Ephesians 5:8-15

When Paul wrote to the young church in Ephesus, he knew they were an island of light in a city of darkness. How could that tiny band of believers make a difference in the cosmopolitan metropolis that was home to the world-famous Temple of Artemis? In Ephesians 5:8-14, Paul gives us his answer: “You are the light of God. Live like it. Let your light shine. It will dispel the darkness. Some people won’t like that. Shine your light anyway.”

What worked in the first century still works today. In our passage, we see three remarkable things that happen when the light of God enters a dark world.


Here we have a beautiful picture of conversion.

A. Coming to Christ is like walking from the darkness into a room filled with blazing light. But once you come out of the darkness, you see things you never saw before. When you lived in darkness, you did whatever you wanted to do. But now, in the light, you must put off the deeds of darkness and put on a lifestyle befitting the children of the light.

Verse 9 spells this out for us: “For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” Goodness touches how we deal with others. Righteousness involves a new commitment to obey God’s commands. Truth demands a deep commitment to live with integrity

We now have a new goal: “Find out what pleases the Lord” (verse 10).

B. We are no longer agents of darkness. Christians believe something stupendous that the world does not understand at all. We believe there is a God in heaven who has spoken, and we should find out “what is acceptable to the Lord” (verse 10).

C. The world finds this strange. When it comes to things like morality, we believe that God has spoken clearly—that fornication, homosexual behavior, and adultery are always wrong. In short, we believe something the world rejects—that there is a God in heaven who has spoken and whose words about sexuality should be obeyed.

D. If we truly want to please the Lord, we will find a way to do it. However, no matter how many times we fall short, God will help us if we truly want to please Him.


Some things shouldn’t be mentioned in public. No doubt Paul is referring to the various rituals associated with the Temple of Artemis (also called Diana), located in Ephesus. Considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, it drew worshipers and tourists from many distant lands. Temple rituals combined overt idolatry with every sort of sexual excess. When Paul speaks of things done in secret, he is referring to a vile form of evil that goes beyond ordinary acts of rebellion. It describes evil that is gross, unnatural, and perverted. Certainly this applied to various acts of sexual immorality associated with idol worship at the Temple of Artemis.

A. The light of the gospel exposes evil for what it really is. If you are planning to buy an expensive diamond, you will want to view it in the brightest light possible before you make your purchase because light will expose the hidden flaws in the stone. Shadows hide flaws, but light reveals them. Similarly, when the gospel enters a family, hidden secrets will be revealed (verse 13). When the gospel invades a community, corruption will come to light.

Verse 13 describes the result of the ministry of reproof: “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light” (verse 13). The Bible puts it very simply: “Light exposes the true character of everything.”

We shouldn’t be surprised when some people resent us for shining the light of God’s truth. “Who are you to judge me?” I have no standing to judge anyone. But God calls us to shine the light of His truth and let it judge the human heart.

B. Truth will hurt you before it heals you. Darkness can only produce more darkness. But light can turn the darkness into light.

When God turns on the light in someone’s life, the darkness is gone, and as Christians, we have the responsibility to “walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise” (verse 15).


Verse 14 calls for something impossible when it says to “rise from the dead.” After all, Paul himself had already stated in Ephesians 2:1, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins.”

A. So how can a dead man rise from the dead? Isn’t that like talking to a corpse and commanding it to stand up? Imagine how you would react if a man walked into a mortuary and started telling the dead people, “Wake up! You’ve been dead long enough!”

When the light of the gospel comes in, it wakes up those who are spiritually dead and draws them to Jesus. That’s conversion. That’s salvation. That’s the new birth. That’s the lifetransforming power of the gospel when Jesus Christ comes into a life.

This passage shows us what happens when God’s light begins to shine in the world.

1. The light shines on us and transforms us from darkness into light. In the process, that same light purifies us on the inside so that we seek to please God in everything.

2. The light shining through us chases away the darkness and exposes evil. Because men love darkness and resist light (John 3:19), they often fight against the light of God. But when the light does its work thoroughly, it contains a healing power. Because the light comes from God, it can take the darkness and turn it into light. We know this is true because that’s what happened to us.

3. The light awakens those who are asleep and raises them from the dead. This is why Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. This is why he boldly preached in the very heart of the ancient world—in Corinth and Ephesus and Athens and Rome. Paul knew that when the gospel shines on a society, its light will expose some people and make them angry, but that same light will awaken others to their need of Christ.


In the book Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, page 19, Ellen G. White says, “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God.”

The darker the night, the brighter the light shines. It is precisely when the world is at its worst that the people of God should be at their best. Let no one be deceived. It will not be easy. The world doesn’t want the light, but it desperately needs it. Let’s light the world!