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Ephesians 5:11-14 - Homilies By D. Thomas

(1) Two worlds of one race.

"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." The text may be regarded as a portraiture of two distinct worlds of men on this earth—the world of the wicked and the world of the Christly. Here we have—

I. THE WORLD OF WICKED MEN . The characteristics of these men are here indicated.

1. They are worthless . Their works are "the unfruitful works of darkness." Ungodly men live in moral darkness. The sun, which alone reveals things as they are in the spiritual world, shines not in their heavens. All the light they have are the electric flashes of an impure atmosphere. They work in the dark, and their works are " unfruitful ." That is " unfruitful "' of good. The soil that is sterile as regards its capability of producing fruit is often fertile in its capacity to produce noxious weeds and poisonous herbs; so the ungodly soul—it is unfruitful in goodness, but prolific in crime.

2. They are clandestine . "Which are done of them in secret." Though there may be an allusion here to the abominable mysteries which were celebrated in Greece under the screen of night and secrecy, it describes the general character of a sinful life. All is secret. Sin is necessarily hypocritical; it speaks in a false voice; it works under masks. The more corrupt the human soul the more sneakish and clandestine. The good alone can afford to be bland and open.

3. They are shameful . "For it is a shame even to speak of those things." Heathenism has ever abounded and still abounds with nameless iniquities ( Romans 1:24-32 ). But sin in all its forms is a shameful thing. It is essentially disgraceful, disreputable, and ignominious. A man has only to think calmly of it in the light of conscience and God, in order to bring burning blushes to his cheek. Sin is a shame.

4. They are sleepy . "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest." A sinful soul is sleepy in a moral sense. It is unconscious of its moral surroundings—it is filled with illusory dreams; it must one day be aroused to a sense of reality. Unlike natural sleep, moral sleep does not refresh and invigorate, but enervates and destroys.

5. They are mortal . "Arise from the dead." Everywhere the Bible represents sin as a state of death. The sinful soul is like a corpse. It is odious and the victim of external forces. Such is the world of wicked men around us. It is worthless, clandestine, shameful, sleepy, mortal.

II. THE WORLD OF CHRISTLY MEN . These are represented by the Christians at Ephesus, the men to whom the apostle is writing. This world has a work to do with the other—the dark world of wickedness around them. And it is here indicated. What is it?

1. Separation . "Have no fellowship." It does not mean, of course, that Christians are to have no intercourse or dealings with the ungodly. This could not be, and ought not to be if it could. It means that they are to have no spiritual identification with them—no thoughts, purposes, or feelings alike. That, like Christ, they are to be "separate from sinners." Morally detached as the lamp from the darkness. "I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner: with such a one no not to eat" ( 1 Corinthians 5:11 ). "Wherefore come out from among them," etc. ( 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ).

2. Reprehension . "But rather reprove them." Reprove them by lip . In the name of purity and truth expose and denounce their wickedness. Reprove them by life . Let the life stand in such a grand contrast to all that is sinful that it may be a standing rebuke.

3. Illumination . "All things that are reproved are made manifest by the light." Hold forth the light of the gospel in the midst of a "crooked and perverse generation."

4. Resuscitation . "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead." Thunder in the ear of the sleeper; speak life into the heart of the dead. There is living light for all in Christ. "Christ shall give thee light." "He is the Light of the world." The idea of this verse seems to be that, if Christians will use all their efforts to convert men, they may expect Christ to shine upon them and bless them. The "light" that comes from him is a soul-quickening light. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" ( John 5:25 ). Elijah raised the dead; so did the apostles. We, also, in God's great Name, can raise the dead—dead souls. The resurrection of a soul is a far grander work than the resurrection of a body. Let us sound the blast of the gospel trumpet over moral cemeteries, and the graves will open and dead souls come forth to life.—D.T.

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