Why Expose the Darkness?

By Mark D. Roberts

July 22, 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 last week’s Life for Leaders devotions, we considered the question: How should we expose the deeds of darkness? Our answer for this question came from the lips of Jesus himself, who said, “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). In the language of Ephesians, we expose the darkness primarily through the witness of our lives. When people see the fruit of the light in us, the deeds of darkness will be exposed as fruitless and empty.

pineapple halved But why should we expose the darkness? What is the goal of this exposing? What are we seeking to accomplish by shining the light on the dark deeds of the world? What is God’s purpose in all of this?

Ephesians 5:13 answers these questions in a captivating and unexpected way. This verse reads, “But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” This verse reveals a two-part result of exposing by the light. First, that which is exposed “becomes visible.” In contrast to the deeds of light, people see the deeds of darkness for what they truly are: fruitless, deceptive, and evil. This means that those who are engaged in such works have the opportunity to see the emptiness of their lives so they might turn away from their sin and turn to the Lord—what we call repentance.

The second result of exposing by light reflects this turning. Verse 13 adds, “and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” This suggests that the people who have been doing dark deeds, when they see clearly the fruitlessness and wrongness of their actions, will indeed turn to the light and, like those of us who have gone before them, reject the darkness and become “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8).

Thus, the goal of exposing is redemptive and inclusive. It seeks, not to alienate those who walk in darkness, but rather to draw them into the light of Christ. As New Testament scholar Thomas Yoder Neufeld observes in his fine commentary on Ephesians, what we see in this passage could be called “evangelistic exposing.” We expose the deeds of darkness, not as instruments of judgment, but as channels of God’s love. We want those who live in darkness to leave behind their fruitless work and turn to the Lord, so they might become children of light and mirrors of God’s own light in the world.

The goal of exposing the darkness, therefore, follows the overall storyline of Ephesians. The same God who redeemed us through his glorious and generous grace seeks to redeem others through us (Ephesians 1:6-8). God’s ultimate purpose is not to divide the universe into light and darkness, but rather “to bring to unity all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). When we shine as lights in the world, we contribute in some small but substantial way to this unifying work.

Something to Think About:

Have you ever experienced anything like “evangelistic exposing” in your life?

If the goal of exposing is to draw people to the light of Christ, how might this affect our manner of exposing?

Are you living in such a way that people around you see God’s light in you?

How might you live this way today, at school or work, among your friends or family members, in your neighborhood or as you go shopping?

Something to Do:

In light of your answer to the last question above, do something intentionally today in order to reflect the light of Christ.


Gracious God, God of light who shines in the darkness, thank you for shining upon me, in me, and through me. Thank you for calling me into your work of exposing the darkness so that those who live in darkness might turn to your light. Help me, Lord, to live in such a way that people are drawn to you because of me. May I live today, truly, as a light in the world. To you be all the glory! Amen.

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online
Working with Nonbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14–18)

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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