Text: Ephesians 5:8-14
From Darkness to Light
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. The text for the sermon this morning comes from the Epistle which was read earlier.
“I have seen the light!” That’s a familiar phrase which I’m sure everyone has heard before. But ask yourself this question: if you have seen the light, what did you see before? Before seeing the light, you saw darkness. In the beginning of creation, there was darkness until God created the light. To be in darkness is not a pleasant situation. Already in infancy, most children are afraid of the dark. The thought of a criminal lurking in the dark evokes feelings of terror. Metaphorically, one is “in the dark” when he lacks understanding.
The spiritual darkness which once characterized the Ephesians was far worse than any physical or mental darkness. They were directed by the darkening power of sin into religious and moral darkness. Spiritually they were dead. They were totally ignorant of divine truth. Their spiritual ignorance guided them into acts of ungodliness and immorality, together with the consequent misery. Paul’s words “you were once darkness” imply that the Ephesians were once instruments of darkness. They were people whose “darkness” was evident in their behavior and speech.
The same is true for all of us today. From the moment that we were conceived, we were sinners. David writes in the Psalms, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” We are sinners. We are in the dark. We know sin and that is what we are comfortable with; that’s what we like. Because of our sin, we are very much like the Ephesians, doing acts of ungodliness and immorality.
For some strange reason, we try to classify or rate sins, thinking that a sin like gossip isn’t as bad as killing someone. The fact of the matter is that a sin is a sin is a sin. It doesn’t matter what the sin is, it is still a sin and offensive to God.
Our lives are full of sins, regardless of how good of a life we lead, according to ourselves. You’re a good person if you don’t kill a person right? You’re not like all the murderers that are sitting on death row serving time for the murders they committed. But what about that person you can’t stand, the one you just despise? According to God, you are guilty of murder. St. John writes “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” Our sins are as black as night and reflect who we are, sinners in a fallen world.
The effects from the fall into sin are very great. We break God’s laws, we disobey Him, and we despise Him because of our sin. That is the way that Satan wants it. As far as he is concerned, that’s the way it should be. But fortunately for us, God intended it to be different. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to restore creation to its rightful place, as children of God. No longer are we darkness. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”
We have seen a brilliant light. As a light switch brings illumination to the eye, so the light of the Gospel brings illumination to the heart. The light which has shined upon you is Jesus, the “Light of the World.” “Those who sat in darkness have seen a great Light.” The Holy Spirit has brought you to faith in Jesus as your Savior. He led you to a recognition of your sins, your depravity, your need for forgiveness and the source of it. As a “light shining in a dark place,” the Spirit used the Word of God as a bright torch to direct you in the way of truth.
Because we were once darkness but are now light, we should “live as children of light” because that is what we are. We have gone from being sons and daughters of darkness, children of Satan, to being sons and daughters of light, children of God through the merits of Jesus Christ. And because of that, it means that our lives should reflect that light and not the darkness. You belong to the household of God, individually and communally, because Jesus has redeemed you through His blood.
Paul writes this same thing to the Corinthian Church: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” When we were children of Satan, we did what came naturally to us: we sinned. We continue to sin today because we are still sinners. But while we are still sinners, we are also saints, made clean by the blood of the Lamb on Calvary’s cross. Because we have been made saints, our lives should reflect that nature as one redeemed by Jesus Christ.
We are to “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” The works of darkness are totally unfruitful. What farmer would want to spend his time in a field which produces no grain? He would want no part of it. In the same way, the child of light will have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, one of the auxiliary organizations of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, helps to expose the “fruitless deeds of darkness” while pointing unbelievers and those in need toward the illuminating love of Christ through the good deeds they do in supporting the Church’s missionary efforts at home and abroad. The glorious light of the Gospel shines in a sin-darkened world by the faithful teachings and confessions of the LWML, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who brought light to the world and through that light, gave to us forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
This forgiveness of sins, life and salvation has been given to us freely by God through Jesus Christ at His expense. We need God to come to us, because we cannot come to Him. God is unapproachable for sinners. He is beyond the reach of mortal man. There are those who think we have to first approach God and accept Him. But if you are righteous enough to approach God, then why do you need a Savior? Our Lord did not come for those who do not need Him. He came to seek and save the lost. He came to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, make the lame walk, and raise the dead.
We as sinners need Jesus, whether we think we do or not. When we were in darkness, we were separated eternally from God. There was no way to bridge the gap between God and His creation. Try and see if you can bridge the gap. It’s obvious that you can’t. No one can, or at least not of this world. Only Jesus Christ could bridge the gap. Only Jesus Christ could turn us from darkness into light. To make it even more clear what happens, we are made light in the Lord.
We are not made light in ourselves. Nothing in us reflects light until the Holy Spirit works faith in us and brings us to Jesus Christ. The only thing that is reflected in us is our sin and our darkness. What God should see when He looks at us is a person covered in the blackness of their sins. However, that is not what He sees. He sees us clothed in the righteousness of His Son, who took away our sins and made us clean by the blood of the Lamb.
The saving Light of the Gospel shined upon you in the waters of Holy Baptism, as they did this morning. As your sins were washed away in that heavenly flood, your heart and soul were filled with heavenly light. The Holy Spirit has illuminated your soul with faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. The light of the Gospel that shines with you comes from your gracious heavenly Father who has claimed you as His own dear child. He has redeemed you through the blood of Jesus that you may be His servant as His instrument of light in the world; not to glorify yourself, but that through you He may be glorified. And on the Last Day, He will raise you up to His marvelous light for all eternity. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus until life everlasting. Amen.
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