Ephesians

Ephesians 5:1-6 The Love-Walk

The Key Word in this part of Ephesians is WALK.

Each paragraph is introduced by: ‘Therefore...WALK’. 

‘Therefore...WALK WORTHY’ of our calling (4:1) by functioning in unity (4:1-16).

‘Therefore...WALK different from the world (4:17) by a lifestyle of holiness, putting off the old thoughts and ways and putting on the new (4:17-32).

‘Therefore...WALK in LOVE (5:1-6).

‘Therefore ... WALK as children of LIGHT’ (5:7-14).

“Therefore ...WALK in WISDOM...filled with the SPIRIT” (5:15-21). 

WALKING IN LOVE.
 What should mark Christians out as different? Our Bible-knowledge? Our ability to judge low moral standards in the world? Rather it should be our LOVE and FORGIVENESS, showing forth the love of God. Because we have freely received God’s love & forgiveness we now freely give. Thus we fulfil the commandments:"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind'. This is the first and great commandment. 
And the second is like it: `You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22:36-40).  This is what God is looking for and this is what the world is looking for: people controlled by LOVE, whose only motive is LOVE.
 

Ephesians 4:31,32 which leads into this section (5:1-6), calls for us to put away hatred and strife, changing our reactions to people’s sins and shortcomings:

“Let all bitterness (inner hatred and resentment), wrath (bitterness displayed in an emotional outburst), anger(inward hostility that you hold on to, that may be hidden but that will lead to bitterness), clamour (anger displayed in fighting and brawling), and evil speaking (hitting out with evil words can be even worse) be PUT AWAY from you, with all malice (malicious intentions usually hidden by a thin coating of sincerity).” We need to replace these habitual responses by moving in the opposite spirit: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted(‘good guts’, godly compassion from deep down) forgiving one another just as God in Christ forgave you.”  

How did God forgive us through the Cross of Christ?

1. Completely - He forgave us of all sin by His blood. He does not hold grudges or remind us of past sin (Jer 31:34). 
2. Instantly - He does not wait or delay giving forgiveness when we confess our sins (1John1:9). 
3. Freely - He provided forgiveness on the Cross even before we sinned and offered it to us as a free-gift to be received through faith.

If this is how God treated us, then this is how we should treat others.

THE CHRISTIAN WALK OF LOVE - IMITATING GOD (v1-6):

Paul now summarises the NEW LIFESTYLE God wants us to live, with one of the great statements in the Bible:

v1,2a: “Therefore be imitators (‘mimites’, a mimic) of God as dear children, and WALK in LOVE (copy how God acts)” When faced with darkness and confusion God said: ‘Let there be light’, not ‘it’s so dark, it’s such a mess.’When faced with our sin and rebellion He moved in love toward us, sending His Son to die for us. But how can God ask us to copy Him? Isn’t this an unfair expectation? The key is the phrase: “as dear children”. He is the actual Father our our reborn spirit (John 3:3-8, Hebrews 11:9). The nature of the father is transmitted to his son through birth. We are born of God, from His incorruptible seed (1John 1:12,13, 1Peter 1:23), the love-children of a love-God (like father, like son).

The recreated spirit (New Man) is in His perfect image (having God’s D.N.A): “The NEW MAN was created according to God (in His likeness), in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24). The New-Man is Christ-like, created after the image of Jesus - the perfect prototype Son, the firstborn (from the dead) among many brethren (us), who all share the same origin (regeneration) in his resurrection (Romans 8:29, Col 1:18, Hebrews 2:9-11). Thus the real you is a resurrected LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT OF LOVE. The love of God is in you ready to be expressed (Romans 5:5) so you can copy Father and walk in love. 

A son has the potential to be like his father but it does not all show at once. He develops by imitating his father. He sees his father doing something and tries to copy it. God has made him to watch, learn and copy. That’s why parents are models whether they like like it or not. How you act and react is watched and imitated. So live right before your kids, and don’t think they are too young to notice. They are learning from you how to act. Likewise we grow into our potential by copying our father God. We CAN do it, for His nature is within us. It’s like learning how to walk. He sees Dad do it, and thinks: ‘I can do it if Dad can - I’ve got 2 legs like Him.’ The first attempt might be weak but each time he tries he gets better, acting more like his father. He fails many times but persists in faith. Each time he uses his muscles they get stronger until soon he walks just like his Dad. Love causes a child to imitate. We also love our Father in heaven and so learn to walk in love just like Him.

“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” (v2). 

We are also to imitate and walk in the footsteps of our big-brother Jesus (our perfect example of love). He lived a life of perfect obedience and righteousness pleasing to God (love is not just one grand gesture but a step by step consistent walk). On the Cross, as His supreme act of love for us, He offered up His life for us. As well as being a sin-offering for our forgiveness (during the second 3 hours), He gave Himself as a burnt-offering of consecration (Gen 8:20,21, Leviticus 1) releasing His perfect human obedience (righteousness) up to God as a sweet-smelling sacrifice (during the first 3 hours) so that it might be imputed to us when we believe, thus completing the great exchange of His righteousness and our sin. Christ’s example shows that love is giving ourselves sacrificially for others and their best interests. Love is not just forgiving the sin, but positively blessing the sinner: “Do good to those who hate you, bless those that curse you.” We are to walk in this kind of love for this is the example set by both our Father and our big brother, and we have this same kind of love in us. Such love smells sweet to God! 

We are motivated to walk in love: 
(1) because of God’s love for us in Christ (v1,2), (2) because to live selfishly like the world is not fitting for saints, it is unworthy of us (v3,4) and (3) because of the eternal consequences of living in sin (v5,6).

In v3,4,
 Paul contrasts true love with the selfish activities of the world. The walk of love is sacrifice not selfishness, a desire to give not to grab. We must imitate God not the world: “But fornication (‘porneia’ = sex outside marriage, has the root meaning ‘sell’ - i.e. treating people as things) and all uncleanness (impurity) orcovetousness (greed, grabbing anything you want, itching to get your hands on what belongs to others) let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints”(v3).

The first two words cover all sexual sin and then covetousness is added because it lies behind these (4:19). These 3 sins of sexual indulgence are the world’s ways. We should be separate from these because as saints (holy ones, set apart to God), they are not fitting, unworthy of who we are in Him (just as in 4:1 we are to ‘walk worthy’ of our calling). The world has an excuse but we are called to a higher life. We are children of God so must not live like the devil.

We are not only to avoid doing such things but also to avoid thinking and talking about (naming) them, as elaborated in v4 where he goes beyond immorality to vulgarity: “Neither filthiness (obscenity), nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting (‘dirty stories, foul talk and coarse jokes’) which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks”(v4). Sin often starts with words, which then lead to works. If we bring our tongue under the control of love the rest will follow(James 3). We must replace evil and foolish speech by thanksgiving. Specifically, instead of degrading God’s gift of sex by vulgarity we are to sanctify it by thanksgiving.

v5,6 gives more incentives to live right
. There is much to gain or lose for our eternal future by how we live now:“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”(v5).

This has 2 applications:

(1) For unbelievers: If this is his lifestyle he is probably not a believer, even if he claims to be. His behaviour shows his profession is a sham. Thus he is unsaved  and will have no part of the Kingdom.

(2) For believers: Perhaps he is a believer but has let his flesh dominate. Even if he is saved he will lose his eternal rewards.

Thus we have a 2-fold motivation: 
(1) To prove we are His children by showing it in our lives.

(2) To receive eternal rewards (inheritance) for the more we grow into our Father’s likeness the more of His eternal glory we can handle.

Satan’s lie is: ‘there are no consequences for doing wrong, there is no hell, God will forgive, it will make no difference in the end.’ 

So Paul reinforces his point
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things(sin) the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of (Adam’s) disobedience (who by nature are rebels against God)” (v6). 

Don’t believe the empty argument- ‘your sin affects no one’. It does affect our Father, family and future.   Our sin hurts God, those around us and ourselves.  God seriously hates sin and will always punish it even though He forgives those who come to Him (for Jesus paid the penalty).

‘But God forgives me!’ - (1) ‘Yes, but by continuing in sin you’re in danger of hardening your heart by your choices now and of rejecting Jesus as your 
Saviour and Lord (the unforgivable sin) and thus come under the wrath of God.’

(2) ‘Yes - you’re forgiven, but you’ll miss out on much glory and joy through your diminshed capacity for God. Because you closed your heart to His life now, you will have less room for His life in eternity’ God will judge the world by pouring out His wrath upon sin. If so, will believers ‘get away’ with sin? No! -for they will suffer eternal loss of glory. Our life now affects our eternal future. What we sow now, we reap then. What we give away - we keep for eternity, but what we keep to ourselves - we’ll lose. If we lose our life now by moving in love, we gain a higher life now and in eternity (Mark 8:35,36).

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