1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 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.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. 14For this reason it says,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:1-17
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, they say. It’s OK to mimic the Lord, or those who closely resemble him. “You’re just like your dad” should be a high compliment. What does this walk look like? It’s one characterized by love and sacrifice. Many dads years ago had only one scent they would wear: Old Spice. When they were anywhere in the vicinity, you’d know it by the fragrance wafting in the air. Live your life in such as way that your sweet aroma (the “savor of quietness”) lingers in the room far after you depart.
We Christians have to endure the seemingly endless indictments that we are all hypocrites. While we might not ever escape that moniker, the truth is, we can become desensitized to sin, thereby giving the appearance of condoning evil, or worse yet, dabble in it. Lot was oppressed by the wickedness of his generation (Genesis 19), and his senses were dulled to the point he offered his virgin daughters to debauched men outside his door. He then was thought by his sons “to be jesting” when he urged them to leave the city. Finally, because of his “hesitation,” the angels had to take matters into their own hands and extricate Lot and his family before Sodom was destroyed. This is desensitation, when we can no longer muster the fortitude to stand up to sin.
Here in Eph. 5:3 Paul gets down to brass tacks. Everything from fornication to foolish talk should “not even be named among you!” Greed and covetousness and idolatry are also mentioned, which can be hang-ups outside the realm of immorality and impurity. You can just be consumed by consumption!
Christians are known by their attachment of God’s grace to the things they enjoy, from meals to what appears to the world as “good fortune.” To us, we’ve been “blessed.” That is what Paul is talking about as the flip side to the dark side; the “giving of thanks.”
I find it remarkable that we are so easily sucked into capitulating on what we know is dead wrong. I am constantly amazed at how blatant passages on homosexuality in Romans 1 are totally ignored, even by Christians. Paul is describing men and women who have given up on “normal desires,” which can lead to normal “fornication,” for “unnatural desires.” Your run of the mill degradation is not vile enough! Jude breaks it down this way in verses 22-23: “have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.” It starts with doubting the ways of God, then it advances to dabbling in the fire, and finally, you are totally contaminated with soot. At least quote the Word to put God’s position on the table! This is how you shine the light. With “you gotta love the sinner” should come why God hates the sin! How about, “the Bible clearly states in…”
We are so politically correct these days that we can’t just say, living together is a sin (chapter and verse), the homosexual lifestyle is a sin (chapter and verse), and worshiping your car is a sin (chapter and verse). Hey, God has a position on all of this. It goes something like this: “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.” (Eph. 5:5) Ouch, where’s the sensitivity? Where’s the tolerance? Not only is it a matter of forfeiting your inheritance, but certain wrath is coming, just like there was in Sodom.
Paul wraps things up with a therefore. “Do not be partakers with them!”
Before I wrap things up, just a mild editorial comment on those who might criticize Christians who harp on the do’s and don’ts in scripture. What about grace, they might say. Well, Paul harps on them (do’s and don’ts) throughout this passage, and even says in Romans 6:15: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” We are saved by grace, but if we live in such a way that all the aforementioned bad things are “named” among us, we can only beg for the same mercy afforded to Lot, and that noted by Jude!
As in any training, you play like you practice. When actions become rote, muscle memory takes over. To me, after years of allowing the Holy Spirit to filter what I say (most of the time), I have a good handle on “course jesting.” But it’s not my willpower that’s the trick; it’s God’s power to change.
So here are two do’s: walk in love and walk as light.