Summary: Jesus said He was the Light of the world. With Him in us, we are the light of the world. (#4 in The Christian Victor series)
“Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”
At least in the decades I have been exposed to the functions and practices of the church, I believe the church generally speaking has made a large error in the way she has dealt with new believers.
It seems for the most part that when people come to the Lord and begin attending church, the first thing we want to do is start telling them how to be a ‘good’ Christian, and secondly to indoctrinate them in the denomination; whatever the denomination might be. Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Southern Baptist or whatever.
As a result we have congregations of people who live a life of high highs and low lows, going up and down emotionally about their performance as Christians on a sort of ecclesiastical roller coaster ride, and at the same time bragging that they are Southern Baptist, or Lutheran or whatever, as though being identified with that group is the most important thing, after all.
In a great many cases, the church deliberately teaches them that being a good _____ (you fill in the blank) is the most important thing.
My wife and I attended the state convention of the Colorado Baptist General Convention 5 or 6 years ago, and we were very turned off by one of the scheduled preachers who stood up and rambled on for about 30 minutes about what good Southern Baptists we should all try to be. I would have much preferred to hear a sermon from the Bible. He wasted our time.
The topic of our study today is what should be taught to every new believer in Christ, and unfortunately I think many Christians can and do go for a long, long time down the Christian road before hearing it.
So I’m going to keep it simple today, and just take these four verses and amplify them for the sake of clear understanding.
YOU WERE DARKNESS
We’ve already seen earlier in this chapter that Paul is establishing the truth that the Christian is absolutely different than the non-Christian. He calls them children of wrath, but us children of God. Beloved children.
They are sons of disobedience, but we have an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.
He’s just continuing his theme here, but as I’ve said in a previous sermon, I feel like this illustration of darkness and light is the most potent and powerful example given in scripture, of the chasm that now exists between what we once were and what we now are.
Now I want to make clear early on that by the things I say here I am certainly not advocating the Christian’s withdrawal from society, or that we should avoid personal contact with unbelievers. In fact, as we study these verses we’ll see that these truths; these facts about the Christian, are the very things that call us to a duty of impacting their lives as often as we can for Christ.
We are to evangelize them; bring the good news to them and pray for them. But as Paul says here, we are not to be partakers with them. We’re not to share with them in the deeds of darkness, because we are no longer dark.
This chasm I’m talking about is a reference to the spiritual reality of the separation between us.
They cannot understand their darkness. They are dead spiritually, and have no concept of any spiritual reality. They can only speculate, and when they do, they speculate wrongly. It is impossible for them to know and understand truth, because the truth is in the light and of the light, and they are darkness.
So we have to understand clearly what they are, and that we once were the same, in order to rightfully understand what we now are, and what they are so we can reach out to them correctly and effectively.
So before we move on, let me point out that Paul has not said, “you were formerly in the dark”. Indicating a lack of understanding only. Before we came to Christ we were not just ignorant. We weren’t just misinformed or uninformed. If that was the only problem, then evangelism would be very easy and people would be saved in multitudes every day.
I could walk into Denny’s during a heavy lunch hour, bang a spoon on a plate to get everyone’s attention, tell them what they need to know to be saved and talk about Jesus and Heaven and a loving Heavenly Father, and about 80-90% would say, “Gee, I never knew all that; I think I’ll do what I need to do to go to Heaven. I have heard the facts now, and I believe.”