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:

  1. To not become partners with the children of disobedience (7-8)

  2. To walk as children of the light and discern what is pleasing to the LORD (9-10)

  3. They are not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness. (11)

  4. They are to expose shameful works of darkness (11-12)

  5. They are to awaken and rise from the dead (14)

#1 – Do Not Become Partners With Them (joint-partaker; co-participant)

Ephesians 5:7-8 – Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…

This command is set within the context of a sober warning and also within the context of a glorious truth. Ephesians 5:7 begins with ‘Therefore’. This connects us to the preceding verses. There we were told not to become partners with the ungodly and the sins they commit for two reasons.

  1. First, because we will loose our full inheritance by participating in such things.

  2. Secondly, because of such sins that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. How can a Christian participate in the very things that God came to deliver us from? How can we continue in the very things that separated us from God now that we have been united to Christ and have become ‘light in the Lord’?

In 2 Corinthians 6:16 Paul says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God...”

#2 - Walk as children of the light and discern what is pleasing to the LORD (9-10)

Ephesians 5:9-10 - ...(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

When we walk in the light it will produce fruitfulness: goodness, righteousness, truth and discernment.

  1. Goodness is an attitude of kindness to others which is happy to do far more than is required

  2. Righteousness is the conformity to the nature of God

  3. Truth implies sincerity, genuineness, absence of sham or pretense. Divine and moral truth

  4. A person who walks in the light will discern what pleases the Lord.

  5. How can I please God with this job, this relationship, my time, my money, this hobby, this commitment,

When we walk in the light we are able to examine and verify the quality of something. We are able to discern if something will be pleasing to the Lord. We are able to detect impurities and to prove if something is genuine. In the Eastern culture it is not uncommon for a person to take something out of the store and to inspect it in the light of the sun to determine its quality.

Mindy loves plants and our house is full of them. She cares for them in every way imaginable and even provides grow lights for them when needed. Recently we built a green house for them and Mindy often tells me how healthy her plants are now. They need the true light of the sun to be truly healthy. Christians need the true light of His Word and of His presence in our lives to be healthy. Walking in the Light of God’s word banishes the darkness from our thinking, our thoughts, our motives and will and from our feelings.

#3 – Do not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness. (11)

Ephesians 5:11 – Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Although we live in this world as Christians, we are becoming less and less like the world we live in. We are to associate with these people, but we are not to participate with them in the sins that they are engaged in. Paul commands believers to have no fellowship with barren and worthless works of darkness.

  • We are to no longer share the same views as those who walk in darkness.

  • We are to no longer have the same feelings as those who walk in darkness.

  • We no longer share in the same interests as those who walk in darkness.

Instead, our lives, our conversation, our feelings, our views help to expose the darkness that others are living in. This brings us to the forth command that Paul gives.

#4 - They are to expose shameful works of darkness (11-13)

Ephesians 5:11-12 – Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible...

Light exposes evil. Wherever there is light, evil cannot continue. I grew up in the south where the climate was warmer. It was always interesting to go into a room and turn on the light and to watch as all the insects would scatter and scurry away. It is like this with sin. If sin is exposed by the light it will flee.

We are to expose sin in such a way that they will become convicted. We are to cross-examine and expose it with the full conviction of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We do not expose evil by discussing every evil act like they do on the daytime talk shows. We are not to sit down and discuss all this evil and think that there is healing to be found there. Rather, we are to expose it with the light of God’s word.

There is a point, however, when those who are in such darkness do not flee from the light. Rather they will try to extinguish it by any means possible. They will seek to bring their sin out into the open where it can be normalized and accepted in a society. One commentator defined worldliness as, “What any particular culture does to make sin look normal and righteousness look strange.”

The light can bring healing to people as well. The light exposes sin and condemns it; but the light of Christ also brings healing.

When Ian was born he needed to be placed under a special light so that he could get healthier. Similarly, as Christians we need to walk in the light of Christ which brings healing. Nothing can confirm this more than Ephesians 5:14, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” There is hope for those who are darkness; they can become light in Jesus Christ.

#5 - They are to awaken and rise from the dead (14)

Ephesians 5:14 - ...for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’

Some of these believers must have fallen asleep and are no longer reflecting the light in their lifestyle. They need to wake up! If they will wake up from their spiritual slumber then Christ will shine on them. God’s grace will be given to them and they will begin to reflect Christ in this world.

Paul reminds us that as shameful as such sins can be, there is a cure. God raises people from the dead and provides the grace in Christ to walk in a manner worthy of the calling that they have received.

We learned last week of the importance of thankfulness in our sanctification. Perhaps today we have been reminded of the importance of remembering the value of persisting in a heart of worship by recalling what the Lord has done for us.

Charles Wesley wrote these words,

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.

The apostle Paul reminded us of these words,

“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

So let us leave hear today with a hymn of praise in our hearts for all that God has done through Christ. He has brought us into the light where we have life, health and freedom from the darkness.

Let me also leave you with six things to consider when your desire is to walk in the Light of God’s grace.

John Flavel gives six ways that we are to keep the heart:

  1. Pay attention to the heart (apply the truth of God’s Word to it)

  2. Express deep humiliation over evils in the heart

  3. Pray with earnest supplication for purifying

  4. Impose strong commitments regarding the guarding of the heart

  5. Protect the heart with godly jealousy

  6. Remember that God is always present (You are in the Lord)

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