“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:6-10
Have you ever found yourself telling someone what you believe they want to hear as opposed to what they need to hear? I think we all have done this at one time or another, but whatever our reasons are for doing so, it is never beneficial to deceive. Withholding the truth, even for the sake of not offending someone, is deception. If I’m honest, there are certainly situations when I’m tempted to do this. Here’s my confession: I tend to be a people pleaser. The sin in this is that I often default to trying to please a person over trying to please God. What does this look like? God asks me to do something, and instead, I do something else in order to gain praise, approval, or acceptance from someone. He tells me to go right, and I turn left. He asks me to serve in one area, and I serve in another. He tells me to speak the truth, and instead, I cower in fear while sugarcoating the truth so as not to offend.
This is what Paul is addressing here in verse six. It is not only deceptive, but it is also extremely unloving to give a false assurance of salvation to someone who professes faith in Christ while living their lives in such a way as is described in Ephesians 5:3-5, in constant pursuit of sin without remorse. The last thing an unrepentant sinner needs is a pat on the back, telling them that they are doing just fine, when in reality, they are running fast in the opposite direction of Jesus. One of the hardest things about speaking the truth is that it isn’t always the most palatable to those on the receiving end. Translation? Sometimes, the truth hurts, but that doesn’t mean that we need to hear it any less. Deception and unholy living are marks of our former way of life before we knew Christ. When we were living in darkness, this type of behavior would be expected. However, we have been called out of darkness and into light. Therefore, we are to walk as children of light.
You and I are being called to take a stand against sin, today. When Paul says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words,” we must then understand that the sinful behaviors of our former life are neither permissible for the believer nor are they fitting, regardless of what popular opinion preaches. Sin festers in the darkness, which is exactly why it prefers to hide there. It is the light, however, that exposes what resides in the dark. We were once darkness, wallowing in our sinful ways, but now we are light. And if we are light, we should behave as such, being marked by goodness, pursuing righteousness, and walking in truth and integrity. This is the path of obedience that we are called to walk.
One of the many beautiful truths that we repeatedly find within God’s Word is that His commands are always coupled with promises. When we walk in this obedience (command), we produce good fruit (promise). Goodness, righteousness, and truth are direct results of walking as children of light, but it doesn’t stop there. The more we walk in the light of God’s truth, we have an increased awareness and discernment of what pleases the Lord. The more we know what pleases the Lord, the more we will strive to please Him. These are the benefits of being children of light. We are no longer bound by the darkness, incapable of seeing or knowing what is good and pleasing to the Lord. The darkness of our past has been exposed by the light, and we have been set free. The veil has been removed from our eyes. Do not be deceived any longer. The standard for holy, righteous living has been made known and is clear. Walk as children of the light. Blessing is found in its glow.