Verse: Ephesians 5:8-14 (ESV)
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.”

If you are at all new to the Bible, you may not be aware that one of the consistent themes is “Darkness = Evil; Light = Good”. It’s a concept literally as old as time, when God cast Satan (Prince of Darkness) out of heaven. And it’s one that Paul hits pretty hard in this passage, exhorting Christians to leave behind the darkness and “walk as children of light”.

But there are a couple of other themes I’d like to focus on here:

1) “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord”
The main implication here, of course, is that the ultimate goal of the believer should be to please the Lord. But how do we know how to do that? By instructing us to “try”, Paul is acknowledging that we’re not always going to get it right. There may be choices we have to make in life where it’s not obvious what would be pleasing to God. But we are instructed to “discern”, to work out logically, intellectually, through the use of Scripture, what will please him. And of course, it’s pretty clear that anything involving “darkness” would have the opposite effect.

2) “but instead expose them”
This is where it gets really interesting. Seems like Paul wants us to go around calling out other people’s sins, right? Keep reading. He immediately points out that some of the sins in question shouldn’t even be mentioned out loud. How are we to “expose” them, then? There is some nuance here, I think. Verse 13 talks about sins being “exposed by the light”. But the passage doesn’t say anything about exposing them to the world. I think what Paul is calling us to do here is to shine the light of Christ into the dark places, exposing the sin there to those that are embroiled in it, so that they might recognize the contrast between the darkness and the light. The first step toward salvation is recognizing our sinful nature, and our subsequent need for a Savior. That doesn’t happen on Facebook. It happens in relationship, in community with believers.

I think there’s a reason these verses come in the order they do. The only way we can shine the exposing light of Christ into the darkness is if we are first focused on discerning what will please God, and doing those things.

God, thank you for calling me out of the darkness and into the light. Please give me the wisdom to discern how to please you, and the strength and courage to do it. Allow your light to shine through me into the darkness around me, so that others will see your goodness and desire to walk in the light. Amen.

Author: Dave MacDonald