Verse of the Day – Ephesians 5:8
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.
This week we will spend some time working through Ephesians 5:8-14 in the next section of our study Learning to Walk. This week’s study is titled Walk in Light and we will learn what we are and how we are expected to live now that we are in Christ Jesus.
We start by understanding a truth that we often forget, especially if we were converted a long time ago. We tend to forget that before Christ saved us we were lost! It’s true. For all that the Bible says about those without Christ who are lost we were once lost. Some people remember the life that they were rescued from as if it was yesterday while others perhaps were saved at a young age and they never experienced a life of awful rebellion and reckless sin before trusting Christ. But we are all born sinners, we are sinners by nature, and we all have sinned. Let us think for a moment about what we were before Christ.
Ephesians 5:8a tells us that we were “once darkness.” This sums up what we were without Christ and before salvation. Darkness. The absence of light. In fact, as I have noted before, this does not say that we were in darkness. It says that before we were born again, we were darkness. There is no Divine spark inside each man and woman. There is nothing good, nothing praiseworthy, nothing worth noting at all because without Christ we are darkness. To be darkness means that there is no hope in and of ourselves for turning on the light. There is no light. We are utter darkness.
Think about what it is like to be surrounded by total darkness. I remember as newlyweds, my wife and I went to stay for a weekend (several actually) with a family who lived way out in West Texas. Their house was miles from any other house. No street lights. No neighborhood. Just “miles and miles of Texas” surrounded them. And when the sun went down it was dark. In the city it is at times hard to see the stars. Out there the stars literally lit up the entire night sky. And the moon was radiant. But if there were no moon, or if it was cloudy, it was even more dark. So dark you could feel it. And quiet too. Spooky!!
Before Christ we were the actual embodiment of darkness. When were we dark? Once. In the past. Before salvation we were darkness. But as we will learn, we are no longer darkness – but then I am getting ahead of myself and my text. For here we are told that we were once darkness. Let us look at a few verses that help us truly grasp the significance of our condition before salvation.
1 John 1:5-6 tells us that , “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
There is no darkness in or around God. He is light. So if we were once darkness that means we had no part of God. We had no claim to Him as Father, no inheritance, no hope. With Him and in Him there is no darkness at all. None. To the point that if we are saved and we claim to have fellowship with Him but then walk in darkness, reverting back to what we were and what we were saved from, then we lie and do not live the truth.
Ephesians 2:1 tells us, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” It is not enough that we were once darkness, we were dead. We were not sick in sin. In fact sin is not a mistake, disease, weakness, addiction, or fault. It is SIN. It is deadly. And when we were once darkness we were dead in sin.
It is just like Lazarus. He died and was put in the grave. Four days later Jesus showed up, but he was already dead. And what did Jesus do? Did He ask Lazarus to decide to come out of the grave? Did He give Lazarus a choice and hope that he would choose wisely? Did He simply enable Lazarus to make up his mind about whether to live or stay dead?
No. Jesus commanded “Lazarus, come forth!” He called Lazarus back to life from the dead. What a picture of our salvation. We were once dead in trespasses and sin. Dead. Unable to choose. Ignorant of the truth. And unable to even discern spiritual things. It took the Holy Spirit effectually calling us to life. If He did not we would never have come, for we were dead darkness.
We also see in John 3:19-21 that, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Jesus is the light of the world. He told us so in His Word. And as He has come into the world the world is full of darkness – it is full of sinners who are dark and dead. But the case is even worse than that. It is not that we are incapable of coming on our own, it is that when we were once darkness and dead we loved the darkness rather than the light. We were from conception by nature sinners. Our deeds were evil. They were harmful to us, wicked, and destructive.
While we lived in sin and wickedness we see that we loved the darkness and hated the light. We did not want our sin exposed. We wanted to live our lives for ourselves without interruption. Let me state that again – before Christ saved us we hated Him. We hated the light and loved darkness and sin and living for self.
Those are strong words, but they are true. While we were once darkness we hated the light. So before Christ we were darkness, dead, and depraved. We were not sick. We were not trying to make a choice. We were not trying to please God. We were living for self. We were loving our sin. We were oblivious to the truth that can only be spiritually discerned. And before the convicting power of the Spirit we were quite content to be sinners.
What a mess we were before Christ. Our state before salvation reminds me of the great hymn Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy so I will close with that today. Here are the words to this hymn (the music is linked below):
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you, Full of pity, love and power.
Refrain: I will arise and go to Jesus, He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior, O there are ten thousand charms.
Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome, God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance, Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better, You will never come at all.
View Him prostrate in the garden; On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him; Sinner, will this not suffice?
Lo! th’incarnate God ascended, Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly, Let no other trust intrude.
Let not conscience make you linger, Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth Is to feel your need of Him.
Links for Further Study
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