Ephesians 5:3-20 | Living as Children of Light

Ephesians 5:3-20 | Living as Children of Light

3But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

  • Not be even a hint or ‘not even be named among you’ – the idea here that God’s people need to be above reproach and not come under the accusation of immorality, impurity or greed
  • This requires a conscientious attitude of the people of God to stay well away from these things, to flee from temptation and live transparently
  • No sexual immorality – because our marriages, our sexual relationships with our spouses, are a living symbol of Christ and his church
  • No impurity – because we have been saved and cleansed by the blood of Christ to be pure, not to be made impure again
  • No greed/covetousness – because Christ is our prize and possession 

4Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

  • No obscenity/filthiness – because we have become the treasure and inheritance of God
  • No foolish (moronic) talk – because God is our very truth and reality, and our knowledge of him sharpens our intellect and understanding of the world
  • No coarse joking – because God’s people do not seek to find fault or pull others down, but take what is important with a serious and sober attitude
  • Thanksgiving – why is thanksgiving mentioned as the right alternative to these ungodly behaviours? Because when we are thankful we place the right value on God, his grace and his church. With a thankful spirit we see all things with the right perspective and so avoid ungodly behaviors which are improper and out of place.

5For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

  • People who live by these behaviours in some way worship the gratification they receive from them, and so are idolaters, for they worship these and themself rather than God.
  • As we have seen, these behaviours do not belong in God’s people and therefore have no place in the kingdom of God. Therefore, in choosing how we live and who we follow (Christ or not), we also choose where our inheritance will be.

6Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be partners with them.

  • We should not be deceived in thinking that we can have both: have an inheritance in God’s kingdom yet still live with ungodly behaviours (consciously approving of them)
  • God’s wrath is roused against those who choose disobedience and darkness because in doing so they consciously reject God, his goodness and truth.
  • Do not be partners/partakers – also used in Ephesians 3:6 “…and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise”. We are to be partakers of the promise of God, not of sin and darkness. This is not to say that we cannot partner or work with non-Christians or secular organizations (as churches) but that we do not partake in things contrary to the kingdom of God.

8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.

  • We were darkness and are now light, not just that we were in darkness and are now in light. We embody and emulate whatever kingdom we live in and belong to. Those in darkness will be darkness and create darkness. Those in light will be light and emulate light. This is why Jesus can say “you are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14)

Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10and find out what pleases the Lord.

  • We are to live as children of light by pursuing what is good, right and true, namely God himself. These things are the fruit of light, therefore by keeping in close relationship to the true light, Christ himself, we might bear the fruit of light
  • Find out what pleases the Lord – what should characterise the people of God is a desire to please the Lord in all that we do. So that by living with a conscientious approach to life and a fear of the Lord, we seek to discern what is well-pleasing to him. So we should ask of all things, “is this good, is this right, is this true…does it please the Lord?”

11Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

  • Again, we are to have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness, we should not be partakers in things contrary to the kingdom of God
  • Expose them – we are not to expose the people but the deeds, by reproving them in our hearts and minds as we seek to find out what pleases the Lord. In matters of difficulty it can be all too easy to shrug our shoulders and wander unknowingly into disobedience and so have fellowship with and partake in darkness. Instead, our task is to thrust all things under the spotlight of Christ and ask “is it good, right and true?” and through prayer and obedience to the scriptures we discern what is best and pleasing to God.

12It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.

  • When acts of disobedience are the subjects of our conversations, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position and may become entertained or enthralled by them, and unknowingly educate ourselves of how to also practise disobedience in secret.
  • It is shameful then to steer so close to these things by talking about them, that they may become an influence on our hearts and minds.

13But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.

  • When we expose all things by putting them under the spotlight of Christ, they then become visible and discernable whether they are good, right and true.
  • Everything illuminated (made visible) becomes a light in and of itself, for it helps us discern what is best and becomes a sign post to all that pleases God. Even dark deeds, when exposed before Christ become a helpful lesson in discerning what is best. Therefore it is good to practise exposing all things to the light that we might please the Lord in all we do.

14This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

  • It is unclear from where Paul is quoting this from, possibly a loose rendering of Isaiah 60:1
  • But it’s application is to say that as we wake from our sleep and death in sin, Christ’s light shines on us and we become a light ourselves in reflecting the goodness, righteousness and truth of God.

15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

  • Make the most of every opportunity (redeeming the time) – even though this world is lost to evil and darkness is all around us, we are to redeem the time and make best use of it for God’s glory
  • It should be said at the end of our lives that we did not live for our own pleasure and purposes but for the will of God and to bring him glory

18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.

  • Knowing that we live in an evil and dark world comes with the temptation to try and gratify ourselves in the luxuries of the world, such as drunkenness.
  • Many people get drunk at the weekends just to escape the stress and toil of their lives.

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • As children of light, we are to be filled again and again with the Spirit that we might continually be reflecting the light of God, and not growing dimmer and dimmer
  • This is not to say that we lose the Spirit over time like a leaky bucket, but that our hearts grow hard and our sensitivity to the Spirit wanes. To be filled then is to be comforted again by God and once more filled with a greater affection for Jesus.
  • We encourage each other with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, making music in our heart to the Lord. As we do so the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and we are comforted in our trials, and so see no need to gratify ourselves in the world’s pleasures.
  • Again, as at the start of this passage we are to be a thankful people and place a great value on the things of God and what he provides for us


The church are to live as children of light in this dark world, having nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather exposing them by the light of God’s goodness and encouraging each other with songs of light.

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