|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Filthiness, silly talk, coarse jesting. Dr. Barber explains why these types of things must not be part of a Christians vocabulary, and what the consequence are when they are in use.|
I want to entitle this study, “Walk as Children of Light.” You will see that coming up in the verses. We are going to pick up in verse 8. Actually we must move back to verse 7 to catch the complete sentence. But we are going to talk about Walk as Children of Light. Paul is telling us to put on the new garment. Some of us have better understood what that means because we are used to putting on clothes and taking off clothes. Some people, when you say, “Die daily” or “Go to the cross” look at you and say, “Okay, I’ll do that.” Then they walk off and say, “What’s that?” What does it mean to die daily? What does it mean to go to the cross? But when you talk about putting on a garment, that is pretty easy to understand.
A garment is something that others see. In verses 20-24 he tells us that we have a brand new garment and we are to put it on. We are to take off the old one. Both of these garments are lifestyles. We take off the old lifestyle and put on the new lifestyle. Of course, the main fabric is Christ Himself. As we allow the Spirit to strengthen us in the inner man, then that new garment is worn. Actually, we have put on the new man. Paul is just trying to get us to understand it is a way of life. Put on the new man. There are contrasts running all the way down. We have not stopped and looked at the contrasts.
Let’s look at some contrasts. In 4:22 I want to look at the old man first. This is the old garment: “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” Being corrupted, what does that mean? It means it is getting worse and worse and worse and worse. Here is the key in application for all of us. Tomorrow when you choose not to let Jesus Christ strengthen you with His Spirit in the inner man, when you choose to do it yourself, wearing the old garment, whenever you choose that old garment it is worse than the last time you chose it. You can choose to be immoral in this old garment. You can choose to think immoral thoughts. You can choose whatever, but I guarantee you, it is worse each time because each time feeds the next time. It is a corrupting garment. It is getting worse all the time. So, when you wake up tomorrow morning, go ahead and wear it, because when you step into it, the consequence is going to be that much greater than the last time that you chose to put it on.
Chapter 4:24 says: “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” So, on one side we have one who is being corrupted. On the other side is another created in righteousness, which is God’s rights over us, everything conforming to what He wants in their life and in holiness of the truth. That is a beautiful picture of the difference of the two garments. When I put on this new garment there is someone inside of me that strengthens me and causes me to live an entirely different way.
Well, in verse 25, we find out that the new garment is truthful: “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” The new garment is truthful. In other words, it is affected by truth. It affects my speech, everything I am. I cannot live deceitful in the new garment. When it says “laying aside falsehood,” in the original it says, lay aside the lie. It’s the lie, not just lying. Do you realize that everything about the old garment is nothing more than a lie? That is why it says it is being corrupted in the lust of deceit. Listen, when you put this old garment on and you don’t put the garment on that you have in Christ Jesus, when you choose to live in the power of the flesh and not in the power of the Spirit of God, you begin to pursue things and to pursue things. There is a lie behind it because once you get it, it never satisfies you. You don’t own it, it owns you. It is a lie. That is all it is. It is the lie. Lay it aside.
In verse 26 this old garment is filled with the anger of man and is always bitter with the person who sins. Also in verse 26, this new garment is filled with the anger of God and it is always directed at the sin not the sinner, not the person. Look at verse 26: “Be angry, and yet do not sin.” You have to bring some other verses into this to understand it. The book of James says the anger of man never accomplishes the righteousness of God. If I put the old on, I am going to live bitter. I am going to live vindictive. I am going to live with vengeance trying to get people who have come at me. If I put the new on, righteous anger wells up inside of me. I am mad at the things God is mad at. I am mad at immorality. I am mad at sin. I am mad at those kinds of things. My anger is never directed at the person. It is directed at the sin, that which controls the person. There are two kinds of anger. We ought to be angry about certain things, but never the person, always that which controls. The sin, not the sinner. There is a difference.
Verse 27 says if you put the old garment on, then you are going to give the devil an opportunity in your life. When I put the new garment on, I won’t give the devil an opportunity in my life. Now what are we talking about? In the context of chapter 4, we are preserving the unity of the Spirit. That is all we are talking about. The devil now has his pawns in the church that he can use to divide the people of God. I put the new on and God uses me to build up and unify the people of God. It is one or the other. The devil is always around to disrupt the unity of God’s people. Which garment are you wearing?
In verse 28 we find that the old garment is a garment that takes and never gives. It is a depleter. But also in verse 28, the new garment is one that replenishes and one that gives. Look at verse 28: “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.” If you are putting on the wrong garment, then you are a taker. You don’t have to go to a store and steal something to be a person who robs from others. You will rob people’s joy and everything from them if you are a taker and wearing the wrong garment. You deplete rather than replenish. Which garment do you have on? Are you always taking or do you want to give to others?
Look at verse 29: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” If I put the old garment on, there are going to be unwholesome words coming out of my mouth. The word “unwholesome” means rotten words, that which corrupts, that which tears down.
Verse 30 says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” If I put on the right garment, I won’t grieve the Holy Spirit. If I put on the wrong garment, I will grieve the Holy Spirit. “Grieve” is a love word. In other words, He is a gentleman. He is dignified. He comes into my life, but He does not force me to bow to Him. He asks me to bow to Him. He leads me. He doesn’t drive me. Therefore, when I choose not to want Him around, He just backs off and I am stuck with the other garment, grieving the Spirit of God. Grieving the Spirit of God is the same thing as giving the devil an opportunity. They are one and the same. When I please the Spirit of God, then I am strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God as Chapter 3:14-21 tells us. Then I begin to understand the potential of what God wants to do in my life.
Verse 31 shows you the cesspool of the old garment. Verse 32 shows you the wellspring of the new garment. What is the cesspool of the old garment? Oh, bitterness. Are you bitter? Pikria is the acid you have inside of you. You want to spit on somebody but it is going to eat you up before you get the chance.
Wrath is when you explode in anger. Anger is the word that is inside. It may not be expressed yet. Clamor is loud cursing or whatever. Slander is when you talk about somebody and tear them down, along with all malice. Malice is the house that all of them live in. Malice is the word for anything you do in the old garment. It is full of malice. That is why Peter turns the list around and says, “Put aside all malice.” He starts with the house word and then takes all the different aspects of what lives inside that house.
In verse 32 we see the new garment. Now this is what we ought to be, folks. This is what we ought to be! It says, “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” There are two words for forgive. One word means to send away. You just send it away and never hold them obligated anymore. This word is the word charizomai, which means to do them a favor they don’t deserve. I can’t treat you this way if I am wearing that garment. I cannot do it. Buddy, I am going to get you, and I am going to figure out a way to do it. But in the new garment, I can release you, be at peace with you so that I can be that open vessel that God’s river of life can flow through me. I have got a choice.
Well, we come on in to chapter 5. In verse 1 we become imitators of God, as beloved children. In other words, we mime Him. In everything He wants us to do, we don’t talk it, we walk it. That is the new garment. When you put on the new garment, you imitate God’s love. In verse 3 and following you put the old garment on and that old garment is idolatrous and ends up in immorality. You begin to see the contrast that Paul is drawing all the way down to where we are. This will keep on going all the way over into chapter 6. Paul is trying to tell us something. He is trying to say, “Not only is Jesus the truth and the light, but He is also the way. You live a different way when you have Christ on. When Jesus is being Jesus in your life, it is easily recognizable. Look at the traits of people. Look at their character. Listen to your own words because it is reflecting which garment you are wearing.” That is what he is saying.
The contrast is how we ought to live. We come to verse 8 of chapter 5. Let’s read verse 7 to catch the whole sentence. It says, “Therefore do not be partakers with them; [Paul is referring to people who are immoral and try to deceive you into a life of immorality] for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.”
There are several things he does here. I want us to begin to work our way through them. First of all in verse 8, he reminds them of their former lives. He says, “for you were formerly darkness.” The word for darkness there is skotos.
Look over in I John 1. Every time the word darkness is used in verse 5 of I John 1, it is always in association with a consequence of darkness. But in verse 6, it is the essence of darkness. Verse 5 uses the word skotia. Verse 6 is the word we are looking at, skotos. First John 1:5 says, “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light.” As we will see later on, He is not a light. He is not like light. He is the light. Nobody turned Him on, so nobody can turn Him off. He is the eternal light.
John goes on to say, “and in Him there is no darkness at all.” There is no consequence of darkness. It’s not just darkness, but no consequence of darkness. Hey, think about that. If you walk as Paul is telling us and as John is telling us, you won’t have to suffer the consequences of darkness. Put the new garment on and you won’t have to suffer the consequences of darkness, in the sense of your own choices. Yes, you live in a world full of those consequences, but you won’t have to suffer them because of your own life. You will have to suffer it like everybody else does.
Look at I John 1:6. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Paul is saying, “You were not at one time in the darkness. You were at one time darkness.” The very epitome of darkness characterizes what you, me and all the Ephesian believers were before we came to know Christ Jesus. Everything you say, think and do is epitomized by darkness. It is the essence of darkness. It marked everything that we were before we came to Christ.
I want you to know that darkness is the domain of Satan himself. As a matter of fact, it is all because of him. When he lured man into sin the light left man. Look at Luke 22:53. He alludes to Satan controlling these people. You can see the inferences by implication. I just wanted you to see the verse. “‘While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.’” In other words, there is a power to darkness and we know who is behind it because Satan is the father of those who do not have light within them. So really, it is the domain of Satan. Darkness is the domain of Satan.
In Ephesians 6:12, look at what it says: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
I wish we could understand what John was talking about when he said the whole world lies in the hands of the evil one. If we could look and see beyond here in the lower heavens, if we could see the blackness of the darkness of Satan that is encompassing this world and begin to realize how every bit of the darkness of Satan now has filtrated into the minds of men, men who do not have an understanding of God, men who have no clue about how to bring others to God, men who are immoral because of their darkened understanding. If we could see how the Lord Jesus, who is light, pierced that darkness, came into this dark world, went to the cross. Now every person who gets born again, He makes them light and how we are shining as lights in this world of darkness. It would just thrill our hearts if we would realize how much we have been made light, how we have been brought out of that darkness and have been put into God’s light. Our world is controlled by darkness in the sense that it is under its influence. Before we came to know Christ, we were the essence of it.
Look in Ephesians 2:1-3. It says the same thing. This is what we used to be. Paul is pointing back to their former way of living. I hate to say that about myself, but I’ve got to say that about myself. That is what was revealed to me when I knew I needed to be saved. I mean, I thought if you had a college degree, you were pretty sharp. I thought if you were pretty fairly successful that is what the world requires. Oh, no. People do all that kind of stuff and still are the essence of darkness. Those verses say, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”
There was a time in their life and in our life when the only garment we had was the old garment. There was not one speck of God’s light in that old garment. Why in the world would we want to go back and live that way again? It had no life. It had not direction. It was nothing but a downward spiral. God says, “I have given you a brand new way to live. I have put light within you.” As a matter of fact, Paul is going to tell us in a minute that He has made us light, that everything about us is filled with the light of God within us.
How wonderful it is to be in the light. The light warms. That is where the fellowship is. That is where the direction is. That is what you are looking for, folks, the light. They tell many people who are physically ill to get in the light and stay in the light. The light heals. There is healing in the light. There is direction in the light. There is fellowship in the light. There is everything you are looking for in the light. We were once darkness. You see, what is wrong with Christians today is, we have forgotten what we used to be. If we could go back and remember what we were, we would think twice about putting that old stupid garment on again, controlled by Satan with no light in it at all, with no direction, with nothing but a downward spiral. We would choose to put that new garment on. We must choose to wear that new garment.
Well, Paul reminds them of what they were and then he reminds them now of what they are in Christ Jesus. He says in verse 8 of Ephesians 5, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light (not in the light) in the Lord; walk as children of light.” The word “children” is teknon, just like he uses back earlier when he says in verse 1, “as beloved children.” It’s the nature of the Father that is in us now, the nature of light that is within us. He says, “Now you are to walk as children of light. We are born of Him who is light and we are the children of light. It was because of His light that we saw our sinfulness.”
As a matter of fact, John 3:19-20 says that the light has come into the world and this is the judgment. People don’t want the light because they like the deeds of the darkness. They don’t want to be exposed. Thank God, some of us were exposed and some of us responded to it. By responding to it and receiving Christ into our heart, we are not only born out of Him, but everything we are is a result of His light that is now in us. What a difference! I am not the same person anymore. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a brand new creature. What’s the difference? He kicked the darkness out and put the light in. The light is now within me. Now I know what I am doing. Now I have a mind that has been opened up and saved by the grace of God. Now I have a life. I can perceive the things of God through the Spirit of God. I have His Spirit living in me. I am a brand new creature and able to put on a brand new garment and live a totally, radically different way than I used to live. I am a child of light. I am light. I am light.
Note the phrase, “but you are now light in the Lord.” It is all because of Him. Outside of Him there is no light. In Him is where the light is. Remember, I am not the light. He is the light. I am light because the Light is within me. He has come in and turned it on, and now I can understand and comprehend. I can walk the way He wants me to walk. His Spirit can teach me the things I need to know, and I can live a life that reflects the essence of light. We were once darkness. Now we have been made light. Not just put in the light, we are now made light because He is in us. The Light is in us.
I love the fact that the word means He has never been turned on, so He can never be turned off. He is perpetual light, and He lives in me. So, in other words, I am guilty when I put that other garment on. Now understand what I am saying. I have light now. I hear people all the time as Christian say, “Oh, but it is not my fault. I mean, I didn’t know.” Yes, you did. Light has come into your life. We are accountable for sin now. When you come to Christ, you confess the sin, the fact that you are a sinner and born of Adam. Now that you are in Christ, you are responsible to call them by name because you have light within you and you know good and well what you are doing is by choice. You choose not to put that garment on. You have light in you. That is why confession of sin is such an important word in the vocabulary of the believer.
Paul has reminded us of what we are, and he says now walk as the teknon, of light, children of light, products of that Light. Look at what he says in verses 9 and 10: “(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord,” or proving what is pleasing to the Lord. Let me just say a few things about that. Paul instructs them that there is going to be fruit of that light that is within us. You know what fruit is. Fruit is something that you can’t produce. Fruit is that which is produced by something inside of you. It is the fruit of the Light inside of you. In other words, there is going to be some kind of manifestation on the outside. In the garment that you put on that people see, there is going to be fruit. Jesus said you recognize something by its fruit. You can know when you walk as children of light. There is going to be a recognition of that. There is going to be fruit of that light.
What is the fruit of that? He says “for the fruit of the light consists in all [and the word all means all] goodness and righteousness and truth.” In other words, these are categories into which you put everything that you do, say or think. They are going to fall into three categories. One is goodness. The word there is agathosune. That is a special word. There are two words for goodness. This is a special word. This agathosune is that which is always spiritually edifying and beneficial to everybody you come in contact with. How do you know that someone has the garment of light on? Just get around him, and you are going to find out. You are going to walk away either convicted or lifted up because everything he does is spiritually beneficial to everybody who comes in contact with him. Hey, do you want to raise your family in a manner pleasing to the Lord? Put that garment on and once you get that garment on, the fruit of the Light that is a part of that garment is going to reach out and touch those kids like you wouldn’t believe. It will send a message. You don’t even have to tell them you love them. Its goodness comes out of you. It just flows out of you.
Righteousness is that which conforms to all the claims of Christ over us. In other words, what comes out, whatever deeds they are, somehow is going to conform with everything He has as a right over us. That is what the word righteousness means. It has the idea of how we live under the rights of God over us. It is a mark upon people who are righteous that they live submissive to the one who has rights over them.
Then thirdly is the word truth. That means all honesty, reliability and integrity. There is something about being around somebody who has the right garment on. There is something about being around somebody who has the light and walks as a child of light because you can trust them. They are reliable. They are honest. They are filled with integrity.
It is an incredible mark you make on the world when you live a life that bears the fruit of the light, having His nature within you. I’m telling you what, the people you work for can’t get over it because of the way you will work. The people you live with can’t get over it because of the way that you live. The fruit of the light.
Paul goes on to say in verse 10, “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” The word means proving what is pleasing to the Lord. Here is the idea I get out of it. Every day I say, “God, the light is in me. Show me now. If I make this choice, if I make that choice, if I say this word, if I say that word, what is it that pleases you?” Remember the prayer in 3:17? I have to learn to accommodate His presence in my life. I have to learn what it is that pleases Him. So daily I am living a life seeking out those things that bring pleasure to my Lord Jesus. That is the way we are supposed to walk.