Sermon by Rev. Lance Filio
We are back to our sermon series on the book of Ephesians and Lord-willing, we will complete it by March. As a review, we learned from chapter 4 how God sanctifies his people. He does it through Christ and by His Spirit. The Spirit enables us to put off our old selves, renew our minds, and put on Christ. This is the way to godly living, the path to sanctification. We are called to remember who were before Christ and put it off, to reflect who are in Christ become who we are in Him by the renewing our minds.
So this morning, we will focus our attention to verses 1-21. In summary, God calls us to live as his children bounded together by his love. As God’s people, we are called to live in the light of this reality and the way to living like him is wisdom. So this becomes our sermon points for today and the next Lord’s Day: 1) Living in Love; 2) Living as Light; 3) Living in Wisdom.
As always, before we begin, let us pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Living in Love
verses 1-8: “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. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.”
Verse 1 exhorts us to live as children of God. By virtue of God’s adoption, we are enabled by God to live life pleasing to him. The doctrine of adoption teaches us how we become like God when he justifies us the moment we put our trust in the work of Christ. It is a one time event. We used to be God’s enemies and by grace, God made us his friends. The devil used to be our father and now God who becomes our father adopts us his children. And as God’s children, we follow God and not ourselves, sin and the devil. We become as God. We live as He intends us to live, as creatures made in his image.
We honor God as our Father by submitting to his will and obeying his laws. We honor those we owe allegiance to by following what is pleasing to them. The Decalogue as a whole shows us how we can love God. Loving God means to worship him as He intends which is the first four commands and loving our neighbor which is the last six commands. The first set addresses God directly but the second set, while also addresses God, gets first through our neighbor. And you can notice in the second set, the first command relates to submission to parents and the succeeding commands deals with our we treat our neighbors.
Now, Sinclair Ferguson points out how the fifth command relates to the sixth to tenth command. We demonstrate our love for God as our father by treating our neighbors as God intends for us to treat them. We love God by loving our neighbors. We respect them by not practicing any immoral behaviors. As in our text, Paul reminds us not to practice sexual immorality in verse 3. It is essentially the prohibition of the seventh command. He also exhorts us to uphold the ninth command in verse 4. Crude speech and unchaste talk leads to loose living. Paul reminds us to be truthful and avoid any falsehoods. In sum, we respect God’s creation by not giving it up to any defilement both in our mind and body.
Why are we encouraged to live this way? Verse 5 explains how sexual immorality is at its core, idolatry. It is a rebellion to God as our Creator and does not honor God as our Father. When we do it, we clearly signify we are not his children and do not belong to his kingdom. Verse 6 on the other hand, shows us how falsehood is also an act of disobedience to God and how God’s wrath is upon them who practice it. Finally, verse 7 points out how we are to avoid the company of people who practice such blatant sins before God.
Tell me who your friends are and I tell you who you are. We can determine the character of a person by the company he keeps. We are not talking about here of peer pressure or any person making an amateur mistake of following the bidding of the crowd. No, we are speaking of those whom you consciously, and intentionally associate with. It is important for us know that while we live in world, we do not belong to it. We belong to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. And by virtue of our union with him, we commune with God’s people. We associate and become their friends. We partner with them in the gospel and live in that light.
Do we associate with the people who live in darkness rather than light? Growing up, I always feel I am an outsider. I never felt I belong to any group. Misfits is what they can it. I cannot accompany people who live in sexual immortality and practice unchaste speech. I always knew loose living leads to sin. As result, I lived a peculiar life. Until now, I can also count with my hand people whom I can say safely I can associate with. I know how this can often be misunderstood of having an elitist mindset and I am conscious of such tendency but we need to understand that mortal and chaste living are non negotiable.
So Christian, follow the way of the pilgrim live in love. Live as God’s sons and daughters. Let us honor God as our father by following his commands.
Living as Light
verses 8-14: “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Verse 8 reminds us again that we used to live in darkness. Actually, it is emphatic in saying that we are darkness and not only living in it but by nature are it. This is our former condition and by God’s grace, we are now light by virtue of our union with Christ and through the Spirit, our minds are renewed by God’s light. The fruit of light specified here as good, right, and true (verse 9) are the effects of godly living and part of it is the ability to discern God’s will through the illuminating work of the Spirit. God revealed his will to us in Word and the Holy Spirit enables us to understand them and also to live by them. And as a result, we are given the ability to dispel any misdeeds done in open or even in secret by exposing them (verse 11). It does not necessary require us to actively engage in debates or anything. It is simply pointing out how our lives will give light not only to ourselves but also to others around us. And in verses 13-14, Paul states that light will always be seen. Light is visible. It cannot be hidden. It is not done in secret. They are no undercover Christians. If you are indeed one, everyone around you will know it and your deeds towards them will truly demonstrate its reality.
We live in two kingdoms in this world and the world to come. God rules the world by his common grace and yet the spiritual reality of the God’s kingdom is indeed upon us. We are in a semi-eschatological state. While we are citizens of this world, our citizenship is in heaven. And yet while we live in such state of things, our lives are not divided. We do not compartmentalize the way we live. We live singularly before God. Compromise and even living double lives do not have a place in Christian living. We live consistently as light and not darkness.
Self-deceit kills its host and everyone it get contact with. Like a virus spreading, it multiplies itself and bring perdition everyone on its path. The cure to such deceiving sin it the gospel of light. By convicting us of our own sin and enabling us to see the grace of God in Christ, we becomes agents of God’s light in this world. Rather than spreading the sickness and death of sin, we labor in bring the good news of God’s saving work to the world. We become ambassadors of God’s grace.
ZCRC(Imus), we are called to live in God’s love and live in that light. Let us encourage one another in this path of godly living. May God enables us to live according to his Word. Amen.