How many of us were afraid of the dark when we are little? How many of us still are? In an interview, Stephen King, a horror author, was asked about his daily writing routine. He said that he only wrote in the morning. When asked if he ever wrote at night, he replied: “Are you kidding? Not with the stuff I write.” Apparently, even he knows the power of darkness. How many of us have walked through a dark room and tripped over something we did not see? How many times could we have avoided the problem if we had just turned on the light? How many times in our spiritual lives could we have avoided tripping over some obstacle that caused us to stumble, simply by shining the light of Jesus upon it? We have a choice in life, do we walk in the light of the Lord, or do we allow ourselves to walk in darkness?
As we continue with our series “The Riches of God’s Grace,” in Ephesians, we have already seen how God’s grace must radiate out of us, through what we believe and how we behave. Today Paul calls on us afresh to remember to walk in the manner worthy of the grace given to us. Through the cross, Christ our Saviour has made us sons and daughters of the living God. Our lives must demonstrate that the light of the Lord dwells within our hearts. This light will banish the darkness of sin in our own lives. His light shining out of our hearts will also call others to follow Jesus Christ, the light of the world. So, it is imperative, as children of the living God, we must be Walking in the Light and Walking in the Lord.
1. Walking in the Light vs. 8-14
Often we talk about the way a person walks to describe who they are, their emotional state and what they believe. Therefore, as children of God, Paul says we need to be constantly Walking in the Light. Paul begins by reminding us: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord vs. 8-10”. As we look at the world in which we live, we are confronted and depressed by how sinful and dark it is. Hate, violence, abuse, lies and injustice seem to surround us. We watch as men and women are rushing headlong into eternal damnation. Their lives and actions are so devoid of light that they are not only in darkness, but darkness itself.
Before we judge others for their sins, we should remember we too walked in and were darkness, before the light Christ shone into our lives. Yet now through Christ, we are light in the Lord and citizens of the kingdom of light. Therefore, we are called to walk as children of light.
Walking in the light must be evidenced by the fruits of the light. We have turned away from falsehood and deceit, and fallen in love with truth. Our hearts cannot go after that which it sinful, because something inside of us screams ‘this is wrong!’ Our greatest desire must be to worship God and to serve Him with every part of our hearts, minds, and souls. This is what it means to walk as children of light. As Peter says in his first letter: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light 2:9.”
We must be an example of God’s light, as well as expose the fruitless works of darkness. When driving along a stretch of dark highway, we often put our bright lights on to avoid any potential hazards. When we shine our lights on the road, we can see far ahead. That which is invisible, through the power of the light, becomes visible. This is the same reason Paul says to us “everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you vs. 13-14.” Paul is not backing down; he says one of the fundamental tasks of being a Christian is to proclaim the light of the gospel, which drives sin from this world. Not because of our power, but because of Christ’s. Therefore, we are not to turn a blind eye to the sins which surround us. We must expose sin for what it is, including corruption, child abuse, poverty, and social injustice, and I can list a hundred more.
The power of this light is not only seen in exposing sins, but it also brings life. In verse 14, Paul is quoting a Christian hymn which was often used in Biblical times when believers were baptised. This hymn symbolised through the waters of baptism, a person died to their old way of thinking, living, speaking and acting, and was raised to new life in Christ. Therefore, as believers, we are called to hold each other accountable before God. We must not have a judgemental or condemning attitude, but if we see our brother or sister walking into sin, stepping dangerously close to disaster, we are to call them back in love. James tells us: “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins vs. 19-20”.
2. Walking in the Lord vs. 15-21
We have been called to walk as children of the light and to use our light to reflect God’s glory, but we can do none of this if we do not know God’s will for our lives. Walking in the light must naturally lead to consistently walking in the Lord and finding out what His priorities are for our lives. Paul tells us this can be accomplished in two ways.
Firstly, through the Wisdom of the Lord. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is vs. 15-17.” To walk in wisdom here means to walk carefully or circumspectly. To judge every step we take. To weigh our lives against the wisdom of God and to use this knowledge to plot the purpose and direction of our lives. By spending time in prayer and in God’s work, we are equipped for the good works God has prepared for us. God has allotted all the days of our lives, He has set them before us, and he wants us to use our time wisely, to glorify Him. You know the old saying: Idle hands are the devil’s playground. When we do not know what to do with our time and how to glorify God, we tend to spend time on sinful passions. For example, think how much time one can spend on a cellphone, on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and games, without really accomplishing anything. I’m not saying God does not want us to rest and relax. He clearly tells us in His Word to rest, but there is a huge difference between rest and idleness. We must organise our lives in such a way so we can maximise our productive faith. What we hear preached on a Sunday should not just remain head knowledge, but we should put it into practice in our daily lives. Even during this pandemic, there is still good works to be done, grace to be given, words of encouragement to speak, hope to share. This is grace in action. This is the wisdom of the Lord.
Secondly, through the worship of the Lord. Worship is the climax of walking in the Lord for Paul. He says: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ vs. 18-21.” The only way in which we can worship the Lord is if we are filled with the Holy Spirit. For this is the truest evidence God is at work in our lives. Many of us at Trinity can give intellectual assent to the Christian faith, but it requires the infilling of God’s Spirit which renews and regenerates our hearts to make this faith real. Paul hones in on a particular sin which was as prevalent in his day, as it is in ours. The sin of drunkenness. Now I’m not saying it is wrong to have a beer with friends or a glass of wine with dinner. But what Paul is saying is look at what happens to a person when they’re drunk or under the influence of drugs or other mind-altering substances. People under the influence act differently, talk differently, and perceive the world differently. It even affects the way they walk. In the same way, only when we are filled to overflowing with the Spirit of God, we will act, talk, walk, and perceive the world differently, all in a positive and life-changing way. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will overflow with love, not only for God, but for those around us. We will want to build each other up as believers, not break each other down. Being filled with Spirit has four natural implications for the worship of God and our fellowship with other Christians, which can be seen in this passage.
1. We are to engage in Christian fellowship by “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” The spirit of God does not divide believers, but bridges all gaps to bring us together in unity. We are all part of the body and we have to constantly strive to seek unity with other believers.
2. We should “sing and make music from your heart to the Lord”. We have to continually praise and worship God. We have to praise Him in the good times and the bad. In the brightest morning and the darkest night. We stand in awe of this magnificent star-breathing God, and all we can do is worship him.
3. We should be “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” Christians filled with the Spirit are thankful and trust God. In fact, many psychologists are studying the positive effects that a life of gratitude has. People who are grateful tend to have improved physical and psychological health. It enhances empathy, promotes sleep and self-esteem. When we are grateful and thankful to God, it makes a massive difference in our lives. Several passages in the Bible speak about rejoicing and practicing thankfulness for all we receive from God. We should not complain and moan about everything which happens; rather we believe God is in control and He will work all things for our good. We must trust if Jesus brought us to it, He will bring us through it, no matter what situation we face. In Philippians, it says: “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: rejoice. 4:4.” Let our hearts sing new songs of praise to the Lord everyday.
4. We should “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” We have to treat each other with respect, love, and compassion. We should be considerate towards all, knowing no one is greater and all are equal. We should treat fellow-believers in a way which is pleasing to God, even when we get angry or hurt or have disagreements. We should always strive to love our neighbours as we love ourselves. Part of respecting others is to do all we can as individuals to keep each other healthy, to stop the spread of this virus, and caring for each other during this pandemic.
Paul reminds us the Christian life is more than we sometimes assume. It’s more than just proclaiming Christ; it’s also walking in the light of the Lord. We are called to live lives which brightly shine in this dark world. It’s not enough to just talk the talk, but everyday we have to walk in a way which is pleasing to God. At the moment, many of us are still stuck inside our homes or complexes. It might feel impossible to truly live life. It feels like our real lives are on hold. We are waiting for 2020 to pass. We are waiting out this storm. We sit inside and complain about how much we miss this or that. Yet, this shouldn’t be the case. Let us open our eyes to the many blessings and opportunities God provides on a daily basis. Rejoice always! My challenge is that we might each find new ways this week to rejoice and to follow God. Maybe it will help you to keep a gratitude diary and thank God for each of the things you are thankful for. Maybe you can reach out to someone in need with material help. Maybe there is someone you can call and pray for. May our lives burn so brightly that everyone will see the light of the Lord blazing with each step we take.