During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus utters these amazing words: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). With this, He reveals a principle that, though easily misunderstood, is nevertheless seen throughout the Bible. It tells how, as followers of Christ, we can bring glory or shame to God by our actions.
Read Ezekiel 36:23–27. How was God going to vindicate His name in ancient Israel?
These verses comprise one of the classic passages on the new covenant. God desires to work a dramatic transformation among His people. He will cleanse them (vs. 25) and grant them a new heart and a new spirit (vs. 26) so that they will become a holy people who will follow God’s commandments. What God wants to accomplish is to justify and sanctify believers, and by their lives they will honor God for who He is and what He does (vs. 23).
Of course, the key element in vindicating God’s character before the universe is the Cross. “Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 761.
At the same time, the New Testament followers of Christ are called a “spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men” (1 Cor. 4:9, NKJV). That is, what we do is being seen not only by other people but by heavenly intelligences as well. What kind of witness do we present? By our lives we can make known the “manifold wisdom of God . . . to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10, NASB). Or our lives can bring shame and reproach on the name of the Lord whom we profess to serve.
What kind of spectacle, both to other people and to angels, does your life present? Is it one in which God is glorified, or one in which Satan can exult, especially because you profess to be a follower of Jesus?