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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Recovering a Right View of Self

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Ephesians 5:8
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.

Daily Scripture Reading - Romans 8

Puritan Catechism
Question #12 - What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state wherein he was created?
Answer - When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; (Gal. 3:12) forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death. (Gen. 2:17)

Devotional Thoughts
Recovering a Right View of Self - Ephesians 5:8-14

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”

Walk in Light

As we see God for Who He is, as we gain a new respect for His absolute holiness, we inevitably will view worship, declaring His worthiness, differently too. This stems not just from a right view of God but also from a right view of self. Sadly most "Christians" think it is all about them, that they are the center of God's universe. The truth is that God is the center of His universe and our chief end, our main purpose for even having been created is to declare His glory and enjoy Him forever.

It is difficult to declare the glory of God or magnify Him above all else in life when our eyes are fixed firmly on self. This is even more difficult, indeed practically impossible, if our eyes are focused on a self-righteous self, a self that is in control, calling the shots, proud and un-humbled.

The text we will examine today in Ephesians 5:8-14 gives us a good look at self. It shows us just how important we are, just where it is we have come from, and how we got where we are! It points us to a sovereign God who has chosen to call us to salvation and make us part of the proclamation of His glory. And it is not about what we have done or can do. It is all about what He has done and can do!

Let's take a good look at the truth about self then:

You were once Darkness (vs. 8a)

The first thing we have to be reminded of is that we did not start out in life as a Christian. No one is born a Christian. We are all born sinners, lost, dead in sin, slaves to sin, conceived in sin, sinners from the womb! We have to remember then where it is we have come from.

Where did we come from? What is there in our past if we are now a Christian? What is true for all of us who have been born again is that there was a time that we did not know Jesus. There was a time when we were "by nature children of wrath" (Eph 2:3). Or as Paul puts it here later in the Book of Ephesians, "we were darkness."

Notice is does not say that we were IN darkness, it says clearly, we WERE darkness. Without Christ, it is not that we are out in the dark - we are dark! We are the absence of light. We are unholy, depraved, dead in sin, bound to sin, slaves of sin, unable to not sin! We are deep and utter darkness, void of the light of truth or grace.

1 John 1:5-6 tells us, "This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." God is light. We are darkness. Opposite ends of the light spectrum. We have no light in and of ourselves. There is not a divine spark in us, we are not basically good. We are darkness. And only God is light.

The deeper truth here too is that if we claim to be His, if we claim to be in the light, but live like darkness, then we are at best liars and at worst self-deceived. We cannot claim to be light, or anywhere near the light, if our walk is full or darkness! You see, being a Christian is not about some decision you made years ago - it is about the quality of your daily walk right now!

So we see that to have a proper opinion of self, we must admit that self was darkness before Christ came to shed the light!

Dead in Sin

A point to remember about being darkness is not that we were sick in sin. We were DEAD in sin. Ephesians 2:1 tells us, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins". Salvation is the calling to life of one that has been formerly dead. It is just like Lazarus, dead in the grave for 4 days, already stinking, when Christ called Him to come forth.

Before Christ called, Lazarus could not wish to be alive. He could not desire it. He could not will himself to life. He was simply and completely dead! So are all of us before we are regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Until and unless the Spirit of God gives us life, we are completely and utterly DEAD.

There is no free will. Our will is only free to do what we desire and before Christ all we desire is sinful. Even the so-called good things that we think we want are really self serving acts of iniquity. There is nothing good, nothing redeeming, nothing in us that cries out for salvation.

Just as there is no such thing as a carnal Christian, so there is no such thing as a lost man who wants to be saved of his own will! To be carnal is to be dead. And a dead man can only do what is in his nature to do - sin.

1 Corinthians 2:14 makes it clear, "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The dead man, the lost man, the man who is nothing but darkness - that man does not receive the things of God, for they are absurd, foolishness to him. In fact, he cannot even know or understand the things of God, because those things must be spiritually discerned, and before regeneration this man is DEAD. There is no spiritual life within him, no desire for goodness or rightness with God, only darkness.

Lovers of Darkness

And it isn't only that a lost man is darkness. No it is worse than that. He LOVES darkness. It is what he is and what he does, and HE LOVES IT. He loves himself. Look at John 3:19-21, "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

He loves darkness. He does not want his evil deeds exposed by the light. He HATES the light. And remember, this is not some hypothetical man out there - this is YOU before you were called to the light by Christ. This is US! Lovers of darkness.

Sometimes we forget where we have come from and what a work of grace it was for God to save us, to call us to life out of death and to bring us from the darkness to the light. Sometimes we forget too that those around us still dead in sin should not amaze us when they sin - that is what people who are dead in sin do! They are darkness. That is who they are! Why fault a fish for swimming? He is a fish! Likewise, why be shocked when a sinner sins? That is what he is and what he does, and he cannot do otherwise unless God Himself intervenes.

You are Light - (vs. 8b)

But now things have changed (I hope and pray). We are no longer darkness. No. Now because of the work of Christ, we are light. We have been transformed. We were nothing but darkness, now we are light. Not IN the light, not surrounded by light. No, we are LIGHT.

We are a new creation. We are new. We have been born again. Remember? 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." If we are in Christ, we are NEW. The old has passed away and everything about us is remade.

Now, do we still sin? Do we still struggle? Oh yes. Why? I thought everything was new. It is, but the process of being saved takes time!! One way to explain it is that we understand that we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.

We are saved in that we have been given a new heart, a renewed mind, grace, repentance, faith, new life. We are new. But we are still living in a fallen body, and until our salvation is complete, until even our body has been redeemed, then we will still struggle with sin and hope to be finally and forever saved! We have been justified, we are being sanctified, and we will be glorified. God views it as a done deal (Romans 8:30), but it does still have to be worked out in time. We wait for glorification, the time when everything we are has been redeemed.

A New Man

We are though, right now, having been born again, a "new man." Ephesians 4:21-24 and Colossians 3:9-10 explain it for us:

If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

There we see it in black and white. From the pages of the Word of God. We, if saved, have put off the old man, that dead inner man bound in sin which was growing only more and more corrupt, and have been renewed in the spirit of our mind, our very inner self, having put on a new man created by God in righteousness and holiness. We are substantially and essentially different.

We often forget this. We forget that we were darkness and are now light - there is a fundamental change in who and what we are when Christ saves us! A change has been made. Old to New. Dead to Alive. Lost to Saved. And we owe it all to Jesus Christ.

Alive to God

Not only are we a new creation, but where we were dead to God, dead in sin, and only darkness, now we are light, now we are alive to God. Read Romans 6:6, 11; and 8:7. We are no longer slaves of sin. We are no longer dead in sin, we are no longer God's enemy. We are alive to God, responsive to Him. What makes the difference between this death and life? The grace of God.

Walk as Children of Light (vs. 8c-10)

So then we must walk as what we are! Children of light. To have a right view of self, we need to see clearly where we came from and where we are going. We were darkness, dead, and lost. We are light, alive, and saved! As children of light, how then should we live? How should we walk in this daily life?

As we grow in grace, growing in faith, trusting God more and more as we walk with Him, we see more and more how we should act, think, talk, and what we should BE as we are called to walk as children of light.

A quick summary of what we do now is found in examining how the Bible expects us to live as children of light. We walk in goodness (Ps. 14:3; Mt. 19:17), we walk in righteousness (Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2-6; 1 John 4:10), we walk in truth (John 14:6), in short, we walk in Christ! We abide in Him, we walk with Him, we commune with Him. We work hard at finding out from the Word of God what pleases our Savior and we serve Him with gladness! We obey Him, expressing through our obedience our true love for Him. One that does not obey Christ cannot claim to love Him (1 John 2:3-5; 5:3).

So What Now? (vs. 11-14)

So what do we do now that we remember where it is that we have come from and what a marvelous work of grace it was that got us from there to here? Well, we are told in the text that as we walk in the light, we are to expose the unfruitful works of darkness.

The works of the flesh are evident, the Bible tells us. They include (but are not limited to): adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, homosexuality, idolatry, drug use, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murder, strife, drunkenness, revelries, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, coarse jesting, immorality, impurity, extortion, liars, disobedient to parents, and unbelief.

And we are to expose them! John MacArthur says of Eph 5:11:

Paul’s instruction is plain and direct: Christians are to faithfully live in righteousness and purity and have nothing at all to do with the evil ways and works of Satan and the world. The two ways of living are unalterably opposed to each other and mutually exclusive (1 Cor. 5:9-11; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14). The Christian’s responsibility does not stop with his own rejection of evil. He is also responsible for exposing and opposing darkness wherever it is found, especially when it is found in the church. (Matthew 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1-3).

It is not enough to be aware of these things, we must actively be working to expose them, to show them for what they are - UNFRUITFUL works of darkness. The things that tempt us, really should not tempt us, because they are full of unfruitfulness and darkness. Have you ever noticed in our fight with sin, that the sin we are tempted to commit is never as fun or fulfilling as it was advertised? We should sue our flesh for false advertising! Sin is never what it seems. It only brings death and unfruitfulness.

But why do we work to expose these things? They are shameful – where has shame gone? (Prov 6:23; 2 Tim 3:16). We need to be reproving one another as we strive to walk in the light and expose the unfruitful works of darkness. Sin should bring shame. If you can sin and get away with it, either by willpower, or medication!, you need to see if you are darkness or light! Light exposes sin and brings shame. No shame means no light!!

You see, the light makes the works of darkness manifest. That word means that the light makes things visible and clearly seen. We can see sin for what it is because the light exposes it for what it is! And once you see sin for what it is, your natural reaction as LIGHT should be to flee from it, not play with it!

Ultimately, Christ gives us light. He makes us light. He lights our paths. He illumines His Word for us. He shows us our own sinfulness and the glory of His salvation. He gives us light through the Word, through good counsel, through preaching. He shines the light on where we have been and where we are going.

So how do we keep going? Well, Colossians 2:6 says that "as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." How did we receive Him? By faith. So how do we walk in Him, and in the light? By faith. Take God at His Word. Look at where we have come from and what He is making of us for His glory, get yourself out of the center of attention and focus on glorifying Christ! To see Him for who He is helps us see self for who we are. And self without Christ is dead and dark. Self redeemed must still be daily crucified and denied - because to walk in light we must be walking to please Him, not self. He is what matters!

To close today, remember, He has given us light (Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7; James 4:6-10)!

Puritan Voices
We are reading a small portion each day from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon titled, A Wise Desire taken from Psalm 47:4.

But as the Bible, after all, is the best proof of any doctrine we can advance, I beg to refer you to one or two texts therein: and first, let me ask you to direct your attention to a passage in the Isaiah, 6,7, "I am the Lord and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create evil; I the Lord do all these things." Now here is a most direct assertion of the power of God in everything: that he maketh peace, and that he maketh evil—that he createth light and that he createth darkness. We may ask as the prophet did of old, "Is there evil in the city and the Lord hath not done it?" Even providential evil is to be ascribed to God; and in some marvellous sense which we understand not and cannot comprehend, the ordinance of God has even reference to the sins of men "He has made even the wicked for the day of his wrath." "The vessels of wrath fitted to destruction even these shall show forth his praise. Good and evil in your condition you must ever regard as the work of God. Whatever your circumstances are this morning—are you sick, are you in poverty or are you much troubled, the evil as well as the good is the work of God; and shall a man receive good at the hands of the Lord, and shall he not in equal patience receive evil? Will you not take everything from God which he is pleased to give, seeing that he himself asserts "I create light I create darkness; I make good and I make evil." Turn now to a passage in Job 14:5.—"His days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass." What a solemn thought! God has "appointed our bounds." One of the prophets says, "Thou hast hedged up my way with thorns and made a wall so that I cannot find my paths." And that is first the truth in regard to man's life. The "bounds" of it are "appointed!" man only walks within these "bounds;" out of these limits he cannot get. If this does not imply the hand of God in everything I do not know what does. Turn now to a proverb from the wise man—Proverbs 16:33.—"The lot is cast into the lap but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." And if the disposal of the lot is the Lord's whose is the arrangement of our whole life? You know when Achan had committed a great sin the tribes were assembled and the lot fell upon Achan. When Jonah was in the ship they cast lots and the lot fell upon Jonah. And when Jonathan had tasted the honey they cast lots and Jonathan was taken. When they cast lots for an apostle who should succeed the fallen Judas, the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was separated to the work. The lot is directed of God. And if the simple casting of a lot is guided by him how much more the events of our entire life—especially when we are told by our blessed Saviour: "The very hairs of your head are all numbered: not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father." If it be so; if these hairs are counted; if an inventory is written of each one of them; and if the existence of each of these hairs is marked and mapped, how much more precious in the sight of the Lord shall our lives be. Take one more passage in Jeremiah 21:25: "O Lord I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Jeremiah said, "I know" and he was an inspired man, and that satisfies us. "I know." I have sometimes when quoting a passage out of the apostle Paul been met by somebody replying that; really they did not think Paul so great an authority as other Scripture writers." I was astonished at hearing of the following dialogue between two young persons. One remarked "Mr. Spurgeon is too high in doctrine." Said her friend: "He is not higher than St. Paul." "No" said she "But St. Paul was not quite right according to my opinion." I was very glad to sink in the same boat as Paul for if Paul was not right in the view of poor pitiful creatures, verily Spurgeon should not care. I would rather be wrong with Paul than right with anybody else because Paul was inspired. But will they cut out some of the Old Testament too? Will they dare to accuse Jeremiah of mistake? Jeremiah says, "I know that the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."

I may not have proved my point to any person who is an antagonist to this doctrine: but to you who believe I do not doubt that I have somewhat confirmed it. Let me say one word. Perhaps some who hear me will say, "Then, sir in the case of Christians you make God the author of sin if you believe that their lives were ordained of him!" I never said so! Prove that I said it and then I will come before your bar and try to excuse myself. But until you hear these lips say, that God is the author of sin go your way and prove first of all what it means to speak the truth. I have not asserted any such vile doctrine; but I will tell you who does say that God is the author of sin—and that is the man who does not believe in natural depravity—that man makes God the author of sin. I remember the case of a minister who most fearfully split on this rock. When a child had been doing something that was far from right a friend said, "See there brother, there is original sin in the child; for at its early age see how it sins." "No" said he, "it is only certain powers God has placed in the child developing themselves; it is the nature which God has given it originally it is one of God's perfect creatures." These gentlemen make God the author of sin, because they throw the nature upon God, whereas had we not fallen, every one of us would have been born with a perfect nature; but since we have fallen, anything good in us is the gift of God, and that which is evil springs naturally from our parents, by carnal descent from Adam. I never said God was the author of sin. I thank you, sir, take the accusation yourself.

II. And now having thus spoken upon the doctrine, we shall have a few minutes concerning this as A PRAYER.

"He shall choose our inheritance for us." Dry doctrine my friends is of little use. It is not the doctrine which helps us it is our assent to the doctrine. And now I have been preaching this morning concerning God's ordaining our lives. Some do not like it, to them the truth will be of no service. But there are some of you, who if it were not the truth, would say you wish to have it so, for you would say, in your prayer "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me."

First, "thou shalt choose my mercies for me." You and I beloved often get choosing our own mercies. God in his wisdom may have made one man rich. "Ah!" says he, at night, "would God I had not all this wealth to tease my mind and worry me. I believe any peasant who toils for me has far more rest than I have." Another who is a poor man wipes the hot sweat from his brow, and says, "O my Father, I have asked thee to give me neither poverty nor riches; but here am I so poor that I am obliged to toil incessantly for my bread, would God I could have my mercies there among the rich." One has been born with abilities. He has improved them by education, and this improvement of his natural powers has entailed upon him fearful responsibilities, so that he has to exercise his thoughts and his brain from morning till night. Sometimes he sits down and says, "Now if I am not the most hard worked of all mortals. Those who keep a shop can shut it up; but I am open it all times, and I am always under this responsibility. What shall I do and how shall I rest myself?" Another who has to toil with his hands is thinking, "Oh! if I could lead such a gentlemanly life as that minister. He never has to work hard. He only has to think and read, of course that is not hard work. He has perhaps to sit up till twelve o'clock at night to prepare his sermon, that is not work of course. I wish I had his situation." So we all cry out about our mercies, and want to choose our allotments. "Oh!" says one, "I have health, but I think I could do without that if I had wealth." Another says, "I have wealth, but I could give all my gold to have good constitution." One says, "Here am I stowed away in this dirty London; I would give anything if I could go and live in the country." Another, who resides in the country, says, "There is no convenience here, you have to go so many miles for the doctor, and one thing and the other, I wish I dwelt in London." So that we are none of us satisfied with our mercies. But the true Christian says, or ought to say, "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me;" high or low, rich or poor, town or country, wealth or poverty, ability or ignorance, "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me."

Again, we must leave to God the choice of our employment. "Oh!" says the preacher—and I have been wicked enough to say so myself—"how would I like to have all my employment in the week that I might sit in the pew on the Sabbath and hear a sermon, and be refreshed?" I am sure I should be glad to hear a sermon; it is a long time since I heard one. But when I do attend one, it always tires me—I want to be improving on it. How would I like to sit down and have a little of the feast in God's house myself, instead of always being the serving man in God's household. Thank God! I can steal a crumb for myself sometimes. But then we fancy, O that I were not in that employment! O that like Jonah we might flee to Tarshish, to avoid going to that great Nineveh. Another is a Sabbath-school teacher. He says, "I would rather visit the sick than sit with those troublesome boys and girls. And then the teachers do not seem to be so friendly with me as they should be." The Sunday-school teacher thinks he can do anything better than teach; but there is his friend who visits the sick coming down the stairs, and he says, "I could teach little children, or preach a little; but really I cannot visit the sick. There is nothing so hard, and that requires so much self-denial." Another says, "I am a tract distributor. It is not easy work to have your tracts refused at this door, and then at another; and persons looking at you as if you came to rob them; could stand up before the congregation and speak, but I cannot do this." And so we get selecting our employments. Ah! but we ought to say, "Thou shalt choose my inheritance for me;" and leave our employment to God. "If there were two angels in heaven," said a good man, "supposing there were two works to be done, and one work was to rule a city, and the other to sweep a street crossing—the angels would not stop a moment to say which they would do. They would do which ever God told them to do. Gabriel would shoulder his broom and sweep the crossing cheerfully, and Michael would not be a bit prouder in taking the scepter to govern the city." So with a Christian.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


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