Second Corinthians

Commentary on the Book of Ephesians

By: Tom Lowe                                         Date: 10/27/17

 

Lesson 21: Do Not Conform to their Sinfulness (Ephesians 5:1-7)

 

 

Ephesians 5:1-7 (KJV)

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

 


Introduction

This passage gives a needed spiritual health warning for Christians in the West, and increasingly in every continent.  The media daily bombard our lives with words and images which express all of the things Paul mentions.  We can easily be desensitized to the sinful by what has become “normal” in our society.  The danger, then, is that we begin to think of the morally abnormal as normal and the things that tend to cause morale carelessness as matters of indifference.  Christ-like love banishes the indecent.  Smut should be suffocated in the holy atmosphere of our fellowship.

 

 

Commentary

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

 

AS CHRISTIANS OUR GOAL IS TO BE CHRISTLIKE FOR WE ARE HIS CHILDREN.

 

We have learned that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and seals every believer, and that we can grieve the Holy Spirit.  If we engage in those things mentioned in chapter 4 verse 31{1], it means we will grieve the Holy Spirit—but it does NOT mean that we are no longer children of God.  It DOES mean that the unsaved world won’t believe that we are the children of God.  We are, however, SEALED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD UNTIL THE DAY OF REDEMPTION, the day when the Spirit of God will present the church to the Lord Jesus.  This goal should lead us to chaste conduct.

 

Having been born again through faith in Christ, the Christian is therefore one of the “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4); and since “God is love” it is logical that God’s children will walk in love. When Paul encouraged his readers to “walk in love,” he was not asking them to do something that was foreign to the Christian life; for we have received a new nature that wants to express itself in love.  This love is not mere sentiment and feeling.  It is love that gives all, that counts no sacrifice too great for the object on which it is fixed.  The old nature is basically selfish, and for this reason builds walls and declares war. But the new nature is loving, and therefore builds bridges and proclaims peace.

 

The believer is to be an imitator of God, especially in the matter of forgiveness.  However, this applies to all aspects of the Christian walk.  The Gentiles who formerly walked on a very low plane are now lifted to the high level of LOVE.  They are now called “dear children” or beloved children.  The plane of love to which they are lifted is the love which Christ exhibited when He loved us enough to give Himself as an offering and a sacrifice for us.  This is awesome; imagine God speaks of us the same way He spoke of Jesus Christ: “This is my beloved Son” (Matt. 3:17). In fact, the Father loves us the same way He loves His Son (John 17:23{2]). We are born into a loving relationship with the Father that ought to result in our love to Him by the way we live. What more could the Father do to show His love to us? Is it asking too much for us to “walk in love” to please Him?

 

When Paul talked of IMITATION he was using language which the wise men of Greece could understand. Imitation was a main part in the training of an orator.  The teachers of rhetoric declared that the learning of oratory depended on three things—theory, imitation and practice.  The main part of their training was the study and the imitation of the masters who had gone before.  It is as if Paul said: “If you were to train to be an orator, you would be told to imitate the masters of speech.  Since you are training in life, you must imitate the Lord of all good life.”

 

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

 

It is in view of the substitutionary, vicarious-death of Christ upon the Cross that the believer is to attain to such an exalted plane of love.  The believer CANNOT walk with a grieved Holy Spirit, for only the Spirit can bring forth this fruit (“love” of God) in the life of a Christian.  Remember that love is first on the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22{3].

 

“And hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” is a clear-cut reference to the Cross.  It makes the death of Christ more than the public execution of a criminal.  The Cross was the brazen altar where the Lamb of God was offered as the burnt sacrifice.  That sacrifice takes away the sin of the world.  It identifies Christ with every sacrifice that was offered in the Old Testament by God’s command.  THEY ALL POINTED TO HIM.

 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to His disciples; “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

 

Above all the Christian must imitate the love and the forgiveness of God.  Paul uses a typical Old Testament phrase, “a sweet-smelling savour,” which goes back to a very old idea, as old as sacrifice itself.  When a sacrifice was offered on the altar, the odor of the burning meat went up to heaven and the god to whom the sacrifice was offered was supposed to feast upon that odor.  A sacrifice which had the odor of a sweet savor was especially pleasing and especially acceptable to the god to whom it was offered. Paul takes the old phrase which time had hallowed—it occurs almost 50 times in the Old Testament—and uses it for the sacrifice that Jesus brought to God.  The sacrifice of Jesus was well-pleasing to God.

 

What was that sacrifice?  It was a life of perfect obedience to God and of perfect love to men, and obedience so absolute and a love so infinite that they accepted the Cross.  What Paul says is: “Imitate God.  And you can do so only by loving men with the same sacrificial love with which Jesus loved them and forgiving them in love as God has done.”

 

If God treated mankind like some Christians treat each other . . .  And like some Christians treat their sinner neighbors and friends . . .  This earth would be a place of untold agony.  Jesus loved his enemies . . .  He did not compromise with them, He did not love their sin, but He loved them.  The essence of Christianity is love, and if we do not love our fellow man that we see, how can we love God whom we cannot see?  We love Him . . .  Because He first loved us, and if we are born again . . .  Spiritually minded as we ought to be . . .  We will display love in our daily living.

 

True love is two-fold, as expressed here:

  1. TRUE LOVE DENIES SELF. Jesus the very Son of God was rich but for our sakes became poor.  He took a body—and in that body He suffered, bled and died.  He denied Himself . . .  “Not my will, but thine be done.” He said, “I came not to do my will, but the will of the Father.” He never performed any miracle for selfish reasons.  The love of Jesus is self-denying.  He gave His life, His all.  He gave up ALL for us; we should be willing to give up ALL for him.
  2. JESUS SACRIFICED ALL, and gave Himself an offering to God “for a sweet-smelling savour.” “The sacrifice Jesus made gratified (or pleased) God.  Three times in an audible voice God said, “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED”. . .  “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED; HEAR YE HIM” . . .  “I HAVE GLORIFIED THY NAME, AND I WILL GLORIFY THY NAME ON THE EARTH.” As I said earlier in the lesson, if we do not sacrifice because we love Jesus then our sacrificial living, abstaining, and doing does not glorify God and is of no eternal value.

 

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

 

Now, Paul goes on to another matter.  It has been said that chastity was the one new virtue which Christianity introduced into the world.  It is certainly true that the ancient world regarded sexual immorality so lightly that it was no sin at all.  It was the expected things that a man should have a mistress.  In places like Corinth the great Temples were staffed by hundreds of priestesses who were sacred prostitutes whose earnings went to the upkeep of the Temple.

 

We are “saints,” that is, we are “set apart ones” and no longer belong to the world of darkness around us. We have been “called out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It is beneath the dignity of a saint to indulge in the sins that belong to the world of darkness, some of which Paul names here. He warns us against the sexual sins (fornication, uncleanness) which were so prevalent in that day―and are prevalent today. Sad to say, these sins have invaded the homes of Christians and brought grief to local churches, too.

 

The SINS described here are those which are prevalent among unbelievers. These are the common sins in the world today. All of them have to do with low forms of immorality.  Paul is saying that the child of God CANNOT habitually engage in these.  Even a slight indulgence in them brings about a revulsion and agony of soul.  I have heard this statement many times, and I believe it is true; if you can get into sin and NOT be troubled or bothered by it, you are NOT a child of God.  I do not think there is another alternative.  But if there is a conviction in your heart, you can arise and go to your Father as the Prodigal Son did.  You are a son of the Father, and only sons want to go to the Father’s house.  I have never heard of a pig that wanted to go there.  The sins listed here are low sins which characterize the ungodly person.

 

When you as a believer go to God to confess your sins, you don’t just bundle them up and hand the bundle to God.  It is not a wholesale affair.  Rather, you spell out each sin to Him.  For example, if you have a biting tongue and are a gossip that hurts people, tell Him that is your sin.  When you go to God in confession and name the specific sin, it restores fellowship with Him.  These sins are sins that believers drop into sometimes.  When they do, they are to confess them to God.

 

The great need of all believers is to go to God and tell Him what is really in our hearts.  Someone may say, “It is just unbelievable that Christians would even commit such sins as are listed here.” Friend, if you have been a Christian for any time at all, you would know that they do fall into these sins.  Many Christian people feel that they have committed an unpardonable sin, but they have not.  There is a way back to God!

 

“Fornication” is accepted by the world as normal conduct.  It is a sin that is looked upon as NOT being very bad.  When the gross immorality of the hour started creeping in, it was called the new morality.  Some time ago many of us were shocked when we heard that in the college dormitories the boys and girls were in the same building but on different floors.  Now it has changed so that boys and girls are roommates.  When I went to college the boys could visit in the living room of the girls’ dormitory.  And I still think that is the best way to do it.  I’ll stick with the Bible.  Fornication is a sin.  Regardless of where you are or who you are, if you are living in fornication today, you cannot be a child of God.  Someone may say, “Wait a minute.  You said the child of God could confess a sin and come back into fellowship with God.” That is right, but a child of God cannot confess a sin and then persist in living in that sin.  That is a dead giveaway that such a person is NOT a child of God.

 

“All uncleanness” includes all forms of immorality.

 

“Covetousness” may seem out of place following “fornication” and “uncleanness,” but these sins are just different expressions of the same basic weakness of a fallen nature―uncontrolled appetite. The fornicator and the covetous person each desire to satisfy the appetite by taking what does not belong to them.  “Covetousness” is a greedy selfish desire—and NOT just for money or material wealth.  It may be a desire to be mentally superior to someone else.  It could be coveting a home or a position.  Some people would love to be president of something.  Of course, it also includes the coveting of MONEY.  It has been said that the miser thinks dollars are flat so he can stack them, and the prodigal thinks they are round so he can roll them.  Whether one stacks them or spends them, covetousness means gaining everything for your own selfish ends. The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16{4]) would describe these three sins. “Let there be not even a hint of these sins!” said Paul.

 

“Let it not be once named among you.” This means they are not to be spoken of with approval or desire.  Obviously, I am naming the sins with neither approval nor yearning.  These sins are to be so foreign to Christians that not the slightest intimation or suspicion of their presence among them can occur.

 

 “Filthiness” speaks of the utmost in depravity.  These are the low-down, dirty things one hears today.

 

Two indications of a person’s character are what makes him laugh and what makes him cry. The saint of God sees nothing humorous in obscene language or gestures. “Foolish talking” does not mean innocent humor but rather senseless conversation that cheapens the man and does not edify or minister grace to the hearers (Eph 4:29). Paul is not condemning small talk because much conversation falls into that classification. He is condemning foolish talk that accomplishes no good purpose. So, “foolish talking” means to gloat, or brag about sinning.  Have you ever heard men or even women boast about how much they drank at a party?  Have you heard them boast of their conquests in the realm of sex?  That is “foolish talking.”

 

“Jesting” does NOT mean good, clean humor—I’d be guilty if jesting meant that.  Jesting means to make light of sensuality and immorality.  It means telling dirty stories.  This suggests a certain kind of conversationalist who can turn any statement into a VULGAR jest.  The gift of wit is a blessing, but when it is attached to a filthy mind or an immoral motive, it becomes a curse.  There are quick-witted people who can pollute any conversation with jests that are always inappropriate (out of place).  How much better it is for us to be quick to give thanks!  This is certainly the best way to give glory to God and keep the conversation pure.  Christians who have God’s Word in their hearts (Colossians 3:16{5]) will always season their speech with salt (Colossians 4:6{6]); for grace in the heart means grace on the lips.

 

“But rather giving of thanks” is to be an element of Christian conversation.  I read that a preacher said, I would often play golf with a very wonderful Christian layman whom I loved in the Lord.  Sometimes an unsaved man would join us.  He would make a few bad shots, and then he would lose his temper.  He would ask God to damn the golf course, and sand traps, his golf clubs, and anything else he could think of.  My friend would always say, “Praise the Lord, bless the Lord.” The unbeliever would ask, “Why do you say that?” the Christian would ask, why do you take God’s name in vain?” the reply would be, “It’s a habit.” “It’s also a habit with me,” my friend would say.  “Every time I hear a man ask God to damn something, I praise and thank Him for something.  I sort of want to balance the budget down here.” On several occasions that stopped the cussing.  And it is good for us as Christians to make a habit of giving thanks.

 

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

 

When we trusted Christ we became kings in the kingdom of God (John 3:3{7]); but we are also awaiting the full revelation of His kingdom when He returns (2 Timothy 4:1{8]).  Paul makes it clear that people who deliberately and persistently live in sin will not share in God’s kingdom. “Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21).  “Whoremonger” is a translation of the Greek word pornos, from which we get our word pornography, and it means “one who practices fornication—illicit sex.” The morally unclean and the covetous will join the fornicator in judgment.  Paul equates covetousness with idolatry, for it is the worship of something other than God.  These warnings deal with the habitual practice of sin, and not the occasional act of sin.  David committed adultery, yet God forgave him and one day took him to heaven.  Certainly David was disciplined for his sin, but he was NOT rejected by God.

 

It is clearly understood that the unregenerate man who practices these SINS has no place in the kingdom of Christ and God. If a professing Christian practices these sins, he immediately classifies himself. No matter what his testimony may be on Sunday or what position he may have in the church, such a person is saying to the lost world that he is NOT a child of God. To live in the corruption of the flesh is to place one’s self beyond the protection and support of a child of God.

 

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

 

In Paul’s day, there were FALSE Christians who argued that believers could live in sin and get away with it.  These deceivers had many arguments to convince ignorant Christians that they could sin repeatedly and still enter God’s kingdom.  “You were saved by grace!” they argued.  “Therefore go ahead and sin that God’s grace might abound!” Paul answered that foolish argument in Romans 6―“Sin in the life of the believer is different from sin in the life of an unsaved person!” Yes― it’s worse!  God judges sin no matter where He finds it, and He does NOT want to find it in the life of one of His own children.  I personally believe that no true Christian can ever be lost, but he will prove the reality of his faith by an obedient life.

 

In view of the fact that the WRATH OF GOD will be poured out on the unregenerate because of these sins, it follows that the child of God cannot participate in them without incurring the displeasure and judgment of God. If such a person is really a child of God, God will judge him. He judged David, you may recall. When David slipped into sin, God put the lash on his back and never took it off. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).

 

There are many professors who are not possessors (Matthew 7:21-23{9]).  A Christian is not sinless, but he does sin less― and less― and less!  The Christian is a king and it is beneath his dignity to indulge in the practices of the lost world that is outside the kingdom of God. 

 

Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

 

If you can sin and get by with it, you are not a child of God. Do you know why? Because God would have to condemn you with the world, which would mean that you are NOT saved. If you are a child of God and do these things, God will chasten you―He will take you to the woodshed right here and now. If God doesn’t chasten you, you are in a dreadful condition. It means you are NOT His child, because God does not spank the devil’s children.

 

Immorality will exclude a man from “the kingdom of Christ and of God”—from full and final salvation.  The immoral person, that is, “one who is COVETOUS (an idolater),” has his own category. “Covetousness” in its widest sense is worship of Mammon; in its narrower sexual sense it is worship of the flesh. The Christian, Paul continues, will pay no attention to the deceiver who tells him otherwise.  “These things,” immoral actions, bring down God’s wrath on “the sons of disobedience,” the men who despised God and His laws.  CHRISTIANS SHOULD SHUN THEIR COMPANY.  Paul does not mean that we should leave the world all together (1 Corinthians 5:10{10]).  Rather, we should have no natural connection with ungodliness—spiritually we have nothing in common with such darkness.

 

 

Scripture and special notes

 

[1} “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” (Eph. 4.31)

[2} “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:23)

[3} “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,” (Galatians 5:22)

[4} “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16)

[5} “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)

[6} “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6)

[7} “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

[8} “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;”(2 Timothy 4:1) 

[9} “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

[10} “Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.”(1 Corinthians 5:10)

 

 

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