This Sunday we continued our series in Ephesians. You can view the sermon here.
Paul, the author of the letter, never gives a command without grounding it in the reality of who we are as Christians. Ephesians is structured this way. The first three chapters deal with the realities of who we are in Christ; then Paul moves to the implications, or the actions Christians should take because of this truth. In Ephesians 5:8-14 this pattern continues.
We were darkness but now we are light in the Lord (5:8). The text does not say we were in darkness but rather we were darkness. Our lives were characterized by sin and ignorance of God’s truth. But that is not who we are now. Now we are light. We are holiness and we have been given knowledge of God’s truth.
The implication of this is that now we are to walk as children of light. Remember, in 5:1 the command was to be imitators of God. That thinking continues here. God is light and there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5). Therefore we are to walk as the children of light whom we are. This is our identity.
We live from the identity that is most important to us. This can range from the role we have at our job to being a spouse or being a student. Paul is calling us to live out of a higher identity than we could ever give ourselves. God, our Father, has made us children of light, He has placed us in Christ. This is the identity that should drive our behavior.
How do we know if we are walking in light? Paul says the fruit of light is all that is good, right, and true (5:9).
Is the action good, is it holy? Then it is walking in light.
Is it right? Then it is walking in light.
Is it true? Then it is walking in light.
Walking in light is pleasing to God. For those who are in Christ, Christians, we have the ability to please God. Jesus said if we love Him we will obey Him. Our obedience, walking in light and holiness, pleases and glorifies God. Our obedience tells God that we think the identity He has given us is the most important truth about us.
Children of light will not take part of the unfruitful works of darkness (5:11). This is the negative prohibition. Those who are darkness are not to be imitated; rather God, who is light, should be imitated. It is not even proper to talk about the shameful things those who are darkness do in secret (5:12).
The Holy Spirit, through the words of Paul, is calling us to a higher standard than we normally hear. Not only are we to do what is good, right, and true; we are not to take part in the unfruitful works of darkness. Not only are we to not take part in works of darkness; we are not even to talk about them. This is a fully encompassing holiness. Every aspect of our life should be holy.
Notice I said this is about your life and not someone else. It is easy to read a passage like this and think about the sins of the culture and call those out. But Paul is mainly concerned with our walking in light. The darkness can’t walk in light. That’s the point. Why would we be surprised when darkness acts like darkness.
We should be more surprised when we who are light take part in the unfruitful works of darkness. Are you surprised when you sin? Does it grieve you when you sin? That is the most shocking thing, not the sins of the culture.
Rather our good works, our lives of holiness, can be a rebuke to the culture around us. Who have your actions rebuked lately? This is a consequence of walking in light, not the reason we walk in light. We walk in light to glorify God and please Him. That is our driver, that is our motive.
May God be gracious to us this week to help us walk as children of light. We have a great Father who has given us a new heart so that we might imitate Him. Why would we want to do anything else?