Proverbs 4:18, 19 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever 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.
Have you ever driven into an unknown campground at night and set up your tent in the dark. You are wondering all night what is going to attack you. When dawn comes you can see clearly your surroundings and whether there is any danger. The Bible compares those who go their own direction without acknowledging God to those who live in deep darkness. They never know what it is that has tripped them up.
Those who live in spiritual darkness (those who have no personal relationship with Christ) do not connect cause and effect. They don’t see the traps which are laid out for them. When we walk with the Lord, He shines a light on our path so that we can see clearly the places where we might stumble and fall from the narrow path. Romans chapter one picks up on this theme and talks about how those who neither glorify God as God nor give thanks to him. The result is that their thinking becomes futile.
Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
The Greek word used in Romans 1:21 is mataiao (ματαιόω), which means “being given over to deceptive and meaningless thinking, become worthless or foolish, be unable to think clearly or correctly.” When we turn away from God we are unable to think clearly or correctly. Our very thought processes are distorted, and we are given over to deceptive and meaningless thinking. Our foolish hearts are darkened. The Greek word here is skotizw (σκοτίζω), which means “of the lack of religious and moral perception, be unable to understand.” We cannot think clearly and our hearts are unable to understand. When we do not give God His rightful place and acknowledge who He is, we are given over to distorted, meaningless, and foolish thinking, and we have a lack of religious and moral perception. In other words, we cannot see clearly the path set out before us. We stumble over things which would be easily avoided if we had enough light to see them looming up before us. God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path.
We see in our culture today all kinds of effects from departing from putting God first. Our culture is spiraling into darkness and those who don’t have a clear source of light don’t connect the cause (turning away from God) with the effects (high crime rates, troubled marriages, drug abuse, etc.) People who live without the light are like those who drive into the campground at night and stumble over tree roots and rocks because they have no source of light. They are unable to discern right from wrong, wisdom from foolishness and they don’t distinguish what caused them to stumble. The righteous, in contrast, have the full light of day to help them to discern right and wrong. How do we walk in the full light of day? We make Christ the central focus of our lives and live every day delighting in Him. He, in turn, will direct our path.