31 March 2008

Verse by verse through Ephesians (5:8-14)

Ephesians 5:8-14

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

We spent our time last time delving into the characteristics of those who deny the truth of God and seek to live according to their own wills and desires. These who are walking in darkness, who do not want to know the light. And that because of these things—filthiness (obscenities), foolish talking (literally, “moronic talking”), coarse jesting, fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, idolatry—because of these things does the wrath of God come upon men, all the sons of disobedience. Paul ends his paragraph by warning us to stay away from people like these. Why?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. We were once darkness. It is as if Paul here is washing these people anew in the exhortation to remember who they now are in Christ Jesus. He has already told us in several places who we are. But now that he has shown us—reintroduced the beggarly elements of the world, and all its uncleanness—it’s as if he feels we need to wash our feet of the filth he has been speaking about. It’s as if he is saying, “Now that you know the type of person you are not supposed to be, don’t forget you used to be that person. You used to be that filthy-talking, unclean, covetous fornicator. But that’s not who you are anymore! Praise God!” We once walked in darkness. Isaiah 9:2, referenced in Matthew 4:16The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. Let this thought sink into your minds and hearts, friend. You were once in darkness. Do you remember that? You were once far off, an enemy of God, you were a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, you had no promise of protection. You were dwelling in the shadow of death; you were dead in your trespasses and sins. The thought of following and obeying God was nowhere to be found in any fiber of your being. He was in none of your thoughts, you did not fear Him, nor did you care. And you wanted to stay in darkness. John 3:19-20“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” Don’t forget what you once were.

But don’t dwell on it either! …you are light in the Lord… God sent His Son to not only show you the light, but to BE the Light. John 3:21“But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Have you ever been groping around in the dark, trying to find something? You know where the light switch is, you just can't be bothered to go over and flip it on? There may even be a little light, showing you how to turn on the greater light. But, you're too happy in your stubbornness and pride to go to the light. But when all of your efforts have failed, and you cannot find what you are looking for while you stumble and fumble around in the dark, and someone says, “Here! Let me turn on the light for you!” Is this not a relief? Do you not thank that person for bringing you out of darkness, so that you can find what you're looking for?

So many people today are looking for something. Answers. Hope. Joy. Comfort. They are looking for these things. Yet these are things of light, and they cannot be found in darkness. Is it any wonder the world is flooded with “self-help gurus?” Is it any wonder people get burned out going from one therapist to another, from one anti-depressant to another, from one 12-step program to another, seeking the hope, the joy, the comfort the answers they need? They are looking for light—in darkness. They are looking for hope—in a world of hopelessness. They are looking for joy—in a world of misery. They are looking for comfort—in a world of doubt. They are looking for answers—and they don’t even know the questions. They do not realize that darkness is the absence of light. And that if they were to look to the Light for light they would never be disappointed. John 8:12, and again in John 9:5“I AM the Light of the World.”

Jesus has given us this great promise that if we are stumbling around, lost and cannot find our way in the dark, that He came to BE our Light. If you need help in overcoming your stumblingblock, why would you look to someone who is also stumbling over the same stumblingblock? They can't help you! They may help you cope for a while. But that’s about it. I don’t care how long someone has been in NA or AA or GA or any other kind of “A.” The “help” they offer is nothing more than temporary coping. They cannot help you overcome your stumblingblock. Matthew 7:4-5“Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Somebody who is barely hanging on to their sobriety chips is going to counsel me on defeating my demons? We are overcomers through Christ and Christ alone.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

We have so many promises from God’s Word that He will guide us through the tough times and lead us to victory over the enemy. Because there really is only one enemy. We may have opponents, we may have adversaries—but there is one enemy, and that is Satan. God threw him out of heaven with a third of the angels. He made the serpent lick the dust of the earth. He showed Himself strong through His servant Job. He defeated Him on the cross. And at the end of the age, after Satan has been loosed to run amuck on the earth one last time, God will cast him “into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Do you need more proof?
Romans 8:37we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
1st John 4:4You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Ephesians 6:13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

And consider the words of our Lord, in commending us to this world of fallenness, wretchedness, lostness and corruption. Matthew 5:14-16“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Paul is echoing these sentiments of our Lord. Don’t let anyone—especially a beaten-down, hopeless serpent like Satan—to tell you what you should do in times of trouble. What kind of glory does that bring to God? Remember who you are! You are children of light (John 12:36)! You are children of the King (1st John 3:1)! You are the brethren of our Lord (Hebrews 2:11)! Walk in that light! Let that light shine before men! Let them glorify our Father in Heaven!

(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) I would have to agree more with the NASB reading of this as (for the fruit of the Light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth). Much early manuscript evidence—as well as internal evidence—points to this reading, since this passage is speaking of light, and of Christ being that light.

Walk as children of light… finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. What is acceptable to the Lord? What is it He desires from us? What is His will? These are questions whose answers are found in the Scriptures. First, He desires truth in our inward parts (Psalm 51:6). How do we obtain truth for our inward arts? By the reading of His word. John 17:17--"Thy word is truth."

Truth is the ground and foundation of everything God is. Psalm 97:2Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Every judgment, every command, every time He pulls someone out of the fiery depths of Hell, every time He rescues one from the muck and mire of their own sins and translates them into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13)—His righteousness is being displayed, His glory is being broadcast to every part of creation—whether the carnal things of earth or the spiritual realm of angels. Revelation 3:5“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” We cannot overcome except by the Truth. And Who is the Truth? John 14:6“I AM the Way, the Truth, the Life.”

He needs our hearts. He needs them to be open to His calling, ready to go where He leads and do as He commands. But most importantly, our hearts need to be broken—fully agreeing with Him that we are indeed sinners, we are unable to save ourselves through our own acts of self-righteousness, and fully dependent upon Him for every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). We need to understand that apart from Him, we are lost, without hope (Ephesians 2:12), destined for eternity in torment and destruction. Psalm 51:16-17For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.

What about His will? Well, His will is, for one, your sanctification (1st Thessalonians 4:3). His will is that we, the church, the light of the world, be separate, different, sanctified and set apart from those who do not have the light. We are not to love the things of this world (1st John 2:15). We are not to remember with fondness the things we did while walking in the darkness of our selfishness and the conduct with which we acted when we lusted after our former lusts.

His will is our salvation and knowledge of the truth. 1st Timothy 2:3-4For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now, don’t misunderstand this passage. This does not point to any type of “universal salvation” or “universal atonement.” God desires all men to be saved. But He does not save all men. This statement is an echo of the words of our Lord in Matthew 23:37“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” He would have gathered the children of Jerusalem together. But He did not. Because they did not remember their God. Likewise, God’s desire is that all men would know Him. That was His will when He made Adam a living soul (Genesis 2:7). But Adam forfeited that right for us, and because of his transgression, we—in our natural state—cannot know God, cannot know the things of God (1st Corinthians 2:14).

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. How many churches today need to hear this! So many who are going out trying to win the lost by using the weak and beggarly elements of this fallen and corrupt world! Yet, what did we find a moment ago about the will of God? And our sanctification? We are to be different! We are to be set apart! We are to be holy even as God is holy. 1st Peter 1:15-16But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. How in the world are we supposed to bring people to the light by using the things of darkness? How can we show people the truth if we are lying to them? If we are telling them, “Hey, come to my church this Wednesday night. We’re going to show…” some ungodly movie filled with obscenities and sexual innuendo. After we bait them into coming with the elements of the world, do we then tell them “But now that we have you here, you really shouldn’t watch this kind of movie.”

But what did Peter say? Did he not tell us to be holy in all manner of conversation? People want the truth! They want to know who God is! Why would we ever lie about who we are, telling people we are one way and then turning around and condemning those things we first said we enjoyed? Or… Maybe we do enjoy the things of the world. And to expose them would be to expose us. If that is the case, then it is too late. We are already exposed. Hebrews 4:13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. We may be able to hide things from the world, but we are open, naked, exposed in the sight of God—the only One we will ever have to give an account to.

And do not try to fool God. To try and fool God is to mock Him. Galatians 6:7-8Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. If you try and appeal to the person’s flesh in order to lead them to Christ, you know what you will reap? A false, fleshly, feeble, failed “faith.” Notice the quotation marks around “faith.” This is the kind of “faith” so many churches are seeking. This is the kind of faith these churches are cultivating. This is the kind of “faith” these churches are leading people to, without giving a rat’s eyelash that this quote-unquote-faith is not the kind of faith that will save a person. It is the kind of faith that will make them the nicest, happiest, most comfortable, best “lost” person they can be.

Are you hearing me, Mr. Osteen? Mr. Warren? Mr. Bell? Misters Paggitt and McLaren? These are men who have no problem withholding the truth from their people. They do not encourage their people to come out of their sins, to repent of the unfruitful works of darkness, they tell their people “God loves you just the way you are and He has a wonderful plan for your life,” all the while leading these people on a road that leads to nowhere but Hell! Do not be deceived—god is not mocked! If you do not reprove the unfruitful works of evil, God will reprove them in you. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.

But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Christ was the fulfillment of the Law. What purpose did the Law serve (Galatians 3:19)? Was it to show how good we are? No, absolutely not! It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made… It was given to us because we are sinful, shameless, fallen, wicked, corrupt, deceitful, slanderers, fornicators, adulterers, idolaters, lovers of self, covetous, hateful, reprobates. Shall I go on? Our sinfulness is the reason God gave us the Law.

What were the people doing at the bottom of Sinai when God was carving the stones? Were they worshipping the one true Living God? Or were they gilding a cow? 1st Timothy 1:9…the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine… So, which of you has kept the Law? Christ came to expose our evil deeds to the Light, that we might desire the Light to darkness. But we would not know that Light were it not for God Himself. Being the depraved men that we are, could we ever desire Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit? Can we who sleep arise on our own? Can we arise from the dead unless called?

Remember who you WERE. Consider who you ARE. Do not be taken up in another’s unrighteousness. Do not try to bring people to the light using the things of this world of darkness. Else how will you reprove their works of darkness if you partake of them? Bring them to the Light of Christ, that they may be saved, that your light may shine before men, that they may glorify our father in Heaven.

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