Walking seems like such a simple thing until we break a toe or all the lights go out. Thankfully, the command to walk worthy of our calling is not something we must figure out on our own or something we must do in our own strength. Rather, in Christ the Christian has been given all they need to walk in love and light.
Just as important, we have been given a community with whom we can walk. In Sunday’s sermon, it was this community—a community of light—we considered most closely. For those who are laboring to walk with Christ, Paul’s words in Ephesians 5 are vital for knowing what light is and how to walk in light.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
- In Ephesians 4–6 Paul gives a number of instructions. How should we read them: Are they instructions to individuals? Or are they directed to the community of faith? Are they lived out by individuals as individuals? Or do they depend on the community?
- What difference does the answer to #1 make? What results when we only read these commands as personal commands? What happens when we see them as instructions for the whole community?
- Look at verse 7 and 10. What do these commands have in common? How do they inform the command, “Walk as children of light?” For those literate in Greek or grammar in general, what does the second-person plural construction of Paul’s commands indicate?
- What does Paul mean by walking as children of light? What’s different about walking in the light (see John 1:9; 1 John 1:5), and walking as children of light?
- What do you find most challenging about walking in the light today? What helps you the most to walk in the light? How has Ephesians 5:6–14 helped you think about walking in light?
- How do you find motivation to walk in the light? Or, how would you persuade a professing Christian to keep walking in the light? How does Paul urge others to walk worthy of their calling?
- Finally, what should the church do when it finds darkness (=sin) residing within it? What does it mean to expose sin? (Compare Matthew 18:15, Ephesians 5:11, 13, and 2 Timothy 5:20; in each passage the same word (ἐλέγχω) is used.
I mentioned two names in Sunday’s sermon: Rosaria Butterfield and John Newton. Here are a few resources that capture their stories.
- John Newton (1725–1807): The Former Slaver and Preacher — a short biography of John Newton with respect to slavery.
- Thoughts on the Slave Trade by John Newton — A 1787 document wherein Newton recounts his experience of the slave trade and condemns its practice. Another edition is found here. The slave trade was abolished in 1807.
- Newton on the Christian Life by Tony Reinke — Nothing has been more edifying to read this year than Reinke’s book on Newton.
- From Radical Lesbian to Redeemed Christian: An Autobiographical Interview with Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
- The Dead End of Sexual Sin by Rosaria Butterfield
- Don’t Leave Your Husband for Her by Rosaria Butterfield
- Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into the Christian Faith by Rosaria Butterfield
- Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ by Rosaria Butterfield
May the Lord empower his people to walk as children of light.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds