There was once a nomad, traveling across the desert in the Middle East. He woke up in the middle of the night hungry. Remembering that he had some dried figs, he lit a lamp and grabbed a fig. After taking a bite, and to his disgust, he noticed a worm in it. Without hesitation, he threw it outside his tent and reached for another fig and took a bite. Shocked and disgusted he saw another worm after biting into it. This fig, too, quickly found its way out of the tent. Now realizing that at his rate, he would soon be out of figs and still be hungry, he did what most of us would do in that situation, he extinguished the lamp and continued to eat the figs.
Now on to our text.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Now I don’t know about you, but when someone calls me something I usually like to know what it means. When Jesus calls me something in relation to the world, I definitely want to know what it means. The Greek word used here for light if phos. Phos is the light of the sun or of the day as opposed to the light of the moon or other luminaries of the night. (footnote) Phos is never kindled and, therefore, can never be quenched. This contrasts another word for light, luchnos, which is kindled by the hand of another.
The light we are to be is not our own. This light is not something that we can create, whether by our actions, our abilities, or our appearance.
6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;
Because we did not create it, we can not quench it. The light that is in us is unquenchable. However, we can put it under a basket. Notice that putting it under a basket would conceal the light, but not extinguish it. We can, however, cover and dim that light by either our actions or our own timidity.
Remember what happened when Gideon’s army of three hundred men broke their pitchers and let their light shine? The whole Midianite army fled. Some were so distressed that they killed each other. Imagine what God would do through a group of believers who are not afraid nor ashamed to let their let shine before men. All those who stand against God would flee. Unfortunately, we have grown content to stay inside the four walls of the church. We have been intimidated by the world and have been told a lie that our faith should be a private matter, and, shamefully we have believed it.
Sometimes we justify keeping our faith, our light, hidden be claiming that we are undercover. There is no place for undercover or secret agent Christianity. We are to be as prominent as a city on a hill, as a candle on a lampstand, as a watchman on a wall. And, we are to share the light with all those around us. As the world grows darker, our light should be even more evident.
I attended a Christian School from pre-kindergarten through to the eighth grade. I sat in classes with my peers for ten years. We were all in Bible classes together. We were all went to chapel together on Wednesdays. We all participated in the Christmas and Easter programs together. We all prayed together. With few exceptions, I cannot say absolutely, positively for sure how many were or are saved. I am sure there were many. But I do not know for sure who and how many. You see there was a lot of ambient light around in that Christian School. First, there were a lot of Christians, and second there was a Christian environment. It was difficult to distinguish between those who were truly saved and those who were going through the motions.
That changed when I went to a public high school. Certain people seemed different from others. That high school was a darker place, and those who were lights could be seen more clearly amongst the darkness. I distinctly remember students, teachers, deans and principals who were Christians.
Now when I went to the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Christians were like halogen headlights on a car traveling on a cross-country highway in the middle of a moonless night.
Christians will stand out when they are in God’s will. Their countenance will be different. Their priorities will be different.
The world is asking, “What’s so different about Christians?” Now allow me to ask you a question. Are they asking about the cause and reason for the difference or are they asking, “Is there even a difference?” Have you given anybody a reason to ask what is different about you? Have you given anyone a reason to glorify your Father in heaven?
O.K. we’re light. Now, as light, what are we supposed to do? What does light do?
Light Exposes Sin and Brings Conviction
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. 20 “For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 “But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Conviction should result not solely from preaching, but from practicing what we preach. We need to live out the standard that Christ established. It is convicting to be around someone who lives a life set apart for God, especially if you are ensnared in sin. Have you ever noticed how you’re not always invited to the same social events as everybody else? Not that they don’t like you, but your being there would convict them. They know your convictions. People often sin socially. They want people around them who are going to conform to their ways and do the same things they do. There is a fallacy of (S)afety (I)n (N)umbers.
Why do you think that there are so many people who are trying to get rid of all traces of Christianity in public life? Whether it is “In God We Trust” on a coin, the Ten Commandments in a courtroom, prayer in public schools, a cross in a cemetery, or a nativity scene on public property. These things remind them of God, and ultimately of their own sin.
Convicting the world of sin doesn’t always mean going around and pointing your finger, hitting them over the head with your Bible and yelling “You’re going to hell you low-down, good-for-nothing, heathen sinner. By the way, God loves you!” But it does mean calling sin, “sin”, and not bowing to political correctness and social pressures. It does mean proclaiming the message of repentance and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ harshest words were for the scribes and Pharisees and their self-righteous attitudes. Others who met Christ knew they were sinners by simply being in His presence.
After a miraculous catch of fish, Simon Peter was well aware of his condition. In fact, so aware of it that he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5:8).
Later on in Luke, chapter 7, a sinful woman came to the house where Jesus was dining with a Pharisee. Jesus didn’t rebuke her or call out all her sins. She knew she was a sinner. She knew it so well that she brought an expensive vial of perfume, anointed His feet with it and then used hair own hair to wipe His feet as she kissed them. Jesus pointed out that it was the Pharisee whose attitude was wrong, not hers. How often have we been that Pharisee? Remember 1 Peter 5:5, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The more we are in His presence, the more we become acutely aware of just how much we need His grace. May we never be proud or haughty as we share with others what has been so graciously given to us.
There were also those who acknowledged their sinfulness and their neediness by hearing the gospel.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!” 16 However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
There’s not a person here who, if all their deeds were exposed, wouldn’t run down these aisles and repent of their sins before God and cry out for forgiveness through the atoning death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Conviction does not only apply to the unsaved but also to Christians as well.
Light Explains/Exemplifies the Truth (Christ) and Brings Clarity
9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.
Luke 2 (Simeon in the Temple)
27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, 28 then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 “Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant depart in peace, according to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation, 31 Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
26 But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Arise and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 27 And he arose and went; and behold, there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship. 28 And he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” 30 And when Philip had run up, he heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this: “HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER; AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT, SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH. 33 “IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY; WHO SHALL RELATE HIS GENERATION? FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.” 34 And the eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please tell me, of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself, or of someone else?” 35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.
Light Exalts God and Brings Commendation (Praise)
All that we do shall cause those around to glorify God.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.”
2 Corinthians 4:4
in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
How can we possibly be light?
This is a tall order. Jesus was identified as the Light of the world. And in Matthew 5:14, Jesus states that we are to be the light. 1 John 2:6 ?the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
21 Jesus therefore said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. [Exposes and Convicts of sin] 8 “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. [Explains and Clarifies the truth] 12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. [Exalts Christ, or Commends, glorifies Christ] 14 “He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. 15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you.
The Holy Spirit now convicts concerning righteousness because Christ, the Righteous One has gone to the Father. In the O.T. the Law was the standard of righteousness and brought conviction of sin. When Christ was on earth, He himself was the standard, having fulfilled the Law. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.”
Remember the nomad in the tent. Notice that he didn’t run down to the supermarket and get a new bag of figs, he didn’t even try to wash the ones he had. He simply got rid of the light and continued to eat the figs, paying no attention at all to reality. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, right? Unfortunately, there are many who live their lives avoiding the light. Ignoring the problem of sin. Ignoring the truth of God’s word. They simply would rather not see sin and it’s consequences.
In 1 John, chapter one, the disciple whom Jesus loved warns us against lying about sin.
1 John 1
5 And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; [lie to others, hypocrisy, no light] 7 but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [lie to self, duplicity, no truth] 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. [lie to God, apostasy, no word]