Summary: There is a lot of talk about true love. But what is true love? So much of what passes for true love is really the opposite. In Ephesians 5:3-7 we learn that there is such a thing as false love and that the consequences are serious for those who are fooled
I want to begin our time together today by telling you the true story of a duke who lived during the fourteenth century named Raynald III. Raynald III lived a life of indulgence and was obese. His Latin nickname was Crassus, which means, “fat.”
One day Raynald and his younger brother, Edward, got into a vicious fight and Edward planned and executed a triumphant revolt against Raynald. Edward took his older brother into custody but did not take his life. Edward decided to construct a room around Raynald in the Nieuwkerk Castle and promised his brother that he would enjoy freedom once again when he was able to leave the room.
Now for the average Joe this wouldn’t have been much of a challenge, because the room Edward built had a number of windows and a door of near-normal size. Neither the door nor the windows were locked - - they weren’t barricaded. So you’re getting the picture by now: In order to experience his freedom again Raynald needed to loose weight. But his brother Edward was no dummy, because he knew just how to keep Raynald imprisoned. Every day he would send Raynald an assortment of tasty foods. And what took place is just sad: Instead of dieting his way to freedom, Raynald grew more overweight and he stayed in that room for ten years until his brother died. But by that time his health was so awful that he kicked the bucket within a year. We can say that Raynald III was a prisoner of his own appetite for food.
So many people today are prisoners to their appetite for lust. Like good ole’ Raynald they may appear to be free, maybe even on cloud nine. They know what they like and they know how to get it. They are doing what feels good to them. But the fact is that every bite they take into the tastiness of lust only makes them more of a prisoner. When you and I indulge in a life of sin and do whatever feels good, we are anything but free. We are, according to God’s Word, slaves to sin.
During our last time together we were reminded of what true love looks like as we beheld the amazing love of God in Christ that forgives us of our deepest sins. Paul’s tells us in Ephesians 5:2 that Christ’s giving of himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God was a sacrifice that demonstrated in the fullest and most ultimate way God’s kind of love. Now Paul moves the subject of self-sacrifice to its’ very opposite, self-indulgence. From genuine love to that perversion of love which is really a false love - - lust.
And as we approach today’s passage we are reminded of a very important truth: Whatever God creates Satan will counterfeit. Where God creates true love, Satan fabricates false love. False love typifies Satan’s children, those who are of the world, just as true love typifies God’s children, those who are citizens of heaven.
In Ephesians 5:3-7, the apostle Paul is contrasting two types of love. He has already given us the specifics of true love by pointed to the sacrificial death of Jesus. Now he is going to give us the specifics of false love by pointing out the conduct and conversation that is the opposite of true love. He deals with false love in the passage before us today. Let’s look first of all at...
1. The Portrait of False Love (3-4)
A. The Conduct of False Love (v.3)
(3) But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
There is no coincidence that sexual sins tend to dominate this passage because the opposite of true love, of sacrificial love, is a self-indulgent sexuality that is nothing like God’s love. The misguided pursuit for false love leads inevitably to sexual immorality and any kind of impurity because that kind of love is selfish and destructive, a deceptive counterfeit of God’s love. It is always conditional and is always self-centered. It is not concerned about commitment but only satisfaction; it is not concerned about giving but only getting. It has no basis for permanence because its purpose is to use and to exploit rather than to serve and to help. It lasts until the one loved no longer satisfies or until he or she disappears for someone else.
Worldly love is a give-and-take type love, giving little in the expectation of getting back a lot. Jesus talked about this false love when he said in Matthew 5:46-47: If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. (NLT)