- "Shining as lights in the world"
is a daunting task, especially because we live in a world that appears to be
becoming increasingly crooked and perverse. But the Scriptures provide both
direction and hope. And we can help if we will serve as lights no matter how
much the darkness grows.
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my
presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with
fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to
work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so
that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God
above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom
you appear as lights in the world…” (Philippians 2:12-16).
We need to “work out our own salvation” first! And we must not be
casual about it; we need to do so “with fear and trembling”. But in
verse 13 we see something that should give us great "hope": there we
read the statement: "For it is God who works in you..." We are not
alone in our efforts to "shine as lights in the world"! Similar
thoughts are expressed elsewhere in this epistle: (Philippians 1:6; 4:13).
Yes, there is "power" from God to aid us!
The Power Behind the Faithful
As Paul prayed in behalf of the brethren at Ephesus, along with other
things, Paul wanted them to know "what is the surpassing greatness of His
power toward us who believe" (Ephesians 1:19). Note that Paul says this
"power toward us" is "according to the working of the strength of
His might” which He brought about "when He raised (Jesus) from
the dead and seated Him at His right hand..."
The source of the power available to Christians is the same as that power
used in the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. Those who "were dead in
trespasses and sins" God made "alive together with Christ...and
raised us up together"! - (Ephesians 2:1-6). Paul cites many parallels
between the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and the conversion and
life of the disciple (Romans 6:8-11; 3-7).
As Jesus illustrated in healing the paralytic, it is no more easier to
forgive sins than to heal the lame. While only one is observable to the
physical eyes both require Divine power! (Matthew 9:5,6).
We need this power. From it we gain the strength to deal with life: “
...that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be
strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…” (Ephesians
3:16) and to those who have faith He will “do far more abundantly beyond
all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us…”
Consider the Source
As we have already seen, the source of this power is God's “Spirit in the
inner man” (Ephesians 3:16) and "it is God who works in you"
(Philippians 2:13). The power's source is the Holy Spirit influencing the
“inner man”. This had been promised by Jesus, and explained by John “Now on
the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
"If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in
Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being will flow rivers of
living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed
in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was
not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39).
Those who obeyed the gospel were promised the “gift of the Holy Spirit”
on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-39). Paul later discusses this as well
(Romans 8:9-11); 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). We become “the dwelling place
of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22). God in us becomes the source of
This strength is necessary if we are to successfully “work out your own
salvation" (Philippians 2:12-13) and “put to death the deeds of the
body” (Romans 8:12-13) and “glorify God in your body” (1
Corinthians 6:19-20). And also note that God “works in you both to will
and to do”… He provides strength not only to “do” but also the
strength to “will” (Philippians 2:13).
Using the Power
One of the ways to put this power to use in our lives is to ask God for it.
He will give endurance and wisdom to those who ask in faith (James 1:2-5).
It is good for God's children to ask Him for our needs (Matthew 7:7,8).
We also need to be willing and active in believing and obeying the word of
God. We find strength this way. The Scriptures encourage us to “be strong
in the Lord and in the strength of His might" as we are told to "put
on the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:10-13).
In this very context, the Word of God itself is called the “sword of the
Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). It is through reception of the Word into our
hearts and lives that the Spirit instructs and motivates us, giving us
knowledge of the right things to do and the strength to do them. It is this
“Word of truth” through which we have been born again (1 Peter 1:23;
James 1:18). Through this Word we will save our souls! (James 1:21).
If my light is not shining forth in a dark world, it is because I am denying
the source of the power a proper place in my heart. If that is the case, I
need to understand that it is a lack of faith on my part, not a lack of
power available to me. If I lack the faith necessary to really access the
power of God and make it useful in my life, then I need to change the focus
of my trust. Look around! There is simply no place else to go. Only God's
power can save me
The Word says “... for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and
to work for His good pleasure.” ( Philippians 2:13 ). This means God is
pleased (“for His good pleasure”) to save us and empower us to be
lights in the world. God is all for us. Trust Him! Commit yourselves to His
purpose. Be a light in the midst of the darkness, and show forth the love of
From The Bradley Banner 11/25/2007
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway