Faithlife Sermons

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*Christians Who Glow in the Dark*
/Ephesians 5:8-14/
 
Korean scientists have developed a cat that glows in the dark—they say it’s for “genetic research.”
Deep in the sea there are creatures which have been created by God to emit light from their bodies.
There is even a fish called the “flashlight fish,” which has a luminescent organ on its head just below the eyes.
It can turn its light off and on at will, presumably to attract or blind its food.
And of course, we’re all familiar with the lightning bugs, or fireflies, whose little bodies produce a chemical reaction which causes a small light to emit from its abdomen.
There are many other things which have been man-made to glow in the dark: watches, pajamas, stars that stick onto the ceiling, and various toys, just to name a few.
Unlike the creatures deep in the sea, and the fireflies, those man-made novelties require exposure to a light source before they can actually glow in the dark.
The stronger the light, the closer the object is to the light, and the longer it is exposed to the light, the brighter the object will glow.
What an obvious parallel between those things which glow in the dark, and us as believers!
We are surrounded by darkness on every side, and yet we are told by Jesus Himself in Matthew 5:14 that we are the light of the world.
Jesus also said in John 8:12, /“I am the light of the world /[referring to Himself, of course].
/Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”/
So obviously, our light comes from His light, and the closer we stay to Him, the more we expose our lives to His light, the brighter we shine.
Here’s a beautiful verse from Psalm 18:28—/“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”/
Many times in the Scriptures we find a stark contrast between light and dark.
Isaiah 9:2 was a prophecy of the coming Messiah: /“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”/
This was the very verse Matthew used (4:16) at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry to tell us that Jesus was the Messiah.
The light from God is what gives us hope.
Isaiah 50:10 reads, /“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”/
There are others.
Jesus said (John 12:46), /“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”/
The point is that we are in darkness until we come to know Christ.
When Christ, who is the Light, comes into our darkness, our lives are transformed into light also.
When Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians, he was trying to convey this very important truth: that once your life has been transformed by Christ, there is such a great contrast between the old life and the new, that it is like the difference between light and dark.
He says first of all that before Christ…
*1.
We were Darkness, v. 8*
 
/“For you were once darkness…” /Genesis, the very first book of the Bible, begins with these words (I know you’ve heard them before, but listen to them again).
Verse one: /“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”/
Verse two: /“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”/
But now hear verse three, as if for the first time: /“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”/
Did you hear those words?
Pay attention to three very important things.
*/First, there has always been a contrast between darkness and light/**.*
The concepts are introduced in the first three verses of the Bible.
It is a contrast, even a struggle, which continues to this very day, both physically as well as spiritually.
I am not saying that the Creation account in Genesis was an allegory—hear what I am saying: God, in His omnipotence, merely spoke the words, and it all came to be.
But there is a sharp parallel between what happened at Creation, with what happens in our lives spiritually.
Paul is saying here in Ephesians that there is a difference between light and dark, a fact which should be obvious.
When we apply this truth to our lives as followers of Jesus, it should be just as obvious: there should be a marked difference between our lives, as children of the Light, and those who are still in the darkness of unbelief.
2 Corinthians 4:6 reads, /“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.”/
 
*/Second, the first words of God in the Bible are “Let there be light./*/”/
He didn’t address the darkness, or the emptiness or the chaos.
He simply spoke the light into existence, and it happened.
The fact that these are the very first words of God recorded in the Bible should say something to us about their importance.
Not that God needed light, but in His wisdom He chose to create light first.
It is no coincidence!
The spiritual parallel there is that the entrance of light is the first thing that happens in our lives when we step toward Christ.
Christ comes in, and brings Light.
The darkness is dispelled, and in its place is glorious light and fellowship with Jesus!
 
*/Third, darkness is what you have until God speaks!/** *Darkness reigns over the first two verses of the Bible, but when God speaks there is such an abundance of light that He had to divide it into a greater light for the day, and a lesser light to govern the night (Genesis 1:16).
The same thing is true in the lives of human beings.
There are those who stumble along in the darkness of their own making, without Christ and without hope.
Darkness is what they have, and what they will always have, until they hear God speaking light into their darkness.
God speaks to each of us at the moment of salvation, and says, “Let there be light!”
He said it to me, and He said it to you already if you have accepted the gift of salvation He offers you.
And if you have not accepted Christ as your personal Savior, the Good News today is that you can indeed hear God the Creator speaking light into your darkness.
Paul says /“For you were once darkness.”/
Notice that he did not say that we were just IN the dark, but that we were an actual part of it.
We were darkness itself.
He’s not trying to get us to dwell on the past—he’s just reminding us that it */is/* the past!
Remember what it was like: /“For you *were once* darkness.”/
If we could remember what life was like without Christ, how empty and vain and meaningless it was, we would spare ourselves a lot of heartache and trouble.
We would remember how great was the deliverance that came to us when we came to know Jesus.
If we could remember how dark it was before we knew Him, we would make sure that we stay in the Light.
This is not the first time Paul has introduced darkness as a spiritual condition.
In 4:18, he had written, /“They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.”/
He did a pretty good job of describing their spiritual condition as darkness, and the characteristics of that darkness.
But now he says, “Don’t forget that that’s the way you used to be!”
 
We were darkness…
*2.
But Now We are Light, vv.
8*
 
/“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light.”
/The whole atmosphere of Ephesus was darkness.
We’ve already covered what the culture in ancient Ephesus was like: black magic, uncontrollable greed, criminal asylum, sexual immorality in such magnitude that none of us can imagine it.
We need to understand something here—there is a */physical reality/* and there is a */spiritual reality./*
The physical reality consists of the things we can see, hear, touch, smell, taste—things we can hold in our hands.
On the other hand, the spiritual reality consists of things that are just as true, even if we can’t see, hear, touch, smell or taste them.
This is the realm of faith.
The */physical/* reality for these early Ephesian Christians was that they were still surrounded by all kinds of impurity and darkness.
But Paul was saying to them that the */spiritual reality/* was that they were light in the Lord, and they should live like children of Light.
He was saying to them, “Don’t be fooled by the things that surround you.”
And that is the message for us today as well.
The same thing is true of us.
We are surrounded on all sides by all kinds of darkness.
Crime is rampant, greed is out of control, sexual immorality is so wide-spread that it almost has taken over our entire world.
If we only looked at the way things appear, then we might conclude that the world is such a dark place that no one could ever have any hope of making a difference.
We might conclude that our only option is to just go along with what everyone else is doing, stumbling along in the dark, trying to make it through somehow.
That’s the */physical reality./*
But the */spiritual reality/* is that we ARE light in the Lord, and we are to live as children of light.
One writer tells several years ago of going from a 100-watt to a 40-watt family.
We have other options now for lighting our homes which are more economical.
But when energy became scarce and prices shot up, they decided that they would save some money by dropping from 100-watt to 75-watt bulbs in the house, then to 60-watt, and finally to every lamp in the house operating at a mere economical 40 watts.
“It wasn’t that hard,” he said, “because we didn’t make the change all at once.
It was a slow, sensible change.”
But then he said strange things started happening.
He’d get dressed to go out to dinner and, sitting in the restaurant, he’d suddenly notice a spot on his slacks.
He hadn’t noticed it at home and missed it again when he got ready for bed.
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