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 ESV)
Today’s verse is a quote by Paul. But the source of the quote is not known. It is possibly a saying from the early church and may have been derived from Isaiah 60:1.
Paul’s purpose in referencing these words is to call believers to stop living like the darkness they used to be. In our previous lifestyles we practiced sin, which results in spiritual death [Romans 6:23]. We are not to live that way any longer.
During sleep our central nervous system is mostly inactive and consciousness is suspended. When we are asleep we do not know we are asleep. Likewise, many children of God are still living like the unsaved world around them. They are living like sinners without realizing it. God wants those people to awake and arise. He wants them to become conscious again so that Christ will shine on them.
As we’ve been reading over the past few days, when a person becomes born-again they stop being darkness and become light. God calls on that person to live in such a way that their light exposes the deceitful practices of those around them. But its important to know where our light comes from. It does not come from us. It comes from Christ.
The moon does not radiate its own light. Rather it reflects light originating from the sun. Similarly, God’s children – born-again believers who have been forgiven of all their sins [John 1:12-13] – do not generate our own light. The light we bring to the world is nothing more than a reflection of the light that God is shining upon us. There is nothing inherently good within us that could be considered light [Romans 7:18]. Good can only come from God [James 1:17].
One tool a photographer might use is a reflector. A reflector is placed on the opposite of the subject from a light source (e.g. sun or flash) and bounces light back onto the subject to illuminate the side that is in darkness. Such reflectors are usually bright in color such as white or silver. But there are also black reflectors that are sometimes used to intentionally remove light from a subject as black, unlike white, does not reflect light.
There are many Christians who, despite being truly saved, are like the black reflector. They are not reflecting God’s light. In fact, they are adding darkness to the world by their lifestyle. This verse is calling on these people to wake up and become a white reflector and illuminate their world by shining God’s light on those around them.
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