Exposing the Deeds of Darkness, Part 3

By Mark D. Roberts

July 18, 2019

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:11-14


In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, I suggested that we are to “expose” the “fruitless deeds of darkness” not by denouncing them so much as by letting the light of God shine in our own lives (5:11). As we live and speak with “goodness, righteousness and truth,” those who live in darkness will see the fruitlessness of their deeds in contrast to the abundant fruitfulness of our deeds that reflect the light of Christ.

woman's profile in shadow illuminated by one light on her faceThis notion of exposing dark deeds by shining with good deeds and godly truth isn’t unique to Ephesians. It can be found in the Gospels. In John 3:19-20, for example, it says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” What is the light that has come into the world and exposes evil? Not some divine pronouncement against evil, but rather Jesus himself, the light of the world (John 8:12). Yes, at times Jesus did speak out against sin. But the core of his revelation was not judgment, but “grace and truth” (John 1:14). Ultimately, Jesus defeated the darkness, not by some act of divine denouncement, but by choosing the way of love, the way of the cross.

I’m not suggesting that we should never speak out against evil. But I am concerned that some Christians get so obsessed with denouncing the dark deeds of others that they diminish the light of Christ in their own lives. They become agents of judgment rather than channels of grace. Moreover, they seem to have forgotten what Jesus himself says about how we are to be the light of the world: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

Let’s be clear. Jesus did not say, “You are the light of the world, so go and denounce the sins of the world.” He did say, “You are the light of the world. . . . [L]et your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Ephesians 5:11 uses different language but makes a similar point. We will “expose” the darkness in our world by letting our light shine, by letting our good deeds enlighten others and glorify our Heavenly Father. Our hope is that those who live in darkness might see the light of God in us and be drawn to this light and the life it offers.

Something to Think About:

When you think of Christians who are living (or have lived) as light in the world, who comes to mind?

In what ways are you living right now as a light in the world?

In what ways might you be hiding your light under a bowl?

How might you be able to shine with the light of Christ in your life today—whether you’re at school, at work, at home, on vacation, on a mission trip, at church, or volunteering in a community organization?

Something to Do:

With your small group or a Christian friend, discuss that last question and how you might shine with the light of Christ in very real, tangible ways.


Gracious God, thank you for drawing me to your light by your grace and through your Spirit. Thank you for adopting me as a child of the light. Help me, I pray, to shine with your light today. May I radiate with your goodness, righteousness, and truth. May people around me see your light in me and give you glory. May those who live in darkness be drawn to you through my live demonstration of the Gospel. Amen.

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online
Salt and Light in the World of Work (Matthew 5:13-16)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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