************ Sermon on Ephesians 5:8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 14, 1999
"Live as Children of Light"
I You Were Once Darkness
A "You were once darkness," says Paul. Darkness is the home of sin and evil. I've been told that the first thing a drug-dealer in one of our big cities does is shoot out the lights on the section of the sidewalk he has staked out as his selling territory.
Sin breeds in darkness. There is always more crime where there are no street lights. That's why police and security experts tell us to put lights around our homes and dairies and places of business to increase safety. It's a good thing to have motion detector lights. Darkness, you see, is the criminal's friend and light is his enemy.
"You were once darkness." To be darkness means that you do the deeds of darkness: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Gal 5:19-21). To be darkness means that you live for sin and evil. In our text Paul mentions three kinds of deeds of darkness: sexual immorality, impurity, and greed (verses 3 & 5). You boys may be a little young for some of this but Paul also mentions gutter language, obscenities, and lighthearted talk about sex (verse 4) as being out of place because they are part of darkness.
In my Catechism class just before tonight's service we were talking about the sixth commandment and whether we truly show love to one another. I asked the young people to rate themselves as a youth group on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. They gave themselves a 6. I then asked them to rate the entire congregation. They gave the congregation an 8. "You mean you think the congregation as a whole are more loving than you young people are?" "Yes," they said, "because kids can be really mean to each other." And, younger kids can be even meaner than older kids. I am talking about things like name-calling, poking fun, leaving someone out, mocking, teasing, and so on. All of these are the deeds of darkness.
B "You were once darkness." To be darkness means that you do not know God and the things of God – because God is light. To be darkness means to hate God because light is the enemy of darkness. To be darkness means to live without Christ and His Spirit. This reminds me of what the Apostle John says at the beginning of his Gospel:
(Jn 3:19) This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
"You were once darkness." This phrase describes so much of our world. I think of those of the Muslim, Hindu, or Confucius faith where there is no knowledge of the one only true God. I think of those fooled by the false witness of the Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, and Christian Science faiths. I think of Western Society which has largely sold out to the god of materialism and pleasure. I think of Western Europe.
Topic: DarknessI think of England and the Netherlands where less than five percent of the population attend worship services.
* France has twice as many Muslims as Protestants.
* There are more spiritist healers in Paris than medical doctors, priests and pastors combined.
* Europe is the only continent where the church is growing more slowly than the population.
C "You were once darkness." To be darkness means you want nothing to do with the light. In fact, darkness fears the light. It fears the light for where there is light, there is no darkness, there can be no darkness. The darkness fears the light for light chases the darkness away.
Topic: DarknessIn the same way, the "world" rejects the Savior because darkness cannot stand the presence of light.
Title: Lover of Darkness
When the Bastille, a castle-like prison in Paris, was about to be destroyed in 1789, a convict was brought out who had been confined in one of its gloomy cells for many years. But instead of joyfully welcoming his liberty, he begged to be taken back. It had been such a long time since he had seen the sunshine that his eyes could not endure its brightness. His only desire was to die in the murky dungeon where he had been a captive.
D Lastly, to be darkness means to have no "inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (vs 5). Upon those in darkness the wrath of God is coming (vs 7). Darkness is the final home of the enemies of Christ and the end result for those who will not accept him.
"You were once darkness." Cadets, congregation, I want to tell you that if you are darkness you are headed straight for hell.
II Now You are Light in the Lord
A "You were once darkness." Thank God that this is not God's last word through Paul. Because Paul hastens to add, "but now you are light in the Lord."
I want you to notice that Paul says you are light and you become light "in the Lord." The difference is Christ. Because of Christ you go from being darkness to being light. In other words, you go from darkness to light only when you, by grace through faith, are joined to Jesus.
You need to understand that Christ Himself is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Jesus said, "I am the light" (Jn 8:12). Therefore, it is only when you by faith are plugged into Jesus that His light becomes your light and your darkness is chased away.
I want to demonstrate this to our Cadets. I have here a light that I use to ride my bicycle at night. Notice what happens when the light is not plugged into the battery (DEMONSTRATE). Nothing. No light, only darkness. Now notice what happens when I plug the light into the battery (DEMONSTRATE). Light, lots of light, and no darkness. My bicycle light chases away the darkness and gives light only when it is plugged into the battery. Similarly, our darkness is chased away and we become light only when we are plugged by faith into the light that is Christ.
B "Now you are light in the Lord." Actually, we ourselves aren't really light. Like the moon or a mirror, we are but light-reflectors. When we become one with Jesus we begin to reflect His light.
Topic: LightJesus is the light of the world. If we follow Him, if we walk in the Sonlight, if we by faith are plugged into Him, then we are reflectors of His light. And, when we reflect the light of the Son someone living in the darkness of sin may see the light and come to the light Who is Christ.
Subtopic: Spiritual, Reflected
Title: Reflected Son-Light
In a tenement district in New York City, a boy in ragged clothes was seen with a small piece of broken mirror in his hand. Holding it high in the air he moved it slowly back and forth, watching the narrow slit of a window above him as he did so. "What are you doing?" a man suddenly demanded as he shook the youngster roughly by the shoulder. "Like most boys in this neighborhood, you're probably up to some mischief, aren't you?" The boy looked up into the stern face of his accuser and said, "See that window up there? Well, I have a little brother who has a room on that floor. He's a cripple. The only sunlight he ever sees is what I shine up to him with my mirror!"
C "Now you are light in the Lord." Light means you have life. Light signifies life-giving power. Think, for a moment, of the everyday miracle we know as photosynthesis. In photosynthesis light means life. In the presence of light, green plants convert water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into carbohydrates and oxygen. If there would be no light, there would be no photosynthesis. If there would be no photosynthesis, there would be no more life. Light means life. For those in Christ, light means eternal life instead of eternal death. So, if you want to live, to really live, to live eternally, you must turn to the light that is Christ.
D "Now you are light in the Lord." Finally, this means you "expose" the "deeds of darkness" (vs 11). Or, as verse 14 puts it, "it is light that makes everything visible."
In our country the mass media have taken it upon themselves to uncover and expose the deeds of darkness. And, I am sure you have all heard of the millions of dollars Larry Flynt, the publisher of Hustler Magazine, has paid to uncover the deeds of darkness done by Republicans in Congress. Christians do not depend on the mass media or on Larry Flynt to expose the deeds of darkness; rather, we look to the light of the Gospel of Christ.
III Live as Children of Light
A You were once darkness. Now you are light in the Lord. The result, the requirement? "Live as children of light."
"Live as children of light." This is the exact opposite of being darkness. This means you no longer do the deeds of darkness. In your life there is not even to be a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed. There is no obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking. Instead, there is goodness, righteousness, and truth (verse 9). Instead there is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23).
Topic: LoveCadets, if you live as a child of light then you, like Mr. Eckard, try to do the right thing. When the other boys are talking dirty or gross or are planning to do something bad or are being cruel to someone, children of light refuse to go along with such things. Children of light don't rent or play video games filled with death and violence. Children of light don't watch TV shows filled with cursing and nudity and sex and adultery. Children of light don't listen to music on the radio or cd-player that is full of trash. Children of light don't do things like name-calling, poking fun, leaving someone out, mocking, and teasing. Instead, they try to be nice to all the boys and girls in their class and step in when someone is being teased and take their side.
Subtopic: For Christ, Examples of
A few years ago, Jack Eckerd, founder of the Eckerd drugstore chain, committed his life to Christ. Shortly afterward as he walked through one of his stores, he noticed the magazine racks with their glossy copies of Playboy and Penthouse. Although Eckerd was retired from active management, he called the president of the company and urged him to get rid of those pornographic magazines. The president protested because substantial profits were gained from their sales. Being the largest stockholder, Eckerd himself stood to lose a lot of money by such a decision. But he remained firm in his objection, and he prevailed. The offensive magazines were removed from all 1700 drugstores. When he was asked what motivated him to take this action, Eckerd replied, "God wouldn't let me off the hook!"
B "Live as children of light." This means you have a living and a growing relationship with the light source – with Jesus Himself. Let me demonstrate this with my bike light and a mirror. Notice what happens when I hold the mirror a long way from the light (DEMONSTRATE). The reflection in the mirror is not that bright. Now notice what happens when I hold the mirror close to the light (DEMONSTRATE). The reflection in the mirror is much brighter. Now remember, we are light-reflectors. We reflect the light that is Christ. And, the closer we come to Christ, the more of His light shines in us and through us and reflects from us.
"Live as children of light." In other words, Cadets, work at your relationship with Jesus. Attend worship. Pray. Read the Bible. Do your Bible memory work. Attend Church School. Listen to the Bible lesson during Cadets. Pay attention during family devotions.
(Eph 5:8) [Cadets, congregation] you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light ...When God looks at you, does He see a child of darkness or a child of light?
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