As a child I remember loving to walk around in my Mom’s shoes, wearing her necklaces, maybe a hat. I was imitating her because I wanted to be just like her! And that is just what Paul is telling us to do: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5:1-2)
Yesterday (See We Are Children of Light) we discussed that we were darkness and now we are light. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10) What once was has passed away and we are new creatures if we have repented of our sin and placed our faith in Jesus Christ. This is an amazing transformation – literally from night to day, from darkness to light, from death to life – all because of the grace of God.
Now that we know what we are, how are we supposed to apply it? “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” We should live like light. We should be holy, set apart from the things of the world, shunning sin and embracing what is good. We do this by walking as children of light. Light is productive (consider the effect of light on plant growth), and those who live in God’s light produce the fruit of moral and ethical character (Gal 5:22–23), while those who live in darkness do not (see v. 11).
Twice in the passage Ephesians 5:1-10 Paul has used the term “children”. He told us that we are to imitate God as dear children, and now we see that we are to walk as children of light. To imitate God as dear children and to walk as children of light means that we are to be growing. We are not completely mature yet; we have not arrived.
We are told in the Scripture to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18), to be strong in grace (2 Timothy 2:1), to mature (1 Corinthians 14:20), to bear fruit (Colossians 1:10), and to move from the milk to the meat by being full grown in our understanding of the Word (1 Corinthians 3:2-6). We are not expected to be perfect but we are expected to grow in Christ. Too often we get frustrated with where we are and we forget where we have come from. Let’s not forget that we were once darkness and are now light. And while we may not have grown much, we must see that there is importance not just in how far we have moved, but also in which direction we are moving as we grow in grace.
We are told in the Bible to practice righteousness: “you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” (1 John 2:29) And the key to this is not that we are perfect at it, but we are practicing! Are we working hard at getting better and better at obeying and following and denying self? Are we like an athlete, always honing our skills and learning how to depend more and more upon the Holy Spirit and how to walk by faith?
To walk as children of light then means that we are growing and maturing in the light – in righteousness and holiness. We are trusting and teachable and eager to grow. “(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:9-10) These verses give us four areas in which we are to grow. These are things that the Spirit produces in and through us. They are indeed the fruit of the Spirit being born in our lives as we walk with Him. This fruit we are told is goodness, righteousness, and truth. Through this fruit we learn how to walk in the light finding out what is acceptable to the Lord and doing it.
To walk as children of light is to walk in goodness. Matthew 19:17 tells us that only God is good, and Psalm 14:3 makes it clear that when it comes to mankind, there is none good, no not one. Outside of Christ we cannot be good, we are not good, and we have no potential for good. Christ is clear when He says “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). But with Christ all things are possible (Phil. 4:13). He is good, gives us goodness, and makes us good. He produces fruit in us, and just as it says here so to it says in Galatians 5:22 that the fruit of the Spirit is goodness.
Goodness is that which is “clean.” It denotes moral excellence, purity, holiness, and that which promotes health. To walk as children of light is to be growing in that which is good, pure, clean, and spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy! This means that to neglect what is good in any of these areas is to fail to walk as children of light. We should strive to think, speak, and act in a manner that is always good.
To walk as children of light is to walk in righteousness, that is being in a right relationship with God. This can only be done by faith. When we believe, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). On the basis of His righteousness then we are declared to be right with God–we are justified, and we are to walk in this justification. To continue to be right with God. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matt. 5:6)
Sin is a snare, so we must be on our guard at all times, and on the look out for those things which would cause us to be unrighteous. Paul tells us that we are to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness” (Phil. 1:11) – the results of being right with God that work their way out in the way we live. If we are to be growing and walking as children of light, then we must seek to maintain and grow our relationship with God. Christ is our righteousness and without Him we have no hope at all of pleasing God or being right with Him (Hebrews 11:6).
To walk as children of light is to walk in truth. Jesus tells us that He is the truth (John 14:6). God’s Word is true and every Word is pure (Proverbs 30:5). Jesus is the Living Word of God (John 1:14-18) and the Living Word is revealed through the written Word. The Word, living and written is our standard for righteousness and goodness. The Bible is absolutely true and it is absolute truth. There is no deception with God. He cannot lie, and does not change; He is constant and He is true. To walk as children of light, we must be saturated with the truth. To be saturated with the truth, we must read, memorize, and meditate upon the Word of God.
As we look at these three elements of the fruit of the Spirit we see that in reality these things points us to Jesus. He alone is good (Matt 19:17). We wear a breastplate made of His righteousness (Eph 6:14). He is truth (John 14:6). To walk as children of light, we must walk in Christ, and put Him on daily. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Rom. 13:14)
Acceptable to God
When we walk and live in Christ (Gal 2:20) we are able to find out what is acceptable to God. The more we know of Him the more we love Him and obey Him.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2) Presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice is to walk as children of light! We offer ourselves as a holy and acceptable sacrifice and we refuse to be conformed to this world and its lusts. Then as we are transformed by the renewing of our minds by the Word and Spirit of God we are able to prove “what is good and acceptable and [the] perfect will of God.” We are to live a life that actively demonstrates for others that God’s will is good!
As we walk as children of light our life is living proof that God’s will is very good indeed. Did you ever view your life as evidence of the grace of God to others? This is why your testimony is so important – to be able to tell people about what Christ has done in your life. But even beyond telling them, when we walk as children of light we show them! We practice righteousness. And the more we practice the better we will get at obeying and following and submitting.
Let us not forget, practice makes perfect – and one day practice will be over and we will be perfect, just as Jesus is perfect. Until then, keep walking as children of light!
- Bible Gateway with NIV Study Bible Notes
- Walk In The Light