Living As Light in the Darkness
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. 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.”
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
Ephesians 5:1-21 (NKJV)
Paul moves from the image of clothing (putting off the old man Adam and putting on the new man Jesus) to the image of light. He alludes to Greek culture to reveal the contrast between life in Jesus and life outside of Jesus.
I. Imitate God (vs 1-2)
This language of imitating God or the gods is all through Greek thought. Greek philosophy and culture sees the physical as an imitation or lesser expression of the spiritual. Art, great ideas, human character all reflect or seek to imitate the gods. Paul taps into their ideas to point the Jesus. In so doing, he reinterprets what it means to be an imitator of God. We imitate God by looking to Jesus who walked in the way of love and presented himself as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-12). This sacrifice is a sacrifice of love: his life poured out on behalf of the people of God. This points to another aspect of imitation: imitating the Triune life. The life of the Father, the Son and the Spirit is based on self-giving love.
II. Do Not Imitate Those Living in Darkness (vs 3-7)
Darkness and Light do not mix. We cannot live in both worlds at once. We cannot serve two masters. Thus all these acts describe by Paul are categorized as idolatry: idol worship. As long as we insist upon worship idols, we cannot partake of the kingdom. In other words, we cannot enter the temple with our idols. They have to be smashed and discarded. This is the process of repentance, acknowledging on our reliance and bondage to powers other than the one true God. By His grace, we turn away from the darkness and toward the light.
III. Living as Light (vs 8-14)
The people living in darkness have seen a great light. In the darkness, we are formless and void (for darkness has no true form). The Spirit of God hovers over us and says, “Let the be Light.” Remember the blessing from chapter one? “Be blessed.” His blessing, His light overcome the darkness. His light illuminates. His light beautifies. His light particularizes. His light resurrects. His light penetrates every dark corner of the heart, transforming stone to flesh. His light makes us real human, or images or imitators of God.
IV. Rejoicing in His Will (15-21)
The natural response to God’s action is not gloom, but joy. His yoke is light and His burden is easy. We literally bubble over with living water. Our words, our actions, our minds, our whole person reveals the glory and wonder of His love. The natural outworking of this life manifests in love for one another.