Daily Scripture ReadingRomans 8

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.

Devotional Thoughts
Recovering a Right View of Self – Ephesians 5:8-14

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”

Walk in Light

As we see God for Who He is, as we gain a new respect for His absolute holiness, we inevitably will view worship, declaring His worthiness, differently too. This stems not just from a right view of God but also from a right view of self. Sadly most “Christians” think it is all about them, that they are the center of God’s universe. The truth is that God is the center of His universe and our chief end, our main purpose for even having been created, is to declare His glory and enjoy Him forever.

It is difficult to declare the glory of God or magnify Him above all else in life when our eyes are fixed firmly on self. This is even more difficult, indeed practically impossible, if our eyes are focused on a self-righteous self, a self that thinks it is in control, calling the shots, proud and un-humbled.

The text we will examine today in Ephesians 5:8-14 gives us a good look at self. It shows us how important we are, just where it is we have come from, and how we got where we are. It points us to a sovereign God who has chosen to call us to salvation and make us part of the proclamation of His glory. And it is not about what we have done or can do. It is all about what He has done and can do!

Let’s take a good look at the truth about self then:

You were once Darkness (vs. 8a)

The first thing we have to be reminded of is that we did not start out in life as a Christian. No one is born a Christian. We are all born sinners, lost, dead in sin, slaves to sin, conceived in sin, sinners from the womb. We have to remember then where it is we have come from.

What is there in our past if we are now a Christian? What is true for all of us who have been born again is that there was a time that we did not know Jesus. There was a time when we were “by nature children of wrath” (Eph 2:3). Or as Paul puts it here in the Book of Ephesians, “we were darkness.”

Notice is does not say that we were in darkness, it says clearly, we were darkness. Without Christ, it is not that we are out in the dark – we are dark! We are the absence of light. We are unholy, depraved, dead in sin, bound to sin, slaves of sin, unable to not sin. We are deep and utter darkness, void of the light of truth and grace.

1 John 1:5-6 tells us:

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.

God is light. We are darkness. Opposite ends of the light spectrum. We have no light in and of ourselves. There is not a divine spark in us, we are not basically good. We are darkness. And God is the only Source of light.

The truth here is that if we claim to be His, if we claim to be in the light, but live like darkness, then we are at best liars and at worst self-deceived. We cannot claim to be light, or anywhere near the light, if our walk is full or darkness. You see, being a Christian is not about some decision you made years ago – it is about your daily walk right now.

So we see that to have a proper opinion of self, we must admit that we were darkness before Christ came to shine the light!

Dead in Sin

A point to remember about being darkness is not that we were sick in sin. We were dead in sin. Ephesians 2:1 tells us:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.

Salvation is the calling to life of one that has been formerly dead. It is just like Lazarus, dead in the grave for 4 days, already stinking, when Christ called Him to come forth. This is the new birth, what it means to be born again.

Before Christ called, Lazarus could not wish to be alive. He could not desire it. He could not will himself to life. He was simply and completely dead. So are all of us before we are regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Until and unless the Spirit of God gives us life, we are completely and utterly dead in the inner man.

There is no free will. Our will is only free to do what we desire and before Christ all we desire is sinful. Even the so-called good things that we think we want are really self serving acts of iniquity. There is nothing good, nothing redeeming, nothing in us that cries out for salvation.

Just as there is no such thing as a carnal Christian, so there is no such thing as a lost man who wants to be saved of his own will. To be carnal is to be dead. And a dead man can only do what is in his nature to do – sin.

1 Corinthians 2:14 makes it clear:

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The dead man, the lost man, the man who is nothing but darkness – that man does not receive the things of God, for they are absurd, foolishness to him. In fact, he cannot even know or understand the things of God, because those things must be spiritually discerned, and before regeneration this man is dead. There is no spiritual life within him, no desire for goodness or rightness with God, only darkness.

Lovers of Darkness

And it isn’t only that a lost man is darkness. It is worse than that. He loves darkness. It is what he is and what he does, and he loves it. He loves himself. Look at John 3:19-21:

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.

He loves darkness. He does not want his evil deeds exposed by the light. He hates the light. And remember, this is not some hypothetical man out there – this is you and me before we were called to the light by Christ. This is us! Lovers of darkness.

Sometimes we forget where we have come from and what a work of grace it was for God to save us, to call us to life out of death and to bring us from darkness to light. Sometimes we forget too that those around us still dead in sin should not amaze us when they sin – that is what people who are dead in sin do. They are darkness. That is who they are. Why fault a fish for swimming? He is a fish. Likewise, why be shocked when a sinner sins? That is what he is and what he does, and he cannot do otherwise unless God intervenes.

You are Light – (vs. 8b)

But now things have changed (I hope and pray). We are no longer darkness. Now because of the work of Christ, we are light. We have been transformed. We were darkness, now we are light. Not in the light, not surrounded by light. No, we are light.

We are a new creation. We are new. We have been born again. Remember? 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

If we are in Christ, we are new. The old has passed away and everything about us is remade.

Now, do we still sin? Do we still struggle? Oh yes. Why? I thought everything was new. It is, but the process of being saved takes time! One way to explain it is that we understand that we are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved.

We are saved in that we have been given a new heart, a renewed mind, grace, repentance, faith, new life. We are new. But we are still living in a fallen body, and until our salvation is complete, until even our body has been redeemed, then we will still struggle with sin and hope to be finally and forever saved! We have been justified, we are being sanctified, and we will be glorified. God views it as a done deal (Romans 8:30), but it does still have to be worked out in time. We wait for glorification, the time when everything we are has been redeemed. And we remember that He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

A New Man

If we have been born again, we are even now a “new man.” Ephesians 4:21-24 and Colossians 3:9-10 explain it for us:

If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

There we see it in black and white. From the pages of the Word of God. We, if saved, have put off the old man, that dead inner man bound in sin which was growing only more and more corrupt, and have been renewed in the spirit of our mind, our very inner self, having put on a new man created by God in righteousness and holiness. We are substantially and essentially different.

We often forget this. We forget that we were darkness and are now light – there is a fundamental change in who and what we are when Christ saves us. A change has been made. Old to New. Dead to Alive. Lost to Saved. And we owe it all to Jesus Christ.

Alive to God

Not only are we a new creation, but where we were dead to God, dead in sin, and only darkness, now we are light, now we are alive to God. Read Romans 6:6, 11; and 8:7. We are no longer slaves of sin. We are no longer dead in sin, we are no longer God’s enemy. We are alive to God, responsive to Him. What makes the difference between death and this new life? The grace of God and the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Walk as Children of Light (vs. 8c-10)

So then we must walk as what we are! Children of light. To have a right view of self, we need to see clearly where we came from and where we are going. We were darkness, dead, and lost. We are light, alive, and saved. As children of light, how then should we live? How should we walk in this daily life?

As we grow in grace, growing in faith, trusting God more and more as we walk with Him, we see more and more how we should act, think, talk, and what we should BE as we are called to walk as children of light.

A quick summary of what we do now is found in examining how the Bible expects us to live as children of light. We walk in goodness (Ps. 14:3; Mt. 19:17), we walk in righteousness (Heb 2:17; 1 John 2:2-6; 1 John 4:10), we walk in truth (John 14:6), in short, we walk in Christ! We abide in Him, we walk with Him, we commune with Him. We work hard at finding out from the Word of God what pleases our Savior and we serve Him with gladness. We obey Him, expressing through our obedience our true love for Him. One that does not obey Christ cannot claim to love Him (1 John 2:3-5; 5:3).

So What Now? (vs. 11-14)

So what do we do now that we remember where it is that we have come from and what a marvelous work of grace it was that got us from there to here? Well, we are told in the text that as we walk in the light, we are to expose the unfruitful works of darkness.

The works of the flesh are evident, the Bible tells us. They include (but are not limited to): adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, homosexuality, idolatry, drug use, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envy, murder, strife, drunkenness, revelries, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, coarse jesting, immorality, impurity, extortion, liars, disobedient to parents, and unbelief.

And we are to expose them. John MacArthur says of Eph 5:11:

Paul’s instruction is plain and direct: Christians are to faithfully live in righteousness and purity and have nothing at all to do with the evil ways and works of Satan and the world. The two ways of living are unalterably opposed to each other and mutually exclusive (1 Cor. 5:9-11; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14). The Christian’s responsibility does not stop with his own rejection of evil. He is also responsible for exposing and opposing darkness wherever it is found, especially when it is found in the church. (Matthew 18:15-17; Gal. 6:1-3).

It is not enough to be aware of these things, we must actively be working to expose them, to show them for what they are – unfruitful works of darkness. The things that tempt us really should not tempt us, because they are full of unfruitfulness and darkness. Have you ever noticed in our fight with sin, that the sin we are tempted to commit is never as fun or fulfilling as it was advertised? We should sue our flesh for false advertising! Sin is never what it seems. It only brings death and unfruitfulness.

But why do we work to expose these things? They are shameful – where has shame gone? (Prov 6:23; 2 Tim 3:16). We need to be reproving one another as we strive to walk in the light and expose the unfruitful works of darkness. Sin should bring shame. If you can sin and get away with it, either by willpower, or medication, you need to see if you are darkness or light. Light exposes sin and brings shame. No shame means no light!!

You see, the light makes the works of darkness manifest. That word means that the light makes things visible and clearly seen. We can see sin for what it is because the light exposes it for what it is. And once we see sin for what it is, our natural reaction as light should be to flee from it, not play with it!

Ultimately, Christ gives us light. He makes us light. He lights our paths. He illumines His Word for us. He shows us our own sinfulness and the glory of His salvation. He gives us light through the Word, through good counsel, through preaching. He shines the light on where we have been and where we are going.

So how do we keep going? Well, Colossians 2:6 says that “as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” How did we receive Him? By repentance and faith. So how do we walk in Him, and in the light? By daily repentance and faith. Take God at His Word. Look at where we have come from and what He is making of us for His glory, get yourself out of the center of attention and focus on glorifying Christ. To see Him for who He is helps us see self for who we are. And self without Christ is dead and dark. Self redeemed must still be daily crucified and denied – because to walk in light we must be walking to please Him, not self. He is what matters!

To close today, remember, He has given us light (Isaiah 55:1-3, 6-7; James 4:6-10)!

Bible Reading For Further Study
Psalm 4:6; 18:28; 36:9; 43:3; 112:4; 119:130
Proverbs 6:23; 13:9; 15:30

Recommended Songs for Worship
Come Ye Sinners
I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Recommended Sermon
Walk as Children of Light – Ephesians 5:8-14