Ephesians 5:5-7 The New Walk (2): More Reasons Why
1. In Ephesians 4:17-5:4, Paul calls us to live like Christians, to live out the grace God has shown us, to enhance the unity of the body and to promote the glory of God, in six specific areas of the Christian life.
2. What are the six specific areas that Paul addressed?
(1) (in v. 25), Paul emphasizes that we are to promote the unity of the body of Christ and bear witness to the glory of God in the church through our truth-telling.
(2) (in vv. 26-27), Paul stresses that the glory of God and the unity of his family are at stake in the way we manage and express our anger.
(3) (in v. 28), Paul deals with the issue of stealing or dishonesty with other people’s goods and property – and it’s easy to see how that sin would disrupt the unity of the body and wound our witness to the world.
(4) (in vv.29-30), Paul challenges corrupt communication by Christians, commands us to be edifying in our speech, and bids us to take care not to grieve the Holy Spirit with our unwholesome talk.
(5) (in vv. 4:31-5:2), Paul charges us to put away attitudes words and actions that show resentment of God’s providence, and instead are to live lives of kindness and forgiveness, because of God’s kindness to and forgiveness of us. Indeed, we are to aim to be like God in our behavior, love like Christ loved us. In short, we are to confront our own bitterness and instead be characterized by a kind and forgiving spirit.
(6) (in vv. 5:3-4), Paul explains that sexual immorality, impurity, coveting and vulgarity are all inconsistent with who we are, and the we should rather be thankful to God for the gift of sex than speak about it crudely or act immorally.
3. By the way, one of the grand themes of Ephesians 4:17-5:4 is that the Christian life is not self-centered, but God-centered, church-centered, other-focused.
4. Now Paul enters a section of the letter in which he supplies motivations for the living of the Christian life. He wants to arm us with arguments to use with ourselves in the fight against sin. This section comprises Ephesians 5:5-21. So even though, for instance, the theme of 5:3-4 is connected to the theme of 5:5-7, Paul’s focus is shifting to the issue of motivations, reasons, incentives. In this passage (Ephesians 5:5-21), Paul will provide at least four (4) motivations for the living of the Christian life.
5. The first of those motivations is found in Ephesians 5:5-7, were Paul speaks of the certainty of coming divine judgment as a motivation to Christian behavior.
5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;6. Perhaps you’ve heard someone say that grateful response to God’s grace is the only proper motivation of the Christian life, and to be sure, grace is mingled with and underlies every other motivation in Christian experience, but the New Testament gives Christians many reasons, incentives, motivations to right living.
* In this very passage for instance Paul has already offered a motivation to avoid sexual immorality. It is the motivation of realizing that holiness and happiness, obedience and satisfaction go together and are inseparably related. How does he make this point? By offering thankfulness about sex as the alternative to sexual immorality and vulgarity, Paul is reminding us that godliness and joy, happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, meaning go together.
* Elsewhere (1 Cor 6:12-20) Paul gives a Trinitarian theology of the human body as motivation to sexual purity and fidelity. His argument? Our body is built by God the Father, belongs to Christ and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
* Again, in Ephesians 5:3-4, Paul has reminded us that sexual immorality is inappropriate, not fitting, incongruous, contradictory of who we are.
Motivations are important. Businesses work hard to give their employees motivation for productivity. God gives us manifold motivation for godliness in the Bible.
Here, in Ephesians 5:5-7, Paul sets forth the first of four motivations to godliness, and it may surprise you – it is the anticipation of judgment.
I. No unrepentant sexually immoral person has the rewards/blessings of the kingdom (5)
[Whatever they claim, those who live an immoral life, show that they are not in the kingdom of grace]
5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
* Every Christian knows what? – that no one who lives a life of unrepentant sexual immorality is a citizen of God’s kingdom, is a part of the true church, is a recipient of the gift of salvation.
* What does this mean?
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Colossians 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Revelation 21:8 "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
* What does this not mean? – it doesn’t mean we are saved by works, or by a combination of faith and faithfulness. Rather it means that justification and sanctification always come together. There is no one who is justified who is not being sanctified. The set of permanently unrepentant sexually immoral Christian people is empty!
– Note: in the end, it is not even the specific sin, but the unrepentance, that assures final judgment.
II. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise (6)
[The wrath of God to come has always been popular to deny]
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
*religious voices denying judgment
*Be ready for people to try to tell you otherwise
*Be assured, however, that . . .
III. Don’t find yourself under God’s searching, condemning judgment with them (7)
[It is absolutely certain that immorality will be weighed in God’s balances and found lacking]
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;
*Does not mean "don’t associate in any way or have any contact with them" – rather partnering and partaking with them is condemned.
*If you partake, you will partake! If you partake with them in their sin, you will partake with them in judgment.
*Interestingly, only the person who has know grace can/will rightly respond to this message and motivation regarding the judgment.
*Challenge: live in light of your obituary, think about your death, what will have mattered