Lights In The World
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
[Credit for the main points below goes to Spurgeon; the rest of the material is the author's.---GLC.]
"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." (Philippians 2:15, 16---KJV)
The text tells the born-again child of God where he is located – “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation”. The world is constantly telling you that things are getting better, when it’s actually never been worse since Noah’s flood.
Those of you who are of age can easily remember when things were simpler, easier, cheaper, quicker, and more pleasant than they are now. I’m only 42 and even I can remember growing up in a world that had much higher standards in every way than the world today. Nevertheless, the statement made in the scriptures is true of any age – we live in the midst of a crooked, perverse nation.
ANY OF THEM. You can take that verse to any country on earth and read it aloud, and it will be just as true.
Jesus Christ said (John 3) the men of this “crooked and perverse” world are in the dark. They are groping around in the darkness of their own sin; and as a matter of fact, they love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.
That explains why most people don’t get saved as soon as they hear the gospel. Some of you have witnessed to family or friend, explained the gospel in detail, had your friend or family member admit that it makes sense and confess they should probably do it – and yet they put it off. Why? Jesus Christ explained it clearly: it’s because they love their sin more than the truth, and would rather remain in the dark with their sin than come to the Light. That’s why people go to hell. That’s their “condemnation,” their judgment. (John 3:18-21)
Now, in the midst of that crooked and perverse nation that is perpetually in darkness, God has placed you and me among them to “shine as lights in the world.” John 8:12 says, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
So Jesus Christ Himself is the Light of the world, and that’s the light that you and I are to be shining. Look at Matthew 5:14-16---"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
The modern approach to that passage is that a Christian should let his light shine by doing good works in his community and having a nice family life that people can admire. That interpretation is reached by refusing to discuss what those “good works” are, and by neglecting the Source of the Light that’s shining.
Jesus Christ is the Light that shines, not your self-righteousness; and the Bible tells you which “good works” you ought to be occupied with in order to shine that Light. Look back at our text in Philippians 2 and read verse 16. Those are the good works you’re to do, and THAT’S how you shine the Light; not by walking down the street with a stupid grin on your face, pretending that people are “seeing Jesus” in you.
I want to preach to you about the qualities of your Light as a Christian, and the effects that Light should be having on others.
First of all, LIGHTS ARE USED TO MAKE MANIFEST (Eph. 5:13, 14)
A Christian man ought to shine in his life so that a person could not be around him for a matter of hours without knowing the gospel. If you have light in you, the truth should be made manifest to those around you. The gospel is, Jesus Christ died and paid for your sins, instead of you; He was buried, and rose again from the dead on the third day to show He has the power over life and death, and can and will give eternal life as a free gift to whoever will receive it FROM HIM (I Cor. 15).
Your conversation should be such that the people you live with, work with, spend time with know Whose you are, and Who your serve, and Who you love. “If any man love God, the same is known of him.” (I Cor. 8:3)
The sleepy Christian who doesn’t shine his light needs to wake up.
II Cor. 4:3-6---"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
That light that shines in your heart should MAKE MANIFEST the truth to the darkened hearts around you.
LIGHTS ARE INTENDED FOR GUIDANCE.
The Christian should help guide those around him that are in the dark. You help them by “holding forth the word of life.” You’re to point sinners to the Saviour; point the weary to a place of rest; point the diseased to the Great Physician; point the lost to He who is the Way; point the deceived to He who is the Truth; point the dying to He who is Life, and is the Giver of life.
You should be ready to give an answer of guidance to every one that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. Philip asks the Ethiopian Eunuch, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” And he answers, “How can I, except some man should GUIDE ME?” Philip couldn’t have helped him had he not spent time in the Book.
Do you know the scriptures well enough to guide someone in them? Can you instruct the inquirer, as Philip, in the meaning of God’s word? The light you have is there to guide someone; it’s not intended to simply entertain you.
LIGHTS ARE USED TO GIVE WARNING.
A Christian ought to be a lighthouse erected on the rocks and shoals of this world, to warn the passing ships of the dangers along the shore.
There are many false lights shown everywhere in the world, and for that reason the light of warning is needed.
The devil has his own lights he’s hoisted up to draw men to their destruction. They call them “Stars” out in Hollywood; of course, there's the spotlight of Broadway; then the flashing lights of the strip out in Vegas. Those are false lights, and the Light of the truth is needed to outshine them. Mighty men have drown in destruction and perdition, shipwrecked beneath those lights.
An old preacher years ago wrote about those lights: “The wreckers of Satan are always abroad, tempting the ungodly to sin under the name of pleasure; they hoist the wrong light, be it ours to put up the true light upon every dangerous rock, to point out every sin, and tell what it leads to, that so we may be clear of the blood of all men, shining as lights in the world.” (Spurgeon – Morning By Morning)
Finally, I’ll say that LIGHTS HAVE A CHEERING INFLUENCE.
Someone has said, “A Christian ought to be a comforter, with kind words on his lips, and sympathy in his heart; he should carry sunshine wherever he goes, and diffuse happiness around him.” I know Christians who are suffering ALL THE TIME, and still love to laugh and make others laugh. When you have the peace of God and the presence of God with you, no matter what you're going through there's always something to smile about...and no one can take that away from you, because it comes from God and not your surroundings. And if you don't have that kind of peace, you need to examine the state of your personal fellowship with Jesus Christ. I worry about some of you; you're as jittery as a chihuahua in a paint shaker when certain topics or certain PEOPLE come up. What happens to your peace? I'll tell you what happens...you actually don't have any peace. You pretend to have it when things are going relatively smoothly, but when that situation comes up where you were wrong, or you see that person toward which your heart is not right, the REAL YOU shows up. You don't have any light in you; you're faking it. The peace God gives doesn't manifest itself in anger, hatred, strife, envy and bitter words, followed by gossiping to anyone you can think of to take your mind off your own bad conscience.
Some have trouble with the fact that you can be serious without being somber and solemn all the time. The Holy Spirit ministering to your need is a serious matter, and yet sometimes that’s accomplished with a joke more so than a rebuke. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Prov. 17:22).
Be serious; but don't take yourself so seriously.
How can a Christian be a light to this miserable world, or to his discouraged brethren, when he is in misery himself, and does nothing but spread his own discouraging words? That isn’t the way to shine as lights in the world.
Our light is Jesus Christ, and He commands, “Be of good cheer.” The Christian asks Him, “Lord, how am I supposed to be happy and cheerful when the world around me hates You, and hates me and is against me?” And the Saviour says, “Be of good cheer, I’ve overcome the world.”
The cheering influence of the Christian is his attitude as the overcomer. We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. Take hold of that truth, and you can "shine more and more unto the perfect day."