Paul’s Discourse On Darkness

By David Eldridge

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Unfortunately, many people have been blinded from the light of Jesus Christ because they live in extreme darkness. By their wicked works, they have separated themselves from God, who is the source of light (Col. 1:21; 1 John 1:5). Paul, seeing the lure of this sinful lifestyle, gives the church at Ephesus sundry exhortations and admonitions concerning walking in the darkness of the world. We read this discourse in Ephesians 5:1-12.

We Once Lived In Darkness

In our reading Paul tells the Christians, “ye were sometimes darkness” (v. 8). Here he acknowledges the universality of sin. At one time all of us walked in darkness, loved it, and attested to this by our lawless deeds. Many times today people never see the light of the gospel because they have never been shown the darkness in which they now live. We must never stray away from telling the sinner of his sin. People will never see the need for a physician if they don’t see the symptoms of their sickness. A person will never seek to be found if he is not convinced that he is lost. In the same way, one will never see the light unless he is caused to first recognize the darkness. Let us never lose sight of the deplorable darkness that once was in our lives and still may be in that of others (Isa. 53:6; Rom. 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10).

Now, Avoid The Darkness

After acknowledging the former state of the Ephesians, the apostle states that now they are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (v. 11). In the context of this verse, he states the reason. They are now the children and followers of God (v.1). As Christians they have been sanctified and should act accordingly (v. 3). Although they did walk in darkness, now they are the children of light, and should so walk in the light (v. 8). If after we have been cleansed we walk in darkness any longer, we are lacking the fellowship of God, consequently we are lost (1 John 1:5, 6). We must shun things that are ungodly and avoid the darkness of sin.

Expose The Darkness

Not only were the Christians at Ephesus to have no fellowship with the works of darkness, they were also to “reprove them” (v. 11). Too often I fear we get the idea that we will just keep ourselves right and leave everyone else alone. This will not work! We must see the danger a lost soul faces, and being moved by love and compassion, expose the sin so that it may be repented of before it’s too late. This is a God-given responsibility (1 Tim. 4:2; Tit. 2:15). Some people may bless us (Prov. 24:25), some will hate us (John 7:7; 1 John 3:13), but regardless of others’ approval or lack thereof, it must be done. We must develop through righteous living an intolerance for sin.

Be Ashamed of the Darkness

Speaking of those who walked in darkness, Paul said, “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (v. 12). In speaking of homosexuality, the apostle calls it a “shameful” act (Rom. 1:27). However, shame is not attached to one or two sins; it is tied to all sin. When we sin, we disappoint our Father, reject his will, belittle the sacrifice of Jesus, and condemn our souls to Hell. There is nothing to be proud of, yet there is everything to be ashamed of when we sin. We should abhor sin to the point that when we commit it or see it committed, we feel a deep shame. As we see many fight for the “right” to murder unborn babies, practice and embrace perversion, and commit travesties right and left, how do we feel? Are we deeply ashamed of mankind, or are we like those of Jeremiah’s day who, “were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush” (Jer. 6:15)?


Realize that we have escaped the darkness of sin and have been set at liberty. Determine not to become entangled in it again. Admonish and reprove those that practice lawlessness and be ashamed of your own sins as well as their sinful deeds. Always remember, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).