St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Called From Darkness Into Light

Sermon on 1 Peter 2:9-12

Text: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

I would like to begin by doing a word association exercise with you. What is the first word that comes to mind when I say “black?” You, probably, thought “white.” How about if I say “fast?” In all likelihood, you would think “slow.” It seems our minds are conditioned to think in opposites. In that way, we see the contrast between the two concepts. The Bible often uses contrasts, as well. It speaks of “lost” and “found.” There is “new” and “old.” In our text, Peter uses the contrast of “darkness” and “light.” He reminds us that we have been CALLED FROM DARKNESS INTO LIGHT. 1. What Does That Mean To Us? 2. How Does This Show Itself In Our Lives?

Peter, in speaking of God, says that he “called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (Verse 9) We were in darkness. What is this darkness? This is the natural state that all people are born into. We are born in the darkness of sin and unbelief. This is a complete and total darkness. There is absolutely no light in any of us. We had no desire to come to God. This darkness so filled our hearts and lives that we would have been groping around in the darkness, which would have led us into eternal darkness. Perhaps, one way that we can picture this is if we were to imagine that we are in a cave. We got lost in the darkness of the caverns. If there was a pit in the middle of the cave, we would not see it, until it was too late. We would fall to our deaths. If we were left to our devices, we would have stumbled around in the darkness of our sins and unbelief, until we fell headlong into the eternal darkness of hell.

However, Peter says that we have been called from this darkness into God’s wonderful light. The light that is described here is faith and eternal salvation. When the Holy Spirit created faith in your heart, he turned the light on for you. He showed you all of the gifts that have been won for you. He showed you the perfect life that Jesus lived in your place. Even though he was tempted in every way that we are, he never gave into any of them. He lived a perfect life in your place. The Holy Spirit points you to the cross and enables us to understand what happened there. On that bloody cross, Jesus paid for every one of your sins. The Holy Spirit calls your attention to an empty tomb and tells you that Jesus rose from the dead. This is the guarantee that Jesus has paid for all of your sins and that the Father has accepted that payment. Now, rather than wondering around in the darkness of sins, which would have certainly led to our eternal demise, we see the glories of an eternal life that is waiting for us. We have been called from darkness into light.

Since we are in the light, we enjoy a special status. Peter uses some beautiful pictures to describe us now that have been brought into God’s wonderful light. Peter says that we are “a chosen people.” God chose you. God so loved not only the world, but also you in particular. He loved you so much that he sought you out and brought you to faith. Scriptures tell us that we were chosen by God before the creation of the world. The fact that you have been called into this light tells us that it wasn’t just a case of being in the right place at the right time. He wanted you.

Peter, also, tells us that we are a “royal priesthood.” There are two concepts in those words. First of all, we are royalty. We are the sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords. In addition, we are part of the priesthood of God. In the Old Testament, the people of Israel needed the priests to intercede for them. Because we are priests, we do not need anyone to be a mediator between us and God. We have full and free access to God. We can come directly to God in prayer. We are commissioned to a life of service to him.

We are a “holy nation.” By faith, you have become a part of a great family of believers. Faith in Christ made you holy and makes you a part of the Christian church on earth. You have a community of brothers and sisters both here and around the world. This is a support network, as we pray for each other and help each other. We are connected to believers of the past, present, and future. We will fully enjoy this fellowship when we reach heaven.

Peter also refers to us as “God’s special possession.” We belong to God. We are connected to him. We have a place with God. We have a spiritual home. When we think of being a possession of God, it is not like a slave belongs to their master, who has no choice but to do what their master says. Rather, we are God’s children. We belong to him. He has put himself under obligation to take care of us. He promises to provide for us. He promises that he will protect us. All of these blessings are ours because God has called us out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

When someone has something momentous happen in their lives, it changes them. If a student finally get an “A” on a paper in a class that they have been struggling with, it might motivate them to keep working hard in that class. If a person’s life was spared from a horrific accident, it might change their outlook on life. You and I have had an even greater momentous occasion happen in our lives. We have been called from the darkness, which would only lead to eternal death, into the light, which means eternal life. When we think about this, it cannot help but change our lives. The apostle Peter highlights a number of ways that the fact that we have been changed shows itself in our lives.

He writes, “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” (Verse 11) First of all, Peter reminds us that we are “foreigners and exiles.” In other words, Peter reminds us that the world in which we are living is not our final destination. We are just passing through on our way home. Perhaps, it might be helpful to think of coming home from somewhere and stopping at a hotel overnight. We make use of the facilities and amenities of that hotel. We might go swimming in the pool. We eat at the restaurant. We sleep in the beds. However, we know that we do not own any of these things. We are just using them while we are at the hotel. In the same way, we do not get so attached to the things of this world. We enjoy the blessings that God gives to us. They are another evidence of God’s love for us. Yet, we realize that we are just using them for now as we travel on to our heavenly home.

In addition, people who see themselves as “foreigners and exiles” show that they are looking long-term. Satan owns self-gratification. Everything that he has to offer is for now. Rage, hatred, sexual lust, drug and alcohol hunger all want to be satisfied now. Long-term thinking ponders the consequences of present actions. As Christians grow in maturity, they learn to say no to self-gratification if it will harm them or other people or their relationship with the Lord down the line.

This is the reason that Peter urges us to “abstain from sinful desires.” You would think that this would not need to be said. After all, we are Christians. We know what is right and what is wrong. However, we need this encouragement on a regular basis to stay spiritually strong and healthy. We need it for ourselves? Why? Because, we are at war. The desires of the sinful nature seek to take over and destroy the Christian within us. We are all vulnerable to distractions in our value system that make us obsessed with material things and lead us to neglect human relationships. The devil is going to do his level best to have us sin and, over time, give up our faith. We need to be constantly on alert for attacks on our faith. As we grow in our faith, we will be better able to say “No” to the temptations that come our way. Since we have been called out of darkness into God’s wonderful light, we want to thank our God with our entire lives. We want to live for him.

In addition, we want to live for those around us. Peter highlights one group as he writes, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (Verse 12) Living godly lives also helps Christians look good to their unbelieving neighbors. Even while they seek to persecute you into conformity with them, they are watching how you live. They may not understand your beliefs, but there is no mistaking an outward life of honesty, respect for others, and love for your family. Your life might not convert your neighbors, but they will eventually, and perhaps reluctantly, have to give God the glory when he returns at the end of time.

However, it might also happen that, as we live our Christianity, our unbelieving neighbor might begin to be drawn to the God that we are thanking by living this kind of life. They may want to find out more about why we live the way that we do. God may open a door for us to tell them about their Savior from sin. Then, they will join us on the Last Day joyfully giving God glory for having saved us. This is the encouragement that Jesus gives us in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The fact that we have been brought from darkness into light motivates us to live for him and take the opportunities God gives us to tell others.

Most people have, at least, some fear of the dark. The child asks for a nightlight when they go to sleep. When we get home at night, we feel a sense of relief when we turn the light on. We feel safer when we are in the light. Brothers and sisters, you and I were in the darkness. We were helplessly and hopelessly lost in the dark and would have been separated from our God in eternal darkness. However, you and I have been called from that darkness into God’s wonderful light. We enjoy the peace and security of being in that light. We look forward to being in the eternal light of heaven. May God help us to live in that light as we serve him with our entire lives. We pray that God’s light would illuminate many others around the world. We look for the chances that God places in front of us to share the light in our hearts. We praise our God who has called us from the darkness into his wonderful light. Amen.