Dear Radio Friends,
Our program today brings the Word of God as we find it in Ephesians 5:8. There we read, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
We understand that when the word “for” begins a verse in the Scriptures, it means that there is a reason that is being given for something. In verse 7 of Ephesians 5 we read, “Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” The “them” goes back to verse 6 of the chapter, the children of disobedience. God’s Word says to us that we must not share in, we must not partake of, we must not do the things that the children of disobedience are doing. Instead, we are to walk as children of the light. Why? For this reason: ye were sometimes darkness. Then you lived in the same disobedience. But now are ye light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light.
We are, therefore, to walk distinctively. We are to walk as the children of God in the midst of His light because of what God has done, because by His grace we have been taken out of darkness and are now light in the Lord. Let us look at that together.
The Word of God is telling us, first of all, what we were. Ye were sometimes darkness. If we are to walk in the joy of the light, then we must understand that we were at one time darkness. Let us not be fooled by the word “sometimes.” That does not mean that in the past, periodically, from time to time, you were in darkness and at times you were not. But it means, at one time in the past. At a given point in time, ye were darkness. That is what you were, says the Word of God. The Word of God is speaking to the child of God who has been brought into the life of Jesus Christ, and is saying to that child of God (to us, then), that we were darkness. Not anymore. That is finished. But formerly you were darkness.
When was that? For almost everyone in the church of Ephesus, to whom the apostle Paul is writing this epistle, they could well remember that time, for they had been brought up in the darkness of paganism and unbelief. They had been brought up in homes that worshiped idol gods. It had been through the preaching of the gospel by the apostle Paul that the Holy Spirit had transformed them and the power of God’s grace had reached down to change them and to bring them to the light. That is always true.
The Scriptures also teach us of the truth of the covenant of grace — that God’s children are often born in believing homes and are, therefore, brought up and nurtured in the faith of Jesus Christ and from earliest childhood are brought to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, with equal force, and with equal truth, it may be said of all (you and me and every child of God), “Ye were darkness.” That is, according to our own nature, as we are born of ourselves, out of Adam the first father, when we were conceived, when we were born, we were, of ourselves, darkness. We were born with a spiritually dead, dark nature.
What is meant by darkness, then? Darkness is the absence of any light. It is the antithesis, the opposite, of light. Therefore, spiritually darkness means that we were not able to see and did not want to see God or the things of God. The apostle Paul has explained it this way in Ephesians 4:18, “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” You see, the Scriptures do not teach that man is born neutral. That is a proud heresy. That is a lie. The Scriptures teach that all men are born in darkness of themselves. They do not know the living God in love, but they hate God by nature and live in the darkness of their own pride. Of ourselves, we are unable and we do not desire to know the living God. That is what it means that we were darkness. We were in the dark spiritually.
And that darkness manifests itself, it shows itself. The apostle has been speaking about that in chapter 5 of Ephesians when he talked about the children of disobedience and the life that they live as they perform the deeds of sin and darkness. Even in the physical sense that is true. Darkness is so often the cover that men use for sinning. When the sun sets, the crime rises. Beer parties at night. Sinful deeds in the darkness when the lights go out. So darkness refers to our own spiritual depravity, to the ways of sin and of pride. And, finally, darkness refers to hell. For the pit of hell is absolute darkness, unending, just wrath of God for those who have rejected Him and who live in the disobedience of their sins.
Ye were darkness. That is what we were. Everyone who is saved was, of himself, darkness — sinful, depraved, deserving of eternal condemnation in hell. That was the truth about you. That is all that could be said about you. Ye were darkness.
Notice, the Word of God does not simply say, “Ye were in the darkness,” but “Ye were darkness.” That is, we were not just in the sphere of darkness, with darkness all around us, but we were darkness. The Word of God, there, is teaching that sin is, first of all, not a matter of the life outside of us and around us, but is a matter that arises within us. I may be in darkness, physical darkness, but have light inside. I may have understanding, hope, love, and courage. But the Word of God is saying that we were darkness. The darkness was within us.
So the teaching of the Word of God is that we are not a little good, part-way bad, not so bad, not so bad as someone else, pretty bad but able yet by our own decision to accept Jesus. None of that is the teaching of the Word of God. That is all the invention of men. That is all heresy. The Word of God is very straightforward. You were spiritually dark. As dark as dark can be. Ye were darkness.
Of yourself, you do not see and do not want to see God. Of yourself you would live in disobedience and pride. Of yourself you would have no hope. And of yourself you are worthy of the pit of hell.
Now, if you believe that that assessment of mankind and the assessment that is made of you by the Word of God is too much and you say, “That cannot be,” do not bring your argument to me. You will have to bring that argument to God’s Word and to God Himself. For the judgment expressed is the judgment of the living and the true God. “Ye were sometimes darkness.” That is all that can be said of us. We were in the darkness of sin and worthy of the pit of eternal death.
“But now are ye light in the Lord!” Praise God! There is the gospel. We must pay attention to the glory contained in those words “but now.” The apostle Paul is very fond of that construction. He used it time and time again. He would say, “But God, but now…,” that is, on the one side of those words is all of the hopelessness and ugliness and shamefulness of what we were of ourselves, and on the other side of those words is all the transforming and recreating power of the Almighty God. Ye were darkness, but now ye are light in the Lord — a declaration of a glorious difference that God has made by His own grace.
What is light in the Lord? It is the opposite of darkness. It is spiritually, then, to know God and to desire to know God. It is the life of sweet obedience to God. It is hope. It is fellowship with God and His people. The Bible says that God is light (I John 1:5). In Him is no darkness at all. God is light — not simply has light. He is light. Therefore, apart from God is only darkness. For there to be light there has to be God. And as the light, God knows Himself. The light, therefore, is all that God is as He is the blessed God, the perfect and holy God. God reveals His own light through the holy Scriptures. He reveals that light especially in His Son Jesus Christ, for His Son declared that He is the Light of the world. He revealed the light, the wonderful, warm, glorious light of God, the light of God’s grace upon the cross. On the cross He took the eternal darkness of His elect children upon Himself. He was swallowed up in three hours of darkness. He took our darkness. Now He is risen. And He sends forth the Holy Spirit into our heart. By that Spirit He shines into our hearts the knowledge of the love of God, so that now ye are light in the Lord — not merely in the light, not merely in a church or in a Christian home or among other Christians, but ye are light, ye are children of the light. God has created in you the light of the glorious gospel, the light of the knowledge of God. You were darkness, you were spiritually dead, living in enmity against God. But now are ye light in the Lord. You have been given, by grace alone, the life of Christ whereby you might believe and know and love and trust and live onto God. Now are ye light in the Lord.
Do not jump in, now, as we are prone to do and say, “Pretty good for me! I asked the Lord to shine upon me, and now I know.” No, it says, “Ye are light in the Lord.” We remember what we read in John 15:5, where Jesus said, “without me ye can do nothing.” In the Lord you are light.
The Christian is a new creation. The light of God has been created in you as in the beginning. When God spoke, you were not there. The creation did not ask, “Please create us.” Of course not. You say, “That’s absurd. There was no creation. So how could the creation say, Lord, create us.” Of course not. So also for you. You did not ask God to be your light. This desire was not born of you. But it was born of God. As God spoke in the beginning and said, “Let there be light” and there was light, so the light of God has been placed in you by a powerful and mighty work of God.
You see, the Christian is not a patch-up. He is not a make-over. But He is a new creature. God has given our darkness to Christ. And God has placed in our hearts the light of Christ. You say, “I love God. God is my God. I understand Him, I love Him, I believe His Word, I belong to Christ. I want to follow Him, I want to walk as a child of the light.” Praise God! That is because the light has shined into the darkness. That is because by mighty grace you were made light in the Lord. Give glory to God.
Therefore, that means you will live in the Lord, that you will understand that you are nothing without the Lord Jesus Christ. You will abide in Him. And you will draw all of your life spiritually from Him.
We have all had the experience of drifting in our spiritual life, of allowing ourselves to become detached from spiritual things and to become enamored with the things of the world. What happens? Everything begins to fall apart. Family relationships begin to explode. We have clashes with our parents. We have problems in marriage. Why? Because we have allowed ourselves to become detached from the Lord and have set our eye upon our own sin or the world. Or, maybe there is a part of our life on which we do not want His light to shine. So the Word of God says, “Ye are light in the Lord.”
As He created that within us, so also He preserved that within us through a living union to Himself in which we are called to walk in dependence and in consciousness of our Lord. “Walk as children of light.” There the Word of God is saying, “Live consistently with what you have been made. You are now in the light of the Lord? You were darkness. Then you walked in the darkness. But now you are light, light in the Lord. So live consistently with that light in the Lord.” You see, your walking in the light does not make you light. Your walking a Christian life does not make you a Christian. Your obedience, your holiness, your good works in Christ, your prayers, your repentance do not make you a child of God. No, but walking in the light showsthat you have been made a child of God, shows that you are light in the Lord. It is the fruit of what He has made you to be. The life of the child of God is not the cause of his being a child of God, but our life is the fruit of our having been made the child of God. Therefore, give glory to God. Walk as a child of the light.
The word “walk” in the Scriptures looks at our life as a progression. You take a step, now you are at a different point. You were there, but you made progress. You proceed. It means that every day we must go forward, we must proceed in the light of the Lord. We must repent of our sins. Every time we walk in sin that sin leaves a scar. But now we must walk in the light of the Lord. We must live out of the Lord moment by moment as a child of the light. We must walk in the light of the Lord.
What does that mean? That means: Be faithful. Be faithful to the Word. Be faithful to prayer. Be faithful to the church. In all of your life, never forsake the true church of Jesus Christ. For in the church of Jesus Christ, as she preaches the Word of the gospel, you see the light. And you receive, by grace, the power to walk in the light. You cannot walk in the light alone. I want to point out to you that the plural is used: ye — plural, more than one, the church — ye are children of the light; walk in the light. It is spiritual arrogance and pride to live separately from the church, to say, “I don’t need the church, I can be a Christian without the church.” That is arrogance. A great war is going to be waged in your life, which is going to try to remove you from the church, from your place in God’s covenant. Walk as children of the light, hold fast and love the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Still more. Read the Scriptures. There you shall be renewed in the light.
Still more. Pray.
Still more. Walk as children of the light by not partaking in the activities of disobedience.
Walk as children of the light by partaking in all the wonderful spiritual activities of the child of God.
Ye were sometimes darkness. But by a marvelous grace of the Creator God, ye are now light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light. Let the light of God be seen in all of your life. In the midst of the darkness of sin in this world, let the light of your life be your confession. Let your life and your words be seen as the light of Christ in order that God might be glorified in you.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy holy Word, a Word that teaches us the wonder of salvation by grace alone, of the great power of salvation, and of our calling to live in thankfulness to Thee. Bless Thy Word to our hearts, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.