What is goodness? Where do we go to define such a term? As parents we tell our kids to "be good", but what does that mean? Where do we define such a term? In this day and age we are so quick to rush to our cell phones, Google, Alexa, or some other device to look for a definition on something. And this is the same thing we pass down to our children as well. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if we are going to trust the internet as our source to trust, than we are taking a long walk off a short pier, if you know what I mean.
Shouldn't the Creator of all life be the source that we trust? Wouldn't the One who gave life be able to define the things of life for us? In this video series of the fruit of the Spirit we are going to look to define goodness based on God, not Google.
GOODNESS IN THE WORD
The bible speed art video for the Goodness picture takes a look at Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. So we will continue to dig deeper in that part of the Bible, as well as look at other examples as well. So with no further delay, let’s take our expedition into God’s Word.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – for it is light that makes everything visible. That is why it is said, ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'”
What I love most about this illustration from Paul is the contrast between darkness and light. This is an example of what we see all throughout the Bible, beginning as early as the first 4 verses written. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we see this written about God’s creative work:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’ God saw that the light was good and he separated the light from the darkness.”
There is so much that we can learn from just these few short verses. We can also see a very distinct parallel between God’s design of creation, and the creation of new life in Christ. Let’s take a few moments to look at them now.
- Darkness, formless, and empty
- Light in the Lord
- Separation of light from darkness
- All glory to God
DARKNESS, FORMLESS, AND EMPTY
We can see some very clear similarities between the beginning of creation, as well as the creation of people. Before life could inhabit the world, the earth was formless and empty. There was darkness. A void. Nothingness. And just Paul describes in the verses in Ephesians 5, we too were once darkness. This clearly shows that without Christ as the one and true Lord of one’s life, we are seen by God as nothing but darkness. There’s nothing there to us, it’s as if we don’t even really exist. Some people might find that thought to be a bit off-putting or offensive, but darkness is darkness, and even Jesus makes the point clear when talking about false prophets and those who claim to be true believers but are still nothing but darkness.
“Not everyone whos says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'”
You can claim things of goodness all day long. “I preached and sang in the church choir. I invited people to church and did miracles, all in your name.” However, if those things you claim as your goodness are not things that bring glory to God, than does God even recognize them. To pull a very poignant illustration from the Old Testament as well, it is written,
“But now, this is what the Lord says – ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”
As you can clearly see, those who have been redeemed, are known by the Lord and summoned by name. So what does that mean for those who do not have a Lordship in Christ heart and mindset? I think Matthew makes that abundantly clear…he doesn’t know them. They are but darkness to him. Void. Empty. Non-existent. I don’t know about you today, but I would rather be an overcoming, true witness for Christ and have nothing in this life than to live in the lime light of the world and be seen as darkness by the Lord. My heart longs for the words written to the overcomers of the church in the book of Revelation.
“He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.”
With this tie-in to the creation of all things, we see that as people born into this fallen world, we are born into darkness. Not only do we dwell in darkness, but as Paul clearly states, we are darkness. Therefore, there is nothing we can do good enough – there is no distance we can try to travel – to outrun the darkness. For wherever we go, there the darkness. Without Christ Jesus, we are void and empty. However, praise be to God because there is answer to the darkness, and we’re going to look at that now.
LIGHT IN THE LORD
What was it that God spoke into the darkness? His words brought light into the void and nothingness of all things, which had to take place in order for the creation of life to begin. In the same way, when you receive Christ as the only Lord and Savior of your life, God speaks light into you, allowing for the creation of new life to happen. We can clearly see then, from the beginning of all things, that in order for new life to happen, it has to begin with light. As mentioned in the bible speed art video for goodness, we can see clearly from the book of First John that the source of light that brings life is God, and God alone.
1 John 1:5-7
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
To understand that the light does not come from us, is to know that we need a savior. Just as in the case of this picture, when light is presented into darkness, there is a clear distinction that can be seen. To know the difference between daylight and the light of night is to just open your eyes and see. There is no secret formula to understand the contrast between the two. It’s as clear as…..light and dark.
As Paul continues to write in Ephesians he goes on to mention that “everything exposed by the light becomes visible. Therefore, the light is what reveals the darkness within us, pointing to the fact that we are a lost cause if we try to handle things on our own. If we want to say we’re good, without knowing how God views goodness, than we are liars and deceiving ourselves, and others. If we want to be politically correct and claim that a life of sin is actually not sin, and thus validate something that should never be given validation, than we are essentially telling God that the void of darkness is equivalent to his light. I don’t think God’s going to take too kindly to that.
SEPARATION OF LIGHT FROM DARKNESS
What did God say about his light when he spoke it into the creation of the earth? “God saw that the light was good.” What made the light good? His light was beneficial to the creation of life, and creation of life would always serve as a reminder to his creation that he is God. Therefore, God and God alone would be glorified for being God. Therefore, as we follow that progression, that which is good is that which brings all glory to God.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Immediately after the introduction of light, God separates the light from the darkness, beginning the concept of being set apart from the very beginning of creation. Paul reiterates this same premise in Ephesians when he tells us to live as children of light. How can we claim to be light in the Lord and yet want to remain as one living in the darkness. Paul even writes, “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness”. And this is where, in my opinion, the church world of Christianity fails. Think about it: How many churches are filled every week with people claiming to be believers in Jesus Christ, yet we are a nation voting for leadership that is as godless as can be? We accept the murder of babies. We claim that love is defined by whoever someone wants to love. When it comes to gender, we say that it defined by choice rather than DNA fact. We also justify destruction and lawlessness. Where is the goodness? How have we become so far field from the fruit of the Spirit, yet claim to be a people of faith?
ALL GLORY TO GOD
As we mentioned earlier, the goodness that matters is that, which brings all glory to God. Paul highlights the same fact in Ephesians when he wrote, “and find out what pleases the Lord.” In the Greek, the word for “find out” is a word that welcomes the Lord to search and test us, because we know that the testing of our faith produces some great rewards.
“because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
If we do not ever seek for the Lord to test us, how will we ever know what pleases him? We won’t. We’ll just continue to live in the fruitless deeds of darkness instead of becoming mature and complete, lacking nothing.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
If we truly want to live in the goodness of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, then we will welcome the testing of the Lord. If we shrink from the testing, it’s probably because we are harboring the fruitless deeds of darkness and choose to hide them instead of letting the light of Christ shine on them and reveal them. That’s typically why we hide in the shadows of life, because we know that once the light points out the darkness, we can either choose to be separated from the darkness so that we can truly bring all glory to God, or continue to live in the darkness, even though we now have to acknowledge it as darkness. So let’s forget about what the world validates as goodness for a moment. The real question is:
What do I validate as goodness?
“for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said, ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'”
Are you ready to wake up from the void of darkness and be made as light in the Lord? It’s time to wake up, O sleeper. Daylight is coming. Rise from the dead. However, in order to rise, there must first be a death. It’s time to die to the sinful nature and rise in Christ. The light of the Lord is ready to shine on you. Wake up. Be alert. Live in the goodness of God!