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).
Who likes the dark?
1) Preferences: We know that cockroaches and bats prefer the darkness to the light. Rodents, reptiles also prefer the dark. https://animals.mom.me/animals-that-live-in-dark-cool-places-12573467.html Cockroaches can give themselves away in the dark by the sound they make in moving. Let’s not forget that crickets love the dark. If you have ever had one in your house at night you won’t see him but you will certainly hear him. Evil also prefers the dark for the same reason that all of the creatures we have mentioned ---cover.
2) Illumination: Unlike cockroaches, we do not have the ability for night vision. Someone has sarcastically pointed out “A shin is a device invented for finding furniture in the dark”. (James Hewett. Illustrations Unlimited. Wheaton, Illinois:Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 1988, P. 11). For that reason, it is good to know that they make plug-in lights with sensors so that when it is dark the light will come on. Who didn’t have a nightlight growing up?
Who needs light?
1) A Physical necessity: We all need light. Plants need light. A) We need light for our physical well being. We need the sunlight for the sake of our vitamin D levels because it effects our bone health. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a disease known as rickets. “Vitamin D helps your child's body absorb calcium and phosphorus from food. Not enough vitamin D makes it difficult to maintain proper calcium and phosphorus levels in bones, which can cause rickets”. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rickets/symptoms-causes/syc-20351943 B) We need light for our emotional well being. There are places in the world like Alaska and Antartica where there are literally six month of sunlight and six months of light and six months of darkness. In some cases people can get depressed from a lack of sunlight.
2) Spiritual necessity: Light was involved in creation when God created all that He created. Just as we need physical light for our health, we need spiritual light for our spiritual health. John 1:4-5 says In him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. (5) The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …Jesus told us that He is the light of the world (John 8:12). John_9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” …. (ESV).
Is the light of Christ always relevant to our current circumstances?
1) Belief: In John 16:30-33 Jesus answers His disciples, “Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? (32) Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. (33) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (ESV).
2) Quarantine in place: Yes indeed “ … we are scattered each to our own home(s) (John 6:32) during this time of being quarantined, but God is still in control! Jesus is our Shepherd---the Shepherd of our souls and we know that He will guide us through this dark valley!
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (ESV).
Our current circumstances are challenging our belief!
Do you have or are you getting cabin fever?
1) Predator: Peter knew a lot of what it feels like to be tested because Jesus told him that Satan wanted to sift him like wheat (Luke 22:31). That is certainly why Peter tells us to watchful of our adversary---the devil! 1 Peter_5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (ESV). No one will doubt that Satan (aka the devil) is using these current circumstances to test our faith!
2) Faith appraisal: If Jesus were to appraise our faith right now where would we stand? We are bombarded by the images of …
?bare grocery store shelves,
?World-wide and local Coronavirus (aka Codiv 19) test confirmation and death statistics,
? the rise and wane of the stock market,
? updates on vaccination development progress,
?restaurant closures except for drive-through services
?Changes in regular operating store hours
?Temporary changes in the way we will worship during crowd restriction guidelines
?Diminished pay checks and working hours
We need to remember that God is still in control!!! Do we believe? By the way when I went to lunch Sunday with church members at Lizard’s Thicket one of our members (Linda Mosser) said, “People can buy and hoard all this toilet paper, but it won’t save them!” Do we believe in Jesus?
How well are we discerning the obstacles of our faith?
1) Obstacles: Ravi Zacharius once said, “ The greatest obstacle to the impact of the Gospel has not been its inability to provide answers, but the failure on our part to live it out.” (101 Quotable Christians. Ravi Zacharius. [“Beyond Opinion.” 2007]. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing, Inc. 2014, p. 254). Do we believe in Jesus or not?
2) Keep Shining: At church little Jane had listened to a sermon on "Let Your Light Shine." The only part she remembered was the text, but she didn't understand what it meant until her mother explained, "It means being good, obedient, and cheerful." In the afternoon there was trouble in the nursery, and Jane excused herself for being naughty by saying, "I've blowed myself out."—Church Business. http://www.moreillustrations.com/Illustrations/light%201.html Don’t let Satan’s “sifting” blow out your light---how you are reflecting the light of Jesus in your daily walk!
3) The necessary Lumens: A little boy walked along a country lane one dark night, with his father, and carried the lantern. The black silence all about frightened him. He said, "Father, this light reaches such a little way, I am afraid." His father answered, "True. my boy, but if you walk on, the light will shine to the end of your journey." There are night times in the Christian's experience when God gives His followers only enough light to take the next step. And that is all that is needed. We may be sure of one thing,—the light will never go out. If we walk on, it will shine to the end of the journey.—http://www.moreillustrations.com/Illustrations/light%202.html [[Sunday School Times]].
Again, as we said at the beginning, 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). Keep shining!!!!
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.