Lesson 67—May 24 & 31, 2015
Audio Commentary Part A
Audio Commentary Part B
Memorial Day is our opportunity to pause and remember the sacrifices of many of America’s best citizens. They made the supreme sacrifice on our behalf. The Mars Hill family thanks those who gave all, as well as those who have served and those who are currently serving.
Lord, Help Me to Be a Light
Scripture: Matthew 5:14-16
Lesson Goal: To better understand our role as true believers in carrying the light to a dark (lost) world.
Introduction: Jesus uses both salt and light to emphasize the true believer’s character and influence in the world. Just as light influences darkness, true believers are to let their lights shine before the world, penetrating the darkness.
Our (true believers) influence (salt and light) will be determined by our true character, as described in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). The character of our lives, brought about by the inward change of heart (transformed by Jesus Christ), makes it reality that we can have a godly influence in our world. Matthew 5:13-16 imparts the results of the truth of verses 3-12 having become a reality in the true believers’ lives.
• After asking God to give you wisdom, please explain this statement: My true witness for Jesus Christ cannot be separated from the character of my heart as demonstrated in my daily walk with Him.
• How does your character reveal your true heart?
• Would you say that a Christian’s character is revealed by his/her talk, walk, or both? Please explain.
• During the past weeks of Life Focus study, what has the Holy Spirit shown you about your own character as revealed by the following, and how are you doing in each of these areas of your life?
1) “poor in spirit”
2) “those who mourn”
3) “the meek”
4) “hunger and thirst for righteousness”
6) “pure in heart”
8) “persecuted for righteousness’ sake”
9) “revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”
For us to be true salt and light to the world, we absolutely must understand, with a heart-depth knowledge, the importance of our Christian character. The Brackin definition of character is “the person we really are, the true us.” Character is much different from reputation. Reputation is who people think we are; character is who we really are. Reputation is based on people’s opinion; character is based on how we are known to God.
• Please explain the difference between reputation and character as it pertained to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.
Our real influence is determined by our true character.
(V14) “You” (true believer, follower of Jesus Christ) “are” (present tense)
“the light of the world.”
Please read John 1:1-12; John 8:12; John 12: 35-36; John 12:46; and 1 John 1:5-6.
Jesus spoke of Himself as the light of the world, yet He also calls Christians the light of the world. The simple truth is that Jesus is the source of light; Christians are the reflections of His light. The Christian’s function is to shine for Jesus (reflect His light), as the moon reflects the light of the sun. Have you ever looked at the moon on a clear night and noticed how brightly it was shining? The shine that the moon gives to us is actually the reflection of the sun. The moon is not the source of the light, but simply the reflection of the light.
Jesus’ words tell us that we (true believers) are the light of the world. We must realize that in our own selves, our own power and strength, we could never be light. But as a result of our salvation (see John 1:12), we are made to be light to a darkened world. The only way we can be, or become, light to our world is by the transforming power of Jesus Christ. We do not produce the light ourselves; Jesus is the light. But through the transforming power of God, we become His lights, reflecting Him, in a world of darkness.
• How is our light made known in the darkness? How can our understanding of verses 3-12 help us in answering this question?
Through our godly witness (our character as explained in verses 3-12), we become light to our world. Through our character, we reflect the light of Jesus. Our character and our conduct are inseparable! As true believers, we are to be like Jesus.
(V14) “of the world”—Jesus tells us we are to be a reflection of Him—His light shining in this world.
• Where are some specific places Jesus has put you to be His light?
• How did you do this past week in being His light in the specific places he put you? (Please answer honestly.)
“A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Even on the darkest night, the lights of the city on the hill can be witnessed by those both near and distant.
(V15) “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket”
Just as salt that remains in its container has no influence or effect on its surroundings, a light that is placed under a basket has no influence or effect on its surroundings. It will shine under the basket, but it does not effect the darkness outside the basket. For salt to accomplish its purpose, it must not remain in its container. For light to have its greatest impact and influence, it must not be concealed or covered.
• Where did Jesus say true believers are to be salt and light?
We cannot be salt and light to the world, if we isolate ourselves from the world inside the walls of a church building. We influence our worlds, the places where daily life takes us, not by separating ourselves, but rather by infiltrating as salt and impacting with the influence of the reflective light of the Lord Jesus Christ. Salt contained and light hidden does nothing to advance the Kingdom of God.
(V15) “but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house”
The lamp, with the light shining, should be placed in a position to give light to the most who can use it (on a lampstand). We should not hoard the light; we should share it with others.
Please read Proverbs 31:18, concerning a virtuous wife and her example of life. Viewed from the perspective of Matthew 5:14-15, what is the meaning of Proverbs 31:18b? Please answer prayerfully and thoughtfully.
A light that is hidden (under a basket) is still a light, but it benefits no one. It is simply useless light. So, as Jesus teaches that salt which has lost its distinctiveness becomes worthless as salt, so too is a light that is hidden under a basket worthless.
How is your light shining in your world?
Edward Hindson and James Borland offer an interesting observation: “Inconsistent living and unconfessed sin in the life of the believer will become a basket-like covering that hides the light. God provides the light and it continues to shine, but as believers, we must keep our lives clean before the Lord in order not to cover up the light.”
In Jesus’ day, people simply lit a lamp and put it on a lampstand in order to make the light more effective by “spreading” it. This enables more people to benefit from it. Being a true follower of Jesus Christ means that we spread the light.
• Please specifically list those areas of life where God has placed you to shine the light of Jesus.
(V16) “Let your light so shine before men.”
The same way a lamp positioned rightly on a lampstand gives light, so must the follower of Jesus Christ. As Christ’s followers, we must let our lights shine “before men.” The purpose of light is to illuminate. How can people see this light? By the life and actions of a true believer, the light is made known to the world. The true believer’s life is a reflection of Jesus Christ, brought about as the result of a transformed heart. Without Jesus we cannot be light, but with Jesus we become lights to the world.
As the light shines forth in the life of the true believer, there is absolutely no mistaking the source of the light. It shines in the world, and the result of the shining light is that it is visible for people to see. Others will see the light and give glory to your heavenly Father. “The believer’s light shines not for himself but to reflect the light back to the Father and so direct people to Him” (Life Application Study Bible). The light does not shine to bring attention to us but to the God we serve. “Our good works are to magnify God’s grace and power. This is the supreme calling of life: glorying God” (MacArthur).
The way we live our lives should lead others to glorify (doxazō, from which we get our word doxology) the heavenly Father. The result of the true light shining in us and through us is ultimately to glorify God.
John MacArthur writes: “When what we do causes people to be attracted to us rather than to God, to see our human character rather than His divine character, we can be sure that what they see is not His light.”
As salt, the true believer is not to be clumped together and confined to a container with all the other salt. As light, the true believer is not to be secluded in the church building with all the other lights. It is a wonderful and glorious thing to study, learn, grow, sing, pray and worship together. In fact, it is absolutely essential in the life of the true believer. We are instructed by Scripture to be part of a local church. We learn from Scripture that every believer has a place in the body of Christ. The Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible gives us a meaningful thought:
Light has one purpose—to shine before men. Light is not seen unless it is placed before men. If there are no people, there are no eyes to see the light. A believer must not seclude himself from others. It is the people in darkness who need the light. Believers! Let your light so shine before men out in darkness. Believers are not to be secluded in the church, moving only among other lights. They are to go out into the world. The more light that is put out in the darkness, the more the darkness is eliminated.
Mathew Ministry begins Sunday evening, May 31. This ministry was placed on my heart by God to help us (MHBC) be better lights in our world. Please ask God how you can honor Him by using your Sunday
evenings in a direct and deliberate way to let your light shine in the world; and in so doing, to glorify Him through Matthew Ministry. There are so many wonderful opportunities and blessings that await us, if we will just be open to the Lord’s leading. God has opened the door of opportunity for us to shine His light in our world through Matthew Ministry. Let us pray and make the most of the opportunities God is giving us.
For the true believer, coming to church is the easy part of following Jesus. It’s not so easy to do Matthew Ministry, which requires us to be salt and light to the world.