is the story that won the amateur writing contest,” she said, and then she began reading. “There was excitement in the courtroom as one witness after another told of his relationship with the defendant. All agreed that he was fun to be with. He amused and entertained them, he told them of his travels, and he passed along a wide range of knowledge. But after he had established himself in their houses, many parents noticed he often used very bad language, he told dirty stories, he often displayed anger and violence, and he taught their children evil ways.

“‘Because of a story he told, I ran away from home,’ testified seventeen-year-old Sally when she was put on the witness stand.

“‘He taught me that it’s smart to drink,’ added Julian.

“Another boy was crying as he said, ‘He told me and my friend Josh that he had a foolproof plan for robbing a store. We tried it, but the store owner had a gun. Josh was killed.’

“‘He told me that whatever I want to do is okay-even if it goes against the Bible-and that others should accept me as I am,’ stated a girl.

“So it went. Finally the defendant himself was called to the stand and asked to state his name. ‘I am Mr. T. Vee,’ he said. ‘I was only exercising my rights to freedom of speech. Besides, I was invited into each home by parents and children. They could have asked me to leave, but they never did.’

“When all testimony had been heard, the judge spoke. ‘Although I believe Mr. T. Vee is guilty of the charges brought against him, I cannot convict him,’ stated Judge Smith. ‘He was an invited guest in each home, and the law does allow free exchange of ideas. It was the responsibility of those in the home to ask him to go. Since they did not, they are as guilty as he! Case dismissed!'”

Dad looked at the family. “I hope this helps you understand why Mom and I don’t allow you to watch certain programs,” he said. “Let’s all share the responsibility of turning off the TV when bad programs come on.”

We live in a dark world that is full of temptation and evil. We try to live our lives as Christians, and sometimes we go astray. Most temptations are not great, obvious ones. We may never have been tempted to murder, commit adultery, or worship idols. Can we say the same thing about common sins like gossip or backstabbing? Have we never repeated a juicy rumour, even though we knew it was hurting a friend’s reputation? Have we assumed that everything we read on social media is true?

What about quarreling and refusing to forgive other people? It only takes a moment for a difference of opinion to turn into a nasty argument. We stomp away and vow never to speak to that person again, and a friendship is lost, a marriage is ruined, or a church is divided. The darkness creeps in. Too many people, including Christians, are living carelessly, without an appreciation of the dangers they face. The devil is at work in our lives, and some of his favourite tools are his lies. If we believe them, our relationships can disintegrate before our eyes and we’ll wonder what has happened.

In Ephesians 5:8-14, the apostle Paul laid out a counter attack. He calls on us as Christians to pursue goodness, justice and truth. Pursuing truth involves exposing that which is false (also known as sin) or secretive to community discernment.

How can we determine what is good and what is evil? We can’t make that determination on the basis of outward appearance. What is good in the world’s eyes can actually be evil. The only way to determine what is evil is to study the Scriptures.

We should live like people who have seen the evil of sin. By doing so, we will do what is acceptable in God’s eyes. Evil hurts the body and the soul. By living Christ-like lives, we rebuke a sinful world. Evil is so bad that its deeds can’t be described or spoken unless we as Christians rebuke them. Believers must not only remove themselves from darkness, but they also have a responsibility to expose and stand against the darkness. This is hard to do. We want to be minor players who move in and out of God’s plan of redemption as we please. It can’t be so. When we shine the light of Christ, we must do so in love and with a lifestyle that honors God.

Sins are called “works of darkness” for two reasons:

  1. They spring from darkness or the ignorance of God.
  2. They are committed in darkness. They shun the light.

Christ’s light shines anywhere and everywhere. It cleanses and purifies. It shows the way to spiritual safety for those who are about to sink into the abyss of sin.

The church is called to let its light shine. It is to be a beacon of light in a sin-filled world. The light should attract people like a light attracts moths in warm weather. It should draw people away from the darkness of our sin-filled world and lead them to the light of Christ. It must make people dead to sin and alive to Christ.

Before we can be like Christ, and before we can shine His light in the world, we need to have the nature of Christ within us. Only after He does this will our identity be changed. Only then can we change our behaviour.

When we face life’s trials, we will always find a verse in God’s Word to sustain us. Becoming strong in faith and strong in the Bible happens as we apply the truth of His Word in our lives. Then we will grow spiritually and live lives that will please Him.

Paul declares that believers were once darkness, not that they were in darkness. In other words, they were not innocently surrounded by sin and evil but were wholly part of that environment. Now they have become light and should have no fellowship with darkness. We as Christians are called to walk as children of light. We are to determine what is acceptable to God, and the only way we can do that is to study the Scriptures.

Life without Christ is like a power outage-survival mode in pitch darkness. Without Christ, there are no absolutes. Hope, truth and even morality are relative. When Christ is not the foundation of our lives, we spend our lives stumbling around in spiritual darkness hoping that we don’t bump into anything.

Many years ago, a prominent minister had a very eccentric man in his congregation who was trying to be a zealous Christian. Unfortunately, he usually did the wrong thing. He was a barber, and one day he was lathering up a customer for a shave. He came at the man with the razor in his hand and said, “Sir, are you prepared to meet your God?” The customer was scared out of his senses, jumped up and fled the barbershop with lather on his face!

It’s easy to allow our zealousness to get in the way of our common sense. We are to be zealous for God, but we must do it with wisdom. We are to love others in a way that is guided by the Holy Spirit and truly communicates God’s love for people. We are to speak the truth in love as a means to grow and as a goal for growing. We are not to go along with abusive behaviours or turn a blind eye to any kind of sin.

 In the darkest places and the darkest times in our lives, we realize the true power of light. When we seek out the caves and darkness of truth, we see that the depth of darkness can’t put out even the smallest spark of light.

Exposure of negative behaviour and lifestyles by positive Christian conduct and speech can become a tool for evangelism. When those who commit sin see how we as people of light walk the walk of our Christian faith, they have the potential to be converted so that they also become light.

Darkness is not the problem to be solved by God’s light. Paul is speaking of the foolishness of hiding in the darkness of the world. It makes us prisoners of fear. It doesn’t let us be free to live in faith. We don’t need a great light to banish the darkness of this world. All we need is faith. p:non�:��U

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