The Unfruitful Works of Darkness

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things, which are done by them in secret.

—Ephesians 5:11–12

Paul exhorted the church in Ephesus to maintain its purifying influence in a putrefying city, to be, in Jesus’ words, salt and light. I believe the same exhortation is much needed in our day as well, and it begins with having no fellowship with “the unfruitful works of darkness.” This is a statement that carries with it great insight and instruction.

First of all, the phrase clarifies there are indeed things that can hinder our ability to bear fruit by our association with them; and second, it implies that fruitlessness is a work of darkness. The topic is too great for a single devotional, but the heart of the matter is this: there are things that we Christians should not be a part of, and those things are identified as unfruitful to our walks.

I have often wondered what the movie industry in our day would be like if just the Christians would quit going to R-rated movies. I have to wonder what the music industry would be like if only the Christians stopped buying music that glorifies immorality and violence. I have to wonder what the world would be like if Christians stopped having fellowship with the works of darkness—not the people trapped in darkness, but the things associated with it.

I believe Paul is drawing on Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 where He warned us of putting our lamps under bushel baskets. In other words, He warned us against hindering our ability to shine as lights in a dark world. Being a light speaks of our witness, and this is the matter at hand. Do not fellowship with things that hinder your witness for Jesus Christ. Your life as a Christian is not yours, but His. He bought you back from sin and death, and your mission in life is to reflect Him.

Over the years, including recently, I have heard testimonies of people who cleaned out their music and movie collections—and their language too—after getting saved. They stopped associating with the things of darkness and started being lights. Is there something in your life that hides your light under a bushel? Is there a fellowship with darkness—perhaps a secret sin—that hinders your fruitfulness as a Christian? Remember, secret sin is open scandal in heaven, and no one hides from the Almighty.

Ask the Lord to examine your life today and reveal if there be any wicked way in you (Ps. 139:24). If so, cast it aside so that all fellowship with darkness that causes unfruitfulness may be broken. God wants you to shine for Him today —even through what you don’t do!

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