Monthly Archives: March 2015

Ephesians – Submission

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians 5:22-24 – Honoring God in Our Relationships 

March 29, 2015

Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

I love the way Paul deals with things in the church. There are times where he illustrates a principle by using one idea to teach another and then there are times where he pulls no punches and he goes right to the heart and the core of a matter. In this passages before us today, the marital relationship is one of those subjects.

There is no doubt that this particular passage is one of the most controversial texts in the Bible. It is one of those passages that has been abused, misused, and taken out of context way too often. The problem is that this one passage has been used as an isolated scripture to define a set of theological boundaries that was never intended by God. In doing so the rest of the Bible and other pertinent passages that shed light on this subject are not considered in one’s analysis of this passage. And, the sad part is that it does not have to be this way. So today, we will look at what the passage says, why the passage says it, and what the passage does not say.

As with every passage in the Bible, we must understand a few things in order to grasp the purpose, the intent, and the meaning behind the passage. In this particular passage, we must understand the language Paul used, the culture into which he was speaking, and how we should interpret this passage into our modern culture. We must also be careful and not bend the text to the culture, but rather we are to bend the culture to the text.

So what does the Bible say here? To be honest, it is a straight forward text. It states that wives should submit to their husbands as if they are submitting to the Lord. There is no debate here and there no argument to be had. It is rather clear that God is saying that women should submit to their husbands but let us define the whole picture of how that relationship will look because submission is just one side of this marital relationship coin. To not consider the other side of the coin is to miss the totality of what God’s intent is here.

For many in our current culture, this seems like a strange command that wives should submit to their husbands. It is a strange idea to so many, especially in a day of radical feminism and the wussification of men in this culture. Not only is this a strange idea today, but it was a strange idea in Paul’s day, but for different reasons. In Paul’s day, women were considered a commodity. Prostitution was an acceptable trade and was very rampant in Paul’s day. Those who were enticed into such things were used, abused, and then cast to the street when their partner had no more use for them. Slavery was also very common in his day. While men would honor the command to be the husband of one wife, they would have many slaves and/or mistresses. And the fact is that too often men would treat their wives like slaves. To make matters worse, the husband could divorce their wive for any reason. She might burn the toast. Forget to iron his shirt. You name it. This was all that was needed for a divorce from the male perspective. The result was the wife had no home, no income, and no safety. She had no rights or social standing.

It was into this culture that Paul spoke these words. Because of the culture, and their experience, I am sure the women of Paul’s day grimaced at this command. How could they submit to those who abused them and thought of them as a commodity? It seemed to be an impossible task. But when we understand that there is blessing in following the path that God has laid out before us, we find that it is not impossible. The women of that day would submit but they were doing so with a slave mentality and not as a willing partner in the relationship. They did so because they were forced and not because they were honoring God. Paul was saying in essence this has to change.

To understand Paul’s command we must look at the fullness of the passage and understand that Paul was calling for change on both sides of the equation and not just the female’s side. He wanted passionate followers of Christ to live differently and act differently in the marriage relationship. He wanted them to live a life of respect and a life where love and respect were given. He wanted them to live a life where there was a mutual submission to one another as seen in Ephesians 5:21. God’s desire was that would submit not as a slave but as one who did so they would submit to Christ and in honor of Christ.

Paul’s desire through the leading of the Holy Spirit was to establish a life where women were valued, protected, and loved. It was God’s desire to establish a culture where the command of loving one another was fulfilled. God’s intent was not for man to master his wife but to love and respect her as a creation of God in the very image of God. Think about it. Why would a loving, caring, and godly woman not want to submit to a man who loved her, respected her, and provided for her emotional, physical, and yes her spiritual needs? Listen to Jesus’ own words A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

The fact is this passage applies to the marital relationship as well as the other relationships in our life. When you combine Jesus’ words with Paul’s command to submit, what we have is the greatest act of love a wife could show her husband. She was not to strong arm her husband, or belittle her husband, or coerce her husband into doing anything that he did not believe in. She was not to usurp his leadership. She was to trust and respect him. In the DNA of a man there is built the need to feel respected and honored by those who love him, especially his wive. That is God’s plan here. The desire of God is that the wife would respect and love her husband.

While we understand what submission is, let’s take a moment to understand what submission is not. First, submission does not mean that women should be treated as a commodity to be traded but rather they are to be valued as a creation of God. Women are not a thing, they are prized possessions. I would submit to you that this is one of the greatest problems with pornography and the sexual exploitation of today is that it reduces a woman to a thing rather than  as a beautiful creation of God.

Second, while women have been created as a help mate to the man, submission does not mean that the female is subservient to the male as they have been created in the image of God. Do you know what that means? It means that we are equals in the sight of God. It for this reason that He chose a rib and a toe bone. He chose a rib and not a skull bone. It also means that sometimes our spouse will have a greater sense of finances and purchasing decisions than we do. It means that sometimes they will have insight into an issue that we do not have. True submission means that we honor and respect others. This means we honor and respect our wife’s ideas and opinions. I am indebted to my wife because she has insights into things that I do not have. If I had thwarted some of her opinions, I would have paid the price of wrong decisions.

This also means that she is not a door mat. Submission does not mean that the wife waits on the man hand and foot while he goes his merry way and never considers her needs or desires. The fact is we are to serve one another. One of the things that I have found is that when I seek to honor Michelle and meet her need, there is a reciprocal response from her. I bless her, she blesses me. Now let me hasten to say that a wife should not submit so husbands will love them but because are being obedient to God’s command and the respect the husband needs. Notice I said needs and not deserves. Submission is to be enacted regardless of the husband’s response.

Third, submission cannot be forced or coerced, it is be entered into willingly and lovingly. Forced submission was never God’s plan. That is bondage and slavery. The problem too often is that wives are forced to submit to a husband that has not learned to submit to God or others. Listen to the scriptures. Obey your leaders and submit to them (Hebrews 13:7). Submit yourselves to God (James 4:7). Submit yourselves to one another (Ephesians 5:21). The idea here is that too we want others to do what we ourselves are not willing or ready to do. It is also the refusal to force the spouse to do things they are uncomfortable with. For example, I have heard of men that felt their wife should have sex with them any time they wanted regardless of how the wife feels or her emotional state at the time. That is selfishness and barbaric rather than being loving and kind.

Fourth, submission does not mean that the wife sits idly by while her husband makes all of the decisions or not address issues in the home. A husband and wife must be a team that works together. That is why the man is called to leave his father and his mother and to cleave to his wife. They are to become one. It is into that relationship that we are called relationally.

As we close, let me say this about marriage and the covenant relationship. What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy. If you want to be more like Jesus, there is no better mechanism than marriage. Being married forces us to face character issues we might never face, otherwise. Submission takes humility. It also takes a lot of prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit. As a wife, look to Jesus as an example, and reflect His love and self-sacrifice as you lovingly choose to submit to the husband God has placed in your life.

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Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Ephesians – What are You Drinking?

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – What are You Being Filled With?

March 15, 2015

Ephesians 5:18-21 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Paul in this verse defines two outcomes that are a result of how we live and what we live life for. In this passage, Paul defines one style of living that provokes responses and brings outcomes that diminish the individual while the second style of living provokes responses and brings outcomes that builds the individual.

The first style is defined by Paul as being drunk with wine which leads to debauchery. To understand what this means, we need to understand the term debauchery. It is a term we don’t use today. At least I don’t hear it. However, the term “debauchery” was a common one in Paul’s day and is defined as “excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures.” It represents the one who is living a lifestyle where they have lost all control and have cast off all legal and moral constraint. When indulging in this lifestyle, there is a tendency to lose control of one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities. Have you ever noticed that one who is drunk says and does things they would not do under normal circumstances? Too often one in a drunken stupor does things that they regret later (lampshade on the head, reckless driving, crude language, and disgusting acts).

This idea of drunkenness was one of the critical issues of Paul’s day. It was not uncommon for people to get drunk and then have unrestrained orgies as a result of their drunkenness. It was also common for those who participated in such things to do so in a spiritual context. They believed that they were somehow connecting spiritually to those with whom they were involved. In essence, in Paul’s day there was a reliance on drunkenness and false spiritual concepts. As a side note, we must clarify that this particular verse is not a prohibition on drinking wine but on the excesses that lead to drunkenness and recurring immorality.

While this may characterize the unbeliever, this is not so for the passionate follower of Christ. This style of living was not an acceptable in Paul’s day and it certainly is not acceptable today. Why is this? It is because we are to be ruled by a different authority and a different power. The problem with being drunk is that the individual succumbs to the control of a different power.

To contrast these two lifestyles, Paul turns his attention to the lifestyle of one who is being filled with the Spirit. Paul states Do not get drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit. Basically Paul is saying don’t live an uncontrolled life but live submitted to the One who controls us in a most positive way. To fully understand what Paul is communicating here, we must have some understanding of the Greek language in Paul’s day. In the Greek language different verb tenses more clearly define the words used. For example, if the tense of the verb was past tense then the action occurred in the past and would not occur again. If the verb was in the present tense there was an ongoing action occurring. The action may have initially occurred sometime in the past but it was to continue in the present. It stands to reason then that the future tense was an action that would happen in the future.

In understanding the present tense verb in the phrase “be filled” we know that Paul is not only commanding us to be filled with the spirit but to be continually filled with the Spirit. We must recognize that this is not a one time event but it is an ongoing process. While there is certainly an initial filling of the Spirit, at the time of the new birth, we must recognize that we must continue to stir up and be renewed in the spirit that is in us.

In contrast to being drunk with wine, we are to continually be filled with the Spirit which means we are being controlled by the Spirit that results in a different outcome. Being filled with the Spirit is living every moment as if you’re standing in the presence of Jesus Christ. The problem that exists is that we can begin live in such a way that we are not even aware that the Spirit has been leaking from us. The story of Samson highlights this problem. Now granted, I know this is an Old Testament story prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit but the basics of the story are the same. Samson did not lose his power overnight even though the final event had been the cutting of his hair. You see he had been leaking the spirit of God from his life slowly. But then he woke up one morning and he had been changed. Miles McPherson the pastor at the San Diego Rock Church stated “The Holy Spirit is a person. He has a mind and He lives in you. Stay filled with the Holy Spirit, because the devil will trick you into thinking that being drained (of the Holy Spirit) is normal.” Therefore do not be drained but be filled. And as we are filled, we overflow into others lives, naturally.

Paul now moves to defining a set of characteristics that speak to the kind of life exemplified by one being filled with the Spirit. The first of these characteristic is that they worship together. We do this by addressing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. This does not mean that we live life as an operetta or as a musical but rather we live out the words of these songs in our life and our actions. Our lives become a song of praise to the Lord. You see this is why we worship together as believers. We come together to proclaim the glory of God. Why? It is because God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). There is no greater way to praise God than singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together with His people. Listen to the Psalmist who said Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name (Psalm 30:4). Fifty-eight times in Psalms the word sing is used of praise to God. Thus the one who is Spirit filled will join the body of Christ in joyful and exuberant worship of God’s mighty acts.

The second characteristic of being filled with the spirit is that they have worship in our hearts. Paul states that we are to sing and make music in your heart. While it is important to worship God outwardly, it is just as important to have worship in our heart. You see outwardly we can do a good job of faking it but it is hard to fake what is in the heart. By making music in our hearts, we rejoice in all that God is doing. A heart filled with music exudes joyfulness and praise. For those who walk in joy have the sound of music in their hearts. Have you ever met that person who always has a tune on their lips or you hear them whistling a melody where ever they go no matter what is happening in their life? Making music in your heart signifies that the Holy Spirit has a hold on you and that He is an integral part of your life.

The third characteristic of being filled with the Spirit is that they live a grateful life. The greatest testimony of being filled with the spirit of God is a heart filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. This passage suggests that we can praise God and give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. You see a grumbling spirit is not compatible with the Holy Spirit. The strongest negative characteristic of the Children of Israel, in their journey through the wilderness, was that of a grumbling spirit but a Spirit filled believer is not a grumbler. They are filled with thanksgiving and praise. You see a grumbler complains about their leaders, the music, the food, the church, the people in the church, their neighbors, and their jobs. Most often the one who grumbles is not trusting God or the Spirit within them.

The fourth characteristic is that they submit to one another. To submit to one another is to honor and respect one another. Submission brings liberty and not bondage. It means to willingly place oneself under another as under the Lord. Too often this word submit has been used by some to mean that the one submitting is a door mat and must give in no matter what. To force someone to submit is not submission at all. That is bondage. In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul defines submission as Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The comparison to be noted here is that there are times where one who claims to be filled with the spirit becomes aggressive, brash, and self-assertive but that does not illustrate the power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. The Holy Spirit is a humble spirit and those who are filled with the Spirit will be guided in meekness and gentleness. This is critical because it not only exemplifies a life of being filled with the Spirit, it also exemplifies the life of Christ. Thus the idea of submission means that we treat each other with respect and love. You see to truly submit to one another is be aware that we can learn from one another and understand that each person has something to offer the relationship. To submit means we recognize one another’s gifting and abilities.

As we close, let us be reminded that we are to be continually filled with the Spirit. Throughout our walk there are things that will cause the Holy Spirit to leak from us. The issues of life, the busyness of work, the craziness of family, and the nature of everyday life cause us to be weakened. The question therefore is “How do we continue to be filled?” We continue to be filled by living in the Word and by maintaining a life of prayer. We continue to be filled by filling our hearts with worship. We continue to be filled when we give what we have in the Spirit away so that we recognize the need to continue to be filled so that we have more to give away. It is worth it because we will have a song in our heart, we will live a grateful life, and we will understand how to submit to one another. That is what it means to be a passionate follower of Christ.

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Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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Ephesians – How’s Your Walk?

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – How’s Your Walk?

March 8, 2015

Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

In the verse before us today, Paul continues to focus on the fact that, as believers, we are called to live differently. In this passage, Paul challenges us to be careful how we walk. As we have discussed before, our walk is inclusive of all we do and how we walk impacts every aspect of our life. Our walk whether good or bad, impacts our family, our community, our job, and yes, even our church.

The principle presented here is that we must take care that we are walking in wisdom and not foolishness. The word carefully” or “circumspectly” means to walk by looking around and considering everything we do. Wisdom is best defined as the ability to rightly apply what one has learned through an instructional process and through one’s life experiences. The opposite of walking carefully is to walk and live foolishly. It is to make unwise decisions. It is a fool that would hear a truth, ignore it, and refuse to change their ways.

Specifically, Paul is referring to those things detailed in the previous passages. To continue to walk in sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness is an unwise move on the part of the passionate follower of Christ. To be instructed in the danger of such actions and then to continue to pursue such lifestyles, leads one to destruction. These actions, unless corrected, will impact every aspect of one’s life: family, work, community, and church. This passage also generally refers to any other decision or action on our part that is unwise.

To truly understand wisdom we must begin with the fact that true wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. This is a reverential and awe inspiring kind of fear and not one where we cower in terror away from God or one that is afraid of rejection or being wounded. David said it best, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. (Psalms 111:10). A right understanding of God equals wisdom which equals a good understanding of life. We must understand that God is for us and not against us. That is wisdom.

The second principle of wisdom is that God desires to give us wisdom, if we ask. James stated that If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind? For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8). Think about this. We can ask for wisdom, but if we are going to continue to do our own thing and reject the principles of wisdom, then we will miss the purpose of asking God for wisdom, entirely. We will be unstable because we will hear God but we will not trust his guidance, forcing us to attempt to do our own thing. That is the essence of foolishness.

The third part of wisdom is that we must choose godly wisdom over foolishness. The idea of wisdom here is two-fold. It is a conditioned response related to our experiences and the teaching we have. It is also a decision that we make. We chose wisdom over foolishness. Once again we turn to the writer of Proverbs to understand this process. My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:1-5). As you read this passage again look at the decisions that are made. Receive, treasure, make your ear,call our, raise your voice, seek it, search for it; and then you will understand it. 

Andy Stanley has stated that we must consider in light of our past experiences, our present circumstances, and our future dreams and hope; what is the wise thing to do? Many of the decisions we make cannot be made only in our understanding of what is right or wrong but what is the wise thing to do. This action helps us deal with the gray areas of life, as the black and white issues are more easily discerned. For example, in terms of our past experiences what happened the last time you went out with them? What happened the last time you drank too much? What happened the last time you watched that movie or read that book that negatively effected you? In the past, these things did not go so well, so it a wise thing to avoid the things that have brought us down in the past.

The second aspect of this passage is that we must make the best use of our time because the days are evil. Who knew that when Paul wrote these words, that we would be reviewing this text in a time where we see chaos in the world, political temper tantrums, and the appearance that sin is ruling the world. The fact is, we live in a culture that is not conducive to the kind of living being proposed by Paul. In fact, it is the opposite. If you move and flow with the culture, you will almost certainly end up in a place you do not want to be relationally, financially, with your kids, with your spouse, or with your employer. It is a fact that the culture desires to take us where we don’t want to go, therefore, we can’t go with the flow. That would be foolish.

Let me give you a couple of things that will help us in this regard. First, consider your relationship with Christ foremost in your life (1 Corinthians 1:4-9). Without that relationship we are destined for failure. Secondly, hide the word of God in your heart because it will be a gauge to reveal the inconsistencies and failures of the current culture (Psalms 119:11). Third, take every opportunity to be available to present Christ to those you encounter (Colossians 4:5-6).

Listen to Paul’s words in Colossians 4:5-6. Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. In this passage, note a couple of key points about using our time wisely. Notice how they all relate to our speech. Our speech is to to be gracious. We are to be ministers of grace, but too often the world sees us as condemners and judges rather than seriously being interested in people’s lives. Secondly, our speech is to be seasoned with salt. This simply means that our speech must be measured just as we carefully measure the salt content of our food. Too often, we quote scripture as a conditioned response rather than as an attempt to honestly minister to others. Thirdly, pray for wisdom for God to direct your conversation with those you encounter, especially those who do not know Christ.

The third point here is that we are to discern the will of God so that we avoid foolishness. As we truly understand God’s will and purpose for our life, we will be less inclined to reject wisdom and discernment from God. As we walk in wisdom, it will be easier to ascertain God’s will, but if our decisions are foolish and based in emotion or feeling, we will miss God’s will for our life.

This passage in many ways is for those who are looking for a loop hole in keeping God’s commands. Paul states Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. The word “but” here is an important word. In the Greek language, there are two words used for “but.” It is noteworthy that the word used here is more powerful than the first. While we must avoid being foolish or careless, the idea Paul is communicating is that I want you to understand and face up to the truth. Paul is saying, “Look, you know what you ought to do.” He is saying, “You know this stuff.” He is saying, “Stop playing games.” Stop talking yourself into things you should not be doing and stop talking yourself out of the things that you should be doing. Face up to it and do what God wants you to do. You see the easiest person to deceive is ourselves and we do it all of the time, especially when it comes to the decisions we make. We can easily deceive ourselves into believing the decision we are making is a wise one.

Let us consider these statements in light of Andy Stanley’s words earlier. In light of our past experiences, our present circumstances, and our future dreams and hopes, we must consider what is the wise thing to do? Think about this. If you are trying to pay off your debt is it wise to spend money on big ticket items you really don’t need? If you are struggling with alcoholism, is it the wise thing to go to the bar with your friends? If you have a group of friends that tend to pull you down, is it wise to hang out with them? We must be careful how we walk and not trade the future for a current relationship or decision that might temporarily bring happiness but may not last. Don’t trade in something for the future for what you want now but may not be able to hold onto. You see we never plan on screwing up our life but we never plan not too either.

As we close, take a moment to consider if there are decisions you are making that are unwise. If so, how do you change these decisions from being unwise to wise? What changes do you need to make? Are there activities you need to avoid? Are there areas of deception in your heart? If you are not sure, will you pray and ask God to reveal your heart. It is your choice? As God reveals these things will you walk carefully, as a wise one or as one who is foolish? Will make the changes you need to make? Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. To God be the glory.

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Ephesians – Walk in the Light

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – Walk in the Light

Ephesians 5:7-14

Ephesians 5:7-14 Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

In this passage, Paul continues to describe the way we should imitate Christ and how we should walk in love. Last week, we looked at a number of prohibitions that serve to protect us and to give us a life filled with joy and continued peace. Today, Paul continues that discussion as he encourages us to be children who walk in the light. Notice that in this passage, Paul challenges us to accomplish five things.

First, he states that we must consider whether our relationships lead us to the light or into darkness. The point being made here is that we are to avoid partnerships with those who commit sins related to sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness. Notice he speaks of a partnership because these partnerships are generally the people we spend the most time with. To partner with those who support such things will most often bring us down rather than build us up. Wrongly crafted partnerships impact us and determine who we will become. You see the question is not whether a relationship is right or wrong, but rather is it wise to continue that relationship especially if that relationship tends to cause us to do things we would not do without them. This does not mean that we don’t have friends or relationships that do these things, we just don’t let them control us or our decisions.

Secondly, Paul challenges us to walk as children of the light. Once again, we are reminded that the term walk represents the totality of all that we do, what we say, and how we live. The light here is represented by the light of the Gospel and the life that Christ lived. He is the light and we are the light of the world based on the fact that we have received Christ into our life.

The bottom line here is that because He is the light, there should be no part of our life that is not unaffected by the light of the gospel. You see, while we are the light, but it is possible to act in a way that begins to diminish the light in our life. I am not sure whether or not you have had this problem, but the headlights on my little car get from time to time coated with a film of dirt and oil from the highway. When this happens, the light being emitted is not as bright. To address the the issue, I must take the time to clean the lens so that the light is bright once again. But here is what I found, the light had not changed. The lens had been darkened by the grime but light underneath remained the same. We must choose to walk in the light and alleviate anything that would diminish the light’s effectiveness in our lives.

Another issue that comes to us is that too often we narrow things to the degree that we measure our actions by whether or not the action we partake in is right or wrong. The better question, however, is whether or not it is the wise thing to do. You see there may not be anything wrong with a specific single decision, but where will that one decision lead us. Bad moral decisions are usually preceded by a series of unwise decisions. Let me explain. If we are struggling in our relationship with our spouse, we might decide to have lunch with a coworker or friend. Is there anything wrong with having lunch with someone? No, not in its purest sense. But, then we begin to work late with that person or spend more time with them.  Again, there is nothing wrong with this in itself, but then we move from lunch and working late to having dinner, and then moving toward listening compassionately to one another’s spousal problems. Then we decide to stop by their home because we know their spouse is away and they need counsel. This is followed by a hug and so on and so on. You see no one decision in itself is wrong but was it a wise decision. The problem is that a series of unwise decisions set us up for wrong moral decisions.

The problem that exists is that this potential allows the light of one’s testimony to be diminished,  if not snuffed out. You see the problem with sexual sin is that once lines are crossed there are serious moral and personal consequences. This does not mean that one sin is worse than another, it means that the consequences of this sin are different. As passionate followers of Christ, we must avoid those things that cause the light of Christ to be diminished in us. Therefore, do not walk in the path of darkness but rather in the light. Choose the light.

Thirdly, Paul challenges us to try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. To please the Lord, we must honor the Lord in all we do. The question to be asked is do my actions or my decisions lead to honoring God. Once again, this is not always just about what is right or wrong but doing that which is wise and honoring to God. When we seek to please God rather than men, it will keep us safe. Men will lead us astray but God always directs our steps toward health and wholeness. Do we honor God in our actions is the question?

Fourthly, take no part in unfruitful works of darkness. Paul is aware that our decisions lead to action. His desire is for us to seek that which honors God and does not detract from God’s purpose for our life. Listen to this. God is calling us to a higher standard of living, not to steal our joy or to cause us to become arrogant and prideful, but we honor God most by living to a higher standard.

This means that we avoid living on the edge when it comes to morality. If we are talking calories push it to the edge. There is no major consequence other than a few pounds. We can quickly adjust that later. But when it comes to moral issues, the closer we come to the edge, the more likely we will be pushed over the edge. The enemy loves to take advantage of those well timed moments where he pushes us to the edge of morality and then tempts us to make unwise choices. Andy Stanley had this to say, “Culture baits us to go to the line and then chastises us when we step over the line.” For that reason, we must build margin into our life. Margin means that we establish boundaries to prevent us from being caught in a trap or walking so close that makes it easier to step over the line.

Fifth, Paul calls us to awake and arise. We are to take action. There is great power in doing this. If we rise from our sleep and do not just go through the motions, we will experience an amazing freedom and power in life. Too often, we live in a stupor. We have been captivated by immorality to the point where we have been mesmerized by it. Too often, we do not take spiritual things seriously. Too often, we go through the motions but do not have a clue about what we do or why we do it.

There is value in the light shining upon us. As the light shines, we will reflect Christ as the moon reflects the sun. The light also exposes darkness. Light is good for our growth. Light gives us direction. Anything exposed to the light becomes visible. Too often, we are afraid to allow the light shine because we afraid of what it will expose. What is exposed by the light? Well, for one hidden sin is revealed. Sometimes, we have a blind spot in us that we are not even aware of. As God’s light shines into our heart, suddenly, we begin to sense a dissatisfaction with a particular issue. That is the conviction of the Holy Spirit that is leading us to truth. Sometimes as the light of God is shining into our lives others begin to see the shortcomings in us. And often they see them better than we do because we are in essence blinded to them.

The light of Christ will also expose those things that we have suppressed to the degree that we do not remember them any more. While we have forgotten about them, they continue to effect us. It is like a computer virus. Most computer viruses are running behinds the scene. They could be collecting data about us or could be causing our computers to run slower than normal. When it comes to sin, the sin may remain in the background but is engaged when we meet certain people because we respond in ways that we do not understand. There are times, as well, where we are tempted by certain stimuli. We don’t understand it when this happens. It is often foreign to us.

The problem is that many times we don’t see these things in ourselves. We are blind to our own problems. That is why we need a Nathan in our lives. Remember the story of David and Nathan. David had sinned personally and openly before the kingdom. He lusted, committed adultery, he lied, and tried to hide his sin by having Bathsheba’s husband killed. David even did a great job of hiding the sin and filing it away from himself. The amazing thing to me is that David was so good at this that he was able to deceive himself into believing that he could live life as usual. But God knew what he had done. So one year after sinning, Nathan came along to shine the light of the gospel into David’s heart. Nathan famously stated “David, you are the man.” You have sinned. You are wrong. The light of Christ will do that for us, if we let it. It will speak life to us. At times, it will scream the words “you are the man.”

So what does this mean for us today? It means that we must take inventory of our lives. How are we doing? Are we walking in the light or are we walking in darkness? Do we have partnerships that we need to consider getting out of? Do these relationships encourage us toward the light or toward darkness? Do we seek to honor and please God or do we do our own thing? Are we willing to have the light of the Gospel shine into the depths of our soul or do we try hide a part of us so no one else knows who we truly are? May God help us to walk in the light!

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Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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