"8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”"
Paul next turns in these verses to the positive aspect of being in the light. He begins once more by stating the great change that has taken place in the believer. Once we were in darkness, but now we are light in the Lord, and we must therefore walk in character with our new state, and walk as children of light. And he adds, in 9, 'The fruit of the light (not 'the Spirit', here) is in all goodness and righteousness and truth'. J.B. Phillips renders this as 'The light produces everything that is wholesome and good and true'. And this is a readily comprehensible summary of Paul's meaning. It speaks of integrity of character, moral rectitude. Sometimes we may say of someone, 'He's not a right man', by which we mean that there is a lack of integrity about him. We need to remember that God's holiness, when incarnate in Christ, expressed itself in a life that 'went about doing good'. So also, that same manifestation is expected in His children!
But now, there is a significant development at 11. Walking as children of light does not only mean to live holy lives, and shun all that is evil in thought, word and deed. There is another aspect, and these next verses indicate what it is. The children of light are to shine forth for Christ and for God. And the alternative to having no fellowship with the fruitful works of darkness is not so much 'withdrawal' from them, as reproving them. But we need to be careful here. Paul may not mean that we should reprove these unfruitful works of darkness, as shown in the lives of unbelievers by word. Indeed, such a picture might well conjure up the notion of a disapproving frown, or even a self-righteous denunciation, from a strait-laced Mrs Grundy with a vinegary face. What may rather be in Paul's mind is the kind of unmistakable reproof that a life of integrity administers without even a word being spoken. One thinks of the story of D.L. Moody, whose presence in a barber's shop stopped the swearing and bawdiness of language in the shop by simply being there, without saying a single word. Ah, there is something in a godly man or woman's bearing that raises the tone of a place whenever he enters it. He does not say anything; he does not need to say anything. His life speaks for God and for light.