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Being a Light in the Midst of a Crooked and Perverse Generation

by Doyle Lynch

I find that being blameless and innocent today seems almost impossible. We live in the midst of a crooked and perverse world. It would seem that the only way to be blameless and innocent would be to retreat from this world into our own world. However, the Lord commands us to be a light in the world so that he might be glorified in us (Matthew 5:16). Not only are we to be in the world to testify of the Lord, we are also "to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation" (Philippians 2:15). It seems that the world is more wicked and perverse today than it has ever been. Surely, Paul could not have foreseen how wicked the world would get when he exhorted the believers in Philippians to be a light in the world.

But, Paul did know how wicked the world was when he issued that exhortation. And, the world in which Paul lived was every bit as morally bankrupt as the world in which we live today (as hard as that might seem). Both archaeology and history attest to this.

The world in which Paul lived was a Greek (Hellenized) world thanks to Alexander the Great, who made it his mission to make the world Greek. By his death, in 323 B.C., much of the known world was ruled by Greece. Greek culture was forced upon the world. Even when Rome became the rulers of the world, just before the time of Christ, it adopted much of Greek culture. The Greeks were learned and skilled in the arts. They referred to the non-Greek as a Barbarian. They gave culture a new meaning.

They were also a morally corrupt people. Immorality and promiscuity were rampant and considered normal. Divorce was common. Homosexuality was viewed as normal by many Greeks. Those familiar with Greek mythology will know that the Greek gods were no better than the Greeks themselves. Paul was not exaggerating when he said many Christians had formerly waked in immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed and idolatry (Colossians 3:5-6). It is not amazing that many Jewish Christians did not warmly accept Greeks who were newly converted to Christianity. But, they forgot that Jesus did not come to call the righteous to repentance, but the sinners.

Paul knew the conflict of being in the world but not of it (Romans 7:14-25). However, he also knew the secret to living as Christ in an ungodly world. He knew that Christ’s death freed us from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-3). He has given us the power to chose to walk after the Spirit and to say no to temptation. By the Spirit we can put to death the misdeeds of the body (8:4-15). As he exhorted the Philippians, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16, NASB)


Go Back to A City on a Hill Cannot Be Hidden in the tour


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