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Mar 17 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 15, 2015 – Ephesians 5:7-14

Comparing Our “Before And Afters”

Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of the Light Ephesians 5:7-8

Intro: Have you seen a before and after photo that raised your suspicion?

Photographers have begun to leak their secrets
– for example, a model’s posture, having a happier expression in the “after” photo, and lighting produce huge differences
• some admit taking before and after pictures on same day – even in the same shoot
◦ I know that our bedroom mirror favors me
◦ but the bathroom mirror, where the light is uncomfortably bright, is too honest
• today’s technology of creating fake photos has blurred the line between reality and imagination
– we can hardly flip through a magazine or visit as website without encountering before and after pictures
• why? What’s the purpose?
• they serve to answer the question, Does this really work?

The underlying theme of this passage is the believer’s “before and after”

V. 8, “Formerly,” which we noted in chapter 2, verses 2, 3, 11, and 13
– the tension running through chapter 4 was the conflict of the old and new “selves”
• Paul now explores this tension through another metaphor: darkness and light
– his goal is to help the Ephesians break free from worldly attachments
• v. 7, “partakers” means “to join-in with” — be a joiner in a culture of impurity
• worldly things are not as serious a problem as our attachment to them
◦ our unwillingness to let go, holds us back and stunts our growth

“You were darkness” – not “in,” but darkness itself
– if he had said “in darkness,” it could suggest we were able to alternate in and out of the light
• a person is darkness when that is all they know
• we were the shadow that hid from the light

“but now you are Light”
– Paul’s point is, Be this new person you have become, “walk” it
• that we are new, “Light” people is logically inferred from the words “in the Lord”
– in Christian spirituality, doing is inspired and defined by being 
• but the relation is reciprocal — doing promotes becoming

(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

Verses 9 and 10 complete the sentence begun in verse 8

How is Paul using the metaphor of light? What does it signify?
– it can be used to represent a variety of states or conditions (cf. the Gospel of John)
– the short list: “goodness, righteousness and truth”
• in Paul we’re accustomed to the triad faith, hope and love
• these personal attributes are not unrelated to the tree qualities of light
◦ faith links to truth
◦ love links to righteousness
◦ hope links to goodness, not only in the present but for the future

Children of the light are good people, who live right by others and are true to God and themselves

– Paul has combined metaphors: fruit and light
• let’s pause and take a breath
• being Christian is about being a particular kind of person
◦ our beliefs mean little to people outside faith
◦ our heated arguments fall on deaf ears
– Jesus put our the quality of our lives in spot light

You will know them by their fruits (Mt. 6:16)
By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn. 13:35)

In order to live this way, we’ll be “trying to learn . . .”
– KJV, “proving” – today we would say “testing”
• climbing an old, wooden ladder, I want to “test” each rung to be sure it will hold my weight
– it would seem that the light illuminates God’s will
• now we can go forward with our decisions, discerning God’s will

So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ep. 5:17)

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.

Verses 11-13 stress the same point, but looking at the opposite side of coin

In liturgical prayer, sin often has two forms: sins of commission and sins of omission
– sin can be doing what we should not be doing and not doing what we should be doing
– the same is true of righteousness
• there are deeds righteousness will do and those it will not do

“Participate” – carries a stronger sense of connection than “partakers” did in verse 7
– it is “to share a common life with” or to belong to a fellowship
• sharing an experience or pastime forms a bond
• some bonds need to be broken
– as opposed to “fruit of light,” darkness is “unfruitful”

Therefore what [fruit] were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death (Ro. 6:21)

• “expose them” – how? By being the light

Yesterday I watched a short video in which a young man walked around a food court asking people who were eating, “Could you give me something to eat?” Each person asked sat at a table eating, with their food spread out in in front of them. And each one  said “Not.” The young man went to a park where he asked a homeless man, “Could you give me something to eat? Right away, the homeless man pulled out some food and shared it with him. The “light” revealed in the homeless person’s generosity provided a glaring contrast to the stinginess of our own dark hearts.

• sunlight kills certain fungal skin conditions
◦ the ultraviolet rays are invisible, yet do their job
◦ we expose ourselves to the Light and it works whether or not we feel anything

That Paul doesn’t mean publicly expose or rebuke the deeds of darkness, he says that even to speak of them is disgraceful
– like v. 3, such things “must not even be named among you”
• talking about certain subjects gives them a life they should not have
– in the New Testament, two things are to be kept secret:
• personal prayer, which is too holy to be put on display (Mt. 6:5-6)
• sins that are so unholy they must not be spread

V. 13, Light thrown on an object reveals it for what it is
– when I examine some things in God’s light, I can no longer pretend they’re good –or harmless
• light reveals where the problem lies
◦ like X-ray, it locates the tumor and where we have to cut
– this is why we avoid the light
• not just that we don’t want to be caught
• but what we see might dissolve our illusions–e.g., “This behavior works for me”
◦ seeing it in light of day may force a change

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 (Jn. 3:19-20)

For this reason it says,
“Awake, sleeper,

And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

In verse 14, Paul is not quoting scripture

Most likely, he pulled this from a Christian prayer, hymn, or poem

“Awake, sleeper” I prefer getting up before sunrise
• otherwise it feels like I’ve missed too much of the day
◦ we don’t need to be reminded that we can sleep through life
• my wake up moment this week was with my grandchildren
◦ I was frustrated I couldn’t get anything done
◦ but by Thursday I finally woke up the the fact I was getting something done

“Arise from the dead” – Christian spirituality calls us to resurrection every morning
– at the hermitage “Lauds” is praise sung at sunlight, giving thanks to God because we rise to a new life
• we do not have to repeat yesterday’s mistakes

“And Christ will shine on you” – the wording here is not what we expected
– we expect Paul to say, “and the Light” or “the Light of God will shine on you”
• in the Greek text, “Christ” comes at the end of the sentence–a surprise ending
• but this is the whole point — to be in Christ is to be in the light and to become light

While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world (Jn. 9:5)
You are the light of the world (Mt. 5:14)

Conc: Now we know that in Christ we stand in the light and the light transforms us

. . . he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God (Jn. 3:21)

But as we’ve seen, coming to the light is a challenge
– what we need to bring is a willingness or perhaps an eagerness to be enlightened to the truth about ourselves
• that is perhaps where our transformation begins
– then it makes all the difference what we do from there

Let’s keep stepping into the light
– let’s commit ourselves to spending more time in the light of Christ
• not just saying prayers, reading our Bible, singing praise
but waking up to the light that shines in all this, knowing it is God through Jesus,
and that by simply exposing ourselves to it, the light is healing and transforming us

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