A friend reminded me recently that God has always separated the light from the darkness. On His first day of creation, God commanded light into existence, called it “good,” and divided the light from the darkness. God’s word is light: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105). (God’s word removes the darkness.) God sent the Messiah “as a light to the Gentiles,” bringing salvation to the ends of the earth (Isa. 49:6). (Christ calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light, 1 Pet. 2:9). Jesus said He is “the light of the world” and that by following Him, we “shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (Jno. 8:12). God delivers those redeemed by the blood of Christ from the power of darkness, conveying them into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13-14). (God separates the redeemed from the dark power of sin and death.) God is light, and those who practice His truth walk in the light and have fellowship with Him (1 Jno. 1:5-7). And, the heavenly, eternal city of God is to be illuminated by the Lamb. There, the night is vanquished forever (Rev. 22:23-25). Yes, God separates the light from the darkness. Jesus said, “Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (Jno. 12:35-36). Come out of the darkness into the light truth for salvation, divine fellowship, and eternal life.
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” (Romans 1:8, NKJV)
We can get caught up focusing on our personal condition, circumstances, and considerations to the neglect of others. One way to avoid self-absorption is to be thankful for others. The apostle Paul faced grueling opposition as he fulfilled his ministry. Yet, he took the time to be thankful for others. Here, he specifically thanked God for the faith of the Roman saints. Today, take time in prayer to thank the Lord for someone else’s faith. When you do, you will acknowledge the impact of their faith on yourself and others. And, by doing so, you will admit the nature of God-pleasing faith. Faith is not silent; it speaks. Faith is not dormant; it acts. Faith does not oppress; it influences. Faith is not invisible; it is seen (Jas. 2:14-26). The Romans’ faith was “spoken of throughout the whole world,” even as their obedience was known to all (Rom. 1:8; 16:19). “Faith that saves is faith that obeys” is not a cliché; it describes the essence of faith’s victory in Christ (1 Jno. 5:4-5). We thank the Lord for the countless brethren whose faith influences the world for truth and righteousness. Thank God we can find faith on the earth (Lk. 18:8). The world still has its salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16). Thank you, God, for the faith of your people.
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. (Psalm 27:1–3, NKJV)
Fear has gripped many. Fear of disease, civil unrest, enemies, the future, and more has settled into countless hearts, filling souls with uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt. The psalmist David turned to the Lord in moments of fear and dread. We can and must do the same. With eyes of faith, David saw the Lord God as his light, his salvation, and the strength of his life (v. 1). David put his confidence in the Lord in the face of wicked enemies. While darkness drives many to be uncertain and fearful of life’s path, Jesus Christ continues to be the light of the world (Jno. 8:12). As many trust wealth, political parties, and even violence as a means of deliverance, true salvation from evil is only found in Jesus Christ (Lk. 19:10; Acts 4:12). Pride leads us to trust in our strength and power, even when experience shows us trusting in the flesh ultimately fails (Jer. 17:5-10). God gives power to the weak who live by faith (Isa. 40:29-31; 2 Cor. 12:9-10). Whatever evil forces arise in your life, the answer to enduring them and being victorious over them is in the Lord. Put your faith in God, love Him, and keep His commandments (1 Jno. 5:3-5).
22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles. (Acts 26:22–23, NKJV)
Christ came for the whole world (Jews and Gentiles). The apostles of Jesus testified what Moses and the prophets said would occur concerning the Christ was fulfilled in Jesus. Paul takes note of some primary things Moses and the prophets said about the Christ: 1) He would suffer (read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53). Peter said of Jesus, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18). 2) He would rise from the dead (read Psalm 16:8-11). The resurrection of Jesus fulfilled this psalm (Acts 2:29-31). Jesus was the first – the beginning of the resurrection of all the dead (1 Cor. 15:20-22). 3) He would proclaim light to Jews and Gentiles (read Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:6). Through His gospel, Jesus lights the way of salvation for every soul on earth (Matt. 28:19; Acts 10:34-35). God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer death for our sins, to be raised to exaltation for our salvation, and to light our way to eternal glory.
22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God in me. (Galatians 1:22–24, NKJV)
You likely have more influence than you know. Although the churches of Judea had not personally met Paul during the early years after his conversion to Christ, they knew of it and his work. The influence of a life previously given to the faithless destruction of Christians, but now given to preaching the gospel, was profound. The disciples honored God as a result of Paul’s faith and conduct. Here is an example of the growth and impact of godly influence. When your life seasons the world with grace, and when your words and deeds illuminate this dark world of sin with truth and righteousness, you will influence others to glorify God (Matt. 5:13-16; Col. 4:5-6; 1 Pet. 2:11-12). You may never know how far your influence reaches. That does not matter, because we aim to honor God, not ourselves (2 Cor. 5:9). Be an influencer for Jesus Christ and His gospel in truth, justice, mercy, and faith. God sees and rewards faithful disciples, and that is enough (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
1 In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.” (Luke 12:1–3, NKJV)
Jesus warned His disciples of the permeating effect of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. Their religious pretense brought them reputation, renown, and respect from the populace (Matt. 23:2-7). Couple this with the heavy burden of their teachings, which bound traditions as if they were the will of God, and you have a powerful force that made their converts children of hell (Matt. 15:1-9; 16:6, 12; 23:15). Leaven is unseen in the dough, but the risen bread exposes its presence and effect. The gospel of Christ would spread from small beginnings to fill the world, exposing hypocrisy and error with the light of truth (Matt. 28:19-20). The gospel will not bring you reputation, renown, or the respect of men. But it will convert you into a child of God (Jno. 1:12-13; Gal. 3:26-27). May the gospel of Jesus influence you to walk in the light of His truth (Jno. 8:12, 31-32).
3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:3–5, NKJV)
The diligence with which Jesus labored is a model of zeal, endurance, and accomplishment. As He prepared to heal a man who was blind from birth, He explained the principle which drove Him each day. He had been given work to do by His Father (who sent Him to the earth). His time on the earth was limited, and so He diligently went about doing His Father’s work (which was teaching the gospel and showing Himself to be “the light of the world” – the Christ, the Son of God). Just as the Father gave the Son work to do, Christians are “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). With Jesus as our model, let us be zealous to walk in (do, practice) the good works of God each day, by living soberly, righteously, and godly (Tit. 2:11-12). Night is coming for us all, when our time to labor for the Lord will end. So, as long as we have today, let us be diligent children of light who do the Father’s will, and “through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:9-12).
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: 16 The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:12–16, NKJV)
The whole world was in darkness when the Son of God arrived on the scene (Jno. 1:4-5, 9). Here, by dwelling in Capernaum, Jesus was fulfilling Israel’s prophetic anticipation of liberty and light (Isa. 9:1-2). Numerous invaders had pillaged and oppressed the Galilean region throughout Israel’s history (Syria, 1 Kgs. 15:20; Assyria, 2 Kgs. 15:29). Now, the first to be crushed by oppression and death would be the first to see the Messiah’s light of truth. The promised kingdom was near, so Jesus called the Galileans to repent (Matt. 4:17, 23). His kingdom has now come (Mk. 9:1). All who come to His light and follow Him are transferred out of the kingdom of darkness and into His kingdom of marvelous light (Jno. 8:12; 12:35-36; Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). Jesus is shining for you. Escape sin’s darkness and death. Follow Jesus, the light of the world, and have eternal life (Jno. 8:12).
Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13, NKJV)
Jesus had told His apostles to expect the hatred of the world (John 15:19). The world loves its own, and hates the light that exposes its sins (Jno. 3:19-20). This comes as no surprise. Jesus is the light of the world; therefore, the world hates Him (and His Father) most of all (Jno. 15:18, 23-25). When we become Christians, we leave the dark world of sin to live as “children of light” and to walk in the light of truth (Eph. 5:8; 1 Jno. 1:6-7). Therefore, the world hates us, too. Note the irony. Jesus was not hated because He was a great sinner (“Which of you convicts Me of sin?,” Jno. 8:46; 1 Pet. 2:22). He was hated “without a cause” (Jno. 15:25). When people in the religious error and moral corruption of the world hate you for following Jesus and His truth, accept your cross and bear it for His sake (Lk. 9:23). Do not marvel. Their hatred is par for the course. Do not be distracted by the world from practicing righteousness and loving one another (1 Jno. 3:10-15).
14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life… (Philippians 2:14–16, NKJV)
Murmuring and grumbling is the “complaining” we are commanded not to do in this passage. It speaks especially of a secret displeasure that is not openly declared. Yet, as is the nature of whispering, such mutterings rarely remain private. They have the potential of erupting into open disputes that tarnish the “blameless and harmless” character we are to possess and present to the world. As “lights in the world” we cannot be complainers and hope to influence the lost. We ought to learn from Israel’s example and refuse to “complain, as some of them complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:10). Israel’s history in the wilderness was marked by repeated complaints that angered the Lord and that destroyed many, many lives (Num. 11:1; 14:1-38; 16:1-5). Instead of being a complainer, be a fixer. Instead of murmuring behind the scenes about a problem, become part of the solution. Rather than generating disputes that undermine effectiveness in a church, in the home, or at work, illuminate the path of peace and spiritual progress by “holding fast the word of life.” When we do that, we will not be complainers, we will be lights in the world.