The Fruit of the Light

A Sunday Morning Exhortation

 

 

 

Read: Ephesians 5:1-11

 

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.  For this ye know, that no whoremonger nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light, (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)  Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord: And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

 

 

In this passage we read of the Apostle Paul’s instructions as to what manner of persons we are to be.  We are instructed to not be partakers with darkness but to walk in the “light”.  Paul does not leave us without an answer as to why we must walk in this “light”.  To walk in this “light” is to manifest a love and respect that was first shown towards us by God through the work of His Son.  As we read in the second verse of this chapter, “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor”.  Such a statement carries our mind back to the animal sacrifice as required under the Mosaic Law where an animal without spot or blemish was slain and lain upon the alter as a sacrifice for sin.  These things were of course typical of the redeeming work of Christ.  Christ himself was without spot or blemish in regards to a character that was not tainted with the works of darkness such as fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, etc.  Having overcome the sins that plague the sin-flesh nature Christ’s death was found an acceptable sacrifice as a “sweet smelling savour” before God.

 

We are told in this passage that if we partake of those things that characterize darkness that we will not have any “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God”.  As our example, Christ embraced that which is opposite to darkness by taking hold of the “light”.  But what is this light the scriptures speak of?  Popular Christendom often makes mention of this light but uses little effort to define what exactly that means.  More often then not it stands as a word of mere emotional rhetoric rather then having any defining meaning.  But, if one does not understand the “light” then how can one properly embrace it? 

 

In verse 9 we read, “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.  The word “spirit” in this passage is improperly translated and should read “light”.  Understanding this problem with the text will help us to better perceive the message that the Spirit is expressing through Paul.  So in this verse we have a definition of what characterizes a manifestation of “light”.  We are told three things:  First of all goodness, then righteousness, and last but not least truth.  GOODNESS, RIGHTOUSNESS AND TRUTH.  Can we safely assume that these were attributes that Christ embraced and manifested?  Yes, we can.  And since he embodied these characteristics in a life free from sin of action (though possessing the sin nature) we would expect that since he is our example we too should follow suit.  We read in Romans 6:5,6 “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death (through baptism), we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” 

 

But what exactly is meant by “goodness, righteousness, and truth” that we might follow after it?  These are broad terms as far as the way most men might define them if we just stop here in our consideration.  How man defines “being a good person” and what God defines such a thing as are entirely different concepts.  Man’s definition of “goodness” changes with times and circumstances.  Man has devised something called “Situational Ethics” which is a definition of right and wrong that flexes to the time and circumstances of any given situation.  God has no flexibility and defines very clearly through direct commandment, as well as through the example of the lives of faithful men of old (culminating in the life of Christ), as to show us the very explicit definition of goodness that never changes.  To have GOODNESS is defined as being virtuous or having a degree of moral excellence.  This would seem to indicate the attribute of the inner man.  Are our hearts clean or are they tainted with the darkness described in the fifth chapter of Ephesians?  The Apostle John tells the believers that “by their fruits you shall know them”.  Before the fruits of actions are made manifest it must begin with a character whose intentions and thoughts are in tune with the “light”.  This directly leads us into the principle of RIGHTEOUSNESS, which would indicate the goodness put into action.  This is described in the Galations 5 as the “fruit of the spirit”.  Reading from  Galations 5: 22-25 and following after a descriptive list of the “works of the flesh” it is stated:

 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit...”

 

Before that we read (vs. 19-21)

 

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envying, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and such like...they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

Here again we have darkness, spoken of as the “works of the flesh”, compared against the “light” or what is here mentioned as the “fruits of the spirit”.  Again we are told that to follow after the attributes of darkness or the flesh will result in the fact that such a person “shall not inherit the kingdom of God”.  What is mentioned is fornication (which can represent both sexual immorality as well as spiritual), along with hatred, jealousy, and the teaching of false doctrine or “heresy”; making mention of these just to name a few.  On the opposite side we see the “RIGHTOUSNESS” of Ephesians 5:9 more explicitly defined.  We have “love, joy, peace, longsuffering (or patience), gentleness, goodness, faith (i.e., a proper understanding and acceptance of God’s revealed will), meakness, and temperance (or self control).  Did Christ exhibit such attributes as these?  What do the scriptures say but that he was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners” or separate from the darkness described to us by the apostle Paul.  To be separate from such darkness is then to be on the side of light for there can be no ground in between.  We are either are on the side of “darkness” (a condition which left unaltered cannot inherit the Kingdom) or we are on the side of “light”.

 

To have such righteousness is to have “love”.  Love for what?  Love for God’s ways, for His commands, for His Truth, and for each other.  As Christ stated, “if ye love me keep my commandments.  To have such love is not merely affection for something or someone, but represents a total dedication and desire in a certain direction.  True scriptural “love” can only be focused in the direction of the “light” we are now considering. 

 

To have such righteousness is to also have joy.  Joy in what?  We are told that Christ overcame “for the joy that was set before him”.  That joy was of the expectation of the future Kingdom on earth.  That should be our joy, our hope.  It is what should excite us, should strengthen us, and that should give us a joy of happiness that the passing things of the world cannot.  To have such righteousness is to have peace knowing that the troubles of this life will soon pass away.  Whatever stress or discomfort we may now experience is only temporary compared to the everlasting joys that are promised to those who walk in the “light”.  Along with this righteousness are the inner characteristics that manifest goodness, such as patience with our present lives, gentleness that is to be extended to how we deal with circumstances and those around us, and of meekness and self control.  To have such righteousness is also to have “faith”.  Not a blind faith, but an understanding and appreciation for God’s truth and for His promises.  Real faith is not blind but as mentioned in Hebrews 11:1 – “is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  It is “substance and evidence”.  Faith that is blind leads one to do nothing more then to grope around in the darkness, and such darkness does not lead to the Kingdom of God.

 

Of the three “fruits of the light” mentioned in Ephesians 5 what is mentioned last is that of TRUTH.  Goodness, Righteousness, and Truth.  This is often either forgotten or not clearly defined by the religious world around us.  “What is Truth?” is the great question of mankind.  Not having the time to go into detail this morning on this hugely extensive subject we summarize it by saying that it is found exclusively in “The Things Concerning the Kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus Christ”.  To have the truth of these things is to walk in the “light”.  To not have the truth of these matters is of course to walk in the darkness.  To merely be a good person does not complete the picture of “walking in the light” and without the Truth of God’s revealed plan and purpose there is little reason to walk under the attributes of goodness and righteousness except to maybe function in the present society - but it will not have eternal benefit.  Truth gives us hope, and hope gives us reason to walk in a manner consistent with the light and consistent with the manner in which Christ lived out his life.

 

So to walk after the example of our Elder Brother is to walk in the “light”.  This involves how our minds are to work (or the thoughts of the inner man), how we are to manifest our character through righteousness or the “fruits of the spirit”, and that such action must be a part of the glorious system of belief and hope known as THE TRUTH.  Goodness, Righteousness, and Truth.   As Paul continues to teach in the 5th chapter of Ephesians, to manifest such light is to prove “what is acceptable unto the Lord”.    We must prove in our own lives what is acceptable to God and His Son.  The way of Truth and Righteousness is not merely a theory but must be practiced in daily thought and action.  Paul further tells us that we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”.  Though we are to manifest those characteristics of gentleness, meekness, and patience (as Christ himself did) we are also to recognize the works of darkness, whether they are corrupt works in action or teaching, and to deal with it as is necessary.  Manifesting the fruits of “light” does not tie our hands in condemning and avoiding that which is in association with darkness.  Christ was also our example in this as well - condemning openly those things of darkness which were in direct opposition to the Light.  The light, by very definition, exposes those things that hide in the darkness and it illuminates the ugliness that characterizes such thought and action.  Those things of darkness hate such exposure, but for the sake of safekeeping those things of the light such action must be done.

 

So as we think upon this Light versus the Darkness let us think upon our duties for the coming week.  And as we remember our elder Brother let us remember that he manifested the “light” and “hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.  Let the thoughts and actions of our lives rise up as a “sweet smelling savour” as well.

 

A. Thomas