Grace For The Journey
Darkness. Utter darkness. That is what it is like in a deep cave where there is no source of light. How many of you have ever been in that situation, maybe on a tour of a cave somewhere when they turn off the lights. No matter how much you strain, you cannot see anything. It is black. There are no shades of gray. It is a darkness you can feel.
Now imagine a community of people who are born into such a situation and they live in those circumstances all their lives. Suddenly, someone from the outside world comes in and tries to describe light and the ability to see things. There is no comprehension. They are led by the hand to the entrance of that cave, to where there is light. At first, curious, they approach the light on the outside, but when they at last reach the outside world where the sun is shining brightly, it is too much. Their eyes hurt. It is an unknown world and to them, perhaps even a fearful one. A few stay and learn of this new world, but most quickly return to their cave and the darkness to which they are accustomed, the darkness in which they feel comfortable.
Such is an illustration of what Paul describes in Ephesians 5 regarding the difference between the true Christian and the non-Christian. As Paul begins the chapter he calls on believers to “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Verse 1).
Salvation from sin
In Jesus Christ
Brings about a
That which was dead is made alive. We who were children of the devil are adopted into God’s family and now His children.
True Christians have their “want to” changed.
We now long to grown in our relationship
And be like our heavenly Father
And so we seek to walk in true love as demonstrated by Jesus Christ rather than what the world calls love – which is in reality is anything but love.
The world is marked by immorality, impurity, greed, and language that is full of filthiness, silly talk and coarse jesting. Christians are marked by morality, holiness, generosity and care for others. The old adage that “if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and flies like a duck, its’ a duck!” is true. If a person exhibits the characteristics of the world and not those of Christ, then they are not of Christ regardless of what they say (verse 6) and we should not be deceived. We do not have to be cruel nor do we have to condemn. Our love for God should lead us to speak the truth in love. This might mean that we need to talk with honestly about . . .
- Whether their life matches their talk.
- That if it does not, that is a serious problem.
- To talk about whether they really know Jesus Christ, what He has done, and what that is supposed to mean in their life?”
- To spell out the gospel and challenge them to examine themselves to see whether they be in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Christians are to be like God, not like the world. In verse 7 Paul says, Therefore do not be partakers with them.” The word “partakers” means, “Do not be like them, do not do what they do, do not participate in what they do, do not share in what they do. We used to be like them, but now we are different.”
Verse 8 describes this change, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Notice that it does not say we were “in” or “of” darkness but that we “were formerly darkness” with no qualifier. That was our nature – dead in trespasses and sin (Ephesians 2:1); our minds were darkened (Ephesians 4:1), our hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21), and our deeds were those of darkness (Romans 13:12).
Throughout the Bible darkness is used to describe that which is opposite of God, that which is evil and desires to conceal itself. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul describes demonic power as “rulers of the darkness of this age.” In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul contrasts righteousness describing it as light and lawlessness describing it as darkness. The prophet Isaiah (5:20) used darkness as a description for evil as does Proverbs 2:13.
God and righteousness are often described as light. 1 John 1:5 states, “that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” John 1:4 and 5 describes Jesus in these same terms saying that “in Him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not comprehend it.” The descriptions of God and His angels by the prophets and apostles generally include a bright light around Him and coming from Him – consider . . . His manifestation to the children of Israel as the pillar of fire which gave them as light during the exodus from Egypt; Moses’ face glowing after meeting God on Mt. Sinai; Isaiah’s and John’s visions of heaven; Daniel’s vision of the angels that spoke with Him; Peter, James & John seeing Jesus transfigured before them; or the Apostle Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
We were once darkness, by nature evil and enemies with God, but Jesus came to be a great light to those sitting in darkness (Matthew 4:16). Jesus came to transfer us from the “domain of darkness” to His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). He called us “out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Jesus came “to open [our] eyes so that [we] may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that [we] may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in [Jesus Christ]” (Acts 26:18). He said Himself, ““I have come [as] light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.”
The great tragedy is that most people prefer the darkness to the light. The Bible says in John 1:19-20, “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”
As verse 8 of our text says, “we were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.” John 1:21 adds, “But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Again we find that true Christians are a complete contrast to non-Christians because their nature has been changed.
Those who love the darkness
Shun the light, while
Those that love the light
Shun the darkness.
True Christians now are light in the Lord and are to walk as children of light. What does this mean in a practical sense? Verse 9 gives us three practical ramifications: “for the fruit of the light [consists] in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” Walking in the light means walking in goodness, righteousness and truth.
“Goodness” is also listed in Galatians 5:22 as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It indicates the quality of moral excellence. It is a character trait that results in positive action toward others. It is one of the means by which we bring glory to our Lord (Matthew 5:16; 2 Thessalonians 11:11-12).
“Righteousness” is the fruit of being a child of the light. It is an extension of the righteousness that is given to us in Christ at salvation. We are justified by God’s grace (Titus 3:7) and clothed with His righteousness (Philippians 3:9). But righteousness is not just a theoretical position before God; it is the practical outworking of being a new creature in Christ. We are righteous before God through Christ, be we also will demonstrate righteousness by seeking to live daily for God (Romans 6:18-19), and this affects our relationships with others. We do what is right before God in our dealings with other people and this brings glory to God. We treat others as we would have them treat us (Matthew 7:12).
Righteous is a mark of the Christians life. Paul has already mentioned the evidence of righteous in Chapters 4 & 5 –
- We walk worthy of our calling,
- We find our place of service in the church
- We give it our all so that the whole body will be strengthened
- We walk as a “new man”
- We lay aside our old ways of living.
- We speak the truth and do not lie.
- We deal with our anger properly.
- We do not steal, but rather seek to give.
- We are careful about what we say
- We are careful in how we behave and talk so that we might encourage others in having faith in Christ and offering His grace to all.
- We imitate Christ by loving others the way He loved us.
All this is practical righteousness. It is the fruit of being a child of the light and being made righteous by God through Christ.
A third fruit is “truth.”
Goodness reflect our relationship with others,
Righteousness reflects our relationship with God
And truth our relationship with ourselves.
Evil is associated with darkness. It wants to remain hidden, while that which is good and righteous wants to be exposed. We were once darkness and as a result characterized by lying, deceiving, and living hypocritical lives in an effort to make others think we were something we were not.
As children of light we are honest,
Upright, reliable and trustworthy –
Not because we are trying to impress others,
But because it fits our new nature.
Jesus told us in Matthew 7 that we would know who are true and who are false followers of His by their fruits. The fruits of the children of light are goodness, righteousness and truth.
Verse 10 gives an overall characteristic of those who are children of light . . . they are “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” The fruit on a tree does not have to be well developed for us to figure out what it is, but it needs to be there. In the same manner, if the fruit does not continue to grow so as to reach maturity, then the tree is worthless and is cut down and cast aside (John 15). True children of God strive to do what is pleasing to Him, and that takes some time and effort to learn.
God does not leave us in ignorance, but has given us the Bible so that we will know what is His will. He has given us the Holy Spirit to prompt us on and He sets us in the various circumstances of life so that we can practice our lessons and learn to do what is pleasing to Him. That was why James says we are to rejoice when various trials come into our lives because they are the means by which we learn our lessons and grow into maturity.
The person who is a child of God desires to learn those lessons and do what is pleasing to the Lord. A person who does not know Him does not want to learn the lessons because their interest is pleasing themselves, not the Lord.
The natural difference between the Christian and non-Christian is seen here again. Paul extends the practical aspects of this in verse 11 and 12, “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” To put it simply . . .
Christians are not to be involved
In the evil deeds that
Are done by non-Christians.
Paul comments on this more thoroughly in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, saying, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Christians are to pursue holiness, not evil, and we must be careful about our associations with those who are still living in the darkness. We have to be sure that we are separate enough so that we are not pulled in as participants in their evil nor that we bring shame on the name of Christ because of our affiliation with those that do evil.
Paul is not calling for absolute separation from the world as some groups have advocated. The Bible reminds us in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 that, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world.
The lines of separation are not always easy to define, but we can make those choices as we pursue learning what is pleasing to the Lord instead of ourselves, striving for holiness and rely on the Holy Spirit. The separation is not made based on what other people think, but on what makes you a participant to their evil, and much of the evil that is done is so disgraceful that it should not even be talked about, much less participated in.
Some issues of separation are easy. Should a Christian work for or promote in any way any of the following: An abortion clinic? The Mafia? Illegal drugs? Prostitution? Pornography? Those are all easy. I went to lots of revival meetings and such growing up, and frankly, the way some of the people gave their testimonies you would get a sense they were reveling in telling about how bad they were before they became Christians, often giving titillating details to pique interest in their story.
The cause of Christ
Is never advanced
By glorifying sin!
While we should be diligent to make every effort to refrain from any participation in evil there is a sense in which such separation occurs naturally. Why? Because verse 13 states, “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” When you live righteously those who are evil do not want you around.
While we should never be obnoxious, verse 11 states our exposure of evil should not just be passive. Our righteous presence exposes and deters evil, but it’s also active. We should never be afraid to state the truth. Sin is sin, and righteousness exposes it, and we who are children of the light should not be participants in it. Instead we are to uncover it and lay it bare. This extends to our involvement in our nation’s political process.
Romans 13:4 states that God’s purpose for government is to be “an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.” Our nation has again elected a host of people who advocate great moral evils – abortion, homosexuality, lying, disobedience to parents, etc. (1 Corinthians 6/Romans 1), things that are an abomination against God. Let’s not be afraid of stating what the Bible makes clear – “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” – Proverbs 14:43.
We must call our fellow Americans to repentance and to be humble themselves before the Lord. We need to pray for our elected officials – whether we like them or not. There will be a day they will stand before the Lord and give an account of the stewardship entrusted to them and that will not be a pleasant scene unless they have come to salvation in Jesus Christ. Don’t be afraid to speak up and expose the darkness, call people to repentance and to receive forgiveness in Christ.
Paul concludes in verse 14, “For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.’” This is adapted from Isaiah 29:19 and 60:1 – The dead will “arise, wake and sing,” and “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.”
The statement here is the gospel in a nutshell . . .
- “Awake, sleeper” is God’s call to those lost in the darkness of sin to take notice of their plight. The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin.
- “Arise from the dead” is the call of the Holy Spirit to regeneration. Those dead in trespasses and sin are made alive in Jesus Christ. Christ shining on you is His continued work in conforming you to His image.
- We are “learning to please the Lord” in all that we do, with goodness, righteousness and truth marking our path.
We were darkness, but God radically changed us. We are now light in Jesus Christ. Let that light shine to all those around – proclaim God’s grace in attitude, word, and deed to all – that those seeking the light may find it and be changed too, and that those committed to darkness might run away.
This is God Word … This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”