The Book of Ephesians: The Unfruitful Works of Darkness.

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Ephesians 5:11 (ESV)

The biblical metaphor of light vs. darkness is found throughout the pages of Scripture (Job 12:24-25; Isaiah 9:1-7; Matthew 4:12-16; John 1:4-5; 3:19; 8:12; 12:35-36, 46; I John 1:5-7; 2:7-11). Light is symbolic of God’s holiness and righteousness. Darkness symbolizes sin and wickedness. Spiritual darkness also depicts ignorance about God’s will. Therefore, knowledge of God is “light” and the lack of such knowledge is “darkness”

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary states, “Moral depravity is sometimes described as darkness (Prov. 2:13; 4:19; Is. 5:20; 60:2). In the NT darkness is generally a metaphor of moral depravity and spiritual ignorance (Mt 4:16; 6:23; Lk 1:79; 11:35; 22:53; Rom 2:19; Col 1:13).”

In today’s text from Ephesians, the Apostle Paul strongly warns Christians to have no relationship with darkness. The phrase take no part (συγκοινωνέω; synkoinoneo) is a present, active imperative or command. The believer in Christ is to have no fellowship or partnership with darkness.

Darkness (σκότος; skotos) is used in the text as a description of moral evil and sin. It is described as unfruitful (ἄκαρπος; akarpos) meaning unproductive and useless. The word works (ἔργον; ergon) refers to the reality that spiritual darkness is associated with specific deeds or behavior.

Instead of participating in the unfruitful works of darkness, believers in Christ are to expose the darkness. To expose (ἐλέγχω; elencho) is also a present, active imperative command. Christians are to reproach, rebuke and reject the works of darkness ((Matt. 18:15; John 3:20; 16:8; Eph. 5:11; 1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 1:9; Heb. 12:5; James 2:9; Jude 15; Rev 3:19; Jude 22, 23). Such rebuking is to be done humbly and gently (Galatians 6:1-2) with an awareness of one’s own faults (Matthew 7:1-5).

Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Christians, by conducting themselves as “children of light,” expose the “deeds of darkness.” These deeds, however, refer here to the deeds of other believers who are not walking in the light. This is because only God can expose and convict unbelievers’ deeds (1 Cor. 5:12–13). Believers, on the other hand, can expose evil deeds among other Christians within the church. This the Corinthians failed to do (1 Cor. 5).”

No believer in Christ should take it upon themselves to be the self-appointed, self-righteous exposer of other believer’s sins. Such a pride centered so-called ministry can accomplish nothing but anguish within the church congregation. Exposure of other’s sin is to be done biblically, carefully, and humbly (Matthew 7:1-5; 18:15-20; Galatians 6:1-2).

Soli deo Gloria!    

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