Reflections on Ephesians 5

Ephesians 5  1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

The apostle Paul emphasizes how vital holiness is among the saints, and within his Church. With the warnings of Matthew 5, and the prevalence of immorality in our culture these words should give each of us pause. To make a covenant with our eyes, and to guard our hearts, and to possess our vessel in sanctification and honor. Paul makes it clear that this consideration should effect what we say, the language we use, what we think about, what we desire, and finally what we do. As Jesus so clearly thought, simply not committing the act is insufficient, it isn’t what is on the outside of the vessel that defiles–“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts” such as “adulteries and fornication” (Matt 15:19)

Central to the word “love” (v2) is the idea of sacrifice, “Love seeketh not her own” (1Cor 13:5). When placed in the context we see here in Ephesians 5 love for God stands in stark contrast to immorality, impurity, and covetous. If given the choice of chastity (in  word, thought, and deed), or a relationship with Jesus Christ, which would be your choice? What circumstances or situations would test your breaking point? John writes in 1 John 5:3 “this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous.” What situations would  make this commandment grievous to you?

In verse 5 Paul identifies the real root of this issue of immorality, which is idolatry. What is idolatry? Putting something or someone in the position that only God should rightly occupy. Placing ultimate worth in something or someone other than God. Unless we begin to understand that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 13:30) we miss what it means to be his disciple. Unless we understand that discipleship begins by denying yourself we fail to enter through the straight gate.

Love between a husband and wife can be one of the most beautiful pictures this world holds. This is the case only if it is a true picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. In contrast, immorality is not love, it is just the opposite, it is a blasphemy against the message that God intends it to be. When a person places saving faith in Jesus Christ, they become one with Him. Once that relationship has been consummated by faith, there is nothing that can separate that person from the love of God. “This is a great mystery.”

Paul wrote to  the church of Corinth and said:  “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2Co 11:2). As a pastor I too am jealous with godly jealousy. It is my desire to present my church as a “pure virgin” to Christ. Guard your hearts with all diligence. Love the Lord with all your heart.

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