Everything that becomes visible is light
Ephesians 5:11-14 All things become visible when they are exposed by the light
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”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. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”“
Ephesians 5:11-14 NASB1995
We’ve been seeing a lot of Paul’s epistles lately, most recently with his first epistle to the Corinthians. Today we look at his letter to the church at Ephesus, in which Paul tells the Christians to forsake the darkness of sin and to walk in the light of Jesus.
Of course, Paul’s not telling them to stay inside at night! Rather, he’s using the metaphors of darkness and light to contrast the attacks of the enemy to walking in the light of Jesus. The people of Ephesus were committing many sins, engaging in sexual immorality, covetousness, and “coarse jesting” — inappropriate and impure sexual humor. These practices were quite common at the time, so it would be easy for any of the early Christians to slide into sin patterns simply because “everybody does it.”
Paul begins today’s verses with a command to expose these deeds of darkness to those in the church, not just to talk about them, but as a way of educating the congregation about those sinful practices enough that they can be avoided. He also didn’t want the church members to dwell on those deeds while learning about them, as that could be an enticement to sin. Paul never tells the Ephesians to avoid the people who are in darkness, just their deeds.
Consider what Jesus did during His ministry. He was rebuked by the religious elite for consorting with prostitutes, drunkards, and even worse, tax collectors! Jesus didn’t avoid these people; in fact, He went out of His way to speak with them to set an example of what a sinless life in the light of God could be like.
Next Paul comments that “all things become visible when they are exposed by the light.” Even those things done in secret will eventually be exposed by the light of God’s judgement. That’s why Christians — then and now — should avoid the unfruitful deeds of darkness. Someday, the sins and sinners will be exposed by the light.
Paul ends this section of the letter by urgently exhorting the Christians to “awake”. They’re not sleeping in the literal sense; Paul is referring to those who seem unaware of the prevalence and severity of the sinning going on around them. Charles H. Spurgeon commented on this verse, saying:
“This sleepiness in the Christian is exceedingly dangerous, too, because he can do a great deal while he is asleep that will make him look as if he were quite awake.”
“The man who is asleep does not care what becomes of his neighbors; how can he while he is asleep? And oh! Some of you Christians do not care whether souls are saved or damned… It is enough for them if they are comfortable. If they can attend a respectable place of worship and go with others to heaven, they are indifferent about everything else.”1
What about you, modern Christian? Are you peacefully slumbering while the deeds of darkness go on around you? Or are you wide awake, shining the light of Jesus’s love to expose sin not by shaming others, but by being an example of virtuous living?
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Father in Heaven, there have been times in my life as a Christian where I have been asleep spiritually, but I pray that I am now wide awake, walking in the newness of rebirth and living in the light of Christ’s presence. I ask you to help me to emulate Jesus, producing the fruits of goodness, righteousness, and truth through the guidance of Your Word and the Holy Spirit. Direct me to live according to Your Word and to walk in the light as Jesus is in the light. I ask this in the name of Jesus, AMEN.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org.
Spurgeon, Charles Haddon "The New Park Street Pulpit" Volumes 1-6 and "The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit" Volumes 7-63 (Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, 1990)