Main thesis: Sin makes us crave darkness, produces ignorance and causes us to pursue self-glory while the gospel shines light, illumines minds and frees us to pursue the glory of God.
I want you to be able to walk away from this sermon with this one line. Sin does 3 things and the gospel does 3 things. [SLOWLY] Sin 1) makes us crave darkness, sin 2) produces ignorance and sin 3) causes us to pursue self-glory. While the gospel 1) shines light, the gospel 2) illumines minds and the gospel 3) frees us to pursue the glory of God. Before we unpack this thesis statement, I want to provide some introductory comments.
1) First, sin makes us crave darkness.
2 Cor 4
1 Therefore, since we have this ministry because we were shown mercy, we do not give up. 2 Instead, we have renounced shameful secret things, not walking in deceit or distorting God’s message, but commending ourselves to every person’s conscience in God’s sight by an open display of the truth.
In these 2 verses, there is mention of shameful things, things done in secret, and deceit. All of these–shameful things, things done in secret, and deceit–are forms of darkness. I don’t think you have to be convinced by me or take my word for it when I say that the world is dark and is continuing to get darker by the day. On a small scale, if you haven’t heard of the name, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, then I invite you to google his name, not right now please, but later on tonight and you will be horrified by the evil that went on at an abortion clinic in Philadelphia since its opening in 1979. I would give you some of the details now, but because we have kids here in the service, it wouldn’t be appropriate. It is shocking to hear about the evil of one man in this country, which is still considered a Christian nation.
There is darkness on a small scale and there is darkness on a much larger scale. The Chinese government recently admitted that over the last four decades, the country has aborted 336 million unborn children, many of them forcibly. This is due to their One Child Policy. You want to guess which gender most of those abortions were? 336 million babies murdered.
To put the numbers in perspective, the 336 million deaths in China are more than the entire population of the world at the time of the Crusades (1100 AD). 336 million is equal to the entire combined populations of the United States and Australia right now. 336 million is more than all the people killed in the 10 ten deadliest wars in human history, which include World War I and II. 336 million is more than all the children that will be born in the entire world over the next ten years.
When you hear about what Dr. Kermit Gosnell did for which he is on trial right now, or what China did regarding a single moral issue–abortion–it is inconceivable for me that you can conclude that the world is fine, or that we are getting better as a human race over time, or that with the advances of science and knowledge, we are becoming more civilized and less barbaric. I just see darkness. And darker days are coming.
If there is no God and there is no absolute morality and there is no such thing as right or wrong, then we are free to do whatever we want. If Dr. Gosnell wants to use scissors on a baby that has reached full term, then who are we to judge? If China aborts 336 million babies, that’s their prerogative. Not true. No matter what position you hold about abortion, you cannot read the accounts of Dr. Gosnell without wincing. Without a righteous anger being stirred. Something in us wells up, this must stop. Evil must be stopped. Why is there so much darkness in the world?
When it comes to actual life and death and an actual person, relativism as a worldview or as a philosophy simply doesn’t work. It’s a nice concept–do what’s good for you and I’ll do what’s good for me. Relativism doesn’t work in our day to day ethical lives when real people are involved. Because we know deep down inside, killing babies is wrong.
There is right and wrong. There is such a thing as absolute morality because it comes from a God who created a moral universe with absolute moral standards. He didn’t create a universe willy nilly and it’s fine, do whatever seems right to you. There is an absolute standard of right and wrong and so we must answer to the One who established that standard.
Sin causes us to crave darkness, secrecy and deceit. Because we are ashamed of sin. What did Adam and Eve do when they had sinned against God? They hid. Sin causes you to hide because you’re either afraid of the consequences or ashamed and so you hide in order to preserve your image before others.
Where does this darkness come from? Joseph Conrad, wrote a novel entitled, Heart of Darkness, and in it, he explores the relationship between the “savages” and the civilized Europeans who came to colonize the “uncivilized.” But through the process of colonization, Charles Marlow, the main character sees the savagery, not in the other, but the savagery and darkness in his own heart and his peers. The darkness stemming from a corrupt heart came forth in the form of racism and imperialism and pride and brutality toward others. And it dawns on Marlow that our hearts are the source of darkness.
We might not be killing babies to make a living, but all of us have things in our private lives that we want to keep under wraps. In secret. In darkness. We know some of the things we do are shameful so we need to keep up the act. On the outside, we seem to be good, decent people. We are cultured, civilized. We don’t think we are barbaric. But you know, there are secret and shameful things that are enslaving you and me, either in deed or in thought.
When that happens and there is a disconnect between our internal and our external, we call this a lack of integrity or wholeness. When the inside and the outside don’t match, this is a sign that the gospel hasn’t penetrated deep enough. Thus, we walk in deceit because we have to keep the shameful things hidden and only project the positive things about us. Sin makes us crave darkness.
2) Second, sin produces ignorance.
2 Cor 4
3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
When the world is dark and we stay in darkness long enough, our eyes adjust. That’s why it’s painful when we are deep in sleep and somebody suddenly turns on the lights. We become accustomed to darkness. What ought to be obviously dark becomes normal. Everyone’s doing it. What so bad about that? You’re such a prude. You got to live a little. What’s right for you may not be right for me. Don’t impose your standards on me. Christianity, the gospel, Jesus Christ–to you, it might seem like a treasure. But for me, I got other things to pursue.
How come some people can recognize the glory of God in the face of Christ and others can ignore it? Sin makes us crave darkness and the god of this age, or Satan, will do everything in his power to keep you in darkness. To a Christian, the gospel is glorious, Jesus is the glorious Son of God who created you and me and the whole universe. But to a non-Christian, their reaction is, Jesus, who’s he, what’s the big deal? He’s just a teacher. Christianity is just a religion. It’s okay if you want to go to church because at least you can learn some good moral lessons so that you can treat others better. But I don’t know why some Christians seem like such fanatics. The god of this age has blinded that unbeliever’s mind so that he or she cannot perceive the greatness of the gospel message.
Notice that Satan’s strategy is to keep a veil over and to blind our minds. Why the mind? It’s because the Achilles’ heel of man is his mind. Eve fell into sin when she was deceived in her mind. And at the core of Satan’s deception was an appeal ultimately to her pride. Satan tells Eve, God knows that when you eat of the fruit of the KNOWLEDGE of good and evil, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. See! God is holding out. He wants to keep you low and in your place. Don’t you want to become like God? The temptation came through the mind and appealed to human pride.
The mind is the Achilles heel of man because we are so prone to pride. Pride, if you think about it, involves our minds because when our minds get filled with all kinds of knowledge, we get puffed up. Our minds become like inflated balloons. We become proud. And because we think we know more, we think we are better than others. When we become gods in our own eyes, when we are the ultimate end and arbiter and judge, the Bible says, we have become truly ignorant.
Plato in his work, The Republic of Plato, discusses knowledge and he uses the famous analogy of slaves chained and confined in a cave. The only light is a vague light that comes from a fire behind them and an opening above. The light reflects shadows on the sides of the walls of the cave. Thus, the slaves can only see dim reflections and vague outlines. They don’t have a clear view of reality. Shadows dance on the walls of the caves. He calls these shadows–Opinion. I am not sure what that object is because I can’t see it clearly enough. I think it’s rock. I have an opinion. You might think it’s an old loaf of bread that has turned rock-like. You have your opinion. To acquire true knowledge, the slaves need to get out of the cave and into the noonday sun. There, he can finally see things as they are. Only in the presence of light can you have true knowledge. Otherwise, all you have is vague approximations. Opinions.