Summary: We're the citizens of the Kingdom and we must act consistent with our identity.
“Turn on the Light!”
Eph. 5:8-14 August 30, 2009
OPEN: Now as you know, we are studying the book of Ephesians. The first three chapters - who the Christian is. The last three how he lives, how he acts, how he functions. And Paul here in chapters 4, 5 and 6 gives us a clear, concise and careful outline of how we are to behave as new creatures. How Christians are to live in the world. We're the citizens of the Kingdom and we must act consistent with our identity.
And if we were to sum the thing up we could probably sum it up in two great statements that are made. Chapter 4 verse 1 is the first one where he says: “Walk worthy.” In other words, that we told you the word worthy means to balance it off, let your living balance off with your identity. If you're a new creature in Christ then walk that way. Then in chapter 5 verse 1 he says: “Be followers of God, or imitators of God.” Now there you have the two key things in Christian living. Walk worthy - and imitate God. Those are kind of the heart of what he is saying. If you're going to walk worthy of your calling, you're going to have to walk in the way that Jesus would walk. We are called to imitate our Heavenly Father – to trace your life following the pattern Jesus has set for us. No such thing as freehand Christianity. Acting consistent with our identity means we are going to stand out like bright lights in a dark world. That’s how Paul starts off this passage:
Does Your Life Stand In Contrast to the World Around You? For you were once darkness, but now
you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (Eph. 5:8) How many have heard the statement, “They are as different as day and night?” Paul is using this same kind of contrast between darkness and light when he is speaking of the old life without Christ as compared to the new life in Christ. In this scripture Paul is speaking to believers when he says, “You were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord.”
If you really want to get the proper context you have to journey all the way back to creation with the first four verses in the Bible: “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. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:1-4 There very first thing we are told about God in the Bible is that he brings light into dark places. Our world began with the physical separation of light and darkness. God has been separating darkness and light throughout all eternity.
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.” (John 8:12) Jesus stood up and said, “I am the light of the world.” Interestingly, Jesus spoke those words during the Feast of Tabernacles. During the Feast of Tabernacles, the Jewish people constructed three gigantic candelabra right on the Temple Mount. They were so big, they had to build ladders just to climb to the top of them. At the top was a platform or a bowl that held about 20 gallons of oil. Priests would climb up and fill all of these bowls with oil and then at sunset, set fire to them and it was the brightest light Jerusalem saw all year long. This was to commemorate the time when the children of Israel were in the wilderness and God had sent a pillar of fire to direct them and lead them to the Promised Land. It was a great time of celebration. We are told the priests would dance and sing in front of these great giant candelabra all night long. It not only illuminated the Temple Mount, but lit the entire city of Jerusalem. It was in this setting the next morning, when Jesus stood in front of these smoldering candelabra with the smell of burned oil still in the air, in front of the light that had been extinguished and that was so temporary. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” meaning not an artificial light that is extinguished or burns out. “I am the eternal light of the world.” No more darkness – if you know me you have the light of life.
But now check this out: in his Sermon on the Mount “You are the light of the world …Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” You might scratch your head and say, “Wait a minute. Jesus is perfect purity, perfect holiness. I can understand him saying, ‘I am the light of the world.’ but what does he mean when he says that we are the light of the world?” This by the way is at the very beginning of his earthly ministry. He didn’t say this after he had educated them for three years – at at almost the outset of his ministry. They really had no knowledge as yet of what the Christian life involved – but because of their association with Jesus – they were now different. wherever there is faith in Christ there is light. The believer is called to be a lighthouse to others. He didn’t say it to the religious scholars – to the teachers – to the Rabbis – to the celebrities – but to you. Tell the person next to you, “I’m a light to the world.” You can say back to them – “I can tell because you are so brilliant!”