When Paul wrote to the young church in Ephesus, he knew they were an island of light in a city of darkness. How could that tiny band of believers make a difference in the cosmopolitan metropolis that was home to the world-famous Temple of Artemis? In Ephesians 5:8-14, Paul gives us his answer: “You are the light of God. Live like it. Let your light shine. It will dispel the darkness. Some people won’t like that. Shine your light anyway.”
What worked in the first century still works
today. In our passage, we see three remarkable
things that happen when the light of God enters
a dark world.
I. LIGHT TRANSFORMS (VERSES 8-10).
Here we have a beautiful picture of
A. Coming to Christ is like walking from
the darkness into a room filled with blazing
light. But once you come out of the darkness,
you see things you never saw before. When
you lived in darkness, you did whatever you
wanted to do. But now, in the light, you must
put off the deeds of darkness and put on a
lifestyle befitting the children of the light.
Verse 9 spells this out for us: “For the fruit
of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness,
and truth.” Goodness touches how we
deal with others. Righteousness involves a new
commitment to obey God’s commands. Truth
demands a deep commitment to live with integrity
We now have a new goal: “Find out what
pleases the Lord” (verse 10).
B. We are no longer agents of darkness.
Christians believe something stupendous that
the world does not understand at all. We believe
there is a God in heaven who has spoken, and
we should find out “what is acceptable to the
Lord” (verse 10).
C. The world finds this strange. When it
comes to things like morality, we believe that
God has spoken clearly—that fornication,
homosexual behavior, and adultery are always
wrong. In short, we believe something the
world rejects—that there is a God in heaven
who has spoken and whose words about
sexuality should be obeyed.
D. If we truly want to please the Lord, we
will find a way to do it. However, no matter how
many times we fall short, God will help us if we
truly want to please Him.
II. LIGHT EXPOSES (VERSES 11-13)
Some things shouldn’t be mentioned in
public. No doubt Paul is referring to the various
rituals associated with the Temple of Artemis
(also called Diana), located in Ephesus.
Considered one of the seven wonders of the
ancient world, it drew worshipers and tourists
from many distant lands. Temple rituals
combined overt idolatry with every sort of
sexual excess. When Paul speaks of things
done in secret, he is referring to a vile form of
evil that goes beyond ordinary acts of rebellion.
It describes evil that is gross, unnatural, and
perverted. Certainly this applied to various
acts of sexual immorality associated with idol
worship at the Temple of Artemis.
A. The light of the gospel exposes evil for
what it really is. If you are planning to buy an
expensive diamond, you will want to view it in
the brightest light possible before you make
your purchase because light will expose the
hidden flaws in the stone. Shadows hide flaws,
but light reveals them. Similarly, when the
gospel enters a family, hidden secrets will be
revealed (verse 13). When the gospel invades a
community, corruption will come to light.
Verse 13 describes the result of the
ministry of reproof: “But everything exposed
by the light becomes visible—and everything
that is illuminated becomes a light” (verse 13).
The Bible puts it very simply: “Light exposes the
true character of everything.”
We shouldn’t be surprised when some
people resent us for shining the light of God’s
truth. “Who are you to judge me?” I have no
standing to judge anyone. But God calls us to
shine the light of His truth and let it judge the
B. Truth will hurt you before it heals you.
Darkness can only produce more darkness. But
light can turn the darkness into light.
When God turns on the light in someone’s
life, the darkness is gone, and as Christians, we
have the responsibility to “walk circumspectly,
not as fools but as wise” (verse 15).
III. LIGHT AWAKENS (VERSE 14)
Verse 14 calls for something impossible
when it says to “rise from the dead.” After all,
Paul himself had already stated in Ephesians
2:1, “You were dead in your transgressions and
A. So how can a dead man rise from the
dead? Isn’t that like talking to a corpse and
commanding it to stand up? Imagine how you
would react if a man walked into a mortuary
and started telling the dead people, “Wake up!
You’ve been dead long enough!”
When the light of the gospel comes in, it
wakes up those who are spiritually dead and
draws them to Jesus. That’s conversion. That’s
salvation. That’s the new birth. That’s the lifetransforming
power of the gospel when Jesus
Christ comes into a life.
This passage shows us what happens
when God’s light begins to shine in the world.
1. The light shines on us and transforms us from darkness into light. In the process, that same light purifies us on the inside so that we seek to please God in everything.
2. The light shining through us chases away the darkness and exposes evil. Because men love darkness and resist light (John 3:19), they often fight against the light of God. But when the light does its work thoroughly, it contains a healing power. Because the light comes from God, it can take the darkness and turn it into light. We know this is true because that’s what happened to us.
3. The light awakens those who are asleep
and raises them from the dead. This is why Paul
was not ashamed of the gospel. This is why he
boldly preached in the very heart of the ancient
world—in Corinth and Ephesus and Athens and
Rome. Paul knew that when the gospel shines
on a society, its light will expose some people
and make them angry, but that same light will
awaken others to their need of Christ.
In the book Testimonies for the Church,
volume 9, page 19, Ellen G. White says, “In
a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have
been set in the world as watchmen and light
bearers. To them has been entrusted the last
warning for a perishing world. On them is
shining wonderful light from the word of God.”
The darker the night, the brighter the light
shines. It is precisely when the world is at its
worst that the people of God should be at their
best. Let no one be deceived. It will not be
easy. The world doesn’t want the light, but it
desperately needs it. Let’s light the world!