Lord, strengthen me to speak and act as you desire. Amen.
In the name of Jesus, who is the light of the world, dear redeemed:
Hey! Who turned out the lights? Perhaps you have said that when a circuit breaker in the house was tripped and your lights went out. Maybe you asked the question during a power outage. Maybe you made such an exclamation, when someone else turned the lights out on you. No one likes to be in the dark. It is scary. It is uncertain. It can be dangerous. While all of that is true about everyday life and physical matters, it is also true when it comes to spiritual matters. Sin is darkness. Jesus is the light of the world. As Jesus has rescued us from sin, delivered us from darkness to the light of life – we are indeed the forgiven children of God. Through Jesus we are children of light. So today the Holy Spirit urges us by the words of Paul – Live as children of light!
Let us first remember that we are children of light. We are set free from the darkness of sin. Our Lord Jesus has rescued us from the blindness of our sinful state. He has shed his light on us and chased away the darkness of sin and unbelief. Yes, we stand assured on this final Sunday of March 2011 – we have spiritual life in Christ. We are children of light! We are the ones rescued from the darkness of sin.
We were born spiritually dead. There was not spiritual life in us. We couldn’t do a thing to change our lot in life, to change our status before God. We came into this world completely ignorant of divine truth. We didn’t know God. We didn’t know Jesus. We were hostile to God and his Word and his ways. This is a darkness, this inherited sin, that shows itself in action all too often. Jesus reminds us that sin comes “out of the heart.” We came into this world in a truly sad state. But let us not make that the main focus of this message. Rather, let us be reminded that our gracious and merciful God has rescued us from the darkness. We have been rescued by the light of the world – Jesus!
So Paul writes, For you were once darkness, but now you are the light in the Lord. Not only is Jesus the light who has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light, you are now known as light. This means that the light of the gospel is yours! That gospel assures you that all is forgiven in Christ. He has paid the full debt of your sin. He has rescued you from yourself and your heart of sin. He has made you light. Consider the role of Jesus’ word in all this. The Psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” God’s Word sheds light on everything! What a blessing we have to be guided by God’s Word through life. It never leaves us in the dark but keeps us in the light and keep us as the light. So go through life walking around in and by the light of the word. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly so you can live in the comfort of his forgiving word and demonstrate your thankfulness for his rescue in living by his word of truth. All of this showing light and being light stems from what Jesus has done for us in making us the children of the light. Above all, remember – you are forgiven – you are no longer a prisoner of darkness!
Having said that, having shared that comfort with us – Paul builds on it. The benefit of the gospel does not stop with the fact that Jesus has secured our salvation. The benefit of the gospel is not only that awesome comfort of knowing all our sins are forgiven – it goes on to move us into action. The forgiven, forgive others. The comforted, comfort others. Those who have been served by Jesus, serve their neighbor. And so on. Yes, friends we are set free for a purpose. We are set free to reflect the light of Christ.
We have the divine privilege of being a little Christ to our neighbor – we have the privilege of following the ways of our Savior. We are light in Jesus. What is that light? Paul explains: 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. Have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light become visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Simply put, light is goodness or moral excellence (living by what God says in his Word), righteousness (all that is good in God’s eyes – his righteousness), and truth – a constant, unchanging and absolute truth. There is one more thing that is involved in living as light, that is and find out what pleases the Lord. This is a bit of a puzzling statement, at least the way the NIV translates it. Perhaps, something like this works better: Live as children of light and put your stamp of approval on what pleases God. What pleases God is goodness, righteousness, and truth. God not only wants us to know what is pleasing to him, he wants us to make this our own way of doing things. As children of light it brings us great joy to live in the light and to avoid the darkness altogether. For the darkness only drags us away from Jesus and back into slavery and darkness. All of this means being life-long students of God’s Word always being influenced by God’s ways and aware of the ways of darkness, so we may avoid them.
This encouragement is strongly worded and is not only the positive statement of living in the light of Christ and his Word. This encouragement is also stated negatively – no return to darkness. Paul says things like – have nothing to do with them, expose them, and wake up from your spiritual sleep. Simply put avoid the deeds of darkness (don’t get involved in them, look at them, or even spend time talking about what others are doing that is so shameful). When you see something wrong, call it wrong. Find a loving and kind way to point out wrong. Stand firm in the Word of the Lord and boldly proclaim God’s truth. Do not let any spiritual apathy creep into your life. Stay awake and alert to the deed of darkness, don’t get lulled into thinking you can live in darkness and remain a child of light – the two never go together. This is ultimately an encouragement to living in the loving light of Christ. We are to constantly be about reflecting the light of Christ to a dark world. As we show love to others we are reflecting the light of Christ who loved us first. We don’t do this to manipulate God and get something from him – we do this because God in love sent Jesus to be our light and our Savior. We reflect the light of Christ to show our appreciation and thankfulness to God for rescuing us from the darkness of sin.
So go home encouraged to keep on living as children of light! Search the Scriptures for comfort and encouragement! Look to Christ as your Savior – the one who brought you out of the darkness of sin to his eternal light.
As you struggle with the sins you have committed and the guilt that doesn’t want to leave you alone – recall that Jesus has taken care of all of it. There is nothing left – as far as the east is from the west so far God has removed our transgressions from us. There is nothing left – no more guilt – Jesus was punished for us. We are indeed children of light! God has rescued us and made us his very own people, eager to do what is good! May he continue to strengthen us to remain in his light for today and forever! Amen.