What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.11-14

“The Light’s Relationship to Darkness”

Ephesians 5:11-14

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.11-14

Ephesians 5 this morning. Well, after more than seven decades of knowing each other, they finally got married. Two 90 year olds sat next to each other a week ago Saturday in their wedding ceremony. The minister presiding over the ceremony told the small group of close friends and family who attended, “This is a celebration of something that should have happened a very long time ago.”

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This couple met in their hometown of Yale, Iowa, while growing up. Then they moved to Davenport in 1947 where one of them taught school and the other did payroll work.

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The two have enjoyed their life together and over the years they have traveled to all 50 states, all the provinces of Canada, and to England twice.

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“We’ve had a good time,” they said.

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They said it takes a lot of love and work to keep a relationship going for 72 years. Longtime friend Jerry Yeast, 73, said he got to know the couple when he worked in their yard as a teenager. “I’ve known them all my life, and I can tell you, they are special,” Yeast said.[1]

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If you looked at the photo at any other time, you would think wow, what … nice … ladies. Unfortunately, this is Vivian and Alice, a homosexual couple. And the minister presiding was Linda Hunsaker of the First Christian Church, Davenport.

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As I read that and you began to realize what was going on, did something twist in you? I would hope so. Our text this morning is a command to expose sin as sin.

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Our passage this morning will be verses 11-14. But let’s begin in Ephesians 5:1

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Ephesians 5:1-14 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

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Before we get into the passage this morning, I would like for us to take a look at a few words. You will notice words for light and darkness…. For example in verse eight you have the word “light” twice. You also have “darkness” in verse eight. “Light” again in verse nine. “Darkness” again in verse 11. And then in verses 13 and 14 we have words for “light.” Verse 13 “become visible” is repeated twice. And the word “light” is repeated twice. As well at the end of verse 14 we have the word “shine.”

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Light and darkness describe righteousness and unrighteousness. They describe godliness or wickedness. The kingdom of God versus the kingdom of Satan. You are either light or darkness.

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And our text this morning is verses 11-14. But last time in verses 7-10, the command was not to join up with unbelievers in their sin. Instead, we must live to reflect God’s glory.

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But today in verses 11-14, the focus is not on our relationship to unbelievers, but on our relationship to sin itself.

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Last time, the focus was the command not to partner up with unbelievers in their sin. Today, the focus is on our relationship not to unbelievers, but to the sin itself …what is to be our relationship with sin?

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We are commanded in verse 11 not to participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.

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And also from verses 13-14, we are to expose those dark deeds. And we will see that the exposing of sin for what it is, rebellion against God… is all for a purpose. We don’t expose for the sake of exposing and ranting. We expose and refute the darkness so that the lost may be raised from the dead, as verse 14 says.

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These are a Christian’s commands concerning our relationship to sin. And it is put here in terms of light and darkness.

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Light is spoken of here in terms of God and godliness. God’s people are the light of the world, Jesus says in Matthew chapter 5. Those who are yet bound in their sin are described as darkness in verse eight. “You were formerly darkness ….”

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So, I’d like to preach the message of verses 11-14 which is on “The Light’s Relationship to Darkness.” The light’s relationship to darkness is described in two ways. First, negatively, from verses 11-12, don’t do dark deeds. Second, positively, from verses 13-14, refute for resurrection. First, don’t do dark deeds from verses 11-12 …

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  1. Don’t Do Dark Deeds (5:11-12)

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Ephesians 5:11-12 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.

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  1. Do not participate in fruitless dark deeds

So, Paul tells us here not to participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.

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Basically, we are not to do dark deeds. We are not to participate in dark deeds. And these dark deeds do not bear pleasing fruit to God. Dark deeds are unfruitful. They do not produce the fruit of God. They do not reflect the glory of God in a believer’s life.

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What are the dark deeds that do not produce the fruit of God? The dark deeds mentioned in the Ephesians 5:3 are immorality, impurity, and greediness. These are likely the ones in focus. Paul may also have in mind verse 4, the filthiness and silly talk and coarse jesting.

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Someone who is still relishing immorality, impurity, and greediness are in darkness. Someone who relishes immorality impurity and covetousness is an idolater and has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God, verse 5 says.

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But someone who has trusted Christ is now light. And as we learn from 2 Corinthians 6:14, light and darkness have no fellowship. A believer who fails the command in verse 11 and does dark deeds is acting contrary to his own nature. He is light in the Lord but yet he is participating in deeds of darkness. There will be no true fellowship with him.

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To have 1 foot in the world and 1 foot in the church is to have no feet anywhere and to be left alone in the darkness, always miserable and lost, and disciplined.

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TRANS: So don’t do dark deeds. Instead, verse 11 tells us what we are to do. We are to expose them.

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  1. Expose dark deeds
    1. Expose them

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But we aren’t just not do dark deeds. That’s just half of the response. Not only not do them, but a step further now, we are to expose them. This word for expose is the same word in verse 13. Ephesians 5:13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light …

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And this word for expose can have the idea of reprove. If you have New American Standard Bible you have a number one next to the word expose. And in the margin of your Bible you have the word reprove. The word reprove has the idea of rebuking, chastising, or admonishing.

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And as we think of this word with reference to light in darkness, we can think of it as shedding some light on those sins. Shed some light on those sins. Shed God’s light on that sin and shine it bright! Reveal its true nature. Show it to be what it is … It is worthy of the wrath of God; it is rebellion against God Almighty. Cast it in the light of God to show that this sin is indeed utterly sinful, and a wretched and vile abomination against God.

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To expose someone’s sin and to reprove them and rebuke them for their sin is to be merciful. When Jesus cleansed the Temple, he was merciful. When he rebuked the religious leaders of his day …. And called them hypocrites and liars and he pronounced God’s judgment upon them to their face …. Perhaps someone that day listened …. And cried out, “oh God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

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This is the mercy of God to pronounce God’s judgment upon people’s sin before God actually judges them for their sin.

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ILL: Let’s say, in your willful ignorance, you were standing in the middle of the highway. And there was a semi coming straight for you. Would you want me to tell you that? Yes, of course. It would be my duty. That would be the merciful thing to do.

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My friend, the semi of God’s wrath against sin is coming. Consider yourself reproved this morning! All of us need to reprove sin.

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Christian, you must reprove sin. Expose sin for what it really is, the deeds of darkness. So we refuse to participate, but we also must expose sin for what it really it, utter sinfulness before God.

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The light is meant to shine to expose dark deeds. So we are to be separate from dark deeds in the sense that we refuse to participate in them. But for our light to really expose the darkness for what it really is requires that we have meaningful contact with the darkness. If light only hangs out in the light, no darkness is exposed.

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Let us as children of light proclaim the light to this dark world. We can’t be monks, we must expose sin to be a light in this dark world.

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TRANS: Boy, it kind of sounds like we need to be a little militant against sin, doesn’t it? Expose it for what it really is…reprove it. But why? Why should we be so militant against dark deeds? Why pronounce the utter sinfulness of sin and not participate in them? B/c verse 12 says, … it’s shameful even to mention the things done in secret.

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  1. Because it’s disgraceful to even speak about them.

Ephesians 5:12 [do not participate, but instead expose those deeds of darkness … because … ] for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.

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So this seems to be a third option in our relationship to sin. We could participate in the deeds of darkness. We could expose the deeds of darkness or we can speak of the things done by them in secret. And only one of them is good to do.

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And so I think we can see a progress of decline here. What happens in the church when we fail to do these verses? What happens when we fail to expose sin for what it really is? What happens when we fail to shine the light of God’s word onto the sins of the people of God and onto the darkness in our community?

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When the church fails to expose sin and fails to become the major mouthpiece against the deeds of darkness in the land, lost people begin to speak about sin. Either the church is speaking about sin from God’s word or lost people are speaking about it. They may speak about their own disgust over sin at first, but they don’t shed the light of God’s word on it.

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And pretty soon, without true salvation, lost people will begin to speak about sin in neutral terms. And finally those things which are done by them in secret are broadcast everywhere.

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And it all starts with a failure to expose sin in all of its utter sinfulness.

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ARG: The prophet Jeremiah tells us in his book that a failure to expose sin and turn people away from their sin is a sign of the false prophet. Jeremiah tells us the word of the Lord in Jeremiah 23:14 that “among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing.” These prophets are themselves immoral and “have strengthened the hands of evildoers so that no one has turned back from his wickedness.”

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They have aided the hands of the wicked and encouraged them in their wickedness and have not turned the people back from their wickedness. But the Lord says in Jeremiah 23:22, a few verses later in that chapter, that if these false prophets had stood in the Lord’s counsel then they would have announced the Lord’s words and would have turned back the people from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds.

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A false prophet does call sin “sin” nor does he give weight to the evil of the deeds of the people.

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And of course, this is exactly what is going on today. By design, churches today do not give weight to the sinfulness of sin. Even the world recognizes how fruity some of the most popular preachers today are.

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It’s clear that churches are more and more failing to expose the deeds of darkness.

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ILL: This week, Duke University[2] published its national congregations study. It interviewed representatives of over 1300 American congregations. Among Protestant churches, the number of congregations open to homosexual volunteer leadership rose over 8% in six years and the acceptance of homosexual members of churches increased from 37% to 48% over the six-year period.[3]

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Mark Chaves, a Duke professor of sociology, religious studies, and divinity, says in the study, “The increasing acceptance of gays and lesbians is a well-known trend in America [and] churches are no exception.”[4]

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So clearly there is a tie between churches’ failure to expose sin and the rise of what used to be secret sins becoming more public.

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What used to be secret sins and what was unacceptable and not talked about has become public… and these sins are well on their way to becoming fully embraced by the public and the church.

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It’s all because the church has fallen in line with the culture and with the deeds of darkness. The church has bowed to pressure when it comes to whether there is more than one way to God besides Jesus. The church is embarrassed to proclaim the exclusive claims of Christ.

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The church has bowed in fear of offending anyone and so leaders of the church fail to preach the truth. Bowing to the feminist and homosexual movement, failing to condemn the sins of society, adopting psychology’s dark conceptions on human nature and sin, viewing the church as a social club, tolerating divorce, and accepting evolution…. The church adjusts its standards of right and wrong with whatever wind or popular movement of day.

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And this is all the while lost of people in churches are sleeping in the path of the destruction of God’s wrath.

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Well, how about you? Do you tolerate certain sins in your house when you watch what you do or say what you do, or do what you do? Does your speech, entertainment, or activities betray a lack of disgust for sin?

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Parents, do your children hear one thing from the pulpit and they see another thing in your life? Children, the merciful thing to do is to respectfully ask your parents about that. Don’t let hypocrisy lead your family astray.

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And you say, “Boy, it really seems like Greg is hammering away at sin in the last few messages.” Well, read the passages of Scripture we’ve been dealing with! This is the word of God.

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TRANS: So we must reprove and expose sin. But why is this? Is it just so that we can feel like that we look better than everybody else? “There goes Greg, preaching against sin again. He starting to look a little snooty.” That can seem to be the perception that people get. “No, don’t preach against sin. People will think that you’re trying to be ‘holier than thou.’” No, we need to expose sin, not to look better, but so that people get saved. Reprove them for their own resurrection’s sake. That’s the point of verses 13-14. Reprove them that they may be raised spiritually from the dead.

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  1. Reprove Them for Resurrection (5:13-14)

Ephesians 5:13-14 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

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Reprove the darkness of its deeds that they might be spiritually raised from the dead.

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In other words, expose people’s sin they might repent of their sin and turn to Christ for eternal life.

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God did this very thing for you. 2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

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Ephesians 5:13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light….

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Don’t let this be confusing. It works the same way with physical light. When you are in a pitch black room and you turn the light on, all things become visible. Just like that, as we live the Christian life and live as lights in this world and we expose sin as sin with our life and with the lips, sin and darkness will be visible for what it really is. It is a treasonous act of rebellion against an Almighty God.

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But if the light is never turned on, darkness prevails. If we don’t pronounce the King’s righteous judgments on sin and describe it like He does, how will people know to repent of their sin?

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We have to expose sin. It is the loving thing to do. So when we think of loving our neighbor as ourselves, it includes exposing their sin. Of course there are gentle ways to do that and annoying ways to do that. We need to be careful how we live and how we expose sin.

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But in the end, there’s no way to be found unless first you know you are lost. There is no good news unless we tell him the bad news first. There is no sight to the blind unless the blind confess they can’t see.

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John 9:41 “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.

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There is no heaven unless you realize the reality and reason for hell.

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ILL: If you don’t know you’re in a burning house, you won’t get rescued from it. The firefighter approaches a burning house, he doesn’t do the two-step tango as he approaches the burning house. He doesn’t gently knock on the window when he knows there’s a family inside. And he doesn’t emphatically say, “the Fire Chief loves you” and leave it at that. Those people don’t even know what that means.

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No! You’ve got to them they’re living in a burning house. But they won’t want to leave their life behind them in that house. We’ve got to tell them that they are in a burning house and their whole world is about to collapse. “What will a man exchange for his life?” Leave it all behind!

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And if you tell them this, by God’s grace …. When you shine your light and expose their sin…. Now the last part of verse 13, “everything that becomes visible is light.” In other words, as you expose sin and shine the light, the light not only exposes, but it also transforms. And so they get saved.

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They were darkness itself, but through your testimony, your life, and your exposing of people sins, darkness becomes visible. Their deeds are exposed and they repent of their sins and trust in Christ and they become light. “Everything that becomes visible is light.”

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And this is why it says what it does in verse 14…

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Ephesians 5:14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

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We don’t really know where it says this, but this phrase is likely a mixture of Old Testament verses put into a Christian hymn. What Paul is saying then is this … , “Look, this is true. We expose sin and deal with people about their sin and they become light and they get saved and this is why we sing this line from this hymn in verse 14.

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[!!build it!!] So here we have the response to the gospel of Christ. Christ has died for our sins, he was buried, and raised from the dead, and seen among hundreds of people. He is the Lord of glory. He dwells in inapproachable light but he has come to us to save us.

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And so now … go …. Go call a world that is dying in darkness … !!!Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.” !!!

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It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep. The night is almost gone and the day is near. Therefore, let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:13-14 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.11-14

Come for a moment to the place called Calvary. Stand under the shadow of the cross. Gaze upward and behold Him there, bruised and bleeding for you and for me.

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Do you know of the thorns in his crown? Have you heard of the blood that he spilled? Have you looked at his hands and his feet and his side…. All for you …. Did ever such love and sorrow meet and thorns compose so rich a crown?

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And the death that he died, he died to take away my sin. It was my sin that held him there… Shall I now flirt with sin? Shall I join myself with sin … I, who am joint heirs with Christ?

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Though the religious leaders in Jesus’ day were despicable and the Romans ruthless, it was my sin that was his greatest tormentor. My lies were the nails, my immorality the spear, my covetous heart, the cross.

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As you take a long hard look at Him there, can you see the things of this earth growing strangely dim?  

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And then descend and take a look at the tomb. It is indeed his body that is in there, but waiting 3 days will prove that indeed the price has been paid and received by God!

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Seek to be rid of that for which Christ died! Don’t do dark deeds! And then go to the darkness and tell sinners far and wide: “Awake you sleeper, arise from the dead and Christ will shine on you!” [be all done]

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697 “O Zion haste” Zion in this hymn is meant to be the church. Haste means to be quick or speedy. In other words, “Church, get going!”

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Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.11-14

Go to New Testament Books Page

Go to Ephesians Main Page

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  1. Modified from http://www.people.com/article/iowa-women-marry-after-72-years

  2. http://today.duke.edu/2014/09/religionstudy

  3. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/09/11/survey-american-religious-congregations-more-accepting-gays-and-lesbians-in/

  4. http://www.christianpost.com/news/study-religious-congregations-now-more-accepting-of-gays-as-members-leaders-126353/

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