Expose Darkness (ATP)
“Ephesians 5:8-14 speaks of walking in the light and finding out what is acceptable to God. It talks about having no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness but to expose them. What exactly are unfruitful works of darkness? And if as it says in Ephesians 5:12, it’s shameful to even speak of them how do we expose them?”
It’s always good to read all scripture in context as much as we know how. Ephesians 5 is direction for us to live as “imitators of God.” Firstly, we are told to love like God, then to be pure and moral like God, and to keep our talk pure and fitting of saints, as to give thanks in our words and actions to the Lord. Particularly in this context, the correction for the Ephesian church was to make sure they weren’t following in the common practices of the culture, mainly perverse sexual sins. Ephesians were addicted to luxury and sexual vice. For example, a common practice was to use prostitutes as a form of worship to the goddess Artemis in a very elaborate temple there in Ephesus. As we read Ephesians 5 with this understanding, it makes a lot more sense.
Look at Ephesians 5:5, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” No idolator, meaning no worshiper of false gods is going to be saved. Ephesians 5:6-7, “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 be partakers with them.” Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus warning them of the dangers of falling on line with the culture of where they lived. That temple, once a wonder of the world, was invaded and destroyed roughly 200 years after these scriptures were written, never to be rebuilt.
Now all of that to get to this, the scriptures you inquired about, Ephesians 5:8-12, which read, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” Paul was saying, under unction of the Lord, you have been made different than those who surround you! You are of the light now, so walk in light, not in darkness. When the word says, it’s shameful to even speak of these deeds, it’s really expressing the filthiness and obscenity that was going on. It’s not even fitting for a Christian to discuss things so vulgar. That’s how awful these practices were.
To expose really could be said that, by conviction, we bring to light the deeds of darkness. Just a couple years after Ephesians was written, Paul penned this to Timothy, a pastor in Ephesus: 2 Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” The way to expose the deeds of darkness is through preaching the truth, in the midst of the darkness. The Word of God is what brings conviction. It is what exposes evil. It’s what keeps the light on in a dark place. Ephesians 5:13-14, “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”
When we read the Bible, we have to understand that it was written in very different times of very different customs than we live today. It was also written to specific people and people groups. But, what’s important for us is to pull the principles from the scripture that the Lord had for us to understand. We likewise live in a dark time, with many perverse customs around us, and much temptation to be deceived and lured into things unfitting for those who’ve been washed by the blood of Christ. I love Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV), “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” We’ve been made clean, saved by grace, but for good works! As we see things going on around us that we know aren’t right, we need to preach truth. We need to live in line with truth. As we see in the Word, we’re the salt of the earth and the light of this world. If we lose our flavor, or hide our light under a basket, all hope is lost for this lost and dying world. (Matthew 5:13-14) Let’s stay bright and salty church!