August 15, 2021
Light is the most amazing phenomenon. With light I can see the beauty in my wife’s eyes. With head lights I can see where I’m going at night. With bathroom lights I can look in the mirror and see I need to lose some weight. And with light I can read about Jesus and learn the wonders of God’s grace. There are so many benefits that come with light. With the sunrise I’m greeted to a new day. When troubles come, I can look to the light at the end of the tunnel. And when the life of the party walks in the room, I can say with you, “she lights up the room.” Light dispels the darkness, light reveals beauty, and light always brings us hope.
And it’s this last quality that I want to talk about today. HOPE. Why? Because our world is growing dark and getting darker by the day. Our world needs hope. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this statement over the last year: “I never thought I’d ever see our country go down this road.” From the attack on the nuclear family to the restrictions on our rights; from the celebration of abortion and gay marriage, to attacks on the Christian faith and to the shaming of our public defenders, we are living in day of great moral darkness. But the good news about this darkness, is that God has given us a great opportunity to bring hope. For just as stars shine brightest in the darkest of nights, we who follow Christ are meant to shine brightest in the darkest of times. In other words, You are the light our world needs today!
So, if you brought your Bible with you today, I want to encourage you to open them to Ephesians 5:6-14, where we are going to dig into three ways God intends for you to be light in the darkness. Three ways you can shine your light and bring hope to our world lost in darkness. And the first way it this:
You shine your light by rejecting the deceit of darkness In other words, you can’t shine the light of Jesus unless you are done with the ways of darkness. So, Paul commands us, saying: Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them. Ephesians 5:6-7 Do not be deceived by the deceit of darkness.
There will always be people who will try to influence your thinking by undermining the truth of God’s Word. In the case of the Ephesian church, certain teachers had infiltrated them and were teaching that “freedom in Christ” meant freedom from laws and rules. In other words, you were free to live as you pleased. They taught that you could continue to live sinful lives without damaging your soul and without fear of judgment – you didn’t have to put off your old life or put on your new life in Christ.
Now this teaching was not just deceptive, it was dangerous. For, the lie of this teaching was that it didn’t give you freedom, but kept you enslaved to sin. You were then, no better off than you were before coming to faith in Christ. Not only that, since your lifestyle would basically be the same as those still under the wrath of God, your lifestyle would be no different from that of the world, and therefore could not offer hope to those enslaved in the darkness of sin. So, this teaching was deceptive and dangerous. It could ruin your life and keep others from coming to Jesus.
So, what is God’s Word telling us to do here? We are to reject the deceit of darkness. We are to reject those who make light of sin. We are to reject those who encourage us to join with them in sin. The whole idea here is to develop a discerning mindset toward the deceptive nature of sin. Why? Because the evil one works like a drug dealer. He knows if he can entice you to sin, he knows that he might be able to destroy you. But in the meantime, he’s certain he can destroy your testimony about Jesus. I think Satan takes the greatest pleasure in getting Christians to compromise their faith by justifying their sin. For the more he can get us to do this, the more he will dim the light of Christ in us, so we will not offer hope.
So, we are to be discerning. We need to be aware that one of the schemes of the evil one is to get you to believe that sinning is no big deal. There are two ways you can develop this discernment: 1) Become a student of the Word. The better you know God’s Word, the easier it will be to see the lies of the evil one. But if you never learn to be a student of the word, the easier it will be for you to be deceived.
2) Stay connected with God’s people. Especially, people who’ve walked closely with Jesus over a lifetime. They’ve developed discernment over a lifetime. Learn from them. Pray with them. Be encouraged by them. There’s a good reason God wants us to stay connected. For God’s Word says, See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:12-13 If the evil one can keep you from fellowship with other believers, he’s got you right where he wants you. He’s got you in a place where he can deceive you, and so dim your light for Jesus. So what we see here is that the encouragement and support of others believers is vital to keep from being deceived. So as Paul writes here, let no one deceive you with empty words, empty promises. And don’t associate with them, for they will keep you from shinning the light of Jesus and bringing the hope our world needs.
Now, let me give just one disclaimer here. God’s Word never teaches us to have nothing to do with sinners. Remember, Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors for a reason: To show them God loves them and to redeem their lives, so they could turn away from the darkness, and be set free to live in the Kingdom. So, the call here is for discernment. Don’t let anyone deceive you into going back into a life of sin. That’s the first way we are to shine our light – to offer hope. Here now is the next:
You shine your light by living out your identity as light For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Ephesians 5:8-10
Your old identity: “you were darkness” Again Paul teaches us using a contrast. Here the contrast between darkness and light. We were once darkness. That WAS our identity. At one time we listened to the deceiving voices of this age that told us that life is about living for yourself. And we bought into it. We believed the lie that life was all about us. And so in God’s eyes we were “the disobedient.” As disobedient people, we wanted nothing to do with God calling the shots. So then, by nature we were objects of God’s wrath. We were Darkness: deceived, disobedient, and on the road to destruction. This is WHO WE ONCE WERE!
However, your identity CHANGED the moment you put your faith in Jesus Christ. Paul describes your new identity as “you are light in the Lord”
We are no longer darkness: For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves. Colossians 1:13
So not only were you brought into the kingdom of light. The light of Jesus now lives in you. In other words, you are a new Creation in Christ. Jesus spiritual DNA lives in you. Therefore, the light of Jesus lives in you. Jesus said it this way: “You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14
So now, God wants us to live as children of light. To be who God says we are: We are to be light. And what I love about this text is that it describes what being light looks like. If means bearing the fruit of light in all goodness, righteousness and truth. So let’s look at each of these ways God would have us shine the light of Jesus:
First, Goodness: Goodness refers to moral excellence, to being good in both nature and effectiveness. Inherent in the quality of goodness is a spirit of generosity. It’s being gracious in our character and being kind in our actions. The goodness of Christ in us is something by nature that cannot be contained: goodness pours itself out with a generous spirit by blessing others with good deeds. And when we pour out the goodness of Christ in us, when we are gracious and kind, we will shine the light of Jesus, and offer hope.
Next, Righteousness: Righteousness is treating people right – treating them with dignity, respect and love simply because they are created in the image of God. It’s treating someone right whether they deserve it or not. For that’s how God treats us. Perhaps the best example of this comes from Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount when he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Matthew 5:43-47
So, being righteous means loving all people the same. It’s loving those who are evil and good in the same way. It’s seeing people with the eyes of Jesus. It’s seeing that evil people are evil because they’ve been deceived by the darkness. Our job isn’t to condemn them, but to treat them with dignity, respect and love. That’s hard. Our first response to someone who hurts us, or acts in an unkind manner to us, is to condemn them or have nothing to do with them. That’s our normal response to evil. But imagine if that was how God responded to you? Jesus loved his enemies. Even on the cross he prayed for them: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is what our world needs to see today – that we are different from them. That there is no judgment that comes from us, no condemnation, no retaliation, no anger or indifference – only love. And when we treat people right, the way Jesus treated people right, we don’t only shine the light of Jesus, we give them hope – hope of another way. That’s the fruit of righteousness. That’s how God would have us be light.
So, goodness, righteousness, and now Truth: Truth is being honest and trustworthy. It’s being someone you can count on. It’s being a person of your word. Its being authentic and reliable. We live in a world today where seeds of distrust are being planted constantly. We don’t know what to believe anymore. The CDC says one thing, then another. Media says one thing then another. When we were kids we could count on hearing objective reporting from the media. But now it’s hard for us to trust anyone. People today are weary of dishonesty. We want to trust others, but it’s hard in a culture that’s obliterated trustworthiness. But we can change that. God wants us to change that. We can be people who can be counted on. We can be a people of our word. We can follow through on our promises. We can be authentic and reliable. And when we are, we don’t just shine the light of Jesus, we bring hope.
- Goodness: In a world where everyone is looking out for number one, being a kind and generous person brings hope.
- Righteousness: In a world of judgment and constant blaming, treating every person with dignity and love inspires hope.
- Truth: In a world of distrust and deceit, being honest and trustworthy sparks seeds of hope.
When we bear the fruit of light: with goodness, righteousness and truth, we don’t just live out our identity as children of light – we shine the light of Jesus and we bring hope. And that’s what our world needs right now. You are the light our world needs today! Every one of us who has Christ in us has this potential to shine in the darkness. Well, there’s one final way we shine our light:
You shine your light by letting Jesus shine on you Again, Paul returns to the world of darkness that we live in and reminds us to Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:11-14
Again, God’s Word commands us to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness. This command forbids our association with sin, evil, wickedness, darkness. We can be in the world, but we are not to participate in the evil practices of the world. As Paul teaches us throughout Ephesians 4 and 5, we are to have nothing to do with falsehood, anger, stealing, abusive language, bitterness, rage, brawling or slander. Sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking. All of these are deeds of darkness, and they are to have no place in the life of a Christ follower.
Instead, We are to expose the deeds of darkness Paul gives us a hint on how we are to do that when he writes, “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” You see, our exposing the darkness is not to be a witch hunt, where we are going around and telling ungodly people how sinful they are. That’s not the way of grace, that’s the way of a Pharisee, and it doesn’t shine the light of Christ.
No, Being light means we are to live out our goodness, righteousness and truth in proximity to people who are living in darkness. We are not to partner with them, but we are to shine the light of Christ before of them… like how Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount when he said: You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 We expose the deeds of darkness by revealing the goodness of Christ in us through our good works among them. And when we do that, This is what God’s Word says will happen: But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 4:13
Here’s what God’s Word declares: When we shine the light of Jesus in the darkness, we don’t just make Jesus visible to them, we make their own darkness visible to them… and when their darkness is exposed, they come under a conviction of their own sin and need of a Savior, and having their eyes opened by the light, they will come to the light, and become a light.
What that means is this: When we shine the light of Jesus in the darkness, Jesus uses our light to draw people to Himself – to bring them to faith, to rescue them from darkness and make them children of light, so then they too might become light! That is why You are the light our world needs today!
This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Paul is giving us a wake up call! Wake up Oh Sleeper! Your light is needed. Our dark world needs your presence! Our dark world needs your goodness, your righteousness, your truth. Our dark world needs your Jesus!
People are lost, people are deceived, they don’t see an alternative, because they don’t see the light. Our world is living in darkness. Deception is winning the day. What is good is called bad, what’s bad is called good. And yet, we are the light or the world. So let us wake up, rise from our sleep… and embrace your life as the light… and Jesus will shine on you! And when He does, your light will bring hope.
You know there’s one other phrase I often hear people say today, and that is this: “Why doesn’t God do something?” If I understand what God’s Word is teaching us today, it’s this: He is doing something. He’s raising up His people to be light in a world of darkness. So, let’s live as children of light and let the light of Christ’s goodness, righteousness and truth shine through our lives. And when we do that, Jesus will shine on us, and we will bring hope to our world. Let’s pray.