Dr. Stephen Phinney
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 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." (Matt. 5:14-15)
Are you ashamed of Jesus Christ & the Gospel?
As we review the original story and the setting Jesus spoke these words, we see Peter, John, and James, who were fishermen. They didn't have much of an impressive background. And Jesus is sitting there in Galilee, which is a great distance from metropolitan Rome. And all of the powers of Rome and the lively Grecian culture were shinning forth from the hillside above the Sea of Galilee, upon this nieve motley crew Jesus selected. Then Jesus says to them, Gentlemen, you are the Light of the world. Sounds simple right? In Jesus's reality, He was telling them, You're the only Light; you're the only hope. Keep in mind; they were not authentically filled with the Light (Jesus) until the day of Pentecost, which was much later in their journey in "following" the man who IS the Light of the World. Thus, His statement must have sounded puzzling.
Much later, when Paul described his commission before Agrippa and talked about his indwelling transformation in Christ on the road to Damascus, he declares that the Lord called him to free the Gentiles from the power of darkness and bring them into the Kingdom of Light. Making it known that his constant mission is to formulate the Church, the Body of Christ Jesus. His immediate goal? To open their eyes, turn them from darkness to the Light, who is Jesus, through delivering them from the power of Satan unto God, that they might receive the forgiveness of their sins and the ramifications of being born into an Adamic sinful nature. Since Paul was well familiar with Jesus's words, he tells these men, "You are the light of the world."
Were these men born-again? No, not yet. Paul does exactly what Jesus did, and he introduced a profound Truth to these men who had not yet received the indwelling Light & Life of Jesus, which ultimately led them TO the Light & Life of Christ.
Who turns on a lamp and puts it under the table?
Only a fool or a confused man turns on a lamp and hides it under a table. When we say, Let your light shine, we are actually saying, Let Jesus shine through you. Light is a Person, and Light is not letting your good behavior shine forth, and it is not replicating the deeds Jesus performed. However, it is releasing the Life of Christ in word and deed by allowing Him to use the vessel He possessed.
There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. (John 1:9)
Fact. The Light of Christ was sent to us by His Father. As the Scriptures tell us, The Word of God never returns void, so is the case with Jesus being the Light. Whether you are speaking to an indwelt Christian, a confused soul, or a rebel who hates Jesus, when you share Jesus, it affects and sometimes infects every human. True, not all are led to the Light’s source, but it WILL enlighten them. I liken it to shining a flashlight onto someone standing in front of you in a dark ally. While the light is external, it still reveals who this person is and frequently reveals the "why" they are hanging out in the darkness. The reality is, just because you are shining the light on them externally does not mean the Light is within them. What it does do, the Light will probably draw them to the source of the Light. Such should be the mission of all authentically indwelt believers.
"This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)
Can you imagine loving darkness?
Rather, imagine this, you or someone else is standing with the group that loved darkness at the throne of Judgement (Rev. 20:1-5), and the books are open, which detail our every thought & deed. Your name is called. You step up. You quickly realize you are naked before the Lord. The Lord begins to read what has been noted in your book – every sin that came up against Jesus Christ. We do not know if He will recite the full list. However, we do know the outcome. You failed to receive Jesus Christ into your moral being while maintaining your love for the darkness. The primary violation? Your failure to come to Jesus Christ, repent of your sins, receive His forgiveness, and invite the Holy Spirit to indwell you. What is Jesus’s logic in all this? He concludes with each person with the final connection of Light & Life, saying, "I am the Light of the world."
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." (John 8:12)
A part of Jesus’s Godological logic is simple. The Light came into the world at a great cost; the death of the Father’s Son revealed the Light, while the lion’s share refused to come INTO the Light, thus resulting in condemnation. Remember when He said, "He that believeth not is condemned already." Because of being born into condemnation, you need not wonder about your outcome if you have never walked out of darkness into the Light. Meaning never receiving the indwelling Light & Life of Jesus Christ. Thus, He didn’t come to condemn you. He didn’t need to. He came to offer you the GRACE needed to walk to the Cross for co-death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. Of course, this comes with a price – you too must die (Romans 6). In this, we find why the masses avoid walking into the Light.
What is a rebel to do?
Each individual who avoids walking into the Light uses their intuitively perceived condemnation and projects it onto others, and Christ, by intimately bonding to darkness. This IS the primary reason the masses pay billions of dollars to fascinate themselves with elements of the dark world, which of course, is the manifested deeds of Satan. Since Satan is already condemned, despised by the Lord, and hated by God, he, Satan, works relentlessly to keep the masses away from making the personal discovery of Grace, which is the lighted path to the Cross.
Why are so many fascinated by darkness?
This, too, has an elementary answer. All of humanity is born into darkness, and it is their identification at birth – their identity. Fact. We protect whatever our identity is housed in, and we intimately covertly bond with our identity’s source, Satan. As we grow into this identity, we collect elements of darkness to feed our flesh – so it can fully maturate in the dark world it derives. Thus, our loyalty maintains devoted behavior to the source while being blinded by the Light of Jesus. This is exactly what happened when Paul was blinded by the Light and thrown off his horse.
Have you wondered why most of us shy away from teachers of the Lord who can see through our defenses to protect the dark areas of our lives? If you’re a Biblical discipler, you deal with this conflict frequently. Being fronted by those who have an x-ray vision of our flesh patterns is the greatest challenge of growing in Christ. Simply being in their presence covertly forces us to deal with the Light. “Feeling” wise, it is as if we are being undressed – exposing all of our hidden fleshly sins. While some have learned to embrace this reality, most cower and retreat to the darkness.
I have been a counselor/discipler for many years, and I cannot tell you the number of hurting souls who use darkness and confinement to escape affliction. Many would turn out the lights, sit in a dark corner of the room, and wallow in their self-pity to cope. As they were growing up, several cases noted that they would hide in a dark closet hoping their perpetrator could not hurt/find them. To most level-headed people, this makes NO sense. Although, disciplers who understand humanity’s bond with darkness, we get it. In several cases I was blessed to assist in, I counseled the child by going into the closet to do my sessions. In each case, we found deliverance and healing for these children. Is that not like healthy evangelism? Isn’t this what Jesus did? Didn’t He reveal this miraculous method? There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. (John 1:9) I have learned a simple truth. If the closet is dark, go into the closet with a light, sit down, and minister to those hiding in darkness with the Light and Life of Jesus.
Our flesh will remain attracted to darkness until Jesus takes us off this dark world. We DO have a choice while being here, and we can default to our flesh and remain in circumstantial darkness or choose the Light from within. The key doctrine here is, Jesus placed the Light in our inner man –if we are born-again. When authentic believers are faced with darkness, we don’t “flip on” the Light; we release it by choosing Jesus. Remembering everything Jesus is, all of His power, strength, and love is housed in every real-deal Christian. In saying that, victory over darkness is a choice.
Now, if by chance you are not indwelt by Christ, you are “dead in the water.” You are dead to Christ vs. dead in Christ. If this is the case, you need to allow the Light of Jesus to lead you to Himself, which is accomplished through His Grace. Once you arrive at the foot of the Cross, fall before Him, repent of your dark sins, accept His forgiveness, ask Him to fill you with His Spirit, then get up with the assurance that He will walk out His Light & Life through your mortal being. This, too, is done by one single choice.