LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE BEFORE MEN
By John C. Carpenter
 
The Lord told His disciples, Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mat 5:13-20) In the believer, what is light, and what does it mean to let your light shine?
 
LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE
 
In verse 16, the word light is translated from the Greek word phos, which means to show, to cause to appear, or to manifest. The word shine is translated from the Greek word lampo, which means to radiate brilliance, or to give light. Light is also defined within the scriptures: The apostle Paul told the Ephesian believers, But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest [to render apparent, to cause to appear, declare] is light [Greek, phos] (Eph 5:13). Therefore, light is that which causes what has previously been unseen or hidden to become apparent, declared, known, and manifested, whereas shine means to be manifested brilliantly.
 
So, if light makes the unseen visible and apparent, what is it that has been unseen and hidden from men that Christ wants His disciples to make visible and manifest? The apostle Paul gives us the answer. Paul instructed the believers in Corinth, Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light [to illuminate, enlighten, make to see, the revelation] of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine [radiate, beam] unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:1-6). The light is Christ and the gospel of Christ, and what the gospel is to reveal, that has previously been hidden, is the knowledge of the glory of God.
 
To Galatian believers, Paul referred to the faith which should afterwards be revealed [to remove the cover, to disclose] (Gal 3:23). To the Ephesians, Paul referenced Christ and the gospel of Christ when he wrote, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation [made known, declared] he made known unto me the mystery [of Christ]; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel (Eph 3:2-6). Paul even referred to Christ within the believer. He wrote Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Col 1:26-28).  The Lord also referred to the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21).
 
What Christ wanted His disciples [and all believers] to make visible and apparent was their faith, their inner knowledge of the glorious gospel of Christ, and Christ in them, who is the image and glory of God. When Christ instructs His disciples to let their light so shine before men, He is instructing them to reveal Christ and His gospel to the entire world, but especially the unsaved. However, we must ask, how are believers in Christ to do that. How are we to make known unto all men, the entire world, the very image and glory of God, Jesus Christ, and the salvation which is available through faith in Christ.
 
THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS
 
As we saw in our subject verses, Chris told His disciples, Let your light [the presence of the glorious gospel of Christ within the believer] so shine [be revealed, manifested] before men, that they may see [be aware of, perceive, understand] your good [beautiful, honest, worthy] works [acts, toil, deeds, labor]. If the believer in Christ is to reveal, through good works, the gospel of Christ, and therefore, the image and glory of God the Father, we must ask what these good works are that the believer is to perform.
 
Within our subject verses, Christ later gave some insight to His disciples about these good works. The Lord also said to them, Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees [with their efforts to keep the law for salvation], ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mat 5:17-20). The good works to be revealed within the believer are the commandments of God. Christ went on to explain to His disciples that these commandments must be fulfilled within the believer in a way which exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. What does Christ mean when He says that the believer's righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? In order to obtain righteousness and eternal life, the scribes and Pharisees, as all of Israel, worked at keeping the Jewish law, the entire law, even the most minor of laws and statutes. The scriptures gave Israel, which included the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ, specific requirements for righteousness and life. God the Father said, Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye (Prov 7:2). To the Roman believers, Paul referred to the keeping of the Jewish law, the law of Moses, when he wrote, For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of [fully keeping] the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them (Rom 10:5). But, as Christ explained to His disciples, He expects a greater righteousness from those who have faith in Him. Jesus Christ desires a righteousness not of the law, but righteousness of the heart as the result of the operation of the Holy Spirit, and of faith. As the apostle Paul explained that the commandments of God are to be written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart (2 Cor 3:3).
 
Then, what commandments was Christ referring to? The first commandment Christ mentioned to His disciples was that they were not only not to kill, but were not to even become angry with their brother. He told His disciples, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (Mat 5:21-22).
 
In the second commandment, Christ commanded His disciples not to commit adultery, or even to look upon a woman to lust after her. Christ instructed, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Mat 5:27-28).
 
Christ's third commandment contained instructions about divorce. Christ commanded His disciples, It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery (Mat 5:31-32).
 
The fourth commandment Christ gave His disciples pertained to oaths. Christ told them, Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil (Mat 5:33-37).
 
Christ's fifth commandment to His disciples had to do with retaliation and revenge. Christ said, Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away (Mat 5:38-42). Christ commands believers to resist not evil.
 
The fifth commandment Christ gave His disciples pertained to loving our enemies. He said to them, Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect [complete, mature], even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Mat 5:43-48). Because the Lord desires the believer in Christ to be fully spiritually mature, He commands the believer to love our enemies, and to bless them which curse and hate you, a maturity that is often difficult, but always commanded.
 
Christ then gave His disciples other commands. He instructed them about giving to the needy (Mat 6:1-4), the Lord's prayer (Mat 6:5-15), fasting (Mat 6:16-18), storing up heavenly treasures, as opposed to earthly treasures (Mat 6:19-24), anxiety about the issues of life (Mat 6:25-34), judging others (Mat 7:1-6), asking, seeking, and knocking (Mat 7:7-11), doing unto to others as we would have them do unto us (Mat 7:12-14), warnings against false prophets (Mat 7:15-20), and, lastly, the importance of doing God's will (Mat 7:21-23).
 
Christ then concludes His commandments to His disciples with these warnings: Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell [fail, not bear fruit] not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Mat 7:24-27). Christ desires us not only to hear His sayings and commandments, but to do them; and He promises that those who follow His commands will not fail.
 
Loving and following Jesus Christ through keeping all of His commandments is clearly God's will. The Lord had a interesting interaction with a young man who was rich in worldly goods. Scriptures tell us, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Mat 19:16-22).
 
The scriptures, in fact, teach that those who know God, are in God, and love God will keep His commandments. The apostle John taught, hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him (1 John 2:3-5). Christ makes it clear that if we want to be perfect, or spiritually developed and mature, we must follow His commands, and when we do, he promises that we shall have treasures in heaven. Christ goes so far as to say, If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15), and He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him (John 14:21). Believers in Christ are to keep the commandments of God not in an effort to gain righteousness or salvation, but because we love Christ and His heavenly Father. Paul explained true righteousness to Titus: For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:3-5). Paul also wrote the believers in Galatia, if righteousness come by the [the keeping of the complete] law, then Christ is dead in vain (Gal 2:21). There is no doubt that the believer in Christ is to keep the commands of Christ and His Father in heaven, but why is this necessary and important?
 
GLORIFY YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN
 
Within our subject verses, the apostle Paul clearly answered this question. He wrote, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify [honor and magnify for the purpose of bringing praise and worship] your Father which is in heaven. The believer in Christ is to allow Christ and the gospel of Christ within us to shine forth, or be revealed, to men and the world through our keeping the commandments of God, so that we may glorify God the Father in heaven. We alone are not to glorify God; all of creation is to glorify God the Father, as well. In fact, the primary purpose of life is to glorify God in heaven.
 
Christ, Himself, sought to glorify His Father in heaven, both in life and in death. Just before His death and resurrection, Christ prayed to God, Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again (John 12:27-28). Later, Christ lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee (John 17:1). Creation even glorifies God the Father. David explained the purpose of the heavens by writing, The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork (Psa 19:1). Paul instructed the Roman believers, Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 15:5-6). Paul tells the believer, ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Cor 6:20). John appropriately asked, Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest (Rev 15:4).  Christ answered this question for us. The Lord personally planted the seed of the gospel of Christ and the kingdom of God within hearts and minds of each and every believer. It is the responsibility of the believer to follow the commandments of God, and thereby glorify our heavenly Father. The believer must let his or her light shine before men, that God may be glorified. This is Christ's command, and the Father's will. AMEN.




 
 
THE CHRISTIAN HERALD
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
 
"Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we
faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not
walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's
conscience in the sight of God.  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to
them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the
minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel
of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.  For we
preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves
your servants for Jesus' sake.  For God, who commanded the
light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face
of Jesus Christ."
 
(2 Cor 4:1-6)

 
Home
Our
Beliefs
TCH
Articles
Study
Aids
 
Books
Subject-Verse Index
 
Mini-
Studies
 
Links