Sunday, 9 October 2016
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light Ephesians 5:8
The Bible is literally filled with the concepts of light and darkness, even from the first verses to the last. A contrast is being made, but it is more than just a literal light and darkness which is spoken of. Rather, it is quite often speaking of these in a figurative sense. This is what Paul is referring to here. The verse is highly emphatic, and it is contrasting what has just been spoken of concerning the “sons of disobedience.”
He begins with, “For you were once darkness.” Here, and in the clause to come, he uses the abstract to speak of the concrete, thus showing the emphasis. In that his readers “were once darkness,” it implies that it was their very nature. The word “darkness” is skotos. It signifies darkness, either physical or moral. Here it is referring to the moral darkness previously mentioned. It is “the principle of sin with its certain results” (HELPS Word Studies).
The darkness was our nature. We were infected with sin and could do nothing but pursue sin. We were bound by the law. Paul explains what that means in Romans 7:8-11 –
“But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”
The “darkness” can be equated with the death which results from the law. However, Paul next says, “but now you are light in the Lord.” The Greek word is phos and indicates “light, a source of light, radiance.” It speaks of light, but “(especially in terms of its results, what it manifests); in the NT, the manifestation of God’s self-existent life; divine illumination to reveal and impart life, through Christ” (HELPS Word Studies).
This “light” then can be equated with the “life” of Paul’s word in Romans. In fact, John shows this close connection to the two words when speaking of Jesus –
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:4, 5
The life that we have is given to us in place of the law which brought death. How did this happen? It is because Christ fulfilled the law for us. When we receive His gift of fulfilling the law, we die to the law; new life has come. The darkness of death is defeated and we become light; children of light. In this new state, Paul admonishes us to therefore “Walk as children of light.”
We are shown to not just reflect light, but we actually are radiating light. This is why, even in the Old Testament, it was understood that we Gentiles would so shine forth –
For your light has come!
And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth,
And deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you,
And His glory will be seen upon you.
3 The Gentiles shall come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3
In that we have come to the light of Christ, we now shine forth with that same light. Life has replaced death; light has replaced darkness. As we have been born into new life through Christ’s fulfillment of the law, so we also have been born into light in how to walk in this world. The emphasis of this verse, then, is given to show that just as we once were darkness – like the sons of disobedience – we are now children of light. We are not to participate any longer in that which is contrary to our new nature.
As a fine point of theology, this verse – when properly considered – once again demonstrates the doctrine of eternal salvation. The law is fulfilled for us; we are dead to it. We have taken on a new nature. Paul shows that we can go back and do the things of darkness, but they do not change our new nature. Those deeds are simply contrary to it. We have not gone merely from being “in darkness” to being “in light.” Instead we have gone from being darkness to being light. The emphatic nature of Paul’s words are intended to show us this as an absolute truth.
Life application: If you have called on Christ, the light of Christ now dwells in you. Arise! Shine forth! Your light has come! Don’t enter again into darkness, but rather radiate out that marvelous truth that you are now a son of God, fully redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
Lord God, Your word shows two states of man. We are either in Christ and we are light, or we are not in Christ and we are darkness. If we are light, we have life. If we are darkness, we have no life. As this is so, then help us to be willing to radiate out Your light for others to see. Help us to not participate in darkness any longer. It is contrary to our new nature and can only hinder others from coming to know You. Guide us as children of light and life for the benefit of others and for Your radiant glory! Amen.