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Walk in Light – Ephesians 5:8-14

Back in Ephesians 4:17-19, Paul said we are no longer to live as the Gentiles do: in futility of their thinking, in darkness of understanding, and lust for sensual indulgence. In chapter 5, he addresses each of these areas (taking them in reverse order) and shows how in Christ we have a superior way. Our last post dealt with 5:1-7 where Paul contrasts the lusts of the Gentiles with the love the Christ has for us – and which we are to have for Him and for one another.

Ephesians 5:8-14 contrasts the darkness of the Gentiles with the light that is in the Lord.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even tomention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

The Scriptures often speak of light and darkness to contrast two divergent life styles and ways of looking at life.

When Jesus began His ministry in Galilee, Matthew declares this was in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy:

Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.– Matthew 4:15-16 (cf. Isaiah 9:1-2)

The “light” Jesus brought was more than His teachings. It was his Life. John makes this clear in his first epistle:

God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by 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, His Son purifies us from all sin….

I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in Him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. – 1 John 1:5-7; 2:8-11

The Gnostic wanted to make light equivalent to knowledge. This is the way many people think of it today as well. While we do need to learn from Jesus if we would “see the light,” what we need to learn is more than intellectual. This is a light that shines in men’s hearts to give them understanding of how to live as Jesus lived.

Paul wrote of this in 2 Corinthians as well. In chapter 3, he spoke of Moses veiling his face so the people could not see the fading of the glory that shone there whenever he would enter the presence of Yahweh. But Paul affirmed that we have a greater glory, and increasing glory, that glows brighter and brighter as we reflect His glory (See 2 Corinthians 3:18).

The theme of light continues into the next chapter as well:

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:4-6

As we contemplate the glory of the Christ, we are being transformed into His likeness – and He is the image of God!

Walking in light, then, is clearly walking in God’s glory and learning to live as God would have us to live. That is the significance of so many of the statements and phrases in Ephesians 5:8-14. Consider these as being indicative of living or walking in the light:

  • Live as children of light.
  • The fruit of the light is goodness, righteousness and truth. These are contrasted with the fruitless deeds of darkness.
  • Find out what pleases the Lord. (Evidently, what pleases Him is what He spends so much time talking about – loving one another.)

It is time for us to wake up from our sleep. Many believe the last part of verse 14 is a part of an ancient Christian hymn: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” I have heard it said that this was a song the early Church would sing at a baptism. If I had the musical talent to do so, I would set these words to music and hope that the Church today would adopt them – not only for baptisms, but also as exhortation to living in the light all of the time.

There is only one thing that will blind our hearts. That is the one whom Paul called “the god of this age.” Certainly there is much in this age that would turn our eyes away from Jesus. The pseudo-wisdom and sophistry of this age parades itself as “enlightenment.” Yet, as Jesus said to the Jews who asked Him, “What? Are we blind too?”, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” (John 10:40, 41).

My observation has been that those who are most certain that they are enlightened proclaimers of Truth are often the most in the dark when it comes to truly seeing what pleases the Lord and how to walk with Him as children of light.

All of us are somewhat like the man of Bethsaida in Mark 9:22-25. He was blind; some people brought him to Jesus. Jesus spit on his eyes and put His hands on him and asked if he saw anything. He said he could see people who looked like trees walking. Jesus put His hands on him again, and he saw everything clearly. I used to wonder why Jesus healed this man in this particular way. Now I think I understand. Jesus is the one who brings us into the light so we can see. However, our coming to see the light is a process. Each encounter with Jesus helps us to see more clearly.

Now, we may see as in a cloudy mirror. The time will come, however, when we will no longer need a mirror to see His glory, for we will see Him as He truly is – and we will be like Him (see 1 John 3:3).

NEXT: Walk in Wisdom – Ephesians 5:15-21

PREVIOUS: Walk in Love – Ephesians 5:1-7


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