Friday, 14 October 2016
But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Ephesians 5:13
The words of this verse are exactingly precise and also very nuanced. Thus scholars argue over the accurate intent of them. They are based on the surrounding verses, including the verse to come, and so the meaning can be more readily discerned when taken as a whole –
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
Paul is showing the contrast between light and darkness. We were once darkness; now we are light in the Lord. How did this come about? It was because the light of the Lord first shone on us. Because of that, our deeds were exposed; they were “made manifest by the light.” If we think of the parable of the tares from Mathew 13, we can get an idea of what is being said. The two plants, wheat and tares, grow up together and are almost indistinguishable. However, when the light shines on them, the tares are “made manifest by the light.”
Now think of the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time. They walked among the people and were thought to be good and pious men. However, the light of Jesus’ words about them brought their deeds to light. They were exposed for what they truly were.
In context, Paul is saying the same thing to the believers in Ephesus about the deeds of the pagan world around them, and from which they had been called. The light of the gospel shone on them, disclosing the true nature of who they were in relation to the holy God. This same system of light, truth, and revelation was to be used to discern the state of those who were not yet living in Christ. The vile nature of their lives is exposed by the light which now filled the believers in Ephesus. This is reflected in Philippians 2 –
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world…” Philippians 2:14, 15
By shining the light, everything is made manifest by the light. Paul’s words, given under inspiration of the Spirit, show us that the light of the gospel message is the only way to make things which are indecent appear as they really are. Once the truth of the gospel shines on the deeds of wickedness, they are exposed and can be compared to that which is right, holy, and proper.
Life application: Jesus asked us to have our light so shine before men, that they may see our good works. In this, they too can be brought to glorifying our Father in heaven. Without the light of Christ radiating through us and exposing where their error lies, they cannot discern the true nature of their deeds. There must be something to reveal the error, and something to compare it to. We are to be that light and standard for others to do these things.
Heavenly Father, we cannot be light to the world if we are just like the world. The deeds of darkness cannot be exposed if we don’t shine the light of Your gospel on those who lack it. And so help us to shine as lights in the world, bringing to light the difference between what is only a weed which is to be pulled up and burned, and that which is a rich grain, ready for harvest. Help us in this by redirecting our minds to Your glory at all times. Amen.