3 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. 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.
8 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.”
Live a life worthy of the grace you have received. Well, Paul is looping around, he is drawing this section to a close, and actually, it does close with the passage we covered last week. We skipped this passage to talk about being filled with the Holy Spirit, and so we head back. The parallel idea to living in a manner worthy of the grace we have received is found in v. 8 where Paul says they are to live as children of the light. And Paul is expressing a very strong contrast (no puns intended). And so, in keeping with his insistence on folks keeping the law in Chapter 4:25-28, and then he insists folks manage their words, and heart making God Himself as our model 4:29- 5:2. Today Paul continues on the put off, be renewed, put on vein.
- Put off Worldly Pleasures
- Sexual or sensual excesses
He begins with the issue of sexual immorality. Paul did not cover this in the law section in chapter 4, but here it is. What is sexual immorality? It is any expression of human sexuality that is outside of the bonds of marriage. Why is this the case?
- God’s design: Two become one family. Life’s greatest challenges and joys are shared together. Work, family, and relationship with each other and God is shared. We are meant to be helpers suitable for each other. And our time, commitment, love and bodies are given to each other. We move through life together in mutual cooperation and support. This is God’s design.
- Christ’s example: Jesus has partnered with the church. He has given first the Apostles and then more broadly the body of Christ His ministry. We are meant to be in a mutually beneficial relationship with each other.
- There are plenty of Biblical examples of folks not managing this aspect of God’s design well. Men taking more than one wife. Women seducing men, men committing adultery. Each instance is not openly rebuked, especially the Old Testament bigamy, and some marriages are more for political alliance than family intimacy. That was not God’s design.
- Why the desire for sexual immorality? The corrupted nature of the human heart. When we desire what God forbids, our desires become corrupted. We get used to what we have and we desire the new. And in our brains, the new gives us a chemical wash that we love. But in any event, the consequences of sexual immorality are profound.
Our generation and the birth control pill. We feel we can control the human reproductive process. The result is rampant sexually transmitted disease, abortion on demand and the devaluation and destruction of the family. We have sown the wind and are reaping the world wind. 30% of Millenials believe that a successful marriage is an important part of life.
- Greed is idolatry
You cannot serve two masters.
Just as life gets out of balance when sexual desire has too strong a priority, greed will also work in this way.
I Tim 6: 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
How much should making money set our priorities? Well, this is an issue of balance. We exchange our time for money. Family, relationships, managing our world, recreation etc. All of these things have been ours from the beginning. They need to be in balance.
- Your inheritance is united with your family
Live in a manner worthy because it is a sign of the grace of God in you. God does not forgive us of our sins so that we can sin with impunity. Do you struggle with desires that are hard to control? I believe this is relatively normal. The key is to struggle. Your weaknesses should make you grateful for grace, careful with what you do with yourself, and merciful towards others. God’s people in the Bible are imperfect people. But they are growing in their love and obedience to God. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling for God is at work within you both to will and do His good pleasure!
- Wrath is God’s life taking response
God’s wrath is expressed in the removal of life. When desire becomes corrupted and we plunge headlong into addiction, that is wrath. When we no longer believe things that are for our good, that is wrath. Romans 1. God is our creator, when we fail to acknowledge this and go our own way, when we are not grateful to Him and submissive to His character, then we spiral downhill into corrupted and addictive desires. And we delight in taking others down with us.
- Guidelines for Joy
- Common pathways of humor
- Giving thanks as the true pathway to joy
III. The Contrast Here is Hard
Paul is actually going from the specific to the more general in the section that follows. So, if we are not putting off the old, being renewed and putting on the new man, we will not be living as God intended!
- Live as children of light
It’s a yes or no. It’s not hard to do, just an either or. What does it mean to live as a child of light?
They follow the life instructions given in Scripture.
Concerning sexual behavior? Yes.
Concerning God’s plan for family? Yes.
Concerning our attitude toward money? Yes.
Concerning our love for God and others? Yes.
- Find out what pleases God in your life
This is an admonition to know God and you. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. You may struggle in one area and I may not have that issue and this will most likely be true. The point is to have an understanding of how God wants folks to reflect His character and then to have some personal understanding of our shortcomings.
- Everything illuminated becomes a light
This is our opportunity. This is our purpose. We will be light to others. This does not mean that they will respond or appreciate our light. Our job is not to get others to respond to the light, we are to shine.
John 3: 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.