Stephen Caswell © 1999
Don't Argue with a Lighthouse
The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signal man to send a message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south." Promptly a return message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north." The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am the captain! " Soon another message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am a seaman third class Jones." Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: "Alter your course 10 degrees south--I am a battleship." Then the reply came: "Alter your course 10 degrees north--I am a lighthouse." In the midst of our dark and foggy times, all sorts of voices are shouting orders into the night, telling us what to do, how to adjust our lives. Out of the darkness, one voice signals something quite opposite to the rest--something almost absurd. But the voice happens to be the Light of the World, and we ignore it at our peril.
Last Sunday morning we continued the theme of walking in purity. Firstly Paul commanded them to become imitators of God as beloved children. God is love and we His children are to love one another. So Paul's Second commanded was to walk in love. Jesus Christ showed us how to walk in love. Paul also commanded believers not to walk in lust. Immorality should not be named once among God's people because they are saints. They have been set apart for holiness. Last Sunday the emphasis was on our works. Today the emphasis is on our witness. In verse 8 Paul commands believers to:
I. Walk In Light - In The Lord
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
a. A Pure Life
Paul commands believers to walk in the light. Since God is also light, this command is understandable. We are to be imitators of God. Light describes righteousness, purity and life. It is the opposite of darkness. Darkness speaks of sin and death. We were once darkness, but through Jesus Christ we have become light. John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” To walk in the light means that we follow Jesus. We walk the same way that He walked. Because we are only light as we remain in the Lord. But how can we know how Jesus lived? By reading God's word. The Scriptures tell us how Jesus lived. They tell us how we can live to please God. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Christians must study God's word and obey it. Christ said that those who follow Him will not walk in darkness. You cannot walk in light and darkness at the same time. We either follow Christ and walk in the light, or we walk in the darkness and fall into sin.
Shine on Me
Debbie Boone wrote this about God's word. Every morning for two years I battled with my son Jordan to get him up for school. Everything changed when he left his window shades up at night. In the morning, the light filtered in and quickly awakened on him. The presence of light solved our problem completely. As I read the Bible one morning, my struggle with Jordan came to mind. I asked the Lord to show me how to let his light awaken the places in my heart I was content to leave sleeping in the darkness. To expose myself to God's light, I must leave the window shades of my heart open and willingly allow him to change me.
Brother Lawrence wrote this in the book titled," The Practice of the Presence of God." When we are in doubt, God will never fail to give light when we have no other plan than to please him and to act in love for him. Walking in the light will produce purity in our life!
b. A Productive Life
Ephesians 5:9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),
The result of Christians walking in the light is fruit. That is why Paul starts with the word for. Goodness, righteousness and truth can only be seen when demonstrated in the lives of God's people. When Christians walk in the light they give a witness to the light of the world, Jesus Christ. Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Christians who live in obedience to God's word will be noticed by the world. Light is always noticed in the darkness. That is why Christ told believers not to hide their lights under a bushel. Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault [or pure] in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Flashlights for the World
Bob was caught in an elevator during a power failure. At first, there was momentary panic as all seven strangers talked at once. Then Bob remembered the tiny flashlight he had in his pocket. When he turned it on, the fear dissipated. During the 45 minutes they were stuck together they told jokes, laughed, and even sang. Ephesians 5:8 says we are that flashlight. Just as the flashlight draws power from its batteries, we draw power from Jesus. As light, we dissipate fear, bring relief, and lift spirits. We don't even have to be big to be effective. We just have to be "on."
However for this to happen Christians must live in dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Christians struggling independently of the Spirit can only accomplish fleshly works. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the fruit of the Spirit. Therefore we must continually rely on Him. A fruitful life empowered by the Spirit and motivated by love is a blessing to all. However this takes time and perseverance. Fruit doesn't grow overnight. It comes in season. Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Fruit of the Spirit
Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Long-suffering is love enduring. Kindness is love's touch. Goodness is love's character. Faithfulness is love's habit. Gentleness is love's self-forgetfulness. Self-control is love holding the reins.
c. A Proven Life
Ephesians 5:10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.
The word translated dokimazw finding out or proving means to approve by testing. The acid test comes from this word. Believers are to find out what is acceptable or well pleasing to God. We do this by studying the word of God and walking in the Spirit of God. This is a continual process that leads to maturity in the Christian faith. Paul uses the present tense to show that we are to keep doing this. God allows trials and temptations into our life to develop character. Believers must find out God's will in all of these areas. We must prove by experience what pleases God.
Philippians 2:19-22 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. The word proven character in verse 22 comes from the same root word. Paul uses this word in 1 Corinthians 9 in a negative sense where it is translated disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. Paul was careful not to break the rules. He proved what was acceptable.
Probably everyone here will remember how Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson broke the 100m world record. He beat a star studded field to win the gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in record time. But his victory was short lived. Just after the race, he suffered disgrace and humiliation when it was proven that he had been taking performance enhancing drugs. All of the time, hard work and planning was in vain. He had not competed according to the rules. He was disqualified and forfeited his prize. This is why Paul instructs believers to find out or prove what is pleasing to God. He doesn't want them to be disqualified for breaking the rules.
The command for believers to walk in light involved three things.
a. A Pure Life - Christians are to walk as children of light. Jesus showed us how to live. Are you living the way Christ did? This is revealed in God's Word. Believers who obey God's word avoid sin in their lives. And when they fail, God's word convicts them, so that they can find cleansing through confession and Christ's blood. Are you seeking to live a pure life by walking in the Light? This is what we have been commanded to do.
b. A Productive Life - When believers live this way the world notices them. Light always affects the darkness of the world. Are you letting your light shine for Jesus? Are you identified as a person of goodness, righteousness and truth? These qualities can't be hidden.
c. A Proven Life - Are you testing your conduct against God's word? Are you prayerfully studying God's Word to see what is acceptable to Him? If we prove what is pleasing to God then we won't be disqualified of the prize at Christ's return. Paul now gives a negative command.
II. Don't Walk In The Darkness - Have No Fellowship, But Rather Expose Them.
Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
a. Don't Keep Their Company
Christians are not to share in the works of darkness round about them. Paul had already forbidden believers from partaking in the sins of the wicked in verse 7. The emphasis here is not to keep the company of those involved in such wickedness. The word fellowship means to have in common, or to share with. Communion translates the same Greek word. We remember the Lord's death in our communion services. Paul says we are not to share or have in common the works of darkness. We are not to walk in the darkness but in the light. 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”
When people are getting drunk they behave corruptly. This is not the type of company Christians should keep. When people tell obscene jokes we should not listen but leave. Christians need to avoid the unfruitful works of darkness lest they become ensnared by association. The spiritual fruit Christians bear is opposite to the unfruitful works of darkness. Goodness, righteousness and truth are completely opposite to the corrupt lifestyles of the sons of darkness. Therefore, believers should expose such behavior as wrong. Paul uses this word in verse 13 and explains it more fully. Paul says that Christians should not keep company with those practicing these things.
Lot In Sodom
When Abraham asked Lot to choose where he would live, he chose the rich plains of Sodom. Because of this he lived amongst the wicked Sodomites. This resulted in fellowship with them. He lost most of his family because of this. They came to enjoy fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Unless Christians spend time in fellowship with God and His people, the darkness of the world will get hold of them as it did with Lot when he dwelt at Sodom!
b. Don't Communicate Their Sin
Eph 5:12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.
Paul then says that we are not to even talk about their disgusting practices. The lifestyles of homosexuals are totally perverted. We don't need to talk about them in detail to know this. It is shameful to rehearse such practices. Satan loves people to talk about the works of darkness because he can tempt others to sin through corrupt communication. When people are saved from moral perversion by Jesus Christ, we rejoice. But let us be careful when giving our testimony not to cause others to stumble. Don't go into the specific acts of sin. It is shameful to talk about it!
Emptying A Vial Of Dangerous Germs
Just say that a scientist discovers a vial full of dangerous germs hidden in a secret laboratory. What will happen if the scientist brings it out before the public and empties it under the guise of exposing the truth? The germs will spread and kill thousands or maybe millions of people. He will cause greater damage than if he had left it where it was. The same is true of exposing sin. Unless this is done correctly we will in fact spread this shameful wickedness even further.
c. Do Convince Them Of Sin
Ephesians 5:13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light.
What should we say to those around us who commit such sins? The word ejlegcw expose in verse 11 means to convince, to convict, to rebuke or tell a fault. We should try to convince them with the Spirit's help that God will judge such sins. In verse 11 Paul commands us to expose this wickedness. Light exposes darkness. As Christians walk in the light they expose the wicked deeds of those around them. For sinners to be saved we must first share with them their lost condition. We need to warn them that God judges sin! Although Paul commands us not to have fellowship with their deeds, he doesn't say to ignore them. We are not to go out of the world like the monks did. We are to tell them of God's salvation. God's word gives knowledge of sin. The Holy Spirit takes the word and touches the hearts of those not right with God and convicts them.
d. Do Convert Them From Sin Ephesians 5:14
Therefore He says:"Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
Conversion, The Miracle of Change
When we tell ourselves "I can never change," or "That will never happen," we presume too much and believe too little. In Jesus Christ God renders all of our final conclusions premature and all of our talk of determinism as simply bad faith. In Christ, God opens closed doors, brings resurrection, reveals possibilities, reclaims the lost, liberates the cursed and possessed, and changes the unchangeable. Through conversion, God gives dead people new life.
Therefore let us be gracious and share how we once walked in darkness like them, but then God saved us. Paul says that those who are asleep to spiritual truth need to be woken up. If the dead will stand up from graveyard Christ will give them life and light. Sinners need a Savior. We must tell them about Jesus Christ. The Gospel has the answer to man's greatest need. The Gospel declares how our sins can be removed. When we share the good news the Holy Spirit uses it to convict the sinners heart. He helps them to see their need.
Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. God doesn't trouble people's hearts because He is cruel. But because He loves them. Sin is like a deadly infection that is destroying mankind. The blood of Jesus Christ is only one cure. It is because God loves people that He convicts them, He wants to save them.
Cutting Out An Infection
When someone gets a boil or similar skin infection you must be careful when treating it. If you open the wound and wipe off the infection it can easily spread. What needs to be done, is to lance the wound and expose it. Next you bathe it in pure water. Then you apply the appropriate medicine. Something that will kill the germs and help the body to heal. In the same way believers must be careful not to spread sin by talking about it in graphic detail. But rather they need to take God's word and allow it to cut to the sinners heart. God's word cuts to the heart and exposes sin. It also has the pure water to cleanse and the healing medicine to promote health. Jesus Christ can wash away the deepest sin. He can give spiritual health to the most wicked person. We need only receive Him. Has your life become infected by Sin? Is God convicting you of your spiritual need? Then can I encourage you to surrender your life to Him today! He will not reject you, so come. Today we have seen Paul's command to walk in light not in darkness.
I. Walk In Light - As children of light.
a. A Pure Life - Since believers are children of light they must walk in the light. Are you? Are you studying God's word? Are you living the way Jesus did?
b. A Productive Life - The Holy Spirit desires to bear fruit in our lives. Are you walking in Him? Are goodness, righteousness and truth characteristics that people know you by? Are you letting your light shine for Jesus or hiding it under a bushel? Are you serving the needy around you?
c. A Proven Life - Is your desire to please God? Are you proving what is acceptable to the Lord? Do you read the Bible and seek to obey it with the Spirit's help? Are you keeping the rules?
II. Don't Walk In The Darkness - Have No Fellowship, But Rather Expose Them.
a. Don't Keep Company With Evildoers - Do you fellowship with people behaving wickedly? Do you join in with those living in the darkness? Believers are not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. God commands us to come out and be separate.
b. Don't Communicate Their Sin - Do you talk about their corrupt behavior? You shouldn't! Such conversation only spreads sin. You will only place temptation before others by doing this.
c. Do Convince Them Of Sin - Christians mustn't ignore the lost but reprove them! Do you convince them of their sin and God's judgment? Do you share the Gospel with them ?
d. Do Convert Them From Sin - Do you tell the lost about God's salvation? How the Lord loves them and wants to make them whole! Do you share your testimony with them? Are you living in the darkness? Has God touched your heart this morning about your spiritual need? If so can I encourage you to acknowledge your sin to God today and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Receive Him as your Savior and Lord. He will forgive your sins and make you clean. He will give you eternal life. If you would like to receive Christ or know more about salvation can I encourage you to see me after the service. This is the good news, God loves to save sinners! Amen
Jude 24-25 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.