Sermon by Rev. Daniel L. Sonnenberg | 2013-07-21
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
In spite of the temptations around us and in us, the light of Christ shines in us to change us, and through us to change others. Therefore, we can and should live as Christ lived – good and right and true – leaving our old life behind.
Our problem is temptation. Temptation to go back to living our old way of life. Temptation to return to thinking, feeling and acting like the culture around us, like the devil, or like our natural desires tell us to live. We are tempted every day – one way or another – to return to a life of evil, wrong-doing and lies.
Sometimes temptation comes through deception as we see in v 6). These so-called “sons of disobedience” tempt us through lies and half-truths us to go back into our old way of life. They tell us that that our old way of life is really – to use the fruit metaphor – delicious and beautiful and satisfying. Remember how the serpent tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit? His first lie was to question whether God actually said it was forbidden. Sometimes deceivers begin by questioning the truth. Then move on to half-truths. The serpent next told her it was good for food – delicious, a delight to the eyes – beautiful, and it would make her as wise as God – satisfying. But the result was not beautiful or delicious or satisfying. It was ugly and putrid and deadly. It was sin, cosmic rebellion against the sovereign Lord of creation. There would be dire consequences. God cursed the man and the woman and all their children. He even cursed the earth. But he also cursed the serpent and in doing so gave them hope. He promised the coming of a person who would reverse the curse and turn it into a blessing, but it would cost him his own life to do so. Even in our sin, in our failures, there is always hope for those who put their faith in God’s sovereign promise of a Savior who is Jesus Christ.
Deception. Half-truths. Lies. If we believe them they lead us to destruction. Sometimes we tell them to ourselves, sometimes we are told by others, sometimes by the devil. The young Christian girl who leaves her family’s farm in Nebraska, makes her way to Toledo, runs out of money and ends up on the street, is taken in by a seemingly good guy, but who sells her into sexual slavery. The Christian college student who finds himself in a dorm or fraternity house with a bunch of guys who go out drinking just for fun, but who gets wasted and winds up in bed with a girl he barely knows who tells him a few months later she’s pregnant. The Christian executive who feels unappreciated at home, who finds someone at work to confide in, but it’s not one of his buddies, it’s his administrative assistant, and she ain’t ugly. The Christian laborer who is barely getting by with a wife and three kids at home. He reasons that as hard as he works, and as little as he gets paid, the company owes him something, so he sneaks tools home in his truck and sells them on Ebay. These are the kinds of temptations, and many more, that seek to overcome us as we live in a fallen world – because we have real enemies who would love to see us fall, or because we are feeling especially weak, or lonely or hopeless at the moment.
However, by God’s sovereign grace, the light of Christ has penetrated and overpowered the darkness of sin and Satan. In his mercy He has called his people out of darkness into his marvelous light. He has given us the power of the Spirit to overcome the temptations of this world. Because he shined his light into us, we are children of light and we bear the fruit of new life in Christ – all that is good and right and true.
The light of Christ in us bears fruit – or produces results – in two ways. Christ’s light shines in us to change us and shines through us to change others even as we resist the temptations around us. It causes us to think and feel and act like Christ, turning away from the unfruitful works of darkness – our past life of sin, and our lives inspire others to do the same. Our new life in Christ causes us to live good, right and true, leaving behind our past lives of rebellion, and we serve as an example that motivates others to do the same. Our new lives in Christ causes us to live as Christ lived, leaving behind our old lives of evil, and our lives encourage others to do the same.
In Us to Change Us
First, Christ’s light shines in us to change us. He enables and commands us to demonstrate goodness, righteousness and truth because his life-giving light has penetrated the darkness of sin within us. Our fruitful lives in Christ should nourish others. It should inspire them to live as Christ lived. It should be an example of Christ to them – of good, right and truth. It should motivate them to resist the many temptations in their own lives. We should do good to one another, live righteously toward one another, live truthfully with one another.
Christ’s light produces the fruit of goodness in us.
Heb.13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus.. 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
(Eph. 2:10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Christ’s light produces the fruit of right-ness or righteousness in us.
Rom.3:21-22 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested 22 …the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
1 Co.1:30 30 And because of him [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
Christ’s light produces the fruit of truth in us.
1 Jn.5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
We can’t do it on our own. We must abide in the vine of Christ and draw strength and nourishment from him. Jesus said, Jn.15:4-8 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Through Us to Change Others
Second, Christ’s light shines through us to change others. As others observe and experience what Christ has done and is doing in us, God changes them. Again, he enables and commands us to demonstrate goodness, righteousness and truth in order to change the hearts of others.
Christ’s light in us causes others to do good.
1Pe 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Christ’s light in us causes others to do right.
Isa.60:2-3 the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Christ’s light in us causes others to do truth.
Eph 4:15-16 15 … speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
We can and should encourage others to follow us as we follow Christ.
As Paul said, 1 Co.11:1 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Illustration: Imagine two baskets of fruit in front of you. The one on the right is filled with plump, ripe, juicy, colorful fruit – red apples, orange oranges, yellow bananas, green and purple grapes. It is good fruit. The one on the left is filled with sagging, rotting, dry, brown and black fruit – brown apples, brown oranges, black bananas, brown grapes. Yuck! It is bad fruit. Which are you today?
Jesus says, Lk.6:43-45 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
As Paul writes to the Philippians, 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.