Ephesians 5:7-14 Walk in the Light
Our text his morning is Ephesians 5:7-14.
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.”
Many of you have heard of Charles Wesley. Charles, the brother of John Wesley, was the famed hymn writer. At nineteen he entered Oxford. He was full of life and vigor and he later said that in that first year of college he was lost in diversions. That year had begun to show signs that there was more life in his body than there was life in his soul.
It was during his second year at Oxford that he grew serious about spiritual matters. Neither he or his brother had yet received Jesus Christ as their savior, but they began to seek to live the Christian life in every area. They attempted to do this so methodically that they were called ‘Methodists’ by their fellow students.
Despite Charles’ best efforts his old sins of anger and drinking still plagued him. It hindered his ministry and adversely affected those that he was trying to minister too. Over time he found himself ill, depressed, and in a spiritual crisis.
Charles began attending a church where Peter Boehler was the pastor. It was there that both, Charles and John, were saved. Charles wrote, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ. I saw that by faith I stood.”
Shortly after his conversion Charles wrote in his journal that he had written a hymn. Many believe the hymn to be, ‘ And Can It Be’. They point to one of the stanzas which appears to be part of Charles’ testimony.,
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and natures night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray -
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Charles’ life was changed, and he gained victory over both his temper and his drinking habit. He wrote, “I was amazed to find my old enemy, intemperance, so suddenly subdued, that I almost forgot I was ever in bondage to him.”
His preaching became more powerful. One man testified, “I think I never heard any man labor so earnestly to convince his hearers they were all by nature in a sinful, lost, undone, damnable state; that notwithstanding, there was a possibility of their salvation through faith in Christ.”
Charles preached passionately to convince his hearers that they were by nature darkness. And this darkness was characterized by: sinfulness, lostness, undoneness, and this left them in a damnable state. However, Charles did not leave them hopeless. He preached the ‘Good News’ to them that all of this can be overcome by Christ.
Apart from the grace of God every person is in darkness. Their life is characterized by fruitlessness and shameful things (11-12). They are spiritually dead and the wrath of God is upon them. The apostle Paul had given this dreadful warning in Ephesians 5:6 saying, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
The apostle Paul, like Charles Wesley, has spoken a great deal about the sinful condition of our natures. But he has also had a lot to say about Christ and how we can have salvation in Him. Even in our text, in Ephesians 5:7-14, Paul reminds Christians that not only has the wrath of God been removed from their life; but they have been given an altogether different nature. They are so far from being under the wrath of God that Paul says that they are ‘in the Lord’. He says in Ephesians 5:7, “...at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”
Like Charles, when the apostle Paul considers these things, he also begins to pen the words of what is believed to be an early Christian hymn taken from Isaiah 60:1 which says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (14)
John Flavel, who we mentioned in last weeks sermon, said, “The heart of man is his worst part before it is regenerated, and the best afterward… The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God… To keep the heart, necessarily supposes a previous work of regeneration, which has set the heart right, by giving it a new spiritual inclination, for as long as the heart is not set right by grace as to its habitual frame, no means can keep it right with God.”
If the heart is not given a new spiritual inclination by grace, as Charles Wesley learned, then no means can keep it right with God. Transformation cannot occur even when the most stringent methods are used. Apart from Christ we will remain spiritually dead and slaves to our disobedience until God gives us a new heart that is inclined to begin to reflect him in goodness, righteousness and truth.
John Calvin said, “The object of regeneration...is to manifest in the life of believers a harmony and agreement between God’s righteousness and their obedience and thus to confirm their adoption that they have received as sons.” Paul speaks of this in Ephesians 5:9 saying, “...for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.”
In the broader context, there are 9 imperatives or commands that are given to believers. Our text today contains five commands. They are: