“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:11-14
It seems as if I’ve been waiting over a year to write today’s devotion for you. Every hour of study, prayer, and writing has led up to this point in our study together today. It was a few years ago now when I knew that the Lord was calling me to the book of Ephesians. I remember it like it was yesterday. Driving through the hot desert of Arizona into Southern California, it hit me, as clear as one bug after another smashing into my windshield as I drove. Just as Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, reminding them of sound doctrine and desiring to see them live it out in their lives, I, too, felt compelled to pour every fiber of my being into teaching the truths of his words to each one of you – exposing Biblical poverty in the church and sending out a call for Biblical literacy and Biblical living.
Since that very moment when the divine seemed to collide with my mundane that day, my thoughts, emotions, and energy have been arrested by the message of this book. I feel as if I’ve breathed, slept, and ate the words of Ephesians again and again for what seems like a very long time now, and today finally brings you and I to the peak of this mountain for me. More than anything, I want to be found faithful by my Jesus one day. I want you to be found faithful. I want us to bring along as many as we possibly can into that fold of faithfulness. I want to see the church in my generation rise up and stand up for what we believe, and just as Paul sent out a wake up call to the Ephesians, I desire for us to be a part of a great awakening of souls in our own day that the Lord is waiting to see take place.
Paul continues his teaching in these verses today on the importance of being set apart. Our calling as believers is to one of holiness, to be set apart from the world in which we live. Not only are we to refrain from the sinful ways of this world and rather live righteously before them, we are also to expose the darkness whenever and wherever we see it, especially when it is found within the church. Somewhere along the road of this morally bankrupt world, we, even as believers, have somehow become desensitized to the effects that the darkness can have on us. We try to walk the fence far too often, with one foot in the world and the other in the church. We attempt to get as close to the edge as possible and as near to the fire as we can without falling and without getting burned.
The problem with this mentality is that it is in direct violation of God’s commands to us in His Word. On all accounts, we are told to flee from temptation, not to try and overcome it with willpower and sheer determination. This is exactly why the bar is raised for us here in Ephesians 5 with the added instruction to not even speak of the disgraceful things that are done in the darkness. Why? Because even talking about them can be corruptive, to us individually and to those with whom we discuss. And because the Lord knows that we’re weak, He builds these moral fences for us. In His divine mercy, He gives us boundaries. Because of His deep love for us, He tells us no.
There is beautiful imagery used here with this idea of light. Whenever a light is turned on, everything that the light reaches is illuminated. Whatever the darkness concealed before is now exposed by the power of the light. If we walk in the light as we are called to, we bring the light to a dark world, exposing the evil and bringing new life to wherever our feet tread. We bring the hope of salvation to a world that is lost in hopelessness. We bring truth that sets free those held in captivity by all the lies. If we are in Christ, we must rise!
Ephesians 5:14 is the verse that shouts louder at me than all the rest. If you and I have tasted and seen that the Lord is truly good, if we have embraced salvation and if we know redemption, if we have been set free by the love of Jesus Christ, how can we not desire all others to know this very light, to drink from this well, to embrace this love? This is the invitation that verse 14 presents – an invitation to come and drink from the living water, an invitation to leave behind the darkness of the past and walk in the light, an invitation to Jesus.
Paul shouts through these words that he penned thousands of years ago, and their echo still reaches us today. Wake up; rise up; walk on! To all who believe, hear this today: Know what you believe and may it be based on the truth of God’s Word, and live like you believe it so that those who don’t believe will be given reason to believe. And to those who have kept their distance from this light: It’s not too late. Your chance hasn’t passed you by. Not yet. Salvation is extended to you today. Reach out and grasp it. Cling to it. Receive it. If there is breath in your lungs, there is hope for you soul. And to all who already have: Walk in it, my friends. A sleeping church is the last thing this world needs. “Awake, O sleeper!” Let us assume our rightful position within the body of Christ, and His light will shine on us for all to see.