Main Text: Ephesians 5:6-14
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
In the first half of Ephesians Paul concentrates on telling us what our blessings and position are in Christ; in this last half he instructs us how to put those things into practice in our life so as to actually change our behavior in Christ. Some might say the first half is about the “talk” and this second half the “walk”. The Christian life is often compared to a walk because it begins with one step of faith, necessitates progress, and demands balance and strength. Our goal should not be limited to just learning the information provided in the first half of Ephesians, but to prove it out by putting into practice the second half of Ephesians.
Last week, in Ephesians 5:1-5, we learned that as children that have been adopted we are to:
- Walk in love
- Hate the sins that must not even be named among you.
Adoption theology, established more completely in Galatians and Romans, establishes that the believer both enjoys the blessings of adoption and fights to walk in the obligations of adoption. Having experienced the blessing of adoption, the child now must live in a new way—it is both obligation and natural outflowing of a new life. Paul characterizes this behavior all throughout Ephesians. 5. Here is a summary of what should be done:
- Imitating God (5:1)
- Walking in love (5:2)
- Walk as in the light (5:8b)
- Discern what pleases God (5:10)
- Walk as wise (5:15)
- Make the best use of time (5:16)
- Be filled with the Spirit (5:18b)
- Give thanks (5:4b, 20)
- Submit to one another (5:21)
- Here is what Paul says should not be done:
- Avoid sexual immorality and covetousness (5:3)
- Avoid filthiness, foolish talk, and crude humor (5:4)
- Do not associate with practitioners of the above (5:7)
- Take no part in works of darkness, but expose them (5:11)
- Do not get drunk with wine (5:18)
Our text today includes imagery of light and darkness representing truth and deception. Continuing his thought from verse 5, Paul gives a warning concerning God’s wrath in verse 6. Paul is contrasting the behavior and future destiny of those who are not in Christ. This is not referring to those who commit the occasional act of disobedience, but rather those whose lives are characterized by it without shame and repentance.
Verse 7 warns us as adopted children not to share possessions or covenant relationship with those who practice sexual sin and greed. This is not saying that Christ followers are not to associate with unbelievers – this would cause us to not accomplish our very purpose that Jesus left to us as His Church.
Here are the two main thoughts of our text today.
Walk as children of light
“Now you are light in the Lord” (verse 8). Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). Matthew 5:14 describes Jesus’ disciples as being light in the world. 1 John 1:5 declares that “God is light”. Paul is carrying the thought of taking on the character of their family. Once we lived in darkness and were darkness; now we live in light and are light. We are not light in and of ourselves; rather we are “light in the Lord”.
Paul gives a quick reference summary of life in light – good, right, true (verse 9). These themes of our new life have been covered in previous chapters. This verse is also similar to Micah 6:8.
Discerning what pleases the Lord always guides the behavior of one who is surrendered to Christ (verse 10). This is a more positive way of saying, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). We are not to do things that are in direct contrast to the work that the Holy Spirit is trying to do in our lives. In Romans 12:2, the renewal of our minds occurs so that the Christian is able to discern what God’s will is. In Philippians 1, Paul prayed that believers would have smart love to discern what really counts. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21 we are simply told to discern all things.
Too often we have dumbed down Christian behavior to a set of rules or have imposed matters of conviction rather than working on Holy Spirit discernment. There are no doubt specific things to avoid, but much of it is largely discernment.
Let light do its work
As beloved adopted children we are not participate in dark unfruitful deeds (verse 11). These dark deeds of sexual sin are fruitless – meaning that they are useless in producing what God desires in you. Our actions of good deeds, truthful living, and actions that imitate God and Christ will expose or contrast the deeds of those far from Christ. Verse 12 shows that Paul wants to emphasize the seriousness of these sexual sins without giving details of the depravity.
Exposure to the light of Christ will cause us to take on the quality of light (verse 13). The light of Christ exposes our sins and when we are convinced that Christ can take our sins, we are transformed and changed. Verse 14 has a hymn like statement (drawn from Isaiah 26:19) calling people to wake up from their darkness and experience the transformation that the risen Christ brings. Believers experience resurrection with Christ and are transformed by His life-giving light.
Let truth prevail…walk in light!
Apply to Life
This week, as you reflect on the message, think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Ephesians 5:6-14
In this section, Paul brings our attention to the reality of darkness and light. Why is light something that we can fear and something that can comfort us? How also can darkness be something that causes fear to rise in us and also on another level can make us calm?
As Christians, we are to live our lives not only ‘in the light’ but ‘as children of light’ according to what Paul is writing here. What does it mean to ‘walk as children of light’?
Take a moment to share about a time when you had to expose something that was shameful, disgraceful and wrong. Describe your thoughts during this moment and your emotions that you experienced at the various stages in this story.
Confession is a vital component of what it means to live in communion with one another through Christ. We are to confess our sin to one another. Where does this take place in your life? What sin do you need to confess and bring into the light?
Why is our tendency to hide our sin, cover our wickedness and our shame? In what ways does God show us through the story of the Bible that he sees our sin, loves us as his children and removes our sin from us through Jesus?
How does trusting in the Gospel our biggest motivation for stepping out of the shadows and walking in the prevailing light of truth?