Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Sermon Notes Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5:1-21
Walk Like Jesus
November 30, 2014
Lynchburg, Virginia

         I mentioned before this metaphor of walking. The Apostle extends it here in this chapter with three main exhortation.
         Walk in the Renewed Spirit of your mind- 4:17 not the Vanity of your mind.
         Walk in Love- Since God loved you and gave His Son for you, you exist in His love. Therefore, walk that way. Love others as He loves you.
         Walk in the Light- Jesus came and died to expose the unfruitful works of darkness. This brought His people out of darkness and into light. It is inconsistent for those delivered from darkness to retreat back into the darkness. Because you have been brought into the light, dwell and live in the light.
         Walk in Wisdom- It is clear from the text that a choice is before. More accurately, many choices. You have been loved and are to love. You have been delivered from darkness and are expected to walk in the light of Jesus Christ.
         But this does not automatically happen. The transformation that has happened to you through the grace and mercy of God, translating you from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light does not guarantee that you will always make the right choices. However, it enables you to do so.
Those who were outside of Christ, were once children of darkness and operated in the darkness. It is no wonder that they made bad choices. The light of Christ was not illuminating their minds and wills. They chose according to their nature.
But now, since we are in the light, we see. Now, since, we are in Christ and in His love, we understand God’s character and expectations. If we choose against Him now, we choose according to our free wills.
So, he offers these strong admonitions. Don’t do that. You are utterly without excuse. You who operate in love are in great danger if you act out according to the old man Adam, or his wicked son Cain. Do not act in envy or anger.
You who are in the light, do those things that are glad to be in the light. Do not shrink to darkness, literally the cover of night, to do those deeds you would be ashamed to do in the daylight, or in the bright light of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And he goes further. Not only should you act according to love and according to light and according to wisdom, if you don’t, then you do not even belong to God. In the end, this will be revealed.
So, Christian, you do not get to claim that you belong to God and are still compelled by hatred or darkness or foolishness. Christ has set you free from all of that and you are expected to live like the new man that you are.

5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;  2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
The point the Apostle is making here is that walking in love is inconsistent with the following behaviors of verses 3-18. If you have been birthed in the love of God, then you will show yourselves as children of God.
However, if you continue in or are drawn back into the unfruitful works of darkness, then your true nature is revealed. You are not a son or daughter of light but are still in your darkness.

3 But fornication, the word here is pornea, which includes fornication, adultery and sexual impurity.

and all uncleanness- this is meant in the context of fornication. He says that fornication is not appropriate but neither is uncleanness related to pornea. So,  not only the specific act of fornication but also uncleanness in body and mind related to pornea. This would include pornographic material.
Men sometimes feel justified in viewing pornography because they have not committed the act of fornication but this scripture condemns both.
Ladies also can be unclean in this area. Many women engage in lewd behavior to attract the lustful eyes of men. This Scripture condemns that sort of uncleanness as well.

or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 
We tend to think of covetous behavior as wanting money or expensive things that we do not or cannot posses. That is true, that is being covetous. But this context surrounds sexual behavior and exhorts Christians to be content with what God has established and given. Do not even want those things that God forbids, neither fornication, adultery, sexually lewd or explicit photos, movies, phone conversations or anything that is sexually lewd. Do not covet those things.
He says that such things are not even to be named among the saints. However, we know that such things are named among the saints. So, we are in need of confession, repentance, cleansing and renewal.
We need to keep in mind the broader context. He will soon be talking about the glorious relationship of Christ and His Church and then relating that to marriage. Christ is faithful to His bride. Thus, the bride should also be faithful to her husband.

4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
He starts with the obvious bigger sins of fornication. He exhorts us to be content with what God has given, our own spouse, or even our current single status. Be content with and do not long for sexual gratification outside of marriage.
But then he talks about some seeming lesser things and condemns them as well. It is clear that such lessor things, so to speak, lead to greater sins. A man who engages in course filthy talk is less likely to be faithful to his wife than the man who is careful in his words and who does not think or speak in a course way.
He says we should replace that kind of talk with thanksgiving. Thanks for what?
Thanks that God has delivered us from darkness. Thanks that He has taken and is taking away unlawful desires. Thanks for the strength to be pure. Thanks for the wife you have. Thanks for the husband you have.
If you are sexually tempted but then think of your own wife and offer up prayers of thanksgiving for her, then you are less likely to act on those temptations and fall into sin.

Hellfire and Brimstone
5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
Whoremonger- libertine, free sexer.
Unclean person- person who clothes himself in filth.
Covetous man, idolater- this man’s desires amount to idolatry. He idolizes that which is prohibited.

6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 
Christians need to not be carried away into these excesses. God’s grace to us is full and free but our freedom ought never to be a cloak for sin.
If you think free grace enables you to lead a life characterized by fornication and uncleanness, then you are mistaken. You have been deceived by vain words. Not words of grace. Those words are not vain. But, rather, a promise of free grace while at the same time holding onto the vanity of the former life. Christ has set you free from those things. To be willfully enslaved to them is to embrace darkness and death. The only promise from God that such practitioners of disobedience can expect is the promise of His wrath.
We live in an age where we have to resist men with vain words. At times these men seem wise. Under the cloak of love, they teach libertinism. They say that men can be fornicators and still be good Christians. They say that men and women can participate in filthiness and uncleanness and still be good Christians.
But make no mistake, the Bible is clear, fornication and sexual impurity belong to the darkness not to the light. Those who say that such deeds are good are turning truth on its head.

8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
The contrast should be clear to us. There may have been a time in which you practiced the deeds of darkness. If so, you may have justified your behavior. While your conscience was likely giving you trouble, a determined sinner can suppress the truth in unrighteousness to the extent that he becomes jaded. His conscience no longer bothers him. Not because what he is doing is good and right but because he is so practiced in doing wrong that it now seems right to him. There are many who are stuck in this condition.
If you are Christian filled with God’s Spirit then you cannot free yourself from the conviction of His Holy Spirit. If you sin and feel remorse for your sin, then that is evidence that you belong to the light. But you can still insist upon living in the dark. The answer is to repent and come to the light.

9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)  10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 
What happens in the life of the Christian? He is a child of God so he begins to act like his new Father. His behavior will be more and more consistent with that of his Father.
He will behave in goodness, righteousness and truth. If He is growing in the Spirit of God, then the fruit of the Spirit will be evident in his life.
Goodness- Opposed to badness. A bad man may do good things but a good man will not do bad things. A good man wants that which is truly beneficial.  He will not seek his advancement to the hurt of that which is good.
Righteousness- justice. A bad man is not concerned with justice. He is willing to cut the corners and sacrifice the truth in order to benefit himself. But a good man loves righteousness, even if it is to his own hurt. He wants real justice and will seek it out and defend it.
Truth- as opposed to falsehood. Truth is very much under assault. The truth does not matter so much anymore. In fact, some argue that there really is no truth. It is all perspective. Truth is relevant. So, what is true for you may not be true for me. But a good man in Christ understands that true is true. He loves the truth because the truth is incarnate and emanates from Christ. The truth is objective. It may not always be easy to see and grasp but a good man in Christ is never afraid of the truth. He always wants the truth to come out. A bad man, however, suppresses the truth if it works against him.
If you walk in goodness, righteousness and truth, you reveal or prove God’s Spirit at work in your life. But if you do not walk this way, you also reveal or prove the opposite, that God’s Spirit is not operative in your life.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.  12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.  13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.  14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 
Christians should not be participants in falsehood, badness or those who justify their false and bad behavior.
Furthermore, the Bible exhorts us not only to stay away from such practices and such men but to also speak out against them. Many Christians will not partake of the wickedness but are afraid to speak out against them. This is both cowardly and a tactical error.
If Christians keep silent about wickedness, then the wicked gain confidence. We see this in our day. But when the righteous speak up, falsehood is exposed for what it really is. When you shine the light of Jesus Christ on falsehood, the truth is so obvious that the lie is revealed.
I just read an excellent essay by Vodie Bauchum on the unrest in Ferguson. Essentially, he stands for truth and reveals the real issue in all of this madness. The real issue is a society that is fatherless. Where are the fathers to train their young man to respect authority? Where are the fathers to teach their sons not to steal? Where are the fathers to seek truth rather than a lie. Vodie says that in the past he has been racially profiled, pulled over and treated like a criminal just because he is black. But he does not grow bitter about it. He says the real issue is not racism, per se, but rather sin, in general. Men are sinners and sinful men do sinful things. The answer is to repent of sins and turn to Christ and walk in the light.
Those who walk in the light are not friends of the darkness. They do not do wickedness at night. Those in the light are glad to have their deeds exposed rather than hidden.
It is shameful to speak of many of the deeds of darkness. Unfortunately, in our day, the shameful deeds of darkness have become so common and defended, that we must speak of these shameful deeds in order to reprove them. But we feel the shame in speaking of things that were once considered so shameful that they were not much of a part of public discourse.

15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Those who walk in darkness do not think too much about it. They simply act and react. When you see the party hound mentality, it does not look thoughtful. That’s because it isn’t. That is why bad things happen when you put alcohol and youth together. Just do the next thing!
Rather, Christians are to think about their behavior. Where are you? What time is it? Who are your companions? What bad things could possibly happen to you?
Take advantage of wisdom and profit. Take the fools path and reap what you sow.
When you take the path of circumspection, the Lord’s will is easy to discern.

18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 
He has given us a list of various kinds of debauchery. These things go down a whole lot easier in a drunken stupor. How many people justify their foolish behavior because they were drunk? Being drunk is not the excuse, it is the problem.
The joy and pleasure that is sought in wine can only be found in God’s Holy Spirit.
Drunks sing songs but not good songs about God. Drunks sing songs about the wine and the beer, the comraderie of foolishness or conquering women. But godly men and women sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. They encourage to godliness instead of emboldening disobedience.

20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
What is the antidote to foolish ungodly living?
First, thanking God for our deliverance from darkness. When we thank Him for Jesus we admit that we are sinners and need a savior. We continue to walk in this gratitude and we thank Him for the bounty He has showered on us. 
If we are thankful for all the good that we posses, then we are less likely to covet those things we do not have. Thankfulness produces contentment. And if we are content, we are not susceptible to temptation.
         Second, we are to be submissive to one another.

         The Apostle has told us that God gave us gifts in the church for the perfecting of the saints. We should submit to God and His servants in the church. Furthermore, we learn submission to God’s Word as presented by anybody anywhere. Because God has revealed His truth to us in the person of Jesus Christ, we readily embrace the truth when it set before us. We are never our final authority. Because we are foremost, people of the Word, we are glad to submit to the Word.

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