“Allow no one to mislead you though shallow arguments. Such things bring the anger of God down upon the children of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with such people. For once your hearts were full of darkness, but are now full of light from the Lord. So live like children of light. For the Fruit of the Spirit consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth. Let your lifestyle exemplify what pleases God.” (Ephesians 5:6-10, paraphrased)
“Deception” (apatato) by evil men is a constant threat to Believers. Fraud and dishonesty most often comes verbally. “Vain words” (kenois logois) means communication that is intentionally cunning.
Kenois also means “empty; surreal; that which is without substance.” It is difficult to imagine the enormous pressure the idolatrous world surrounding them placed upon this small band of Ephesian Believers. The temptation to succumb to moral laxity or “situation ethics.” is still apparent in the 21st century.
Paul is not passive on the subject of deception, for God’s righteous anger (orge) is upon “the children of disobedience.” Because of impending judgment, Paul refers to them earlier as “the children of wrath” (2:3).
To “be a child” of someone means to closely identify with that person and to imitate their lifestyle. The New Testament uses phraseology such as:
“Children of light” (Jn. 12:36)
“Children of the Highest” (Lk. 6:35)
“Children of God” (Rom. 8:16 & 21)
“Children of the promise” (Rom. 9:8)
“Children of the light and of the day” (I Thess. 5:5)
In stark contrast are the “children of disobedience.” Those who refuse to submit to Christ are also known as:
“Children of the wicked one” (Mt. 13:38)
“Children of those who killed the prophets” (Mt. 23:31)
“Children of the night” (I Th. 5:5)
“Children of the devil” (I Jn. 3:10)
The apostle is extremely concerned the Ephesians do not lapse into old vices. The present imperative in Greek means to immediately “cease to partner with those” who practice such sins. Since evil practices incur the displeasure of God, they are to be avoided at all costs. If we do not share sins with others we will not share their punishment.
Darkness contrasted with light is a common New Testament concept. Whereas darkness is emblematic of depravity, light symbolizes purity. This night and day comparison is never presented in Scripture as having any twilight or “grey areas.” There is always a clear line of demarcation. Light is consistently viewed as being directly opposed to darkness.
Being delivered from spiritual darkness, Christians are more than just enlightened. Jesus said He is the light (Jn. 8:12) and so are His followers (Mt. 5:14).
Light is emblematic of holiness and happiness:
~ Jesus came to bring light to those who sit in darkness (Lk. 1:79).
~ Jesus said men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil (Jn. 3:19).
~ Jesus promises those who follow Him will not walk in darkness (Jn. 8:12).
~ Jesus turns sinners from darkness to light (Acts 26:18).
~ Jesus brings to light the hidden things of darkness (I Cor. 4:5).
~ Jesus leads us out of darkness and into His marvelous light (I Pet. 2:9)
Again the apostle contrasts what the Church at Ephesus was with what it now is. In their former lives, the Ephesian Believers had been lost in the dense fog of their immoral surroundings. Paul points out they were (ete) darkness and ete is used in the past tense. It is a warning to not revert to that condition again.
Paul’s mention of “The Fruit of the Spirit” is not a passing thought. Obligations follow transformation and obligations demand demonstration. The apostles asks the Romans, “What fruit did the deeds of your former lives produce? You now deem such things as shameful” (Rom. 6:21). When he wrote to the Galatians several years earlier, he listed nine Fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23):
~ Love (agape) is affection characterized by veneration; the sincere and constant interest in the welfare of another. It is the deep love of God that can only be identified by the sacrifices it is willing to make for others.
~ Joy (chara) refers to the happiness, gladness that causes us to rejoice in Christ continually.
~ Peace (eirene) pictures the harmonious relationships between people, including the complete freedom from fear.
~ Longsuffering (makrothymia) is patience, forbearance, and self-restraint which does not quickly react in situations.
~ Gentleness (chrestotes) is defined as sweet reasonableness, mildness, kindness, and graciousness.
~ Goodness (agathosune) describes a person of moral excellence who is pleasing to God. This individual acts sacrificially rather than selfishly. Agathosune is the exact opposite of malice (Eph. 4:31).
~ Faith (pistis) is being firmly persuaded. It is the conviction, fidelity, and assurance placed in another individual.
~ Meekness (praotes) brings to mind someone of gentle, humble, and considerate disposition. It is the sweet temperament toward God in which we accept His dealings with us without questioning or resisting His will.
~ Temperance (enkrateia) is an attribute of the man who seeks to master his emotions and exercises self-restraint in his attitudes and habits.
Jesus said His followers are known by the fruit produced in their lives (Mt. 7:15-16). Paul emphasizes this fruit grows best in a three-fold environment:
1. Goodness (agathosune) means having a kind and beneficent attitude.
2. Righteousness(ekikiosunis) the foundation for the new way of life in which we willingly conform to the laws of God.
3. Truth (lethaeia) defines Jesus perfectly. He refers to Himself as the personification of sincerity and honesty (Jn. 14:6).
Paul has a purpose in introducing this triad. “Goodness” concerns human relations. “Righteousness” defines our relationship with God. “Truth” encompasses both of these, for it concerns personal integrity.
“Proving” (dokimazo) is “putting to the test for the purpose of approving.” Others must see and verify our good works in order to glorify the Father (Mt. 5:16). Dokimazo means a person has passed the test and is now approved. Those who are lost have the right to see that our walk matches our talk. The privileges of salvation demand we conform our lives according to Gospel principles. To know what is acceptable to God is revealed through the Scriptures. When we are faced with a moral or ethical dilemma, “What would Jesus do?” is still a relevant question. When the promptings of the Holy Spirit are obeyed, He is always faithful to “lead us into all truth” (Jn. 16:13).
Points to Ponder
1. What is God’s attitude toward those who substitute light for darkness (Isa. 5:20)?
2. Sinners will be judged in the future for their actions in the present. List the persons who will find themselves one day in the lake of fire Rev. 21:8)
3. Paul encourages the Romans to do what (Rom. 13:12)?
4. Paraphrase the results of “walking in the light” (I John 1:5-7)?
5. Where will the sinner eventually find himself (Mt. 8:12)?
6. What did Jesus say concerning choices (John 3:19-21)?
7. How should a Christian view their physical body (Rom. 6:13)?
8. What does Paul encourage followers of Christ to do (II Tim. 2:19 & II Cor. 6:17)?
9. There is no night in heaven (Rev. 21:5). However, whose presence lights up the celestial city (21:23)?