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                    "SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD"

               As Children Of God Without Fault (Ph 2:15)


1. We have seen in this series of lessons thus far that in order to
   "shine as lights in the world" the apostle Paul has given us
   "direction," "hope," and a "warning":
   a. "direction" - By saying, "work out out your own salvation with
      fear and trembling"
   b. "hope" - By reminding us, "for it is God who works in you..."
   c. "warning" - By telling us to "do all things without murmuring and

2. But what is the ultimate goal of these admonitions of Paul?
   a. Is it not that we be "children of God without fault"? - Ph 2:15
   b. And is this not how we will truly "shine as lights in the world",
      living as "children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked
      and perverse generation"?

3. Children of God without fault...surely THEY will "shine as lights" and make
   a positive impact upon the world in which they live!

4. But please note carefully, it is not enough just to be "children of
   a. We must also be "without fault"
   b. And this will be true only if we are "blameless and harmless"

5. What does it mean to be "blameless" and "harmless"?  And is this how
   the world sees those who profess to be "the children of God"?

[In an effort to answer these questions, let's first consider...]


      1. The Greek word is amemptos {am'-emp-tos}, which means to be
         "blameless, deserving no censure, free from fault or defect"
      2. Certainly this does not mean we are perfect, for we all sin 
         - 1 Jn 1:8,10
      3. Rather, as Paul told Titus, to live and act in such a way that
         those who oppose us have "nothing evil to say of us" - cf. Ti 
      4. I.e., living in such a way that we have no "outstanding faults"
         that are so clearly evident to others

      1. Nothing hinders our efforts to influence others like
         inconsistency or hypocrisy
      2. If we have glaring faults that are evident to others, they will
         not take our message seriously
      3. Especially if we are trying to point out "their" faults!

      1. Certainly, we should "practice what we preach"!
      2. This would include "working out your own salvation"!
      3. When we sin, confess our guilt immediately, especially when it
         is evident to all
      4. When one endeavors to preach to others, do it in the spirit of
         gentleness, patience and humility - Ga 6:1; 2 Ti 2:24-26

[Otherwise, those who oppose us will quickly find fault in our 
attitudes and character, and use that as justification to reject our 

To be "without fault", it is also necessary that we be considered by 
others as "harmless"...]

      1. The word Paul uses is akeraios {ak-er'-ah-yos}, which in this
         context means "without a mixture of evil, free from guile,
         innocent, simple"
      2. It is used three times in the scriptures:
         a. When Jesus was preparing His disciples for the "limited
            commission - Mt 10:16
         b. By Paul, in his epistle to the Romans - Ro 16:19 (the word
         c. And here in Ph 2:15
      3. To be "harmless", then, would mean:
         a. To be free from any taint or suspicion of evil
         b. To never be suspected of duplicity, saying one thing,
            meaning another
         c. To never be feared of potential harm or violence
      4. Again, it means to be "harmless as doves"

      1. To be "without fault"
      2. So that "one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing
         evil to say of you." - Ti 2:7-8
         a. How does this apply to some in the pro-life movement who use
            intimidation, harassment, and sometimes violence to further
            their cause?
         b. Or to those who threaten "economic blackmail" (i.e.,
            boycotting) in an effort to force others to change
         c. Or some within the "Christian Coalition", who often advise
            trying to "dig up dirt" on political opponents?
         d. Do not such efforts, though well-intentioned, often give
            others reasons to speak evil of those who call themselves
         e. Should we not have the attitude of Paul, who said:
            1) "We give no offense in anything that our ministry may not
               be blamed" - cf. 2 Co 6:3
            2) "providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the
               Lord, but also in the sight of men." - cf. 2 Co 8:21
      3. So the name of God will not be blasphemed by our conduct! - cf.
         Ro 2:23-24
         a. Though written in reference to inconsistent Jews, cannot
            Paul's rebuke apply to Christians who resist evil in the
            wrong way?
         b. Do not many people speak evil of the faith because of the
            way some are trying to force others to change?

      1. React to evil the way Paul said we should react, not with evil
         but with acts of love; that is how we truly OVERCOME evil! 
         - Ro 12:17-21
      2. Love your enemies the way Jesus taught us, with "active good
         will" this is how we demonstrate ourselves to truly be "sons of
         the Highest"! - Lk 6:27-36


1. The challenge we face is that we are so repulsed by evil, we are
   tempted to respond in ways not in keeping with the gospel of Christ

2. But if our ultimate goal is changing the hearts of men, then it must
   be in accord with the way God has changed our own hearts, through the
   gospel of love, sacrifice, and mercy!

3. If we are truly the "children of God without fault", then we imitate
   our Heavenly Father's efforts by using love, prayer, doing good, to
   change those who are still part of this "crooked and perverse

4. By following in steps of our Savior, Jesus Christ, then we will truly
   be "blameless and harmless", and "shine as lights in the world"!
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