I was particularly moved by this Biblical truth while working through Ephesians 5 for By His Wounds You are Healed. In it, I said this on Paul's words about exposing sin to the light in Ephesians 5:8-14.
A few years ago, the elders’ wives at the church I attended planned a women’s retreat entitled “Exposed,” taken from this passage in Ephesians. I was a women’s ministry leader at the time, but to be honest, I dreaded going to this retreat. The title did not in any way naturally draw me. Personally, I did not want to be exposed and did not care to be a part of something that had set that as its agenda.
Then I went to the retreat. Each woman that spoke gave brutally honest testimony of where she had been in her darkness, how God had brought her from darkness to light, and all the ways God was still meeting her in her failures. Each one was exposing themselves, bringing their ugly pasts and some of their ugly present into the light. It ended up being one of the most powerful retreats with long lasting outcomes I have ever witnessed.
As each speaker spoke on God’s redemption of her particular sin (sexual addiction, self-absorbed vanity, gluttony, among others), women started understanding that hiding their sin, shame, and guilt was not the answer. Woman after woman started admitting her sin, exposing herself by walking out of the darkness and into the light. While that can be terrifying and cruelly damaging in the wrong context, in the light of the gospel, it was beautiful, redemptive, and uplifting.
When Paul says (in Ephesians 5) to take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness and instead expose them, we probably all think of an instance of someone maliciously revealing someone else’s sin or shame. When people in darkness rip at others in darkness, there is no good that can come from it. Exposure of sin apart from the gospel is cruel, leaving devastation and hopelessness in its wake.
It took that women’s retreat for me to finally understand how radically different God’s call to exposure is. In light of the gospel, I do not have to fear exposure. Instead, God says bring all of the nooks and crannies of your sin and shame to me. Let me shine the light of the gospel into even your deepest and darkest place of fear and guilt. And when these things are exposed to the light, they first become visible (according to Ephesians 5). Then they become light. What radical transformation!
Adapted from Wendy Alsup's blog www.theologyforwomen.org. Wendy is an author and blogger. She is also a wife, mom and college math teacher who loves ministering to women.
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