Shining the Light of Truth
September 5, 2004
The Sermon on the Mount is, in my mind, one of the most down to earth, practical portions of the Bible.
That’s not to say that the rest of the Bible is irrelevant, because that’s not the case.
But here there is not mystery. We go through the Sermon on the Mount, and it’s pretty clear what Jesus is talking about.
I think just about anyone can read the Sermon on the Mount and “get it.” I think that’s one of the reasons I like it so much.
Today we continue our look at this passage. We finished the Beatitudes a few weeks ago, then looked at the verse where Jesus called us the “salt of the earth.”
Today we pick it up there, in Matthew 5, verses 14-16, which are printed in your note-taking guide.
I would like it if all of us would read this aloud together, okay?
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Jesus is telling us here that we are not to be “closet Christians.” We’re not to be “secret saints.” We’re to be living breathing lights for Jesus Christ.
That’s easy to say, but what does that mean in the everyday grind of life, with its time clocks, bills, and deadlines and such?
Well, let’s talk about that. I want to leave you with some concepts that I think will be practical and doable, okay?
Now as with everything else involved in being a healthy, authentic follower of Jesus, this takes intentional effort on each of our parts.
So keep that in mind as we go through this. Let’s dig in, and look at the first concept and that is…
Don’t cover your light.
Duh! Right? Jesus just said that! But it bears repeating.
The light isn’t for us – it’s for those out there. Believers in Christ, followers of Christ, have the light. Others don’t.
And if we’re hoarding the light, then we’re not obeying Jesus.
It’s easy to come to church and talk about Jesus, sing to Him, act like we love Him, and whatever.
But folks, shining our light is WAY more than church! We should shine in church, but it’s not supposed to end at the door on our way to eat after the service.
It’s when we get out in the world Monday through Saturday that we find out if we really shine for Christ or not.
It’s when we have to make decisions regarding work habits, relationships with family members or co-workers, etc. that our light will shine for Christ, or if that flame is dimmed.
Don’t cover it up – let it go, which leads to the next concept I want to cover this morning, and that is to…
Shine the light brightly and courageously.
What I mean by that is that you need to be a positive example of a follower of Christ, bringing the truth of Christ to bear in your everyday living and thinking.
In these times, we find a lot of error being promoted in the name of political correctness, tolerance, etc. But truth is truth, regardless of who likes it or who doesn’t.
Our world says that a lot of things are just fine. However, the Bible shines the light on that error, exposing it for what it is – sin.
And we need people who are willing to bring truth to bear when faced with error. But let me give you three guidelines very quickly to help you in that.
1. Do so in a reasonable and reasoned manner.
We don’t need people screaming their indignation. We need people who can articulate positions in a reasoned and reasonable manner.
If all you can do is scream about something, you need to re-think your position about whatever it is you’re screaming about.
Write letters, converse, or whatever, but do it in ways that communicate that you are a thinking person.
Jesus said we are to love God with all our minds, as well as our heart, soul, and strength. He gave you a brain to use, so use it when attempting to shine the light of truth.
2. Offer a positive solution.
Anyone can complain, and I’m willing to go on record as saying that we have too many whiners in the world as it is, and that we have too many whiners in the Church of Jesus Christ as well.
The Bible is full of positive solutions for what is wrong in the world. Bring them out – let them shine.
Show just how the solutions in the Bible can be implemented in today’s society. It’s possible if you’ll think and ask God for the wisdom to do it.
And the third guideline for shining the light of truth…
3. Be humble.
The goal is not to win the argument; it is to win the person.
If you act like a jerk, no one’s going to listen to you, except maybe other jerks.
So in shining the light brightly and courageously, we need to be reasoned and reasonable, offer positive solutions, and be humble.
Everything I’ve said up to this point can only be done effectively if you latch onto the next concept I want us to cover, and that is to…
Walk in the light.
1 John 1:5-7 –
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
How do we walk in the light? By following Jesus. Jesus said that He is the light. We listen to what He says and we make it a part of our lives.
Where do we find what Jesus said? Where do we find the light to live by? The Bible.
Psalm 119:105 –
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
The light of Scripture brings knowledge, it brings conviction, it brings guidance, it brings encouragement, and it even brings comfort.
How many of you were afraid of the dark when you were younger? Go ahead, be honest.
5 year old Johnny was in the kitchen as his mother made supper. She asked him to go into the pantry and get her a can of tomato soup, but he didn’t want to go alone. "It’s dark in there and I’m scared." She asked again and he persisted. Finally she said, "It’s OK-Jesus will be in there with you." Johnny walked hesitantly to the door and slowly opened it. He peeked inside, saw it was dark, and started to leave when all at once an idea came, and he said, "Jesus, if you’re in there, would you hand me that can of tomato soup."
(Contributed by: Steve Malone SemonCentral.com)
While the Bible doesn’t promise that God will hand us the soup, it does promise that He will be with His children through thick and thin, no matter where we are, no matter what’s going on.
The Bible tells us what happens after we die, and where we can spend eternity. The Bible tells us that God knows how we feel when life’s hard, because Jesus went through it all on earth, except that He never sinned. Jesus even paid taxes!
The Bible gives us all we need for life and godliness through our relationship with God in Christ.
It helps us to see where we can improve in that relationship, and in our relationships with others. It helps us to see what pleases God and what doesn’t.
It even helps us make wise decisions regarding money, which touches the lives of everyone in here today.
And when we put these things into practice, when we do the good deeds Jesus mentions, people see someone who’s not all talk and no action. We’ve all seen those types, and most if not all of us have been that person at times in our lives, right?
People see that we’re serious about following Jesus in our everyday lives as we go to work and pay the bills.
Let’s move on to the last concept regarding being the light of the world, okay?
Know the difference between true light and false light.
Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as absolute truth. When someone says, “There’s no such thing as absolute truth,” they’ve just contradicted themselves. They’ve made a statement that they believe to be absolutely true regarding the absence of absolute truth.
The notion that all roads lead to God is wrong, precisely because it contradicts itself.
One religion says one thing – another says something else that is totally contradictory to what the first bunch said. Which one is right? They can both be wrong, but they cannot both be right.
Jesus said that He is the only way to God. The Muslims would say the only way to God is through them.
The Bible says that Jesus is the perfect, sinless Son of God. The Koran, the Hindu Scriptures, the new age gurus all say He is not.
You see the dilemma? Jesus says one thing, others say something else. They cannot all be right.
Which is it? Is Jesus the only way or not? If He’s not, then He’s a liar or a nut, and we have no reason to believe anything He had to say.
I think Jesus was right about everything He had to say, and He had something to say about His words and light:
John 8:12 -
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
Corinthians: 2 Cor. 11:14 –
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.
How do you tell the difference? If it lines up with Scripture, it’s truth and light. If not, it’s not truth.
It’s not always easy to do, however. Many times, error is mixed up with truth.
For instance, you will find some truth in claims by the cults, or even other religions such as Islam.
Did you know that most major religions have some form of the golden rule? “Do to others what you have them do to you.”
But that doesn’t validate all their other teachings.
Many churches claim to be Christian churches, that they follow Jesus. Yet they refuse to let the Bible be their standard of truth, and they err.
I thank God that there are a good number of churches in our area that do actually believe that the Bible is the standard.
The Bible says that people will bring around them people who will say what they want to hear instead of what God has to say about a given subject.
People can use the right “language” to deceive people - they’ll use terms like “born again,” which is a Biblical term, or “salvation,” or “heaven,” or whatever.
The problem is that they don’t mean the same things that the Bible means by those terms, and confusion begins to reign.
Bottom line: look to the Bible as your source of truth, especially regarding issues that effect your eternity.
Jesus said that if we follow Him, we will have the light of life. We find out about Jesus from the Bible, not from the media, not from majority opinion, not from the scads of televangelists, but from the Bible.
If your favorite televangelist agrees with the Bible, then cool. But too many don’t nowadays. Thank God Billy Graham is still around!
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.
He claims to be the truth we are to live in and spread the light concerning.
Know the difference.
What’s the result of all this “light shining” stuff?
16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
God is honored when we shine our light. You don’t do it to make yourself look good. Jesus got all over the religious leaders of His day for that.
We don’t do it so others will think we’ve got it all together spiritually. Jesus doesn’t think much of that, either.
We do it so God will be honored.
In the book of Romans, Paul makes a point about how people think when they see Christians who don’t live lives that are consistent with the light and truth of Jesus.
He says that our attempts at ministry are discredited, and that God’s name is blasphemed.
That’s not exactly helping others praise God, is it?
So make the effort – the intentional, decisive effort – to live lives that shine the truth of Christ.
Lives will be impacted, the kingdom of God will be advanced, and the name of God will be honored.
I’d like us to take a few moments and listen to the song, “Go Light Your World” sung by Chris Rice off his latest CD.
Think about the words, and ask God to help you become the person being sung about here, okay?
And after the song is done, I have just a few comments, okay?
As I finish up, I want to give two invitations.
The first one is this: maybe you have been a follower of Christ for some time. You have put your faith in Him, and have a home in heaven.
But maybe, just maybe, you’ve been covering the light. You let it shine in church, but that’s it.
Or maybe you’ve said or done something that has dimmed that light. I don’t know what that might be for you, but you do, and you want to shine brighter for Christ.
The first invitation is for anyone who would decide here and now that from this day forward, you will take real live action to shine brighter.
You will spend time in the Bible and prayer, allowing God to speak to you and transform you into a person that the light just leaks out of.
And if you think that maybe you’ve blown it and that God can’t do that for you, let me assure you that forgiveness is just a prayer away.
The Bible says that if we confess our sins, He’ll forgive them, and He’ll purify you from them.
Some come to Him in your heart today.
The second invitation is for any who would like to begin walking in the light of Christ.
I mentioned before that Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.
He offers forgiveness of your sins and a home in heaven. He offers you the chance to become a child of God, with all the rights and responsibilities that go with that.
He offers escape from hell so you can have an eternity in heaven.
Do want to walk in the light of life that Jesus offers? All you can do to get it is to put your trust in Him as the one who died for your sins, asking Him to forgive your sins, give you that home in heaven, and make you a new person who lets Jesus run the show.
I’m going to be up here after we close the service.
If there is anyone who would like to talk to me about either shining their light better, or about giving their life to Christ for the first time, I’d love to talk with you and pray with you.
Or if you just need someone to pray with you about something, that’s fine. I’d love to do that, too.