Home Bible Study

"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Ephesians 5:7-14 (Lesson 23)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (5:7-14)                                                               (Lesson 23)

Welcome to HBS.

So far in the second half of this letter we’ve learned true Believers are called to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called (4:1).  They are to walk preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:2-16), they are to walk in holiness, be blameless before God (4:17-32), to walk in love (5:1-6), and in the text we’re about to study Paul urges Believers to walk in the Light (5:7-8).

Paul commanded the Ephesians (and us) to imitate God as they live their lives, and now he’s urging this church to walk as children of Light.  This is proper because God is Light, so to walk in the Light is to imitate God; the epitome of Love and Truth.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life" (John 8:12).

We ended last week with verse 5: 7; so please open your Bible to that biblical address and we’ll begin the lesson from there: 

Therefore do not be partakers with them; here Paul commands the Ephesian saints to avoid the evil practices of the unsaved, and to turn away from the immorality they had catered to before their conversion.   Evidently some of these folks were still “walking hand-in-hand with the world, partaking of the vices that culture offered. 

So, Paul pulled the “But God” card reminding them God had brought them from death to life, redeemed them through the Lord’s substitutionary sacrifice, and seated them in the heavenly places along with Christ Jesus.  Thus, Paul commanded this church to “be imitators of God” because these folks were now the beloved children of God and they are not to be partakers with them (the unbelievers).

The word “partakers” is translated from the Koine Greek word Summetochos (soom-met’-okh-os), Adjective, Strong’s Greek #4830, meaning:  one who partners with another.
Paul’s saying Believers are not to partner with evil. 

It’s worth mentioning some churches teach “holiness always,” in order to obtain and keep a right relationship with God.  However, our Apostle Paul advocates holiness because of the relationship we already have with God the Father.  We’re not trying to be “the apple of God’s eye;” we are His beloved children already.

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (5:8).

In this entire section of scripture (5:7-14), Paul utilizes the metaphor of Light and darkness.  He also repeats the teaching method of “once- but now” in Ephesians 2:1-10, 11-22.  Most recently he depicted the difference between true Believers and non-believers in Ephesians 4:22, 24.  He referred to their sinful nature as the old man, and their regenerated self as the new man. 

Ephesus was a community of people born into utter darkness and they lived without the Light all their days.  Then our Apostle Paul arrived in town describing the Light and the ability to see things as they truly are (Acts 18:19-22, 19-20:1).  But most of them did not understand; they rejected the message and the messenger: 

And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God (so Paul’s preaching to the Jews here primarily).  But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus (for 2 years; Acts 19:8-9).

Paul had led them to the Light by preaching the revelation of the mystery; to be specific, that the Gentiles are the fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Ephesians 3:6).  Some heard and believed, but the majority of these folks preferred the darkness over the Light that Paul showed them. 

Ephesians 5:8-9

…for you were formerly darkness, but now are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),

…for you were formerly darkness – this describes their past and ours too, truth be told.
But Paul’s saying a significant change occurred when God redeemed them from the darkness:  For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). 

The people who are outside of Jesus Christ are defined by scripture as being “children of the devil or darkness…”  dead in their trespasses and sin” (Ephesians 2:1), “their minds were darkened” (Ephesians 4:1), “their hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21), and “their deeds were those of darkness” (Romans 13:12).

Therefore, biblically speaking, darkness is anything that conflicts with God’s character:  

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).

In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul contrasts righteousness describing it as light and describes lawlessness as darkness.  Later, in Ephesians 6:12, Paul describes demonic power as “world forces of this darkness.”  In the O.T., the prophet Isaiah used darkness as a description for the evil Israel practiced:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!  Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine And valiant men in mixing strong drink, Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!  (Isaiah 5:20-23)

So, Paul didn’t coin the term “darkness” you’ll find the word used throughout the Bible.  On the other hand, God and righteousness are characterized as Light in this book: 

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:4-5).

This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

The Bible describes a bright light emanating from God or an aura of light around Him.  After meeting with God, Moses face reflected God’s light or His glory (Exodus 34:29; 2 Corinthians 3:13).  Then there’s the familiar account of Peter, James, and John witnessing the transfiguration of Jesus Christ:  and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light (Matthew 17:1-13); let’s not forget to mention our Apostle Paul’s encounter with the risen Lord while traveling to Damascus:  As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? (Acts 9:1-19). 

Ephesians 5:8b

But now are Light in the Lord – before their conversion the Ephesian Believers (and Paul) “were dead in trespasses and sins…” “... they walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desire of the flesh and of the mind; and we were by nature the children of wrath, even as the others” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ {by grace you have been saved}, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus… (Ephesians 2:4-6).

They were once darkness, “but now” they are Light in the Lord.  This describes their current position in Christ that will not change simply because they did not live sinless lives.  One of the Church Doctrines highlighted in this letter to the Ephesians is the union of the Believer with Jesus Christ.  Through faith the one who trusts in Christ is actually joined with Him.  This means whatever is true of God’s Son is true of the Believer (fellow heirs, new life, righteousness, seated in the heavenly places with Him, sonship, etc.) and those things which made us dead in our trespasses were transferred to Jesus Christ at the Cross and are now dead, forgiven and forgotten.  God will never bring the subject up again!

Light and darkness are prominent themes in Paul’s writings.  He and other authors of scripture use them as essential metaphors.  The word “light” appears on the very first page and the very last page of the Bible:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, “Let there be light;” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light day, and the darkness He called night.  And there was evening and there was morning, one day (Genesis 1:1-5).

There’s much more going on here than meets the eye, which is why we study Bible verses.  In the ancient world just about anything the people didn’t understand was named a god and we’re seeing this here.  The Gentiles associated the sea and the darkness with the gods of chaos and death.  In the Exodus account we find the Egyptians worshipped the sun god Ra more than any other god.  In the ninth plague the LORD God demonstrated His Sovereign power over their god by turning of the light.  A thick and impenetrable veil of darkness enveloped their land (the Israelites were not affected).  The Egyptians were so fearful the chose to remain rooted wherever they were for several days.

At the beginning of creation, the earth was formless and dark, in disarray.  At the end, it has light and all is in order.  In this we see the progress is from darkness to light, and from disorder to order.  We also learn darkness is to be contained for God separated the light from the darkness.  We also learn the concept of light and darkness as good and evil actually originates here.

Here the Psalmist uses light and darkness as symbols for salvation:

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread (Psalms 27:1). 

Light is also a representation of truth:

O send out Your light and Your truth, let them lead me; Let them bring me to Your holy hill And to Your dwelling places (Psalm 43:3).

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).

Light not only reveals the true state of things, it dispels darkness.  If you enter a dark room in your home and flip on the light switch, what happens to the darkness?  It can’t abide light, so it flees.  The light of the gospel, as it shines forth in the lives of those following Jesus Christ, reveals the true nature of evil dispelling spiritual darkness. 

Please note Paul did not say, “We are in the light;” He said “You are Light.”  Because all true Believers are Light in the Lord, Paul said they should, “walk as children of Light.”  However, people have been known to “stumble” even while walking in daylight.  Just because these saints are called Light in the Lord doesn’t mean to infer they are without fault (sin) or they will automatically walk as children of Light.   

This thought takes us back to Paul’s statement in 4:22-23:  …that in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which (is what) in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

So Paul’s saying, “Remember your new man is created in the likeness of God the epitome of righteousness, and holiness of the truth.  You are Light; now walk as such!” 

Now it goes without saying, you can’t get there from here without help, so Paul explains what this Light resembles in verses 5:9-10: 

(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (figure out what pleases the Lord and do it). 

(The fruit of the Light is goodness and righteousness and truth.)  The KJV Bible has “the fruit of the Spirit,” but the term Light is strongly supported here.  Without Light nothing grows, except mushrooms of course, so Paul tells the Ephesians (and us) the fruit of the Light produces goodness and righteousness and truth in Believers.  

Goodness – is from the Koine Greek word Agathosune (ag-ath-o-soo’-nay), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #19, meaning:  (uprightness of heart and life, kindness.  The Bible says Goodness is one of God’s characteristics.  The teaching here is to be Christlike you must learn to be like Him.  A good individual is concerned for the well-being of others, both spiritually and in just about every other way.  It means to be “generous” with yourself, not necessarily your finances, but the giving of one’s time and talents in practical ways for another’s “highest good.”  And goodness is a product of the Light for the fruit of the Spirit consists of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… (Galatians 5:22a).

Righteousness Dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #1343, here the word means:  integrity.  It’s the fruit of being a child of the Light; it is an extension of the righteousness the Ephesian Believers received at their conversion for they are now in Christ.  Paul writes:  we are justified by God’s grace (Titus 3:7) and clothed with His righteousness (Philippians 3:9).  Righteousness is the outgrowth of being a new creation.   Their new nature enables them to please God daily as they walk in this world (Romans 6:18-19), and this naturally affects their relationship with others.  They do what’s right, at the right time, because it brings honor and glory to God.  They treat others as they would prefer to be treated (Matthew 7:12).

Their lives are marked by the other characteristics Paul has already mentioned in Chapter 4 & 5 – we walk worthy of our calling, we find our place of service in the church and give it our all so that the whole body will be strengthened. We walk as a “new manlaying aside our ungodly habits of sensuality, impurity, and greed.  We speak the truth and do not lie.  We deal with our anger appropriately.  We do not steal, but rather seek to give from laboring with our hands.  We’re careful with our words; we aim to build up the body, not tear it down.  We imitate God by loving others in the same way He, first, loved us.  All this speaks of practical righteousness, i.e. the fruit of being a child of the Light having been clothed in righteous by God through faith in Christ.

Truth Aletheia (al-ay’-thi-a), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #225, means:  rightly, honestly.  In a way, truth sums up the first two words; you can only have goodness and righteousness if you speak the truth.   Truth matters to God’s children because they are Light in the Lord.     

Paul may have used this 2 Chronicles 31:20 verse to teach this truth:  Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah; and he did what was good, right and true before the LORD his God. 

Trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord (5:10). 

Verse 9 is a parenthetical statement, so verse 10 goes back to verse 8 summarizing what it means to walk as children of Light.   That is we try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  The phrase, “trying to learn” is from the Koine Greek verb Dokimazo (dok-im-ad’-zo), Strong’s Greek #1381, meaning:  to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see if something is genuine or not).  As Paul uses the word here it means to evaluate issues in order to determine the right course of action, that which is, “pleasing to the Lord.” 

Some of these Ephesians put personal pleasure above pleasing God.  So, Paul’s exhorting them to determine what pleases the Lord and they are not to rely on their “feelings” or their “emotions” which change like the ocean tide, or base them on what the world or other Believers think.  They are not to permit their conscience to be their guide, since their conscience may have been fed inaccurate information.  Instead, true Believers learn what is good and pleasing to the Lord through spiritual maturity, i.e. growing to understand what has been written in the Word of Truth.

Note what Paul wrote to the Colossians 1:9-10: 

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Paul prayed they would “be filled with the knowledge of His will.”  This is more than just book-learning, being filled with the knowledge of His will implies carrying out God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  The walk he speaks of here is a life-long journey that won’t be completed on this side of glory, but one in which there is marked growth and perseverance, with the intention of pleasing the Lord.  Therefore,

Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
(Ephesians 5:11).

Said differently, true Believers are not to become friendly with evil, instead they are to become Christ-like.  Paul addressed this issue with the carnal Corinthians saying:

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?  Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? (1 Corinthians 6:14-15)

Participate – is from the Koine Greek word Sugkoinoneo (soong-koy-no-neh’-o), Verb, Strong’s Greek #4790, and it means:  to become a partaker together with others, or to have a fellowship with a thing.   This word is only used 3 times in the N.T.  Here’s the other 2:

Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction (Philippians 4:14).  Here Paul is saying the Philippians were co-participants with his affliction (suffering).

I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; (Revelation 18:4).  Believers were not to co-participate in the sins of the Jewish unbelievers.

Paul’s usage of the word participate here means sharing in other people’s ungodly ways.  Believers are to pursue holiness, not evil.  They must employ biblical wisdom constantly rather than partner with people who choose to remain enslaved to sin, and to Satan; for they are blind to the truth opting to live in darkness (Matthew 15:14; John 14:17-20; 1 Corinthians 1:18-19, 2:14; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 11:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12) . 

But instead even oppose them – instead of partnering with unbelievers and their evil activities, Believers are to “shine the Light of truth upon their wickedness” exposing them to the Light.  We’re to tell it like it is, in love.  I understand this from the Koine Greek word for expose Elegcho (el-eng’-kho), Verb, Strong’s Greek # 1651, meaning:  to convict, refute; by conviction to bring to the light, to expose. 

Paul isn’t saying “point the righteous finger of shame “at the people practicing evil, when you do that three fingers on that hand are pointing back at you.  He’s saying bring their unfruitful activities of darkness or their evil deeds into God’s Light.  Think this trough.  Jesus was not a friend of sin; He was the sinner’s friend!  When we confront the individual’s sin (face-to-face), this person may be convicted by it, resulting in receipt of the truth and change the way they think and behave.  People stumble from time-to-time, but true Believers get back up and return to the “worthy walk.” 

Paul only writes to Believers, not the unsaved, so He’s urging these people not to participate in darkness, which tells us some of the Ephesian saints were involved in evil activities and these must be exposed to the Light. 

“If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother” (Matthew 18:15).

Show him his faultthis phrase is from the Koine Greek word Elegcho (el-eng’-kho), Verb, Strong’s Greek #1651, meaning:  to convict, refute, by conviction to bring to the light; expose.  It doesn’t matter who you are in the church, everybody sins and unchecked sin harms the Body of Christ.  Therefore Believers are to expose evil whenever it’s discovered.  But before you preach to them about their faults take time to ponder the Lord’s words:

"Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye” (Luke 6:42). 

True Believers are called to holiness, that is, separation from the world and the wickedness it relishes.   You cannot convict a brother or sister in the Lord of their adulterous lifestyle if you are cheating on your spouse.  You’ve partnered with evil too, so first things first.  You need to “remove the log that is in your own eye” before you pull the “Righteous Avenger” card!  Be separate from the world and its evil ways before you attempt to convict another person of their sinful lifestyle. 

There’s a story that circulated among the churches some time ago that went like this:  there was a missionary who desperately needed to learn one of India's hardest languages.  He sought the services of a great teacher, and was refused.  This teacher didn’t want to teach him.  The missionary offered to pay the teacher for his services, but the man said, “Listen, I don't want to become a Believer."  The missionary said, "Look, if you just teach me, I'll not mention Jesus or the Bible once."  The teacher replied, "Please understand, to teach you my language I would have to spend many hours of every day in your presence, and no man could live with you and not become a Believer."

So, this begs the question, “Do people recognize you as a Believer?”  Are you known for living what you believe?  So, Paul is effectively saying we do not expose the evil being practiced by our “holy” lives alone, we are to confront people with the Word of truth:

for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. (Ephesians 5:12).

The reference to secrecy is much more easily understood of Believers, because unbelievers are shameless, sinning openly and often bragging about their conquests.  Speaking specifically of unbelievers, Paul said:  and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness (Ephesians 4:19).

Paul goes on to say:  But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light (Ephesians 5:13).

In verse 11 Believers are urged to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness.  When unfruitful deeds are exposed by the light they become visible.  The light here refers to both Believers for "You are Light in the Lord," and their fruit of light that consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth (5:9).

"For everything that becomes visible is light"—here Paul’s saying the evil practiced in the dark, once brought to light, becomes visible or exposed.   Paul is still talking to the Ephesian Believers who were partnering with the deeds of darkness.  Sin must be brought into the light so that the individual’s who are not walking daily with the Lord, may be convicted of their sin and hopefully return to their walk in the light, thereby producing the fruit of the Light.

For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you" (Ephesians 5:14).

Here Paul quotes scripture, Isaiah 51:17 and 60:1-3, but not word-for-word, he’s modified it somewhat in order to teach this lesson: 

“Rouse yourself!  Rouse yourself!  Arise, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk from the Lord’s hand the cup of His anger; The chalice of reeling you have drained to the dregs” (Isaiah 51:17).

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you.  Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising (60:1-3).

 The nation of Israel was called by the LORD God to becomesalt” and a “Light to the nations,” i.e. the Gentiles, but they refused to “shine” as such.  Their lives matched the unsaved worlds, so they didn’t make a difference (Isaiah 49).

Darkness here doesn’t mean “physical darkness” it refers to an absence of God’s Light;
Because their deeds were dark, He blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts:

He said, “Go, and tell this people:  ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’  Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed” (Isaiah 6:9-10).

The “oracles of God” were given to Israel only, but they consistently rebelled against God’s Sovereign authority, so deep darkness was the result.  Nothing has changed; the majority of the world prefers darkness rather than the Light.

Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you – We know Paul isn’t writing to the nation of Israel here but to the Ephesian Church.  So, Paul is actually addressing those “sleep-walking” Believers who were not walking in the Light.  They were in deep slumber, so Paul said, “Wake up!” “Walk in the Light.”  This has nothing to do with their salvation.  This is in reference to their present sanctification:

But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day.  We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6).

Paul said you are sons of light, so let us not sleep as others do rather “Walk as children of Light” for the days are dark (John 8:12; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:15-16).  

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, shine, shine
Let it shine!

Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine
Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine
Everywhere I go, I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine, shine, shine
Let it shine!

(To be continued)

Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved

Friday, June 22, 2018

Ephesians 5:1-7 (Lesson 22)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

Established November 2008                                                 Published Weekly on Friday AM

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  (1Timothy 2:3-4)

Ephesians (5:1-7)                                                                  (Lesson 22)

Welcome to HBS.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians could be titled “God’s Plan for Christ’s Imperfect People.”  So, if those folks who are “in Christ Jesus” desire to know what they believe and then live their life according to those beliefs, Ephesians is the “go-to” book to study.  In this letter we see how the gospel account affects each Believers daily life (walk):

(God) chose us in Him (through Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we would holy and blameless before Him, in love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Ephesians 1:4-5).

For we are His workmanship (masterpiece), created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Paul closed the last chapter saying put off the old man and put on the new man.  Lay aside falsehood and SPEAK TRUTH each one of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR (4:25); BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN (4:26); Steal no longer (4:28); Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth (4:29); Do not grieve the Holy Spirit (4:30); Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (4:31-32).

Considering all this, and more, Paul begins Chapter 5 with a reasonable command:  “be imitators of God.”  You can’t imitate a stranger.  To know God fully you must first put your trust (faith) in the gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 14:6), then the Holy Spirit will help you grow (mature spiritually) in holiness (1 Peter 1:2).  The Holy Spirit also imparts wisdom for decision making (Ephesians 1:17), makes God’s Word understandable (1 Corinthians 2:9-16), and His power effects the outgrowth of our new nature which scripture calls the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Please open your Bible at Ephesians 5:1-2.        

Ephesians 5

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

We’ve reached chapter five, but Paul hasn’t started a new topic.  He’s still writing about walking worthy, or how Believers in Christ Jesus are to live.  You see, there’s no such thing as a “part-time Believer.  We’re to honor God by maturing in the faith and serving others to the building up of the body of Christ 24/7/365. 

Thus, Paul begins with the word Therefore (the seventh therefore in this letter) which takes us back to Ephesians 4:1:

Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

The worthy walk imitates Jesus Christ’s walk.  Paul’s emphasizing the connection between (agape) love and strict adherence to God’s will and that describes Jesus life or His walk (Hebrews 10:7).

Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34).

"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38).

We’re not going to “be like Jesus” on this side of glory, but we can imitate His walk by genuinely loving others, even those who persecute us. 

Therefore” - this word always refers back to what Paul has already said and lets us know he’s about to add to those essential truths. 

Paul closed out chapter 4, telling the Ephesian Church how they are to behave (conduct themselves in this darkened world) and followed that up with a series of commands explaining the required change.  The motivation for these changes is genuine love for one another, this included their Ephesian counterparts, the unbelievers (4:23-32).  

The word “Therefore” indicates to accomplish this change of heart and mind each Believer must imitate Jesus Christ’s love for others.  This becomes apparent when you read verse 5:2:
..and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you (even the unlovable) and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Romans 14:15; Galatians 2:20).

Our Apostle Paul continually reminds these Believers the life they’re to live must be in response to what God has already done for them (and us).  Here’s a brief list :   

 All true Believers have been chosen by God before the foundation of the world (1:4)

 We’ve been redeemed by Him through His shed blood and the forgiveness of sin (1:7)

In Him we were sealed by the Holy Spirit (1:13)

Adopted as His children (1:5)

We have been made alive to God by Him (2:5)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (2-8.

We’ve been baptized (placed) into Christ’s one body by the Holy Spirit (4:5).

 Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children is a reasonable command.  The expression “Be imitators of God” here means to express the idea of “becoming.”  The Ephesians (and us) are to grow (mature in the faith) step by step as they imitate Jesus Christ’s love. 

The Koine Greek word for imitator is Mimetes (mim-ay-tace’), Noun Masculine, Strong’s Greek #3402, meaning:  an imitator.  Our English words mimic and mime are derived from this word.  These words mean to copy something; then act it out.  To illustrate, an actor or actress spends a considerable amount of energy and time studying the character they are to portray on the big screen.  They become like the one they’re studying as Robert Downing Jr. did in his Oscar nominated role as Charlie Chaplin.  But here, Paul’s saying God, our Father, wants us to imitate the One who saved us. 

There are several scripture passages that state more directly true Believers are to become like Christ:

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29a).

Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Corinthians 15:49).  

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).

…and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4:24).

the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked (1 John 2:6).

It can’t be stressed enough becoming like Christ is the natural direction of the true Believer’s life.  If that is not true in your life, then you need to return to step one, faith.   

So Paul was living out the same command he gave to the Ephesian saints; he was imitating Christ’s love.  Please note his statement to the Philippians: 

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:9).

He also instructed the Corinthians to follow him, as he follows Christ:

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

In his letter to the church in Thessalonica we learn these folks heeded this command: 

You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:6).

So, Paul is saying, "Do as I do.  Follow me as I follow Christ."

There’s a pre-sermon story that goes like this.  A man was determined to know God’s will for him.  So, he opened His Bible randomly and dropped his index finger on the page.  He assumed the Bible verse would tell him what God wanted him to do.  But his finger had landed on Matthew 27:5 which said, “Judas went and hanged himself.”  Stunned by this, he tried again.  This time his finger came to rest on the rebuke in Luke 10:37:  Go and do the same.”  Even more uncertain now, he gave this one more chance.  His finger landed on John 13:27 which states:  What you are about to do, do quickly.”  
This story is an attempt at humor; however, it isn’t so far from the truth.  It serves to demonstrate how most Believers approach the scriptures with little, if any, regard to dispensational differences.  It’s not possible to know God’s will when Bible passages are taken out of contest (proof texting) and merely applied to one’s life because “It sounds good…” or “I found it in the Bible…” 

Although many people in the church continue to deny Paul’s apostolic authority and his message, his writings are the key that unlocks the truth of God’s Word in this dispensation, moving people from ignorance to complete understanding.  Once people are enlightened to his gospel of grace (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), all the so-called Bible contradictions disappear and people begin to learn the importance of walking worthy in this life to the glory of God the Father (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

Plainly put, as the adopted children of God we are to become imitators of Him, but in what sense?   We aren’t able to become god’s ourselves, as some cult religions and Oprah Winfrey preach, but we can change our character.  Verse 5:2 directs us to walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.

Since Paul is referring to Jesus Christ here, we know he’s speaking of agape love.  This is a sacrificial love which is uncommon to man.  In fact, this kind of love is rarely practiced by humanity unless God is at work in the individual.  The Lord demonstrated sacrificial and unconditional agape love at the cross.  It was not a love based on pleasant emotion or good feelings about another, but rather the giving of Himself, selflessly, for mankind’s highest good (Galatians 6:4,10).  Agape love rises from the character of the one who loves and not the one who is loved.  Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself on the cross in our stead for sin is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love (John 10:18).

Not many people are willing to lay down their life so that others may live (Romans 5:6-9).  However, every now and again events occur that bring out the best in some people.  The first-responders who arrived at the Twin Towers on 9-11 ran into the burning buildings while everyone else ran away.  School coaches and teachers in Parkland, FL died willingly to defend their student’s lives.  There are numerous accounts of men and women in uniform laying down their lives for their brothers and sisters in arms.  These examples and others not mentioned here demonstrated genuine concern, love, for others.  However, this is contrary to the world’s view.  People are aware of Hollywood’s version of love, but understand little about God’s love.  We know this is true because God had to command us to love one another.  This doesn’t occur naturally.  It’s easier to hate then it is to love someone sacrificially.  But since we’re called to love one another, it’s time to put our faith into practice. 

The love that exists naturally in the world is not God’s love, it’s a fallen love.  Jesus said in Matthew 5, if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?  Jesus’ point is this, even sinner’s love in the sense Jesus spoke of, but we who are true Believers are to become Christ-like.  We are called to be different than the world around us.  We are called to love in the same sense God loved us, because He “gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

Paul explained it this way:  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Romans 5:8-10).

God extended His love to all mankind “while we were sinners and His enemies.”  His love was sacrificially given to all despite the fact we were outside of Christ from birth and rebellious in nature.  God loved us because of His own character, not because of anything we did or tried to do (Isaiah 64:6).   

..and walk in love, (verse 5:2a) - this is an important theme in Ephesians.  We know this because Paul uses the expression five times in all.  In 2:2, he mentions how we used to walk in our sins.  In 2:10, he says that we are now to walk in the good deeds which God prepared beforehand for us.  In 4:1, he says that we should walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which we have been called.  In 4:17, he says that we should not walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind.  He will later say in 5:8 Believers must walk as children of Light and then in 5:15 we must walk carefully, not as unwise men but as wise.

The word "walk" implies a step-by-step, slow, but determined process to reach the goal of imitating Christ in this life.  The command to "walk in love" should remind the Bible student of Jesus Christ's command to His disciples:  love one another…

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another (John 13:34).

So, "walk in love" is not a new program or purpose for God’s one Church; it’s a command from God, repeated by our Apostle Paul to those who are in Jesus Christ.

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:37 – KJV).

We are to walk in love because our heavenly Father is the epitome of Love! 

We know the subject of love for one another is important to Paul because he prayed Believers would walk in love:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father... so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Paul urged true Believers:

to bear with one another in love (4:2)

to speak the truth in love (4:15)

to build up the body in love (4:16).

He urges husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (5:25)

and as they love their own bodies (5:28)

as he (or she) loves themselves (5:33).

In summing up, Biblical love is not an emotion, it is a verb.  It is defined in scripture as an act of selfless giving or serving others without regard to self.  Biblical love does not seek its own gratification, but another’s highest good at the Believer’s expense.  Biblical love says, "I will love you for love’s sake, even if I never receive anything in return."  (See Luke 10:25-37)

..and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God (pleasing to God) as a fragrant aroma (5:2).

In verse 5:2 Paul’s saying when Jesus Christ died on the cross He was both an offering and a sacrifice.  The LORD God commanded His people to perform five different types of sacrifices in Leviticus.  The last two sin and guilt sacrifices deal with atonement for sin committed against the LORD’s expressed will.   This was an O.T. form of reconciliation.  The first three deal with fellowship with God.  Each of these except the guilt is described as being a “soothing aroma” or “fragrant aroma” before God.   It was pleasing to God to see His people desire fellowship with Him and He accepted their offerings.  Jesus Christ, because of His great love, gave of Himself to pay the ransom for our sins, thus reconciling us with the Father, bringing Believers into fellowship with Him.  His sacrifice on our behalf was a fragrant aroma; it was pleasing to and accepted by the Father.

So, once again, Paul’s saying we are to imitate Jesus’ sacrificial love.  The Lord Jesus Christ commanded His followers to “love their enemies, be a blessing to those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for them” (Matthew 5:44). 

The world-at-large does not believe this.  It’s not natural to love your enemies.  They believe in getting even and getting ahead (while they’re at it).  So Paul gives the Ephesians practical applications of this command in the following verses:    

But immorality or any impurity or greed (covetousness) must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an 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.  Therefore do not be partakers with them; (5:3-7).

In verse 3, Paul lists three sins that have to do with sexual immorality.  The first word in Koine Greek is Porneia which the NASB translates immorality.  The KJV Bible translates it fornication.  I prefer the KJV translation shown here:  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;” Paul’s message said differently would be “There is fornication among you.”

Here we see Paul turning from his previous theme of self-sacrificial love in verse 2, to its literal opposite, self-indulgent sexual sin in verses 3-4.  In these verses Paul is simply giving the saints in Ephesus a more detailed teaching of the Lord.  God’s intention for Believers is either marriage, with absolute faithfulness to their spouse, or total abstinence from sex.  The Bible does not allow for variations of this truth.  But sad to say, many Christians today have abandoned or ignored outright God’s command to live differently than the world (John 15:19, 17:14-16; Romans 12:1-2; 1 John 2:15-17).

Paul is saying sexual sin, whether it is labeled immorality, impurity, or greed (covetous) is a violation of biblical love.  You cannot truly love another, in the biblical sense, and engage in sex acts with him or her outside of the marriage covenant.  It is known as a covenant because marriage is entered into by a man and a woman before God as their Witness.  This book says there is no such thing as sexual relations, outside of marriage, done in love.  So, for Believers to practice pre-marital sex is contradictory to a true Believer’s walk.  

This begs the question, or should, what was going on in Ephesus?  I thought these folks were spiritual giants as compared to the Corinthians.  Let's review their culture for a moment.  The city of Ephesus was well-known for moral corruption.  The temple of Artemis offered ritual prostitution as part of its worship.  Ritual or cult prostitution was most often defined as union with a prostitute (whether with a female or a male makes no difference).  They were not employed by the temple; they were slaves and prostituted themselves in exchange for money or goods. 

Satan not only operates in his own children (the unsaved) but also on God’s adopted children (1 John 5:19; John 8:44).  Satan’s two-prong attack on God’s one Church is from within and from the outside, with the intention of destroying it.  Obviously, some of the Ephesian saints were regular patrons of these temples and took part in the immoral activity offered by them.  This is how evil (sin) infiltrated their house church. 
Paul wrote: 

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:  immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these… (Galatians 5:19-21).

Flee fornication (immorality).  Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18 - KJV). 

Note immorality tops Paul’s lists!    Opioid addiction and the consequent results of this terrible habit make the news almost daily.  But sexual sin is man’s most common problem, and it is rarely spoken of.  This is why Paul said not even one of these three sins must ever be named among you, as is proper among saints.  Why?  Believers are called to be holy and blameless before God.  Therefore, sexual impropriety is not to be tolerated within the fellowship of Believers.  The Corinthian church received this lesson from our Apostle Paul when he rebuked those Believers for their acceptance of sexual sin within the Body of Christ.  Paul said it was immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles.  Everyone seemingly knew about the man who “had” his father’s wife and yet they did nothing to oppose it (1 Corinthians 5).   

Ephesians 5:4-7

…and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.  For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an 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.  Therefore do not be partakers with them;

The words filthiness, silly talk, and coarse jesting appear nowhere else in the N.T. and I find this interesting.  Filthiness refers to indecency, obscenity, or some shameful thing.  Its root word is “disgraceful” (5:12).  One example of this today is the sending of enticing pictures by young men and women via their smart phones, or what has been labeled “sexting.”   Internet pornography, which is a billion dollar industry, is one more. 

Silly talk – this is from the Koine Greek word Morologia (mo—rol-og-ee’-ah), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #3473, and it means:  foolish talking.  The English word moron is derived from the root word.  Biblically speaking, “the fool” is not someone who is mentally challenged, but rather someone who is morally deficient because he or she ignores God’s commands.  So, here Paul is specifically saying any speech that disregards, ignores, or makes light of God’s commands is to be avoided.  

Coarse jesting – is from the Koine Greek word Eutrapelia (yoo-trap-el-ee’-ah), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #2160, meaning:  vulgar remarks, coarse jesting.  An example of this is someone saying something in a conversation that’s completely innocent and another individual twists the comment into something crass or vulgar.  It’s turning someone’s words into a dirty joke or off-color humor, as most stand-up comedians practice routinely. 

Paul said these things are not fitting; they’re not to be characterized by Believers.  It’s not fitting for the Believer to engage in this activity and other Believers are not to participate by listening to such empty talk.

Paul gives them the alternative to these sinful things saying, “But rather giving of thanks.”   The Believer’s speech is to be characterized by thanksgiving, because that is the mark of a heart that truly loves God and others.  To give thanks you have to consider the feelings of others and the efforts they have made toward you.  You have to set aside your pride and realize that regardless of your position, or worth, you do not deserve what is given to you.  It comes by the graciousness of others; first and foremost God the Father:

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

The flip-side of this one-sided conversation is this.  What about those who do not imitate Christ?   Paul said, these folks do not belong to God’s kingdom for they are not His children.

For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an 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.  Therefore do not be partakers with them; (5:5-7).

Again, this wasn’t new news to the Ephesian Church; Paul had already taught them this before.  These three verses could be summed up:  God does not tolerate sin.”  Jesus died to redeem mankind from sin and to free us from its bondage.  The Believer is a new creature and should not keep putting on their “filthy, worn out garment” and live as they did before.  We have a new nature and we should live according to it.  Those who are characterized as immoral, impure or covetous are idolaters.  They worship something or someone else (often themselves) as the god of their lives.  No such person has an inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Paul makes it clear that such a life demonstrates the person is unredeemed because they are living according to their natural, sinful nature. It does not matter what they claim, because their words are empty.  The Apostle John put it bluntly in 1 John 2:4, The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Let’s be clear, there is a difference between someone who has a genuine knowledge of God and admits their sin, explaining how miserable it made them feel, as they return to their walk and the individual who is content with their wicked lifestyle and their profession of faith is all but meaningless because their god is themselves and they are all about pleasure-seeking.  In the one it’s evident God is at work in them while the other has deceived themselves.   They think they have the keys to God’s kingdom when in fact they do not.  One is imitating God and the other is not!  These folks will not escape God’s wrath (Romans 1:18). 

(To be continued)

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