Ephesians 5:1-7

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 2, 2006


There’s a purpose and flow to this letter written to the Ephesians.  We’ve called it “Sit-Walk-Stand”.

In the first three chapters, Paul talks about how we are “seated” in the heavenlies.  He talks about all the wonderful things that God has done for us.

In chapters 4-5, the emphasis is on “walk”, on how we are to walk the Christian life, how we are to act.

The last chapter talks about spiritual warfare and how we are to “stand” against the enemy.

But before we can “walk” or “stand”, we need to “sit”.  Before we can do a decent job at living the Christian life and fighting the battle around us, we need to get a clue as to what God has done for us.

Last week we again saw how our own actions ought to flow from who God is and what He’s done for us:

(Eph 4:32 NKJV)  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

Now Paul gets to the point, he clarifies how our actions are to reflect God’s work in us:

:1  Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.

imitatorsmimetes (“mimic”) an imitator


I’m not very good at doing “impressions”, but do you recognize who I’m trying to imitate?
John Wayne:  “Well pilgrim, it seems this town ain’t big enough for the both of us”
Groucho:  “I could wait for you until the cows come home, but better yet, I think I’ll wait for the cows until you come home”
W.C.Fields:  “Move along boy, you’re bothering me” or “a man who hates kids and dogs can’t be all bad”
Kermit:  “It ain’t easy being green”
Mike Soscia:  Angel’s cap, tug at lip, try to do hand signals.

I wonder how it would look to do an “impression” of God?

(Eph 4:32 NKJV)  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Loving your enemies:
(Mat 5:43-45 NKJV)  "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' {44} "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, {45} "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Being merciful:
(Luke 6:36 NKJV)  "Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

childrenteknon offspring, children; the word has an aspect where it points to parentage (as in, “Who’s your daddy?”); it has an emphasis on physical and outward aspects of descent – (you look or act like your daddy)


Whose Boy Are You?
An old preacher named Fred Craddock used to tell a story about a fellow he ran into on a vacation in Tennessee.  They were in a little restaurant and this fellow was going from table to table shaking hands and making small talk with folks.  When he came to their table and found out the Mr. Craddock was a preacher, he shared his story …
“I’m Ben Hooper,” he said. “I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born, so I had a pretty hard time. When I started to school, my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and lunch time because the things they said to me cut me so deep. What wash worse was going to town on Saturday afternoons and feeling like every eye was burning a hole through me, wondering just who my father was. “When I was about 12 years old, a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in the church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me. ‘Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’ he asked. I felt this big weight coming down on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down. But as he looked down at me, studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. ‘Wait a minute!’ he said. ‘I know who you are. I see the family resemblance now. You are a child of God.’ With that he slapped me across the rump and said, ‘Boy, you’ve got a great inheritance. Go and claim it.’
Those were the most important words anyone had ever said to Ben Hooper.  Mr. Craddock found out later that Ben Hooper went on to become governor of Tennessee.

Whose child are you?  Who’s your Father?  Can people see the resemblance?

:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

In verse 1, we are called “beloved” children.  Now we are to walk in “love”.  Mimic.


Sacrificial love.

This is how we are to act.
(1 John 3:16 KJV)  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
The test of godly love is whether or not you will lay down your life.
Sometimes we get caught up in the romantic notion of dying for another person.  The terrorist shoots his gun and as things go into slow motion, you dive across the room as your friend shouts “nooooooooo”, and then the bullet hits you in the chest, and you die.
But real life is a lot less messy and a lot more complicated than that.
It’s not usually a bullet that God asks you to take.
But sometimes it’s an offense.

Being in a small church, you have the opportunity to get to know other people a little deeper and closer than you might in a bigger church where you never sit next to the same family twice in church.

And having pastured a small church for almost twelve years, I’m becoming quite an expert as to why people leave a church.

Though it does happen – people rarely leave because of doctrinal issues.  We’ve had a few people leave because I teach a pre-trib view of the rapture.  A few have left because I do not teach Calvinism.  But just a few.

More often than not, people leave because they get offended or have their feelings hurt somewhere along the way.

And if you stay in our church long enough, there will be a day when I offend you.  Or it may be the jerk sitting in the seat next to you.  But you will be offended.  It may happen on purpose, it may be an accident.  But you will be offended.  Count on it.  In fact it won’t just happen at our church, it will happen at any church you walk into.  That’s because every church that has people in it has people who will offend you.

What will you do when you’re offended?

What does God do when He’s offended?  What would Jesus do if He was offended?

(Rom 5:8 KJV)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

If we are to become “mimics” of God, then we have to learn to die.

We have to be willing to take that offense and die.  Take up your cross and die.

The Romans had a test to see if their crucifixion victims were dead on the cross.  They plunged a spear into their side.

A good test to see if you’ve “died” to the offense is to see what happens when someone pokes you.

This is not just a lesson about “church”.  This is a lesson about life.

Is this the way that you love your friends outside of church?

Is this the kind of love that is in your marriage?  In your family?

:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;

fornicationporneia illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.; any form of sex outside the boundary of marriage.

In our society, there is a lot of what we call “making love” that is not love at all.

God’s idea of love is that of giving yourself for another person.  The world’s idea of sex is that of taking what you can get for yourself.
The physical act of sex can indeed be a wonderful expression of love, and I think that’s the way God designed it.
But God’s design included the faithfulness and commitment of marriage.
(Prov 6:32-33 NKJV)  Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.

The world teaches us that a man and a woman having sex is nothing more than a sharing of some ecstatic experience.  But the Bible teaches that a man and a woman become “one” during the act of sex.  There is something of a sharing of souls that takes place.

(1 Cor 6:16 NKJV)  Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For "the two," He says, "shall become one flesh."

Each time a person has sex with another partner, they are giving away another part of their self, another part of their soul.  You remain more “whole” when you stay faithful to your spouse and only share yourself with them. Solomon hints at this:

(Prov 5:16-17 NKJV)  Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? {17} Let them be only your own, And not for strangers with you.

uncleannessakatharsia uncleanness; simply not being right with God.

covetousnesspleonexia (“more” + “have”) greedy desire to have more.  Love is characterized by “giving”, covetousness is characterized by “getting”.

These kinds of things shouldn’t even be in the same sentence as the word “Christian”.

These activities are not the kinds of things that “fit” someone that God calls “holy”.

:4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting,

filthinessaischrotes filthiness; obscenity, shameless, immoral conduct

foolish talkingmorologia (“foolish” + “speaking”) – talking like a godless fool.  It’s the kind of stuff that many comedians use today, dirty jokes, making fun of people.

coarse jestingeutrapelia (“good” + “turning”) – this word originally meant “versatility in conversation”, but it came to have a negative connotation where a person could take any innocent thing a person could say and make it have a filthy meaning.

fittingPerhaps we could say, “these things don’t come up to the standard of a Christian”

Some people take these verses a bit too extreme to say that Christians shouldn’t even tell jokes.  Humor isn’t wrong.  It’s when the joke is used to destroy or tear down others, when it is not something that demonstrates “love”, that it’s wrong.

:4  but rather giving of thanks.

This is the kind of thing that “fits” those that God has touched.

(Eph 5:4 The Message) 4 Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus 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.

:5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

knowginosko a knowledge grounded on personal experience

People who practice these things won’t have a place in heaven for them.

:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

deceiveapatao to cheat, beguile, deceive

emptykenos empty, vain, devoid of truth

These things that Paul has just told us about are the very reasons that God will one day punish this world.  They are the very things that God will send people to hell over.

:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.



What is sad is that there are many churches who are deceiving people over these issues.
It seems like every year another dying denomination decides that it’s okay with God for a person to be a homosexual.
They would lead people to think that they are changing their doctrines because of love.
A denomination has a commercial on TV where they show a church service with a pastor giving his sermon.  And while he’s talking, different people get ejected out of the church by an “ejection pew”, people who are different.  Then the narrator says that their church is not about rejecting people, but about accepting people.  It has a nice sound to it.
But is it really “loving” to stand their silently on the shore while your friend is in a boat floating down a river headed for Niagara Falls?  Wouldn’t it be more loving to warn them of what’s up ahead?  Wouldn’t it be more loving to throw them a line?  Wouldn’t it be more loving to do whatever you could to get them to the shore?
In Jeremiah’s day, there were false prophets telling the people that everything was going to be okay.  They were telling them that the big bad Babylonians would soon go home and all their fears would be taken care of.  Jeremiah was the only guy warning the people that judgment was on the way and that the only way to survive was to turn to God for help.  He didn’t have a very popular message, but it was the truth.  Judgment did come.


God’s standards

What I’m about to talk about is not a popular thing to discuss.
God is going to judge every one of us.
(Heb 9:27 NKJV)  And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,
And people who do not match God’s requirements for heaven are going to pay for their sins.  And that means that they are going to hell.  Hell is a very real place.
(Rev 21:8 NKJV)  "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
What is hell like?
(Mat 13:41-42 NKJV)  "The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, {42} "and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Some people boast that they’re going to have a party in hell with their friends.  There will be no party.  There will be no friends.  There will just be hell.
God has standards that He’s looking for.
(1 Cor 6:9-11 NKJV)  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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, {10} nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

The truth is, we are all sinners.  And we have all done these kinds of horrible things.

But God has a way out.

Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins.  And when we open our heart to Jesus and ask God to forgive us, then God cleanses us and makes us right in His eyes.


Being Different

He didn’t say “don’t love them”.  He said, “do not be partakers with them”
Jesus loves sinners.  He was often  accused of being a “friend of sinners”.
(Mat 9:10-13 NKJV)  Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. {11} And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" {12} When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. {13} "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."
Paul says we are to be “different”. There’s a reason.

I’m sure this isn’t a perfect illustration, but …

Imagine that a group of friends get off of work and want to go to the beach and have a big beer bash.  They all head down to the beach and sneak their kegs and six packs onto the beach and start drinking.  There are a lot of reasons why it’s illegal to be drinking at the beach, for one thing drunk people are plain obnoxious.  But even more important, drunk people don’t swim very well.  They drown.

So the party camps out next to a lifeguard station.  The lifeguard is a nice guy.  He doesn’t even call the cops.  In fact, he strikes up a conversation with some of the people in the party.  And soon the lifeguard is drinking too.  Stinking drunk.

What’s going to happen when the group decides it’s time for a swim?  They’re all going to drown if someone doesn’t help them.  Who will rescue the perishing if the lifeguard is drunk?

Beloved, there are things that are going to “drown” the people of this world.  The list of things that Paul mentions here are just some of them.

And we are the lifeguards.  It’s okay to talk with the people at the party – we ought to do that.  But don’t get caught up into the party.  Be different.  Be ready to rescue the perishing.

Jesus was a “lifeguard”.  He rescued the perishing.

Be a lifeguard.