In helping to teach children’s church this past Sunday, I was amazed at the insights of one little first grade girl. First, during prayer requests, she raised her hand and asked that “God would take away everyone’s sins.” Then, during the lesson about the Fall, when the question was about what Adam and Eve did after they ate the fruit and disobeyed God (Answer – They hid.), she blurted out, “You can’t hide from God!” My friend looked at me and said, “Out of the mouth of babes” [can come the deepest truths – if you don’t know the expression.]. Today’s passage in Ephesians 5 reminds us that we need to let the light of the gospel pour into the darkness of our sin and drive out the evil stuff that we try to hide from God. Light is a biblical metaphor for goodness, holiness, and truth. Jesus taught that He Himself is the very “Light of the world” and that “he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). It is not God’s desire for Christians to hide from Him in fear and guilt and shame over our sin. Jesus came to deliver us from the power of sin and bring us into the light of His love. He wants us to confess and repent of our sins as soon as we realize that we have done wrong, so that we can experience His forgiveness and enjoy the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control – Galatians 5:22-23) in our lives.
If you are struggling with areas of darkness and sin like we saw in the last post on Ephesians 5:1-7 or the posts on Ephesians 4:17-32, here is some very practical advice that I plan to use with my own children as they get older:
1) Do not be alone in your room with your phone or other non-school issued device. For the guys, this will protect you from watching inappropriate videos, shows, or photos. For the girls, this will help to protect you from overuse of social media that research is showing to be linked with depression, anxiety, and poor self-esteem. For both guys and girls, it will help you to avoid spending too much time on your device so that you can have more time for real life activities and social interaction with your family. It will also give you more time to spend with God, which if you are a Christian, your soul should be longing for each day. YouTube and Snapchat simply cannot fill the God-shaped holes in our hearts – only fellowship with Jesus can quench our spiritual thirst.
2) Seek out strong Christian mentors and friends who can help you to walk in the light and stay out of the darkness. At NRCA, spend time with friends who are showing evidence of following Jesus and avoiding sin. Make the most out of Bible class, homeroom devotions, and chapel by really trying to listen and follow along with the lesson or message in your own Bibles. On your travel and club teams, find the other Christians and start praying together before practices and games. This will strengthen your walk with Christ and your witness to your lost teammates and coaches. Finally, if your parents are Christians, ask them about trying to start a family devotion or prayer time, if not every day, maybe at least once a week on the weekend. If your family does not have time to plan something, you could offer to read the blog post (even during a car ride) and then talk about it and pray afterwards.
3) If you attend church, seek out friends who really want to be there and avoid close fellowship with the students who obviously don’t want to be there. Pay attention during the lesson or sermon and bring a print Bible with you to follow along. If your family does not attend church, find a church you like that puts sermons online. Block off some time each weekend to listen to some worship music, listen to or watch a sermon with your Bible out to follow along, and spend some time in prayer. Maybe text a friend afterwards to talk about what you learned.
You might say, “This sounds like a lot of work.” Well, yes, living the Christian life does take discipline, but it really is about putting yourself in God’s presence so that He can do the work of change in your life each day. Would you rather remain in the darkness of sin and the world, or walk in the light with Jesus and your brothers and sisters in Christ?
The Text (Ephesians 5:8-14)
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
Questions to Think About
- What do you think about the practical suggestions above? Are you willing to make choices and take steps that will help you to walk in the light with other believers?
- Who is trying to help you to walk with Christ in the light right now? Do you have real help from people who are spiritually equipped to help you or are you struggling to follow Christ on your own?
- Are you spiritually asleep or are you awake to the things of God? How can you tell?