Summary: In this sermon I try to follow the flow of comfort and directives as Paul uses it in his directives to the Ephesians to live as children of Light.
February 27, 2005 Ephesians 5:8-14
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
About twenty years ago the Army used to have a popular jingle that went, “be, all that you can be, in the Army.” As the song played you could see these studly looking young men climbing fences, jumping out of helicopters, and running around with guns. It made you say to yourself, “that’s what I want to be!” What it really did was to throw a juicy morsel of humanism into your brain - making you think that if you trained right and worked right and joined their program - you could then reach your “full potential” and look like them. Today the Army’s slogan is, “an army of one.” Again - it wants you to think that you can be your own army. All of these slogans are full of jargon that I would call “humanism.” Humanism - at it’s very core - attempts to float you so full of yourself - that you start to believe that you can do anything you put your mind to. Tune into Robert Schuller, Oprah, you name it, and you will see some very blatant humanism - all meant to praise and exalt the human spirit.
The Bible is not full of humanism. It is the exact opposite. It is the Truth. It tells men and women what they really are - not what they think they can be. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul used REALISM. He told them they were born dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1). Instead of talking about FUTURE potential based on human ability, Paul talked about expectations based on the PAST - what God had ALREADY done for them by grace. The message to them is -
Be All that God Has Made You to Be
What did God exactly make the Ephesians, and us, to be? You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. When God brings you to faith in Jesus, it’s as if an inner light is turned on - a change of character and disposition - a change of status takes place. You can’t see this light by opening your mouth and looking in the mirror. It’s a different kind of light. It first of all begins with understanding what the light is - it’s very basic characteristics. The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth. The key to letting your light shine is to find yourself surrounded in the Light. It needs to encompass you, surround you, and fill you. You have to live completely indulged in it.
One time in Jesus’ ministry, a rich young man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” Before Jesus could even begin to instruct him on what was “good,” he had to explain to him what “good” actually was. It wasn’t just a matter of what you DO. You can’t expect to perform a “good work” when you yourself are corrupt and living in a corrupt world. So Jesus said, “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good.” Jesus pointed the man to the only true source of goodness - the only good Person in the world - and that is God. So what Paul is getting at with this - is that in order to let your light shine - to do “good things”, you have to be surrounded in the Good One - that is in God and also in His righteousness. You can’t be surrounded by God’s goodness without His righteousness. Paul explained how this happens in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It is only IN CHRIST that we can be clothed in righteousness. That’s why we consider baptism so important. Paul told the Galatians in 3:26-27, You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. When God brings us to faith in baptism, He surrounds us with His righteousness and fills us with His Spirit, which gives us faith. (Acts 2:38) All of these comforts and benefits are found and given through the Truth - Jesus Christ - as revealed in the Scriptures. That word for truth - it’s first meaning is an “objective truth, that which is true under any circumstances.” The Truth of the Scriptures is that we are saved by grace, through faith. This principle and rule of salvation cannot change. God has said that we are declared righteous because of what Jesus did for us 2,000 years ago on the cross - as our substitute. This truth CANNOT be changed.