The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is such a wonderful story of second chances, of mercy and grace and forgiveness. Sometimes we think these are the only lessons this story has to teach. But there is another lesson here, one that is very valuable if we are to stay free from the trappings of this world.
Like the Prodigal Son, we sometimes try to get as close to the world as possible and pretend it doesn’t affect us in evil and insidious ways. On the surface, many worldly things are enticing and appear good for us. For many of us though, we know hindsight affords the opportunity to see that what the world offers leads to darkness and to sin. We must be diligent to recognize the darkness before it’s too late and to repent of our wrongdoing against God.
The Prodigal Son did just that. In verses 17-19, the young man finally realizes that he had descended into darkness and it was all due to his own actions. He experienced that godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). That kind of repentance must be a lifestyle if we are to continually put God first in our lives. The tough part is, we must continually fight our urge to sin. Paul, in Romans 7:15-20 said,
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
So how do we defeat sin? Titus 2:11-14 tells us that God’s grace itself teaches us the way.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
This passage gives us the right motivation. It shows that God really loves us and helps us make a real change in our hearts. It also shows us that we must react the right way. We need to say “No!” to the world and to Satan. And it reminds us of that all important goal of heaven, the hope of a swift return by our Savior Jesus and communion with him forever.
Recognize the darkness for what it is. Recognize it and come back to the light.