Verse of the Month-1 Peter 2:9 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who CALLED YOU OUT OF DARKNESS into his wonderful light.
10-1210 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
It was the most physically painful event I have ever experienced. Worse than labor. It is difficult to describe. It is traumatic to remember and recall to you. It lasted beyond the initial moment, and I still shudder to think about it. It was the night I stepped on a toothpick only to have the toothpick break in two and half of it to dislodge into the bottom of my foot between my toes. Everybody say, “Yowza!” It was a “yowza” times two! I drove myself to the hospital, yes, hospital, while Thom stayed home with our then, two little kids. How do you tell the people in the emergency room that you have a toothpick injury and need to be seen immediately because the pain is beyond real!?
I waited for my turn while my foot throbbed beyond belief. After what seemed like endless waiting, I got into my room in the ER where the doctor informed me that he would have to give me a shot into my foot in order to numb my foot so he could open up my foot up to retrieve the toothpick. Numbing sounded good to me, but hear me clearly, the shot into my foot made the toothpick pain seem like a stubbed toe. I almost came up off of that table and demonstrated my displeasure with both fists! It was a long and painful night AND the effects of the painful ordeal lasted a few days. I couldn’t just put the trauma behind me.
Now, how did all of this happen you ask? Our kids liked to play with colored toothpicks on the floor. They would make shapes and landscapes and pictures. We were young parents who wanted our kids to explore their creative side so we funded their little assault mission with pleasure until the night I got up to use the bathroom, and while walking in the dark, I stepped on one of those suckers and began to see stars. I had walked in the dark and had paid dearly for it. And all the while, light had been available to me. I had just chosen not to walk in the light.
Using our verse of the month and the few verses that follow in I Peter 2:10-12 I want to focus this “Made for More” message on the idea that you were made for more than to stumble around in the dark. You were made for more than the painful experiences that take place in the dark.
I Peter 2:9 tells us we were in darkness, but after we accepted Christ, we were called out of that darkness and we were living in the light where Jesus hangs out. You have been relocated by the power of God, and His plan is for you to occupy a place of light in order that you might transform the darkness around you.
I read this week that: Throughout history the world has faced two kinds of darkness–intellectual and moral. Intellectual darkness is ignorance–the inability to see and know the truth. Moral darkness is immorality–the inability to see and do what is right. This is the darkness Peter describes here–the sinful state of all unbelievers who are trapped in the spiritual darkness of Satan and ignorance of the truth. Just like Paul preached in Acts 26:18-“to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.”
We don’t want to live in ignorance or with an inability to do what is right, but we do when we walk in darkness. Let’s allow God to enlighten our hearts this morning so that we live and walk in the light even as Jesus is in the light.
Turn to: : Ephesians 5:8-21 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Verses 9-11 talk about the characteristics of the children of the light. When we are living in the light we are demonstrating goodness, righteousness and truth. When we are walking in the light we are living to please the Lord which means that we are choosing to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness. What I understand from these verses is that we were not made to live like those who don’t know Christ, those who are dark in their spiritual understanding, those who don’t know or have rejected the things that please God. In other words, there should be a distinct difference, a day and night difference, a light and dark difference, if you will, between believers and unbelievers because You were made to exhibit moral excellence.
The writer of this passage, the Apostle Paul, speaks of the fruit of goodness, righteousness and truth and contrasts that excellent fruit with the fruitless deeds of darkness. What are the fruitless deeds of darkness? To answer that question in part we look at Romans 13:12-13: 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.
Some of the deeds of darkness are spelled out in verse 13: Orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, debauchery, dissension and jealousy. Debauchery is simply an excessive focus on sensual pleasure. It is a preoccupation with the things of the flesh and particularly things of a sexual nature. I don’t have to convince anyone this morning that the world is preoccupied with sex. It is an obsession that has cost people their marriages, their jobs, their reputations, their relationships with their kids, their financial security and more. That is why it is listed as fruitless. Any kind of excessive focus on sensual pleasure which could include food and drug and alcohol use, is a dangerous pursuit for people who are called out of darkness and into God’s marvelous light. These things rob us of our health and our inability to stay alert and focused on what is really important. Preoccupation with the things of the flesh not only won’t produce good fruit in your life, it will kill good fruit in your life as well.
It is interesting that dissension and jealousy are listed in this lineup of fruitless deeds that are otherwise focused on sensual pleasure. Dissension deals with conflict, arguing, and division with people. If the Apostle Paul were writing this verse today, he may have just as easily said, “Have nothing to do with drama” because that is what dissension is. Dissension is getting into it with people. Arguments, public attacks, posting things about people even when you don’t specifically mention the person’s name you are trying to mess with, just stirs the pot and escalates divisions between you and others and it will always involve more people than just you and the person you think you are calling out. We are to live above the drama and chaos of this world.
Jealousy deals with a preoccupation of other people as well. The grass is never greener on the other side. Jealousy will keep us stirred up and upset and will motivate us to say and do things that are displeasing to the Lord. It will take emotional energy from us that we need for other things. It will steal time from us that could be much better spent. Jealousy creates division in our hearts that were meant to worship and serve God alone because it prompts us to start going after material things in a way that becomes obsessive. God has no problem with us enjoying a wonderful vacation or living in a nice home or shopping for a new outfit, but when those things become the focus of our lives, the source of our identity, and our pursuit above the things of God, we have crossed the line from enjoying what God allows to making it our idol and it becomes fruitless and dark.
So, based on these verses in Romans 13 here is my definition of fruitless deeds of darkness: An obsession with the flesh or an obsession with people and material things.
As people of the light we are to be obsessed with God and the kind of living that pleases Him.
Don’t hear this morning that it is just a balancing act and that you just have to manage the flesh to the point where if your life is 49% focused on the flesh and 51% focused on God, you are good.
The flesh can’t be managed. It has to be crucified. It has to be submitted to the will of God.
Responding to the flesh, feeding the flesh, doing what “comes natural” or feels good without consideration for the will of God is the way the world lives. It is fruitless. You were made for more. You were made for moral excellence.
Back to Ephesians 5:11:11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
Notice, that we aren’t commanded to live detached from the world, but different from the world. We are to not engage in the fruitless deeds of darkness, but we ARE to engage with the world in order to expose that the way they are living is the wrong way to live. We were made for more than just keeping our noses clean and minding our own business.
We were made to expose the dark. Darkness is exposed as light comes on the scene.
Yes, you were called out of darkness in terms of the way you are living, but you are called into the darkness to shine the light of the truth of God so that others can see Him!
We aren’t called to sequester ourselves into a holy huddle and only engage with other Christians. If all of the light gathers in one place, the dark places will be even darker. We are to shine in the dark.
Your workplace needs some light. Your school needs some light. Your neighborhood needs some light. Social media needs a lot of light! Tweet some light! Post some light. Snap some light! What can you say, what can you do, how can you live so as to cast light into the darkness? In Matthew 5:14 Jesus said of US, “You are the light of the world.” Think of yourself as a candle this morning. You can’t hide your light and make a difference in the darkness.
In the beginning, at Creation, God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light to create a separation between day and night. God said that was good! Light was good! A distinction between light and dark was good! God’s action of sending Jesus said “Let there be light” again when Jesus, the Light of the World came to those who had been walking in darkness, those who were living in the land of deep darkness, they saw a great light when Jesus came. (Is. 9:2) God is saying again this morning to you and me, “Let there be light!” Shine for Me! Speak for Me! Love for Me! Live for Me! Stand up for Me! Stand out for Me! Find a dark corner, find a dark alley, find a dark neighborhood, and let your light so shine before people that they would see your good deeds and glorify the Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).
At church, little Jane had listened to a sermon on “Let Your Light Shine.” The only part she remembered was the text, but she didn’t understand what it meant until her mother explained, “It means being good, obedient, and cheerful.” That afternoon at home, Jane disobeyed her mom. When her mom gave her a lecture and dispensed a punishment and she asked little Jane if she had anything to say for herself, remembering the lesson at church, little Jane said, “I’ve blowed myself out.”
Let’s not blow ourselves out by living like those in darkness, becoming dark ourselves! Let’s shine brightly and transform the darkness into light!
It isn’t easy to be a witness for Christ. Sometimes it takes a long time, lots of patience, a lot of investment, lots of prayer, lots of conversation and more than your witness alone to bring someone to Christ, but we can’t give up. Jesus never gave up on anyone, and neither should we. Sometimes it is more than frustrating, it makes us angry and even sick to our stomachs to see the darkness some people are trapped in. “Well, Pastor Melissa, it isn’t really a trap. If they walked into the darkness, they could choose to walk out. They are just choosing the darkness.” I understand your assessment, and have often had the same thoughts, but darkness keeps people “in the dark” emotionally and spiritually. It keeps them from seeing that which could free them. They need light in order to see something different.
Think of it this way: If you are sitting in a dark room with no windows, you can’t see the objects in the room. Even though the objects are there, you aren’t aware of them because you’re in darkness. However, if someone turns on the light switch, the things previously hidden from your eyes are now obvious. Don’t get angry at people in spiritual darkness for not being able to see what’s obvious to you. Instead, bring them some spiritual light. (http://www.kentcrockett.com/cgi-bin/illustrations/index.cgi?topic=Light)
The Apostle Paul eloquently described the spiritual condition of people who are separated from Christ. Here it is: Ephesians 4:18-19 18 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. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
Sin is a form of bondage. It holds people in captivity. It is severe darkness. We are to join Christ in His liberating ministry by shedding light in an effort to help people connect with the life of God!
Where is our sense of responsibility to be Christ’s witnesses? Where is the obedience to our calling to make disciples? Where is the compassion of Christ that is supposed to characterize our lives?
And let me just say, if you are here this morning, and you have not surrendered your life to Christ, if you haven’t lost all sensitivity to God, if you haven’t given yourself over to every sensuality, if you still have an interest in the things of God it is because someone is praying for you or because someone is shining light on your life or both. Walk toward the light. No, don’t walk. RUN!
Finally, from our Ephesians passage, as those called out of darkness, I see:
You were made to seize the day.
Look at Ephesians 5:15-16 again: 15 Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil
Live wisely. You can achieve greatness! You can leave a legacy! You can make an impact. Stay sober and alert. The end of our Ephesians passage talks about:
- Seeking God’s will
- Not being intoxicated and unable to think clearly
- Being filled with the Spirit
- Worshiping God
That is wise advice! Don’t give into anything that will make you lazy, hazy or crazy. (? You like that?) Pursue what God is calling you to pursue. Every day, seek God’s will! Every day, live in such a way that you are exercising self-control. Every day, seek to be filled with the Spirit of God. Every day, worship God and spend time on your relationship with Him! It will open doors and create opportunity after opportunity after opportunity for you.
Don’t let anyone cause you to shrink back, sit down or shut up. Live out loud. Whatever God has called you to do, don’t be afraid to do it. Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.”
We have already discussed that God has big plans for your life and mine! We need to embrace those plans and seize the day without fear of what other people think about us and our dreams. When we do, when we stop doing something or reroute ourselves because of the opinions of others we are letting the darkness put out our light. Why would we let the darkness tell the light how to live?
Make the most of today! Tomorrow isn’t promised. Who can you impact? What skill can you sharpen? What step forward can you take? What investment can you make in others and in your relationship with God? What have you been putting off that you can dive into today? What can be better in your life today? What can you stop doing and start doing differently today? You were made for increasingly more than what you are currently experiencing! Seize the day!
You were made to exhibit moral excellence. You were made to expose the dark. You were made to seize the day. Do you see a trifold expression of the light God has placed in you?
You were made to exhibit moral excellence-Glorify God
You were made to expose the dark-Help others
You were made to seize the day-Live your best possible life
Will you embrace the more for which you were created with me this morning?