WORKS OF DARKNESS!
Sermon, 2 January 1994
For too many Christians practical Christianity involves only avoiding evil and doing good. These things are, of course, in themselves commendable, but there is a third dimension that is vital if we are to "wake up....and rise from the dead".
"Do not participate in the fruitless doings of darkness but rather expose them...everything that is exposed by the light is made visible, and where everything is made visible there is light. Thus it says, "Wake up, sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine upon you"" (Eph.5:11-14, RBV).
Actually, this is rather a remarkable passage of scripture, for it is telling us that someone who is spiritually asleep is as good as dead. But more than that, if the light of Christ is to shine upon us, not only must we expose darkness but the transformation that will take place within us as a result will be as dramatic as a thaumaturgy -- the bringing back of a dead person to life.
I dare say that there are not many of us who like rocking the boat, at least not those who know Christ and desire, as Paul desired, to live in peace with all men. We are not to go deliberately provoking people -- we are not to be numbered with that band of spirtual outlaws who are spoiling for a fight for fighting's sake. We are to make peace. However, sometimes the road to peace requires a good shaking up.
Now the context of Paul's words to the Ephesians was a problem with immorality, impurity and greed (5:3). Indecency and coarse humour seems to have been as much a characteristic of pagan Greece as it is in our modern western society. People were foul-mouthed (4:23). Paul called this behaviour idolatry and warned that the guilty would have no inheritance in the Kingdom of God (5:4-5).
For those who have been born again into God's Kingdom and have discovered, to their delight, the fruits of the Light -- goodness, righteousness, and truth (5:9), exposing darkness means to some extent returning to the memory of the disgusting things that the pagans do (5:12), and this is not only revolting to the one born into the New Life but even shameful. But alas, the child of God is not promised a new life of perfect spiritual sanitation; though the slums in our own lives may be demolished and cleaned up, it is necessary for us to walk through the slums of other hopeless lives if we are to reach them with the glorious message of salvation. Those who delivered us from darkness by preaching the Word likely had to get their hands dirty and feel the shame of our own disgrace -- that is, after all, the way sinners are saved.
People do not like to have a bright light shone on their lives. They don't want the skeletons in their closets exposed, and neither should we, if were that all we were interested in. But like the housewife who dusts off a dirty shelf, our motive is not to glory in the dirt but in the beauty under the dirt. We have to move in with the cloths and buckets of the Word so that those in darkness can see that there really is a wonderful Light within.
I like Paul's use of words: "Everything that is exposed by the light is made visible, and where everything is visible there is light" (5:13). Isn't that all that really matters -- the immediate presence of God's light? A few months ago I found an old brass pot that someone had thrown away. It looked dreadful. But then one of the members of the fellowship rolled up her sleaves and washed and shined that pot. Today it is beautiful and is serving as one of the vessels of the Lord. That pot had been thrown away as useless. The light revealed its surface ugliness. And when it was cleaned, that pot became visible, and beautifully so.
It doesn't matter how messed up your life may be, it can shine. But first the darkness must be exposed to the glaring light of truth. Only then can you, sinner, confess your need and ask the loving Christ to wash you clean in His blood and make you a new vessel. And when you are a shining vessel in God's Kingdom, like that brass pot, you will truly thank Him for exposing the shame of your darkness.
Why not make that decision today? Go to the Lord and pray a simple prayer:
Lord, I have sinned against you in thought, feeling and deed. I see before the majesty and glory of your holiness that I am dirty and living in darkness. I confess my need for a Saviour and invite you into my life to wash me clean and make me a new person. I thank you that you will do this and praise Your Name! In Jesus' Name. Amen.
This page was created on 17 April 1998
Last updated on 17 April 1998
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