Summary: Epiphany is a season where we see the divinity and light of Christ shine. It is made to shine in the heart of man. This sermon talks about how the light shines in the heart and what it does there.
January 8, 2012 2 Corinthians 4:6
God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
God did not create this world to be dark, but that’s the way it started. In this passage Paul takes us back to the origins of creation. He calls it “darkness.” This is what Moses writes in Genesis 1:1-3,
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
It is hard to imagine such a place, where things are not able to seen or grasped or built. But God wasn’t done with His creative work. In this dark and formless world God spoke light into existence. Without a sun and without stars; three days before they were created; with a simple Word, God created light.
Once light was then in the world, God proceeded to put the world in order and shape it into a very organized and useful place. The stars would help us designate seasons and the sun will help us determine days and years. How important the light was! It enables us to see and to work with God’s creation. Creation without the light would not be complete. In some ways you could say that Creation was made and designed to have light in it. So the Light of the world spoke light into our world.
The way in which God created the world and put light within; the same could be said of the human being. God created us to have Light in us as well. Our hands and our mouths, our emotions and are thoughts are meant to be the sun, moon and stars of our being; through which the light of God shines through to the people living in our world. Man was made in the image of God; so that everything that personified God would be reflected in us and come beaming out through us.
God’s Light Shines in the Darkness
I. He shines to expose the darkness
There are many theologians today who like to talk about how precious we are as humans, BECAUSE we are human and because we are given the image of God through which God’s glory can shine. But this kind of talk can lead people astray, because it tends to forget about what the Scriptures say about the Fall into sin, where Adam and Eve LOST the spiritual sense of this existence. In Genesis 5:2-3 Moses seems to contrast the way Adam and Eve were created and what happened to them because of sin.
When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth.
Moses repeats it with two different words, saying that Seth was born in Adam’s likeness and image. Instead of being a source from which God’s attributes of love and mercy and wisdom would flow, Adam and Eve’s children turned into a black hole of sorts. Instead of God’s love and mercy and wisdom shining through them, they turned into self consuming creatures who only want all things to serve themselves; full of darkness; living unregulated and uncontrollably according to their own passions.
In today’s text Paul uses the beginnings of Creation to compare what God does with us. He compares the human heart to the darkness of the unformed Creation, only the Scriptures say that it is even worse than that. Not only is it unformed and dark in the chaotic sense; that people live without a purpose; it also has a certain wickedness to it where it openly and willfully produces dark and evil things. It isn’t only the lack of holiness and perfection, it is also a factory of wickedness. Jesus said in Mark 7:21-23
From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’
Paul also made mention of this in his letter to the Ephesians 4:18 when he wrote that unbelievers are, “darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” Notice the words he uses, “darkened” and “separated from the life of God.” These are powerful words. They do not depict an enlightened world that just needs a little guidance. They depict a hardened and darkened world on the way to hell.
If you doubt this could be true, watch Entertainment Tonight and see what the world glories in and is so attracted to; the Casey Anthonys, the Kardashians and more. You don’t only see it on the television. Ask your classmates or your co-workers what they did over the weekend when you get back to school or work. At best many of them traveled to one entertainment after another. I would not be surprised if some of them reveled in things that were openly immoral. It isn’t unusual for young college men to brag about the last person they slept with. It really isn’t all that uncommon to hear a co-worker boast about how he or she told someone off; or how he or she got drunk over the weekend. When you go to a classmate’s home, you might quickly notice that he or she doesn’t speak very kindly to his or her parents. There is not much respect. You might see it at work or at school as well. These are all reflections of the darkness.