Be a Light

Ephesians 5:8–10 ESV
“for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

When Paul spoke of darkness, he likely fell back on the many references to the negative connotations of darkness portrayed in the Old Testament. Darkness was seen as a curse in several passages (c.f. Job 10:21–22; 17:13; Psalm 88:6) as well as the judgment of God in Exodus 10:21, the coming of the Lord (Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 2:31; Matthew 24:29), as well as at the crucifixion of Christ in Matthew 27:45.

Darkness and light are often portrayed as the choices we can make—whether to oppose God or follow Him (see Luke 22:53; John 1:5; 3:19; Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:5), which is what Jesus was reminding His disciples of in Matthew 5:16.

Darkness also symbolized ignorance of God and His ways (Isaiah 8:22; 9:2; John 12:46; Acts 26:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 1 John 2:9), which is what Paul is referring to in our study verse. We have been brought out of the darkness of our minds into the light of Christ to be a source of hope to those around us. By letting Christ shine through us in our daily walk, we give witness to the reason of our own hope (1 Peter 3:15).

Elsewhere, Paul also would write to the Romans about the need to discern the will of God (Romans 12:1-2) in order to present our lives as an acceptable sacrifice. What Paul was speaking about to these churches was not much different than for us today. We have been given a Light that should serve to guide us in the ways that would be pleasing to our Lord. But do we?

Living in the light means continuously receiving the light. It is an ongoing process for the believer, as our sinful life gives way to a new life walking in the light of Christ. This ties in to what Paul speaks of in that we should no longer let sin have dominion in our lives (Romans 6:12).

We are the lamps and the light we emit represents our good works, which must be done solely for the purpose of glorifying our Father in heaven. The life we lead as Christians should be visible and obvious, not secret or hidden, and should represent a life not conformed to the world, but separate, or holy (Romans 12:1-2). Remember, good works have no part in our salvation, but are simply the byproduct of a true, heart-changing, saving faith.

Are you a lamp? Does the Spirit of God pour out of you in every thought, word, and action? We all have work to do in this area, but let us not allow our silent witness to the world tarnish the image of God by a daily walk mired in worldliness. Be a light for your family, for your co-workers, and for your community all the while recognizing we are only borrowing the light of our Lord and that it is not of ourselves; for to do otherwise relegates us to nothing more than a modern day Pharisee.

Notice also that Jesus puts an emphasis on our good works: it is not enough to simply sit in a pew once a week and passively ingest a sermon. We who profess Christ are called to use the light within us to share the reason for our hope, while faithfully ministering to those lost and hurting.

Let others see a difference in you. Let them see Christ in everything you think, say, and do so that those around you will want that light as well. This is why it is so important to understand God's purpose for our lives.

Reflect on your own life since accepting Christ: Has the new creation truly emerged dominant in your life? Or is the old man still winning the battle? We cannot serve both Light and darkness, sin and righteousness, self and God.

Admit it or not, darkness still resides in all of us, as we are all still of the flesh. The world that surrounds us is filled with much darkness and its attempts to pull you in will never cease. We must therefore make conscious decisions to choose the Light of God.

You must decide to hate the darkness within you if you are ever to allow the new creation to rule your life (Luke 11:35-36). Place your hope in the Light of Christ so that our bodies become such a radiant light that darkness can find no home.

When we see growth from leaving old sins behind, we can give thanks to God for maturing us, nurturing us, so we can in turn be a more effective witness to the world around us. Every sin that we become victorious over lets our Light shine brighter to a world that so desperately needs the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The essence of holiness is indeed Light. The capacity is within us all, if only we will relinquish the world’s control over our lives.

Only when our spiritual life develops, will we see the old ways of sin fade into the background. If they are still pulling you as strong as ever, it is an indication that your spiritual maturity is stagnant and you are but a babe in Christ. The new life in Christ will put the old sin away—not because it must, but because it wants to.

When we’ve elevated ourselves in the darkness, it’s hard to humble ourselves in the light.