Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #723 MP3 Audio File Video File

Walk as Children of Light

Ephesians 5:7-14

Delivered 09/14/2014

So far in the second half of this Epistle we have seen that we are called to walk the worthy walk. Our walk is to line up with our calling. We are to walk in unity (4:1-16), we are to walk in holiness (4:17-32), we are to walk in love (5:1-6), and in our text for this morning we are exhorted to walk in the light.

Paul just told us to imitate Yahweh, and now he tells us to walk in the light. Yahweh is Light so to walk in the Light is to imitate Him.

We ended last week with verse 7; let's pick it up there:

Therefore do not be partakers with them; Ephesians 5:7 NASB

The conjunction oun (therefore) starts a new section making an inference from what has just been said. Paul is pointing back to the previous argument he was making, and saying that we should not be partakers with the "sons of disobedience" because the wrath of God is coming on them.

The term summetochos translated: "partakers," occurs only here and in 3:6 where the believer is called "a fellow participant of the promise." The word means: "one who is a partner or an accomplice in a plot."

Paul is exhorting believers not to sin like the lost do. Many people argue for holiness in order to obtain a relationship with Yahweh. Paul was advocating holiness because of the relationship with Yahweh that we already have:

for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light Ephesians 5:8 NASB

The whole paragraph, 7-14, plays on the rich symbolism of light and darkness. Paul again uses the "once-now"contrast (2:1-10,11-22). Paul has previously depicted the difference between believers and non-believers in 4:22, 24, as the Old Man, New Man.

"For you were formerly darkness"—the conjunction gar is explanatory, giving the reason why believers should not be fellow participants with those who are of the world. The verb "were" is emphatic, and emphasizes a past condition. This is further verified by the enclitic particle of time, pote (formerly). This is our past, we all have a dark past, we were darkness. We have seen our former condition back in chapter 2:

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1 NASB

"You were," there's the emphatic "were" again:

in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:2 NASB

We "were" dead, we "formerly" walked; this is our past. But something drastic happened to change all that. The text goes on to say, "But God... made us alive." Paul put it this way to the Colossians:

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, Colossians 1:13 NASB

Apart from Christ we were darkness:

"But now you are Light in the Lord"—a contrast is seen both by the adversative conjunction deh (but) and by the adverb of time nun (now). We were darkness "but now" we are Light in the Lord. How did this happen? How did darkness become light? "In the Lord"—that is a positional truth that doesn't fluctuate with our performance. The one doctrine that I hope you see everywhere after studying Ephesians is the doctrine of the believer's Union with Christ. This teaching, replete through the New Testament, but brought out especially in this letter to the Ephesians, is that through faith the one who trusts in Christ is actually joined with Christ so that whatever is true of Christ is true of the believer (righteousness, sonship, seated in the heavenlies, new life), and whatever was belonging to the believer before being in Christ (sin, punishment, death) has been transferred to Christ on the cross.

Light and darkness are prominent themes in Paul's Epistles. These symbols are prominent in the Gospels and in the teaching of our Lord. They are employed as well by Peter and John. The symbols of light and darkness are not new in the New Testament; they are themes which are rooted in the Tanakh and which are drawn upon and applied in the New.

Light is a significant metaphor in Scripture, and the word "light" occurs on the very first and very last pages of Scripture and more than 250 times in between. Let's begin with the very first place in which light appears in Scripture:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 NASB

So we have the darkness over the earth:

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Genesis 1:3-5 NASB

This may seem like a straightforward account of physical realities of light and darkness, but it is much more than this. If you have studied the Genesis creation accounts in their Ancient Near East context, you know that a lot more is going on. In the ancient world the sea and the darkness were synonymous with gods of chaos and death.

In the ancient imagination, darkness was understood to be a problem, so the creation of light and the separation of light and darkness in Genesis intends to communicate Yahweh's dominance over (the gods of) darkness, death, and chaos.

At the beginning of this creation account, the earth was dark and in disarray (formless and void). At the end, it has light and is ordered. The progress is from darkness to light and for disorder to order. Light was created by God to separate darkness and light.

God creates light as something of an antidote to darkness. Light comes from God. Darkness is a problem that needs to be contained. It is from here that the prolific concept of light and dark as good and evil is born:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 NASB

So we could say that light and darkness are synonyms for good and evil. In the Psalms light and darkness are used symbolically. Light becomes the symbol for salvation:

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? Psalms 27:1 NASB

Light is a symbol for truth:

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places. Psalms 43:3 NASB

Light is a symbol of Yahweh's splendor and presence:

You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence. Psalms 90:8 NASB

Light is essential to biological life; it is necessary for life to thrive and flourish and prosper, and the authors of Scripture recognize this. The simple connection between light and life is developed thoroughly, especially in the Psalms, and comes to refer not just to biological life or existence, but fullness of life in Yahweh's presence. Light in life indicates vitality and prosperity. Darkness, conversely, connotes death:

For You have delivered my soul from death, Indeed my feet from stumbling, So that I may walk before God In the light of the living. Psalms 56:13 NASB
The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. Isaiah 45:7 NASB

As we saw from the Genesis account, it is God's Word that ushers in light. Yahweh's speech is light that illuminates and makes known. This concept is developed especially in Psalms as God's Word is described as a light and a lamp. Light is a metaphor for vision, for sight, and truth, knowledge, and wisdom. Darkness, conversely, indicates ignorance and blindness.

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. Psalms 119:105 NASB
"It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him. Daniel 2:22 NASB

Speaking of Christ, the prophet writes:

The people who walk in darkness Will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, The light will shine on them. Isaiah 9:2 NASB

Light is symbolic of the Christ Who was to come:

The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD'S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and He has given us light; Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. Psalms 118:22-27 NASB

As we come to the New Testament we see the metaphors for light developed in the Tanakh get applied to Yeshua and His followers. Matthew asserts that Isaiah's vision is fulfilled in Yeshua and says of His life:


Here we see Light as eternal life/salvation. John teaches us this same truth:

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. John 1:4-9 NASB

Here again we see Light as eternal life. Notice that Yeshua is not just the Light of Israel, as was said of Yahweh in Isaiah; Yeshua is the Light that gives light to all men. Paul preaches Light as eternal life. Speaking before King Agrippa he says:

to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' Acts 26:18 NASB

"That they may turn from darkness to light"—the central application would appear to be Isaiah 9:2. The Messianic light has shone, Yeshua the Messiah has come, and men must come out of their darkness and respond to His light.

"From the dominion of Satan to God"—being turned from the power of Satan to God indicates having the filth of sin removed and being clothed with righteousness and purity; and as Messiah's people, finding a new oneness in Him. We receive forgiveness, a complete removal of sin through the cleansing of the blood of Christ. Light is life!

We see Light as goodness in:

"This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." John 3:19-21 NASB

Then we see Light as knowledge in:

"I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. John 12:46 NASB
in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB

So we see in these verses the biblical metaphors for Light applied directly to Yeshua. Yeshua's Light is virtuous, or good. Yeshua's Light gives vitality, or life. Yeshua's Light is the source of vision, or knowledge. But Yeshua and the New Testament writers who follow Him don't stop there. The Divine-Light, which is Yeshua, is also to be the Light within Yahweh's people.

In Isaiah, Yahweh explicitly communicates His intention that His Light would illuminate Israel so that their light would brighten, so to speak, the whole world.

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. "Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3 NASB

Yeshua picks up on this prophetic vision and announces to those listening to His teaching in Matthew:

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 NASB

Light not only reveals the true state of things, it also dispels darkness and illumines. The Light of the Gospel, as it shines forth in the life of those who follow Christ, dispels spiritual darkness and reveals the true nature of evil.

Back to our text in Ephesians: "But now you are Light in the Lord"this union language shows that because we have been united with Christ, and because He is Light, we can be described to be Light "in the Lord."

Yeshua, the Christ, said this in John 8:

Then Yeshua again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life." John 8:12 NASB

We need a little background here: The previous night was a ceremony called the 'Illumination of the Temple.' It was the grand finale of the Feast of Tabernacles, and what they would do was take a great candelabra—it was said that it would reach up to the highest walls in the Temple, that's how high they were. There were these big massive bowls at the top of the candelabra filled with oil, and an agile priest would climb up the candelabra and would light it. "The blaze of that great light," it was said," lit up the whole of that court—and, indeed, lit up Jerusalem." During this Feast it was said that Jerusalem was the light of the world. The next day, standing in the same court of the Temple, our Lord Yeshua, perhaps standing right beside the great candelabra in all its darkness after the light had gone out, shouted: 'I am Light of the world!"

The Pharisees did not question the meaning of His statement. They knew it was a Messianic claim, for they immediately called Him a liar. They were familiar with the many titles in Scripture which ascribed LIGHT to the Messiah. He is called the "Star out of Jacob," the "Light of Israel," the "Light of the Nations (Gentiles)," a "Refiner's Fire," a "Burning Lamp," and the "Sun of Righteousness."

Because believers are Light in the Lord, Paul says, "Walk as children of Light"—Paul moves from the indicative of what they are in the Lord to the imperative of how they should live. Just because we are children of Light does not guarantee that we will live that way. So Paul says, in effect, "Be what you are! You are Light; now, walk that way!" How do we do that? Well, in verses 9 to 14 he tells us:

(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), Ephesians 5:9 NASB

The KJV has, "the fruit of the Spirit," but "Light" is more strongly supported. We are not left to wonder what "light" is like. Light produces certain fruit. The fruit of the Light, Paul tells us, is goodness, righteousness, and truth.

"Goodness"—is from the Greek word agathosune, which carries the idea of generosity; this is how some translate it. Goodness is one of Yahweh's attributes, so to be good is to be like Yahweh. Applied to us, goodness is a broad term for behavior that benefits others ahead of oneself. A good person is concerned for the well-being of others, both spiritually and in every other way. Timothy George calls it "benevolence and generosity toward someone else." Generosity may imply financial gifts, but it also suggests the giving of our time and energies to others in practical ways to show our care and concern for them. Goodness is a product of the Spirit filled life:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22 NASB

So goodness is the predisposition to do that which is both wholesome and helpful, what is beneficial. "Righteousness"—here means: "integrity." Integrity in our dealings with Yahweh and in our dealings with other human beings. We have integrity with men in our actions, what we do and what we say. We have integrity with Yahweh by our character, who we are and the way we live, who we are inside.

Then he mentions "truth"—which here means: "honesty, equity, and reality." Indeed, it's like a summary of the last two things: goodness and righteousness—you can only have goodness and righteousness if you have truth; it all must be based on the truth. Living as children of Light is living so as to manifest goodness, righteousness, and truth. Paul may have gotten this from:

Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the LORD his God. 2 Chronicles 31:20 NASB

We are to follow in the footsteps of Hezekiah.

trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:10 NASB

Verse 9 is a parenthesis, so verse 10 goes back to verse 8 and summarizes what it means to walk as children of Light; namely, that we learn what is pleasing to the Lord. "Trying to learn"—is from the Greek verb dokimazo, which can mean to: "put to the test, examine," or it can refer to the result of the examination and so signify to: "accept as proved, approved." In this context it has the idea of evaluating issues in order to determine the right course of action, here described as "pleasing the Lord."

We do not determine what pleases the Lord by our own feelings, which fluctuate, or by what the world or other Christians say or think. We don't even determine it by our own conscience, in that our conscience may be improperly informed. Rather, we learn what pleases the Lord through growing to understand His Word. Notice what Paul wrote to the Colossians:

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; Colossians 1:9-10 NASB

Paul prays that they would be "filled with the knowledge of His will." The issue is not just knowledge, but the knowledge of God's will. The knowledge of God's will concerns the whole counsel of God's truth as it is found in the Bible. We can only please Him by walking worthy if we know from the Word how He wants us to walk.

Pleasing Yahweh is a life-long process, one that is never complete, but one in which there should be both perseverance and growth:

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; Ephesians 5:11 NASB

The Greek word that was translated "participate" here is "sugkoinoneo," which means: "to share in company with, that is, co-participate in, communicate (have fellowship) with, be partaker of." This is a rare Greek word that is used only three times in the New Testament. It is used in:

Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. Philippians 4:14 NASB

The Philippians were co-participants with Paul in his affliction. This word is also used in:

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; Revelation 18:4 NASB

Believers were not to co-participate in the sins of the Jewish unbelievers. So we see that this Greek word is used in this verse to denote the actual partaking of others' ungodly deeds.

So Paul tells the Ephesian believers, "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness." There would be no need to say this if a Christian could not participate in the deeds of darkness. But because they can, he warns them not to.

John MacArthur, commenting on this verse, writes, "Well, how do I know I'm a Christian? Or how do I know this person's a Christian? It's verified in the should be able to verify it by looking at your life." Statements like this make believers think that they are supposed to be fruit inspectors.

So MacArthur says that our assurance comes from our works or fruit bearing. Where as John Calvin wrote, "From one's work conscience feels more fear and consternation than assurance." (Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 3, 14,20). My assurance comes from the promises of Christ, not my works.

"But instead even expose them"—the contrast is given by the adversative conjunction deh (but) and the comparative adverb "instead." Instead of participating in sins, they are ever to expose them. Expose is from the Greek word "elegcho," which has the idea of: "to convince with evidence." Since the object of this exposing activity, both here and in verse 13, is the "unfruitful works" rather than the persons themselves, it is preferable to understand the verb in the sense of: "bringing to light or exposing" these deeds.

Whose deeds are they to expose? The unbelievers? Is that how we win people to the Gospel by exposing their sin? I think he is referring to believers who are participating in the unfruitful works of darkness. The context is speaking about believers. Paul exhorts believers, not the unsaved, not to participate in the works of darkness. And it seems that some believers were involved in the works of darkness and should be exposed:

"If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. Matthew 18:15 NASB

"Show him his fault"— is the word elegcho. When those in the Body of Christ sin, we are to expose it. We do this by living a holy life; we must get the beam out of our own eye first. When you are around people who are godly in all their conduct, don't they make you want to be more holy? There's something about them, they're like Moses coming down from the Mount—they maybe don't even know it, but their faces shine from being in the presence of Yahweh!

I read of a missionary who desperately needed to learn one of India's hardest languages. He sought the services of a great teacher, and he was refused—he didn't want to teach him. He offered to pay for whatever expenses were required, and the man replied, "Listen, I don't want to become a Christian." The missionary says, "Look, if you just teach me, I'll not mention Christianity, it'll not be mentioned if you teach me this Indian language." The man replied calmly, "Look, to teach you my language I would have to spend many hours of every day in your presence, and no man could live with you and not become a Christian."

Let me just say that we do not expose them by our holy lives alone, we must also verbally confront them with the truth:

for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. Ephesians 5:12 NASB

The Greek order is, "For the things done in secret by them, it is a shame even to speak of." The "for" gives his reason for "not naming" in detail the works of darkness, whereas he describes definitely "the fruit of the light."I think Paul is saying, "Expose them, because to speak of them without reproving them is disgraceful."

The reference to secrecy is much more easily understood of believers, because unbelievers sin openly without shame. Speaking of unbelievers, Paul says:

and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. Ephesians 4:19 NASB

Paul goes on to say:

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. Ephesians 5:13 NASB

In verse 11 believers are told to expose the unfruitful works of darkness, and when these works are exposed by the light they become visible. The light here refers to both believers, "You are Light in the Lord," and their fruit of light.

"For everything that becomes visible is light"—I think Paul is saying that everything that becomes visible is light and no longer darkness or secret. Paul is talking here about believers who have become copartners in the works of darkness. Their unfruitful works of darkness are to be exposed in order that they may walk in the light and produce fruit of light.

For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you." Ephesians 5:14 NASB

"For this reason it says" is "deo lego" in the Greek and is the same introductory statement as in 4:8 to alert the readers that he is going to quote from the Tanakh. Many don't think that Paul is quoting Scripture here, but a Christian hymn. He may be quoting a hymn that was taken from Scripture. While several texts in Isaiah are suggested (9:2; 26:19; 52:1), the text which is most similar is found in:

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. "Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3 NASB

Israel, Yahweh's people, were to be a light to the nations, but they were not shining.

"Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you"—who is Paul talking to here? John MacArthur writes, "Paul felt there would be some people who would read Ephesians who didn't know Christ. And he wanted to throw an invitation in." In the context Paul is speaking to Christians. What Paul is saying here is there are many of you Ephesian Christians that are still sleeping, you are not walking in the light. You were dead in your trespasses and in your sins, but Yahweh has quickened you with Christ, He has put you in heavenly places—but the tragedy is you are not walking it. Paul says: "Wake up!"

It is not the unbeliever that is challenged to "wake up" and to "rise from the dead," but rather the believer. This text, as I understand it, is not primarily a salvation text, but a sanctification text. We can be lights only in a reflective way. Christ is the only true Light. We shine as He shines upon us. In Isaiah chapter 60, the exhortation was for the people of Israel to "wake up" and to turn from their sin to righteousness, from darkness to the light. Elsewhere, when Paul takes up the theme of light and darkness, he is exhorting Christians to wake up:

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 NASB

Paul says you are sons of light, so then let us not sleep as others do. This is a text that is addressed to believers, as is our text.

"And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you"—this is an imperative: "Arise from the dead," but in 2:1-5 it is "God who made us alive." Salvation is a work of God. But this imperative, "Arise from the dead" is directed to the believer who is a copartner of the unfruitful works of darkness. This is the dead faith that James speaks of:

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. James 2:17 NASB

This is not some kind of false faith; it is faith that is dead or unproductive, it is not bearing fruit of light.

The believer in our text is commanded to awake from his spiritual sleep and rise from his spiritual deadness, so that Christ will shine on him, probably indicating approval.

The Church today needs to wake up. We need to start walking in the light that we are in. We need to awake out of our lethargy. The Christian life is the life lived in the Light of Yahweh. Followers of Yeshua are Light and they are to walk in the Light to let their light shine before others. These are the straightforward biblical commands:

"Walk as children of the Light."

"Let your light shine before men."

May we all by the grace of Yahweh walk as children of Light.

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