7.21 Ephesians -- the Great Divide
Isn't it wonderful how Christ unifies, and brings together all warring factions? No, not at all. Rather than ending war, he simplifies and intensifies it. He replaces chaos and anarchy with dichotomy:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (Eph 5:8).
He is speaking directly to Gentiles, the embodiment of Isaiah's "people who walked in darkness" (Is 9:2). Yet there is an autobiographical reference as well, for Paul himself came to Christ out of great darkness, a different kind of darkness than the Gentiles, but with the same fruit: bitterness, anger, hatred. So we see that the spiritual fruit of obedience to Law can be the same as the fruit of paganism. Those outside of Christ are still in darkness, either a Gentile version or a Jewish version. And yet those crucial words, "but now." The line has been crossed, the spirit of man has been reborn by the receiving of God's grace. Out of identity flows morality: "Live as children of light." The motives and actions of the believer have nothing in common with his own acts before coming to the light, or with his family and friends who are still in darkness. The Christian lives out of an entirely different spirit, the fruit of which is manifest "in all goodness, righteousness and truth", and in "what pleases the Lord" (Eph 5:9-10).
The evidences of the Christian ethic are given in Eph 5:15-21:
a. make "the most of every opportunity." The believer has a plan and a purpose, even in evil days.
b. "understand what the Lord's will is." This means maintaining an open mind and heart to God -- a dynamic relationship.
c. "be filled with the Spirit." Not a Pentecost-only experience. As the NIV says, "Repeatedly, as the occasion requires, the Spirit empowers for worship, service and testimony" (p. 1798).
d. "sing and make music in your heart to the Lord." This is not a dirge. It is the overflow of a basically happy and well-ordered life.
e. "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything." Living in relationship with Him, one rests in His control over life's changes, and brings to Him all joys and sorrows alike.
f. "submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." The key idea here is one of mutuality, which implies a respect for the rights of all parties. All are under the benevolent domination of Christ and accountable to him.