The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
September 16, 2012


1) Ephesians 5:8-13 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Ephesians 5:8-13
by Tom Edwards

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul shows the contrast of the brethrens' lives before and after becoming Christians: "for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord...."

The Bible, at times, uses the word "darkness" to figuratively represent ignorance and sin -- and without Jesus and the gospel, we would all be spiritually ignorant and still in our sins.  As Paul declares,  "...the world through its wisdom did not come to know God..." (1 Cor. 1:21).  Man, however, often thinks he knows the way, apart from the gospel; but he is only deceiving himself.  For the Bible points out  that "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov. 14:12).  

Jesus truly is the only way out of spiritual ignorance and sin.  As the Lord Himself acknowledges in John 12:46,  "I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness."  The faith by which the believer can walk out of  darkness and into the light is a faith that involves action -- just as literal walking also does. For notice the Lord's similar remark in John 8:12: "...'I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life.'"  So, we can conclude that to truly believe in the Lord also involves following Him -- and that is done by submission to His word.  Notice how this corresponds with Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven."

Spiritual ignorance and darkness are also figuratively expressed as a "blindness." Consider, for example, John 9:39-41: "And Jesus said, 'For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind.' Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things, and said to Him, 'We are not blind too, are we?'  Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, "We see," your sin remains.'"  

The "those who do not see" are those who realize that they are spiritually blind and in need of the Lord's help, whereas those who claim that they can see are actually the ones who are spiritually blind.  

Sadly, most people are in this lost state; and Jesus shows why in John 3:19: "And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil."  So because of this love for sin rather than for the light of God's truth, these people remain without spiritual vision.  Notice how Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4: "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

If, however, we are truly following Jesus, the light of the world, then note what also happens to us, according to Matthew 5:14: "You are the light of the world...."  This is because, as Jesus shows in John 8:12, we then "have the Light of life" as one of the benefits for following Him.  Paul states, "For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6).  God shone miraculously into the hearts of the apostles, through the Holy Spirit; but that same message of light revealed to them can also radiate from our hearts, when we take the time to study God's word and apply it (cf. Eph. 3:3-5).  And when that is the case, we then bear "the fruit of the light," as Paul shows in Ephesians 5:9, which is "goodness," "righteousness," and "truth."

So it should be one of our chief ambitions to come to a thorough understanding of God's word.  As Paul exhorts in Ephesians 5:10, we are to be "trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."  Going along with this, consider what Paul instructs, just a few verses later: "So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (v. 17).  We need to know God's will so that we can please Him, and pleasing the Lord was certainly what the apostle Paul strove to do.  For instance, he writes, "Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him" (2 Cor. 5:9).  

Paul then gives a reason for this in the very next verse: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10). 

To acquire a full knowledge of God's will, in order to serve Him acceptably and please Him, was also Paul's prayer for 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 may 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" (Col. 1:9,10).  

Paul then gives the following instruction in Ephesians 5:11-13: "And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light."

The instruction to not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness was seen earlier, though worded differently in Ephesians 5:7, that we are not to be "partakers" with the "sons of disobedience."  Though we live in a world and interact (such as through work, business deals, friendly encounters, etc.) with many who reject the word of the Lord, we must be careful to not be influenced into taking part in anything that the Lord would not approve.  

As Christians, we also need to be concerned with the right balance in our lives, as seen in Paul's exhortation: There are things we are to put off or abstain from, and things we are to put on or engage in.  And whatever falls under the category of the "unfruitful works of darkness" is certainly something to be elminated from our lives. 

Though probably not meant in the figure, we can say that "works of darkness" are "unfruitful" because they have no light (and are the opposite of light).  For even in the plant kingdom, plants need not only soil and water, but also light that produces photosynthesis. 

Paul shows that rather than participating in those "unfruitful works of darkness," we are to "expose" them with the "light" of God's word.  Ephesians 5:13 states that "...all things become invisible when they are exposed by light...."  Various other translations render "expose them" (vs. 11) as "reprove them"; and one version states "show how wrong they are" (CEV).  It is the same Greek word that is used in  the following passages, in which I made the particular word all capital letters: John 16:8 with reference to the Holy Spirit who would "CONVICT the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment"; in Jude 1:15 in referring to a prophecy of the Lord who came with many thousands of His holy ones "to execute judgment upon all, and to CONVICT all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him"; in 1 Timothy 5:20, where Paul instructs that elders "...who continue in sin, REBUKE in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning."  Another place where we see  this word used is within the list of qualifications for the overseer:  Titus 1:9 shows that he needs to be one who is "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to REFUTE those who contradict."

After instructing the brethren to expose the unfruitful works of darkness, Paul then says in Ephesians 5:12, "for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret."  Though this is true of many ungodly people then, as well as now, various commentators see this as making specific reference to the different mystery cults of paganism.  David Lipscomb, for instance, writes, "It is thought that this refers to the impure lascivious practices performed in the worship of the heathen gods.  All the worshipers indulged in lewd practices as part of their worship.  It was done in the secret recesses of the temple."  In some forms of heathenism, female priestesses engaged in fornication with the worshiper as part of the worship.  

The "in secret" in this passage (Eph. 5:12) does not mean that no one knew about it, for Paul did; but it would involve that which would not be known by the general public.  But even secret things can become visible, as we noticed Paul saying in verse 13, "...when they are exposed by light."

What, however, does the phrase in that verse mean when it says, "...for everything that becomes visible is light"?  Normally, we would think of the light as being only that which exposes things -- and not the things themselves.  But here Paul says that "everything that becomes visible is light."  The answer to this can be seen in Thayer's definition of the Greek word.  For not only does it denote the light emitted, but also "that which is exposed to the view of all, openly, publicly."  So though that object might have only a reflection of light, we think of it as still having light.  For instance, what about "the light of the moon"?  The moon doesn't actually have a light of its own, but it reflects that of the sun.  So "everything that becomes visible is light" or, in other words, "is exposed to the view of all," as seen in the definition.  It has been made visible. And this also explains how Jesus, the light of the world, can also call us lights in the world when we are following Him and reflecting His light in our lives.  

The exposure of sin by the light of God's word might also remind you of  what Jesus states in John 3:20,21: "For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."  Later, in the Ephesian letter, Paul speaks of the Christian's spiritual armor to help fight in a spiritual battle against the dark forces of iniquity.  And notice what else he says about this kind of armor in Romans 13:12: "The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."  It is an armor of "light" because it is of God, who is light; and light will always triumph over darkness.  

So let us who are Christians continue to abide in Paul's instruction in Ephesians 5:8-13, to "walk as children of light" and bear its fruit of "all goodness and righteousness and truth," as we ever strive to learn of the Lord and to please Him, which also involves our not participating "in the unfruitful deeds of darkness"; but, instead, exposing them. For in doing so, we are following in the steps of Jesus.


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember in prayer the following:

Becky Robertson who recently had to have three painful shots in her back, due to back-trouble she has been having.  She also had received shots for this a couple months ago to eliminate pain.  Let us pray that this second time will keep her free from the back trouble.  Pam MacDonald who also has been having serious back trouble and will soon be seeing her doctor again to find out what her next step should be; Linda Lefort (Harris Lefort's sister-in-law) who has throat cancer, fluid buildup, and is receiving hospice care; Bill Barfield (Virginia Fontenot's brother) who was admitted to ICU last March and has been in a step-down unit ever since; Jean Calloway who has been having a foot problem; Shirley Young, who experiences fibromyalgia every day; and Cheryl Crews, who is now undergoing therapy three days a week for some of her physical ailments.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
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Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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