Stephen Caswell ©1999
Long Walk, Much Love
The African boy listened carefully as the teacher explained why it is that Christians give presents to each other on Christmas Day. "The gift is an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our friendship for each other," she said. When Christmas Day came, the boy brought the teacher a sea shell of lustrous beauty. "Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?" the teacher asked. The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found--a certain bay several miles away. "Why--why, it's gorgeous," said the teacher. "But you shouldn't have gone all that way to get a gift for me." His eyes brightening, the boy answered, "Long walk part of gift."
Last Sunday we looked at how Christians are to walk in holiness. They aren't to live in their past like the Gentiles around them. But as new creations of Jesus Christ they are to put on the garments of holiness. In chapter five Paul commands them to walk or live in a certain manner. Christians must walk like Jesus. The emphasis in this passage is on works. Paul commands us to
I. Walk In Love - Be imitators
Ephesians 5:1-2 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And 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.
a. Christ Showed Us
Inspired By The Best
Leonardo da Vinci had started work on a large canvas in his studio. For awhile he worked at it--choosing the subject, planning the perspective, sketching the outline, applying the colors, with his own inimitable genius. Then suddenly he ceased, the painting still unfinished, and, summoning one of his students, invited him to complete the work. The student protested that he was both unworthy and unable to complete the great painting which his master had begun. But da Vinci silenced him. "Will not what I have done inspire you to do your best?" Our Master began two thousand years ago--by what he said, by what he did, and supremely by what he suffered. He illustrated his message and he has left us to finish the picture.
The first command is that believers should imitate God as dear children. This continues the theme of forgiveness mentioned in the previous verse as indicated by the word therefore. God forgave us in Jesus Christ. We are to imitate this by forgiving one another. Children like to copy their parents. They watch us and mimic our behavior. Since Christians are God's children they should imitate their heavenly Father. God loves us like His beloved Son. [Matt 3:17] But how do we imitate Him if we can't see Him? By following His perfect Son. The Lord Jesus Christ showed us how to live. Therefore we should walk as He walked.
Ÿ You preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.
Ÿ It doesn't matter how a person dies, but how he lives.
Ÿ Every Christian should be a walking sermon.
Ÿ Nothing is more confusing than the fellow who gives good advice and sets a bad example.
Ÿ Your words may hide your thoughts, but your actions will reveal them.
b. Christ Served Us
The second command Paul gave was to walk in love. But He didn't leave this unexplained. Jesus walked in love and we are to follow His example. The Lord Jesus demonstrated His love by serving mankind. He healed the sick, provided for the hungry, touched the leper and ministered to the needy. Jesus put God first, others second and Himself last. He walked weary miles to serve lost people. We are to walk the same way. 1 John 2:6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. We are to serve one another through love.
Sometime ago there was a teacher who celebrated her eightieth birthday. It proved to be a marvelous occasion, highlighted by the presence of a great number of her former students. It seemed that she taught school in one of the worst sections of Baltimore. Before she came to that school to teach there had been repeated instances of juvenile crime and delinquency. When she began her work there came a change. The change in time became noticeable with so many of her students turning out to be good citizens, men and women of good character. Some became doctors, others lawyers, educators, ministers, honorable craftsmen, and skilled technicians. It was no accident, therefore, that on important anniversaries like her eightieth birthday she was remembered with gratitude and love from a great number of her students.
A newspaper got wind of this celebration and sent a reporter to interview her. He asked, among other things, what was her secret that made her teaching so rewarding? She said, "Oh, I don't know. When I look at the young teachers in our schools today, so well-equipped with training and learning, I realize that I was ill-prepared to teach. I had nothing to give but love."
c. Christ Sacrificed For Us
His greatest service was giving Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Greater love has no man than this that He lay down His life for His friends. But Jesus Christ died for us when we were His enemies. 1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Love gives to meet another's needs and is not concerned with the cost. CT Studd said this before sailing to China as a missionary. If Jesus Christ be God and died for me then no sacrifice that I can make is to great. God has given His best for us. How can we not give our best to Him?
The Proof of Love
In the French revolution, a young man was condemned to the guillotine and shut up in one of the prisons. He was greatly loved by many, but there was someone who loved him more than all the others put together. That one was his own father, and the love he bore his son was proved in this way: when the lists were called, the father--whose name was exactly the same as the son's--answered to the name, and the father rode in the gloomy tumbrel out to the place of execution, and his head rolled beneath the axe instead of his son's, a victim to mighty love. See here an image of the love of Christ to sinners. For thus Jesus died for the ungodly.
Are you imitating God as beloved children? Do you only tell them about God's love or do you show them as well. A good example speaks louder than any sermon! Are you walking in love? Agape love, God's love has the good of the person loved at heart. Loving service should be our response to God's love for us. This is opposite to the world's view of love. The world's love says meet my needs. Is your understanding of love to get, or to give? Do you show God's love to your neighbor? Are you making sacrifices for others? Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us. We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. Next Paul commands us:
II. Don't Walk In Lust - Don't Be Immoral
Ephesians 5:3-4 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
In verses 3-7 Paul gives three negative commands. In contrast to the way believers should walk Paul commands them not to walk in lust. He tells them that sexual immorality and uncleanness should not be named among them once. There should not be even one mention of such things in the Church. God's love gives for the benefit of others. Whilst these sexual sins, desires and speech listed here are selfish. Compare the purity of love spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13 with the lust described here. People who practice these things don't give but take. They are not concerned with giving but getting. Sin is always selfish, having no concern for others. These things can be described under three headings. Impure Deeds, Impure Desires & Impure Speech.
a. Impure Deeds
Fornication is any sexual relationship outside marriage. God condemns this throughout the Scriptures. Uncleanness refers to moral impurity. Uncleanness refers to people behaving in an indecent manner. This can be displayed through their dress or body movements. Any action that is morally questionable can fall into this category. People who engage in such behavior are taking something that doesn't belong to them. In the case of adultery those involved are stealing from their spouses. Where unmarried persons engage in sexual immorality they are taking what belongs to their future spouse only. Sexual sin is taking something that belongs to another.
Proverbs 6:23-32 For the commandment is a lamp, And the law a light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of life, To keep you from the evil woman, From the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, Nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot A man is reduced to a crust of bread; And an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, And his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, And his feet not be seared? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; Whoever touches her shall not be innocent. People do not despise a thief If he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; He may have to give up all the substance of his house. Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul.
Destroyed by Lust
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources reports that more than 17,000 deer die each year after being struck by motorists on state highways. According to Paul Shelton, state wildlife director, the peak season for road kills is in late fall. Why? The bucks are in rut in November. "They're concentrating almost exclusively on reproductive activities," he said, "and are a lot less wary than they normally would be." Deer aren't the only ones destroyed by preoccupation with sex. Today millions are paying the price with sexual diseases, broken homes and ruined lives. Immorality is the cumulative product of small indulgences and minuscule compromises, the immediate consequences of which were, at the time, indiscernible. So, we must be on our guard.
b. Impure Desires
Covetousness is the sin of always wanting more. The sin of covetousness is the root of all other sin, because it deals with the desires of the heart. Covetous people desire what belongs to God or another person. Covetousness leads people to steal and murder as Ahab did with Naboth. It leads them commit adultery, lie and commit murder as David did. These sins are not fitting for saints. We must discard these clothes. Covetousness is desiring what belongs to God or someone else.
No "No" in TV Land
Many of our adolescents and young adults cannot "just say no" to drugs because their whole approach to life has been shaped by television, the land where "no" does not exist. Television encourages the sin of covetousness. Greed, impure desires and deeds are flaunted continually. Do you watch such things, or do you control your desires? We need to take great care in this.
c. Impure Speech
Verse four deals with impure speech. Filthiness refers to obscenity or shameful speech. People involved in the sexual sins just mentioned often like to boast or joke about it. They describe the wickedness that they are involved in to all who will listen. They love to tell dirty jokes. Foolish talking does not refer to innocent humor or small talk. But rather the type of conversation that cheapens mankind. Such conversation tears people down rather than building them up. Coarse jesting refers to vulgar jokes. Some people delight to place an impure slant on everything.
They use their quick wit to cheapen sex and pollute any conversation. These things are not fitting for Christians. Believers should build up. One example of this is giving thanks.
In The Jewish Press, Morris Mandel writes, "Gossip is the most deadly microbe. It has neither legs nor wings. It is composed entirely of tales, and most of them have stings." A little 5 year old boy was using bad language at school. The parents were called in and informed. The Father replied, wait till I get the so and so home. I will b. well sort him out when we get home. The teachers then knew where he had learned it. Our language should be gracious seasoned with salt. Someone is always listening.
a. Impure Deeds - Paul says that immorality should not even be named amongst saints. Have you fallen in the area of sexual purity? This is a serious sin. Sexual sin affects not only the life of the offender but also the spouses that have been wronged. It must be confessed and stopped.
b. Impure Desires - This is where sexual sin begins. Jesus said to lust after a woman in your heart is to commit adultery. Are you controlling your desires or are they leading you into sin? In today's society we must be very careful here. Are you careful what you watch on TV? Can I encourage you to guard your heart and choose beforehand to look away from all temptation.
c. Impure Speech. Do you watch your tongue? It is so easy to compromise our witness by coarse jesting and foolish talk. Do you walk away from people who tell dirty jokes? Do you tell them?
1. Don't Be Deceived - About God's Kingdom And Judgment
5:5-6 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. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
a. About God's Kingdom
Paul reminds believers that whoever practice such sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Christ stated so clearly on the sermon on the mount that only the pure in heart shall see God. They already knew this, but Paul reminded them for their own good. Immoral people will not inherit eternal life. Neither will covetous people inherit the kingdom. Why does Paul call covetousness idolatry? Because a covetous person puts things before God just like idols.
b. About God's Wrath
Paul doesn't want the Ephesians to be mislead by smooth talkers. This is why he gives a second command, Do not to be deceived by people with empty words. In Paul's day false teachers were spreading empty words. You are saved by grace, they argued, so go ahead and sin that grace might abound. Paul refutes such teaching. God's wrath is coming upon the sons of disobedience. They will suffer full punishment for their sin. God punishes sin. So don't be deceived about this.
"I Never Thought Of That!"
Is it not foolish to be living in this world without a thought of what you will do at the end of it? A man goes into an inn, and as soon as he sits down he begins to order his wine, his dinner, his bed; there is no delicacy in season that he forgets to order. He stays at the inn for some time. By and by, the bill comes due, and it takes him by surprise. "I never thought of that--I never thought of that!" "Why," says the landlord, "here is a man who is either a born fool or else a knave. What! Never thought of reckoning--never thought of settling with me!" After this fashion too many live. They eat, and drink, and sin, but they forget the inevitable hereafter, when for all the deeds done in the body, the Lord will bring us into judgment. We must all settle the account with our Maker.
2. Don't Be Partakers With Them Ephesians 5:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
In light of Paul's warning concerning eternal life and judgment, Paul gives a third command. Don't be partakers with them. Since God is going to judge the wicked, believers should not get involved in their sin. Some Christians smile and think that they can play with sin and not be burned. After all they are God's children. Christians should never presume upon God's grace. David committed a great sin with Bathsheba. Afterward he confessed his sin and was restored. But he still bore the consequences of it in his family. David regretted his lust for the rest of his life. God won't allow believers to deliberately sin and do nothing about it. Hebrews 12:5-11 says that God chastises His children. There are consequences for Sin.
The Man And The Python
There was a performer who had a stage act with a python. He would whistle on stage and a very large python would crawl out on to the stage. The python would then proceed to wrap itself around the man. After a while the man was completely embraced by this large snake. Then the man would whistle again and the snake would unwrap itself and crawl off the stage. He performed this act for many years. One night the snake wrapped itself around the man as usual. Then something went terribly wrong. Instead of unwrapping the man the snake proceeded to crush him to death. Although he let out a horrifying scream it was too late.
That is what it is like with sin. Many people think they can play with it. They think they have it under control and then when they least expect it, it kills them. Paul warns believers, don't partake in other men's sins. Are you toying with these sins? God says don't partake in them. Believers and unbelievers alike will reap what they sow. Today we have looked at Paul's command to walk in love not in lust.
I. Walk In Love - Be imitators
a. Christ Showed Us - Are you imitating your Father? Jesus gave us the example to follow.
b. Christ Served Us - Are you serving others as Christ has served us? God's love gives freely. Do you serve your neighbor? How are you taking the love of Christ to a needy world?
c. Christ Sacrificed For Us - Christ loved us and gave His life. Does His love motivate you to live for others? Does your faith cost you anything? What have you given for others in need?
II. Don't Walk In Lust - Don't Be Immoral
a. Impure Deeds - Sexual immorality is taking what doesn't belong to you. It is selfish. Are you considering such action? Sexual sin has serious consequences. Christianity gives, it doesn't take!
b. Impure Desires - Covetousness is desiring what belongs to another. Are you content or covetous? Do you watch immoral behavior on TV. Such thinking only feeds impure desires?
c. Impure Speech - Filthy language and coarse jesting are not fitting for Christians. Do you engage in dirty jokes or innuendo? I trust that you don't, but rather give thanks instead.
1. Don't Be Deceived - About God's Kingdom And Judgment
a. About God's Kingdom - Immoral people and covetous people will not inherit God's kingdom.
b. About God's Wrath - God punishes sin. His wrath is coming. Don't be deceived about this.
2. Don't Be Partakers With Them
Since this is true Christians shouldn't commit sins that God will judge. Sin has its consequences!
2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.