Living As Light Pt 1
In the early church, when a man gave his life to Jesus Christ as Savior, he often had to leave his job because it conflicted with his profession of faith. Some years ago, the same thing happened to a man named F. W. Charrington, the heir to a beer brewing fortune. It seems “Charrington was passing a tavern one night. There was a woman waiting at the door when a man, obviously her husband, came out, and she was trying to keep him from going back in. With one blow of his fist, the man knocked his wife down and out. “Charrington started forward to help the woman when he looked up; the name above the tavern was his own. Charrington said, ‘With that one blow that man did not only knock his wife out, he also knocked me clean out of that business forever.’” Charrington gave up the fortune he might have had, rather than touch money earned in such a way.
In our ongoing studies of Ephesians we have come to the practical section of the book. If you recall our studied over the past few months we found that the book of Ephesians divides nicely into two parts. Chapters one through three are doctrinal, where we are seated with Christ in the heavenly's, then chapters four though six are practical, how we are to walk with Christ on earth. How do we walk with Christ?
GAL 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Followers of Jesus Christ, live by or walk in, the Spirit, keeping step with the Holy Spirit. There is a cadence, a rhythm that the Holy Spirit calls out to all who would call upon the name of the Lord.
JOH 16:13 (Jesus said) But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.....
The Holy Spirit is the great guide in the life of the believer. He is not only the third person in the trinity -- he is the guide into all truth. He is the one who shows us how to live, how to worship, how to function as God's people.
The text we will consider today I have titled, "Living as Light." Jesus said.
Matt 5:14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
So here in our ongoing studies of Ephesians before Paul teaches about interpersonal relationship. Before he speaks about marriage, before Paul gives the responsibilities of the wife. Before he speaks about how husbands are to love their wives and are to be the spiritual head of the family. Before he talks about how to be good parent, good workers, good bosses, -- Paul writes about living as the light of the world.
His order is perfect, for unless we are led by the Spirit, interpersonal relationships will not go as well as God has planned. How can the wife submit, unless she is submitted to Christ first? How can the Husband love unconditionally unless he is walking in the Spirit? How can we respect authorities unless we are first following the authority that comes from heaven and being led by the Holy Spirit?
READ THE TEXT. EPHESIANS 5:1-10 “LIVING AS LIGHT”
The first we see in our text today is a heavy call -- “Imitate God.” KJV say "Be ye therefore followers of God." The word followers or imitators is the Greek word, "Mimeten" = literally means "to mimic." Like the children's game, “follow the leader.” Imitate God with your words, your actions, your words as well as your attitude. Follow God by going where he goes/ and by doing as he does/ by thinking as he thinks.
“Ok, Pastor Rich”, you say, “now that's quite a task.” “How can anyone do that?” Well the good news is you can't. What? That's right it is impossible for any man/ any woman, to follow God in the way our text describes, that is it's impossible by your own power. But the bible says, to “lean not to your own understanding.” Don't try to follow God / imitate God in the flesh because you will fail.
So from that high task that Paul gives us, I think the first question we should ask is: “How do you know what to imitate?” How can we know what behaviors to mimic? See – before you can imitate anyone -- you first must study them to see what that they are really like. Before you can truly follow God - you have to see him as he is.
Some people see God as angry, so their lives reflect that vision of God. They are angry at everyone and thumping them over the head with scriptures. Or use their religion to blow themselves up and kill others so that the “will of Allah” is done. The religious leaders of Jesus day, saw God as angry, Jesus said of them:
Matt 23:15 ...You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
How you view God will determine how you follow him.
Still other people see God as removed from human life. They see God as distant and not at all involved in the affairs of men and women. So they live their life like God is uncaring or unconcerned about behaviors. Although God may be silent in much of daily life, the bible tell us he desires an intimate relationship with all men / with all women.
So, if you are going to imitate God, if you are going to mimic God, I think you first must see God with a proper perspective.
Ps 103:8-10 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
That's the nature and character of God. Although he is angry at sin, his love, his compassionate nature, brings forgiveness for sin -- so much so he sent Jesus Christ to pay the price for our iniquities. The Psalmist uses the words “compassionate and gracious God” that term is found twenty times in the bible -- every one of them in the Old Testament. So -- to imitate God, first look to his nature, his attributes -- then you can begin to see how lofty a goal Paul speaks of when he says to be “imitators of God.”
Friends its not hard to have a proper view of who God is, but you do have to look beyond religion, you have to look beyond people, -- you have to look to the savior, Jesus Christ. The bible tells us to “keep our eyes fixed on Jesus”, to “look to Jesus” and to “put on the mind of Christ.”
Col 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity (Godhead) lives in bodily form.
Look to Jesus Christ for in him we see all the fullness of God because in the person of Jesus -- God come to earth. If you want to know how to follow God, if you want to live godly, follow the example of Jesus. Isn't it interesting that when Jesus called his men he said, “follow me.”
TURN TO PHILIPPIANS 2:5-8
Imitating God starts by having the mindset of the Lord. So with Jesus as our model we look to the attitude and the example he set, that will gives us the right perspective to be imitators of God.
First Jesus took on the nature of a servant – putting others before self. Then he was humble making no reputation for himself. He was loving, he was obedient even to death. Thats the example of Jesus, that the example of how you imitate God. That's how you work out your salvation.
Look to Jesus and see the Spirit filled life, for that is the only way anyone can be an imitator of God. Its a huge task one that you or I can not do -- but living a Spirit filled life we all can live as imitators of God. The key is found there in V2, to live a life of Agape – a life of love just like Jesus.
GAL 5:25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Keep in time with the cadence / the rhythm of the Spirit because the fruit of the Spirit is Love/ There in V2, we read -- “imitate God by living a life of Love.” Living in Agape, the love that Jesus gives, love empowered by the Holy Spirit.
First we are to imitate God. Then the Apostle Paul continues as he gives us some bench marks of what it means to imitate God.
Living in purity is a high calling. Living pure is to act differently then the world/ the culture/ and society we around us. So Paul lays out for this first century church some important areas that they need to live pure. Areas that are very similar to the areas the American church needs to live in purity.
1. SEXUAL SIN / IMPURITY
Those who live by the Spirit, have no hint of Sexual immorality or impurity. The Greek word here is very significant, it is that Greek word, “porniea”, where we get our word pornography. But Porniea speaks of all types of sexual perversions and sins.
Porniea speaks of fornication or sexual sin outside of the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman. It speaks of adultery, or sexual activity as a married person with someone other then your spouse. It speaks of perversions, homosexuality, bestiality, and pornography – I like the NIV where it says sexual immorality or any kind of impurity.
In Ephesus the sexual pressures were great, the pagan culture has its headquarters there in Ephesus with the temple to the Greek goddess Diana. But God's children are to be sexually pure, not because God is a prude, but because sexual activity is the most intimate human contact. So sexual sin is to sin against the body as well as the Soul.
1 Cor 6:13 ... The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
1 Cor 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
When you sin sexually - you pervert God's best, you cheapen God's plan. Sexual sin causes long term heart ache, personal regrets, and loss of intimacy with others and with God. Paul says there should not be a hint of this in your life, for you are God's holy people.
You young people, the culture today says give in, our society says that its ok to have sexual relationships before you are married. But God's best is that you don't, that you wait for the right woman, the right man, and make vows before God, then enjoy intimacy together with no regrets.
1 Peter 1:15-16 ...Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do...
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ - you are holy, you are set apart, called out of this world of darkness into the marvelous light. Offering your body as a living sacrifice to God, not buying into the porneia of this world. Second area he says to live pure is.
Paul says, that when you imitate God there will not be a hint of greediness. The world is greedy, our society says grab it all now, get as much as you can at any cost.
Someone said: “Greed is -- the logical result of the belief that there is no life after death. In greed people grab what they can while they can however they can and then hold on to it hard.”
In their book, “The Day America Told the Truth” James Patterson and Peter Kim asked hundreds of people “What are you willing to do for $10,000,000?”
· (25%) Would abandon their entire family
· (25%) Would abandon their church
· (23%) Would become prostitutes for a week or more
· (16%) Would give up their American citizenship
· (16%)Would leave their spouses
· (10%)Would withhold testimony and let a murderer go free
· (7%) Would kill a stranger
· (3%) Would put their children up for adoption
Luke 12:15 (Jesus said) "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed ; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Paul says a pure life would not have a hint of greed – because that is idolatry.
3. YOUR SPEECH
Three area Paul speaks about, obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking. Potty mouths, put downs, and dirty jokes. We talked about this two weeks ago, so there's not a lot to say about it except what Paul says, “these are out of place for God's people.” We say, WWJD, but could you imagine Jesus speaking like some Christians speak? Friends, your witness for Jesus is more then laying out the gospel, its starts with your words and your actions.
Instead speak with a sewer mouth, speak with thanksgiving, later he will say.
Eph 5:20 Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Can you thank God for hard things in your life? Sure, you know that they are there to develop you. Can you thank God for the blessings in your life? How often do we do that. Should you thank God for all he has done? Thank him for his call on your life, the Holy Spirit he has given, for the gift of life he has given.
5. WHY V5-6
Next Paul tells us why we live pure lives.
Eph 5:5-6 NLT You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is really an idolater who worships the things of this world. Don't be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him.
Live pure because you know that God's judgment is coming, you know -- that to not live a pure life is to be an idolater, and that is to worship something other then the living God. Live pure and don't be led astray by the world. And don't be led astray by people who tell you things contrary to theses very understandable scriptures.
6. NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THOSE WHO DON'T LIVE PURE LIVES V7
Wrong behaviors are of the flesh and those who continue to live this way have no inheritance in God's kingdom. So those who imitate God should not partner with those who act this way. Don't support their crude jokes, don't support their obscenity. Ask your own heart the hard questions like: "Am I we supporting wrong behavior if I purchase a ticket to a crude movie, or rent an off-color video? An I supporting wrong behaviors if I purchase products from a company that is pushing an anti – God agenda?
2 Cor 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What agreement is there between light and darkness. None, darkness in the scriptures represents evil, and light represents good.
Eph 5:11-12 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
In our text Paul simply says, do not be partners with those who live this way. Of course we know the bible tells us that this means people who claim to have faith and live this way. Not people of the world, not people who do not claim to know God. For if we did not have contact with them, how could we tell them of the Joy of knowing Jesus, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and the free gift of God's love? We have seen we are to imitate God, we are live pure and finally.
Eph 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.
You "were" in darkness. Past tense. You used to live like the world, so don't do it anymore! Paul's exhortation, "Live as children of light." It's so simple, just do it! But why does he need to tell the early church or even us today how to live our lives, shouldn't it be obvious?
The church in Ephesus had that great pagan influence with the temple to Diana, where worship involved all types of illicit behaviors. The first century church had no model before them, no church history, no bible to read, no godly parents to teach them the ways of God. They were not unlike our society we live in today with strong influences of darkness. Sure we have our bible, yes we have great preachers and ministries.
But more and more, we see the same things that the Roman culture embraced as being acceptable in our culture. More and more sexual immorality is considered normal. More and more false idols and pagan religions, are accepted, the physic hot-lines, tarot cards readings, even our military has to recognize "Wicka" as a religion. More and more our society is becoming violent, greedy and self-centered.
The church in Ephesus had to be told by the Apostles what was godly behavior, and what it meant to live as children of the light. Our society today needs to hear this same message. This generation of Christians have been so influenced by pop-culture, that we too need to be reminded:
Eph 5:8-10 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Find out how to please God. Jesus said, “seek and you shall find.” I think that means to be a student of the Word of God – learning what it means to live in the light as you “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”
1 John 1:5-7 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
The message to the Ephesians and to us is simply, “Live as children of light.” Live by the Holy Spirit, that begins with imitating God - by living pure, and living in the light.
PRAY, INVITE, BENEDICTION, SING
-Through the Bible
(C) High Sierra Fellowship 2008