Devotional # 107. 10/20/14. Ephesians 5:6-14.
Intro. Last week we started chapter 5 and talked about how to “walk” as a Christian. We discussed how there are three “walk” commands in this chapter and how the first one (v. 2) was to “walk in love.” This week we’ll see the second “walk command” and the differences between spiritual “light” and “darkness.”
vv. 6-7. Another way to read this is “Don’t listen to anybody who says things that seem spiritual but end up being worthless. God will punish not just the people who speak like this but the ones who listen too.”
What are “empty words”? In the Greek “empty” is kenos (G#2756) and the literal meaning is “vain” and “devoid of truth”. An example would be of a vessel (like pottery) which contains nothing. The metaphorical meaning is “destitute of spiritual wealth, of one who boasts of his faith as a transcendent possession, yet is without the fruits of faith” (Source 1). Guzik reminds us that the context here are the sins previously mentioned such as “fornication”, “all uncleanness”, “foolish talking” and “course jesting”, etc. Since that’s the case, “We cannot allow ‘empty words’ to excuse or minimize the judgment due to the practice of these sins” (Source 2).
The “wrath of God” is no more clearly laid out then in Revelation. Specifically Rev. 14:18-20 which is the “Sickle Judgment” where God pours out His wrath on those who chose to disobey and rebel against Him. I believe Revelation chapter 16 (the “Bowl Judgments”) is a detailed view of the grapes of wrath from the end of Rev. 14. Read these to get a picture of the type of wrath God pours out.
I was interested in the phrase “sons of disobedience.” In the Greek “sons” means “children” but it can also be a “pupil” or “student” (Source 3). This makes sense that in this context we aren’t supposed to be taught by people who hide sin in a godly covering. We’ll see this idea tied in several times in this section, especially in vv. 8-10 where we “find out” (or are taught) what is “acceptable to the Lord.”
“Not being partakers with them” means “Don’t participate in the things these people do” (NLT). Guzik states, “Paul assumes that Christians will not have their lives habitually marked by fornication, uncleanness or covetousness. But we should not even occasionally be ‘partakers with them’ who are” (Source 2).
So we see that the people who stand against God have sinful characteristics that are habits. God will give them what they want: they will be punished. As Christians we shouldn’t have these sins as habits and more than that we shouldn’t even occasionally join people in these sins. For example, it’s not enough to only get drunk once every 6 months, you shouldn’t be getting drunk at all.
vv. 8-10. Interestingly it doesn’t say, “you were once IN darkness” but that you “were darkness” (and the same for “light“). It’s as if our biological structure was made up of sin (“darkness“) but now we’re composed of the opposite (“light“). We come to our second “walk” command in this chapter. This one is to “walk as children of light” but what does the word “light” mean? In the Greek it’s phos (G#5457) meaning light like from a lamp or torch but metaphorically it can be “truth and its knowledge” and “understanding” as in “moral and spiritual truth” (Source 4). And understanding this and with Paul’s explanation that those who are made of “light” will produce “goodness, righteousness, and truth” we are promised that we will find “out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Did you notice the focus on “truth” in all of this? The false teachers that preach “empty words” don’t have the truth, and I for one don’t have time for lies cleverly wrapped in just a little bit of truth. I want the WHOLE truth, so help me God!
vv. 11-13. The context of fellowship with God and with other believers is in contrast to the command to not have “fellowship” with people who are spiritually “dark.” Because fruit of darkness is actually unfruitful and has no beneficial results we are to take no part in them “but instead, positively, expose them”. We may not want to do this but we can’t help it because this is just what light does. Besides that “evil deeds deserve to be exposed, that is, to be unmasked and rebuked, for it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret” (Source 5, p. 200). I hope that this hasn’t depressed you. It’s important that we’re always checking ourselves to see if we’re doing what God wants us to do. But here is a little encouragement: Paul encouraged and comforted the church in Thessalonica that Jesus would come for us (“the Rapture”, (1 Thessalonians 4:16) and that we don’t have to worry about being startled by The Great Tribulation (1 Thess. 5:4) or God’s wrath being poured out on us (1 Thess. 5:9) because “we are all children of light and children of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess. 5:4-6).
Conclusion. The unity of Christians that has been a theme through Ephesians is apparent in today’s devotional. We exist in “light” and shine truth to others. We’ll close with Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the world’s seasoning, to make it tolerable. If you lose your flavor, what will happen to the world? And you yourselves will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the world’s light—a city on a hill, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light! Let it shine for all; let your good deeds glow for all to see, so that they will praise your heavenly Father” (TLB Translation).
Source 5: John R.W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians, 1979.