Being the Light

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Week 1, 2003
Our text for this week is Ephesians 5:11-12:

And 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.

Refusing to participate in deeds of darkness can be hard enough for Christians, but going to the next level and exposing them is a code of honor that very few have been able to live by. It is difficult to know where the line is between a critical person with a religious spirit who is trying to find out what everyone else is doing wrong, and the stand for truth and righteousness that should be the constitution of every Christian. This is an important issue that will become even more so as the ultimate conflict between light and darkness unfolds.

So how do we know where the line is? First, the answer is not a formula we are seeking, but rather a Person we are seeking to follow—the Holy Spirit. When we come to know and love the Holy Spirit, we will come to know and love true holiness because that is His basic nature. When we begin to perceive true holiness, not the counterfeit that is rooted in a religious spirit, holiness will become the desire of our heart. True holiness, when demonstrated with the grace and dignity that is inherent in the true, will attract others, not repel them.

In Psalm 29:2 we are told to “...worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (KJV). There is a beauty, dignity, and nobility to true holiness that makes it one of the most compelling graces on earth. As we begin to walk in true holiness, others will be drawn by its beauty and nobility, being convicted that it is the way that they too were created to live.

In contrast to the beauty of holiness, there is a rigidity, harshness, and pride attached to the counterfeit of holiness that is the religious spirit and is ugly and repelling. This is why Jesus, the most holy person to ever walk the earth, attracted even some of the worst sinners, and only repelled those who were living by the counterfeit religious spirit, unrighteous political ambitions, or economic greed. Those who are caught in the grips of these spiritual yokes will resist truth, and we should not be surprised when they do. In fact, we should take their opposition as encouragement.

When Jesus walked the earth He drew sinners to Himself, and yet He convicted them of their sin. It is interesting that He usually did this by first forgiving them, and often curing them of the afflictions that were the result of their sin. To be effective in convicting sinners of sin we need mercy, grace, and compassion, which is a hallmark of the holiness that is the result of grace, and not our own works. Because we have been forgiven and changed, we can have compassion on others, and will be prone to seek their healing and restoration rather than their condemnation. God’s mercy and grace can be far more convicting than threats of judgment. That is why we are told in Romans 2:3-4:

And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

True repentance almost always begins with the realization of God’s love and mercy. However, this is the result of coming to grips with the judgment that we deserve, and the price that Jesus paid for our salvation. We cannot truly understand His kindness until we realize how evil we are, and how much He still loves us. So the standard that brings about true repentance is an uncompromising standard of His righteousness, which is hoisted by the cross, the most profound and compelling demonstration of the love and mercy of God because He laid down His own life for our salvation.

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