|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|How can we dispel the darkness that surrounds us? Dr. Barber explains what God has given us to allow us to walk in His ways, rather than following the ways of this world.|
We are getting to a very practical, very real part of Ephesians. Ephesians 5 verse 15 tells us we are to be very careful as we walk. When we put on this new garment and walk out into a world penetrated by darkness, this garment, Christ in us, has the power to first of all refuse the deeds of darkness, secondly reprove the deeds of darkness, and thirdly remove the deeds of darkness. Light puts out darkness. Folks, when you put on the garment, when you are living what you have in Jesus Christ, it is a powerful weapon against the darkness that is residing in this world.
How then are we supposed to walk? Verse 15 says, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise.” What does it mean to be careful as you walk? The word there means to be looking carefully. Now you can talk about being careful all you want, but this makes it a little more clear. There is a word in the Greek text that is not in the English translation. It comes right before the word “careful.” It is the word blepo, which means to watch out, to be sensitive, to be aware, to be on the alert at all times.
When you walk out into this dark world, remember to be on the alert. Watch out. Be extra sensitive. We live in a world that is affected by darkness. Yet we are children of light. As a matter of fact, we have been made light. When you walk out into this world, be on the alert. Be sensitive. Be quick to pick up on that which God is saying.
The word “careful” in this verse is not the normal word for careful. It’s the word over in Acts 18:25-26 that is translated “accurate, to be precise.” It seems to me, according to the context of what we have studied, Paul is saying first of all, “Go out and don’t underestimate the power of darkness.” It is out there. It is after us. Remember, when you become a Christian, you stopped chasing sin and sin started chasing you. We live in a world where sin is pursuing us. When you go out, don’t underestimate. Be accurate, precise, alert, aware, and on guard. But also, don’t ever miss out on what you have in Jesus Christ. Not only be accurate in what you are facing, be accurate with what you have in order to face the darkness that is out there. You’ve got to have both sides. I’ve got to know my enemy. I’ve got to know who I am and whose I am in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at these verses to see if we can be encouraged on how to go out into this world that is programmed and affected by the darkness of sin. How can we as light live effectively and victoriously in this world? We are to be in it, but not of it. How do we do it?
In verse 15, first of all, we need to learn to apply what we know about the truth to our daily lives. “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise.” What does it mean to be wise? The Greek word, sophos, simply means a person who fears God. You don’t see that in the Word. You think of it as a person who has a lot of wisdom. In other words, he knows how to take practical things and relate them to truth. He knows how to take God’s Word and relate it to practical things. That is a wise man. It indicates a person who fears God, a person who is broken before God and has a reverential awe for the holiness of God. That is a wise man. You see, wisdom is the ability to take this book, everything we studied from Ephesians 1 to Ephesians 5:14, and relate it to every problem I am facing day by day. Every single practical problem I can relate the Word of God to if I have the wisdom which is from God. Wisdom is that divine ability.
People all the time say, “The Word doesn’t meet my problems. God doesn’t understand the 20th century. I get into the Word of God, and it doesn’t say a thing to me.” Oh yes, it does. The problem is, you are not surrendered. If a person is not willing to obey it, if a person is not willing to fear God and express that fear out of obedience, and I mean the right kind of fear, then that person is not going to have wisdom at all in his life.
Look in Proverbs 9:10. I want you to see where wisdom comes from. When you talk about a wise person, you are talking about a person who has a deep respect for the holiness of God. He says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” You mean to tell me I can study Ephesians, memorize it, quote the verses and still not be wise? That is exactly right. You see, until I am surrendered to God’s truth and to who He is as Lord of my life, there is not going to be any wisdom whatsoever to take His Word and relate it to my practical, every day problems that everybody faces.
He goes on to say, “And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Whew, the terms that are built in to a person who fears the Lord!
Paul says, “Listen, you’ve got enough knowledge already. I have taught you enough. Now walk as wise men. Be surrendered to God who gave us the truth. Then let His truth, with wisdom, be mixed into your decisions of every day life.” So many people are not willing to submit to Christ. You know why? They don’t fear Him. They fear everything but God. That is our problem, folks. We are not to fear. Jesus said, do not fear, do not fear, do not fear, over and over and over again in the New Testament. We fear Him. There is nothing else to fear. Perfect love casts out all that other kind of fear. We are to live a life of surrender, respecting His holiness, understanding that He has a claim over our life. As we are willing to do that, He gives us something you can’t get anywhere else. He tells you how to take His Word and put it into practical, every day usage in the problems that you face.
Look with me in Colossians 1 where Paul says almost the same thing. Paul is praying in Colossians 1:9: “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” The word “filled” means controlled.
“Do you mean to tell me that what is in my head has to get into my heart?” That’s right. When I am filled with His wisdom and understanding and His will, it means I want only what He wants in my life. When I am willing to come to Him on that basis of surrender, He gives me the wisdom and the spiritual understanding. The word “understanding” simply means the ability to take the things going on in my life, take the Word of God, mix it together, and come up with the conclusion of what God wants as His will in the decisions I have to make every day in my life. So we walk as wise men. We don’t just simply have truth in our heads that we can quote and beat people over the heads with it. We live that truth. We obey that truth and God makes us wise. He gives us the ability to relate all that knowledge to the practical aspects of our life.
Now look at what Paul does in verse 15. He compares the unwise with the wise. Now the word “unwise” is simply asophos, without this kind of wisdom. It doesn’t necessarily mean he is not a believer. There are a lot of believers who don’t have this wisdom because they are not bowed down to Jesus as Lord of their life. They don’t love His Word. They don’t love Him. They have a low view of salvation, a low view of Christ and a low view of God’s Word. Now, when you do this, when you have that kind of view, you don’t have that wisdom.
I want to tell you something, folks. It is one thing to have the Word of God in your head, but it is another thing to be obeying it. If you don’t think enough of God and enough of His Word to bow down before Him, it is very obvious that you are not a very wise person and you probably have already been darkened in your understanding by this world and its influence on you because the Word of God plays no part of your every day thinking and your every day living. So first of all, we have to learn to apply what we already know about the truth of God. Apply it. Don’t just memorize it and quote it. That is fine. But apply it and obey it. Do that as a wise person who fears God and has a reverential respect for Him and a reverential respect for His Word.
Secondly, you do that by making proper biblical choices moment by moment as you live out there in the world that is programmed by darkness. Look at verse 16: “making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Now the word for “time” is an interesting word. It is the word kairos. It means season or opportunity. Now we know something about a season. A season comes in, but we also know something else about a season. A season goes away. There is going to come a summer time. But we are going to move out of that season into a time of barrenness. All of a sudden the leaves fall off the trees and it is just brown and dry. A season begins but a season ends.
Paul is saying, “Make the most of your time. If the season started when we received Christ, it is going to end when He comes for us. We only have one season. We only have one opportunity. You don’t get those choices over again.” Many of us have made unwise choices. Many of us have not applied truth in our life. Already we are feeling it because we are getting older. Paul is trying to tell these Ephesians, “You had better wake up and get going, because you may not have that much longer. You only have one shot at it. Learn to make proper, biblically influenced choices in your life so that you can make the most of the time.”
Making the most of the time means to redeem the time. To redeem the time means to purchase it. That is one thing that we all have in common. Every one of us has exactly the same amount of time. You’ve got 24 hours, and what you do with it is your business. You’ve got to make choices. But now wait a minute. He says, “Redeem the time.” What do you mean, “redeem the time”? Purchase it. To purchase it, I have to have the collateral.
Not only do you have to have the collateral, you have to have the right kind of collateral if you are going purchase anything. So what is the collateral to purchase time? It is my choices. We have to understand this. Life is filled with one choice after another choice after another choice. It is not putting the garment on in the morning and thinking it is going to stay on you all day. You have to continue all day long to make those choices. What are those choices motivated by? They are motivated by what the Word of God has taught us. They are motivated by our respect of who God is. Now to be the right choice it has to be a choice that honors Christ and what His Word has to say. That is the way I purchase time. I have only got one time around, and I have to learn to make proper choices. How many choices did you make yesterday?
We have to learn that time is short. We only have one season. We only go around one time. Make those choices. Why? Because every time you choose, you are going to do something. That is called a deed and one day we will answer for those deeds at the Bema Seat of Christ. Are they wood, hay and stubble? What is wood, hay and stubble? They are stupid, fleshly, religious choices. Sometimes they are not even religious. What are precious stones? They are choices that were made based on God’s Word and my willingness to do what He tells me to do. We are making those choices, moment by moment by moment.
Thirdly, we are to see to it that we never live the life of a fool. That is a word that a lot of folks are offended by, but he uses it. Look at verse 17: “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Now hang on with me a minute. The word for “fool” there is the word aphron. It comes from the word phren. It has the idea of a mind-set, that which enables you to make real conscientious, wholesome, sound decisions without that ability. Now in II Timothy, Paul uses that word but puts another prefix to it, sophron, which has the idea of having a saved mind. Let me explain it to you this way. When I got saved, when the Spirit came into my life, when He came in to strengthen me with power, He took my mind and flipped it from AM to FM. That is the frequency God is on. Before I got saved, I wasn’t on that frequency. My mind was darkened and I couldn’t think like God wanted me to think. But when I got saved, He saved my mind. Now, I have the ability to reason in God’s Word. I have the ability to look at life. I have the ability in the Spirit of God to put things together and come up with wise decisions. But, before I got saved, I didn’t have that. I was aphron. I was a fool.
Paul says, “Don’t live like you are a fool. You have ability. Use it. Don’t live as if you don’t know what to do. You do know what to do. Live as if you have a mind that has been made whole and has been made sound by what Christ has done in your life.” If a believer says, “I can’t,” he is really saying, “I won’t.” That is all there is to it. Somewhere, maybe for a while, there may be a gap to get him to that point, but at some point, there has been a departure. Only a fool would go out into a darkened world, not willing to apply truth, not willing to obey God. Only a fool who had everything for life and for godliness would go out into this world, not being alert, not being on guard, not watching carefully. That is the lifestyle of a fool. That means he can be deceived by anything that comes his way. His mind begins to darken just like it used to do and there is no ability any more to make the right kind of decisions.
I wonder how many of us have lived the life as if we were a fool when we knew better. Folks, this stuff is so practical but it has to live in your life. When you go out into this world, it is filled with darkness. Paul says to live and walk carefully as wise men. You know what to do. You’ve been in the Word. Obey Christ. Make those decisions that are motivated by what Christ has taught you and don’t play the life of a fool. Only a fool would step out there in that arena without being armed with what God has given us in Jesus Christ. You see Jesus is our refuge.
“Understand what the will of the Lord is.” What is the will of the Lord? In the context of everything we have studied, it should be pretty clear. To be strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God, to accommodate Christ in your heart daily by your faith. That is the will of God. He says it a different way in verse 18: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Do you know what that word “filled” is? It is a verb that is present tense, to be constantly, consistently, at every moment, at all times, under the control of the Holy Spirit of God. Why? Because we live in an evil world. We have been made light, but we must walk as children of light. This world is out to get us and the way it is going to get us is through the mind. If you won’t get in the Word, folks, I am telling you, your mind has already been darkened. That is why you have allowed license to come into your life when it comes to sin in your heart. You can’t do that when the truth has that light turned on inside. Don’t live as a fool. We have minds that have been made whole by the Spirit of God.
In the Old Testament, there is a man by the name of Abner. Before Solomon’s reign when the tribes split, there was already turmoil in the tribes of Israel. As a matter of fact, when Saul lost his kingship, that is when there began a real friction between the other tribes. Some of them were loyal to Saul and they were never going to bow to David. One of the biggest enemies that David had was a man by the name of Abner. He was the Commander in Chief for Saul’s army. Abner immediately went and took Saul’s son and crowned him king. He wasn’t allowed to do that, but that is what Abner did. Already there is that tension and friction. God said that David was going to be king over all Israel. So the turmoil and the skirmishes began to take place and so David, being a wise man, said, “I’ll tell you what. Let’s take 12 of my group and 12 from Abner’s group. Joab is my Commander in Chief, and Abner is your Commander in Chief. Let’s put them in a valley and let them fight it out. Whoever wins, gets the kingdom.” That’s not bad. That would be good to do with the world, wouldn’t it? Just have a real good knock down, drag out fight and whoever wins gets it. So Abner and his bunch get defeated. Obviously, God is providential in all that He does. David is going to be the king.
Well, Joab’s brother is kind of gung ho and he doesn’t realize the rules of the game. Once the thing was over, whether the guys are dead or not, it was over with. So this little fellow, Asahel, takes off after Abner. Abner is running from him and this guy is fleet of foot. He must be a young man and he is running behind him. He is going to go on and kill Abner. Abner is saying, “Get off my trail. Leave me alone.” But the guy won’t do it. The Scripture records that Abner stopped, took his spear and rammed it clean through him. Asahel was Joab’s brother and under Jewish law at that time, Joab had a right to avenge the murder of his brother, even though it was not something premeditated. Abner goes to David and David says, “Listen, I want you to go to Hebron.” Hebron was one of their cities of refuge. A city of refuge was a place that you could go and be protected when something happened like this that wasn’t premeditated. It wasn’t something you sat down and thought through. So Abner goes over to Hebron. Joab finds out that he is in Hebron, so Joab goes over and seeks to lure Abner out from under his protection, that city of refuge. It was where you wanted to run to. That is a picture of Christ in the Old Testament. It was good for as long as the High Priest lived. That is a beautiful picture, by the way. I am safe under the shield of Jesus as long as He is alive, and He is going to live forever, so I am pretty safe. When I am living in obedience to Him, I am not living like a fool, I am living like a wise man. I can walk out in the world and be protected under His shield. That doesn’t mean physically, it means spiritually. I am always one with Him. Nothing can get to me that doesn’t get by Him first. Stay under your shield. Stay in your refuge.
Joab got to the gates of the city. Now the gates of the city were no-man’s land. Only a foolish man would leave the city of refuge and walk out there in the midst of the gates. Joab said, “Hey, Abner. I just want you to know I forgive you. I came by to hug your neck.” You want to yell, “No, Abner. Don’t be stupid. Don’t go out there.” Abner comes out from his place of refuge. Joab has a little small dagger. He walks up to him and says, “How are you doing?” and just kills him on the spot. They go to David and say, “David, Abner is dead. Joab killed him.” David said, and it is quoted in II Samuel, “Should Abner die a fool’s death!”
I told you that story for a reason. Folks, we have been pounding Ephesians. If you are not going to live it, you are going to reap the consequences of a person who is nothing more than a fool. If I know to bow to Him and I know what His truth has said, and walk out in that world that is penetrated by darkness refusing Jesus Christ as Lord of my life I have to face the consequences. You have only one go around. Every choice you make will have a consequence to it. Paul is saying, “Don’t die the death of a fool.” Proverbs 30:5 says every word of God is tested. He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Walk wisely out there, folks. We are in harm’s way. Remember, we have an adversary and this whole world is programmed by darkness. But the beautiful thing is, we walk out as children of light. When we put on our new garment and let the Word of God get in our life, we can say, “God, I am confused, let me know.” Then the Word of God gets in there and wisdom comes. We are able to make our decisions. We are able to choose the things God wants us to choose. Then we are going to frustrate darkness like it has never been frustrated until Jesus comes for His people.
Make choices based on the Word that is in your life and don’t ever be found living like a fool. We know better. We have victory. We have everything that is necessary. I hope somehow that might encourage your life. We don’t work toward victory, folks. We come from it. We have to learn how to appropriate it in our life.