Text: Romans 13:8-14
I. If you look at the religious philosophies prevalent in the world today, you will quickly find that most see the world divided into two camps: good versus evil
A. It is argued that good and evil balance each other.
B. Some take it a step further to say that one cannot exist without the other.
1. Found in a discussion on the Internet: “God and the Devil can be compared with good and evil. Good cannot exist without evil, so God cannot exist without the devil, if so, God would be pointless, at least in Christian religion. So, in a way, they are interdependent.”
C. You see it everywhere
1. Star Wars’ Force which as the dark side
2. The Yin / Yang symbol
a. “In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang represent the two primal cosmic forces in the universe. Yin (moon) is the receptive, passive, cold female force. Yang (sun) is masculine- force, movement, heat. The Yin Yang symbol represents the idealized balance of the forces; equilibrium in the universe.”
b. In this philosophy one side cannot triumph over the other. Only when both are present in balanced proportions can things be “good.”
D. God uses the concepts of light and darkness to represent good and evil with good reason - Proverbs 4:18-19
II. The Nature of Light and Dark
A. Does light define darkness or does darkness define light?
1. A strange question, I suppose, but it leads to an important point.
2. Is it true that evil needs to exist in order for there to be good? Or, does good need to exist in order for there to be evil?
B. Think about our physical world: Is light the absence of darkness or is darkness the absence of light?
1. If I wanted to make a room brighter (have more light)
a. I can bring in more light
b. But I can’t make it brighter by taking a shovel to the darkness and throwing it out.
2. If I wanted to make a room dimmer (having more darkness)
a. I can take away some of the light in the room
b. But I can’t stuff more darkness into the room.
C. Thus we conclude that what we call darkness is really a term for the absence of light.
1. Light and dark are not two halves which co-exist and are interdependent
2. Darkness is fully dependent on the absence of light
III. The Nature of Good and Evil
A. An experiment. Let’s poll the men and come up with quick, easy definitions for: Modesty, Patience, Purity, Truthfulness, Humility
1. Frequently people will define these terms of righteous behavior in terms of a lack of some sin.
2. But isn’t this like defining light as the absence of darkness?
3. Isn’t it more accurate to see the sins of this world as a lack of a righteous characteristic?
B. John 1:1-5 - Jesus is the Light. He brought light into the world, but the world couldn’t comprehend it.
1. People become so used to sin that the exposure to righteousness hurts - Ephesians 5:11-13
2. Have you ever gotten up while it is still dark and tried turning on the light?
a. The sudden increase in light hurts!
b. But is it the light’s “fault” or our tolerance of its absence?
3. A similar reaction happens when people’s sins are suddenly exposed.
a. They blame righteousness for their discomfort
b. The one holding forth the truth is blamed for being intolerant
c. But the real problem is that sinners have been tolerant of sin for too long.
C. How do you look at being a Christian?
1. Do you see a bunch of “Thou shalt not” laws?
2. Many people chafe under the thoughts of, well now that I’m a Christian, I can’t drink, I can’t smoke, I can’t play around with sex, I can’t do anything! Being a Christian is a bore!
3. People try to get as close to sin as possible, without crossing “the line.”
a. As long as I’m not quite sinning, then I’m all right!
b. But if sin is the lack of righteousness, what does that mean?
(1) Such a person is trying to see how much righteous behavior they can remove from their lives and still claim to be righteous.
(2) Sin is the transgression or absence of law - I John 3:4
(3) It is literally what “iniquity” means: A lack of law. Or, since the law is righteous, iniquity is the lack of righteousness.
4. Romans 13:8-10 - Two views of the Law. Which is more accurate?
IV. Being a Christian is not the removal of sin
A. Many people approach being a Christian with the attitude that they are going to remove as much sin as they can from their lives.
1. You might as well say that you are going to remove all the darkness from this room with a shovel.
2. People approach righteousness in this manner and it doesn’t work - Matthew 12:43-45
a. An attempt to remove sin leaves a vacuum. Something is going to fill that void.
b. It is like trying to keep a leaky boat afloat. Eventually you are going to get tired and lose ground.
B. Being a Christian means filling up your life with so much good that there is not room left for sin - II Peter 1:1-11
1. Notice that Peter emphasizes adding goodness to our lives.
2. Without them, we end up back in darkness, not because there is no light, but because our tolerance of darkness makes it difficult to see.
3. Without righteousness, we end up back in sin, not because you can’t be righteous, but because our tolerance for sin makes it difficult to be righteous.
C. You were once darkness, now live as light - Ephesians 5:8-11
D. Cast off darkness, but also put on light - Romans 13:11-14
1. No provision – no room– for the flesh and its sins.
V. Too many fail at being Christians because their approach is wrong
A. They focus on removing sins, but after a while it becomes too tiring. The struggle is too much and they give up.
B. The proper focus is on getting as close to righteousness as possible and the sins will naturally fall away because they are seen as the encumbrances that they are - Hebrews 12:1-3
C. Now is the time to start that journey. Now is the time to change our outlook.