Have you ever seen those ‘before and after’ photos from slimming groups and the like? The Christian’s story is one of ‘’…once…but now…’’ (8; see also 11). Paul’s call for new standards in this section is based on the fact that Christians are new people. They are not what they once were; they are not who they were. They should now live in keeping with who they are; they have to be what they are. Paul tells the Ephesians to live out of who God has made them; who He is making them to be. Here are some things about the new life they are called to. They are to:
- Live fruitfully (9): In union with Jesus such a life is possible (John 15);
- Live thoughtfully (10): They are to be sensitive towards the Lord’s feelings and seek to please Him;
- Live brightly (11-14): This is a morally ‘dark’ world, and Christian people used to be dark themselves. But they have been brought out of darkness into ‘’wonderful light’’ (1 Peter 2:9). Christ, the ‘’light of the world’’ (John 8:11) has raised them (2:1-11) and shone upon them. They are now to reflect His light in the world (Matthew 5: 14-16) They cannot expect to be popular when they ‘’expose’’ the ‘’fruitless deeds of darkness’’ (11). There is no place for compromise (11a). Christians need to put distance between themselves and sin. So they must also
- Live carefully (15, 16): The world is not only dark, it is also dangerous (‘’evil’’ ). It will take great wisdom to seize the opportunities that come our way for witness/service in such a hostile environment. (I heard the results of a survey this morning, revealing that half the men in the U.K. say they are atheists or agnostic. If this is even only partially true, it speaks about the great challenge we face);
- Live insightfully (17): Ask God for the wisdom to know how you should live your life day by day (James 1: 5-8);
- Live powerfully (18): This is a command, not a suggestion. The idea is ‘always be filled’. D.L. Moody was asked, ‘Why do you pray so often to be filled with the Holy Spirit?’ He replied, ‘Because I leak!’ In an age where Christians generally feel more liberated about alcohol, it is important to remember that the Bible forbids drunkenness. Don’t let your liberty become license. (I got a picture of my life when I was praying just the other day. I saw a sea cave, and I felt that the Lord was saying to me that He wants to wash in; flood in with the waves of His Spirit. But He also wants to wash things out. I know this picture is not just for me);
- Live thankfully (19, 20): When should Spirit-filled people give thanks? Always, in all circumstances and for all things. Only the fullness of the Spirit can make this possible. Let’s be careful about what we say to each other. We should seek to lift one another up as much as possible with joyfully constructive words.
This morning, when I came into the office, it was still dark, so I needed to put the light on to be able to see. It is an unusually dark and snowy morning. A couple of times I tried turning the light off, but there still wasn’t sufficient natural light in the room. In a few minutes I will try again. It is impossible to see to do anything without light. Let us be that light in God’s World, giving people reason to be glad that we are there.
Prayer: Lord, you have changed me. You are changing me. Help me to live out my new and true identity in this dark world.