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. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 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. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
(Ephesians 5:3-7 NIV)
Remember, as we began Ephesians chapter 4, Paul switched from a theological discussion to a practical discussion. Today is a clear example of that switch, where Paul continues his very practical examples of how (or in today’s case, how not) to live as followers of Christ.
As we saw in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 5, Paul said we are to walk in the way of love, imitating God as a little child imitates his or her father and wants to be just like him.
In today’s passage, Paul tells us what “walking in the way of love” does not look like – the antonym or opposite of Christ’s example.
And what are the areas that Paul warns us against, where there should not even be a hint of it in our lives?
- sexual immorality
- impurity (sexual sin) of any kind
And what else should be a trademark of our walk with Christ?
- obscenity – foul language
- foolish talk – gutter mouth or potty mouth
- coarse joking – making inappropriate jokes out of something otherwise pure and good
Paul warns the Ephesians (and us) that there will be those who will downplay these shameful and sinful acts and mindsets, saying stuff like, “oh, it’s just love”, or “don’t be a prude, it’s just a harmless joke”. Paul says that is not so at all – that God’s wrath is poured out on those who are disobedient and promote these ideas and thoughts. We are not to be partners with them in any way, shape, or form.
In our sex-crazed society, it’s a tough mission to stay pure and focused on Christ. The words, the images, the ideas are everywhere, and in everything. The marketers are right – sex sells. It appeals to our lower nature, our flesh, our human tendencies, and the deep desire to love and be loved. But these all end badly, and end up not delivering on their promise of fulfillment.
But as followers of Christ, we are called to something so much better than all these temptations – we are offered the unconditional love of God, through his Son, Jesus Christ. God’s love is sacrificial toward us, even when we are hopelessly mired in the cesspool of life, Jesus wades in, pulls us out, and saves us. God goes on to give us meaning and purpose in life, to redeem us and use us for His glory and honor.
Truly, it’s a supernatural miracle, and as we consider the depth of our sin, should break our hearts and drive us to seek Him and thank Him even more… in fact, to dedicate our lives to serving and honoring Him for giving us new life from our former sinful ways.
Only in Christ can our deepest desire to love and be loved be met and fulfilled.