“The Ephesian Example”
August 25, 2019
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
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. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
Last week I was struck by the clear expression of God’s will for our lives.
Do you remember what we learned?
1. The conclusion came first. ““For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and - of God.”
2. The negative side of God’s nature. ““Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.”
3. We have been transformed into a new person. ““For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light…”
4. We are to stay away from evil. ““Therefore do not be partners with them.” To the Corinth Church he says,
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?” 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
5. We are to find out what pleases the Lord. “and find out what pleases the Lord.”
6. We are to expose the darkness. ““Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”
7. We are to be filled with the Spirit and live a Spirit-filled life. “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
As I was reviewing this chapter I realized that’s good advice; that’s good counsel; that’s good preaching! There is so much good stuff in there. In Bible College they taught us to preach only 3 or 4 point sermons – otherwise the hearers can’t remember the points. Seven points are a bit much – I guess that is why I didn’t include the first few verses of this chapter. But as I reread this chapter I realize that those verses are just too good to pass up. So this morning we are going to continue our study in this fifth chapter of Ephesians.
The chapter begins with some wonderful advice for every Christian whether we are old saints or new believers, 1. “Follow God’s example..”
That’s pretty basic and straightforward, but today so many people get lost on the salvation message. You will hear things like, “Just believe”, “Jesus only” “We are saved by grace alone”. Usually the speaker has good intentions and doesn’t mean to preach another Gospel – but that is what they do when they present half-truths. Let me illustrate. Are we saved by faith alone? The Bible says, “It’s impossible to please God without faith…” (Hebrews 11:6) but it also says, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” James 2:24
We must preach the whole Gospel. Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,” Matthew 28:19 But he continued, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:20
The Christians must always seek to follow God’s example in all he does. It takes more than belief – even more than faith. It takes action; it take obedience; it takes a desire to hear and do the will of God. That’s one of the reasons Jesus came. Yes, He came to die for our sins; He came to provide eternal life. But He also came to provide us an example to follow.
Secondly, I want you to know that you are dearly loved. The Scripture says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children…”
It IS important to know you are loved. The world beats us down and leaves us with inferiority complexes and insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. We feel isolated, lonely and unloved. That is the state of most people in the world. Some have given themselves over to the dark side and are twisted into hating everyone and looking down of them – but most people are just trying to survive in their pain and loneliness. They need to know they are loved. Love is what brings most people to Christ. Years ago, the Gaithers wrote a little song that went,
I am loved, I am loved. I can risk loving you. For the One who knows me best, Loves me most
I am loved you are loved. Won't you please take my hand? We are free to love each other, We are loved
I said if You knew me, You wouldn't want me. My scars are hidden by the face I wear. “He said, “my child ,My scars go deeper, It was love for you that put them there”.
We all have scars that the world inflicted upon us and many are from our own hand- but God sees us as we are and He still loves us. He loves us so much He took a cross for us. The world sees our scars and is repulsed. The world sees our differentness and idiosyncrasies and is repelled. Jesus sees us just as we are and calls us His ‘dear child”. You are loved as God’s dear child.
Since we are so valued; so loved; so honored – Paul says, 3. We ought to walk in the way of love. Everything we said in the previous point is also true for
everyone else you meet. And since we are loved – we can risk loving others. We are to walk in the way of love. Well, how do we do that? Paul tells us. He says,
“and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
We are to love others just as Christ loved us. How is that?
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
While we were enemies; while we ignored Him, rebelled against Him; hated Him – He loved us. He cared for us and about us. We are to do the same.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
In case you still aren’t sure how Jesus loved you – Paul tells us. “He gave Himself up for us.” That means we are to give ourselves up for others. Jesus sacrificed Himself for us. We are to sacrifice ourselves for others. Jesus offered Himself for us as a sweet fragrant offering. I like that. The sense of smell is important to God. In the Old Covenant He directed the Temple to be built with an altar of incense. The sweet smell of incense ascended to heaven along with the smell of sacrifice. In the book of Revelation (5:8) it says the prayers of the saints is incense to God. Our communication to God is like sweet perfume to Him. When you pray – it is a lovely thing to God – as a baby’s voice is to a loving parent.
Have you ever heard someone call someone a “stinking so and so”? I don’t know if there is an actual odor or not – but sometimes the way we talk and what we do stinks. It leaves an ugly smell in our wake. When we leave there should be a sweet smell to people. Jesus gave Himself up as a fragrant offering. We need to do the same.
We are to live a life of sacrifice as Jesus did. That gets old fast – doesn’t it? That may be because people take advantage of us when we do that. A lot of people are takers and will just take and take and do nothing in return. And if we are sacrificing and doing acts of kindness for something in return we will always be disappointed. But we aren’t to do them for something in return. We are to do them because Jesus first acted this way to us. We are sacrificing and loving as if we are doing it to Jesus. That’s the only way we can be happy about it. “Do all things as unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:23
Lastly, 4. We are to be above reproach.
“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.”
We live in a day and age where sexuality is all around us. They are teaching our children sexual perversion and the airways are filled with images and music to indoctrinate us to the world’s standards and way of thinking. We have to guard ourselves against it. There shouldn’t be a hint of sexual impurity among us. Innuendos and insinuation and little winks and gestures can convey little secret messages. I almost quit the church because of it when I was a babe in the Lord. I had a Sunday School teacher that flirted with the girls and make suggestive comments and made it clear he was open to something more.
I had just come back from Korea and a very sinful life style. I knew what he was doing. I told the Lord, “If this is the way Christians are – I don’t want to be one of them.” The Lord, in His grace, brought me back – but even a hint of sexual impurity can be devastating. Be careful of it. Sometimes the world will judge you by their standards (or lack of them) and there is not much you can do about that. But as much as is possible – avoid all appearances of evil. (1 Thess. 5:22)
I am sure there is so much more in this chapter that we could learn but I hope these four things will help you in your walk this week.
1. Follow Jesus’ Example
2. You are dearly Loved
3. Walk in the way of Love
4. We are to be above reproach
We are not only to be saved – but sanctified. Jesus is not only to be just our Savior – but our Lord as well. Don’t just talk the talk – walk the walk. Let’s be true Christians – truly Christlike as we follow His example.