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Friday, March 15 2019

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

INTRODUCTION:

In last week’s study we looked at the reason why God gave gifts to the church (for growth onto unity) and were admonished how we should live as Christians (forsaking our old lifestyles and putting on the new man daily). Today’s study covers verses 1-14 of Ephesians chapter 5 - a continuation of Paul’s instruction about Christian living. 

  1. EXHORTATION TO BROTHERLY LOVE.  Verses 1 and 2

“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.”

The Message version so beautifully puts it this way and takes the need away for any further interpretation:

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behaviour from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. (MSG) Emphasis mine

  1. CAUTIONS AGAINST SEVERAL SINS. Verses 3-4

“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.

Once again see the way the Message version puts it.

“Don't allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. 4 Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, Christians have better uses for language than that. Don't talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn't fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect.

Here, Paul was talking about the habits of life they should not practice -- impurity, greed, course speech -- and harshly reminding them those whose lives are characterized by such things do not have an inheritance from God but instead an expectation of God’s wrath. These sins must be dreaded and detested. A greedy/covetous man makes a god of his money; places his hope, confidence, and delight, in worldly goods, which should be in God only.

  1. THE CONSEQUENCES. Verses 5-7

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.” Emphasis mine

Those who allow themselves, either in the lusts of the flesh or the love of the world, belong not to the kingdom of grace, nor shall they come to the kingdom of glory. When the vilest transgressors repent and believe the gospel, they become children of obedience, from whom God's wrath is turned away. Dare we make light of that which brings down the wrath of God?

These works of darkness are unfruitful, whatever profit they may boast; for they end in the destruction of the impenitent sinner. There are many ways of abetting, or taking part in the sins of others; by commendation, counsel, consent, or concealment. And if we share with others in their sins, we must expect to share in their plagues. If we do not reprove the sins of others, we have fellowship with them. A good man will be ashamed to speak of what many wicked men are not ashamed to do.

  1. LIGHT AND DARKNESS. Verses 8 – 14

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”” Emphasis mine

Paul starts off in verse 8 admonishing us to walk as children of light, as having knowledge and holiness and then goes further in verse 9 and talks about:

(a)        The Fruit of the Light: Paul lists several aspects of this way of living goodness, righteousness and truth, and he describes them as the “fruit of the light.” Paul imagines the reality of being light issuing forth in the fruit of goodness (a quality he connects to the Christian life in several of his letters: Romans 15:14; Galatians 5:22; 2 Thessalonians 1:11), righteousness (one of his favourite and most important theological terms), and truth (frequently associated with the life of and in God).

Because these qualities are not “tangible” Paul follows this list with the affirmation that the person who is light will need to test out what is pleasing to the Lord. In other words, “What is goodness, righteousness, and truth?” are not simple questions. They must be discerned with the aids God has provided: The Spirit, the Scriptures, and the Church.

(b)       The Fruitless Deeds of Darkness: Darkness produces unfruitful works. It is not simply the case that darkness produces no fruit, but even more dangerously it produces works that are the opposite. In this instance, there exists not simply the absence of the good but the presence of the corrupt. Paul instructs the Ephesians not to fellowship with such things.

In addition to avoiding unfruitfulness, Paul asks his readers to reprove -- to speak against -- such works. His is not an instruction for passive avoidance, but for active critique. This action might be one way in which Paul envisions the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and especially truth becoming ripe. To speak against the fruitless deeds of darkness is, itself, a demonstration of healthy fruit.

The group Paul has categorized as darkness do things in secret which are so shameful to talk about. When the people who are light reprove these things they move out from under the cover of secrecy and darkness into the state of revelation. Back-room deals that result in oppression, any kind of exploitation, or deeds that result in shame come to light when they are reproved.

(c)        Christ Will Shine on You: In a fascinating turn, then, Paul declares that everything which has been revealed (everything which has been named in reproof) is now light. The transformation of verse 8 is repeated. Darkness is now light. If the people of the light expose the deeds of those in darkness, that reproof can result in those people’s transformation. Paul’s citation of a poem makes it more likely that salvation is in fact in view.

Because the light of Christ has come, the Ephesians have been radically transformed, and they have a call, a responsibility, to usher in the shining of his light upon others so they too can be transformed. Moving into the light brings initial pain to the eyes, and the cultivation of fruit takes effort, but the transition is worth it. For who would not relinquish the secret and shameful darkness of death in order to walk in the light as children of the God of light?

CONCLUSION

Today’s study of Ephesians 5:1-14 has defined the situation of a believer who is not walking in fellowship with God, who is not producing fruit, who is not producing work for the Lord and is even involved in a lifestyle of sin. The passage exhorts believers to imitate God in their daily walk. In so doing it indicates the undesirability and the consequences of a disobedient life. Verses 7-12 indicate the shamefulness of going back to the disgusting lifestyle of the world after Christ had sacrificed Himself so that the believer would not have to be a slave to sin and suffer eternal condemnation. The passage says to act instead like the person that a believer is: a child of light possessing eternal life, (v. 8), rather than to act like the world and suffer the consequence of losing one's inheritance in the kingdom of Christ for being immoral, (v. 5).

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