“Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”” (Ephesians 5:7–14 ESV).
Not only is our Father a God of love (Ephesians 5:1-6), but He is also a God of light (Ephesians 5:7-14). In the passage before us, Paul tells us we are now "light in the Lord." We are to walk, Paul says, "as children of light." The fruit which is born from our lives is to be the fruit of light, that which is good and right and true.
All this speaks of a change of being. We had been in darkness, but are now in the Father’s light, called to now walk in that light.
Part of walking in the Father’s light is knowing there are appropriate times to separate. Paul wrote, “Do not become partners with them.” He also said, "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness." To walk in the Father’s light means there are times we must disengage from some form of darkness. He said, "It is shameful to even to speak of the things that they do in secret."
The Ephesian church had started in revival, complete with the tossing of their magic books into the fire, so they knew what it was like to separate. So should, the Spirit thinks, the modern believer. Paul does not say this without context. He had just written of those with loose sexual morals (Ephesians 5:3-6). When a believer enters into sexual compromise, he must unfriend and unhinge and unpartner himself from all relational connections which enabled him to do so.
Paul went on to describe exposing the unfruitful works of darkness, which should be exposed by the light, becoming visible. But what does Paul mean? Are Christians to be protesters of a world engaging in worldliness? Are we to be the moral heartbeat of our societies?
We should be salt and light to the societies we live in. The stronger the church the stronger the society. But Paul clarified elsewhere that God must be the one to judge the outsider (1 Corinthians 15:9-13). Believers are to separate from those engaged in darkness who also claim to be believers, and also from those who keep them from walking with Christ.
What does it mean to expose the darkness found in another believer? Jesus taught us to expose sin through simple steps of loving confrontation (Matthew 18:15-20). But the light Paul seems to speak of here, though it might include loving it, is not exclusively loving confrontation. It seems to more fully be defined by a life filled with the light of God. That life of light exposes sin.
Think of it. If a man is a cruel father, his works of darkness are exposed when he watches another believer lovingly and tenderly speak to his child. If a man is financially reckless, his works of darkness are revealed when he watches another believer practice financial restraint or generosity. If a man is sexually immoral, his works are darkness are exposed when he watches another believer choose a pure life. In this way, Paul is not describing a sin sniffing community of believers, a people looking for sin under every rock, but a light-filled community illuminating another and healthier way of life.
During Fall 2017, I taught Calvary Monterey the book of Ephesians. During the series, I also wrote about Ephesians in sixty-plus short, devotionally styled posts. Each Thursday, through 2018, I will release a post. I hope you enjoy. For the entire series, please visit nateholdridge.com/united-for-unity-posts.