Living as Light

Living as Light

Home Church Service 11/6/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.

                                                                             Ephesians 5:1–13 (NASB95)

As a child growing up in the 70’s with two parents that smoked, I remember, vividly, an anti-smoking commercial that showed a father and a son walking in a park. The young son is dressed similar to the father as he attempts to walk stride for stride with his father; he mimics each move his father makes from wiping his brow to throwing a stone into a nearby pond. As the commercial comes to a close, we find the father and son sitting with their backs against a tree, forearms resting on knees, as the father lights a cigarette and places the pack between himself and his son. The commercial begins to fade as the son glances up at the father and begins to reach for the pack of cigarettes.

All children imitate their parents. Paul’s exhortation here is a reminder that we have been made part of the family of God and are now beloved children, therefore, we are to imitate our heavenly Father. Our Father has forgiven us, so we must forgive others. Our Father has poured His love into us, so we must pour our love into others. This is how we imitate our Father. We are also urged to abstain from immorality, impurity and greed, characteristics of our former life of darkness. These things separate us from God and only serve to cause us to lose our inheritance in the coming Kingdom of Christ.

Though we once lived a life marked by sin and deception, now we are no longer deceived, tempted to return to those sinful actions kept hidden from sight. Now we are Light in the Lord, a contrast to the current culture as we live a life in obedience to the Father, children of Light in a world of darkness. As Christ followers we are called from the darkness to be Living as Light, to make all things visible, giving thanks constantly, while seeking the fruits of goodness, righteousness and truth.

Verses 1-13 are a continuation of what we learned last week about being Grace in Action and how we do that in today’s culture. The new self we put on is a contrast to the world in everything we say, think and do. We imitate our Father and walk in love while the rest of the world follows after darkness and spreads hatred. We are filled with the Spirit and speak to one another in gentleness, encouragement and love while the rest of the world spreads bitterness and fight amongst one another. We contrast this present world of darkness by Living as Light.

Paul reminds the church at Ephesus though they once walked in darkness they no longer partake of those deeds done in secret, for they are beloved children of God with an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ. Therefore, they are Living as Light learning what is pleasing to the Lord.

Though we once lived a life marked by sin, we no longer seek sinful actions, for we are now members of God’s family, heirs with Christ in His coming kingdom. Therefore, we are now Living as Light, exposing sin and pleasing the Lord.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “As Christ followers, why is it important to be Living as Light?”

As Christ followers we are Living as Light to bear the fruits of goodness, righteousness and truth.

1). First, as Christ followers we are Living as Light as we walk wisely, filled with the Spirit.

We make music to the Lord in our hearts and give thanks for all things.

Once again, I have only read a small portion of Scripture, but this message will cover chapter 5:1 – 6:9. It is another big chunk, but this entire passage has to do with being light in all of our relationship. In the opening we addressed how we walk among the world in a time of chaos, division and deception. Things become a little more personal as we come to verse 15 and following.

In verse 15 Paul gives us another exhortation – be careful how you walk or live your life. Paul urges us to walk, or live, not as unwise people but as wise. What is Paul getting at here? Well, this goes back to living a life that is worthy of the calling which we have been given. It is God’s intention that we know His will; that we, the church, reveal His manifold wisdom. What is that wisdom? All things in subjection to Jesus Christ. This includes the rule of Christ throughout all the universe, His power over all authority, dominion and names, and most importantly, God’s plan of salvation through Christ Jesus.

As those who are wise, we make the most of our time. We recognize the time for the return of Christ is near; we recognize that more and more people are hurt and lost; we recognize the opportunity to share our story in Christ and we take it! Now is not the time to be timid, for now is the time for which we have been given boldness. Now is the time we use the strengthening we receive from Christ. We are wise because we recognize the days are evil, under the influence of the prince of the power of the air. These are the days in which we live, however, we are not to avoid them nor are we to fear them. We are to use our time wisely, taking advantage of every opportunity to show a fallen world the goodness, righteousness and truth of God as we are Living as Light.

Paul goes on to say we are to be a contrast to the unwise. Paul urges us not to get drunk on wine, but this could be anything that alters the mind. So, this could be alcohol, or it could be drugs – instead, we are to be filled with the Spirit. This is meant to be and indeed is, a sharp contrast between the unchurched world and the Christ follower. Here the unchurched are painted in dark colors, living a life marked by sin – a life to which the Christ follower is urged not to return. The unchurched world is marked by a mind that is numbed and altered, while the Christ follower is of sober mind and a clarity of focus.

The contrast here is almost shocking – and it is meant to be! I’m sure we have all seen someone who has lost control, drank too much and has become drunk. This person is marked by slurred speech that is sometimes incomprehensible; unsteady and wavering as they stand or attempt to walk; drowsy eye lids that look as if they are half closed and they may nod off at any moment, but perhaps the most telling is the speech we can understand. Most of the time they are speaking way too loudly, and the language is laced with vulgarities. When drunk, a person takes no mind as to who might be listening – it doesn’t even matter if children are present, they are going to say what they have to say! Cursing, false accusations and lying, anger, bitterness, and sarcasm all come pouring out – no filter engaged or in use!

In stark contrast to this is the Spirit filled Christ follower, living a life in the new self, complete with a new heart and new attitudes. From the heart of the Christ follower comes words from the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. This doesn’t mean you are walking down the street or around work sings the psalms or hymns, though it couldn’t hurt! What Paul is getting at is the Spirit filled Christ follower speaking Spirit inspired psalms and other Scripture, especially when among those in the body of Christ. In our hearts we make music to the Lord, singing hymns and spiritual songs. In our day this might be hymns and contemporary Christian songs. The point is, our actions are to be different from the unchurched world.

We are Living as Light, giving thanks for all things. As members of God’s family, we are to have an attitude of gratitude – a thankful attitude of heart and mind. This attitude is to be expressed in thanksgiving on a regular basis. Our gratitude should permeate our entire being – all that we say, think and do – and should be obvious as we praise God constantly.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you walking as a wise person among the unwise?

Are you taking advantage of the opportunities to use the boldness and strengthening given by Christ? How?

Is your life a stark contrast as a Christ follower among those who are unchurched? How?

As Christ followers we are Living as Light to bear the fruits of goodness, righteousness and truth.

2). Secondly, as Christ followers are Living as Light as we walk wisely in our relationships.

We seek to show the goodness, righteousness and truth of Christ in all our relationships.

Paul now turns his attention to walking wisely in our relationships. In Ancient Israel all three of these relationships were household relationships. Since we no longer have the master/slave relationship it is best reflected as the employee/employer relationship in our society today. First up is how the wife lives in relation to the husband. We first need to understand that our God is a God of order. The order God has established throughout creation is for His glory and our benefit. This order is to reflect the goodness of God. In no way does this order reflect one gender being better or above the other gender. In the case of the husband and the wife relationship, they are meant to be one flesh – living and working together in unison.

The wife is to be subject to her husband as to the Lord. In the Greek language this is in the middle voice indicating it is a voluntary action. In no way is Paul calling women to submit to all men. He is simply making an appeal to a free and responsible person. This is a voluntary action that, by no means, eliminates or breaks the human will. The same Greek verb is used when talking about the submission of Jesus to the authority of the Father. The submission of the wife is not understood as her role in society, nor is it to be understood apart from her submission to Christ. It is, in fact, fully tied to the way she serves the Lord.

Likewise, the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Christ loved the church by giving himself up, by dying for her. This was done that His bride might be spotless – without fault or wrinkle. As the head of the church, Christ loved His church by providing all she needs to grow and prosper. As the head of the family, the husband is to love his wife in the same manner. The husband gives himself up, dying to selfish wants and desires and seeing his wife has ample opportunity to seek spiritual growth. In all of this the husband is to submit to Christ and his wife. They are to be subject to one another. Through this mutual submission to one another, the marriage relationship reflects the marriage of Christ and His church, but it also helps the unchurched understand the order of God and ultimately His goodness to those who trust Him.

The second relationship is between parents and their children. The word children refers to a relationship and not an age, but in our context, it is children who are still in the learning years. Once again, we must note that the children are addressed as responsible members of the congregation and the family. It is clear from his writing that Paul has in mind a family unit that has come to worship as part of the Christian community. Children are to obey both parents as part of God’s divinely ordered relationships expected in God’s new kingdom. The Greek verb that Paul uses indicates absolute obedience at every age.

Paul exhorts the fathers, though this applies to both parents, not to push or provoke the children to anger. Paul understands that anger is the means Satan will use to gain a foothold in a person’s life, but especially to create tension in the community of Christ followers. Here the fathers are urged not to use language, words, actions and attitudes that will provoke the children to anger. In contrast to the norms of the day, Paul urges the father who is a Christ follower to be a contrast as a gentle, patient educator whose only “weapon” is instruction in the Lord focused on loyalty to Christ as Lord. In view here is the grace of righteousness given to parents who teach their children in gentleness and patience.

Finally, Paul turns his attention to the last relationship in the ancient household – slave and master. Paul has in mind here a Christian household where both slave and master are Christ followers. The closet we come to this relationship in our time is the employee/employer relationship. Not all of us work for employers who are Christ followers, but the principles still apply to those who are not. Once again, Paul addresses the slave/employee as a responsible member of the congregation and the Christian community. Slaves/employees are to obey their earthly masters/employers, however, this verb for obey is not absolute obedience as with children. Anything immoral or illegal would be a cause not to be obedient.

What Paul has in view here is a slave/employee who works with a sincere heart, that is, no grumbling or complaining; working just as hard when the master/employer is gone as when he is nearby; having an attitude that the work they perform is serving the Lord and having an attitude of humility, integrity and purity of motive. Likewise, the master/employer is to treat the slave/employee the same way – not necessarily serving them – but having an attitude of humility, integrity and purity of motive. There is no reason to manipulate threaten, demean or disrespect any person – slave or free! Each is to remember that, ultimately, they both have a Master in heaven who shows no partiality towards people. It doesn’t matter your status, dress, or wealth when you appear before God for, He is Master of all. The work relationship shows one very important truth of God – we are all subject to someone else and in the end, we are ALL subject to Christ.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Are you walking wisely in all your relationships? How?

Do your family relationships show the goodness and righteousness of God? How?

How does your work relationship, in particular, show the truth of God?

As Christ followers we are Living as Light to bear the fruits of goodness, righteousness and truth.

All children like to imitate their parents, especially when they are young and impressionable. As members of God’s family, we are now beloved children and as children of God we are urged to be imitators of our Father. He has forgiven us so we forgive others; He has loved us so we must love others. This is how we imitate our Father.

As Christ followers we are to be Living as Light to be a contrast to our current culture. We seek the fruits of goodness, righteousness and truth with an attitude of gratitude, giving thanks and making music to the Lord in our hearts.

So, how does all of this come together for the Christ follower? You are to be Living as Light. You do this by imitating your Father. Because He has forgiven you, you must forgive others in return. Because He has loved you, you must love others in return. Stay away from the things of your former life – they only serve to cause you to be disobedient. Instead, have an attitude of gratitude, constantly giving thanks and making music in your heart.

Next, walk wisely by making the most of your opportunities. This is the time we have been strengthened, given boldness and called by Christ to be IN, WITH and BY Christ. This is not the time to be timid or filled with fear – this is the time we have been prepared for! Contrast the current culture in shocking fashion by bringing peace where there is chaos; by showing love where others have shown hatred; by speaking in gentleness and love where others have spoken harshly with bitterness.

Finally, walk wisely in all your relationships having an attitude of humility, integrity and purity of motive. We place the needs of others before our own; we show goodness when there is nothing good to be seen; we act righteously when others act in hostility; we speak and show the truth of God when others falsely accuse or try to deceive others. In this, you are Living as Light, imitators of your Father.

We do all things to the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

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