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EP 108: You are the Light of the World (Matthew 5:14-16 – Sermon on the Mount Series)

You are the Light of the World @thankfulhomemaker

When Christians begin living like Christians, it affects the world around them. We are light to a dark world. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), and He is a great light that has come to those dwelling in darkness (Matthew 4:16).

Because of Christ’s work in those of us who are in Christ, we are now light, and we’re to live as children of light. We are to have nothing to do with darkness because we’ve been delivered from its domain (Colossians 1:12-13).

Today we find ourselves in Matthew 5:14-16:
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The apostle Paul tells us in:
Ephesians 5:8: for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

We who were once not just in darkness, but we were darkness, now have the glorious privilege to be light in the Lord.

We who were once not just in darkness, but we were darkness, now have the glorious privilege to be light in the Lord. Click to Tweet

Martyn Lloyd Jones reminds us:
The light that is Christ Himself, the light that is ultimately God, is the light that is in the Christian.

We now have the responsibility as light to a dark world to reflect Christ to those around us; we need to put on light. The more Christlike you are in your attitudes and responses and actions, the more light will shine to a dark world.

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Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Martyn Lloyd Jones

Show Notes:

Dr. Barnhouse, the master of illustration, used to explain it this way. He said that when Christ was in the world, he was like the shining sun that is here in the day and gone at night. When the sun sets, the moon comes up. The moon, the church, shines, but not with its own light. It shines with reflected light. When Jesus was in the world he said, “I am the light of the world.” But as he contemplated leaving this world, he said, “You are the light of the world.” At times the church has been at full moon, dazzling the world with an almost daytime light. These have been times of great enlightenment, times such as those of Paul and Luther and Wesley. And at other times the church has been only a thumbnail moon, with very little light shining upon the earth. Whether the church is a full moon or a new thumbnail moon, waxing or waning, it reflects the light of the sun. He states reflecting on the illustration from Dr. Barnhouse – Our light is a reflected or derived light. It does not originate from us. That is a great illustration, as far as it goes. However, I believe the Scriptures teach that the light is more than reflected, that we in fact become light ourselves. Ephesians 5:8 says, “at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Somehow our incorporation in Christ allows us to some extent to be light, however imperfect. Our light is still derived from him—not a ray of it comes from ourselves—but it is more than reflected. We are “partakers of the divine nature,” as Peter says (2 Peter 1:4). This is a mystery. 

~ R. Kent Hughes, The Sermon on the Mount: The Message of the Kingdom

“We are to expose such deeds by the light that our own lives shine on the moral darkness around us.”

~ Sinclair Ferguson, The Sermon on the Mount 

Just by being a Christian he shows a different type of life, and that immediately reveals the true character and nature of the other way of living. In the world, therefore, he is like a light being put on, and immediately people begin to think, and wonder, and feel ashamed. The more saintly the person, of course, the more obviously will this take place. He need not say a word; just by being what he is makes people feel ashamed of what they are doing, and in that way he is truly functioning as light. 

~ Martyn Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

The salt is the influence of Christian character. It is quiet, but it is powerful. Light is the communication of the content of the gospel. And so you have both sides. On the one hand, we live it; on the other hand, we preach it. On one hand, from the inside, we affect society’s thinking and society’s living by the power of our lives. On the other hand, we turn on the light, so that everyone can see the message we want to give. And it isn’t just in our words, it’s in our very overt, open, godly conduct. We are not to be just a subtle influence like salt, we are to be a very open and blatant influence such as light; because you see, salt can’t change corruption into incorruption. Salt can only retard the corruption. That’s only a negative function. Salt only holds back the corruption. We have to turn on the light of the gospel to transform that corruption into incorruption.

John MacArthur – Sermon: You are the Light of the World

Indeed, the primary meaning of “works” must be practical, visible deeds of compassion. It is when people see these, Jesus said, that they will glorify God, for they embody the good news of his love which we proclaim. Without them our gospel loses its credibility and our God his honor.

This, then, is the great desirability of the good and Christlike life, and so of the Christian counter-culture. It brings blessing to ourselves, salvation to others and ultimately glory to God.

~ John Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount

Jesus puts before us this wondrous picture of becoming like Himself in this world. It was as men and women saw Him that they were led to think of God. Have you noticed how often, after His miracles, we read that the people ‘gave glory to God’? They said, ‘We have never seen things like this before’: and they glorified the Father. You and I are to live like that. In other words, we are to live in such a way that, as men and women look at us, we shall become a problem to them. They will ask, ‘What is it? Why are these people so different in every way, different in their conduct and behavior, different in their reactions? There is something about them which we do not understand; we cannot explain it.’ And they will be driven to the only real explanation, which is that we are the people of God, children of God, ‘heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ’. We have become reflectors of Christ, re-producers of Christ. As He is ‘the light of the world’ so we have become ‘the light of the world’. 

Martyn Lloyd Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

Only one life twill soon be past – only what’s done for Christ will last.

C.T. Studd

Scripture References:

  • Matthew 5:14-16
  • Matthew 5:13
  • John 8:12
  • Matthew 4:16
  • Colossians 1:12-13
  • John 1:5
  • Ephesians 5:8
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • 2 Peter 1:4
  • Romans 2:15
  • John 3:19
  • Romans 1:32
  • 1 John 3:1
  • 1 Peter 2:9
  • 1 Peter 2:12
  • Psalm 115:1
  • Matthew 28:18-20

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

Psalm 115:1