking that they can "get away with it" all the time, only to find themselves the recipient of a traffic citation or worse, becoming involved in an accident resulting in injury or even death.
When we choose to "run the red lights" along the road of the post-salvation spiritual life, we too can expect to receive a "traffic citation" from the Lord, or worse, end up in a situation where we suffer spiritual damage or even temporal death.
Douglas Laird is a non-denominational Christian and has been involved in spiritual writing since the 1980's. He resides in Cumberland, RI, USA. If you would like to write to Douglas, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.