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December - January 2023

Lighting the Darkness


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“Hey, Bud! I think you got a bad board here.”

It all started with a drip. During heavy rains, the guttering system on our home had proven inadequate. Water brimmed the gutters, occasionally overflowing and dripping onto the brick below. Concerned about long-term damage, we contacted installers to replace the existing system with larger, commercial-grade guttering.

Turns out, I should have been more concerned about boards than brick. A few quick pulls with a hammer verified the contractor’s concerns. Water had seeped beneath the vinyl siding and soaked the wood beneath. So rotten that, as I removed the siding, boards crumbled and fell at my feet. Our home’s structure was black, wet, moldy, and rotten. While everything looked fine outside, the inside was a mess.

It’s a good analogy for what happens when we allow spiritual rot to occur—when we lower our spiritual guard and let our relationship with the Lord slip in priority. We may look great on the outside, but inside is a different story.

How does spiritual rot look? Jesus answered this question Himself, as recorded in Matthew 23, when He confronted the scribes and Pharisees for hypocrisy. Those suffering spiritual rot:

  • Don’t do what they say (verse 3).

  • Make religion an unbearable burden and refuse to follow their own standards (verse 4).

  • Do things only to be seen by others (verse 6).

  • Want all the glory and admiration of others (verses 6-7).

  • Keep others from entering God’s Kingdom because of their behavior (verse 13).

  • Take advantage of the needy and marginalized (verse 14).

  • Offer pretentious prayers for the sake of those who hear them (verse 14).

  • Make followers who are not true converts (verse 15).

  • Lead blindly (verse 16).

  • Have the wrong priorities and values (verses 16-23).

  • Major on minors and minor on majors (verse 24).

  • Look great on the outside but are rotten to the core inside (verses 25-29).

“You are like whitewashed tombs,” Jesus told these religious leaders. “You look great on the outside, but inside, you are full of dead men’s bones.”


In case the scribes and Pharisees failed to realize the seriousness of the situation, Jesus offered an additional warning in no uncertain terms: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

I don’t know about you, but I never want God to describe my life this way. I don’t want spiritual rot to reduce my relationship with Him into a religious show or sham. How do we avoid spiritual rot? We find the answer in a familiar passage: Psalm 119:9-11.

  1. Absorb God’s Word (verse 9). Read it faithfully. Meditate on it constantly. Make it a priority.

  2. Seek God with your whole heart (verse 10). Pursue Him relentlessly. Don’t let anything distract you. Even then, our human hearts may fail us. This may be why the psalmist begged God, “O let me not wander from thy commandments.”

  3. Hide His Word in your heart (verse 11). Memorize it. Let it saturate your life. His Word is our greatest weapon against spiritual rot, “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).

Our home doesn’t really look any different now, but the rot is gone. The structure is sound, with the siding sealed carefully. But water will be back. Rot is the nature of this world, from your house to your heart. So, guard your life carefully against spiritual leaks by sealing it with the Word of God.

About the Columnist: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine.


©2023 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists