Ephesians 5:1-6 The Redline – Is it possible to lose one’s blessing?
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. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Paul gives a stern warning to churchgoers by speaking the truth to them, who supposed by their “ceremonial works” of church attendance, tithe giving and baptism will give them a place in God’s kingdom. God identifies His sons by the state of their heart and their sanctified character. Paul in this passage draws the Redline: a person who continues in a life of sin will not enter God’s Kingdom. Paul urges believers to surrender themselves fully to God and not be complacent towards the devil’s devices that seek to rob us of our salvation and reward.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Paul summarizes the virtues of love by urging believers to be imitators of God; the believer’s ultimate goal is to live a life of full surrender as Christ lives. The greatest feature of Christ’s life is His love for God expressed in the unreserved offering of Himself as a sacrifice to God through His willingness to be punished on behalf of humanity. It is this attitude of total surrender and His love for humanity that gave Jesus the grace to live life without limits; a partial surrender of one’s life will not suffice.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
In view of the blessed life that awaits believers, we must never be held bondage by the heavy sins of sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness. These three sins are singled out because they pose the greatest threat to the blessed life. Paul’s urgency is expressed in his words: … must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
Sexual immorality – The mechanism at work behind the spirit of sexual immorality runs contrary to the sexual attraction between the husband and the wife and serves to draw spouses away from each other. The greatest protection against the spirit of sexual immorality is to maintain emotional and physical attraction within their own marriages. Many great and promising people have fallen from the heights of their career because they were unaware of their own darkness and underestimated its power.
Impurity – This concerns the impure motives of the heart where the conscience is no longer prominent; where God’s grace becomes the license to sin; where a person is accustomed to living in two worlds. For an impure person, the purpose of life is to get what he wants without getting caught. For such, truth and purity are unnecessary hindrances to his quest for the pleasures of the world. Impurity veils a person’s judgment that brings his downfall.
Covetousness – This is the state of desiring to have more than what one possesses. Greediness is an insatiable desire to possess, and yet he is not fulfilled by it. Wealth, fame and power are objects that he craves and constantly consumes him. Covetousness causes one to take illogical decisions that put him at great risks of losing all that he currently possesses.
Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
The manner of speech of those who are under sin’s bondage are: filthy, foolish and crude; it is by their speech that the filth and foolishness of their hearts are revealed. Filthiness refers to verbalizing one’s obscene thoughts and gaining pleasure by flouting moral standards. Foolish talk involves gossiping about the affairs of others by exaggerating or altering the facts for his personal pleasure. Crude joking draws upon the taboos or the sacred things of society and making fun of them; it displays a complete lack of respect for moral standards and for people. Thanksgiving refers to the state of abundant living, one whose heart is filled with God’s grace and gratitude. It is impossible to imagine a foolish talker exalting God for His righteousness and love.
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. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Paul, while speaking to members of the church draws the redline: For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is…, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Paul says in no uncertain terms that church members who are embroiled in sexual immorality, impurity and who is covetous with little respect for God’s laws will have no inheritance in God’s kingdom. Paul at this instance equates covetousness with idolatry, which involves worship and communion with evil spirits.
And again he says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words…” Empty words are words that are devoid of content, value or purpose; they are words that do not reveal the consequences of sin or give the impetus to turn back from their wicked ways. For people who have little regard for God’s laws or gratitude for God’s grace, there is little value in reiterating the power of the blood, or the believer’s ordination for greatness. On the contrary, such words may even “deceive” the person into a false sense of security, which Paul categorically adds, “…for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
- When a believer transgresses a major commandment, he enters the territory of the devil and exposes himself to the attacks of Satan. Sexual immorality and idolatry are major transgressions against the 10 commandments (see Exodus 20:1-17). When any of the 10 commandments are transgressed, there may be physical consequences. Consequences may include discipline from God, attacks from the evil one or revenge attacks from people. King David crosses the redline when he murders Uriah and steals his wife. With these two major transgressions, he crosses over to enemy territory that exposes him to Satan’s attack. Despite God’s forgiveness, his son dies as a result of this reckless exposure (2 Samuel 12:14). King David’s tragedy is neither due to punishment nor discipline from God, but an opportunity given to the devil to attack.
- When a person continues in his life of sin, he is in fact breaking his covenant of salvation with God. When a person makes a covenant with God by acknowledging God as His Master, Jesus rectifies that covenant with His own blood and wipes out all his sins. However, when he repeatedly breaks the commandments having no regard for the covenant he made with God; he breaks the covenant and his sins remain: 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. Nevertheless, if he should turn back in true repentance, God will receive him and restore him to His Kingdom.
- God knows every believer and their resolve to stand up to temptations and will predestine his circumstances. Hence, He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. However, we must be vigilant and flee from temptation. Paul says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:13-14).
- We must consistently speak the truth and warn our disciples of the consequences of sin, which is the discipline of God, the attacks of the devil.
- Consider the times when God protected you from sins that may have changed the course of your life. Take time to praise God for His faithfulness.
Dear Lord, thank You for protecting me from temptations that could have robbed me of my calling. Guard me from temptations that I cannot bear and continue to guide me towards fulfilling my calling. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.