Lights in a Dark World Introduction
See full series: lights-in-a-dark-world-2019
Lights in a Dark World Introduction
Sermon by Thomas Thornhill Jr
Passage: Philippians 2:15
Sunday, July 13, 2019 am
2019 THEME – LIGHTS IN A DARK WORLD (1) –
Shining as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation – Philippians 2:15
Last week, I announced my theme for 2019 – Shining as Lights in the Midst of a Crooked and Perverse Generation. This is based upon Philippians 2:15 where Paul is challenging the brethren of Philippi to be proper examples in the way they treat each other and as they lived in a world hostile to their faith. The challenge the Philippians faced is filled with examples for us to learn from. Tonight, I am going to examine the text as a part of our ongoing study of Philippians. This morning I want to introduce what I want to address in our morning assemblies this year.
We are living in spiritually dark times. Perhaps there are times in history that have been worse, but over the past few decades we have seen spiritual and moral deterioration. Paul in Romans 1:18-32 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5 seem to describe the times we are living in, as much as in first century Rome. In 2 Timothy 3:13 he said, But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
The Christian’s faith has been under attack both without and within. Without it is becoming increasingly unpopular to take an uncompromising moral or doctrinal stand based on God’s word. To question ungodly activity is to be labeled intolerant and hateful and out of touch. God and Christians are villainized for simply standing for what the Bible says. The Bible is attacked as irrelevant for today’s society and the masses are being encouraged to reject it and those who seek to use it as their standard of living. That’s without!
Within, so-called Christendom (the religions of followers of Christ), AND even within congregations of the Lord’s people, the truth is being watered down and standards of authority and moral living are being lowered or ignored, like at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:1-7ff), and many of the 7 churches of Asia (Revelation 2 & 3). Discipline is ignored or even rejected in many churches.
It truly is a difficult time to be a Christian in our culture. BUT, it is not impossible! NOR are the consequences of ignoring our need to faithfully serve God going away. We will ALL still stand before God and face Him in judgment (Hebrews 9:27, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 14:10-12), with our eternal fate at stake.
That is why this year, I want to study what God’s word says about living as Christians in the midst of an “unchristian” society. Some of the things we want to address in this study include the following 3 areas:
#1 – What it means to be an example – In this section we are going to notice
- The power of example – our text talks about the light we are to be holding forth (Philippians 2:17). There are various description of examples in the New Testament – salt, light, leaven, etc. We want to examine the qualities of each of these to help us understand what being an example can accomplish.
- Examples of being an example in the Bible – we are told to look to Jesus – 1 Peter 2:21; We can learn from the example of Paul and Timothy and so many others. We can also learn from BAD examples – such as Peter in Antioch, or the Israelites in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-11)
- What does it mean when our light is shining? Matthew 5:14-16 tells us we are the light of the world. We want to engage in a special study about light as it is used in the Bible and how it relates to our being proper examples.
- What does different look like? Jesus, Joseph, Paul, Daniel, etc. They were different, in the right way.
- How is God influencing me? How does the Triune God dwell within me? We have recently noted how God is to be dwelling in us (cf. Romans 8:9). It has to do with His influence. We want to take a closer look at this and see How God’s influence in our lives affect our interaction with the world.
- Learning to trust God as we live – faith in God is crucial. 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us that we walk by faith, and not by sight.
- Free will – I can choose my path. And I will answer for whatever path I choose.
- In the midst of this crooked and perverse generation – we will devote some time to understanding our enemy and the times we are in. We need to know what tools he is using today and how to prepare to ward them off.
#2 – Putting God first in every area of my life – Matthew 6:33 – an example in every aspect of my life
- Spiritual – this comes first and must influence every area of our life. We have a crisis of spirituality – too much desire to serve God and mammon at the same time; lukewarmness; compromise of truth; self-centeredness, failing to prefer one another, etc. All these things affect our spiritual state and standing with God.
We need to understand what it means to put God first, the dangers of compromise and apathy, the blessing of our brethren, especially as the local church
- Financial – 1 Timothy 6:6, 9 – we need to examine our view of material possessions – understand what the Bible says about debt and see how it affects us spiritually, stewardship and wealth.
- Our health – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Are we taking care of our physical bodies to the best of our ability? Should we? How does our physical health affect our ability to do the work of God? What about our mental health? Are we thinking properly? Does our lifestyle adversely affect our spiritual mindset?
- Our Education – 1 Corinthians 3:19 tells us that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. what is influencing how we think and reason?
Humanism and its effects on society – how does this address tolerance, selfishness, the anti-god sentiment around us? Are we growing in the grace and knowledge of God’s word? Are we equipped to spot and answer ungodly world views?
- Our occupation – 2 Thessalonians 3:10 tells us that if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
How is God influencing what we do to provide income for ourselves and our family? Are we giving our very best? Is there proper loyalty and honesty with our employers? Do we control what we can with our jobs (how much we have to work and when? Are we looking toward the future if there are problems?
- Family – Ephesians 6:1-4 is one of many NT passages that address some family relationships. The Bible gives instructions on every family relationship. We want to notice the godly family and how it affects society.
We want to spend some time noticing what a godly family looks like, with lessons on husbands & wives; parents & children; dealing with some problems in the home; and finally – how to develop a godly home – some things we can do in this area.
- Within society – Romans 15:2 says, Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. How are we letting society influence us? How is our light shining within in our communities and what does the Bible have to say about this?
Who do we prefer and associate with? Are we good neighbors? Interacting – when we drive, talk, go places, cleanliness, etc. Do we conduct ourselves properly?
What about social media? Consider the dangers and strengths of social media. What kind of example are we setting online? Modesty and activities?
What is our moral standard? The way we view and deal with various moral issues will have great impact on others around us -for good and bad. ESPECIALLY our family!
We will address some of the following:
- Modesty – What’s the big deal about modesty?
- Dancing – are there dances and such that we should avoid?
- Social drinking – what damage does this do?
- Gambling – should we even buy lottery tickets?
- Sexuality – fornication, pre-marital relations, pornography, etc.
- Our conversations and language – profanity, euphemisms, etc.
- The entertainment we choose – what types of moves and music do we listen to
- Government – Romans 13:1 is clear, Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
What does the Bible say about governing authorities? Do we honor the king as we ought to? Are we loyal where we can be? Do we pay taxes, obey the laws of the land, etc.?
#3 – Shining as lights in this world – in this section we want to notice some qualities we need to develop and manifest to live as Christians in this world. We need to adorn the doctrine of God (cf. Titus 2:10). Consider:
- What does it mean to serve? Examples of service like Jesus, Paul and Timothy
- Benevolence – caring for the needy and less fortunate. Consider Barnabas
- Learning to trust God – our need for faith in this crooked and perverse generation
- Endurance – we cannot give up
- Be holy – what does holiness look like? What does it mean to be set apart?
- Attitudes that turn people off – Phariseeism, binding where God has not bound, hypocrisy, etc.; constant criticism, uncaring, inconsistency, wrongful judging, pessimism, etc.
- Attitudes that could win people – self-control, kindness, humility, contentment, patience, sincerity. Encouraging words. Optimism and positivity.
- The part of the local church – what are we doing to make her as attractive as possible without compromise?
- Treating others the way you want to be treated – Matthew 7:12 – the golden rule
- Our need for integrity – desperately needed in our lives
- What does godly sacrifice look like?
- What do we do when the world is against us? It is and we need to react properly. This is really the crux of our study.
- The power of the tongue – how our language affects our influence. Consider James 3:1-12
- Our need for courage – it will take courage to stand for right & do and say the right things
- Judging according to God’s word – understanding Matthew 7:1-5. What is Biblical tolerance? Proper discipline?
- How do we treat those in sinful lifestyles – Example – how to do treat someone you find out is a homosexual? Or in an adulterous marriage? Etc. We need to notice HOW to treat others and how NOT to treat others. First, remember we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). We learn that there is a difference between how we respond to the sin and sinner.
- Prayer as we live in this dark world – 1 Timothy 2:1-2 – we must remind ourselves to pray often
- Go into all the world – Mark 16:15, 1 Peter 3:15 – we have a need to reach the lost. This includes those NOT like us.
- With a view toward eternity – this world is not my home. Isn’t this what it is all about?
This is what we are going to be studying this year. I will probably expand on some points with several lessons, while I might combine others. It is my prayer and desire that at the end of this year, we will be better reminded and equipped to face the ungodliness around us. Are you ready to let your light shine?