Summary: There is a great difference between light and darkness, not just in the physical world, but also in the spiritual world. This sermon describes what living in the world of spiritual darkness is like and helps the hearers find out why Christians - - who are
Brian Warner once said: “Initially I was drawn into the darker side of life. But it’s really just human nature. I started to learn that everything that’s considered a sin is what makes you a human being. All the seven deadly sins are man’s true nature—to be greedy, to be hateful, to have lust. Of course you have to control them; but if you’re made to feel guilty for being human, then you’re going to be trapped in a never-ending sin-and-repent cycle that you can’t escape from, and you’re going to be miserable. Ultimately you’ll be living in your own hell. So there’s no need to worry about going to hell, because hell will be on earth.” (Brian McLaren, "Sin 101: Why Sin Matters," Preaching Today #243)
Now, I’m not usually a guy who agrees with much of what Brian Warner says—you might not recognize him by the name Brian Warner, but I bet you know him as Marilyn Manson. Marilyn Manson’s widely known for doing strange things, but he also is capable of saying some interesting things as well. He says there’s a certain naturalness to sin. He then tells us that feeling guilty for being human can lead to misery and he observes a cycle of sin and shame many of us know a great deal about.
Now I won’t start many sermons by telling you how I agree with Marilyn Manson, but I do agree with him when he says you have to learn to control sin even though it feels so natural. But Brian’s way off base in his view of hell on earth, because there are many ways to experience hell on earth. One is to be plagued by guilt and shame for sin, to live in what he called a “never-ending cycle of sin and shame”, but the other way to experience hell on earth is to live a life controlled by sin. Now I can’t think of a more miserable thing on this earth than to let sin take over my life.
Last time we talked about the kind of love that Marilyn Manson advocates, but discovered that it isn’t really true love but rather the opposite…it is false love. And we, as followers of Christ, can’t live a life characterized by false love - - conduct that is sexually immoral, or impure or sexually greedy. And false love can fill more than our conduct - - it can affect our conversation which shouldn’t be dominated by obscenity, foolish talk or course joking. And keep in mind that Paul doesn’t want us to cut back on these sins - - he’s not advocating a “lust diet.” No, Paul says that there must not even be a hint of these sins in our lives. And so we get a sense for how serious this is, in Ephesians 5:5 we read that we can be sure of this: That no immoral, impure or greedy person will have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. So the consequences are real serious for those who are fooled by false love.
Now, in our passage for today - - Ephesians 5:8-14 - - Paul is going to give us an additional reason for not getting involved in the evil conduct of immoral people.
We live out in the country - - sort of, we live in a lightless neighborhood in Damascus, MD. It took us awhile as a family to get used to the pitch black of our nightly surroundings. One thing that I had to get into the habit of doing is leaving the porch light on so that upon our return home we could find our way to the door (that’s before we installed those wonderful gadgets called motion detectors). And I guess because I’d forgotten to do this on a number of occasions, Lisa would call me on her way home to make sure I left the porch light on for her. So I became the residential Tom Bodet who in the Motel 6 advertisements says, "We’ll leave the light on for you."
I think that in Ephesians 5:8-14, if we listen real carefully, we’ll hear the Lord say, “I want you to leave your lights on.” Listen as the Spirit describes…
1. The Contrast Between Darkness And Light (8-10)
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.
This passage continues the emphasis on believer’s being “imitators of God, as beloved children” (5:1). The first way we are to imitate God is in His love. Now we learn that the second way to imitate God is in His light.
Scripture speaks of God as our “light and . . . salvation” (Ps. 27:1) and as “an everlasting light” (Isa. 60:19). His Word is called “a lamp to (our) feet and a light to (our) path (Ps. 119:105). Christ is called “a light to the nations” (Isa. 49:6), “the true light which … enlightens every man (Jn. 1:9), and “the light of the world” (John 8:12). For a believer to imitate God, therefore, he obviously must share in and reflect God’s light.