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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on June 28, 2017 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; June 28, 2017 from Ephesians 5:6-14

Theme: Paul teaches us some fundamental commitments we must keep when it comes to bearing the light in this dark world.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

In His ‘Sermon on The Mount’, the Lord Jesus gave this timeless mandate to His followers—a mandate that applies to them in all ages and all cultures: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

We as followers of Jesus, living as we are in our present cultural context, feel a great deal of pressure—from several fronts—to keep silent about our faith and to refrain from bringing the revealed word of God to bear on various social and moral issues. And so, we are often hesitant to obey the command of our Lord to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ because of the opposition, rejection, and hostility we will experience. As it says in John 3, “light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (see John 3:19-21); and very often, we, as followers of Jesus, find ourselves running headlong against that ‘love for darkness’ in some very painful ways. The fact is that the darker the culture, and the more in love people become with that which God says not to do, the harder it is to obey our Lord’s command to be ‘light-bearers’ in this dark world. And yet, that’s why our Lord left us here.

The apostle Paul had been calling his beloved fellow-believers to walk in a manner worthy of their calling (Ephesians 4:1); and that ‘worthy walk’ includes a faithful, manifest walk in ‘the light’—uncompromising with respect to God’s revealed truth, holding that truth out in the open, and bearing it in such a way as to confront and dispel spiritual darkness. In Ephesians 5:1-5, Paul describes something of that darkness; and now, in verses 6-14, he describes the fundamental commitments we—as believers—must operate under as we walk as light-bearers in a dark world.

* * * * * * * * * *

First, he urges his readers …


In a world given over to darkness, it’s easy to be deceived about it. The arguments set forth for doing what God says not to do are impressive, sophisticated, passionate, and often powerfully persuasive. But Paul states the matter plainly: “Let no one deceive you with empty words …” (v. 6a). He is speaking of hollow sophistries and tricky philosophies that make it sound as if sin isn’t really as bad as the Bible says; or that the times have changed and the old standards no longer apply; or that the righteous standards of God have now been proved to be unnatural to who we really are. And note carefully: There would be no reason to be told not to be deceived if there wasn’t a very real possibility of our actually being deceived. (The devil has had experience in crafting deceitful arguments in favor of disobedience from as far back as the Garden of Eden!)

Paul had just finished speaking of some very serious, soul-damning sins in verses 1-5; and especially v. 5. And we must not be deceived by the arguments that these concerns aren’t really as important as the Bible makes them out to be: “for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (v. 6b). Paul made mention of a similar list in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; and there also, he warned, “Do not be deceived” about the fact that a persistent, unrepentant adherence to these sins will indeed keep someone from the kingdom of God. And so; Paul states a very serious and important rule about these sins to the believer—charged as he or she is with being light bearers in this dark world: “Therefore do not be partakers with them.” We absolutely must keep ourselves unspotted from the sins of this world (James 1:27).

Second, note we are urged to …


“For you were once darkness …” Paul says (v. 8a); and that is true. At one time, we too where characterized by those sins. But even when we were dead in our sins, God made us alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4). And so, Paul says, “but now you are light in the Lord” (v. 8b). We have been delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Colossians 1:13). And as John puts it in 1 John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” We have freely confessed our sins so that we may be cleansed of them; and we now—ongoingly—turn from them in loving fellowship with Christ.

That’s what we now are. And so, Paul commands, “Walk as children of light” (v. 8c). We are to conduct our lives now as people who have been delivered out darkness and transferred into the light—because that’s consistent with our new identity as sons and daughters of light. What a difference our identity should make in our conduct! Paul adds “(for the fruit of the Spirit [or “of light”, as it is in some translations] is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) …” (v. 9). The world of darkness all around us lives in contradiction to those principles; practicing ungodliness, unrighteousness, and untruth. But those who are led by the Spirit, by contrast, produce the fruit of the Spirit in everyday, real practical living in this world (see Galatians 5:15-26). The whole motive of such a life is different from the world of darkness: one in which our new motive is “finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (v. 10), rather than what gratifies the sinful desires. We, as it were, bring our Bible with us into all areas of everyday life; and are constantly searching out what it tells us about God’s will in each practical step.

And here’s where being ‘light-bearers’ in this world shows itself to be demanding …


Someone once said that “fellowship” means ‘two fellows in the same ship’; and we’re to make sure that we’re not ‘in the same ship’ with those works that are contrary to the fruit of the Spirit. Paul specifies—in a categorical and uncompromising way: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness …” (11a).

This, of course, does not mean that we have no contact or relationship with the people of this world (see 1 Corinthians 5:9-10). Nor does it mean that we treat the people of this world in any other way than lovingly and respectfully. But it does mean that we must separate ourselves from the aspects and practices of this fallen world that are sinful—and even that this world considers respectful. It sometimes feels awkward when we must do so; but we must say a clear ‘no’ to our participation or promotion of such things. As Paul puts it in verse 7, we must not be ‘partakers’ with the people of this world in the sins that placed our Savior on the cross. When we keep ourselves separate, in faithful obedience to our Lord, the world will think that we are strange (1 Peter 4:4). But that, of course, is our call. We are to be a ‘special’ people (“a peculiar people” as it is in the King James Version); and in the process of being so, we both proclaim and preserve our witness as light-bearers.

And that leads us to the hard call to …


We’re not doing our full duty if we just refrain from participating in such sins. Our duty requires more: “but rather expose them” (v. 11b). We’re not just to be inactive. Rather, we’re to be very active. We’re to shine the light of God’s revealed truth upon the unfruitful deeds of darkness and call them for what they are; “For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light” (vv. 12-13).

How do we do this? We’re certainly should not go around and intentionally make nuisances of ourselves—protesting and shouting in inappropriate and obnoxious ways. However it may be that we are to be ‘light’ in this world, we are always to do so in a way that shows “regard for good things in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). We should always make sure that, when we do our duty in this world, we do it in a way that consistently conveys genuine love for people and that affirms their fundamental dignity as eternal beings made in the image of God. We best bear the light of God’s truth with us into this world when, anytime we are confronted with the pressure to participate in evil, we boldly and clearly declare what God’s word says about it; and then respectfully explain why, as followers of Jesus Christ, we cannot participate or partner with that which God says not to do. We make it clear that we’re not telling anyone else what to do; but that, rather, we’re simply declaring what we ourselves will or will not do—and explain the reason why. As Peter put it:

And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Peter 3:14-17).

The people of this world will think that we’re being ‘judgmental’ when we speak the truth of what God says about the sins of this world. Making such a declaration will often get us into trouble with the culture around us. But there is a very necessary and redemptive purpose in it all. Paraphrasing Isaiah 60:1, the apostle writes,

“Therefore He says:

Awake, you who sleep,

Arise from the dead,

And Christ will give you light” (v. 14).

* * * * * * * * * *

The Holy Spirit is powerful; and He is able to use our faithful witness to open the hearts of others—just as He opened our own heart to the gospel. But when we refuse to do our duty as ‘light’ in this dark world, we greatly hinder His work and short-circuit many of the opportunities. May it be then, dear brothers and sisters, that we faithfully do our duty!

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