by Lasserre Bradley, Jr. Man likes to boast of his accomplishments and lays claim to having great wisdom. He would be insulted if described as living in the dark, but that is exactly the description given us in God’s Word: “ye were sometimes darkness but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light”(Ephesians 5:8).
Man prior to being made a recipient of saving grace is not only in the dark but is darkness.
His will is corrupt, his heart is deceitful and his eyes are blinded. There is no light, no righteousness, nothing worthy of attracting the favor of a holy God. Paul further describes it this way, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (4:18). Since man is alienated from God and blind to his desperate condition, he is not inclined to seek the light but hates it. “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light neither cometh to the light lest his deeds should be reproved”(John 3:19-20).
When grace comes, those who were darkness and walking in darkness are now made light in the Lord. Such a transformation could only occur as a result of God’s sovereign intervention. We read, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast”(Ephesians 2:8-9).
By grace those who were darkness are now light, those who were blind now see, those that hated the light now come to love what they once hated.
The best of human effort could never bring about such a change. Neither threats for doing wrong or encouragement for doing right could effect the change. Something must take place within and that something is called the new birth. A sinner is not just reformed but transformed. And it is our great Deliverer who does the work. “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son”(Colossians 1:13).
Since God is light, and in him is no darkness at all, we can understand the admonition, “walk as children of light.” God is light; he is the creator of light and the giver of light. In fact John says, “If we say have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7). So the evidence that we have fellowship with him is that we walk in light. John referred to Jesus as the true light. And Jesus said, “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life”(John 8:12).
The one who is following Jesus is not walking in the darkness of wickedness and ignorance.
In fact the one who is the light of the world now says to his people, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14). Because they have been brought out of darkness and into light, God’s children now shine as lights in the world that is still in darkness. The Apostle writes to the Philippian church, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain”(2:15-16).
What does this walk in light look like? Some establish legalistic rules and conclude that you must meet the standard they have set to be considered walking in light. Others feel that acts of kindness and charitable deeds confirm that one is in the light. But the text says, “The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth”(5:9). So what is now manifest in the life of the believer is not the result of just turning over a new leaf, it is fruit being borne because of an inward work. In Galatians 5:22, goodness is described as part of the fruit of the Spirit. So now in contrast to the sinful behavior described earlier in the chapter there is goodness rather than uncleanness, filthiness and foolishness.
These subjects of grace are now living “righteously and godly in this present evil world.”
And then an admonition follows: “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”In this day the “unfruitful works of darkness” hold a prominent place in many movies and TV programs. Rather than to avoid speaking of those things, they are promoted as a form of entertainment. Warren Wiersbe writes: “Some preachers enjoy reveling in the sensational, so much that their sermons excite appetitites and give the innocent more information than they need…I recall a friend in youth work who felt it necessary to read all that the teenagers were reading ‘in order to understand them better,’ and it so polluted his mind that he himself fell into sin. It is not necessary for the believer to perform an autopsy on a rotting corpse to expose its rottenness. All he has to do is turn on the light!”
Next there is a call to the sleeper. “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” John Gill writes: “The children of God are sometimes asleep, and need awakening…living saints are sometimes among dead sinners, and it becomes them to arise from among them, and quit their company, which is oftentimes the occasion of their sleepiness; besides, the company of dead sinners is infectious and dangerous; it is a means of hardening in sin, and of grieving the people of God who observe it; and by abstaining from their company, a testimony is borne against sin, and conviction is struck into the minds of sinners themselves; to which add, that to so do is well-pleasing to God, who promises to receive such who come out from among them, and separate themselves from them.” It is sad that many professed Christians seem to be in a sleepy state. They are comfortable as they enjoy a measure of prosperity and so drift with the trends of the day. They are often consumed with such a strong desire to fit in and be accepted that they have forgotten there is a spiritual warfare in which they are to be engaged. Parents are often so concerned that their children are successful by the standards the world sets that they fail to give them the instruction and guidance they so desperately needed.
Considering what great mercies the Lord has bestowed on us, being thankful that he brought us out of darkness into his marvelous light, let us walk as children of light.
May we shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.
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