Summary: Paul reminds us that as new born-again-baptized people, we are new creatures in Jesus Christ who are called to exemplify His light in our living and witness, walking as Gods children of light (Ephesians 5:8).
Ephesians 5:8-14 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.” (ESV).
Text: Ephesians 5:8 -14
It is an old cliche’ that we see from time to time in movies and TV shows where someone will cut off the lights so that they might be able to strike under the guise of darkness without being discovered. The point of this metaphor is that darkness is concealed because the light exposes what people want to keep hidden in the dark.
Another cliche’in literature is the motif that good guys wear white and bad guys wear black. As we know things like that are not always that cut and dry. Not only does darkness like to hide, it also like to show up in disguise. People with bad motives can dress up their motives just like Satan can masquerade---disguise himself as angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14) or the metaphor that Jesus gives to us about wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).
Paul reminds us that there was a time when our motives were not pure when we were a part of the darkness (Ephesians 5:8). Then Paul reminds us that as new born-again-baptized people we are new creatures in Jesus Christ who are called to exemplify His light in our living and witness, walking as Gods children of light (Ephesians 5:8).
The three things we will glean from today’s text are kingdoms, light and discernment.
What kind of children are we? There are two kingdoms in this world---God’s kingdom (mentioned 67 times in the New Testament) and the kingdom of the god of this world aka Satan who “…blinds people from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (II Corinthians 4:4 ESV).
1) Character: Are we children of light ( Ephesians 5:8) or children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3)? It is obvious that the children of light are believers as opposed to the children of wrath who are disobedient, rebellious and deceived by Satan the father of lies (John 8:44).
2) Before and after: A pastor by the name of Bass Mitchell once told this story about what happened on a Christmas break when he was in college. “I could not believe my eyes or ears. I was sitting in church one Sunday, having come back for the Christmas break at college, and there singing in the choir was Charlie. To my knowledge Charlie hated the church. The last time I saw him, he was staggering down the sidewalk after another round with the bottle. His drinking had cost him his family, his job, and just about his life. But all that was before---before he started to attend AA and before he met Christ, my mother explained to me”. (Charles Bugg. ed. The Abingdon Preaching Annual 2002. Bass Mitchell. “Before and After’. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001, pp. 109 -110). It is obvious that Charlie wanted this world could not give him. What Charlie wanted was something that only Jesus Christ could provide---to be a new creation in Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 5:17).
3) Awake: It is possible for people to die in their sleep in the physical as well as the spiritual sense. As it has been said, “Sleep and death are figures which symbolize the condition of the soul apart from Christ; both belong to the realm of darkness.” (George Arthur Buttrick. ed. The Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Volume 10. Francis W. Beare. “The Epistle to the Ephesians: Introduction and Exegesis.” Nashville: Abingdon Press, (thirty-fifth printing) 1984, pp. 711 - 712). Being “awake” is obviously equated being penitent, transformed and being right with God. Isn’t that why Paul says “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” What did Paul mean by saying “Christ will shine on you?” John 1:4- 5 gives us an understanding of what Paul meant: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Who is God telling us to wake up? Who do you know that is asleep? Who do you know that is participating in what Paul called the “unfruitful works of dankness”? “Years ago a George Barna Seminar, [in] Spokane in October of 1998 issued a challenge: The Challenge: 100 million adults attend church weekly, most for 10+ years, 49% not even believers. The average Christian in American today will die without ever having shared his faith in Christ with another person”. Galaxie Software. (2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press. What will we do with this challenge? Don’t we have a lot of work to do in witnessing? John 9:4 “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (ESV).