Uncleanness, covetousness, and filthiness are to be replaced with thanksgiving, looking toward one’s “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (vv. 3-5) The former is evident in “the sons of disobedient.” (v. 6) “Therefore do not be partakers with them.” (v. 7) From darkness we are called to walk in the light of the Lord (v. 8). Evident in the children is the fruit of the Spirit – “goodness, righteousness, and truth, finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” (vv. 9-10) The light of the Lord that shines through his people exposes the darkness of “the sons of disobedience.” (5:6, 11-13; 2:1-10)
With Paul we are to look to scripture to know what is acceptable to the Lord. For this immediate context Paul goes to the prophet Isaiah, which some refer to as the 5th gospel. “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” (v. 14 cf. Is. 26:19; 60:1) How amazing to learn that the promise of a resurrection is found here, and on us the glory of the LORD has risen! The NGSB puts these words of Isaiah in context as a possible hymn, “calling upon the spiritually dead to rise up and receive the light of Christ.” (cf. 2:1-10) We are made “alive together with Christ.” (2:5)
Therefore, we are to walk ‘circumspectly’ or carefully, “not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (v. 15) There is an apologetic force to these injunctions. “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” (Col. 4:5) How are we to do this? “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Col. 4:6) “Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mt. 10:16b cf. Eccl. 10:12; Mk. 9:50). Peter also saw the apologetical thrust of this walking in the light amidst darkness – hope (I Pet. 3:15 cf. vv. 16-17).