Jesus taught that His greatest desire for us was that we would love Him with all of our hearts and minds and souls and strength; His second greatest desire was that we would love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). As we begin Ephesians 5, Paul reminds us that as children of God, we should seek to copy God by loving the Father and other people the way that Jesus taught and modeled. Jesus in His humanity was tempted in every way like us, but He passed every spiritual test and never sinned against God’s law or people. Because of His perfect righteousness and obedience to every commandment, Jesus was fit to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. The Father found the Son’s death in our place to be pleasing in His sight (“a fragrant offering”), which means that the Lord accepted Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf and forgave those who trust in Him of all of our evil words, actions, thoughts, and desires. For the children of God, that amazing truth will always make our hearts cry with joy, thankfulness, and humility.
So how then can we who have tasted the love and grace of God fall back into evil, darkness, and foolishness? That’s what Paul goes on to talk about in verses 3-20 (we will just go through verse 7 in this post). You see, our God is a jealous God; He cannot and will not tolerate sin. He killed His own beloved Son on the cross because of our sin. Like the lamb’s blood that covered the homes of His children in Egypt during the first Passover, it is only the precious blood of Jesus Christ that protect us from God’s wrath and punishment. The Egyptians died in this world as a picture of what would happen to us in the next world without the blood of the Lamb – just condemnation to eternity in hell. If you are saved, it is only because of God’s great mercy. It was His mercy that woke you up to see your sin as the horrible evil that it is, your deserved guilt before your holy Creator, and your desperate need for Jesus to rescue you. The Holy Spirit convicted you and shone light into your sin-darkened soul, and then He enabled you to call out to Jesus, to reach out to the Lamb of God and be saved. That event was a miracle that your lost friends, family, and teammates have not experienced. They remain under God’s condemnation and the awful punishment of hell awaits them if they do not turn to Jesus before they die.
So again, how can we love Jesus and also love sin? We cannot. No one have two masters – we will ultimately end up loving one and hating the other. In verses 3-7, Paul lists specific evil sins that Christians simply must get out of our lives. Sexual sin, greed, filthy language and dirty jokes – such sins have no place in our lives as believers. We cannot walk in the love of Christ and also wallow in the muck of impurity. God speaks a very strong warning through Paul in verses 5-6: People who continually do such sins without any guilt or shame or attempt to turn from them prove that they really love these sins and not Jesus and will not be in His heaven. We cannot reject God’s truth on this matter just because our culture is so immersed in these sins. Our eternal destiny is at stake. We must flee from sexual immorality, the love of money and stuff, and filthy conversations and joking and instead follow Jesus and His way of love. It will be the narrow road, but that is the only road that leads to life (Matthew 7:13-14). More practical advice on how we can do this will follow in the next post (“Walk in His Light, Not Darkness”).
The Text (Ephesians 5:1-7)
5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
Questions to Think About
- Do your parents have any restrictions on what you can do with your phone, television, and video games? If so, what are they and why do you have them?
- Do you want help in protecting yourself from evil? Do you desire to flee from the sins described in today’s passage? If you are struggling with any of these sins, what specific steps can you take to get this spiritual garbage out of your life?
- Do you have any “friends” who are bringing sin into your life and hurting your walk with Christ? Are these really friends that you need? Learning to witness to the lost is important, but we must do this carefully to protect ourselves from falling into sin ourselves. We should spend most of our time in fellowship with other believers. We should approach witnessing relationships strategically with prayer and accountability from other believers in our efforts to win people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Christ. Just hanging out with lost people all by ourselves without a Christ-centered plan and purpose is a recipe for disaster.
- The chapter divisions of the Bible did not exist when it was originally written. They are normally helpful, but sometimes they break up a section where it should not be broken up. Verses 1-2 of chapter 5 of Ephesians are actually a continuation of what Paul was discussing at the end of chapter 4. Paul has just explained our need to love and forgive others as Christ has forgiven us. Today he presses on with that thought, saying that when we love and forgive others, we are imitating Jesus, who loved us and gave His life for us. Then Paul goes on show other ways we imitate Jesus, namely by fleeing from evil and immorality.
- Christians are saved by grace alone, by faith in the blood of Jesus alone. Yet once we are saved, we should begin to turn away from sin and turn towards God in loving obedience, like children with their father. When people who claim to be Christian show no effort or interest in repentance and godliness, we are right to lovingly challenge them about their walk with the Lord. They may not be children of God. Their eternal destiny is at stake. If we really care about them, we will not let them go down the road to hell without an intervention.