It doesn’t take a mind reader to know who you’re most likely thinking about after reading today’s title.

The fictional agent James Bond famously holds a license from the “OO” section of Great Britain’s MI6 branch, designating him as one who has a license to kill. While Bond and the “OO” section are fictional, it may interest you to know that such licenses are not. In fact, they are more common than you might imagine. In a former occupation, I was issued one.

A license to kill is a license granted by a government to a particular person allowing them to initiate the use of lethal force to meet their assigned objectives. And before you get too enthralled wondering what the Bishop used to do for work, I’ll pop the bubble of intrigue right now and just say that every member of any nation’s armed forces operates under rules of engagement that not only allow but require them to initiate the use of lethal force in the accomplishment of their mission. I got my license when I graduated boot camp; it was called a military ID card.

In the noblest application of its mission, an army would only be used to defend its citizens from the attack of an invading nation. It would never be used to advance a mere political objective, seize power or plunder and despoil a civilian population. If only.

The possession of incredible power requires the implementation of substantial safeguards against its misuse. As Lord Acton famously observed, absolute power does tend to corrupt absolutely. He first expressed that thought in a letter he wrote to a Bishop in 1887, and followed his proverbial insight with the observation that great men are almost always bad men. History demonstrates that most positions of absolute power in a nation are taken rather than given. Some monarchs have even declared themselves divine. Evil blinds us to the truth.

Today’s verse undergirds that knowledge:

The blinding power of evil allows it to mislead those under its control. Tyrants who seize power don’t understand that the very actions they believe to be establishing their position are actually planting the seeds that will sooner or later take root, grow and abolish it. The blinding power of evil is darkness. In their case the ruler of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, plunging them in deep darkness to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the Christ. He is the very image of God. Light personified.

I find it interesting that both darkness and light can be described as blinding. Utter darkness is blindness, only light enables sight. When we encounter overwhelmingly bright light it becomes all we can see, totally eliminating darkness. This is why Jesus taught His disciples that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. Absolute light eliminates darkness absolutely. There is none left.

Perhaps you’ve seen phosphorescent toys, such as glow-in-the-dark stars you can stick to a wall or ceiling. They are typically made of plastic with a phosphorescent pigment which stores light then gradually releases it. It never wears out. If you expose glow in the dark items to light for a minute or so, you can then turn off the lights and watch them glow for hours. The glowing will fade over time, of course; but a fresh exposure to light refreshes them.

God calls us to walk in His light. And the closer we get to His absolute light the more it destroys the darkness within us. God’s light affects us. It permeates us, soaks in, and is intended to be seen by others. After Moses came into the presence of God, the glow of God’s light was physically visible. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. But it did.

God intends His light to infuse us with His nature, that’s called godliness. That process happens when we deliberately come into His presence to pray, to worship, to read His word, to share in the Eucharist. Our Spirit is designed to soak up His Light, His essence. Then, as we head out into a world ruled by darkness, we are to be like those glow in the dark stars and release our light wherever we go. The Lord is our light and our salvation.


God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We are to reflect His light in the darkness. God’s light guards the path of the righteous. As we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. As it does, we let our light shine before others, so they will see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.

Get into the presence of God. Do it daily. Read His word, because His word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. Through His word He will guard your path. Being with Him, reading His word, praying and listening to Him will cause His light to shine brightly upon you. It will affect you. It will infuse you. Then let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I said earlier that a license to kill was a license granted by a government to a particular person allowing them to initiate the use of lethal force to meet their assigned objectives. The Kingdom of God is a government, and He intends to establish His dominion. To do so, He has issued you a license to kill … sin.

God wants you to put to death the sinful, earthly dark things lurking within you. He commands us to have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. He tells us to kill them. Don’t be misled, your sin is killing you; so for you to kill it is actually self-defense. If you don’t deliberately kill that which is dark inside of you, those dark desires will find a place to take hold inside of you like a baby that is conceived in its mother. When it has conceived it will give birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown it will bring forth death. Yours.

In Christ you have a license — and the ability, by His grace — to use lethal force to accomplish the mission of becoming holy. To put to death that which is dark and evil within you with God’s help. In Christ you must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Lord Acton believed great people are almost always bad people. How would meeting you have changed his opinion?

You have a license to kill … sin. Use it.


Choose Your Language »