Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Ephesians 5:1-17

Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, 2 and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. 4 Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. 5 For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. 7 Therefore, do not become their partners. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. 13 Everything exposed by the light is made visible, 14 for what makes everything visible is light.

Therefore it is said:
Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

The Original Intent

1) What do verses 1 and 2 tell us about who we are to imitate and why?

Paul starts chapter five with the word “therefore”, which references back to chapter four and all he has written about living the Christian life. With this transition word in verse 1, he is saying, because of what I have just said, here is what you need to do.

He tells the Ephesians to “imitate Godbecause they are children of God. The way we are to imitate Him is by walking in love just as He humbly and sacrificially loved us. The motivating “why” for every believer to walk in such a way that runs counter to the world, is because Christ walked in love for us first. (1 John 4:19)

Ultimately, He demonstrated this love by laying Himself down and giving Himself up to brutal death on a Roman cross. He sacrificed Himself so our debt of sin could be paid for and we could be adopted as children of God. Adoption isn’t automatic, but it is freely offered to all. When we humble ourselves, recognizing and confessing our sin, and trusting Him to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, we are made His forever.

The Everyday Application

1) What do verses 1 and 2 tell us about who we are to imitate and why?

Paul tells the believers gathering in house churches in Ephesus to walk in love because Christ loved them and gave Himself up as a fragrant sacrifice. (1 John 4:10) This is our motivation in following Jesus in everyday life as well, even though we are 2,000 years removed from Jesus, Paul, and the early church.

The manner in which we walk in everyday life as Christians is intended to follow God and seek to honor Him so that others may see Jesus’ love and humility in us. Jesus is our example of how to follow the Father. (John 10:30)

In Philippians 2:5-11, we are given a picture of what it means to imitate Christ. He gave up His life in obedience, so we could be in a right relationship with God and honor God, the Father, just as Jesus did. (John 5:30) He loved us, so we in turn, must love out of obedience and honor to Him. (1 John 4:19)

This kind of love does not come naturally to us apart from the Spirit of God living within believers to make us new, shaping us into the image, or pattern, of Christ. (Romans 8:29) When we find ourselves not loving others as generously and humbly as Christ loves us, this should signal us that we are relying on our own strength instead of the Spirit of God inside us. (Philippians 2:12-13) The good news is we can stop where we are, ask the Spirit to work in us to come more in alignment with Him, and He will faithfully shape us to be more like Jesus!

This takes practice and diligent consistency to surrender to the Spirit’s work, but the result is a truly fragrant life of love that testifies of Christ!

The Original Intent

2) In verses 3-6, what sin is Paul explaining and what is the result?

In verse 3, Paul discusses immorality, impurity, and greed which are broad words that cover a variety of individual sins.

As a few examples, pornography falls under immorality, while lust or anger would be covered by impurity, and greed covers sins like wanting what others have, materialism, and frivolous spending.

Paul continues in verse 4 to discuss the ways we use our mouth regarding joking and filthy or meaningless, empty talk. Harsh comments, condescending tone, mockery, lewd or suggestive words are just a few sinful examples that fall under these big umbrella words.

The consequences for choosing to walk in these sins are severe and Paul plainly tells the Ephesians in verse 5 that all of those things are idolatry against God. These sins lead us directly away from a relationship with God and an inheritance in His kingdom. Instead, the direct result of these sins is God’s wrath upon us because of our disobedience. (verse 6)

When Paul discusses these sins and the severity of their consequence, he is speaking of perpetual choices that lead to a lifestyle of turning away from God. These consistent, rebellious choices prove an identity as a “son of disobedience” instead of a “child of God”. (verse 6, 1 John 3:10)

These sins are not one time sins, or even occasional sins that the true believer grows to hate and fight hard against, coming to the Lord in repentance over, but rather a lifestyle of sinfulness and unrepentance.

The Everyday Application

2) In verses 3-6, what sin is Paul explaining and what is the result?

We have all sinned and dishonored God by choosing our own rebellious ways; this is evidenced by sin of any kind. Even just one sin, at one time, earns us death and eternal separation from the Holy God. (Romans 3:23)

This reality leaves us in a state of disobedience where we live in the flesh and cannot inherit the kingdom. (Galatians 5:19-21) Jesus’ disciple, John, explains it like this, “He who has the Son [Jesus] has life; he who does not have the Son [Jesus], does not have life.” (1 John 5:12)

Apart from Christ, we are left without hope.

But Christ did not leave us there, rather, out of His great love for us, even while we were stuck in our sin, He died on the cross, sacrificing Himself in order to save us. (Romans 5:8) We must choose to follow Him and come under His protective Lordship in order to be saved from the consequence of our sin. This means confessing our sin, submitting to the Holy Spirit’s rule and reign in our life, and coming underneath the authority of Scripture.

It is because of His great love and mercy that we can live at peace with God and we no longer need to obey our taskmaster of Satan who leads us only to the deeds of the flesh. Instead, we can be free to walk as children of God by the power of the Spirit of God! (Romans 8:9-13)

Our sin separates us from God, but as we seek to honor Him, we choose to live a life of holiness in obedience to Him as we learn to love Him more and more. (1 Peter 1:14-16) Every part of our being comes under His authority when we submit to His loving reign, which leads to a fragrant offering of ourselves to Him, “a pleasing sacrifice”. (Romans 12:1)

The Original Intent

3) In verses 7-14, what does Paul say about light and darkness?

Paul uses “therefore” again in verse 7 as he transitions his listeners to a deeper understanding of what he has said in the first part of the chapter. Paul declares in verse 7,Therefore, do not become their partners”, where the pronoun “their” refers to the “sons of disobedience” from verse 6 and the explanation of their lifestyle in the previous verses.

To emphasize his point, Paul uses the analogy of light and darkness to differentiate between those who formerly walked in darkness, describing every human being, but are now children of the Light. (verse 8) His audience, like us, were separated from God and lost in darkness and sin, but in God’s grace, genuine Christ-followers who have repented of sin and submitted to Christ, walk freely as children of Light. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-11)

In verse 9, Paul describes the fruit of light demonstrating in everyday life as goodness, righteousness, and truth. He continues in verse 10 to tell the Ephesians that walking as children of the light means both seeking to please God and diligently learning how to please Him. This is accomplished by studying His Word and surrounding ourselves with fellow devoted Christ-followers.

Paul continues digging deeper in verses 11-14 as he describes the power of Christ’s Light to expose Satan’s sinful “deeds of darkness”. Finishing strong, Paul exclaims in verse 14 that only the light of Christ can accomplish these things by shining brilliantly in the inner life of the genuine “child of God”.

The Everyday Application

3) In verses 7-14, what does Paul say about light and darkness?

Paul used the analogy of light and darkness to explain the dichotomy that exists between those who follow Christ and choose obedience versus those who choose to follow the world and are disobedient to Christ’s call to righteousness and connective relationship with Him.

As we think about our daily life in terms of light and dark, some things are more obvious sins like greed, jealousy, and envy, but it is in the gray areas of our lives that the rebellion of sin becomes less clear. Unless, that is, we are submitting to the leadership of God’s Spirit who will faithfully lead us into all truth. (John 16:13) The key to victorious Christian living is studying our Bibles with humility as we continually seek to be made new according to the rule of the Spirit in us!

The thing we must foundationally remember is that there is no darkness in God at all. “Therefore” (made you smile, didn’t I), if we truly desire to follow Him, we must be children of the light as we seek Him and as we live for Him. (1 John 1:5-7) There simply is no other alternative.

The power of Christ’s Light in our lives, and in the world, is that it exposes darkness. (John 16:8, verses 11 and 14) The psalmist says that even darkness is not dark to God, He pursues us with His light in our darkest places to expose the lies of sin in us, not to shame us, but to set us free to the Light of Life! (Psalm 138:11-12)

As new creations in the light, we are to put on His holiness and put to death the deeds of darkness. (Colossians 3:1-17, Romans 8:13)

The Original Intent

4) In verses 15-17, what warning does Paul give?

In yet another use of “therefore” in verse 15 that brings forward everything he has previously discussed as being essential to this new expounding of deeper truth, Paul wants the Ephesians to understand how they must be on alert and ready.

He warns them to be diligently careful how they walk as they consider Who they are made to live for: Christ, the Lord of Light and Life. Paul instructs believers to walk in wisdom (verse 15), making every moment, every decision, count for Christ. (verse 16)

The goal of the believer, whether in Ephesus 2,000 years ago or today, is to not be foolishly wasting our days on fleshly desires that rebel against the One who Rescued us (1 Peter 4:3), but seek to understand God’s ways and follow Him. (verse 17) In this way of living, we ourselves become a living sacrifice along with all other Christ-followers! (Romans 12:1)

The Everyday Application

4) In verses 15-17, what warning does Paul give?

Paul very seriously warns believers as he concludes this section of his letter and prepares to bridge to very practical living, “pay careful attention, then, to how you walk […]”. (verse 15) The believer is to be utterly consumed with Christ; as our focus stays fixed on Him, so directs the pattern of our lives.

Distraction is one of the enemy’s oldest weapons against Christ-followers as it effectively sidelines us from following Jesus with attentiveness. Rooted below distraction is deadly pride, insisting we choose something or someone else to love above God simply because we want it, deserve it, or somehow know better than the Almighty. Attacked with distraction and embracing our pride, we easily fall away from God’s path of righteousness into unwise, rebellious choices.

Still, God is faithful even in our weakness, for He is always ready, armed with undeterred love to forgive us and place our feet on solid ground once more when we come to Him in genuine, humble repentance. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13, 1 John 1:9)

It is our responsibility to be on guard, diligently aware of our heart’s propensity to wander. When we act in unwise ways, it dishonors God. James 1:5 tells us if we lack wisdom we can ask God, and He will give it generously. The proof of our allegiance to Christ and our desire to submit to the Holy Spirit is made evident in our choices and heart attitude towards God, His Word, and His people. (John 14:15-26)

When we become believers, we are given new life and our new selves are crafted to walk in a manner worthy of Christ our Savior. (Romans 6:4) When we abide in Christ and His Word, seeking His wisdom through prayer, His Spirit puts His righteousness on display for the world to see, effectively making the most of our time on earth! (Colossians 4:2-6)

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