Living in the Light – Ephesians 5:1-13 Sermon

We continue our series in the book of Ephesians with Tim preaching on living in the light, how we should leave the old life behind and embrace the new life Good has for us in His life!


Well let’s kick on with Ephesians… this is the last week in some of the morality of Christian
faith, or the ethics of believers…

  • And we have been saying it all flows from the good news of the gospel story that then
    reshapes every part of our story.
  • So any imperative to truthful speech or not stealing or being compassionate and forgiving
    is always done in light of what God has done first!

How did you go with truthful speech this last week?

  • I know I caught myself a few times during the week. Not outright lying but just
    exaggerating things or embellishing the truth…
  • And I asked myself a few time, why was I doing that… and I realised every time it was
    because of self preservation, or trying to make myself look good.
  • So it’s a challenge… put off the old self and put on the new and speak truthfully.

Ok, so… Ephesians 5:1-14
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity,
or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity,
foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can
be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any
inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for
because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.7 Therefore do not be
partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the
fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases
the Lord.11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It
is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the
light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

Star Wars has basically taken over my house… the kids have just finished the Mandalorian,
after already having done the 9 Star Wars films.

  • Luca has several lightsabres and a favourite game at the moment after dinner is we take
    turns pretending to be a Star Wars character and we all have to guess who it is.
  • I do a particularly good Jabba the Hut. It comes naturally…
  • But the kids are fascinated by the idea of a Dark side and turning to the light.

  • Luca is always asking when a new character appears in Star Wars “are they a good guy or a
    bad guy Dad?”

Good question… and we often ask that of people around us… are they good guys or bad guys…
often with most of us, the story is more complex…

  • But what if we asked that of ourselves?
  • Are we on the side of light? And where does darkness still reside within us?
  • Does our daily living demonstrate who we belong to by how we walk…
  • Last week we looked at speaking the truth and we asked do our words tilt the world
    around us to heaven or do they tilt the world towards hell?
  • And as the children of God, we have an incredible mandate to live as children of light.

In the Christian faith we soon learn a few truths…

  • Firstly, All of humanity starts on the darkside. Right we are all Darth Vader 😉
  • And I’ve never really had a problem accepting that about myself because I know my own
    heart and where my life would lead without God’s grace.
  • Secondly, Jesus brings us into the light through imputed righteousness. Right Jesus is Luke
    who brings Darth Vader back to the light.
  • Am I stretching this too far?
  • But we become light or righteousness through a gift from God. Not something we earn.
  • And finally, we are called to live as children of the light.
  • And for that I have no Star Wars analogy.
  • Other than maybe, beware the power of the darkside…

In Ephesians 5 Paul again sets up the contrast between the old way of living and the new self.

  • It starts pretty powerfully: “Walk in the way of love…” again it is done by explaining how
    God has done this first…
  • Verse 2 – “just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”
  • So walking in the way of love for us includes sacrificial behaviour… putting others first.

  • It shouldn’t surprise us, that so many of the ethical imperatives of following Jesus involve
  • And it being based on a love demonstrated or modelled through Jesus sacrificial love.

There is this great section in Romans where Paul is talking about how we should live as
Christians… Romans 13:8-10
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever
loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You
shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command
there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love
does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Isn’t that the best passage on ethical living in the New Testament?

  • He basically says, do everything through the context of “is this loving?”
  • Does this action or decision fulfil loving your neighbour as yourself?”
  • Right? You wont commit adultery or murder or steal or covet, because it is not walking in
  • The things you would want done to yourself, because you love yourself… you then do to
  • So we walk in the way of love. That is the lens through which as children of God we do

This is kind of the 101 of Christian living… walking in the way of love.

  • 1 Corinthians 13 – if I do not have love I am nothing.
  • That has to be the defining characteristic of who we are.
  • Right? 1 John 4:7 says Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
  • And it says in verse 8 “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
  • So let the love of God infuse you deeply… receive it, bask in it, know it, glory in it….
  • And then walk in the way of love as our response…

So Paul then moves on to a spray about old ways of living and new ways of living again.

  • I don’t want to rehash last week, but quickly, we said that any moral exhortation from Paul
    is always read in light of the good news of what God has done.
  • It isn’t… “because God has, you now must.”
  • But instead it is “because God has, you now can.”
  • It is because we are loved, forgiven, empowered that a whole new way of life is now
    available to us.

Some of the ones we find in Ephesians 5:3-4 includes

  • Have no hint of sexual immorality or greed or foolish talk amongst you.

And this is why walking in the light is going to become important, because in one sense these
are the areas of our lives we like to keep hidden.

  • Think about those areas… immorality, impurity, greed…
  • Maybe best exposed by what you could call the Mum and Dad test.
  • Would you be happy for your parents to know the details of your life around these things?
  • And don’t worry, it has to work for them too… would your parents be happy for their
    parents to know everything about their lives. Haha!

Timothy Keller is good on this. Because it says greedy people are idolaters.

  • He says, “Money, itself, isn’t usually an idol. But what you put your money towards does
    show you where your idols are usually.”
  • Ohhh that’s good.
  • You see if you are not generous with your money and your home and your time… it may
    expose what you really worship.
  • If you spend more on fitness than the kingdom of God… maybe your priorities are out.
  • If you spend obscene amounts on home improvements and never building other people a
    home… maybe you worshipping the wrong thing.

And then sexual immorality. Again Tim Keller who is a Pastor in New York speaking about the
early church.
“A pagan gave nobody their money and practically gave everybody their body. And the Christians
came along and gave practically nobody their body and they gave practically everybody
their money.”

  • Whoa! Read that again…
  • Or as my friend Charlie said… “Christians shouldn’t be able to keep their wallet in their
    pants…” haha as opposed to… ok you get it…
  • But we should be desiring holiness with our sexuality, despite it being a battle (I mean lets
    get real – it isn’t easy”).
  • I mean some of you could be part time models… (not David Jones models, but at least Best
    and Less models… the temptation must be extreme…)
  • And we should be ridiculously generous. Right – set and forget…
  • But actually don’t forget… keep on giving, keep on responding to need… let it hurt a bit!

Now we do all of this of course in a greedy, sex saturated world.

  • Victoria went to a parents evening held by the wonderful Melinda Tankart Reiss on the
    sexualisation of our kids.
  • And someone asked, when should I get my kid a mobile phone. And her answer was,
    “when you are ready for them to be exposed to porn.”
  • So we need each other, calling each other to a different narrative, a different way of life.
  • We need to uphold the beauty of being created in the image of God, and sex being special
    and for marriage and for faithfulness.
  • And when we get it wrong, we throw ourselves on the mercy of God, receive his grace and
    we try again!

So how do we do all of this?

In Ephesians 5, Paul then goes into this whole section on living as children of the light… and
that is where I want to finish the sermon today.

  • So what do we learn from this passage?

  • Verse 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of
  • So there is our calling as the children of God.

Verse 8 “you were once darkness.” So we are back to Star Wars? I think we have run that
analogies full course…

  • So Paul starts with the reality of the human condition. Outside of Jesus we exist in
  • Maybe this could be called the doctrine of original sin, or the unregenerate state of human
  • But the reality is that every single one of us have things in our lives that we need saving
    from in order to be brought into the light or into a relationship with God.
  • Paul talks about things that people do that are (verse 12) shameful to even mention what
    the disobedient do in secret.
  • And that is probably a big part of living in darkness… it is the stuff in our lives that we
    wouldn’t want exposed.
  • We were talking last week about the truth and how we tell lies that we then cover up with
    lies… and it can all unravel.

I don’t know why, but one of my favourite films is the Woody Allen movie with Cate Blanchett
called Blue Jasmine.

  • It’s very un-hollywood because it doesn’t have a happy, neat ending…
  • And it’s really the story of the unravelling that occurs when you build your life around self
    absorption, lies and dishonesty…
  • The main character Jasmine is a formerly rich Manhatten socialite whose life comes
    crashing down when her husbands financial fraud and philandering comes out and he
    takes his life…
  • But rather than confront the truth, she continues to propagate her life on a series of lies…
  • And it all comes crashing down when the lies she has told to her new partner begin to
    unravel, and once again she looses it all…

I think it’s a great film, because it exposes how darkness and lies always tend to unravel and
come crashing down.

  • If truth sets free, lies destroy and wreak havoc in all directions…
  • If the light exposes the truth and illuminates us…. Then darkness compounds and devours.

Verse 8 continued “but now you are light in the Lord.”

  • This is of course a gift from God.
  • And the Greek is correctly translated here not as you are in the light. But you are light in
    the Lord.
  • Theologically this is an example of what you would call imputed righteousness.
  • It is not that we all of a sudden are a light, like Jesus when he says “I am the light of the
  • Instead this is bestowed upon us because of the gift of Jesus. It is imputed to us.
  • Right, this is not something we actualise within ourselves, but rather it is imputed… or
    given to us or bestowed upon us.

In Colossians 1 it says;
“the Father… has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of
light. (verse 13) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the
kingdom of the Son he loves.”

  • In the Alpha Course Nicky talks about a football transfer. Old course: David Beckham…
    Man U to Real Madrid
  • So you are rescued from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of light.
  • You no longer belong to the old way of living. You have been purchased at a price to join a
    new family.
  • Or as it is put in Ephesians – you are now light in the Lord… (this is who you now play for)

The transfer analogy continues in verse 8…

  • Old club cant ask why you are not at training or still playing for them…
  • You now belong to a new club… and now you start playing in the new team in a new way.

Verse 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 

  • So we begin to live like the new club we are a part of.
  • We begin to live in a transparent and illuminating way that throws off the darkness and
    embraces being a light in the world.

Let me finish today with one thought. If you are struggling majorly with an area in your life.

  • Let me encourage you to live transparently. And by that I mean, don’t keep it in the
    darkness… but bring it into the light.
  • That is one of the gifts of community. We can have accountability.
  • And good accountability isn’t judgemental, but it does in love encourage you to embrace
    the truth and walk towards the light.
  • Right? Let me encourage you to find someone you can trust who you can be honest with
    about your struggles.

Vulnerability is a really good thing.

  • Because we want to be in the light, we want to be the light. We desperately want nothing
    to do with the deeds of darkness…
  • But getting there is an adventure and it takes a bit of honesty and support and

Well let’s do this. Just for ministry I was thinking about that idea of imputed righteousness or
imputed light!

  • That very last verse says everything that is illuminated becomes a light!
  • So clearly we need to have this prayed into us, or filling us…
  • And that is Jarrah’s sermon next week about the ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit.
  • But lets go after this today!

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

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