Dealing with the Darkness Around Us

See full series: 2019-sermons
See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019

Dealing with the Darkness Around Us

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Philippians 2:15


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Sunday, May 5, 2019 am             

LIGHTS IN A DARK WORLD (16)
Shining Lights in this Darkness

Our theme for this year is lights in a dark world.   It is based upon Philippians 2:15 where we are called upon to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.   We are talking about being a proper example and all that such involves.

The past several weeks we have been examining the darkness around us.   We have addressed Satan as the father of that darkness, the wisdom of this world, the works of this world, the darkness of ecumenism and redefined tolerance. We are reminded that even though the New Testament was written nearly 2000 years ago, it is just as applicable and descriptive of today as it was back then.

In today’s lesson we want to conclude this portion of our study by noting what we need to do as we shine as lights in this dark world.

I.  What are we to do in this dark world?

  1. It goes without saying that this starts with being a proper example – We have been addressing this in various ways as we discuss proper example – let your light shine
    John 8:12, He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,
    1 John 1:5-6 – do not walk in darkness.   If we say we love and have fellowship with God and walk in darkness, we lie…. We are not practicing the truth.
    If one is not striving to live the gospel, all else is moot.   You will be hiding your light under a basket, rather than putting it on a lampstand (Matthew 5:14-16).
  2. Learn about the darkness around us without being enveloped by it – be alert to it.   1 Peter 5:8, 2 Corinthians 2:11, etc.
  3. Prepare to answer to the best of your ability – 2 Peter 3:15, 2 Timothy 2:15. Learn how to answer their ways, with scripture when possible, and ALWAYS by applying God’s standards. That is what Jesus did.
    Use the word of God – 2 Peter 1:19, though specifically dealing with “the prophetic word confirmed”, we are called upon to heed it as a light that shines in a dark place.
    Use godly wisdom – Proverbs 2:10-13, When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, To deliver you from the way of evil, From the man who speaks perverse things, From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness;  Be reminded of Colossians 4:5 – we are to walk in wisdom toward those who are outside.     Ephesians 5:15 speaks of walking circumspectly (mindfully, alert) with wisdom.
    Remember Jesus in Matthew 10:16 as He sent out His apostles to teach.   He warns them that they are being sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves. “Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
  4. We need to be different and willing to be different.     We cannot take fire into our bosom and expect to not be burned (Proverbs 6:27).
    We are to have no fellowship with it – Romans 13:12- calls for us to cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.
  5. Love one another – 1 John 2:9-11 – we need each other in all of this.  Everything that has been said about being part of His church, as the family of God applies here.
  6. Learn self-discipline – an attribute we have emphasized often in times past because it is foundational. It takes self-discipline to not get caught up in the darkness of this world.     1 Corinthians 9:25 (temperate); 2 Peter 1:6 – added to our faith, virtue and knowledge…
  7. Pray!!!! – Remember Jesus in the garden – Luke 22:40, 46 – watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. 1 Peter 4:7 – the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers…

II.   How do we deal with those in darkness?

  1. Realize they do have a soul – 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, Acts 17:30-31.   That soul is going to spend eternity somewhere.   Therefore love them and realize that they are lost.   That means we seek to do what we can to win them over to Christ.   Why? Because that is the only hope they have – Acts 4:12, John 14:6, 1 John 5:11-12 – God has given us eternal life, and that life is in His Son.
  2. Do what you can to have an influence in their lives – always be aware and alert to those around you.   Realize that you are being watched, and even scrutinized if they know you are a Christian. They are looking for inconsistencies, so behave!
    That is what Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 5:13-16 when he described us as salt and light (esp. vs. 16), and our text for the year (Philippians 2:15).
    Romans 15:2 – do we seek to please our neighbors.   Do we seek to live peaceably with all men? Romans 12:18
    Do what you can to interact with them, WITHOUT being caught up in their sins. Remember what TRUE tolerance involves. Love the sinner, but not his sin.
    Your greatest prospects for influence are going to be your friends, neighbors and those you interact with.
  3. Try to understand where they are coming from – consider Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. That is involved in Paul’s goals. We see Paul as he interacts with others, he begins where they are and proceeds from there in trying to influence and teach them.
    1 Corinthians 10:32-33 – give no offense, seek to please all men for their profit that they may be saved.     That is a part of walking in wisdom.
    That was if given opportunity, ask questions.   Many will give you answer for you to think about.
  4. Try to see them as Jesus would – a lost soul in need of a shepherd.   Matthew 9:36 – Jesus had compassion.   He genuinely cared. Consider His words as He was being crucified – “Father forgive them…” (Luke 23:34)
    Jesus took no pleasure in Jerusalem’s destruction – He saw the city and realized its fate (Matthew 23:37-39).       Jesus was able to see that people were hurting, mistreated by leaders and the world, struggling with various problems – from sin to the everyday burdens of life.
    Jesus invited them to come to Him and lay their burdens at His feet – Matthew 11:28-30.
  5. Speak the truth with love and whenever possible – Ephesians 4:15. Certainly, we need to stand up for what is right and at times that can be unpleasant when dealing with this dark world.
    But we must always be reminded that our speech is to be with grace, seasoned with salt as we answer others – Colossians 4:6.   As noted on numerous occasions, yes there are times for strong and even harsh language, but the DEFAULT disposition should be gentleness, etc.   Again recall Jesus’ instructions, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
  6. Pray for them – Matthew 5:44-46. We continually remind ourselves to pray for one another as brethren.   We need it. But certainly the world desperately needs us to be praying for them – 1 Timothy 2:1
  7. Make the gospel as attractive as possible – guard your words, be positive and happy as a Christian, show that it is beneficial, etc. And it is the desired way of God.
    Far too many in the world today, even professed Christians, make the gospel appear ugly. Certainly, the antagonistic of this world are looking to criticize.
    Remove whatever justification they have by living a godly life – 1 Peter 2:11-12 – abstain from fleshly lusts…having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles…so that as they observe your good works, perhaps they will glorify God. Also 1 Peter 3:16.
  8. Be patient – typically you won’t change someone overnight.   As Christians we are called upon to “suffer long”   1 Corinthians 13:4-5
    Paul’s admonition to Timothy as a preacher – 2 Timothy 4:2, Preach the word…with all longsuffering and teaching.
  9. Be ready to give a defense Prepare to answer to the best of your ability – 2 Peter 3:15, 2 Timothy 2:15. Learn how to answer their ways, with scripture when possible.   That is what Jesus did.
    Use the word of God – 2 Peter 1:19, though specifically dealing with “the prophetic word confirmed”, we are called upon to heed it as a light that shines in a dark place.
  10. Don’t expect to win them all (or even most) – even Jesus couldn’t win them all.   And in the parable of the SOWER – Matthew 13:18 (not the seed) Jesus taught that many would reject it outright, while others would fall away or become unproductive.
    The world is Satan’s dominion and lies under his sway – that hasn’t changed since the fall of man.   But let us never use that as an excuse to not do what we can.

 

What is the point of all this?   IF, we see in God’s word a description of the darkness about us today, we should also consider that His word gives us the ANSWER to that darkness. It is found in THE LIGHT, Jesus Christ (John 9:5).   Yes we live in this world (John 17:13-15), but we are not of this world.   Do we know the difference?   And equally important, can the world see it?   Think about it.