Summary: Here’s how to live pure lives in an impure age.
Ephesians Chapter 5:1-21
Pastor Eric J. Hanson
September 21, 2008
We are wise to remember that when the Apostles wrote the letters we now have as books of the New Testament, they did not write them with chapter and verse divisions. They simply wrote them as God inspired communication. I mention this at this time, simply to point out that the first two verses of Ephesians Chapter five are, in fact, a completion of the thoughts at the end of chapter four.
(Read 1 & 2 now.)
Whenever we see “therefore” in scripture, we need to look back a little to see what it’s there for. If we re-read verses 25-32 of the previous chapter, we see that verses one and two of chapter five are capstone instructions. They also remind us that godly love is of a self sacrificing nature, and puts others ahead of self.
Verse three builds on the love foundation by excluding three things which have no legitimate place in our lives as the people of God. The first of these is immorality, which is any form of sex outside of the holy bonds of the marriage of a man and a woman, is the first of these. We live in an immoral age, just as the first century believers did. We need to do whatever it takes to walk free from immoral behavior. Perhaps the best two safeguards are these:
1. Don’t take in immoral content. Avoid all music, television, internet content, magazines, dirty talk, etc which promote or normalize immoral choices and behavior.
2. Don’t walk into temptation. If you are in a dating relationship, don’t go off and get alone in each other’s apartment. Don’t go to the drive in alone, etc. Avoid all situations which make present temptation. Bring other people in on this so that there is accountability, because we need that. Avoiding immorality in a sex soaked and highly immoral age takes real work and sacrifice. Don’t take this lightly.
The second thing named is impurity, which is a huge category. If you or I let our mind dwell on a sexual fantasy, even if we don’t act on it, that is, in truth, impurity. If anyone does good things for the wrong reasons, and becomes resentful if they don’t receive the credit in the way they think they should, that too is impurity. If anyone desires to be honored above other people, it is impure. There are hundreds of forms of impurity. Only by going to the Cross of Jesus Christ and dying to self daily, can we walk free of impurity.
Greed is the third thing listed in verse three as not to even be named among us as saints. Greed is revealed when we put our desires ahead of the needs of others. Greed resents the success of others and it breeds envy. Greed says “You owe me!” Greed leads to hoarding of money and things. Greed seeks to make me unaware of the genuine needs of others, whether they are near or far away. Greed leads to CEOs of failing firms cooking the books so that they receive huge undeserved bonuses. Greed also leads unions to demand benefits and wages which are so high, that they harm and sometimes even bankrupt the corporation.
As believers in the Lord, greed is to have no place in our lives. We are called to a higher standard than greed, impurity, and immorality. We are called to the standard of agape; the sacrificial God kind of love!
Then, as if verse three wasn’t enough to chew on, the apostle continued along the same lines in verse 4. (Read it now.) He added another category of concern called filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting.
When I worked at the Ripley and Fletcher garage, I heard filthy joking and comments go on constantly. If a good looking woman or teen girl so much as walked by, it set off a flurry of comments ranging from the mild to the extreme. It was the same way in the stock room at Ames department store. It was the same way in the showroom at Canton Chevrolet. The sales manager would speak out sexual fantasies about female customers, often in the form of so called jokes.
One day at home, I decided to tune into a TV channel I had never watched. It is called comedy central. I quickly learned that it had little in common with the comedy of the Andy Griffin show or Leave it to Beaver. After that one time, I don’t even consider watching comedy central, ever. It is a fountain of filth. Most so-called comedy today is that way. Most situation comedies on TV today are totally unfit for human consumption. They normalize immorality and they joke about it too. Non-comedy shows tend to be the same way. I’ll go as far as to say that we citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven need to be very picky about what we will watch on TV, in movies, or on our computer screens. If we need to team up with others for daily accountability, then let’s get on with it! Let’s win against filthiness, silly (or insulting) talk, and coarse jesting!