Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ephesians 6:10-20

“Religion is the cause of most wars.” – Bill Maher
“Religion causes war by generating certainty.” – Richard Dawkins 

For decades, atheists have used the accusation that “religion has caused most wars.” And to the majority of their audiences, this statement seems like a well-thought-out historical summary. In their minds, glimpses of high school history text books flicker with popes on one page, and wars on the next, add to that the presence of radical militant Islam and soon the imagination fills in the details that history actually left out. 

First, from a historical standpoint, religion has not caused the most wars. 

The only way that this statement would be true is if we were to include atheism into the mix of other religions. (which the atheists who make these accusations would never want you to do) Then we could include the likes of Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and point towards the nearly 100 million deaths caused by these three individuals alone. The Crusades (caused in part by religion) were truly ugly with a highest estimated casualty count of 3 million souls, but they were not even half of the devastation caused by the Holocaust with its nearly 8 million lives lost. All of the religious medieval kingdoms couldn’t accomplish in three centuries what atheist Adolph Hitler accomplished in less than five years. A simple glance at history shows the fallacy of the “religion has caused the most wars” view. 

Second, those who imagine that biblical Christianity has caused war have failed to actually read what the Bible says.

Jesus himself answers these maligning claims of historically inaccurate revisionism in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world, then would my servants fight.” 

Jesus made it explicit that Christianity is not about taking up arms and conquering enemies in the name of the cross (I’m looking at you, Emperor Constantine). 

Christianity is about the good news that man can be reconciled to God through the substitutionary death of Jesus. Christians who follow the teaching of Jesus Christ do not cause war, they seek to end it. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus told His followers, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Christians are not war-hawks. They are gospel proclaimers.
But when Jesus told Pilate that His disciples would not take up swords and fight for His deliverance, He was not indicating that every aspect of the Christian life is pacifist. Rather, Jesus said, “my kingdom is not from hence.” There is a different kind of kingdom and a different kind of battle than the physical ones that requires the taking of human life. When we arrive at Ephesians 6:10-20, this is the type of warfare that Paul references. In verse 12, Paul says, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but …against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The Christian life is a constant spiritual battle.
There is a battle that rages every day, and every Christian should be fighting in that battle. According to verse 11, the attacks of Satan come in every shape and form and in verse 10, we see that the only hope we have in the midst of this type of battle is to rest in the power of God. God can and will be victorious over all of the attacks of Satan, we must merely trust Him and seek to protect ourselves with the armor that God has given us.
Religion does not cause most wars. It does cause some, but not anywhere near a majority. However, this does not exclude Christians from war. There is a constant warfare that is raging in the life of every believer. It is not a war fought with jets, tanks, ships, and M4s; it is a spiritual battle that is waged against the ruler of darkness himself, Satan. The weapons of this warfare are a firm trust in God, a mind full of the truth of God, and a life filled with prayer to God in all things. This is how Christians fight.

Reflect: Does religion cause most wars? Why would someone (like an atheist) say that religion causes most wars?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Ephesians 6:5-9

Christianity should pervade every aspect and every role of a believer’s life. In Ephesians 5 and 6, Paul described a number of ways that a believer living the spirit-filled life will act in their relationships. A believer that is filled with the spirit will be joyful, thankful, and humble. Christian husbands will lovingly sacrifice their own preferences and their own comfort for the sake of their own wives. Christian wives will surrender their desires and preferences to their loving husbands. Parents will guide and direct their own children, and children will joyfully submit to their parents. And while there is no doubt that Christianity should pervade every aspect of the family, Paul continued under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to explain that the spirit-filled life will affect work as well.
In the ancient world, slavery was ubiquitous. Nearly every major ancient culture, the Romans included, was founded on and expanded through the use of slavery. This slavery culture was part of the context of all of the New Testament books. In the first century church, there were people who fell on either side of slavery. Some members of local churches were slaves and other members were slave owners. However, nothing broke down the barrier between slave and master as did the truths of Christianity.
In our current context, over 150 years after the ratification of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, we may find some of the statements made regarding slavery to be bothersome. But we would do well to remember the original context in which Paul was writing. He was not seeking to bring sweeping social reform to the entrenched practice of slavery, rather, he was seeking to give guidance to those who were believers and who were existing in that culture and those who would exist in other cultures to follow.
This is the beautiful thing about Christianity. You can tell true Christianity because it is applicable to all cultures. The truth of God and the message of the gospel transcend people groups and languages like nothing else can. This cultural transcendence is something that helps those interested in foreign missions work to see if they are truly carrying the gospel message or if they have attached a bit of baggage to the truth of Scripture. In every culture the plain teaching of Scripture is completely applicable. However, the application of each truth may find itself to be different as it is adapted to different cultures.
To illustrate this, we must see the diversity of worship styles that exist in the global church. In one culture, using drums in worship would seem strange and out of place, whereas in another culture, drums are the prime source of rhythm and help carry the worship. In some cultures, dancing and clapping are seen as strange and awkward, while in another culture to not dance and not clap would seem cold and indifferent towards God. All cultures can obey the command to worship God in joy and in song, but the diversity of humanity demonstrates that the application will vary from culture to culture.
When we read that Christian servants are to obey their masters, and believing masters are to be kind and forbear the insolent slaves under their command, we may feel a tug of disgust. But, what we must understand is that although the application in that culture dealt with slaves and masters, the principles transcend culture and we can find a biblical application for this truth in our culture. For us, in a slave free America, the spirit-filled believer still works 9-5. The same Christian expectation on slaves and their masters can be carried into our culture. In our culture, every Christian employee should strive to work hard and do well in their job that God might be honored and glorified, and every Christian employer must be gracious and kind, even forbearing in love those who at times disappoint them.

Reflect: Is the message of Scripture truly transcendent of culture? Can you think of things that some well-meaning Christians have tried to carry over to other cultures in the name of Christianity?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Ephesians 6:4

From the Old Testament to the New, the principle has remained the same. It is the job of parents to teach their own children the truths of Scripture. In Ephesians 6:4, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells the believers at Ephesus that the job of spiritual leadership falls firmly on the shoulders of every Christian dad. This is not a duty to be neglected or delegated. It is God’s design that every father train his children in the truth of God.
So then, what does this training look like? In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Moses gave the same admonition, and included a few more details to consider. Before ever commanding the Hebrew fathers to train their children, Moses started with “and these words shall be in thine heart.” Before a father could ever instruct his children in the truth of God, he must study and know that truth himself. To be a good teacher of the Bible, the father must first be a good student of the Bible. And while it is absolutely necessary that every father strive to learn and grow in the faith, a lack of knowledge should never serve as a disabling excuse for the abdication of the fatherly role of spiritual instructor. Some of the best teachers are those who are constantly learning and are excited to teach the truths that are fresh and delightful to them. Parents (and especially Christian fathers) must exhaust themselves in the study of God’s word.
After learning and knowing the truth of God, Christian fathers must teach their children those truths. When? The answer to this reflex question is simple: always. “When you sit in your house, when you walk down the road (or drive your car), when you are getting ready for bed in the evening, when you get up in the morning.” After reading the words of Moses here, it almost seems as if there is no space left in a day where Christian fathers are not instructing their children in the truth of God. But there is…after their children go to sleep.
The two most natural responses to this great call of parenting are as follows: 1) I don’t think I could ever do this with my kids. I am exhausted when I get done with work. Or, 2) I spend a lot of time with my kids, we play ball and do a lot of work with our hands and spend quite a bit of time together.
To the first objection, I would argue that there is a grave misunderstanding as to a parental role. In this erroneous view, the “work” that is most important and requires the most energy is the work that is done outside of the house. This is the exact opposite of what God has taught us through the inspired writing of both Moses and Paul. There is no work as important in the life of a Christian parent as instructing and teaching their young people. Ford, and GE and every other corporation’s needs pale in comparison to the eternal needs of children.
To the second objection, being with your children is not the same as instructing them. This is why Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:4 aren’t “Fathers spend a lot of time with your kids.” Rather, he writes specifically, “Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” It is the God commanded responsibility to teach the truths of God’s word before teaching how to shoot a free-throw. It is of higher priority to instruct a child in the character of God than for them to learn how to ride a bicycle. It is of much greater importance that a young person learn to read and understand God’s word for themselves than to ever learn the nuance of finance or the tricks to getting a bargain. Everyday life lessons must take back seat to eternal life lessons. This is the duty of a Christian father. And if we recall the purpose of this entire section of Paul’s epistle, this is the evidence of a Spirit-filled life. Whether parenting now, or by God’s grace parenting in the future, the call and duty for all parents will always remain the same – encourage and instruct young minds in the truths of the Lord.

Reflect: What does Godly parenting look like? What are some things that people assume is “good enough” parenting? How do these types fall short of God’s standard?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ephesians 6:1-3

Instructing the Ephesian believers on what it means to be filled with the Spirit, Paul explained that the Spirit-filled life is something that every believer should exhibit. In Ephesians 5 and 6 he lays out in plain language what it means for Christian families to be filled with the Spirit. Being filled with the Spirit is not something that is relegated to adults or simply for those who have been Christians for years. Rather, Paul articulates clearly that each member of a Christian family must be filled with the Spirit.
For the Christian wife, being filled with the Spirit means submitting to the leadership of her husband. For the Christian husband, being filled with the Spirit means lovingly leading and caring selflessly for His wife. In Ephesians 6:1, Paul turns his instruction to the children in a Christian home.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord.”
For Christian young people and children, the Spirit-filled life would look very specific – obedience to their parents. In teaching the responsibility of Christian young people to their parents, God does not give too many qualifying statements as to the parents to be obeyed. Rather, He gives the instruction to the young people to obey their parents in the Lord. The phrase “in the Lord” could be taken a couple of different ways. First, it could mean that children are supposed to obey their parents in all things pertaining to the Christian life and godly instruction. Second, it could mean that they are to obey because they are “in the Lord,” and should do what He commands of them, namely obey their parents.
Either way, the principle remains the same. Those who live with their parents under the authority of dad or mom should strive to obey in all things. But what if what dad or mom says is something that we don’t like? The question that should be answered is, “does their command violate the law of God?” If not, then disobedience to their command would be a violation of the law of God. For children in their parent’s home, the Spirit-filled life is quite straight forward – obey dad and mom.
And it seems like the Spirit is at work accomplishing a very specific work in the homes of Christians. The evidence of a good Christian home is a good authority/leadership structure. The husband lovingly leads and guides his wife. The wife humbly and patiently submits to the guidance of her loving husband. And the children seek to do what they are instructed by their parents. So is this how every Christian home looks? Sadly, no.
The reason Paul is giving this admonition in Ephesians 5 and 6 is because many Christian homes do not look like this. Many husbands don’t love their wives as much as they love themselves. Many Christian wives despise and deride their own husbands. Many Christian children disobey their parents and scorn their instruction. This is why it is absolutely crucial to read and understand what Paul is saying here. Christians should strive to be different. The structure that a family will thrive in is laid out plainly, and God offers His Spirit to equip believers to accomplish this beautiful God-honoring, Spirit-filled lifestyle. It is now our duty to trust Him and rely on His help and strength for the task.

Reflect: What is the role of each family member in a Spirit-filled Christian home?

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ephesians 5:25-33

Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. – John 15:13
There is no greater measure of love than Christ-like love. Others might offer their lives for you, but only Christ offered all of Himself for you. As a substitute for your sins, He bore the wrath of God on your behalf because He loved you. 1 John 3 explains that it is in the death of Jesus that we finally can see clearly what love actually looks like.
After seeing the death of Christ, and hearing that Christ’s love was the greatest love, some still assume that they can achieve this measure of love. In their minds, dying for others is the same as Christ dying for others. This simply is not the case. Christ’s death is so much more than that. Christ’s death was a death of obedience that came at the end of a life of obedience. It was only after Christ had lived every day in full obedience to God that He could offer His life in such a way that he would accomplish so much spiritually.
Many macho men might speak of how they love others or even how they love their wives, but they fail to love as Christ did. They might argue that if it came down to it, they would perform the heroic act of sacrificing their lives for others, but this is not the same measure of love that Christ had. Christ loved us so much that he lived a perfect life too. In order for a man to love as Christ did, he must do much more than die for others, he must live for others.
In this regard, some might even say that dying for others is easy in comparison to living for others. With the Spirit of Christ, believers are called to this selfless lifestyle. In John 15, Christ says that a man demonstrates his love for others by giving his life for them. You can understand this phrase two ways: he dies for them, or he lives for them. Perhaps the greatest demonstration of Christ’s love for us was that although he faced temptation every day, and although he at times was tired and exhausted, and although he was surrounded at times by faithless disciples who failed to love Him perfectly, He still loved them perfectly and lived a life of perfect obedience to God so that He could offer that life as a sacrifice to God. This is the pinnacle of love – an entire life spent for others, not just His death.
It is with this total abandon of self-love and a hot pursuit of love for others that Paul admonishes Christian husbands in Ephesians 5. There is no greater example of true love than Christ giving His life for us. Now, in kind, husbands are called to the wild and extravagant love of their wives. It is not just a macho, “I’d die for her.” Rather, it is a call to lovingly make every decision based upon a wife’s needs and desires. For the love of her, he lives, even as Christ loved the church. This is the evidence of the spirit-filled life, and that selfless love should abound in the heart and life of every Christian, especially husbands.

Reflect: What is perhaps harder than dying for someone else?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Ephesians 5:22-24

In Ephesians 5:18, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote that every believer should be “filled with the Spirit.” He then explained what that Spirit-filled life looks like. Spirit-filled believers worship God, express gratitude to God, and live in humility. Continuing the explanation of the Spirit-filled life, Paul transitions to a theological illustration.
Christ is the head of the church. At no point did Christ ever say that any man would be the head of the church, rather, here in Ephesians 5:23, Christ is emphatically declared to be the one and only head of the church. This distinction must be made, because others have come throughout history and claimed to be the head of the church in His place, but He is the only rightful head of the church. It was with His blood that He personally reconciled the church to God. It was through His death that he brought forgiveness of sin and a right standing with God. He is the rightful head of the church.
And very few would argue this point. Upon hearing this declaration, most in evangelicalism would rally to say, “Yes, and Amen!” No serious student of Scripture or lover of God’s truth would ever question the headship of Christ over His church. Perhaps this is why Paul chose this clear illustration to teach what the Spirit-filled life looks like in Christian wives.
In verse 22, Paul addresses wives. This is not a blanket statement for all women, rather, it is addressed to those women who have joined themselves to a husband. At this point the illustration has already been drawn, it is merely the application that is left. Those wives who are filled with the Spirit will seek to submit themselves to their own husbands as the church has been called to submit to Christ. There is no room for dereliction of duty. But then again, if each member of the relationship is seeking to fulfill their role in the illustration, the submission is not grievous.
It was Christ who said, “Come unto me…and I will give you rest.” A husband who treats his wife like Christ treats the church will find that he has a wife who joyfully submits. Christ has never berated or nagged or manipulated or abused. In the marriage relationship, the husband should strive to make decisions that are not self-serving, but loving and compassionate and for the betterment of his wife. And a well-loved wife will find that submitting to the direction that has her best interests at heart is not a laborious submission.
This is the mark of a Spirit-filled wife – her submission to her own husband. And just as none would dare call into question the headship of Christ over the church, may we learn to guard against those who seek to undermine Christ’s delegated authority and responsibility that He has given to husbands to lead their own wives in love and compassion. No wife should usurp the headship of her husband, and no husband should seek to lazily abdicate it. Rather, in Spirit-filled obedience, both should strive to dwell together in humility seeking the betterment of the other while fully accepting their God-ordained roles.

Reflect: Why do you think that husband-headship is unpopular in today’s culture?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Ephesians 5:18b-21

The pagan practices of intoxication and out-of-control revelry are not the nature of Christian worship. God desires that Christians engage their minds in worshipping Him. He desires that Christians use reason and choose to obey His will and His commands. Unlike cultures or religions that say you must commune with the divine through mind-altering drugs or wild experiences, the God of Christianity beckons His followers to be self-controlled and temperate in all things.
In the beginning of verse 18, Paul had made this very point. Christians were to be distinct and different from those around them in the pagan culture. They were to abstain from being drunk, lest in their drunkenness they fall prey to the number of sins that abound. Paul tells the believers that instead of being known for their lascivious and unbridled lifestyles, they are to be filled with the Spirit.
The phrase “filled with the Spirit” must be understood though. It does not mean that believers must obtain some further indwelling of the Spirit. At the point of conversion we understand that the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell inside of believers and begins the work of sanctification in them whereby they can be convicted of and fight against sin. Being filled with the Spirit also does not mean that they need some special further equipping with the spiritual gifts of teaching, or giving, or serving, or the other spiritual gifts, because like indwelling of the Spirit, that too took place at conversion.
Being filled with the Spirit means that believers are to be led by the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures. Like the wind that fills the sails of a ship, the Spirit is to be the driving and guiding force for the believer. The person who is filled by the Spirit will have the Spirit produce fruit in their lives. When a believer is carried along by the Spirit, they will eventually become more like Christ. When a believer is filled with the Spirit they will grow in godliness and love for others.
Paul explains the filling of the Spirit with three simple evidences in the next three verses. In verse 19, those that are filled with the Spirit have songs of worship to God that are springing up in their hearts and end up being sung to those around them. The evidence of the Spirit-filled life is an overflowing joy that can’t be contained in the heart of the believer but must be shared.
Another thing that the Spirit-filled life will exude is given in verse 20 – thankfulness. When a Christian is led by the Spirit to understand the goodness of God as demonstrated in the Scriptures and seen plainly in our lives, the only natural response of the Spirit-filled believer is gratitude. Rejoicing at God’s goodness, the believer that is filled with the Spirit thanks God for every good and perfect gift that He has given.
Finally, in verse 21, Paul gives the last evidence of a Spirit-filled life – humility. Lovingly and humbly, believers should seek what is best for others. In stark contrast to the wisdom of the world, being filled with the Spirit results in believers not striving for selfish gain and prestige, but lovingly pursuing what is best for those around them. Instead of trying to dominate every conversation, and instead of trying to advance one’s own agenda, the Spirit-filled believer humbly labors for the betterment of others. May God help us to be Spirit-filled. May we be ever joyful, thankful, and humble as we see His goodness to us, and as His Spirit leads and guides us.
Reflect: What are the evidences of the Spirit-filled life that Paul gives in this text? How do they correlate with what Paul says in Colossians 3:16-24?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Ephesians 5:18a

Through positive and negative commands Paul explains to the believers in Ephesus that there are a number of things that they should be doing and a number of things that they should not. While the Christian life is not exclusively a list of rules, it certainly should be influenced by the will of God and the desires of God as revealed through His lists of rules.

“Be followers of God.” “Walk in love.” “Be not partakers with evildoers.” “Walk as children of light.” “Reprove the works of darkness.” “Walk circumspectly.” “Be not unwise.” “Understand what the will of God is.” 

All of these things in Ephesians 5 were admonitions for believers. This list was not what made these believers Christians. That was only accomplished by God’s grace through their faith in the saving work of Jesus. But, if they were truly Christians, these things would be lifestyle habits. This is why so many of the positive commands use the word “walk.” These were to be things that were everyday tendencies of believers.
Arriving at verse 18, we must understand that it is to the idea of self-control which Paul speaks regarding wine. Paul’s admonition is not “do not drink wine.” Rather, Paul is continuing the thought of “be not unwise” in verse 17. In verses 15 and 16 Paul said, “walk circumspectly, redeeming the time.” In other words, be fully aware of your surroundings, exercise self-control. Instead of being fixated or distracted, pay attention. This will help you in your fight against temptation. This will help you in your pursuit of godliness. This will help you in your endeavors to build the kingdom of God. But if you are not walking circumspectly, and not exercising temperance and self-control, then you will fail at these other things.
Paul’s point then in verse 18 continues the thought with, “so don’t get drunk.” Intoxication and inebriation are the antithesis of self-control. You cannot pursue holiness when you can’t even spell your own name. You cannot fight temptation when you have given yourself double vision. Drunkenness conflicts with holiness. Other portions of Scripture will speak towards the nature of wine and strong drink, this text does not have this as its purpose. Instead, we must understand that anything that draws us away from our pursuit of godliness or makes that pursuit impossible should be removed from our lives. In this text, most plainly that which must be removed is drunkenness. For the Ephesians, clearly drunkenness was a problem, so Paul warned them against drunkenness. We then must see plainly that as a principle, Christians have no business becoming intoxicated and drunk. But then again, the overarching principle must remain from this entire context and that is that although drunkenness is specifically named in verse 18, any lack of self-control is in conflict with holiness. May God help us through His Spirit to war against the laziness and apathy of our own hearts towards our sinfulness.
Reflect: How is drunkenness in conflict with holiness?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ephesians 5:15-17

I would call a man a fool who threw away jewels. I would call a man a fool who threw away money. I would call a man a bigger fool who threw away an hour. There's a world to be won. There's a church to be built. There's a God to be glorified and there's no time for triteness and there's not time for meaningless activity.” – John MacArthur, teaching from Ephesians 5:16
After telling the Ephesian believers to be imitators of God in v. 1, Paul then told them to walk as children of light and not as children of disobedience. Their lives would be marked by a constant putting to death of their sin and a constant submission to the goodness and righteousness of God revealed in Scripture. Regarding those around them, they were to be bold and ready to lovingly reprove those who were blinded by darkness.
Now, Paul gave another warning regarding their lifestyle. Paul’s admonition to the believers this time was that they should “walk circumspectly.” This was a call to full awareness in every area of their lives. There was a constant danger of falling into sin, and especially when confronting others about their sins, temptation was increased. So after encouraging the believers to engage those around them with the truth, Paul advises believers to be on guard against inadvertent foolishness.
Continuing the warning, Paul wrote, “not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time.” According to Paul there is a direct connection between wisdom and the use of time. It is a uniform principle that none can escape. Time is the most expensive commodity, but many people foolishly spend it on the cheapest things. If there a way that billionaires could turn their profits into years, they would endeavor to live for thousands of years. But as it stands, the biological clock runs out for most around 70 years, and no amount of money can add any more time to that.
Knowing then that every second brings you closer to your moment of death, what will you do with the fleeting moments you have left? I was recently on a flight sitting next to a woman who was intently playing Candy Crush on her IPad. When another passenger commented to her that his own wife loved to play that game, she replied with a response that is revelatory of our current entertainment-gripped culture’s view of time versus money. She bragged that she has played this game for a few years now, and has made it to an incredibly high level without ever spending a dime of her own money to buy any upgrades to beat any of the levels.
She explained that if ever she gets to a difficult level, she is willing to spend the next couple of weeks trying to beat that level on her own rather than spend the money to beat it. I’m certainly not advocating spending money on frivolous apps like Candy Crush, but I am pointing out that she viewed the hours she spent on Candy Crush as a cheaper exchange than $.99 for the upgrade. What a misguided perspective. Time is fleeting. In its abundance we find ourselves lazily negligent in its use. However, Paul explains that to waste time is not the way of wisdom, rather it is the way of foolishness.
Finally, Paul just outright says, “be not unwise.” Don’t allow yourself to get duped by the mind-numbing wastes of our day. To modify the words of Jesus to our modern context, “What shall it profit a man if he shall defeat every level of Flappy Bird and lose his own soul?” There are things of eternal value that we must endeavor to pursue. May God help us to war against foolishness by becoming self-controlled, Spirit-disciplined, wise servants of God.

Reflect: Do you walk as the wise or as a fool? What is the app or device that causes you to most often commit the sin of foolish time neglect?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ephesians 5:8-14

Have you ever been in an utterly dark place? A few years ago, I visited my family in Papua New Guinea. Where they live in the middle of the jungle, the nights get extremely dark. It gets so dark, that on an overcast night, even the light from the flashlights seems to be swallowed by the darkness. It is equal parts eerie and horrifying walking through the thick darkness able to see nothing but the ground right in front of you.
When I picture darkness, I envision that light-smothering darkness of the deep jungle night. I imagine what it would be like to try to live an entire life in that environment without a flashlight. In the absolute darkness with no ambient light to even offer an outline or a shadowy clue as to the surroundings, I would be left helplessly groping around and stumbling over every object. It would be truly miserable.
Because of the frightfulness of the darkness, the early morning sunshine is both refreshing and reassuring. Rays of sunlight evaporate every drop of darkness, and with it the latent fears of the unseen and hidden. No one in their right mind having experienced that dreadful darkness would desire to spend their entire lives in it completely disoriented and endangered. Rather, having experienced the sunlight and having seen the beauty of the jungle, no one would dare desire to retreat again into the smothering darkness.
Seeing and feeling such darkness brings a vividness to the words of Paul in Ephesians 5:8-14. Those who were believers were formerly living lives that were disoriented in darkness. Groping and stumbling with no purpose or hope, they were dreadfully blinded to true joy and lasting peace. But God in His grace offered them His light and opened their eyes to see the truth and to see sin as the horrible thing that it is. Now, having seen the reassuring, hope-giving light, Paul warns the Ephesians to not become slaves to the darkness any more.
From this we learn a very valuable lesson regarding the Christian life. According to Paul’s admonition here in this text, it is not the nature of a Christian to walk in darkness. A Christian may at times commit works of darkness, but he will not walk constantly in darkness. Instead, a Christian will have fruit in his life. A Christian will be empowered by the Spirit of God through the truth of the Word of God to overcome darkness and produce good and righteous things.
Continuing the illustration of light and darkness, Paul explains how that those who can see will also warn those who cannot. Those who are in the light are called to reprove those who are walking in darkness. Hearing this, some Christians might say, “well, their sin is none of my business.” Paul argues here that if you are walking in the light, all darkness is your business to address and reprove. This must be done in meekness, gentleness, love, and truth, but it must be done.
If those who have seen the light do not show it to those in darkness, how will they ever escape the darkness? Some might answer, “but won’t the Holy Spirit show them?” To this, Paul says, “Yes, the Holy Spirit will show them as He produces fruit in you and through you. The Holy Spirit will use you, as a believer, to show those who walk in darkness that they are sinning and they need to depart from the works of darkness.”
So then we understand these basic truths – having seen the light we should no longer desire to be ensnared again by darkness; seeing others in darkness we should reprovingly share the light so that they might escape; Christ will help them escape their darkness if we are faithful to share the light with them.

Reflect: Having received “the light” is a privilege. What responsibilities do we have with that privilege?