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Living as children of light

The title of my message today is “Living as children of light”. This week I have been thinking about light and how light shines in dark places to bring change. Light has a way of revealing things. Light helps us to find lost things. And how a small flickering candle can light up a dark room.

So this made me think about what the Bible says about light and if light has anything to do with the way we should live as Christians. So I guess you can understand the title of my message. My main text comes from Ephesians 4:17-32, but before that I want to read a few Scriptures that talk about light.

1 John 1:5 - This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

John 8:12 - Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Matthew 5:14 - “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

1 Peter 2:9 - But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

All of these verses talk about light. They tell us things like God is light, Jesus is the light of the world, we are the light of the world, those who trust Christ live in the light, and that we have been called out of darkness into the Kingdom of light.

Now on to my main text for today. In Ephesians 4:17-32 Paul encourages us to live as children of light. This passage has three main sections and a motivational reason to live this way.

Reading

17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”* Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,* guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Message points

There are a number of points in here that we can look at today. On my heart though is three main points.

1. Don’t live like non-believers

This may seem obvious, but we should not live like non-believers. In verses 17-19 it describes gentiles as people who wander far from God, have hardened hearts, have closed minds, live for lustful pleasure, have no sense of shame and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

There needs to be an obvious difference in how we live our lives. When I start at a new workplace I don’t tell people I am a Christian. I wait about three months before I talk about my faith in Christ or attending church. I want them to get to know me first and see the way I live and interact with others. I want them to see Christ before them I tell them I follow Him. When I do tell them I don’t want them to be shocked or surprised. I like it when they say “Oh that makes sense”.

It is imperative for us as Christians to live differently. We need the Kingdom way, by following the example of our King.

2. Put on the new nature

Verse 20-24 says these things are not what knowing and following Christ is all about. Verses 23-24 says, “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy”.

In these first two sections we see real contrasts of living the worldly way without God and living the way God wants us to live. He wants us to live with a new attitude with the new nature that leads to righteousness and holiness.

Paul talks about putting on this new nature in a number of other places in the New Testament. In Colossians 3:12-14 he says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

I love the analogy of clothing ourselves. It says we need to put on these attitudes and behaviours on like getting dressed.

Before I move on to my third and final point I want to read you a short story I read recently. It is called, “Saints that shine”.

A couple took their young son with them on a trip to Europe where they visited many of the cathedrals on the tourist trek. When they returned home the little boy’s Sunday school teacher asked him, “Did you learn what a saint is?”

He remembered the many stained glass windows which depicted the Christian saints so beautifully, and he said, “A saint is a person who the light shines through.”

I wonder if that is not the best definition I’ve ever heard, and a good testimony to what we are trying to do ourselves here on earth. So let us put on our new nature and let the light shine through us.

3. Practical things to put off

The next section verses 25-31 talks about some practical things to put off. Here we see some real measurable things. They are things that we can reflect on to see how we are going at the moment. I am not going to labor them as we know them all, but it is just a reminder.

  • Stop telling lies to our neighbours (v25)
  • Don’t let anger control the way we live and respond (v26-27)
  • Don’t steal, but work hard (v28)
  • Don’t use foul or abusive speech (v29)

Verse 31 emphasizes this when it says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior”.

Again in Colossians 3 Paul says in verse 5 “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” The Greek word here used for “death” is νεκρόω (nekroō). It means kill, put to death, deaden.

What is our motivation to do this?

Our motivation to live as children of the light in this passage is so we don’t bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit. Verse 30a says, “And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live”. It should motivate us to live right as the Holy Spirit dwells within us.

In 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV it says, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again

Also in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 NIV it says, “So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

Summary

There really are two ways to live. For the Christian it is about putting off the old worldly ways, and putting on the new nature by allowing the Holy Spirit to renew our hearts and minds. Our motivation to do this is, is to not bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit, the compelling love of Christ and making it our goal to please Him.

Today as we go out, let us remember of words of the little boy in the story, “A saint is a person who the light shines through.” Let us live as children of light. Amen.

By Dave Quinn
Founder of PASSION Australia

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