Six of us sit around the table. Three are on cell phones. It’s innocent. Texts probably. Helpful. But it’s also a living parable of how invasive the world has become. Cell phones certainly aren’t sinful. They are wonderful, useful tools. But like “social media” they can be subtle carriers of what Paul calls “evil days”.
So can blogs. I read one this morning that glamorized actor Robert DiNiro shouting, “F. . . you, Trump!” at the Tony Awards in New York City. Enough crude language in the ear eventually escapes the mouth.
Paul’s concern in today’s text (Ephesians 5:7-17) is that we “wake up” to the sin around us and not let it shape our actions, rather expose it as the sin it is.
“Therefore do not be partners with them” (Ephesians 5:7).
Paul warns his readers (and us) not to partake “with them”. “[T]hem? The people he’s just referred to in 5:5,6—the “immoral, impure or greedy”. Don’t “throw in your lot” (NJB) with them. Why? First, “because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient”. Second, . . .
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8-10).
Once you were “darkness”—without moral and spiritual renewal, under the dominion of the devil and demons. But now you are “light in the Lord”—have been morally and spiritually renewed, under the dominion of the Lord.
So Paul urges us to put into practice what we have become in Christ. Live what we are now in the Lord. That means producing a willingness to give and share (“goodness”). It means doing justice, doing what God requires (“righteousness”). It means loving truth, loving reality as opposed to pretense (“truth”). “ . . . find out what pleases the Lord”. Our lives are to have a new goal: to find out what pleases the Lord. This comes from studying his Word. And from Spirit-led discernment in the “thick” of living.
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’” (Ephesians 5:11-14).
The Greek welegcho (translated “expose”) means to call what someone’s done a sin and urge him to stop and ask God’s forgiveness. Paul says it’s not enough not to participate in “fruitless deeds of darkness”; we should “expose” them.
This takes grace.
Twenty-two-year-old Joe was zealous for the Lord. I think he fancied himself a prophet, quick to point out others’ sins. He did it, I’m sure, for good, so that Christ would shine on the Christian who was sinning. But he came across as judgmental, as harsh and legalistic. Most people whose sin Joe “exposed”, instead of repenting, reacted against Joe. “Who does he think he is telling me what to do?”
“Be very careful, then, how you live– not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).
Christians in Ephesus (and surrounding west Asia Minor cities where Paul’s letter will circulate) are a small outpost among an overwhelming population of pagans. It’s no time for careless living. Live carefully, live wisely in Christ-pleasing ways and you will be “making the most of every opportunity” to show that there’s an alternative lifestyle to “evil days”. Don’t live senselessly. Gain insight into what the Lord wills for you living among pagans in evil days.
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Sexual intercourse before marriage has become common–at least if we believe the movies. In fact, movies promote it. And sure enough, we yield to our natural sex drive and do it.
Because I watch the news most evenings, I hear politicians spout half-truths–or no-truths. We’ve come to expect it. Now we can hear half-truth-telling on many lips.
Wake up, sleeping Christian! Call sin sin. Don’t let it sneak up on you. And Christ will shine on you.