The “therefore” of verse 1 follows the fact that God has forgiven us in Christ and therefore our way of life will change. Formally, we imitated the world. We walked in immorality, impurity, and greed. Since we have been forgiven, God commands us to walk in His ways which is God’s intent from the beginning of creation.
But how do you imitate God? Normally, we grow up imitating our parents. We see their manner of life and we pick up various things from them. It’s rather natural for us to do this. But we cannot see God physically. However, God has sent His Son not only to pay the penalty of our sin through his death and resurrection but also to show us the ways and character of God!
The nearest context of what we were formally is found back in 4:17 where Paul describes unbelievers as Gentiles. This word simply means “nations” but in the context of the Bible it means more than that sometimes. It means those peoples who do not follow the One, true and living God. They worship idols and other gods. Paul says Gentiles *live in futility of mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the *life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of their hardness of heart.
Because God has forgiven you in Christ, God now considers you “beloved children.” Since children naturally imitate their parents, as beloved children of God we should now imitate God our Father. In particularly Paul says to walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us. In other words, Jesus gave his life that you might now have a new life. We were formally darkness. Not just walked in darkness, though that is true. But we were children of darkness.
We loved the darkness hoping our evil ways were hidden. We put our hand beside our mouth trying to hide our dirty jokes, our filthy mouth, and our silliness. We scan the scene to see whose ears are in range of our voice. However, God sees through the darkness. He knows what is done in secret. Our thoughts and motives are not hidden from Him.
What did God say to us when He saw this? Are you ready? Are you sure? It might not be what you think! He said this:
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”(Eph. 5:14)
Now, we no longer tell people our favorite dirty jokes but we speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord. We now give thanks to God with our mouths! We no longer have need of hiding our true identity but we are free to agree with who we were formally and who we are now.
Dear Darkness, long had you been my close companion but I will no longer need you. I am a child of the Light. I will not walk in you, darkness, but I will walk in the Light by the grace of God and for His glory.