Day 6: Ephesians 5:6-14
Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. Therefore, do not become their partners. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth— testing what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made visible, for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore it is said:
Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.
1. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians mostly focuses on the unity of the believers. This was a big deal because the city of Ephesus was famously rebellious and argumentative, pretty much everyone now in the church were used to not thinking much of each other, and the pressures of forming this new society were causing strife. But right here he turns to another concern: don’t be like the people around you. Paul wants the Ephesian Christians to understand that they are children of light, not of darkness, and so they need to make a clear distinction between their own behavior and that of the world around them. Their concern is to expose the works of darkness, not to participate in it. The empty arguments Paul is cautioning them against are still around, telling believers in Christ that because they are saved by grace through faith, they need not bother about ensuring their behavior marks them as different from the world around them. Such arguments are indeed utterly empty, and they always have been.
2. Jesus is the light. He exposes the fruitless works of darkness. He makes those who believe in him children of light. He shines on them, awaking the sleeper, so they will rise up from the dead.
3. To rise up from the dead means living a new life. Jesus spoke of being born again (John 3), and Paul says anyone in Christ is a new creation. We, benefactors of a new life, should not act like dead people. This is not moralism or legalism. We are made alive in Christ, but that new life is to be lived out as a new creation. If there is no distinction in the life of a person who claims to be alive in Christ and a person who cares nothing for God, we must ask the question if they are alive after all. We should heed Paul’s warning to the Ephesians and Get up…rise from the dead. In doing so we will expose the shameful works of darkness, and so call others to repentance. Our lives are witness.
4. The rising light of Christ is still rising. As Jesus returns to judge the world he will expose every dark deed, and bring everyone under his light. All will finally be made visible, for death or for life.