Chapter 5:1-6 (ESV) - 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.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 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.
Question to consider: By Paul’s definition, how can any of us inherit the kingdom of Christ and God?
It may get tiresome that each day I give a summary of what has come before, but every new idea that Paul presented in this letter was built upon the previous ones like a word picture of the spiritual bricks building up the church. Christ is the foundation for our relationship with God. It is futile to try to be imitators of God without Christ. It is only through Christ that we become God’s beloved children. It is only through Christ that we can walk in love because until Christ loved us, we didn’t know what love was!
Paul began his letter by assuring the Ephesians that it was always God’s plan to bring salvation to people from every tribe and nation through His Son. Therefore, they could rejoice in the fact that God considered them His children every bit as much as He did the Jews, for Christ had taken Jews and Gentiles and united them together to create a new people who formerly walked in darkness but had now been raised to walk in newness of life. They had been dead in their trespasses and sins, and were raised to eternal life.
As God’s beloved children, Paul was telling them to not return to the empty way of life they lived as Gentiles: coveting others’ possessions, pursuing their own impulses and fleshly desires, and tearing one another apart with their words. Those who defined themselves by this way of life had no inheritance in the kingdom of heaven.
When Paul wrote “let no one deceive you with empty words,” he was referring to false teachers who would try to convince the Ephesians that by indulging the flesh, they would receive an even greater abundance of grace. These false teachers would divide life in the body from life in the spirit in such a way that justified sexual immorality and greed. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he clearly stated in chapter 7 that our body and spirit were at war with one another.
Everyone may struggle with different sins, but we all struggle with something. There are times in which we are going to fail, but we should never try to justify our failures, redefine sin, or give up the fight. Instead, as Christians, we do the things to equip ourselves and each other in order to resist sin and stand firm in the faith. Paul will get to this point in chapter 6. When we do fail, Christ serves us in the church gathering where we confess our sins and receive His forgiveness. We receive Christ’s very flesh and blood as an assurance of that forgiveness and a renewal of the everlasting covenant we have with Him.
Dear heavenly father, we confess that we all have sinned and fallen short of Your glory. Thank You that our inheritance is kept for us by Christ, for without Him we would surely walk away and cling to the futile ways of this world. Help us to keep up the fight against our flesh and stand firm in the hope of the righteousness given to us by Jesus. Amen.