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Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 5: 6-21 (NIV)
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The Apostle Paul has urged the Christian church to expose “the fruitless deeds of darkness” (verse 11) – but how?
The answer seems to be by illuminating them. Paul has already challenged his readers to “Live as children of light” (verse 8b). Further, he has explained that “everything exposed by the light becomes visible” (verse 13a). This is a statement of fact but it is equally true in the metaphorical sense. If the Christian Church does not conceal its light (Matthew 5: 14, 16) but shines its light by always conducting itself in a Christ-like manner, then the contrast between those of the kingdom of God and those who live as opponents of God should be evident for all to see. Even those who have been opposing God should be able to recognise the difference and, better still, realise the pointlessness and hopelessness of their own way of living. Some, being exposed in this way, will amend their lives and choose to live in obedience to God through Jesus Christ.
As a consequence, “everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (verse 13b).
This, in fact, was the situation for many to whom this letter was to be read. Paul has already reminded them, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord” (verse 8a).
Perhaps you, reading this today, were once in darkness too. Are you now no longer opposed to God? Are you one of those who were disobedient (verse 6)? Are you now obedient? As one who has been illuminated by the light of Christ shining through others, have you now become a light yourself? Use your light to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness simply by living the life Jesus is calling you to live. “Understand what the Lord’s will is” for you (verse 17). Make the most of every opportunity, as Paul urged, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 20).