Audio Worship 11/5/2023, "Spiritual Formation: The Children of Light" Ephesians 5.8-21

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1612

November 5, 2023

Ephesians 5.8-21      Click here for audio worship.

Dr. Ed Pettus


"Spiritual Formation: The Children of Light"


8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.



  • Darkness to Light


We have been examining the transformation that takes place in the spiritual formation of those who trust and believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. That formation and transformation leads us to become more and more like Jesus, who is the light of the world. Jesus says in John 8.12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In following Jesus we have become the children of light. In Ephesians 5 Paul tells us to walk as children of light, that is, the light of Jesus Christ. I want us to pay particular attention to the beginning of this passage in Ephesians, verse 8. Paul says that at one time you were darkness. He does not say you were in darkness, but you were darkness. And it follows that now, in Christ, it is not that you (or we) are in light, but that we are light. Because Jesus is the light of life, we are now light to the world. So Jesus tells His followers in Matthew 5.14, You are the light of the world.” I think it is quite a distinction between being light and being in the light. Now we are light in the Lord. We give light in the darkness. We expose the darkness by being light. Of course, the source of our light is Jesus Christ.

If we look at the contrast through Ephesians 5.8-21 we see the vast difference between darkness and light. First, take no part in darkness, verse 11. Second, do not be foolish, verse 17. Third, do not get drunk with wine, verse 18. Darkness, foolishness, drunkenness are all associated with not being the light. The contrast to that is to be light, to walk in the light, to discern what pleases the Lord, to expose darkness, to look carefully how we live (walk), to make the best use of our time, to understand God’s will, to be filled with the Spirit, to address one another with singing, to give thanks, and to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Reverence for Christ is the same as the expression fear of the Lord in the Old Testament. We shine the light of Christ out of our reverence for Christ.


8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.


Darkness to light is the transformation found in our spiritual formation also known as sanctification. We are constantly growing in the light to be the light of Christ. Once we come to know Jesus Christ we are light in the Lord. Not just in the light, but we are light. This seems to me to be a tremendous responsibility and privilege in representing Jesus Christ to the world, and by the world I mean our neighbors, our friends, our acquaintances, strangers, to everyone with whom we come in contract. This is our world, this is our mission field, this is where we are called to shine the light as children of light.



  • Spiritual Formation: Transformations


Let’s take a brief look at the aspects of our transformation we have seen in the past Sundays:


  • Thought life – What’s on your mind? Think about God! Think about God’s Word. Centered in God thought. When the disciples were filled with the Spirit in Acts (2.13), some thought they were drunk with wine. Same thought here in Ephesians 5.18 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. That is to say we become “intoxicated” with God and the things of God until we might even look like we have had a few glasses of wine. Joyful, excited, exuberant, unlike we’ve been seen before. Our minds become enthralled with the thoughts of God to the point that it transforms our inner and outer life.


  • Feelings – The overwhelming feeling of being a child of light is to know and experience the love of God. Love tops the list in our feelings because it also tops the list throughout the “thoughts” of the Bible. Faith, hope, love, the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13.13) and above all put on love (Colossians 3.14). Love the Lord and love Your neighbor (Matthew 22.37-40). When love is at the foundation of our feelings, all else follows suit – faith, hope, peace, joy, and so on.


  • Will – These thoughts and feelings lead the children of light to will the good and the right, justice and goodness, kindness and compassion. They will the well being of others before themselves. They are quick to pray that God’s will be done and not their own.


  • Body – When these elements of our being are submitted to God and we are walking in the light of God, our bodies are also submitted, a living sacrifice, to the will of God. We are able to control the body, the tongue, hands, feet, eyes, stomach, all to serve God.


  • Relationships – Those walking in the light have fellowship with one another (1 John 1.7). They are gentle and humble in telling the truth. They are transparent and seek the good of and for others. They do not condemn but they also do not shy away from the truth of God’s Word. They do not condone evil but expose the darkness (Ephesians 5.11).


  • Soul – All the above goes deep into the soul of the children of light. It is not a facade, but the true being of the inner self that is filled with living water. This is not to say that all these things makes one perfect, but it does speak to wholeness of body, soul, spirit, mind, and to the power of the light that is life in Jesus Christ. The soul fully engulfed in the Holy Spirit enables all aspects of person-hood to get closer and closer to the human being God intended from the beginning of creation.


All of these areas of transformation do not mean that we become perfect in the sense of never sinning again, but we become closer to what God intends for the wholeness of our being, for the people for whom Jesus gave His life and rose from the dead. It means that we have transformed from being darkness to being light. We reflect perfection in the sense of being completely whole in Christ through forgiveness and obedience and faith and in love. Hope and peace and all the fruit of the Spirit come to fruition in our person. We can look through the places where the Bible shows us long lists of the differences between works of darkness and light. Colossians 3 is a prime example where Paul points out that we are to put off the things of darkness and put on Christ, the light.



  • In the Power of God


Everyone who is in Christ, who trusts in Him, has to go through a transformation of the inner being. Darkness comes from within and in our working through Scripture and working through prayer and working through worship and all the other aspects of living the Christian life, we begin to mature in spiritual formation through being transformed into light. And the good news is that it is all because God has given us the ability, power, and knowledge that it takes to be transformed. All comes through the power of God. Let’s take a look at one of the clearest pictures of this power.


2 Peter 1.3-11 3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


God’s divine power has granted to us all things pertaining to life and godliness, through knowledge of Him. Everything we need for life and godliness, to shine as lights has been granted to us. It comes through knowledge, knowing God in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. In this power of God we can partake of the divine nature – no longer our old nature, but God’s nature, Christ’s nature, the Spirit’s nature, divine nature. Divine light. Divine power. Add to that our efforts to supplement faith with this list of attributes, supplement – faith with virtue, with knowledge, with self-control, with steadfastness, with godliness, with brotherly affection, with love. If we lack these qualities, we are blind, so nearsighted that we walk in darkness. To lack these qualities is to forget forgiveness through the cleansing blood of Jesus. This is huge in the Bible, forgetting. Israel gets in trouble all the time in the Old Testament because they forgot God and what God had done for them. We come together every Sunday to worship and it is another opportunity to remember what God has done in Christ, especially when we gather around the table to do this in remembrance of Christ.

I encourage Bible study partly because this is where we have our eyes opened to see, to correct our nearsightedness. The Word opens our eyes just as Jesus opened the Scriptures to the disciples in Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus. Eventually their eyes were opened, their spiritual blindness was gone and they could see Jesus. The Word reminds us every day of being cleansed from sin, being children of light, and all things pertaining to life and godliness. Much of the Christian life is about this transformation to the light, eliminating our blindness that is not just walking in darkness but is darkness. We transform our forgetfulness into memories of God and God’s goodness and God’s mighty deeds and God’s love, that is, everything about God. It is about life and discipleship and memory and all things granted in the promises of God.

In all of this there are things we are to do in “working out our salvation” (Philippians 2.12). If we look back at theses two passages, Ephesians 5.8-21 and 2 Peter 1.3-11, we see a host of commands for us. With all that God has done and granted, from Paul in Ephesians: walk as children of light (5.8). We have to walk the walk. We do it! The list goes on: (just to name a few) try to discern (5.10), take no part (5.11), expose works of darkness (5.11), look carefully how you live (5.15), make the best use of time (5.15). These are all things we are to do. From Peter in 2 Peter: make every effort to supplement your faith (1.5), be diligent to confirm your calling (1.10), practice these qualities (1.10). God grants us power to do these things but we have to do them! It is part of the partnership with God in spiritual formation that transforms our lives from that darkness of sin to the light of salvation, from the domain of darkness into the light of His kingdom.

To sum up, we can turn to one more passage of Scripture which is a prayer befitting for our topic of transformation.


...we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1.9-14).


Let us make that prayer for one another that we might all live as children of light. Amen.


* Sermon series based on readings from Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard.