Eph 5:11-14 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
When we have tried and discerned (proved) what is well-pleasing (acceptable) to the Lord (Eph 5:10), then we will not be participants with the barren deeds of darkness. Remember that Paul has told us that darkness is not, in this instance, what but whom. When we are overcome by the idolatrous acts of fornication, covetousness, filthiness, etc. we are darkness. While we are darkness, our works are unfruitful. When we are made light in the Lord, then we have the fruit of the Spirit. If we walk as children of the light then we can have no fellowship with darkness.
It is not enough to just refuse to participate with the barren deeds of darkness. When we are made light, we are called on to reprove the darkness. Strong’s defines the word translated as “reproved” to mean “to confute, admonish: – convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.” This is not about finger-pointing since we were sometimes darkness. This is about being moved by the power of the Holy Spirit so that our rebuke gives God glory. When God is glorified, then the darkness is convicted. When the darkness is convicted there is repentance, and the darkness becomes light in the Lord by the power of the Holy Ghost.
It is not that just a good idea to reprove the barren works of darkness. More than that, it is shameful for us to speak of the deeds of darkness privately; keeping it “just between us,” so to speak. When we try to keep the works of darkness private then we are not reproving them no matter how much we might disapprove of them. This is not to say that when we see darkness we are to take out a full page ad in the local paper. We are not to talk about the darkness to others; we are to talk to the darkness. Remember that the darkness is people (and sometimes us) who become light in the Lord (Eph 5:8).
All things that are reproved (convinced, convicted) are rendered apparent (manifest) under the light that is shined upon them. Our darkness was made apparent to us by the light of Christ that shined upon us. It is only by the grace of God that we come into the light. By nature, we love darkness (Joh 3:19) because our deeds are evil (or unfruitful). If we do evil (are darkness) then we hate the light and do not come to it because we do not want to be reproved. But when we do truth (not when we do good) we come to the light. We are convicted (reproved) by the manifestation of our sinfulness and need of a Savior. In this light, we do truth by confessing our sin and declaring that we perish without Him!
This is why He says for us to awake and arise and Christ will give us light. We are not being told here that after we awake and arise that Christ will give us life. When we awake from sleep, we manifest life that is already there. We do not arise from the dead then receive life; life must precede any action. When we are convicted of the barren toil of darkness by the manifestation of Christ, then we are made light in Him. Being made light in Him, we do truth. Once His grace has caused us to do truth, then we seek the light that we might also do good: that it might be seen that our deeds are wrought in God and not in man.
May we reprove darkness in the light of Jesus Christ and rejoice that, in Him, we have no more fellowship with vain labor!