Weds 30th August - Ephesians 5:3-20
Meditation on Ephesians 5:3-20
3But 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. 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.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Two weeks ago we looked at our new set of ‘clothes’ as we live as Christians when Paul challenges us to clothe ourselves with our new life which comes from God – 4:20-34
This is followed by the challenge to be careful how we behave in our new ‘clothes’ – 4:24-32
Last week we focused on the three linking verses - 4:32-5:2 – which outline how we should live as in order for us to ‘follow God’s example’. Just three short verses but packed with challenges as we respond to God’s love in Christ.
Now we come back to one more of the contrasts that Paul had started in chapter 4. Having set out our new life in Christ he returns to think about our behaviour and he has some stern words to say about that, including our attitudes and our tongues. Paul has some strong words about the judgment of God on such behaviour.
He sees the many dangers of our past lifestyle behaviour and he spells out some clear warnings:
- ‘there must not be…’
- ‘have nothing to do with…’
- ‘be very careful…’
- ‘do not be foolish…’
Seeing the dangers, he warns us to stay away. He reminds us that such behaviour affects our senses:
A. NO HINT OF…NO PARTNERSHIP WITH Verses 3-7
Because of the judgment of God verse 5
Paul doesn’t say that there is no forgiveness when he says that such people have ‘no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God’.
If this was the case, who of us would stand? None of us would have any eternal future.
There are so many verses in Old and New Testaments that give us the assurance of forgiveness and forgetfulness. One, in particular, that I find a great assurance is when God says, ‘Your sins and iniquities I will remember no more.’
Paul is explaining that people who continue in their sinful ways are ‘idolaters’ because these things are more important than God and to continue in such a pattern of behaviour which turns my back on God will lead to God turning His back on me.
These self-indulgent behaviour patterns bring God’s wrath as reward. Our challenge is not to be taken in by the devil’s schemes.
Our behaviour should be God-centred.
Paul talks about us not ‘becoming partners with’ such people. He is not telling us to have nothing to do with them. After all, how would the unbeliever ever see a different lifestyle and behaviour pattern?
Remember what Paul said elsewhere: ‘And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.’ (1 Corinthians 6:11 CEV)
B. NOT LIVING IN DARKNESS…FOLLOW THE LIGHT Verses 8-14
Here Paul uses different language to show the contrasts between the old and the new patterns of behaviour – ‘you were once…but now you are…’
- to be avoided
- light in the Lord
- children of light
- fruitful – ‘goodness, righteousness and truth’
- what pleases the Lord – this is the outcome of this new pattern of behaviour.
How can this be?
- Christ makes the difference
- once you were dead
- now you are alive
Christ is the difference because He alone brings about the transformation.
C. NOT FOOLISH…BUT WISE Verses 15-17
‘Take care…be very careful’ i.e. consider what you are doing.
- make good use of the time / the opportunities
- make sure you understand the Lord’s will
D. NOT A DEPRESSANT…A STIMULENT Verses 18-21
Alcohol is a depressant. It affects the brain.
The Living Bible says, ‘Do not be under the influence of alcohol for many evils lie along that path,’
Instead, let the Spirit fill you…’be being filled’ This is an ongoing filling, not a once-for-all
John Stott used to pray every morning, ‘God, fill me with your Spirit today’
And look at the effects…
And this new lifestyle, this new pattern of behaviour will be seen in all my relationships.
There is a joy to Christian fellowship. We area part of God’s worldwide family and one day we will all be together in glory – ‘forever with the Lord’.