Ephesians Study, Part 36: Walk as Children of Light

Intro:

I really want to thank Ron Moss for filling in for me last week with his comparison of Moses and Jesus.  Not only did that help me, since I was out of town most of that week and would have been hard pressed to get properly prepared, but it gave you a diversion form the Ephesians study.  But today we dive back into Ephesians.

Review:

Two weeks ago, remember, we dropped back and looked at the question: "Does the Bible support the position that as a Christian we are to hate the sin while loving the sinner?"   Or as I had applied it specifically, "We are to hate homosexuality while loving the homosexual."  At least in my mind, we supported that position scripturally.  Three weeks ago, in our last session in the text of Ephesians, Paul told us that we as believers should be imitators of God.

This week, Paul continues:

What he is talking about here is not the occasional stumble.  He is talking about the those who practice sin as a lifestyle.  We will come back to that.   There is no room for doubt about God's attitude toward immorality.  They have no inheritance in the kingdom of God.  Men call immorality a sickness.  God calls it sin.  Man condones it.  God condemns it.  Man's answer is psychoanalysis.  God's answer is regeneration.

Nowhere in the Scripture do you find God curing the human heart.  In fact, in several places, Jeremiah 17: 9 being one of the classics, we find that the heart of a man is desperately wicked.

The best translation from the Hebrew would say that it is incurably wicked.  Nowhere in the Scripture does God cure a heart.  Often he replaces it with a new heart.  David says, in Psalm 51:10. David says this after he has repented of his sin with Bathsheba.  He didn't ask to have his heart cured, he asked to be given a new one.  So that idiom is very meaningful as you study the concept of the heart and the soul and the spirit.

You will notice here in verse 5 that these are the same kinds of people in this verse as they were earlier.  They are the immoral, the impure and the covetous or as the NAS says is verse 3, the greedy.  As we discussed last lesson, a greedy person is an idolater; worshiping what he doesn't have, rather than God.  That person is basing his attitude on an erroneous concept.  That person is assuming that God approves greed.  God does not.  A greedy person puts his own will ahead of the will of God.  That's why he's an idolater.  He worships the creature, himself, rather than the creator.  Romans Chapter 1 hammers away at this, especially in verse 25.

Now let me try to show you in the Scripture that Paul is talking about people who have sin as a way of life, not those who know better and try, but stumble.  Paul makes it really clear that people who deliberately and persistently live in sin will not share God's kingdom.  You need to remember Galatians 5:21 Here is a literal translation that you need to pay attention to.  It says "they who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Many people are confused by these passages.  If you read it superficially, you get the idea that if you've done this once it's all over, there's no hope for you.  No.  If you have been regenerated by Jesus, you will sin less and less and less as you mature.  God will be bearing fruit in your life.  That doesn't mean that we will not occasionally stumble again.  That doesn't mean that you're clean and pure and holy.  But that is God's goal.  That is the path of growth and maturity that you should be on.

Sin in the life of a believer is different than sin in the life of an unbeliever.  The reality is, it's worse.  The Christian demonstrates the reality of his faith by the way he lives.  Many professors are not possessors.  Remember that catch phrase.  We will deal with that later on in this study of Ephesians. 

John also addresses the same point that Paul makes in verse 5.

The operative word here is "practices".  John says that anyone who intentionally lives a life of sin, is not of God.  The New Testament is clear and Paul is clear about himself, that he has a sin nature which sins, but he fights against it.  Paul's discussion and John's discussion is about those who have no intent of living a righteous life, who do not even try.  Don't expect to see them in Heaven unless they find Jesus between now and then, in which case you can also expect to see improvements in their life style.

Remember that Paul was a lot like Larry.  He was a black-or-white guy, no room for grey.  If he was talking about what not to do, he called it wrong and told us about the consequences.  He is telling us not to be immoral, impure or greedy, and he does not couch it to be politically correct.  However, in other letters, he explains that he is talking about the condition of continuing to practice sin as a life style.

We can get a clearer picture of Paul's understanding of the fact that Christians sin by looking at his analysis of himself in Romans 7:

Using Paul as the model, a Christian sins, but fights not to.  It is the person who not only sins, but wants to, that Paul declares has having no inheritance in Heaven.  Then Paul continues. Paul says, don't let people talk you into believing that the world's values are OK.  Don't be convinced that God doesn't really care that much.  Let's quickly look back in the Old Testament.  In numbers 25, God's attitude toward fornication involves 24,000 people being slain.  God was trying to make a point, apparently a really big point. God's attitude toward homosexuality is well known.  It's in Genesis 19, with Sodom and Gomorrah. God's attitude toward these things is also manifest in other ways.  I personally believe that many of the sexually transmitted diseases are to some extent God's way of trying to teach man what is wrong.  Some articles indicate that there are 35,000 new cases of sexually transmitted disease every day in this country.  And I don't think those numbers include AIDS.  Romans 1:27 tells us that these sins have earthly consequences. It also results in eternal judgment according to Hebrews 13 and Revelation 21: There are many other places that God is clear on these points.  So Paul continues: Believers are warned not to be participants in such behavior.  To do so is to dishonor the name of Jesus, to dishonor your family, the church, Jesus, and God.  It will also wreck other lives, destroy your testimony, and of course invite retribution.   God has the means to serve out penalties. This of course is just to reinforce the imperative that he stated in verse 7.  Paul mentions light here and then from verse 8 through 14, he digresses into a little discourse about light and darkness. It is interesting that light produces fruit.  If you have ever studied biology, you know that light is required for plant growth and fruit.  So it is true biologically, but Paul is speaking here in much broader terms.  He says, "in all goodness and righteousness".

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Next week:

...we will look at the darkness side compared to the light.  We will pick up with verse 10 of Chapter 5 as Paul continues to tell us how to walk in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians.