Ephesians 5:1-21

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Observation

  • The Ephesians were to imitate God.
  • The Ephesians were to imitate God as a child imitates.
  • The Ephesians were to love as Christ loved them.
  • Christ loved the Ephesians.
  • Christ gave himself as a sacrifice to God for the Ephesians.
  • Christ gave himself as an offering to God for the Ephesians.
  • Christ’s offering of himself was a fragrant offering to God
  • The Ephesians were not to be involved in sexual immorality
  • It must not even be suggested that the Ephesians were involved in sexual immorality.
  • The Ephesians were not to be impure
  • It must not even be suggested that the Ephesians were impure
  • The Ephesians were not to be covetous
  • It must not even be suggested that the Ephesians were covetous
  • It is proper that saints not even give a hint of being involved in:
    • sexual immorality
    • impurity
    • covetousness
  • The Ephesians were not to be involved in filthy talk.
  • The Ephesians were not to be involved in crude jokes.
  • Both filthy talk and crude jokes are out of place.
  • The Ephesians were to be involved in thanksgiving.
  • Covetousness is idolatry.
  • These have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God:
    • Those who are sexually immoral.
    • Those who are impure.
    • Those who are covetous.
  • We can be certain the previous list have no inheritance in the kingdom of God and Christ.
  • The Ephesians were not to let anyone deceive them with empty words.
  • God is wrathful.
  • God’s wrath comes because of sexual immorality, covetousness, and impurity.
  • God’s wrath come to the sons of disobedience.
  • The Ephesians were not to become partners with those who are sexually immoral, covetous, or impure.
  • At one time the Ephesians were in darkness.
  • The Ephesians are in light in the Lord.
  • The Ephesians were to take no part in the works of darkness.
  • The works of darkness are unfruitful.
  • The Ephesians were to expose works of darkness.
  • The works of darkness are so bad it is shameful to even speak of them.
  • When anything is exposed to the light it becomes visible.
  • Anything that is visible is light.
  • The Ephesians were to be careful in how they walked.
  • The Ephesians were not to walk as unwise but wise.
  • The Ephesians were to make the best use of time.
  • The days are evil.
  • The Ephesians were to make the best use of their time because the days were evil.
  • The Ephesian were not to be foolish.
  • The Ephesians were understand the will of the Lord.
  • The way the Ephesians were to not be foolish was by understanding the will of the Lord.
  • It is possible to understand the will of the Lord.
  • The Ephesians were to no be drunk with wine.
  • Being drunk with wine is debauchery.
  • The Ephesians were to be filled with the Spirit.
  • The Ephesians were to address each other with:
    • Psalms
    • Hymns
    • Spiritual Songs
  • The Ephesians were to make melody to the Lord.
  • The Ephesians were to sing to the Lord.
  • The Ephesians were to make melody to the Lord with their heart.
  • The Ephesians were to give thanks to God.
  • The Ephesians were to always give thanks to God.
  • The Ephesians were to give thanks to God for everything.
  • The Ephesians were to give thanks in the name of Jesus.
  • The Ephesians were to submit to each another.
  • The Ephesians were to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ.

Interruption

Verse 1 starts with, Therefore. “Therefore be imitators of God…” To find out why we should be imitators of God we need to back up to chapter 4 verse 32. Paul concludes that verse with “…as God in Christ forgave you.” Since God has forgiven, we owe him our lives. But how should we live? Paul is continuing the thought from chapter 4 verse 1, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. To this point Paul has discussed what we are and what we are to be. We want to know what to do. Paul here says what to do, imitate God.

We learn by imitation. Paul is writing to a Greek audience. They would have understood this clearly. Aristotle wrote that man is the most imitative of all creatures and he learns learns first by imitation. Paul’s audience would have recognized and understood this concept well. The training of oratory consisted of three parts; theory, imitation and practice. The main part of the study was imitation of the masters. So Paul is saying to imitate God, the master of masters. By imitating God we know Him and learn from and of Him.

How does our culture today determine what is right and good? We take a poll. What most people are doing is average. What is average is normal. What is normal is good. Not being in the norm, that is, being an extremist is, by definition, bad. Virtue is found in being normal. Using that thought process; sexual immorality is not only okay, it is a virtue. Sexual immorality was not a big deal in the first century Greek culture. Cicero stated. “If there is anyone who thinks that young men should be absolutely forbidden the love of courtesans, he is indeed extremely server…. He is at variance not only with the license of what our age allows but also with customs and concessions of our ancestor. When indeed was this not done? When did anyone ever find fault with it? When was such permission denied? When was it that that which is now lawful was unlawful?” Clearly sexual immorality was normal. And since it was normal it must be a virtue. Looking to our culture to determine righteousness is the wrong place to look.

Not only are we to avoid sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness, they are not even to be talked about or joked about it. There was an argument in the early church that distorted the grace of God. The argument went like this. The more we sin the more opportunity we give to God to demonstrate His grace. God’s demonstration of grace glorifies Him. Since we are to bring glory to God and God forgiveness of our sin demonstrates His glory. We should sin. In fact, it is our obligation to sin.

God through Paul disagrees. Such argumentation is simply empty words. Instead now that have been redeemed we bring glory to God through thanksgiving and avoidance of sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness. The argument today is changed only slightly. What we hear today is, “God made me this way. If God did not want me to be homosexual, or have such a strong sex drive He would not have made me like this.” Paul is very clear. “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God,” verse 5.

Paul ends this chapter with a repetition of a theme from chapter 4. We need to support and encourage each other. Here he says to great each other with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. What can easily be lost in this is that the Christian life is to be lived in community. How else can we support each other? We can support each other only as we are filled with the Spirit. Not only are we to support each other we are to show reverence to Christ by submitting to each other.

Application

As Paul says in verse 8 at one time we were in darkness. We should not be surprised when the culture we live in assaults us. They are ignorant. We have been given the light. Do not be angry when you are assaulted rather you should feel pity and sorrow for those that assault you, for the sake of Christ. You have been given something they have not. That can sound extremely arrogant and prideful. And if you do not fully realize you had nothing to do with receiving the gift, it can be extremely prideful. You did nothing to deserve it. You did nothing to receive it. There is nothing inside of you that cause you to merit it. You are not better than those who have not received the light. God simply chose you to glorify His name. He could have used the dog next door. After all He once used a jackass. Coming to that realization drives you to want to imitate God. To forgive others even when they do not deserve it, and do not merit it. Since you now have the light, try to discern what is pleasing to God and do that. After all He has given you a great gift, a gift you do not deserve.

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