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Children of the Light

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
January 19, 2021 7:00 am

Children of the Light

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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January 19, 2021 7:00 am

If the mere existence of laws resulted in a moral society, we’d be in great shape! Want safer cities? Just pass more legislation! Of course, we know that unfortunately this isn’t the case because we can’t legislate the sin out of human nature. However, the ultimate solution for immorality does exist and we’ll learn what it is during this broadcast of The Bible Study Hour with Dr. James Boice.

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If the mere existence of laws resulted in a moral society we be in great shape, one safer cities just pass more legislation. Of course we know that unfortunately this isn't the case because we can't legislate the sin out of human nature. However, the ultimate solution for immorality does exist and will learn what it is during this broadcast of the Bible study hours with Dr. James Boyce are welcome to Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically.

Being a child of God changes everything from who we are to what we think and even how we behave today. Dr. Boyce will help us learn what Ephesians has to say about what it means to be a child of the light long ago I was in Washington DC taking part in two separate meetings, each of which involved Christian leaders who are working with this country's political leaders. One man works very closely with our United States senators and he was commenting on what he perceived to be a large measure of disillusionment in that legislative body is not that the senators on a good intentions. Of course they do.

But whether they are coming from the political rights with their conservative programs are from the political left with their more liberal programs. There is a tendency to recognize that matter want their programs are. They fail to deal with the problems that confront the nation.

One of the senators said to my friends. It's not merely that are legislation fails to solve the problems.

Our laws actually in many cases seem to make the problems worse. But I haven't known what to do.

There is a large measure of cynicism that results from this and a great deal of frustration and it's not merely a question of the problems in the United States.

It's a problem that concerns the world at large. One of these individuals said the real problem is that tragic flaw in human nature, which he identified as greed and lust.

These are not Republican vices alone are democratic vices along are not vices of the Western bloc alone is a post of the Eastern Bloc of the other way around. They are simply a problem with human nature. That legislation doesn't deal with John Kenneth Galbraith said on one occasion expressing his cynicism under communism man exploits man under capitalism. The situation is exactly the reverse link Christianity there really is a reverse and the reason there is says that the problem of the nature of man is dealt with by perfectly in this life.

Of course, but there is sleep injection of a new element, which is the life of Jesus Christ and this of course is what Paul is been talking about in Ephesians a question of morality alone.

You can spend a great deal of time talking about moral standards and can feel very good about it because after all you are the kind of individual that recognizes the highest moral standards. You can do that. And yet at the same time produce no good at all. Most people understand reality on a far higher level than they practice it may not understand Christian morality in its fullest extent. But they know enough to do better than they do. And yet they don't do the high standard problem isn't with the standards. The problem isn't with morality.

The problem is with our selves. And of course this is what Paul says is dealt with with the life of Jesus Christ. This is really a very profound analysis that is the analysis Paul gives here in the Ephesians letter in chapters 4 and five profound because it's not one-sided. All is not just saying. On the one hand, well, you have to know the good though that is important is not saying that you can be ignorant of it either and is not merely saying on the other hand you have to be a different kind of person that we is saying that Dan is not neglecting that either actually saying that there are three elements involved. First, what we all are. The second, how we think and the third the way in which we behave. John Stott has a very careful summary of these chapters, which she does in these words the theme of these chapters, he writes, is the integration of Christian experience. What we are Christian theology. What we believe and Christian ethics. How we behave emphasize that being thought and action belong together and must never be separated.

What we are governs how we think and how we think determines how we act.

We are God's new society of people who will put off the old life and put on the new is what God has made us so we need to recall this by the daily renewal of our minds. Remembering how we learn Christ as the truth is in Jesus and thinking Christianly about ourselves and our new status and we must actively cultivate Christian life. All this means you say that holiness is not something into which we drift. It's not even something that happens automatically.

By virtue of our regeneration, but rather it's something that we worked at simply because we have been born again. This of course is the way the apostle Paul handles it. I we come in our study of this section to the third verse of chapter 5, Paul is already talked about some of these matters of the end of chapter 4. There he used a very interesting MEG use the image of clothing and he said you had a former way of life, which was slight certain suits of clothes was appropriate. That way of life, but not to your new Christian life and knowledge you become Christians. You must put off that old kind of behavior just as if it were inappropriate clothing and instead you must put on a new pattern of behavior we saw Ozzie develop back that he balance off these things, one against the other.

Instead of this there must be that instead of this there must be something else. In chapter 5 he intensifies this because you see the difficulty with talking about putting off and putting on his. We can assume it in some of these areas. We assume rightly that this is a process we begin to put off inappropriate behavior, and we begin to put on more appropriate behavior. Now in chapter 5, Paul begins to talk about things, not that we simply are in the process of putting off and putting on bidding begins to talk about the kind of vices that were prevalent in the paganism of his day about which he says they must not even be hinted at, among Christians.

The question here you see a gradual reformation or shift in values or an alteration in behavior. These are things that just must not be spoken of in Christian circles, he begins to list them. There were six of them.

He talks about sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk and course joking says that these things are inappropriate out of place and as a matter of fact, if they are practiced give evidence of the fact of the one was practicing them far from being a Christian regardless of his or her profession is actually as he says in idolater.

That is a person that was worshiping God other than the true God was the father of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to look at those. Each one. If for no other reason that they're so common today they are an expression of the kind of culture in which we live. First of these is sexual immorality. Now, in the Greek that when that word is poor man. It's the word for which we get our word pornography. It doesn't refer to lewd pictures or or obscene films.

However, refers to sexual intercourse outside of marriage.

The kind of thing that the older versions of the Bible generally translated as fornication. We mustn't make a mistake here of arguing that their sexual sins are worse than the other sentence. Matter fact, if we approach things in the biblical perspective, sins of the flesh are generally less significant than sins of the spirit. Things like pride and arrogance are far more destructive than these other things and yet Paul is quite right to mention this first in the list because no knocks the most destructive of sins, spiritually speaking, these things are nevertheless terribly destructive and terribly evident in society. This is one of the things Paul says that must not even be hinted at, among Christians.

Secondly, talks about impurity I word impurity no doubt embraces the kind of sins that are included in the first term, but probably the second one goes beyond them to speak of. Particularly degrading practices are vices probably what Paul has said buying here is the open acceptance in the Greek world of his day of prostitution. On the one hand, homosexuality, on the other in different kinds of debasing sexual behavior.

This is the thing that defiles a person. Paul sets and must not be practiced by Christians. This was terribly well accepted in the Greek world in Athens, for example, there was a temple large temple built Aphrodite the goddess of love that was built with the proceeds from the brothels in the city seem to be nothing inappropriate in the minds of the Greeks of Paul's day to have formal recognition of prostitution and then use the proceeds from the brothels to build the temple, one of the gods that was just all right. In the Greek way of thinking and in the same way. There was an open acceptance of homosexuality that was not considered to be incompatible with the highest of ethical standards and yet Paul says, far from being something that is high in ennobling it's actually something that is low in debasing and the Christian community is to be different and I respect the third item he mentions is greed how if, as I said a moment ago quoting my friend in Washington. The two great flaws of human nature. Greed and lust.

Well, here's the first one. Greed are two terms of dealt with the second. This is the love of money and the things that money provides its often translated covetousness, always wanting more and not merely money for its own sake, though sometimes greed embraces the love of money for its own sake, but chiefly a lot of money for the kinds of things that money brings kind of experiences we can have the kind of image we can have before the world and the kind of pleasures we can enjoy which we couldn't enjoy and the image we couldn't have but we didn't have so much money. Paul says that that is not to exist among Christian people either is why Jesus said in the sermon on the Mount.

You can't serve God and money because money is your God, then as Paul himself also says of this paragraph you're in idolater later in idolater you're not serving the true God of all matter what your profession may be the fourth of these terms is obscenity particularly offensive behavior, particularly in speech, though it also includes actions for terminus foolish talk is easy to remember what that term is in the Greek language because it's composed of two words. The first word is a word that gives us our word moron and the second word is the word logo switches the word for word or words it's more low low via. It's the kind of speech will moron is capable of.

Of course, here. It's not a matter of intelligence when the Bible uses that word more or less. It's not speaking of deficient intellect but deficient morals. This is the kind of speech somebody who has no moral standards is given to the kind of speech that tears down makes fun of ridicules those standards of behavior which even in the secular world are meant to uphold a society and suppresses more base elements. I may say so. This is exactly what television is good at moral low via it's very hard to hear any other kind of word on television always passes since humor, of course, and more offensive forms that are sometimes approached but pulled back from less know the Federal Communications Commission gets involved in such things. Television is not a building. What you see on television is not meant to uphold moral standards of our society and the contrary, it tears it down.

This is the kind of thing that Paul says we must not have the last rollers course joking is joking about serious things. This is in a statement that says that Christians can have fun that Christians should not be characterized by white spirits and bright sense of humor that concerns things that really are funny that God made monkeys is not humor less, but this concerns joking about serious things making fun of that which is eternally significant. And above all using humor to escape the commands and warnings of Almighty God. John Stott sums up these terms by saying that obscenity foolish talking course joking. Refer to dirty minds, expressing themselves in dirty conversation that we say at that point see if that is the negative, if that's what Christians must avoid any cost of. That's the kind of thing that is inappropriate out of place in idolatrous of the Christian community.

What is the positive side, by contrast, should Christians be and do other different ways of answering that one way of answering it is to move to verse eight and nine, where the apostle Paul begins to suggest terms which are obvious parallels what is been talking about earlier verse nine, which should in the new international version is in a parenthesis. The apostle Paul says the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.

You can make an easy parallel between those terms in the 60s mentioned earlier, goodness and righteousness counter some of those things. Truth counters all matters of evil course or obscene speech and balls right to mention those terms. When we live in that way that isn't goodness, righteousness and truth. We are living by the character of Jesus Christ, who is in self-righteousness, goodness and truth.

Those terms were all used of him, and rightly so, as I look at this entire passage and analyze it. I wonder if the most significant contrast is not the contrast that Paul brings in. In verse nine where he begins to move on to another image and talk about light and darkness and about Christians as children of the light but rather that phrase that appears at the very end of verse four, just after he's talked about his sanity foolish talking course joking, which are out of place.

The contrast Larry says is Thanksgiving. You say to yourself, Thanksgiving for what answer would be Thanksgiving for all things Thanksgiving for God for ourselves for life and health are always given someone. I wonder if again John Stott isn't right.

At this point, when in his commentary. He suggests that what Paul must have in mind here is Thanksgiving for the very gifts of God which are abused by the vices that he mentions earlier in the text the words of fee is talking about sexual immorality and impurity.

What we should be thankful for is sex on the proper use of that when he talks about greed, which is the debasement what we should be thankful for our material possessions in a proper use of those possessions, and when he talks about obscenity, foolish talking course joking. What we should be thankful for. There is the truth, and the ability of words to communicate truth to the blessing of society were thinking about. That is, Christians have a bad reputation where sex is concerned because were supposed to be against it. There are lots of books that assume that and no doubt with some justice as a matter fact, even from a Christian perspective. We recognize some justice in that kind of accusation because it has often been the case in human society was in Paul's day it is again in our own time when there are so many debasement's of sex that Christians naturally speak out against it, and from the world point of view that is about all they hear that you see the Christian approach is not mitigation of this which is God's great gift to us, but rather a celebration a bit and the use of sex in the way God intended it to be used that is within marriage to build up homes and to be a blessing to society.

I find even as I look through books on the subject that is sometimes hard to find those who do this adequately, but I have recently come across a book which I think is exceptional in this respect by Canadian's name is Mike Mason and it's called the mystery of marriage as iron sharpens iron.

I like this book not only because it says the right things are other books that say the right thing. Stupid because this book is almost political and is positive celebration of that which God is given to read you just paragraph it captures something of this wonderful thankfulness for sex in Christian marriage, Mason writes. What can equal the surprise of finding out that the one thing above all others, which mankind has been most enterprising and proficient in dragging through the dirt. Turns out, in fact, to be the most innocent thing in the world's or any other activity. All which an adult man and woman may engage in together.

Apart from worship is actually more childlike or clean up your more natural and wholesome and unequivocally right that the act of making love worship is the deepest available form of communion with God, and especially that particular act of worship known as communion, then surely sex is the deepest communion that is possible between human beings and as such is something absolutely essential in more than a biological way to our survival. I think that's really remarkable and a proper expression of the Christian view. This is what I think Paul has in mind when he contrasts the distortion of the gift with being thankful the same thing is true when we talk about greed. Here again we recognize in the Bible. It certainly recognizes that greed is an improper use of possessions or attitude toward them. Greed is the desire always to have more somebody once said to John the Rockefeller.

That time was one, if not the richest man of his day. How much money is enough. Rockefeller replied just a little bit more. That's the human spirit and where that prevails that of course is extremely destructive. We get a lot of block that you can't use your money and useful help away in society of what you're trying to do is acquire or constantly, on the other hand Christians are sometimes erred by saying well if greed means the love of money.

Money must be bad. Therefore, proper Christian approach is not to have any things at all. And so they've advocated a variety of alternate lifestyles, including monasticism, holy orders, simple lifestyle communal living in such things I want to talk against those things because for any given individual that may be the answer. Sometimes that's even mandatory to see if possessions have a hold on us in the same way that alcohol has a hold on an alcoholic.

You have to be free of it. You just have to cut yourself free and some have done this and have been blessed by God as a result, but is not the uniquely Christian view. The Christian view you say is not on the one hand, acquiring more and more are on the other hand, repudiating possessions is wrapping somehow something inherently evil, but the Christian attitude is one of thankfulness to what God is given to God gives a little more thankful with a little God gives more were thankful for. The more because if were thankful for what God is given. Our mind is not upon the possessions, but on God who gives them anywhere set free to use those things as God intended them to be used, namely, in helping and blessing.

Other people or families. First of all where we have a chief responsibility to the church which we support by our gifts to society to welfare programs and all such things. I've often felt that the reason why God doesn't give more Christians, more money is that we don't know how to use it. You know the more you have, the more you should give proportionately talking about 10%.

If you have $10,000 in common. You get 10%. That's a thousand, and if you have $100,000 in common. You give 10%. That's 10,000 but if you have $100,000 income. You should be giving more than 10,000 because you obviously have the means of doing reason why God doesn't bless more of us with more. I am sure is we don't know how to use that instead of being free to use the possessions we find those things become intense merriment to our soul.

The proper attitude is one Thanksgiving and finally theirs is matter of truth we should be thankful for as well of sanity. Course, joking. That's the distortion, but the gift gift is the gift of truth in the ability of words to express that is marvelous and God is given the ability to communicate by words to human beings we are many studies underway in science now to see how the animals communicate the whales.

For example, seem to make these lovely sounds as they travel through the deep communicating with one another, but so far as we know nothing in the animal kingdom begins to approach the kind of deep, subtle, meaningful and stirring communication that is possible between human beings. God has given us the gift that we must be thankful for and I for one, am profoundly thankful God is given the gift of words by which the gospel, the gospel of his truth which is salvation to those who receive it can be communicated week by week, moment by moment to preaching and other forms of Bible teaching that we come to the summation of this ethical discussion and the bottom line is that Christians are children of light, so they must begin to shine his light in the midst of a dark world. That is, they are to be enlightening and the reason there to be enlightening is that they have first been enlightened, that is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is himself the light is entered them, change them and now made them and illuminating force in our secular darkness. See, the key thing, there is the way Paul talks about Christians, he doesn't say notice you were once again the dark but now you have come into the light lettuce true enough. We were in the dark and we have come into the light.

We try to walk by the light of the word of God.

But that's not what he says what Paul says is you were once darkness in the dark but dark and now you are light in the Lord, not in the light but light seen in the past. It wasn't simply a matter of our being in the dark.

It was a problem with the darkness was in us and now it's not a matter merely being in the light but rather being light through the work of Jesus Christ speaks about regeneration and it's this that makes all the difference you see.

Apart from that transformation.

It's just another case of morality, Christian morality, a morality of the other religions. Let's breach all he wants. Let's teach it. It doesn't make any difference we can see the standard we can attain it.

Paul says what really is different about Christianity is a Jesus himself the light of the world, the Lord of history lives in people and through them the extent they follow him multiply their faith as they share what is done begin to illuminate the darkness. I close with his stories several years ago in Washington. The National religious broadcasters held a great convention. They do it every year on this occasion the President of the United States was invited to come and speak. He gave the kind of speech. Politicians give at any rate, the national religious broadcasters loved it. He ended up by quoting John 316 and when he did, the place became static. Everybody leapt to their feet. They applauded long after the president had left the platform and one would've thought hopefully it was true, but one would've thought the revival had come to the nation's capital. The next speaker on the program was Charles Colson who had experienced a great deal about the ensnare Menton seduction of politics as well, as its limitations and when he came to the platform. He said something like this. He said he also appreciated the president's speech and he had been blessed by an especially enjoyed hearing the quotation of John 316. At the end of very important biblical verse, but he said, remember this, the kingdom of God is not going to arrive on Air Force One say and that is profoundly true.

If we think the kingdom of God is going to come through politics we are profoundly and disastrously mistaken. The kingdom of God is going to come when the king Jesus Christ comes in the meantime it's going to come to the extent that the people of God. The servants of Jesus Christ live like Jesus Christ and her lights in the darkness of prayer our father.

We do care about the world in which we live. It's perishing without hopeless without God we can look with indifference upon our environment, we can't be uncaring about our country and no. We pray for, but we pray for those who are in positions of leadership and rejoice that they are. We don't want to do that.

As if by so doing, we somehow had fulfilled our responsibility and expected the kingdom of God to come through those other servants. Our father give us grace to be what we should be. This country is to be blessed us to be blessed by righteousness and that is to be the righteousness that is lived out by Christian people in the midst of that country. Father, give us grace to do that and bless us. To that end, for the sake of Jesus Christ, who is the king in the light of this dark world.

We pray in his name in a manner you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place.

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