Ephesians 5: 1-11
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
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. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
SUMMARY OF SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
Because becoming a Christian can happen in an instant, it’s easy to underestimate exactly what has happened in that moment. We need to understand the radical change of what has actually taken place in our lives. Spiritually you became a brand new person.
It’s so radical that Jesus called it being ‘born again’ and the Apostle Paul said that you are ‘a new creation’. That’s what he has spent the first three chapters in Ephesians trying to communicate. That although we may not immediately see it visibly with our eyes, spiritually everything has changed. You become a new person, you take on a new nature, Christ lives in you and you are in Christ. From that point forward, we live out of this new identity, this new nature.
This impacts all that you are and all that you do. Your thinking starts to change, your desires are reoriented, you begin to view the world and other people in a different way.
Without Christ we have this sinful nature inside us. It causes a propensity towards sin, we follow our own desires, lusts and drives. We can’t restrain or change this in our own strength. We need a change inside us, a power within which makes us want to do the right thing and gives us the strength to avoid the wrong thing.
The good news is that because Jesus died, was raised to life and is seated at the right hand of the Father, sin has been defeated and we can live in His victory.
Back in Ephesians 2, Paul told us that we were formerly dead in sin but Christ has made us alive. Jesus didn’t come to make bad people good, He came to make dead people live.
In the same way, in Ephesians 5: 8 Paul says,
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…”
It’s the same pattern as before: “You were… now you are…”
You were dead, now you are alive. You were once darkness now you are light.
Note Paul doesn’t say, “You have a light” or “You reflect a light.” He simply says: “If you are a Christian, if Christ is in you, then you are light.” Therefore, just shine, because that’s the most natural thing for lights to do. It’s your nature to shine.
The sinful behaviour Paul mentioned earlier – sexual immorality, foul talk, greed, impurity – Paul calls these the “…fruitless deeds of darkness…” (v. 11) They are incompatible with who you are now. Instead your new nature bears fruit which “…consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth…” (v. 9) That’s why you feel so uncomfortable if you try to live in the way you did before you encountered Christ. It used to be fun, now it just feels wrong because you’ve a completely new nature. It’s like a lion barking or a dog meowing. Sin just doesn’t seem right because it’s not part of your nature.
You are light. Wherever you go you help people see, you lead the way, you illuminate every corner of culture, you reveal reality and darkness disappears.
Jesus is the light of the world. But he also said to His followers: “You are the light of the world.” He didn’t say that you reflect His light, but that you are light.
In the Old Testament, the best you could try to do was to get under God’s light and reflect it. You went to where God inhabited – the tabernacle or the Temple – hoping to position yourself under the light of God so that it would shine on you and you would reflect His light for a while.
However, under the New Covenant, you no longer go somewhere to meet with God. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling place of God. Therefore you don’t reflect the light - you become the light. Wherever you go, God goes. Wherever you go, light shines.
Often Christians live in fear of the darkness because we are concerned that it will snuff out our light or overpower us and cause us to fall away from Christ. However, I have never seen a competition between light and darkness where the darkness won. Light always overcomes darkness. Wherever I go, darkness is displaced, it has to flee, because light always overcomes darkness.
Why do we often put more faith in the darkness than we put in the light?
Light was never meant to be surrounded by only lights or in competition with other lights. Light is most effective in darkness. That’s what it was designed for, that’s where light reaches its greatest potential.
Christians weren’t designed for church. We are called to advance into every sector of society and every corner of our community bringing light where there is darkness, life where there is death, hope where there is despair, fulfilling Jesus’ prayer that His Kingdom would come and His will would be done down here on earth as it is in heaven.
Instead of being perceived as nasty, narrow and negative, Christians should be the most passionate, creative, expressive, fun, life-giving, generous, positive, forward thinking, entrepreneurial, confident, secure, liberating people on the planet.
We keep waiting for God to show up in our communities, our families or our workplaces. But if God is going to show up wherever you are, He’s most likely going to show up as you.
You can pray for an outpouring of the Spirit all day long but perhaps God has you in that setting because He wants an outpouring of you.
You have to have to live out your unique calling, identity and purpose because there is an expression of God’s nature, character and creativity which the world can only see through you.
God wants to express Himself to the world, not only through you, but as you.
Trust that the light works and that, when you show up, darkness always leaves.