Lights In The Darkness.
1 Chronicles 9-10, Philippians 2
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life. – Philippians 2:14-16 ESV
Over in 1 Chronicles, we read these sobering words:
“And Judah was taken into exile in Babylon because of their breach of faith.” – 1 Chronicles 9:1 ESV
“So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord.” – 1 Chronicles 10:13-14 ESV
The nation of Judah broke faith with God and ended up a broken people living in exile in a foreign land. King Saul broke faith with God and not only lost a battle, but his son, Jonathan. Defeated and alone, the great king would end up taking his own life in a final act of faithlessness and desperation. He had abandoned God, not the other way around.
Broken faith always has its consequences. This wasn’t just a case of a lack of faith. If we’re not careful, we could easily conclude that Judah and Saul just couldn’t muster up enough faith to trust God. But theirs was a sin of commission. It was more a case of what they had done, not what they had lacked. The nation of Judah had ended up in exile because they had committed acts of unfaithfulness against God. They had sinned. Unfaithfulness is always a sin. It involves disobedience and infidelity. The chronicler makes it clear, Saul had not kept the Lord’s commands. When he needed help and direction, he had turned to a witch rather than God. He did not seek guidance from the Lord, and his choices resulted in the loss of his kingdom and his own life. Saul was one king out of many who failed to live in faithful obedience to God. The entire nation of Judah was marked by infidelity and sin. They had failed to live up to their responsibilities as the children of God.
What does this passage reveal about God?
God was not shocked or surprised by the failure of Judah or the fall of King Saul. He had not been caught off guard by their breach of faith. He had fully expected it and had even warned the people of Judah that their exile was coming. He had already anointed David as the next king and had told Saul, “now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you” (1 Samuel 13:14 ESV). Their unfaithfulness had been expected by God. He knew that they would find it impossible to keep His commands. He was fully aware that Saul would prove to the kind of king the people wanted, but not the kind of king God required. He had allowed the people of Israel to have a king of their own choosing, a man who met their own standards. “Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5 ESV). But when Saul had failed, God had a replacement ready to step into the gap, a man after His own heart. And when the nation of Judah found themselves languishing in captivity, God had a plan for their ultimate restoration. He was not done with them yet. After 70 years of exile, He would bring them back to the land and orchestrate the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, the restoration of the Temple, and the repopulation of the city.
What does this passage reveal about man?
All of the events of the Old Testament point toward a day in man’s faithfulness to God could be not only a possibility, but a reality. They foreshadow the coming of the Son of God, who would make faithfulness achievable by making our sinfulness fully forgivable. God did for us what we could have never done for ourselves. He made our own righteousness a reality by providing it for us through the death of His Son. He made sinlessness possible by providing us with new natures and His Holy Spirit to guide and empower us. God not only made our salvation possible, but He made our sanctification or holiness possible. We don’t have to break faith with God. We don’t have to live in disobedience. We have the capacity to live differently and distinctively, holy and blameless, all because of what He has done for us through Christ. That is why Paul calls us to exhibit our new lives through changed behavior. He challenges us to “be blameless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15 ESV). He encourages us to “work out” our salvation with fear and trembling. In other words, we are to love out the reality of our salvation in everyday life. Our changed lives should result in changed behavior. But he reminds us that the power for change has been provided by God “who works in you” (Philippians 2:13 ESV). God has provided the power for us to live like Christ. We don’t have to live our lives controlled by rivalry and conceit. Instead, we can live humbly, obediently, and sacrificially, counting others as more significant than ourselves. We can care about others more than we care about ourselves. We can have the same attitude that Christ Himself had, willingly submitting to God’s will for our lives and faithfully following His Spirit’s leading in our lives. We can be lights in the darkness as long as we hold fast to the word of life. We must remember that the same power that saved us is available to change us.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
Because of Christ’s death on the cross, my sins have been paid for in full. By recognizing my own sinfulness and my incapacity to save myself from the penalty of death, and placing my faith in His sacrifice and payment for my sin, I was given a new nature and a new status as a child of God. I am fully forgiven and stand uncondemned before God. I am righteous before His eyes because He sees me through the blood of His own sinless Son. But I have also been called to live a life that reflects my new nature. I have been given the Holy Spirit to make this new life possible. I have the capacity and power to live differently, like a light shining in the midst of darkness. I am not to rest on my salvation and find comfort in my ultimate guarantee of a place in heaven. I am to work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I am to take my position as God’s child seriously, and reflect my new nature in all that I do. My old sinful habits and nature are to become increasingly more a thing of the past. I am to put on Christ and reflect His character in my daily life. The more I become like Him, the brighter my light will shine in the darkness. God has redeemed me, not just to some day take me to heaven, but to reflect the character of His Son while I live on this earth.
Father, I want to be a bright light in the midst of the darkness. I want to live faithfully committed to Your Word, submitted to Your Spirit and reflective of the nature of the character of Christ. I want to have His mind. I want to live as He lived. I know that I still have the capacity to break faith with You and fall back into my old sinful nature. But help me to work out my salvation daily, with fear and trembling, never forgetting what Your Son has done for me and what You expect of me. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men