Ephesians XVII: Children of Light - Ephesians 5:3-14

When we read Paul’s words as he continues to unfold the Christian walk as a new way of life for people who have been made new in Christ, we should immediately understand that when God commands us to put away all sexual immorality and impurity, He’s not taking something wonderful and good away from us. He’s loving us and protecting us from fruitless darkness. This Word tells us how to walk as Christians, warn us of the dangers of walking in darkness, and calls us into the light.

This passage is a wake-up call, focusing on ways that we sin with our bodies and our mouths. Paul gives two groups of three sins: sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness in v.3, and filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking in v.4. For Paul, it should be unthinkable that we would know a Christian who commits adultery or fornication, who tells crude jokes, listens to foul music or watches filthy TV shows. To our shame, it’s unthinkable to us that such a pure walk would even be possible. We’ve entered into such a close partnership with the darkness that we can’t even imagine what a world of light would be like.

But when we’re tempted to give up on holiness in the face of an onslaught of impurity, here is the hope that we have: the light of Christ can dispel the darkness of immorality and impurity from His Church and from our lives. It will not be quick, or easy, or complete this side of glory, but the good news of the gospel means that it is possible to live a life that pleases God.

What Paul gives us here in this passage is a battle plan for fighting this cluster of sins surrounding our sexuality. He exposes these dark deeds in vv. 3-4, and in the following verses he gives us the motivation we need to overcome the deeds of darkness, instructs us how to avoid the deeds of darkness, and points us instead to the light of Christ.

So what motivates us to leave the darkness behind? Paul gives us three reasons: first, in v. 3-4: these sins are improper and out of place for saints. Second, in v. 5: the one who practices these sins has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Third, in v. 6: these behaviors are the reason why the wrath of God falls on the sons of disobedience. Immorality and impurity are not who you are, they cost you your inheritance, and they bring down the wrath of God on your head. Those are three powerful reasons not to sin!

How can you avoid getting caught up in these sins? Three further instructions: v. 6 – Don’t be deceived by empty words. Sin has a thousand rationalizations and excuses, but none that can stop God’s wrath, so don’t be fooled. V. 7 – don’t become partners with the disobedient. Be careful not to trap yourself into a marriage or a business relationship or a deep friendship with someone given to sin. V. 11 – don’t take part in the works of darkness. Once, you were darkness, and so of course you did the works of darkness. But now that you are light, you must not do those works anymore!

So what does it look like to be light? Once again, Paul has a three-fold answer: the fruit of light is found in everything that is good and right and true. And he gives three instructions that point us in the right direction: in v.4, the opposite of foolish talk and crude joking is thanksgiving, so fill your mouth with thanks. In v.8, he says to walk as children of light and discern what is pleasing to the Lord. God has given you His Word, His Spirit, and a renewed faculty of discernment to figure out what pleases Him, so shine the light into your life! In v. 11, children of light are called not only to avoid the darkness, but to expose it. Take the light with you, and roll back the darkness wherever you go.

Your light does two things: first it makes visible, then it makes light. A righteous life presents a stark contrast with an immoral life, and God uses this contrast to lead others out of their darkness into the light. In this way, your light is not just for you; it’s for your neighbor as well. And the brighter you burn with the light of Christ, the more you chase away the darkness and bring light to others.

When it comes to sexual immorality, a greedy heart, and a dirty mouth, God says “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” You are children of light, so wake up, and walk in the light.

Posted on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 by CJ Bowen