Walk This Way: Walk in the Light (Ephesians 5:1, 7-10)
By Michael A. Milton, PhD
Paul wrote to the Ephesians Church, announcing God’s will for them and for us: “Be imitators of Christ. . . Walk in light.” - Ephesians 5:1, 7-10 (ESV).
One of the most remarkable and necessary features of life is light. Artists like Monet (1840–1926), Van Gogh (1853-1890), J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851), and John Constable (1776-1837) remind us how stunning light is—dappled with touches of amber oil through a forest, or reflected in the softer creamy light of the moon painted over the inky blue of a bay in the evening. We know how essential light is when we lose it. When the electricity goes out in your home, you scramble for the flashlight, lanterns, and candles; let's face it, we need light. In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul uses the metaphor of light to describe how believers should imitate our Lord Jesus (“light” is ubiquitous in the Bible; “phos” in the Greek, and “Orr” in the Hebrew; light is a remarkable word with rich theological meaning). God created light and separated it from darkness in Genesis 1:3-4. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5).
The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to be imitators of Christ in Ephesians chapter 5:1. The Apostle explains how one imitates Christ. Paul explained that we have to walk in love. Then, Paul transitions in verse 8 and declares believers must “walk in the light,” not in the darkness. As God did in Genesis 1:3,4, and as our Lord did in (John 8:12; 9:5), John contrasts the light and the darkness in a way that helps us understand how we should walk, that is, how we should follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and live our lives to be “imitators of Christ.”
We can’t produce light. The Creator is the Lord of light. Jesus is light. His children must receive and reflect the One who is the “light of the world.” For just as the light of the moon is expressed with soft strokes across the water and becomes like dazzling diamonds flung across the sea, we who follow the Lord reflect the incomparable power of Jesus Christ. There are two vital, God-revealed truths that we should remember about walking in the light. The first feature of light is this:
Firstly, the light reveals what the darkness conceals.
The world was in darkness when Jesus Christ came. Isaiah prophesied that a light will arise and shine, a light for the Gentiles (Isaiah 60:1-3. “Darkness” in the Scriptures is often associated with degrading sexual practices contrary to God’s will in Creation and in Scripture (e.g., Leviticus 18:22). The Bible declares misuse of God’s gift of marital intimacy abominable (e.g., Deuteronomy 22:5). The supposed alternatives to God’s will are not only disobedient but, like all sin, demeaning. Nevertheless, the light of Christ doesn’t merely judge such sin but mercifully offers forgiveness and new life. We must only turn in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ. The illuminating presence of the Lord Jesus forgives, restores, and provides the purity we need.
Secondly, the light ensures security while the darkness engenders dread.
In the natural world, darkness has an important place. God divided the light from darkness and provided a cycle that regulates our bodies and all creation. However, a darkness that is imposed upon light is different. When Jesus died on the cross, the earth went dark. This was an imposed darkness to cloak the inconceivable at Calvary.
At the birth of our Lord, earth was covered in moral shadows, a depraved spectacle of cultural degeneration that deepened the darkness and further marred the image of God in humankind. When Jesus Christ came, He not only proclaimed his self-identity as the Light of the World, but His transforming power spread globally. The Acts of the Apostles document how the light of Christ permeated the darkness. History adds to the Biblical record. For the Apostle Mark brought the gospel to Egypt. St. Thomas was martyred for establishing the church in India. The disciples of the disciples, such as Augustine of Canterbury (in 597 AD), brought the gospel to England. On it went — generation after generation, from shore to shore. That which we call Western Civilization emerged in part by the light from the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, today spiritual darkness threatens our security. To cast off the light, preferring intellectual and moral darkness, is to suffer a greater judgment than those who had only known darkness. But greater is He that is in us than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4).
Intersecting Faith and Life:
We who have been redeemed by the Light of the world must not hide our light. We must release its healing beams to the uttermost parts of the earth; and those closest to us. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Light of the world. You are the reflector. Let Him shine. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
- I am the Light of the World by John Piper.
- Commentary on John 8 by Matthew Henry.
- Commentary on Ephesians 5 by Matthew Henry.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Phil Thep
Michael A. Milton (PhD, Wales) is a long-time Presbyterian minister (PCA) and a regular contributor to Salem Web Network. In addition to founding three churches, and the call as Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, Dr. Milton is a retired Army Chaplain (Colonel). He is the recipient of the Legion of Merit. Milton has also served as chancellor and president of seminaries and is the author of more than thirty books. He has composed and performed original music for five albums. He and his wife, Mae, reside in Western North Carolina. His most recent book is a second edition release: Hit by Friendly Fire: What to do when Another Believer Hurts You (Resource Publications, 2022). To learn more visit and subscribe: https://michaelmilton.org/about/.
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