Walk As The Child Of The Light!
February 17, 2008
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
1. "Walk as the child of the light!" God once addressed the people of the church at Ephesus that way. And now [God] is addressing us in Shoei Church in the same way as well. "Walk as the child of the light!" Why is [he]? The scripture says it is because we are already joined to the Lord and have become light. To say that we believe in Christ and are joined to Christ means that we are to be the light. God has guided us to the church and allowed us to encounter Christ. He did that so we would be made into light. Jesus also said, "You are the light of the world," (Matthew 5:14), didn't he? [For our sake Christ] has kindly made [us] light. Thus, for our whole lives, limited [as it may be], we want to walk as children of light, like lights.
[We] Used To Be Darkness
2. In order to understand the meaning of the exhortation to "Walk as the child of the light!," we must keep in mind what was said before it with, "You used to be darkness." [It has,] "You were darkness." It's not, "You were in darkness." It does not say, "Oh, you were some poor pathetic persons who were in darkness. You were so very unfortunate people." It says, "You yourselves were the darkness." I think that today more than a few people feel like they are living in the midst of darkness. More than a few people feel that it is a dark life. Yet actually, the darkness is not on the outside of them. The scripture says that the darkness is on the inside of you, you yourself are the perpetrator, you have caused the darkness all along.
3. It is important to acknowledge this fact because we're always making other people the bad guy. So, it is now the Lenten season. It is time for us to examine ourselves as we ponder the passion of Christ, who bore our sins and hung upon the cross for us. If it were not for Christ, I could only be darkness. I, yes I, would have caused darkness all along. Because of the fact that I can see this truth down in the depths of my heart, I can see from what the scriptures are saying here such a great and gracious blessing! Even though you were certainly darkness, but now you are joined to the Lord and have become the light. Since you have already become the light, you are expected to live as the light. That's what the Bible is saying.
4. When a person fully realizes he or she was darkness, and when a person fully realizes that when one separates from the Lord one can only be darkness, one ought to have a strong feeling that goes like this: "Since I have been joined to the Lord and God has made me into light, since God is saying that, then I truly want to live as the light. I want to walk as a child of the light." That desire is important. If I don't have that desire, then I don't understand what the scripture is saying here. It'll end up just being some strict commandment to me. "Walk as the child of the light!" Let's receive these words as a gift of grace given to us; because this has been said to us precisely because we have been made the light. In addition, I would like for us to consider what "to walk as the child of the light" means.
To Those Who Bring The Light Of Christ
5. What is expected from light more than anything else is for it to shine. To shine brightly. We're expected to shine brightly into our surroundings. It doesn't mean we "turn into cheerful people." The important thing is not that we brighten up the atmosphere around us. Something far more intense than that is written. Please look at verse eleven and following. There it is written that "Don't be joined to the works of darkness that bear no fruit, instead, bring it out into the open light. What they do in secret is shameful to even speak of. However, all things will be exposed by the light and be made plain and open," (verses eleven through thirteen). "Bring it out into the open light" -- This means to shine into our surroundings.
6. But, there is something we need to be careful of here. "To bring it out into the open light" does not mean to say that we are just to expose the hidden sins of others and torture it out of them [like some Grand Inquisitor]. We are in the habit of doing that even though the scripture does not say to and even though we have not been told to by anybody. Otherwise, though [if we're not that bad at it], we do have a tendency in taking issue with just the sins of others, exposing them out, and squeezing out their faults from them. In order to correctly understand the meaning of this matter of "bringing the works of darkness out into the open light," we need to read the next part after it. The following is written in the text after that. "However, all things will be exposed by the light and be made plain and open. Everything that makes things plain and open becomes the light," (verses thirteen and fourteen).
7. This final "becomes the light" is significant. When it is shined on by the light and it is made plain and out in the open that sin is sin, what has been shined upon now will become the light. It says that we are to shine the light in that such a manner, so that what has been shined upon becomes light. You probably already understand a part of this way of thinking, that we shine forth the light of the salvation of Christ. Thus, it continues as follows. "You who are asleep, get up! Rise up from the dead! Then, Christ will shine in you," (verse fourteen). God is calling out, saying "Rise up from the dead!" Is the state of being dead in sin good to be in? Is it okay to stay dead? Get up! [God] is calling out with that, and wanting to shine the light of Christ, that brings salvation from sin. God is willing to use the church for that purpose. [God] is willing to use those who have been joined to Christ already and have been made into light. [God is doing that] so that we shine the light of Christ in that way.
8. Don't you agree with that, actually? Hasn't the light of Christ through others joined to the Lord already been shone into us as well? We have surely seen our own figures like that through the light of Christ. Hasn't it gotten to the point that our own sinfulness has become visible to us? Thus then, haven't we gotten to the point that we have been led unto repentance, we have received God's forgiveness, and we are living with God?
9. Thus, the light of Christ, the light of grace has been shone into us, and sin has begun to be made plain and open to us as sin. What we've done is "shameful to even speak of," and we are seeing how that it is truly the work of darkness. However, when our sins are made plain and open, we should not lose hope. We should not run away from the light because the light that Christ shines forth is the light of grace that is able to cause a person to get back up. Christ does deliver and save. "Everything that makes things plain and open becomes the light," (verse fourteen).
10. This becoming a person who is made to give out the sparkling light of Christ to the world is nothing but [another way to say] "to walk as the child of the light." If we were to just expose somebody's sins and blame them, we could do it even though it would not come from the Lord at all. We could get pretty good at it too. We don't need to walk as the children of the light for that. But, we must walk as the children of the light when we ask for somebody's salvation and we are made to shine forth the light of Christ. So, that's the same thing as turning to and trusting in the statement from God, that "Being now joined to the Lord we are becoming the light." To the utmost, it is being "joined to the Lord." The light is not originally in us. It comes from Christ.
11. Thus, being joined to the Lord and a faithful life that is specifically lived with Christ takes on more importance, that we truly "walk" as the children of the light. When it says "walk" it means to live, it means to live day by day. It is an issue of a specific daily lifestyle.
Being Filled By The Holy Spirit
12. So, when we desire to walk as sons and daughters of the light, a specific exhortation that we ought to remember is recorded from verse fifteen to chapter six. I can't talk to you today about all of it. Let's listen to the words recorded beginning in verse eighteen, in particular. The following is given there. "Do not be drunk with wine. It is a source of self-degradation. Instead, be filled with the spirit, speak to each other with psalms, praises, and spiritual songs, and sing praise from your hearts to the Lord. Also, always give thanks to God the Father through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in regard to every sort of thing," (Ephesians 5:18-20).
13. Even though it has, "Do not be drunk with wine," we should not read this as a mere exhortation of prohibition against alcohol. As most everyone knows that "It is a source of self-degradation," even if the Bible does not deliberately state anything like this, other people will. The main thing here is that this statement is thoroughly contrasted with being filled with "the spirit," that is, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. In brief, the fact that being drunk with wine does lead to being a source of self-degradation is certainly also a big issue, but the true focus of the problem is that wine fills where the Holy Spirit ought to be filling. It is that wine is controlling where God ought to be controlling. Therefore, this might even take place outside of alcohol. When we are not being filled with the Holy Spirit, then aren't we seeking to be filled by something else? When God doesn't control and rule our lives, then aren't we moved, put under the beck and call of, and toyed with by something else? The statement of "Do not be drunk with wine" includes all of these [points].
14. When we desire to walk as the children of the light, let's seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit and not to be filled with some kind of alcohol. Let's seek for the Spirit of God to control our lives, and for [God] to put our day to day lives in order, that we will live out the will of God. We need to remember that the text not only says "Be filled with the spirit," but also says, "Speak to each other with psalms, praises, and spiritual songs, and sing praise from your hearts to the Lord." This is important.
15. In a certain sense, the words, "speak to each other with psalms, praises, and spiritual songs," are strangely difficult to understand. Yet, at least, since it says, "speak to each other," that statement presupposes they they are assembled together. What's more, it is not the kind of assembly where "Each and everyone is turned towards God, but there are barely any mutual relationships between one another." Since it says, "speak to one another," as they are praising God together, they are sharing God's grace, sharing joy, and they are communicating their hearts with one another. It is that kind of assembling together. It is important to assemble together in that way. The time the Holy Spirit descended on that day of Pentecost and the group was filled with the Holy Spirit was when they were all assembled together. Also, [the first time] the Holy Spirit began to fall on the Gentiles was when everybody was assembled together in the home of the centurion Cornelius. It is important that we assemble together in the same way now. [I] desire that this church will become more and more a church where we can say we are "speaking to one another in psalms, praises, and spiritual songs."
16. However the time we are assembled together is not long at all. We're not with each other all week the whole time. Most of the time we are scattered about in various different places. That's why it goes on to say, "Also, always give thanks to God the Father through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in regard to every sort of thing," (verse twenty). As per the Japanese, verses nineteen and twenty are separate [sentences], but in the original text it is one connected sentence, [actually verses eighteen through twenty comprise one sentence in the Greek]. Verses nineteen and twenty have a very deep connection to each other to the degree that they are inseparable. Verse nineteen is about when [Christians] assemble together. Since verse twenty is about "always ... in regard to every sort of thing," this is about the every day practical living [we do] when we are not assembled together. These two cannot be separated.
17. In short, the time of about an hour when we are assembled together will shape the entire week when we are scattered apart. The worship service which we offer up as we assemble will [help] maintain the worship of God in our daily practical living during the week. In those moments of "always ... in regard to every sort of thing," those instants will become the times when we offer up thanksgiving to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The assemblies together when we are filled with the Holy Spirit will shape a daily lifestyle that is filled with the Holy Spirit. Since that is exactly the way it is, we can surely walk as the children of the light in our daily lives.
18. "You used to be darkness, but now you are joined to the Lord and have become the light. Walk as the child of the light!"