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Walk in Light — the Second State of Christian Growth

Ephesians 5 Walk in LightChristians are encouraged to grow up spiritually, leaving the things of this world for the weightier and permanent things of God.  Christian growth is a high priority for those who want to serve our Lord effectively and live a life pleasing to him. Just about every Christian will say that to live a life pleasing to God and our Lord Jesus Christ, don’t sin. Is that it? Is that the fulcrum of the Christian walk — to perfect our walk so we do not sin?  Certainly our Lord wants us to “sin no more” as he told the prostitute whom he forgave but is that it? No, my friend that isn’t ‘it.’ That is just the beginning. The foundation of the Christian walk is to live without sinning alright, but it’s more than that.

We began this three-part series with the walk in love (if you haven’t read it I encourage you to do so here: http://christianculturecenter.com/christian-grow…1-walk-in-love/). Today we’ll discuss the second stage, which is to walk in light. In the first part of Ephesians 5 we read about this opening phase of the Christian lifestyle. I’ll repeat those verses here for your convenience.

Ephesians 1: 1-7  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 sweetsmelling 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.

The word “sin” literally means “to miss the mark” most of the times it’s used. There are other words for sin but the principle word used describes someone trying to hit a target that they miss. In contrast to walking in love, the apostle Paul lists several things that indicate someone is not walking in love such as fornication (which is widespread in our day and age) and covetousness (which is just as widespread) . These things evidence “sin” which means we are missing the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus which God has set before us.

Walk in Light

Ephesians 5:8-14  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

For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 

But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

There is a tremendous amount of information in these few verses, so let’s dig deeper and see what God is telling us here.

First, God reminds us that we were once living in darkness. We were not illuminated by the truth and walked as we pleased, as much as we could, in this world. Because we are now “light n the Lord”, we are commanded to walk as children of light. This walk in light is natural for a child of light. But what is light?

Light represents God in the Bible while darkness represents evil. The entire universe is set up to display this truth. We have bright balls of gas that shine light to their circling planets. God marked the light for day and the darkness for the night.  He made our physical eyes so they need light to see. Without light, you can’t see a thing and in the apocalypse to come, there will be a period where the darkness is so dark people will be able to “feel” it. God is going to show them how dark they really are who reject His son and those he sends to them.

What does it mean to walk in light? We are given a huge clue in verse 9 of Ephesians 5 in a parenthetical statement:

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 

Fruit of the spirit is connected to walking in light. Let’s see what this fruit of the spirit is.

Galatians 5:22,23  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.

The first part of Galatians 5 exhorts us to “walk in the spirit.”

Galatians 5:1,2  This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Notice I went to the context of the verses on the fruit of the spirit to see a fuller picture. Verses need to be understood in the context in which they appear, not independent of it.

Clearly, “walking in the spirit” is what produces “fruit of the spirit.” Walking in the spirit is the equivalent of walking in light.  By using the word “spirit,” the literal is presented, while using the term “light” is a figure of speech pointing to God who is Spirit (John 4:24).

So we see that in order to produce spiritual fruit we have to have to have a spiritual life.  (The word “walk” is used for how you live in this world.)

What are some of the things that are different about walking in the spirit (walking in the light)?

Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Wow. We can prove what is acceptable to the Lord?  Really? How do we do that?  That would require the mind of Christ. Yet the apostle says we have the mind of Christ! (I Corinthians 2:16). Again I have to say, “Really?” How on earth do we already have “the mind of Christ.?”  Hmm… have you figured it out yet?  The answer is quite easy really.

The Epistles to the Church Reveal the Mind of Christ

Romans, Corinthians I and II, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonians I and II are called “the church epistles” because they are addressed to Christians in our day and time (since Pentecost and before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ). Paul says in Galatians 1:11 that he received the truth contained therein directly from Jesus Christ by revelation. Hence, these seven church epistles (9 of course with II Corinthians and II Thessalonians) contain everything we need to live in this Grace period in which we live.

You are able to prove God’s will (that which is acceptable to Him) by learning His Word. Study those seven church epistles until you know them inside and out. That is your light from Christ himself while the holy spirit within you is your light from within. When the inside matches the outside (the mind) you’ll have light to the proportion of how well you know and live what’s contained in those church epistles.

This article is a little harder to read and understand than previous articles perhaps because of the many verses I’ve referenced, so if you’re having trouble understanding this, please re-read it with your Bible open so you can see it for yourself.

To walk in light is to walk by the spirit of God. It’s the second stage of Christian growth which begins with walking in the love of Christ, but walking in love doesn’t step and transition into walking in light. You continue to walk in love as you begin to walk in the light. This is a growth — there is a building effect going on here. Love grows into light. The more you love, the more light you will have.

Continuing to write about walking in light, Paul says,

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them

For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 

But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Notice that walking in love dealt with not fornicating, coveting, etc. Those are personal sins that stem from the corrupt heart of man.

Avoid and Reprove Darkness

But now we see Paul addressing external motivations — peer pressure, groups, other people and organizations. We see that our associations are important.  We are not to involve ourselves with “works of darkness done in secret.” This brings to mind secret societies, whispering behind the scenes what one is really planning and then publicly saying something else. It reminds me of people who get together for the sheer pleasure of darkness, whether it be lust, greed, or whatever.

People who walk in light not only avoid these things, but they reprove them. Now that’s putting yourself out there. Reproving darkness is to confront it with the truth. In some situations this could cost you your present life. But have no fear because your Lord is here! He is able to save you, and if he doesn’t then know that he will raise you up and everything will be OK in the end, and for all eternity.

Walking in light is the natural outgrowth of walking in love. You love so you stand for our Lord Jesus Christ and walk as he walked — in the light of God’s revealed Word, proving what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1,2) and reproving darkness wherever you see it. Yes, you will stand out. Yes you will often suffer in some way, even if it’s just strange looks from people. But it is doing what your Lord wants you to do.

Wake Up Spiritually

We are exhorted to “wake up” spiritually and Christ will give us light.

I encourage you to wake up and live as Christ wants you to live — not just ‘not sinning’ but representing him in this world, standing for truth while reproving darkness.

In the final part of this series on Christian growth, we’ll discuss how to take this walk in love to a fine degree of accuracy to increase the fruit we produce.

Stay tuned to the Lord. Walk in love and walk in light. Grow!

 

 

 

 

The original article is published here.


Three Stages of Christian Growth: Walk in Love is the First Stage

Walk in love as Christ loved us

The wonderful revelation in Ephesians lays out the three-stage growth of a Christian actively pursuing God’s will in his or her life.  In today’s post I’m going to talk about the first stage which is to “walk in love.” Here’s the text we will consider:

Ephesians 5:1-7  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 sweetsmelling 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.

The apostle Paul lays out the example of following God by showing the love Jesus Christ has for each one of us. If we truly want to follow God, that is to pursue God’s will in our lives, we must begin by practicing the love of God in our relationship with others. The prime example is in how Jesus laid down his life for each of us.

Romans 5:6-8  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Imagine a young girl walking out into a street without seeing a truck heading straight toward her. You’re in a position to save her if you act quickly but it may cost you your life. What would you do? Love would cause you to act before you even thought about it. Fear would cause you to cower and watch her die. Did you realize that love is the opposite of fear before you read that?

I John 4:18  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Herein lies a key for us in our relationship with God, our Lord Jesus Christ and with other people. Fear is a barrier to love. Fear, which is lack of confidence, causes us to act differently than we normally would if fear was absent.

However love overcomes fear. As it says in I John 4:18, “perfect love drives out fear.” Amazing. We have the answer to overcoming fear and that is to simply love. Now what possibly can we be so confident about that it would enable us to save that little girl even if it cost us our own life?

How about this:

Colossians 3:4  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

There it is.

Christ is Your Life

We died in Christ and were raised when he was raised. Christ is your life. God said it through the apostle Paul. Now believe it. Own it. Act on it. Realize that your identity is now Christ. You no longer live for yourself but for him.

Romans 6:8  And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.

[Note: I include Bible verses often so you know I’m not speaking out of thin air or from preconceived opinions. Anyone can say what they “think” the Bible says, but I quote it so you know where I’m coming from and so you can have confidence in God’s holy Word rather than in me.]

Doing something as noble as losing your own life in order to save the little girl’s is something few people would be willing to do. Most of us value our lives and we’re willing to help out as long as it doesn’t cost us our life. But the love of God goes beyond that. The love of God realizes this life is but a flash in the pan. This life is so short compared to all eternity that very little is gained out of making it our primary consideration.

Those who have no other goal than to get what they can out of this life are missing the boat on the riches they could be gathering for the age to come. Those who love this world more than they love God will never, in this life, experience the joy that God has for them.

Yes, walking with God may cost you your life — but God will raise you up again when Christ returns so what have you to fear?

In Ephesians 5, Paul goes on to define how we “walk in love.”

Ephesians 5:3-5  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.

Walking by the flesh is not walking in love. Messing people about, bullying, using people for your own agenda, even sexual lusts, are defined as the antithesis to love. “Take care of Number 1” is a common pursuit, but from what I’ve learned, God is “Number 1” — not you and certainly not me. If you truly care about Number 1 you’ll love others as Christ loved you.  Separate yourself from those who do the things listed above and instead walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us.

You can pursue the flesh and the things of this world, or you can pursue God. The choice is yours. Walking in love is the very first stage of new Christian life. As we shall see in upcoming posts, it is actually the beginning and not the all-in-all. It’s the foundation upon which the next two stages of Christian growth are established. 

Stay tuned for Stage 2 of Christian Growth.

 

The original article is published here.