Ephesians Study, Part 36: Walk as Children of Light
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.
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:
- We should live like
children upholding the name and reputation of our heavenly family. He
said that we should walk in love and be a fragrant aroma to God. Our walk
should be like the sweet savor offerings of Leviticus 1-3.
- Then he focused on some of our likely stumbling blocks, ways in which we
can bring disrepute on our family. We warned us about immorality, impurity
and greed, all of which not only damage the family reputation, but clearly
disrupt the unity and effectiveness of the church.
We saw that this includes sexual immorality and impurity, but can include
nonsexual impurity and greed as well. He warns us to watch our talk,
keep it clean and uplifting, not even to joke about sin. God does not
think sin is funny, we should not either.
- We wrapped it up that week by suggesting that a test of our walk and our
talk, is to look at our walk and our talk and see how much we hate sin. Do
we hate sin as much as God does? If not, maybe we should work on it.
For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or
covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and
God. --Ephesians 5:5
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 heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick;
who can understand it? --Jeremiah 17:9
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.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit
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.
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and
served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.
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
...envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I
forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such
things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
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.
Little children, make sure no one deceives you; ... the
one who practices sin is of the devil; ... No one who is born of
God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin,
because he is born of God. -- 1 John 3:7-9
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:
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold
into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I
am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I
hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the
Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one
doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good
dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but
the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do,
but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the
very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which
dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the
one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in
the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body,
waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of
sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me
free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ
our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law
of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. --Romans7:14-25
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.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these
things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. --Ephesians 5:6
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.
While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the
harlot with the daughters of Moab. The LORD said to Moses, "Take
all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the
LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel." So
Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you slay his men who have joined
themselves to Baal of Peor." ... Those who died by the plague were 24,000. --Numbers 25:1-9
God's attitude toward homosexuality is well known. It's in Genesis 19,
with Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place
where he had stood before the LORD; and he looked down toward Sodom
and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold,
the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. Thus it
came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley... --Genesis 19:27-29
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.
...and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function
of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men
committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty
of their error. --Romans 1:27
It also results in eternal judgment according to Hebrews 13 and Revelation 21:
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed
is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. --Hebrews 13:4
There are many other places that God is clear on these points. So Paul continues:
But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers
and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will
be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." --Revelation 21:8
Therefore do not be partakers with them. --Ephesians 5:7
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.
For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord;
walk as children of Light. --Ephesians 5:8
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.
...(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness
and truth)... --Ephesians 5:9
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".
- What is goodness? It's a good word, but what do you think it really means? It
is an inclusive term for all moral excellence. So fruit, from light -- there
is a good result from moral excellence.
- What is righteousness? We use that word a lot, but what do we really mean
when we use it? It means integrity, in all dealings with God and with man. That's
what righteousness really means. In Chapter 6, when we get there, the
armor of God speaks of the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate
was to protect the vital organs. A piercing through that would generally
have been fatal. We will deal with that when we analyze the armor of God in
That's one that Joe and I have wrestled with for a couple of years. Maybe
that's why God sent Joe back to Albuquerque, so we could study it until we
- Paul also includes truth. That includes honesty, equity, reality. All these
are reasonable aspects of truth. One good definition that I heard is "When the
word and the deed are one, that is truth." And God's ultimate truth was when his
promise, that started in Genesis 3, became reality, the Messiah walking this earth.
...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.