Scripture Passage – 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Ephesians 5:11
Description – Second sermon of the Summer 2013 series “My Favorite Bible Verse”
What would we do without light?
We could not see.
We could not drive for there would not be any headlights because how would we see to make a car without light.
We could not read for there would be no lamplight because without light we could make the lamp.
We could not watch TV because having no light would keep us from making TV’s!
Life without light would very different, wouldn’t it?
For some people the lack of light causes some people problems at certain times of the year. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is an issue for thousands of people, especially in the winter as the lack of light causes them to get sad. Getting a certain amount of light is necessary in helping to deal with the sadness or the blues.
Light is known, from what I have read, to aid in the killing of bacteria and a helpful amount of sunlight on us during the day can aid in having a little more Vitamin D in our system. Light is a valuable part of our lives and so I think that it is important to note that God in His good and gracious wisdom said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
One of the enduring images in the Bible for what is good and right as well as God Himself is light and what is wrong and evil is darkness.
So as we continue in this summer sermon series, “My favorite Bible Verse,” I turn to two verses. The first deals with light and darkness and the second with the sufficiency of God’s grace and there is a link between the two that relates to the importance of communion that we will participate together in a few moments.
The first verse is Ephesians 5:11 which says, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (NIV)
How do we expose these fruitless deeds of darkness? I’ll get there in a moment.
Let’s read the context of this verse starting with verse 8 and ending with verse 14:
“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. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
This chapter contains much to prayerfully ponder and apply regarding how to obey and follow the Lord. This verse is part of the first segment in this chapter from verse 1 to verse 20 which addresses the issue of “living in the light” which really means to live like Jesus. Our verse follows verse 10 which says “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.”
What Paul means is that because of Christ’s salvation of and for us we are no longer living as part of the dark side of life but instead as light in the Lord which he clearly defines as “all goodness, righteousness, and truth” by finding out what pleases the Lord and then doing exactly that and more!
And a key way of pleasing the Lord is to not participate in the fruitless deeds of darkness which is the opposite of goodness, righteousness, and truth but to expose them, to show them for what they are – fruitless, unnecessary, wrong, and evil to name just a few. Why? In exposing them we cause them to lose their power and control over us so that we live as light – reflecting God.
There is much more here that an entire sermon could do justice to but for now let’s stop here and go over to our other verse of the morning 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)
Do you ever get frustrated trying to faithfully live for God but keep getting tripped up by a habit, an attitude, or something else that causes you to fail at staying faithful? Let these words of scripture be a source of inspiration for us today to keep on keeping on.
I am finally, after allllllllllll these years getting that without God’s enabling and helping grace, I cannot faithfully live for God in my own inner strength. I am willing to but I can’t not because I do not want to live faithfully but because to faithfully live for God requires me to rely on and ask for God’s grace to do so. I am still learning this.
Quite frankly I think that we American Christians have trouble with this verse because we think that we can still earn God’s grace and successfully live for God by always “doing it myself.” This verse troubles a lot of people who believe in Jesus because they have trouble with accepting the fact that in admitting our weakness we have to admit we cannot fix things, including ourselves.
And Paul, I think, gives us a very clear reason why we have trouble believing that when we are weak then we are strong as we read the verses which occur prior to this verse:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Paul is in danger of becoming conceited about his spiritual experiences and knowledge and the Lord puts a check on that by allowing something, “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” In other words, Paul is in danger of become a spiritually proud person and the Lord says “wait a minute” with the result that Paul is afflicted with something (the “what” is not the point, the “why” is the point) which causes him to pursue God and His grace and strength. It’s a humbling experience.
Pride is a big enabler of staying in the dark. It keeps us from having the humility that enables God’s grace to do work in us.
So then… what’s your point preacher?
I’m glad you asked.
In what I think is the context of today’s verses there are two things which can aid us in exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness and learning to lean on God’s sufficient grace – confession of our own sins and repenting of (or turning away from) them. To confess and repent of our sins enables the Lord to help us leave the darkness and come into the light. Yes, there are other ways to expose dark deeds but in the context of our verses for today we have to bring our own first into the light through confession and repentance so that pride cannot gain a foothold in us.
So as we prepare for communion this morning, I ask, “What do you need to bring into
the light of God’s redemptive and loving grace to confess and repent of?” Let us prepare for communion – a remembrance of Christ’s saving love for us and time for confession and repentance.