Light: Putting Off and Putting On
Tonight we're moving forward a little bit. I want to say a couple of more things about faith in Romans 13:11 where the apostle Paul made this reference to our salvation which is nearer than when we first believed. Last week I took some time to go through the doctrine of faith and what faith is. You would be absolutely amazed, perhaps, if I were to start cataloging all the things that are going on in the world of theology that are trying to understand and comprehend and communicate what faith it. Faith, righteousness, and a number of other key concepts of Scripture always generate a lot of discussion. Some of it is enlightening and some of it is not. A lot of it is not.
It seems like in every generation there are things that are required. One is in the area of freedom, no matter what previous generations have done there are those who have to fight and die to preserve freedom. Likewise, each generation has to come to an understanding of the truth of God's Word on its own, apart from the fact that there have been generations before us who have laid the groundwork. In each generation, men have to come to an understanding of what the Word of God teaches and be able to articulate it to their generation, just as you have generations of leaders who have to come to understand the law, the principles of the Constitution, the principles of freedom and to carry those forward into their own generation. This is important. That's how we learn and grow.
I was on a radio interview and someone asked me the other day a question about who influenced me in terms of my theology. I talked about the fact that we're all influenced by a number of different people. Anyone who gets in the pulpit anywhere stands on the shoulder of his mentors, the pastor under whom they grew up, and on the shoulders of their seminary professors, and the shoulders of the great leaders of the faith, whether you're talking about Lewis Sperry Chafer, Charles Ryrie, going back to 19th century, Scofield, John Nelson Darby, going back even further to people like Calvin and Luther.
They are all part of the process of understanding the truth of where we are today, even when they go down wrong paths. It's part of the path of understanding the truth. That's true for us. We learn more from the mistakes we've made than from the things we did right and that's true in theology. As people have run down wrong tracks, we've learned from those errors. We all stand upon their shoulders.
Today there are a lot of battles that go on over just the meaning of faith so I'm not going to bore you with a lot of those things. We went through an in-depth analysis of it last time and my conclusion was, basically, that faith is an operation of the mind. It is an intellectual function, not an emotional function. It has a volitional element because we choose what we believe. It's primarily intellectual and it's not emotional so therefore, it has to do with an operation of the mind.
Now a lot of people think this sounds too impersonal, or too academic, or too abstract, when you define faith as simply intellectual assent. By intellectual it means it's an operation of the mind. Assent means that you agree that it is true. If you're not agreeing that it's true, then you're saying that it's not true. If you're saying its true but you don't really believe it, then you're not saying it's true. So if you're saying that something is true and that you absolutely agree that it's true, then anything less than that would not be true.
To say that you agree with the proposition that Jesus Christ died for your sins and you believe that it is absolutely true, then you're saved. If you believe that Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world but it doesn't have anything to do with you, that's not a saving proposition for you. You've rendered it sort of a 3rd person abstraction which doesn't have anything to do with your own personal trust and reliance upon Christ.
I also pointed out that faith in and of itself does not have any merit. It has no value in and of itself. It is simply a conduit. It is the means by which something is appropriated, something is embraced, much as a wire is a conduit for electricity or a pipe a conduit for water. Faith is that which moves something from one place to another. It is not the valuable thing in and of itself. It is the object of faith that has value. So if we have the wrong object for faith, then faith is not saving faith. If we have the right object for faith, then it is salvific and we have salvation. So faith has no merit in and of itself. Faith is an intellectual activity and is the only means by which we appropriate God's gift for us.
It is salvation that is the gift of God, not faith. This is another problem in the discussion, especially when dealing with lordship salvation and when dealing with many Calvinists who are more consistent Calvinists. There are lots of technical terms related to Calvinism such as Hyper-Calvinist, a 5-point Calvinist, a superlapsarian are all different terms describing different degrees and different beliefs within a Calvinistic system.
You have people who are considered 4-point Calvinists. What that means is that they don't believe in limited atonement but they do believe in the other 4 points. Then there are those you might call a 3 ½ pointer or 3 pointer. It depends on how you might define those points. I usually say I'm not a 5-point Calvinist. I'm not a 5-point Arminian. I'm neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian. I define all of those categories in a completely different ways.
I don't deny the totally depravity of man. And I don't deny that God ultimately oversees His creation to a degree that He is able to bring about that which He intends but He is able to do so in His magnificent, omnipotence without violating individual responsibility and accountability. So His creatures have the ability to make choices and are held accountable for those choices and it is not God who predetermines what their choices will be.
The way many Calvinists approach faith is to talk about faith as the gift of God. Often they will use Ephesians 2:8-9. There are other passages they use often, too. They will say that God gives you the faith. If you define total depravity as total inability, then if you're totally unable to comprehend or believe the gospel, then you're totally unable to even express positive volition. They never talk about it that way. And they say that you're totally unable to express faith so that the faith that you have is something that must be given to you. They believe God only gives that to those who are unconditionally elect so God gives saving faith and that makes it a separate kind of faith. God gives saving faith to the elect. He does not give it to the non-elect so those that receive that gift of faith then, in turn, demonstrate their election by their works. That's what we mean by lordship salvation.
Now not every strong Calvinist holds to lordship salvation. Louis Sperry Chafer was a very strong Calvinist. He had a strong background as a Presbyterian. He was ordained in the Southern Presbyterian Church. They actually brought him up on heresy charges because of his dispensationalist but he was not a 5-point Calvinist. There's some debate that he may have been early on but he wasn't when he taught at Dallas and when he wrote his Systematic Theology. While he held to the "p" in Tulip (There are two flowers to describe theology. TULIP: Total inability, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and the Perseverance of the saints. That last "p" is not what Chafer believed. A lot of moderate Calvinists, like Chafer, only defined perseverance of the saints as eternal security.
However, there are many today who say if you do not persevere in obedience and good works then you weren't ever truly saved to begin with. Louis Sperry Chafer did not hold to that definition of perseverance so I would say he was more of a 3½-point Calvinist. The other flower is DAISY. That is the Arminian theology. In reference to God, the Arminian pulls out a daisy and goes, "He loves me, He loves me not, He loves, He loves me not, He loves me, He loves me not." So it's either daisy theology or tulip theology but there's another theology that's somewhat in between that is Biblical. It's interesting how some of these things will pop up.
Now just in terms of our conclusion from last time. First of all, I pointed out there was no Biblical distinction between this concept of a head faith and a heart faith. Heart is simply a figure of speech using a body part to symbolize and represent the thinking of the soul and the soul itself. So the Bible doesn't make any distinction between the head and the heart. Some people say "Well, they had a head faith. They're going to miss heaven by twelve inches, the distance between the heart and the head". That's just completely bogus. That may preach well but it's not going to get anyone to heaven.
Secondly, saving faith is not a different kind of faith but its object is the difference, the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. If you have a hymnal in front of you, look at "I Know Whom I Have Believed" (page 409 in WHBC hymnal). We're just going to get a lesson in applicational theology when it comes to hymns. I wish there was one way we could straighten out this hymn because there's a lot of positive things about this particular hymn but if we look at the second verse. "I know not how this saving faith to me He did impart." Did you catch that? It's saying that God is the one who imparts that saving faith. This was written by a Calvinist, a high Calvinist. It says that God imparts the right kind of faith that is saving faith.
The hymn goes on to say, "Nor how believing in His Word brought peace within my heart." And that's fine. Then in verse 3 we read, "I know not how the Spirit moves convincing men of sin, revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in Him."
This is same idea, that God creates faith. That it's a different kind of faith, not the same category of faith as every other kind of faith. So we see how these things show up in one hymn. There are many others, I'm sure I could go to. But this is even a contradiction to John Calvin. On John 3:33, John Calvin says, "That to believe the gospel is nothing more than to assent to the truths that God has revealed." Did you hear that? That's what a real Calvinist believes. Not a Bezaite. Beza was the man who followed him and really systemized Calvinist theology, not Calvin per se. So we see Calvin said that they believe the gospel is nothing more than to assent to the truths or propositions which God hath revealed.
Then the last point by way of review is that salvation is not based on a personal relationship. Often that's the way in which the gospel is presented. "Would you like to have a personal relationship with God?" That's saying that the only way you can get saved is through a personal relationship with God. There's always an element of truth in these things but the Bible never says that to be saved you need to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Believing on Him results in a personal relationship with Jesus but that's putting the cart before the horse. Judas had a personal relationship with Jesus and it didn't do Him any good. He was an unbeliever. What matters is faith alone in Christ alone.
Faith is not an emotion. If we put an emphasis on emotion then we will fail in the Christian life. The Scripture consistently emphasizes that the Christian life is related to belief and knowing something. That comes up to the two categories we talked about as part of faith: understanding which means we have to know the Scripture and assent which means we have to believe that it's true.
Now let's move forward. In this closing part of Romans 13:11 Paul is going to introduce the concept of light versus darkness and day versus night. He's going to use a metaphor that is common for him and that is the idea of taking off something, the same verb that's used in taking off clothes, and in putting something on. But what is interesting that these two concepts of taking off and putting on are used grammatically in completely different ways. If we don't pay close attention to the text then we can really get confused.
It took me a while as a young student of the Word to work through some of these things because of the nature of the Greek grammar. You're not going to get this if you just look at the English. That doesn't provide you with an excuse to never read your Bible. You just need to recognize that there are problems with English translations but as I always tell students of Greek and students going off to seminary, that Greek and Hebrew do not solve all your problems. They may solve some of your problems but they will often create other problems. Language is limited. Anything that is finite and part of creation cannot adequately and perfectly express divine truth. It presents it inherently but not comprehensively. There's always a limitation in language and language always has a certain ambiguity to it. This is where you have to evaluate grammar and syntax on the basis of the analogy of Scripture which is theology comparing Scripture with other Scripture.
There are issues here. One issue I briefly touched on earlier in Romans which is a problem in Romans and Galatians is that when we read a passage such as Galatians 2:16, "Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Christ." it isn't that clear in the Greek. In the Greek it's a genitive and that genitive can mean "by the faithfulness of Christ" or "the faith in Christ". It can be either an objective or a subjective genitive. This has become a huge arena of controversy and discussion in academics in Greek.
I've got a large book at home with each chapter written by a different person. Some are proponents of one view. Some are proponents of another view. The preponderance of scholars argue that it's an objective genitive and should be understood as faith in Christ and I was reading in there today and at the conclusion at several of the chapters that grammar cannot solve the problem. Syntax cannot resolve the problem. These are men who have probably forgotten more about Greek than most of the people I know will ever learn. That's the issue. Grammar and syntax don't solve the problem. At some point you have to bring theology and a comparison of Scripture to Scripture and other doctrines in context to bear upon the particular passage. So that's just one illustration.
Now let's go into the rest of Romans 13:11-14. Paul says, "And this (because you know the time) it is time to awake out of sleep for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed." In verse 11 he is simply laying a motivational foundation that, as believers, we need to wake up. We're living in a time where there is limited option for fulfilling the mission that God has given us as members of the Church. So we need to wake up because we don't know when our time is up.
Our salvation, that is our ultimate destiny either through the Rapture or our death, could come today, tomorrow, the next day so are we ready? We need to not waste time. Ephesians 5 says to redeem the time. Use it wisely, don't waste it. So that's the foundation for the motivation here. Then he continues in Romans 13:12 saying, "The night is far spent. The day is at hand." What does that mean?
Next he draws a conclusion, "Therefore (because of this short time) let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light." So there we have two things. The imagery of darkness and light, day and night, and then we have the verbs "to take off" and "to put on" there. In Romans 13:13 he says in a first person command that involves him as well as us, "Let us walk properly." Here he's commanding us to walk by the Spirit so he's bringing in the whole doctrine of the Christian way of life, the Christian walk.
Paul continues, "…As in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy." He uses three pairs to give a focus on the fact that sin should not be a characteristic of the believer's life. In contrast, Romans 13:14 says, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to make no provision to fulfill its lust." A couple of observations here in terms of those last couple of verses: here in verse 12 we see the command is to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Putting on the armor of light is the positive; removing the works of darkness is the negative. When he comes to that same topic but in different words in verse 13 he positively says we're to walk properly.
By juxtaposing the imagery into verse 12 and 13 we see that the proper and the appropriate walk is putting on the armor of light. Now that's important because that tells us that putting on the armor of light isn't positional. It isn't related to what happened at salvation. It has to do with our ongoing battle after salvation. It's important to pay attention to that because Paul uses this terminology. This is not easy stuff.
He uses "put off" and "put on" both positionally and experientially and you have to be careful because just because you see "put off" and "put on" terminology doesn't mean he's always using it the same way. He talks about the fact that at salvation we "put on" Christ but here in verse 14 he says to believers to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ". So in one sense we've already put on Christ, that's positional, and in another sense we need to "put on" Christ after we're saved. In other words we put on His character and that would be equivalent to walking by the Spirit.
Walking properly is contrasted with these three pairs of sinful activity and then it is further expanded in verse 14 as "putting on the Lord Jesus Christ". So this is parallel to putting on the armor of light. They mean the same thing. They're both talking about the Christian life in two different ways.
Then negatively we're not to make any provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. So that's just sort of a fly-over of this passage to help us understand that Paul is really challenging us or exhorting us to obedience. He's saying, "The time is short. Don't waste time. You have to focus on your spiritual life and your spiritual growth because you and I have no idea how much longer we're going to have in this life to grow to spiritual maturity and to fulfill the mission that God has given to each and every one of us."
Now let's start drilling down a little bit. There's our motivation in verse 11. In verse 12 he says, "The night is far spent." The day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light. Two things we see here. First of all he's stating a principle in the first part of the verse relating to the fact that it is now night but it's progressing. The word there in the Greek for "far spent" is the word prokopto which means to advance or to move forward.
What he is saying in this whole section is that he expects Christ to return at any moment. Now there is a difference between the "at any moment" of Christ returning, and the idea of Christ's soon coming. You can believe today that Christ is soon coming because as we see different things happen in the world it seems as if God is moving things forward and setting the stage more and more for what happens after the Rapture. So we think it could be soon. It could be in twenty or thirty years.
For the last sixty-six years since Israel was re-established as a nation in 1948 there has been this increasing sense that we're living very close to the time of the Rapture. While we're not date setting I think there's a parallel between what happened in the story of Simeon and Anna at the time Jesus was born to what's happening today. In Luke 2 we read that they had been told by the Holy Spirit that they wouldn't die until they see the Messiah, the Lord's Anointed. We just know historically that there was this heightened level of expectation that the Messiah was coming. There were numerous pseudo-Messiahs that were popping up all over the place. There was such a heightened sense of Messianic awareness in the early 1st century that it really characterized that particular time.
I think for much of the same reason that today there just seems to be so many things happening that it gives us this sense that it could be very soon. But the Apostle Paul thought it would happen in his lifetime. That's what imminence means that it could happen at any time. Nothing must happen before Jesus returns at the Rapture. Not one thing must happen before Jesus returns at the Rapture. There is no prophecy that must be fulfilled.
Now I want you to think about what I'm beginning to say. The fact that no prophecy must take place before Jesus returns at the Rapture is not the same thing as saying that prophecy might be fulfilled before the Rapture. The prophecy that might be fulfilled before the Rapture doesn't have anything to do with the timing of the Rapture, doesn't have anything to do with the immediacy of the Rapture. It might be part of stage setting for what will happen after the Rapture.
For example, if something were to happen today or tomorrow or next year that obliterated the Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock, so there was nothing on the Temple mount then there would be opportunity to rebuild a temple. There are numerous groups in Israel who have rebuilt the furniture. They've identified qualified priests. I saw a report yesterday that someone sent me that a link that they've identified another potential candidate for the red heifer. A red heifer has to have no other color except red, no black. Just one black hair will disqualify it. It can't have ever worked and there are a few other qualifications. The red heifer will have to live to two years of age and then be examined and then sacrificed as a burnt offering. The ashes will be used to sanctify the new temple.
We know we're not under the Law so we wonder what that has to do with anything. Remember, the Jews still believe the Law is valid. When they rebuild the Third Temple, the Tribulation Temple, it's an apostate temple. So they believe that to be able to rebuild the new temple they have to establish it with the sacrifice of a red heifer. So these things pop up. Ten or twelve years ago there was another candidate for a red heifer and then a couple of black hairs showed up and disqualified that one.
Let's say something like that were to happen. Then the Jews could build the temple. People would say, "Jesus hasn't come back yet. We must already be in the Tribulation." No, all that we know is that in the Tribulation there will be a temple. There has to be temple there for the Antichrist to defile it and desecrate it. So that temple has to be built. It doesn't have to wait until after the Rapture for the temple to be rebuilt. It doesn't have to wait until the Tribulation for the temple to be rebuilt. A third temple could be rebuilt a hundred years before the Rapture occurs.
Paul expected it in his lifetime and when he wrote Romans, guess what, there was a temple standing on the mount when he wrote this. He expected Jesus to come back at any time. Even though some prophecy seems to be fulfilled that relate to something in the Tribulation, it still doesn't affect the imminence of the Rapture. The Rapture is not dependent on any sign. The signs are all related to what happens after the Rapture. All it means that God may completely set the stage and wait another hundred years before the time is up. We just don't know but we have to be ready at any moment.
That just undergirds everything that Paul is saying here is that the day is near. This is the Greek word eggizo which is used many times to indicate the whole concept of imminence, that it is at hand, that it could happen at any moment. He lays that principle down in the beginning of the verse and then he draws a conclusion. If this is true, and it is, that the day is at hand, then we need to cast off the works of darkness. That means to quit living like the cosmic system and put on the armor of light.
As we analyze this what we see is a contrast between two sets of words that indicate this imagery. One is night and darkness which always indicates something negative and day and light which always indicates something positive. We'll have to look at what the scriptures say about light and darkness as we go forward. Paul says here that the night is far spent, that it's advanced. We don't know how far it's advanced. We assume that it's advanced pretty far after almost 2,000 years but we don't know.
The night is far spent and here we need to do an analysis of how the Bible uses this imagery of night and darkness and light and day. So let's just go through a few of these verses. One of the first places where we run into an emphasis on this imagery, this contrast between light and darkness, is in the Gospel of John. At the very beginning John says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." He goes on to say in John 1:4 "In Him [the Lord Jesus Christ] was life." It continued to be part of him. It's the same verb that John used in John 1:1. It's an imperfect tense which means continual action in the past, emphasizes the eternity of the logos in past life. "In Him was life and the life was the light of men."
What we see here is that Jesus' life, the life of the 2nd person of the Trinity is identified by this equative verb with light. His life is light. His life is what gives light. John says His life is the light of men. Here it indicates one of the ideas presented in the light metaphor and that is illumination and revelation, that part of the role of the 2nd person of the Trinity is to provide illumination and revelation to men. He is the one as we'll see later on in John 1:18 where John says, "No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." That word for declared is exegeomai which is where we get our English word exegesis which means to explain or to instruct about Him.
This passage is saying that we learn about the Father by looking at the Son. This is why later on in the gospel Jesus says, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father." He's talking to Phillip. In John 1:10 He says, "I and the Father are One." So if you've seen Him, you've seen the Father. He is the One who reveals the Father. He is the light of men. It's His role to reveal.
In John 1:5 we read, "And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it." Shines is in the present tense. That's an interesting word for comprehend. It's the Greek word katalambano. Lambano is the word used a few verses later in John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name." It's a contrast with the previous verse which says, "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." This is the intensification of lambano, which means to receive, to take something in or to hold it. Katalambano has the idea of embracing something, making something one's own, or taking possession of something. So it came to have this idea of comprehension but it's really more than just comprehension. It's a little weak for this but it does relate to that first aspect of faith, which is understanding.
Katalambano means more than simply comprehension. It means to comprehend and to embrace that which you have comprehended. Again, this is used as a synonym for faith. We often talk about the fact that you need to receive Christ as your Savior. Receiving Christ as your Savior is the same as believing that He died on the cross for your sins. So Jesus appears to His generation. The light shines in the darkness. The world system is considered dark because of sin and because it's apart from truth and apart from light. And the light shines into the darkness and the darkness does not embrace it. The darkness does not accept it. The darkness did not believe in it.
Then we skip a few verses and John uses the light metaphor again. In between he introduces the ministry of John the Baptist. In John 1:9 he says, "That was the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world." This is a principle of common grace. Since the incarnation Jesus gives light to every man coming into the world. It's part of general revelation. This is the idea of light. It indicates illumination and it indicates life that comes from that illumination. The first principle we see in understanding night and darkness and light and day, as it's used in the scripture, is that night and darkness are used to describe the state of the world under the condemnation of sin and living under the authority of Satan. This is seen in these verses. John 1:4, 5, and 9.
I'll repeat the principle again. Night and darkness are used to describe the state of the world under the John 8:12 He says, "I am the light of the world." One of the seven famous I AM statements in the Gospel of John. I AM is the Greek phrase ego eimi emphasizing that Jesus is the eternal existent one. That's the same as the Old Testament I AM which is how God defined His name to Moses.
So Jesus shows up and He keeps saying I AM, making clear claims to deity and to be God. In contrast to the night and the darkness Jesus says that He is the Light of the world and He has come into a fallen, dark world, operating on the darkness of Satan's lie and all the false views in the world and Jesus is bringing illumination of truth.
In John 3:19, John writes "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." Now a lot of people read it that all men love darkness. It doesn't say that. It's a general statement of truth, a gnomic principle that generally it's true that men prefer the dark rather than light but not all. It's because their deeds are evil that men didn't want the exposure that illumination would bring. It's like a bunch of cockroaches in your kitchen. You get up at 3:00 in the morning and click the light on and they all scurry and scramble to run under the counters and hide. That's probably not true of anyone's house here but that does happen at times in some places.
Okay, the third point, Jesus also defined His mission in terms of light. He defined His mission as illumination. He states that while He was in the world, it was day. His illumination is so bright that He basically says that while He was there it was day; it wasn't night. When He left the night would come. The way He states this when He says "I must work the works of Him Who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work."
The problem people have is that they try to make these word-for-word explanations. These are idiomatic illustrations and this probably comes from a proverbial statement related to time. The time is short to accomplish His job. Paul sort of uses this in the reverse way that Jesus uses it here. The idea is that especially in the ancient world before the light bulb, even candles, they had many different little lamps they would fill with olive oil. You still see these if you go to Israel. The little lamps would have a little wick and you would light that. You just wonder how in the world they could ever see anything in the dark because they don't provide that much illumination. Pre-Thomas Edison, the world was a pretty dark place at night.
In the past the only thing you could do at night was turn on your television and watch a soap opera? No, you couldn't even do that. You just went to sleep. The sun went down you went to sleep. The sun came up the next morning. Then you'd get up. You worked during the day but when night came you couldn't work anymore because you couldn't see what you were doing. That's the idea that Jesus is saying. While He's with them, it's time to work but when He left, went to Heaven, then they couldn't carry out the ministry as it was defined during the Incarnation.
What was the message? Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. When does John 9 take place? More towards the beginning of Jesus' ministry. The message is still to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He's saying that as long as He's with them they had work to do. When He was gone, it would be too late to accomplish the mission of this particular time. So Jesus uses that imagery here of the night and the day to talk about the fact we have a mission to accomplish and we need to hurry about the mission before the time runs out. That's the same thing Paul is saying but he uses day and night in a reverse sense.
In Romans 13. Paul says "the night is far spent." He's talking about the current time in which he's living, the Church Age. He's describing that as the night in contrast to the day when our Lord, the Light of the world returns when He will illuminate everything. We see that the light of the world is so great in the Eternal state that there's no need for a sun or a moon in the future state after the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.
The third point, then, is that Jesus defined His mission in terms of light, teaching that day and night are a metaphor about the importance of getting the mission accomplished right now before the time to do so ends. When the night comes the present opportunity would be past and be gone.
Light is also used in contrast to darkness. It's used this way in various passages when it's used to talk about our position in Christ. It's a very important concept to understand who we are in Christ. We are as John 12:36 indicates, "Sons of light". When we are saved we are positionally identified as sons of light. John 12:36, "While you have the light, believe in the light, in order that you may become sons of light.
When Jesus is talking about this in John 12 He's talking to the crowds. When does John 12 take place? This may sound like a silly answer but it takes place right before John 13. What happens in John 13? Jesus is having the Passover Seder with His disciples right before He goes to the cross. So John 12 is the last discussion of anything going on in the life of Christ before all of the events related to the crucifixion take place. It happens right after He has raised Lazarus from the dead.
In John 12:36 He's predicting He's going to be taken and crucified. He's talking to the people. He's having this interchange with the people. John 12:34-36 says, "The people answered Him, We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up?" Who is this Son of Man? Then Jesus said to them, "A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light lest darkness overtake you. He who walks in darkness does not know where He is going. While you have the light, believe in the light that you may become sons of light." He's presenting a gospel presentation, challenging the people to believe in Him that they might become sons of the light."
Peter talks about this also in terms of our position in 1 Peter 2:9, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light". So this is also taking about a positional transference that took place at the instance of our salvation. This isn't the only place that does it. There are a great group of verses that talk about what happens positionally to us in relation from this shift from darkness to light.
In Acts 26:18 when Paul is preaching he says, "To open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God." Darkness is the pagan system. All human viewpoint. From darkness to light. Darkness is related to the dominion of Satan. God is the ruler of the kingdom of light. So you see this contrast and what happens at salvation is that we are "turning from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God in order that we might receive a forgiveness of sin and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in me. [Jesus]"
Paul is talking here that this is what Jesus has said to Paul in terms of His mission. Jesus says that Paul's mission is to give people the gospel so they can turn from darkness to light, the dominion of Satan to the kingdom of light. It's a position of potential spiritual growth to ultimately have an inheritance that we receive at the judgment seat of Christ. Another parallel to this is Colossians 1:13, "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love." Power is the word exousia, the same word that's used in John 1:12.
We're born in darkness and we're sons of darkness. That doesn't mean that if you're a female you're not qualified to be a son of darkness. We're born as sons of darkness but when we are transferred into Christ at faith alone then we're now in the kingdom of His beloved Son. This doesn't mean the kingdom is here. This is in terms of where we're headed. We are now qualified to be in that kingdom when it comes. A couple of other verses that are tied together are 1 Thessalonians 5:5, "You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness." Paul is talking to the Thessalonian believers and telling them this is their positional identity. This is who you are in terms of their relationship to Christ. They are sons of the light and sons of the day. No matter how carnal and disobedient you might be, we are not of the night or of darkness.
Ephesians 5:8 says, "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Our identity before we were saved was that we were in darkness, the kingdom and domain and authority of Satan but now we are light in the Lord. That's our position. But then it says to walk as children of light. Walk always has to do with our experience. So the fact that we are light in the Lord indicates our position in Christ.
We are sons of light but sometimes we don't live like it. It's sort of like when you were a kid, maybe, your parents told you that you're not acting like a member of their family, like a Jones, or a Smith, or a Williams, or whoever. You're not acting like a member of the family. It doesn't mean you weren't a member of the family. It just means you're not acting like a member of their family or how they thought a member of your family should act.
We need to learn to walk as children of light. This is a term related to enjoying fellowship with God and our Christian life. In 1 John 1:7 John says, "But if we walk in the light [maybe we will and maybe we won't] as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another." It's something we enjoy. We're not in fellowship with one another. We have or enjoy fellowship with one another. It's something that is richly experiential.
Often you hear someone say, "Well, I just can't get along with someone. There's just some sort of personality conflict. What we're really saying is that we can't get along with them because of their sin nature or my sin nature. It's really a sin nature problem. You see what the scripture says that if you're walking with the Lord and they're walking with the Lord and the Holy Spirit and the scripture are the focal point it's not going to be any kind of personality conflict. What you're really talking about when you say this is that your sin natures don't get along.
That's one of the things I try to tell young couples when they're going to get married. They really need to get to know the other person, not just how they are at their best, but how they are at their worst. There needs to be a sin nature compatibility because if you can't put up with them when they're walking according to the flesh, then you're going to have some real problems. That always results when we're focusing on our sin nature and letting that dominate. There are always times in marriages when people get a little crossways with each other, but if your sin natures are incompatible, such as if one's sin nature turns toward morality and the other person's trends toward immorality, you're going to have some real problems. You just can't understand each other at a fundamental level of your sin natures. But the redemptive factor for marriage and all relationships is walking in fellowship in dependence on the Holy Spirit.
As long as we're doing that we can enjoy fellowship with one another and notice what is happening at the end of 1 John 1:7. It says that the results of Christ's death on the cross are having a moment and moment impact on our relationship and it cleanses us from all sin. How do you recover from sin in relation to God or in relation to other people? It always comes back to what Christ did on the cross. Grace is what enables us to overcome any kind of personality conflict or any kind of difficulty that we have in those relationships.
John 12:46, "I [Jesus] have come as a light into the world that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness." That word abide in scripture always relates to fellowship. It's time to stop here but we need to see our positional relationship with Christ and that by identification we are positionally sons of light. Then we have our temporal realities. When we're walking by the Spirit we're walking by the light. We're walking in fellowship.
When we sin, the enjoyment of that fellowship is broken and we are out of the light and we're walking in darkness according to the sin nature called carnality. It's only when we confess our sins in 1 John 1:9 that we are restored to fellowship to continue that walk. This is fundamental to understanding the passages we're going to go to in Romans 13, Ephesians 4, and Colossians 3 They are all talking about what it means to take off those acts of carnality that dominate our lives when we're out of fellowship and to put on that which is related to Christ.
There are other passages that are talking about who we are in terms of our identity and they also use that "put on and put off" terminology so that when we're saved we see we put on Christ. Then we have a passage like Romans 13:14 that talks about the fact that we are to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ". That is not talking about our position but is talking about our relationship with Him. It goes on to say "make no provision for the flesh". That means we're not to walk according to the sin nature. Next time we'll come back to continue our study on light and darkness in the writings of Paul and in the writings of the New Testament to help us learn how to live the Christian life.