15That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.
Philippians 2:15, 16 King James Version (KJV)
God exhorts us to be things that were difficult 2,000 years ago and are nigh unto impossible in today's world. All three of the words used in the Greek for the English words; blameless, harmless, and without rebuke are words with negative connotations with the Greek letter a prefixed. That little letter means without or simply to not have . What are the three things we are to be without ?
The first word is translated blameless , but would be better translated as without fault or to not be responsible for error, evil, etc. In other words, when people look at the utterly depraved condition of the world, God wants them to look at us and say; It's not their fault this place is so messed up . God does not want His people responsible for the evil in the world.
The second word is translated harmless , but would be better translated as without mix . This word means to be free of any mixture of deceit or any defiling material. God wants His people pure , not all mixed up with the world. He wants us to not get defiled by all the filth we are surrounded by daily.
The third word is translated without rebuke , and that is a pretty accurate translation. The word means without censure or irreproachable . God wants His people to be without blame in a moral sense. He doesn't want His people to be blamed for moral lapses that are no different than those found in the world.
Verse 15 goes on to say that we are in the midst (or middle) of a crooked and perverse nation . Needless to say this verse could have been written today. We are strategically positioned right smack dab in the middle of a generation which is both crooked and perverse. Crooked means; to be crooked, bent or warped and is used in the sense of being perverse or wicked . A warped stick is usually crooked or bent. Warped wood is useless since it will not lie flat.
The word perverse means; distorted, twisted, perverted, corrupt or vicious . In our society, those who are perverted have been more or less accepted and those who are twisted and distorted in their morals are laughed at and embraced for being different . The first meaning of the English word vicious is; addicted to vice, immoral, depraved . I do not believe these types of words are any laughing matter. People addicted to vice are dangerous people for anyone to be around. Addicts are notorious for doing whatever they need to do to get their fix of whatever they are addicted to. Vicious people will stop at nothing to feed their warped and depraved addictions.
The word translated nation is really a poor translation. The Greek word is genea from which we get the English word generation . Specifically this word refers to the people living in any one period, regardless of age, race or class. Thus, no matter when someone reads Philippians 2:15 it would always be referring to their generation or to the people living in that period of time. So, although our current generation is extremely crooked and perverted; every generation has been for millennia.
Ever since Adam disobeyed God's commandment and ushered sin into this world, every person born in this world was conceived in sin and this sin has been passed down since the time of Adam. Jesus Christ paid the price for us to be freed from the law of sin and death and be declared righteous in God's sight. Man by nature is evil, crooked and perverted. The born again believer has a new nature which is pure, holy and righteous before God. II Corinthians 5 tells us; old things are passed away, behold all things become new . Renewing our minds allow us to actually see and live those new things.
As we spend our life in the middle of this crooked and perverted generation; God wants us to not get sucked into this world with all its filth. He wants us to be so clean and holy that the world has no option but to say; it's not their fault ... or we cannot blame them... If we can stay uncontaminated and not mixed up with this world, then it is possible for us to shine as lights in this world.
The word for shine means to appear, become visible or to shine . When we take a stand on moral issues and not become contaminated by this world; not only are we then without fault, without mix and without reproach in the world's eyes, our light becomes visible to others as we shine.
The moon has no light of its own. How then are able to see it? When there is a full moon, we see the full reflection of the sun bouncing off the moon. God wants and needs us to reflect His glory just as Moses did when he returned from being in God's presence. Moses' face literally shone after he spent time with God. Moses was radiant, and his radiance was a sign to everyone where he had just been.
We shine as lights, Philippians 2:16a says, by holding forth the word of life . As we hold forth the Word of God, which is the Word of life, then we shine the light of God into the darkness and gloom of this world. We are ambassadors for Christ in the sense that we represent him on earth. What better representation could we become than to look into the mirror and be changed into the same image we are beholding which is the glory of the Lord. Shine on holy ones. Shine as radiant representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ!