5. Pursuing Purity Together, Pt. 3: Contrasting Programs For Living (Eph. 5:1-21)Related Media
We live in a self-centred, sex-craved world that insists on instant self-gratification - no waiting, impulse buying, impetuous decisions. The core value is: “Just give me what I want and give it to me now!” Sex plays a central part in this attitude: easy-come-easy-go relationships, no commitment, no love, purely physical. And the current of the age always seems to have an impact on the church. What we see and hear around us seems to creep into the church. If you’re exposed to a lifestyle for long enough you can easily adopt its values.
But Christians are called to a very different practice of living. The “new man” practices a lifestyle that is wholly different from the world. His goal is to be like Christ, to be perfect as he is perfect.
We’re still talking about: “Pursuing Purity Together.” In part 1, we covered the general “Contrasting Principles for Living” (4:17-24) and in part 2, the specific “Contrasting Practices of Living” (4:25-32) – i.e. individual characteristics of living. Now, in part 3, our subject is “Contrasting Programs for Living”.
Principles specify the standards and values we seek to adhere to. Practices are the outworking of those principles in daily life. So, there are principles to live by and there are practices that reflect those principles. What ties the two together is your program for living. A program is a plan that governs our practices, actions, beliefs, based on our principles.
Let me give you an example of principle, practice, and program in the area of flight. There are principles for flying an airplane – e.g. the law of aerodynamics; thrust etc. And there are practices that reflect those principles – the use of the flaps, the air speed of the plane etc. There is also a program for flying a plane. The program (plan) takes into account the principles and practices of flying. The program is its flight path (course); the time of departure and arrival; ground speed; altitude etc. The program that governs the plane can only be accomplished if the pilot adheres to the principles and practices of flying.
Programs are a normal and regular aspect of many functions in life. If you attend a musical concert, it will have a program that sets out what will be presented, the sequence of events, and who the participants are. A college education follows a program – what courses to take, what the qualifications and expectations are, and when the program is offered. Computers operate with programs which determine what they can do. Weight loss clinics follow programs that determine what you can eat, when and how to exercise. Sometimes we’ll say to someone: “Get with the program”, by which we mean “get on board with what we’re trying to do here; adopt the same goals and plans.”
A “program for living” is what underlies our principles and practices. It’s our core values in life, our driving force, the foundation of our lives, the governing rule of life. It sets the pattern and the standards, and determines your focus. Eph. 5:1-21 sets out three contrasting programs for living:
Program #1: Live A God-Centred Life... Not A Self-Centred Life (5:1-7)
This first contrasting program for living states that: “You can live for God or you can live for self.” So, let me ask you at the outset of this study:
- What is the underlying premise of your life?
- What governs your beliefs and how your actions?
- What are the core values in your life?
- What is your program for living?
- Are you programmed to live a God-centred life or a self-centred life?
The injunction in our text is this: “Christians living together in community need to live a God-centred life as our program for living.”
A. Live A God-Centred Life (1-2)
1. A God-Centred Life Imitates God’s Holy Nature (1)
Therefore be imitators of God (1a)1
Therefore refers back to the previous passage (4:25-32), to the practice of living like the new man. Living like the new man is to live a God-centred life. If you are living like the new man you will imitate God. The life of the new man is based on the program of a God-centred life. It’s a life that has God as its focal point, that has God at the centre of your being, that imitates him, that is like him. To imitate God is to be holy because that is his essential nature. “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct because it is written, ‘Be holy for I am holy’ “(1 Pet. 1:15-16; cf. Eph. 1:4)
The Christian life is a reproduction of godliness. God’s purpose in redemption is to reverse the effects of the Fall by recreating us in righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:24) and by conforming us to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:29). The goal in true Christian living is to be perfect “as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). For this we must strive and, ultimately, we shall be perfectly like him when we see him as he is (1 Jn. 3:2).
How can we imitate God’s holy nature? Isn’t this expecting too much? How can we ever match up to the God who created the universe in unsullied purity, untarnished love? How can we imitate someone whom we have never seen and can’t comprehend? Like Zophar we ask: “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven - what can you do? Deeper than Sheol - what can you know?” (Job 11:7-8).
We can imitate God in the same way that children imitate their father. Be imitators of God as beloved children (1b). We cannot imitate God’s divine attributes since they belong only to deity (e.g. omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience). But we can imitate his nature – his mercy, grace, holiness etc. (1) because we know what he is like from creation, from his Word, and from the life and teachings of Christ; (2) because we are created in his image, made to be like him; (3) because his Spirit dwells in us and makes us like him; and (4) because we are his dear children.
Children naturally imitate their parents. They have their parents’ nature and so imitate their actions and adopt their values. And children who know that they are dearly loved by their father will be the most eager to imitate him.
We are God’s dear children whom he loved so much that he gave his Son to die for us. Therefore, as his children we should be zealous to imitate him. Because he is holy, we want to be holy, like Him.
2. A God-Centred Life Imitates God’s Holy Love (2)
Be imitators of God … and walk in love as Christ also has loved us (2a). When we imitate God we will walk in love (1) because “God is love” and we will imitate his love; (2) because he has poured his love into our hearts (Rom. 5:5) and we will pour out that love to others in imitation of him.
How can we imitate God’s love? Isn’t his a love that knows no limits, shows no partiality, has no favourites? Doesn’t he love even when those he loves hate him? Isn’t his love the essence of who he is and therefore absolutely pure? Is it possible for finite human beings to imitate God’s holy love?
We can imitate God’s holy love by copying Christ’s example. Walk in love as Christ also has loved us. To imitate God is to imitate Christ because they are one in essence, thought, and purpose. The example of love that we are to follow is not any old love. It’s not our mother’s love, or father’s love, or the love of our spouse or a friend. The love of a God-centred life is patterned after Christ’s example. That’s how we are to imitate God’s holy love - by loving others in the same way that Christ loved us.
How has Christ loved us? He loved us by giving himself (2b). His love was a willing love, a voluntary love, an uncoerced love. He willingly gave up his life because he loved us so. His love was purposeful, unconditional, a gift (Gal. 2:20). He loved us by giving himself for us. He was willing to take our place before God, to be our substitute. He gave himself not for a cause but for a people - for us. He gave himself for us not because there was any merit in ourselves (Rom. 5:8, 10) but because he sovereignly bestowed his love on us.
He loved us by giving himself for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a sweet smelling aroma (2c). He offered himself to God as a sacrifice to appease God’s wrath and to meet God’s holy demands for our sin. He sacrificed himself so that we could go free and be reconciled to God through his blood. He laid himself on the altar in full surrender like a fragrant aroma rising up to God, well-pleasing to him.
This is the love which we are to imitate - not some cheap, superficial love, but a willing, purposeful, unconditional, sacrificial love. The love of a God-centred life is patterned after Christ’s love. Every deed of willing surrender to God, done out of love for God is well pleasing to him (cf. 2 Cor. 2:15-16). A sacrifice for others is a sweet smelling aroma to God (1 Jn. 3:16).
The injunction here is: “Live a God-centred life as your program for living.” The warning is…
B. Don’t Live A Self-Centred Life! (3-6)
A God-centred life is a life of purity, love, self-sacrifice. A self-centred life is a life of perversion, lust, self-indulgence. A self-centred life is the contrasting program for living to a God-centred life.
Notice the features of a self-centred life that goes unchecked…
1. A Self-Centred Life Is Defiled By Perversion (3-4)
A) A Self-Centred Life Is Perverted Sexually (3).
But fornication and every kind of uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you as is fitting for saints.
Fornication is unlawful, illicit sexual intercourse of all kinds – e.g. premarital sex, adultery, prostitution, homosexuality.
Do you know how much sexual perversion there is around us? We are bombarded with it in advertising, TV, newspapers etc. They sell cars with sex, food, exercise programs, and travel programs. This is an age of sexual addiction. Presidents are addicted to it and religious leaders fall into it.
Every kind of uncleanness means all impurities. Any uncleanness is the broadest coverage (every kind of evil), but it is usually sexual sin (πορνεια).2
Covetousness is greed of all kinds. In this context it probably has a sexual connotation3 just like the 10th commandment that warns against coveting your neighbour’s wife. 4 Here it probably refers to unrestrained sexual greed, the attitude that others exist for your own gratification.
Don’t let it even be named among you as befits saints. Don’t let this kind of behaviour be known among you. Don’t let this sexual perversion be true of you. Don’t permit worldly lusts to induce you into self-indulgence. Don’t flirt with it. Don’t let sexual immorality be your program for living. Distance yourselves from it. After all, you are saints of God, holy ones who have been set apart by God. You are sanctified by the Spirit, dedicated to God. You are saints with far too high a calling for this kind of lustful, worldly, perverted, sexual living that we see around us today.
This kind of practice is never to be named among God’s holy people. Our lives should be of such sanctity that no one can point the finger at us. There should never be even a suspicion of this kind of conduct among us. It shouldn’t even be hinted at, and certainly never be true. Don’t make sexual sins a topic of casual conversation. To do so lessens the seriousness of them and can lead to fantasies about them. And unchecked fantasies often become reality.
A self-centred life is perverted sexually. And…
B) A Self-Centred Life Is Perverted Verbally (4)
Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
Just as self-indulgent sexual perversion is not a fitting program for living among the saints of God, so self-indulgent verbal perversion is not fitting.
Filthiness refers to obscenities, everything that is contrary to purity. Anything that would cause a Christian who is living a holy life to be ashamed. In this context, filthiness is particularly obscenity of speech (Col. 3:8), vulgarity, profanity.
Foolish talking is silly talk. It’s the same word from which we get “moron” (i.e. words associated with fools) - the kind of words you would expect from drunkards and coarse people with no sensitivity to serious matters.
Coarse jesting means degrading comments and dirty jokes, jokes about shameful things, suggestive language, double meanings, which things are not fitting among saints. Making sexual matters a topic of joking is to strip them of their seriousness. When sex is reduced to a joke it generates an attitude of laxity toward it and even condones its practice. Those things are not appropriate for saints of God, but rather giving of thanks which is fitting among saints. Thanksgiving is the opposite of anything to do with self-indulgence. A self-centred person does not express himself or herself in terms of thankfulness. Thanksgiving to God is the expression of one who is satisfied with God’s provision and wants no more. In this context, rather than trying to satiate self-indulgent passions (whether through sexual practices or verbal expressions), we should acknowledge that God has given us all that we need and for that we give thanks.
A self-centred life is defiled by perversion. And…
2. A Self-Centred Life Is Doomed For Punishment (5-6)
Just as worldly lust induces self-indulgence, so worldly lust incites God’s judgement. The first aspect of God’s punishment is that…
A) Self-Centred Persons Are Excluded From God’s Kingdom (5)
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.
These are the same people referred to in v. 3 - the sexually immoral, the unclean and greedy persons, who are idolaters. They are idolaters because they worship someone other than God. They worship themselves, feed on their own lusts, and are addicted to their sexuality. All these are excluded from the kingdom of Christ and God.5 They have no part in the present spiritual reality of the kingdom of Christ; no part in the future physical reality of the kingdom of God. They aren’t under the rule of God and Christ at all. Their deviant behaviour excludes them from the kingdom of God.
Not only will self-centred persons be excluded from the kingdom of God, but also…
B) Self-Centred Persons Are Condemned Under God’s Wrath (6)
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (6b)
Empty words are the same verbal perversions referred to in v. 4. - filthy and foolish talking, and coarse joking. Empty words are words devoid of truth and filled with error. Don’t be deceived by those who use obscenities, silly talking, coarse jesting. Don’t be deceived by those who claim there is no consequence for their sin. They speak empty words that are devoid of truth. Don’t be deceived by those who try to justify their immoral practices as if they are matters for amusement.
Because of these things the wrath of God falls on these children of disobedience. God’s wrath is coming and in principle has already come. God’s judgement upon the ungodly, though it is future, is so real and certain that it is as if it has already come upon them. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn. 3:36). “God…will render to each one according to his deeds… to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness - indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil…For there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:5-11).
Therefore, do not be partakers with them (7)
Don’t be drawn into their program of living. Rather than perversion, practice purity. Rather than lust, practice love. Rather than self-indulgence, practice self-sacrifice.
Don’t pursue a program of self-centredness or you may end up in a lifestyle of sexual, verbal, social, habitual, philosophical, even religious perversion.
Pursue a program for living that has God as its centre! That’s the thrust of our text: “Christians living together in community need to live a God-centred life as our program for living.” There is nothing like God-centredness to generate unity in the church where everyone has the same focus, same goal, same desire, same program and same purpose for living. There’s nothing like God’s love to generate unity in the church because a sacrificial love considers others’ needs above your own; you abandon your own agenda to help someone else.
Is this true about you? Is this the object of your life - to be godly, Christ-like, laying down yourself for others? If it is, then you’ll overcome lust and be filled with love; you’ll resist perversion and be known for purity; you’ll set aside self-indulgence and be self-sacrificial.
Let’s examine our own hearts right now. Ask yourself the question: Is your life a reflection of God’s purity and love or the world’s perversity and lust? In a moment of silence, review your own life in the light of this Scripture. Ask yourself, is sexuality a predominant part of your thinking and desires? Is filthy talking, silly jokes, and uncleanness a habit with you?
Program #2: Live As Light… Not Darkness (5:8-14)
How we live affects those we live with or near, whether at home, work, or school. How we live is determined by our “program for living.” The purity of our life is governed by our program for living.
To live a God-centred life means that we have no common ground with those who live self-centred lives because the children of God imitate God in his holiness and love, whereas the children of disobedience are defiled by perversion and doomed to punishment. Therefore, “don’t be partakers with them” (7); don’t share in their ungodly lifestyle; don’t be partners in their “disobedience”; don’t partake in their immorality (sexual and verbal).
In this second contrasting programs for living, the injunction is that “Christians living together in community need to live as light not darkness.”
A. Live As People Of Light (8-10)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord (8a).
Darkness and light are not only realms but people, people who are not just surrounded by it but identified with it, governed by it; people who represent it in their persons and demonstrate it in their deeds.
People of light dwell in, possess, and transmit moral and spiritual light in the world. They are knowledgeable about spiritual truth (1:18) and they walk in holiness. People of darkness dwell in and embody moral and spiritual darkness in the world. They represent spiritual darkness, which is ignorance (4:18) and, in this context, immorality.
People of light are different from and separate from people of darkness. Once upon a time you were darkness (cf. 2:1-3, 11, 12; 4:14, 17). It doesn’t say “you were once in darkness” but that you were once darkness. You were once governed by spiritual, moral, and intellectual darkness; your minds were blinded (4:18) with unbelief by the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4); your hearts were hardened against the truth (4:18); your lusts were unchecked in sexual immorality and uncleanness (5:3).
But now you are light in the Lord. You have been transferred from the realm of darkness to the realm of light and you have been transformed in your thinking – renewed and enlightened with the truth about God in your conduct so that you walk in true righteousness and holiness (4:24). You are light because you are in the Lord – you belong to Christ. Now you belong to a new realm (of light) because you are in the Lord.
And because you are light, you actually transmit light. Light now radiates from you to others (at your work, school, neighbourhood etc.). You have embraced the Light that came into the world (Jn. 8:12) so that you yourselves are now the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:14).
Therefore (because you are light in the Lord) live as children of light (8b). Live in a way that reflects who you really are! And who are we? We are children of light - no longer children of wrath (2:3) or disobedience (2:2; 5:6) but children of light, because we are children of God and God is Light. So live in accordance with who you are. Let your practice be consistent with your position. Let your behaviour conform to your belief. Let your conduct comport with your character. You embraced the light of Christ so walk as children of the light. Think in accordance with the knowledge of the truth that you have. Let the knowledge of God and Christ flood your soul with light. Act according to God’s holy standards. Let righteousness and holiness mark your attitudes, words, and actions.
So, how do people of light live?
1. People Of Light Live To Produce Light (9)
They live to show to others who they really, for the fruit of the light (better manuscript reading) consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth. People of light are people of goodness. They are people who do acts of kindness on behalf of others – the opposite of malice and uncleanness (4:31,19). People of light are people of righteousness. They demonstrate justice and uprightness in their lives. They show the righteous character of God in their dealings. People of light are people of truth. They practice integrity, reliability, trustworthiness. They speak truth with their neighbour – the opposite of lies, deceit, hypocrisy (4:14, 25; 5:6).
All of this fruit of light is the expression of God’s character. The “goodness” of God leads people to repentance (Rom. 2:4). The “truth” of God is expressed in Jesus Christ (4:21; Jn. 14:6). The “righteousness” of God is imputed to us through faith in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). This is what people should see when they look at us – the goodness of God, the truth of God, the righteousness of God. They should see the light of God shining from us in the darkness of this world, so that they turn to take another look at us, just as they might look at someone who is outstandingly well-dressed.
The effect of the Christian life lived out in difficult situations is often quite dramatic and forceful in its impact on the non-Christian. An article that appeared in Christianity Today (June 21, 1974) was about Christians in the Soviet Union. A former criminal, Kozlov, later a church leader, wrote of life in a Soviet prison: “Among the general despair, while prisoners like myself were cursing ourselves, the camp, the authorities; while we opened up our veins or our stomachs, or hanged ourselves; the Christians (often with sentences of 20 to 25 years) did not despair. One could see Christ reflected in their faces. Their pure, upright life, deep faith, and devotion to God, their gentleness and their wonderful manliness became a shining example of real life for thousands.” 6
So, people of light live to produce light. And…
2. People Of Light Live To Please God (10)
…discovering what is pleasing to the Lord.
When you walk as children of light walk, you produce the fruit of light in goodness, righteousness and truth, and in so doing you discover what is pleasing to the Lord. We discover what pleases the Lord by how we live. When we live as children of light ought to live, God is well-pleased. When we live as children of darkness live, God is not pleased. Do you want to know the will of God? Live as light, then you’ll discover what pleases God and you’ll live in the will of God.
The injunction is “Live as people of light.” The warning is...
B. Don’t Live As People Of Darkness (11-14)
Have no fellowship with the unfruitful deeds of darkness (11)
It isn’t a matter of staying away from “people of darkness” but a matter of remaining separate from their unfruitful deeds.
1. People Of Light Can Have No Part In “Deeds Of Darkness” (11a)
People of darkness produce deeds but not fruit. Don’t confuse work with fruit. Works of darkness produce no fruit. They are sterile, futile, with no life in them. Hence, they are unfruitful. They don’t glorify God; they don’t please him. Unfruitful deeds spring from the realm of darkness – immorality, impurity, all uncleanness, greed, and filthy talk.
People of light can have no part with the deeds of darkness. Our allegiance is to the God who is Light. We cannot participate in the futile, self-serving works of disobedience. There are no shades of grey here. Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness (11a). You are either darkness or light. Your works are either fruitful or unfruitful. You are either a believer or an unbeliever. And your works prove it.
People of light have no part in the deeds of darkness. Rather…
2. People Of Light Expose The “Deeds Of Darkness” (11b-14)
Have no fellowship with them …but rather expose them (11b). The answer is not to retreat from the world. We don’t seclude ourselves in an exclusive commune or sect where everybody thinks, looks, and speaks alike. Rather, we live in the world as those who are not of the world by refusing to join in their evil actions, habits, language etc. In so doing, we expose their evil deeds for what they are.
Talking about their evil deeds doesn’t expose them. In fact, it is shameful even to speak of those things that are done by them in secret (12). Talk won’t change them. It won’t overcome their evil deeds (1) because “men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil” (Jn. 3:19); and (2) because those who practise evil hate the light and they do not come to the light lest their deeds should be exposed (Jn. 3:20). Plato once said: “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light.” 7
Talking about evil deeds doesn’t expose them and won’t change them, but it might defile you. Their secret deeds are so vile that it’s shameful to speak about them because they are morally and spiritually dangerous and defiling.
Today, things that we consider evil are often talked about openly and condoned. Newspapers, radio talk shows and TV programs discuss things that at one time would never have been broadcast because they would have been considered embarrassing, obnoxious, revolting. Even some advertisements are objectionable, revealing private matters. But now these things are publicized as ordinary items of discussion. Just listening to them defiles your mind and disturbs your spirit.
Talking about evil deeds of darkness doesn’t expose them but living as light exposes them. All things that are exposed by the light are made visible; for it is light that makes everything visible (13). The antidote for sin is not talk, it’s the light - the light of your life! The way to deal with sin is not to talk about it but to show it up, so that the people of darkness will see who and what they are and “turn from their wicked ways” (cf. Lk. 8:17; 2 Chron. 7:14).
Just as light exposes dust on furniture, so living as spiritual light exposes spiritual darkness. You expose the evil deeds of the ungodly by how you live. Your works are so fruitful and so different (morally, religiously, socially, intellectually, philosophically) that they shine like a searchlight on the unfruitful deeds of the ungodly.
Darkness never overcomes light; rather light always prevails. As your life reflects the light of Christ so the works of darkness are shown up for what they truly are. Your deeds of “goodness” expose their greed and self-centredness. Your deeds of “righteousness” expose their immorality and uncleanness. Your pure talk of “truth” exposes their filthy talk and coarse jokes. Light makes everything within its sphere visible. When exposed to the light, the deeds of darkness are made visible so that the people of darkness see the enormity of their sin.
So, by living as light we enable them to see the nature of their deeds and to respond to the light and become light themselves. You don’t do a wicked person any favour by leaving him or her in their wickedness as though it is alright. You don’t do a believer any favour by ignoring his or her sin. Divine love desires the highest good no matter what the cost.
Therefore, it is said, “Awake you who sleep; arise from the dead; and Christ shall give you light” (14). This is a call to those in darkness to come to the light – to be saved. I don’t know where this quote comes from. Perhaps it’s an adaptation of Isa. 60:1, “Arise shine; for your light has come. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.”
This is the transforming effect of the light of the gospel. The gospel awakens sinners from their sleep in the darkness of sin. Like a spiritual Rip Van Winkle they sleep through God’s day of grace and will wake up when it is too late unless we wake them up! The gospel raises them from their condition of spiritual death. It summons them to repentance, to turn away from their sinful deeds of darkness. The gospel infuses them with the light of life and Christ will shine upon them. They will hear and understand the good news that God has provided a remedy for those who turn from darkness to his marvellous light.
Two Indians who had been watching a lighthouse being built came over to see it open on the big day. It was all set up with the lights and the bell and the horn; but the day it was due to open, the worst fog of all fogs came in. One Indian said to the other, “Light shine, bell ring, horn blow, but fog come in just the same.” We’ve never had more lights shining, and bells ringing, and horns blowing in the church than we have today. And we’ve never had more fog! 8 We are the spiritual light of the world. If we don’t shine in the foggy darkness, who will?
Remember: “Christians living together in community need to live as light not darkness.”
A little girl came home from Sunday school, where she had been taught the verse, “Let you light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). She asked her mother, when she repeated the verse, what it meant. Her mom said, “Well, it means that when you are good and kind and thoughtful and obedient, you are letting Christ’s light shine in your life before all who know you.”
The very next Sunday school, the little girl got in a bit of a fracas with another student and created somewhat of an uproar, to such an extent that the Sunday school teacher had to go and find her mother to get her settled down a bit in the class. Her mother was concerned when she got to the classroom and said, “Sweetie, don’t you remember about letting your light shine for the Lord before men?” The girl blurted out, “Mom, I have blowed myself out.” 9 Many of us have done just that. In our relationship to Christ, our light has gone out. Don’t blow yourself out!
All of us who are believers have been awakened from spiritual death. The light of Christ has “shone into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Now it’s our responsibility to share the light with others so that their wicked deeds are exposed, they wake up from their spiritual sleep, repent of their sins, and receive the life-producing light of Christ.
Here’s the question: Are we attractive Christians? Do we give people the impression that the most marvellous thing in the world is to be a Christian, to have the light of life?
Program #3: Live Carefully… Not Recklessly (5:15-21)
We are studying “Living Together in Community” (Eph. 4:1-6:20). One aspect of living together in community is “pursuing purity together” - the life of the “new man” in contrast to the life of the “old”. This is a life that is based on certain contrasting principles – (1) “Don’t live like the ungodly in corruption that stems from deceit” (Eph. 4:17-19); (2) Live like Jesus in purity that stems from the truth” (Eph. 4:20-24). This is a life that is based on certain contrasting practices – (1) “Speaking truth not lies” (Eph. 4:25); (2) “Exercising self-control not anger” (Eph. 4:26-27); (3) “Working not stealing” (Eph. 4:28); (4) “Speaking constructively not destructively” (Eph. 4:29-30); and (5) “Showing kindness not animosity” (Eph. 4:31-32).
It is also a life that is based on certain contrasting programs – program #1, “Live a God-centred life not self-centred” (5:1-7); program #2, “Live as light not darkness” (5:8-14). Now, Program #3: “Live carefully not recklessly” (5:15-21).
A. Be Careful To Live Wisely… Not Foolishly (5:15-17)
Therefore, watch that you live / walk carefully (15a). The life of the new man is a careful (disciplined) life. It’s careful because the new man walks as a child of the light, exposing the works of darkness and you can only do this if you take care. If you don’t take care, you’ll become like the children of disobedience and you’ll be drawn into their unfruitful works of darkness.
Great care is the hallmark of those who are wise not foolish: See that you live carefully, not as unwise but as wise (15b). Unwise believers live recklessly. They’re unconcerned about the consequences of their lives, about the holiness of God, about eternal values. They’re easily persuaded by others and compromise the gospel (Gal. 3:1). They don’t have sound discernment, fall into harmful habits (1 Tim. 6:8), and engage in foolish arguments (2 Tim. 2:23).
The winter 1991 issue of the University of Pacific Review offers a chilling description of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. There were two electrical engineers in the control room that night, and the best thing that could be said for what they were doing is they were “playing around” with the machine. They were performing what the Soviets later described as an unauthorized experiment. They were trying to see how long a turbine would “free wheel” when they took the power off it.
Taking the power off that kind of nuclear reactor is a difficult, dangerous thing to do because those reactors are very unstable in their lower ranges. In order to get the reactor down to that kind of power, where they could perform the test they were interested in performing, they had to manually override six separate computer-driven alarm systems. One by one the computers would come up and say, “Stop! Dangerous! Go no further!” And one by one, rather than shutting off the experiment, they shut off the alarms and kept going.
You know the results: nuclear fallout that was recorded all around the world, from the largest industrial accident ever to occur in the world. Those engineers were not just unwise, they were reckless. 10
Wise believers, on the other hand, live carefully. They are endowed with spiritual and practical wisdom. They apply themselves to good things, not evil (Rom. 16:19). They take care in their service for the Lord (1 Cor. 3:10), make sound judgements on difficult issues (1 Cor. 6:5), do their good works in meekness (James 3:13). They don’t just have knowledge, they have skill in living - the skill to perceive things accurately (for what they are) and reflect that in their practice.
1. Live Wisely In The Way You Use Your Time (16)
Redeeming the time because the days are evil (16).
Redeeming the time (16a) means making the most of the opportunities. Wise people buy back time like a commodity. This expression seems like an oxymoron. How can you buy back time? Once it’s gone, it’s gone – it’s like water spilled on the ground. But we can buy back time in two senses:
1. Using it wisely by getting the maximum use out of it; not wasting it; using the opportunities God gives us to the best advantage; having a sense of urgency about what we do because “now is the accepted time…” (2 Cor. 6:2); producing good works for God’s glory (2:10; Gal. 6:10).
2. Focusing on eternity by living out the life of the age to come so that we will have fruit in eternity from our labours; working on things that have eternal consequences so that the passage of time doesn’t erase their value; shining as lights and exposing the evil deeds of darkness so that they awake and turn from their darkness to God’s marvellous light.
We are to redeem the time because the days are evil (16b). We are living in the “last days” (2 Tim. 3:1) and because they are the last days they are precarious, few, and short. So use them prudently. These days are “perilous times”…in which people are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:1). In the last days “scoffers will come…walking according to their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). The days are “evil” because the prince of the power of the air rules (2:2) and the age itself is evil (Gal. 1:4).
How do you use your time? Do you have a sense of urgency and the shortness of time? Or, do you fritter time away on useless past-times? When you give an account of your time to God, what will you say? What will you show for all the time He gave you?
So, live wisely in the way you use your time…and…
2. Live Wisely In Understanding God’s Will (17)
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Do not be foolish in the light of these evil days when the danger is so great, when the wickedness so appalling, when the darkness is so thick and the need for spiritual light so demanding, when the opportunities for Christ are so great.
Don’t act like fools. Fools are ignorant. They are not ignorant in the sense of mental capacity. Rather, they are morally ignorant in their innermost being; they are full of self, not God. “The fool has said in his heart: ‘No God’” (Ps. 14:1). Fools live as though God does not exist. They waste their time by living as though “now” is all there is. They ignore the oppressive forces of evil. The fool has no recognition of God’s reality in his life. God doesn’t enter into his thinking nor his actions. God isn’t a factor at all for him.
Don’t be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. It doesn’t say to search for God’s will but simply to understand it. God’s will is not a secret – it has been revealed. All we need to do is apprehend it. So, recognize the days we live in and discern the Lord’s will for these times. Let God’s revealed will mould your actions, form your thoughts, substantiate your beliefs.
Elizabeth Elliot said: “The will of God is not something you add to your life. It’s a course you choose. You either line yourself up with the Son of God or you capitulate to the principle which governs the rest of the world.” 11
Wise people are careful to live according to God’s will. Their lives are informed by an understanding of the will of the Lord and they conduct themselves accordingly. Wise people are careful to understand what the will of the Lord is. They understand it in such a way that it governs their actions. It isn’t just head knowledge but it’s reflected in their manner of life. They are “filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9). They have learned “the truth as in Jesus” (4:21).
What is the Lord’s will? It’s the Lord’s will (1) that we be “delivered from this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4); (2) that we be adopted as “children by Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5); (3) that we know the “mystery of his will” concerning future things (1:9-10); (4) that we live lives that are worthy of the Lord and which please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, strengthened by his power (Col. 1:10-11); (5) that we be sanctified, abstaining from sexual immorality, knowing how to control our body in sanctification and honour, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles, who do not know God (1 Thess. 4:3-5, 7); and (6) that we do good so as to silence the ignorant talk of foolish men (1 Pet. 2:15).
You know what the Lord’s will is, so just do it! (as the Nike ad puts it). Don’t spend your whole life desperately trying to figure it out like a puzzle. Study it in God’s Word and just do it. And if you do it, you’ll please God as Enoch did. That’s doing God’s will.
First, be careful to live wisely not foolishly. Secondly…
B. Be Careful To Be Filled With The Spirit… Not Wine (18-21)
Don’t get drunk with wine in which is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit. (18)
1. Drunk People Live Foolishly (18a)
Drunkenness is a prime characteristic of the “darkness.” But “you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night” (1 Thess. 5:5-7).
Drunkenness is reckless living, a quality of “darkness” that leads to debauchery and wickedness. It’s the way of life of the prodigal son (Lk. 15:13) – wasteful and riotous living; the indulgence of one’s sensual appetites; an addiction to lustful pleasure; fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness; filthiness and foolish talking and coarse jesting (5:3-4). It’s the unfruitful deeds of darkness – “lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Pet. 4:4). It’s a giving over to “all uncleanness and greediness” (4:19), foolish talking and coarse jesting (5:3).
Sobriety, on the other hand, is careful living. It’s a quality of “light.” “Let us walk properly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13:13-14).
Reckless people desperately search for happiness in all the wrong places. They try to blot out the cares and worries of life through drunkenness or drugs or sex etc. None of these are a remedy, just a mask. Drunkenness gives temporary happiness, temporary forgetfulness, temporary relief from reality. But it soon fades and the cycle starts all over again. Everything about a drunk person indicates that he is under the influence of a power other than his own, that he is out of control in the way he walks, talks, looks, and thinks.
Drunkenness is the devil’s substitute for the real thing. That’s the way the devil works, offering look-alikes that aren’t real. There are lots of fakes around. You can buy fake designer clothes and fake jewellery. Drunkenness and drugs are fakes that cheat you into thinking you have no more problems, that life is happy and all is well until it wears off. Then the devil is there again offering you more. The devil is a great big pusher, a dope dealer, offering you instant escape, instant high, but it’s all an illusion. Don’t fall for the devil’s lie. Don’t fall into his trap of instant anything – it doesn’t last and the end is worse than the beginning. Alcohol is a powerful drug. If you use it you’re playing with fire. Not only may you harm yourself but your use of it may harm someone else. That’s why Paul advises abstinence (Rom. 14:21).
Drunk people live foolishly, but…
2. Spirit-Filled People Live Carefully (18b)
Don’t be drunk with wine but be filled with the Spirit. The way we live is a matter of who is in control of our lives. The reckless person is controlled by his passions, which are sometimes manifested in drunkenness. The careful person is controlled by the Spirit which is manifested in our relationship to God and our relationship to one another.
This is a contrast between alcoholic and spiritual intoxication. Both are the result of coming under the control of an external power. The drunk person lives recklessly, controlled by the power of wine. But the Spirit-filled person lives carefully, controlled by the power of the Spirit.
Spirit-filled people don’t search for happiness because they have it. They don’t need a fake substitute, they have the real thing. They aren’t drunk, they’re filled. They aren’t under the influence of wine but the influence of the Spirit. They aren’t depressed (alcohol is a depressant) but stimulated. The Spirit of God fills them with a joy and peace that passes all understanding. Their life overflows with it. Everything about them indicates that they are under an authority more powerful than themselves, in the way they walk, talk, look, and think.
Spirit-filled people are careful to give glory to God. They have “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). They know they are sealed by the Spirit for time and eternity. They know that the Spirit guarantees them the completion of their redemption (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30).
When you’re filled with the Spirit your brain isn’t dull, your speech isn’t impaired, your conduct isn’t lewd. Rather, your perception of spiritual things is sharpened, your understanding of the will of God is opened, your appreciation of the Word of God is heightened, your overall well-being is enhanced, your security is complete in Christ, your face beams with the love of God, and your life radiates the glory of God.
So, what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? What does it look like?
First, what the filling of the Spirit is not. It is not some sort of dramatic phenomenon like falling to the ground, twitching, making strange noises; not a second blessing subsequent to conversion; not a temporary experience of ecstatic speech or visions; not a progressive process by which we gradually receive more of Him until we are full of Him (all believers possess him in fullness); not the same as being “indwelled by the Spirit” (all believers are indwelled at the moment of salvation, cf. Rom. 8:9); not the same as the baptism of the Spirit (all believers are baptized by the Spirit at the moment of conversion when we become part of the body of Christ, cf. 1 Cor. 12:13); not the same as being sealed with the Spirit (this is also an accomplished fact, cf. 1:13). Nowhere are believers commanded to be indwelled, baptized, or sealed with the Spirit. The only command is to be filled with the Spirit.
Second, what the filling of the Spirit is. Grammatically, the phrase be filled with the Spirit tells us that:
(1) It is imperative – a command, an obligation, not optional.
(2) It is plural – addressed to the whole church, includes us all.
(3) It is passive – it is the Holy Spirit who fills us. We must allow him to do that (hence, the imperative: “Let yourself be filled...”) so that nothing hinders him from filling us. We can hinder that filling if we are “grieving” or “quenching” the Spirit in our lives.
(4) It is present continuous (not progressive) – “Keep on being filled.”
We need to make three distinctions (1) between the sealing (baptism, indwelling) of the Spirit, (2) the filling of the Spirit, and (3) the anointing of the Spirit.
(1) The baptism (or, sealing / indwelling) of the Spirit represents our spiritual position in Christ. This takes place once at our conversion (Eph. 1:13; 1 Cor. 1:22; 1 Cor. 12:13).
(2) The filling of / with the Spirit represents our spiritual condition in Christ. The filling with the Spirit is a continuous experience of being controlled by the Spirit. This is a function of living according to the new birth. This means obedience to, submission to, dependence on, and allegiance to the Holy Spirit in everyday living. In other words, it is living according to the principles, practices, and programs of the new man.
(3) The anointing by the Spirit represents our spiritual vocation in Christ. The anointing by the Spirit is the empowering and gifting of / by the Spirit for ministry (Acts. 1:8).
Spirit-filled people are controlled by the Holy Spirit. They live in the power of the Spirit. They are sensitive to the operation of the Spirit. They surrender moment by moment to the Spirit. Just as some people are filled with sorrow, or fear, or anger and that emotion takes control of their life, so we are to be so consumed by the Holy Spirit that he has control of our lives. When he fills us, we are not under our own control but his, dominated by him, overpowered, mastered by him.
To be filled with the Spirit means to manifest what we truly are - people who have been sealed with the Spirit - and we manifest that sealing by letting him fill us so that it is evident who controls our lives. The disciples were filled with the Spirit at Pentecost so that everyone knew it. When He fills us, we live in the fullness of his presence and his power. He enables us to live in the new man, to be God-centred, to be light, to live carefully using our time wisely (15-16), to understand what the will of the Lord is (17), to worship God (19-20), and to live together in mutual submission (21).
John MacArthur has said that the Christian who is filled with the Spirit is like a glove. A glove without a hand in it is powerless, useless. A glove works only as the hand controls and uses it. A glove’s only work is the hand’s work. It can’t complete any tasks without the hand nor can the glove take any credit or boast about what it does. In the same way, a Christian who is not filled with the Spirit can accomplish no more than a glove that is not filled with a hand. Anything done without the Spirit is of no value. 12
To be filled with the Spirit, you must…
(1) Confess your sins.
(2) Submit your will and thought – transformed by a renewed mind.
(3) Die to self – mortify the flesh (Gal. 5:16, 24).
(4) Surrender all you have and are – present your body as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1)
(5) Be God-centred not self-centred.
(6) Be light not darkness.
(7) Be careful how you live not reckless.
(8) Live according to the new man not the old.
(9) Live in the consciousness of the personal presence of the Lord, letting his life dominate yours
(10) Fill yourself with the Word of God so that his thoughts are your thoughts, his standards your standards, his holiness your holiness.
(11) Keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25), taking each step of your life under his control - every thought, every decision.
(12) Manifest the fruit of the Spirit which He produces in you - love, joy, peace etc. (Gal. 5:22-23).
(13) Expunge anything in your life that “grieves” the Spirit.
(14) Do not permit anything in your life that “quenches” the Spirit.
In so doing, you allow the Spirit to do his work in you.
Spirit-filled living is most fully realized in community when we are together, dwelling together in unity. Spirit-filled living has a direct impact on, and finds its fulfillment in, the unity of the church.
Note the characteristics of Spirit-filled people in community with one another…
A) Spirit-Filled People Edify One Another In Worship
… speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (19a).
How do we edify one another in our corporate worship?
i) We derive a sense of identity from it because it is so contrastive to the activities of the world. They do not engage in spontaneous, collective worship (in prayer, singing, and preaching as we do).
ii) We derive our cohesion from it because it draws us together in close association with one another in object and desire.
iii) We derive pleasure from it because we love to sing to God and to each other. Perhaps that’s why special music has such an attraction to us - it edifies us as someone sings to us.
iv) We are instructed, encouraged, edified, and have fellowship together when we address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. They build us up, encourage us, exhort us, remind us who we were and where we have come from, admonish us to live well-pleasing to the Lord, teach us the truth of God’s Word.
What a contrast to the way the ungodly address one another! They engage in coarse speech, foolish talk. But believers communicate with one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. In earlier days of the church’s history, they met together to recite hymns to each other much as we do responsive readings. While there is probably little differentiation between them, these forms of address probably have meanings similar to those we use today.
- Psalms probably refers to the O. T. Psalms, which were accompanied by instruments (we sing many Psalms today in our praise songs).
- Hymns talk about God and Christian doctrines and practices.
- Spiritual songs direct praise to God.
Spirit-filled people edify one another in worship and…
B) Spirit-Filled People Glorify The Lord In Worship
… singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord (19b).
The source of our singing and music is the heart. The heart denotes sincerity, authenticity, what comes from within. This is the source of all true worship, the internal praise of the heart not the external demonstration of talent.
God looks on the heart so no matter how musical you may be there is no value unless it comes from the heart; and no matter how unmusical you may be God values what comes from your heart. So even if you can’t hold a tune in a bucket, you can make melody in your heart to the Lord.
Spirit-filled Christians have a song of joy in their hearts and Spirit-filled public worship is a celebration of that joy in God and a proclamation of that joy to God. The joy that springs from a relationship with God wells up in our hearts and is precious to God. Out of the abundance of the heart our mouths speak. We sing from our hearts (not our lips) the song that is in our hearts.
Barbara McKeever, in Christian Reader, writes: “In the middle of the soloist’s number at church, my young grandson Chandler tugged on my sleeve and whispered, “She can’t sing very well, can she?” Knowing the woman had a deep love for the Lord, I said, “Chandler, she sings from her heart. That’s what makes it good.” He nodded thoughtfully. Several days later as he and I were singing along with the car radio, Chandler stopped and said, “Nana, you sing from your heart, don’t you?” 13
The source of our singing and music is our heart and the object of our singing and music is the Lord. We sing and make music not to draw attention to ourselves but to the Lord; not for our self-aggrandizement but for His exaltation.
Spirit-filled people edify one another, worship with one another and…
C) Spirit-Filled People Give Thanks With One Another
… giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (20)
Spirit-filled people are thankful people. Those who grumble and complain are not filled with the Spirit. That’s what characterized the Israelites. They murmured against the Lord and against Moses.
Spirit-filled people give thanks continually. They give thanks always, “abounding in thanksgiving” (Col. 2:7). They delight in giving thanks. It is habitual and unceasing. Thankfulness is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). The ungodly do not give thanks (Rom. 1:21).
Spirit-filled people give thanks concerning all things. Concerning all things is probably a better translation than “for all things.” There are some things we cannot give thanks for and should not. We do not give thanks for acts of wickedness but we can give thanks to God for his sovereignty over these evil acts. We can give thanks to God for his purposes in our bad circumstances in which he deepens our Christian maturity, draws us nearer to himself, and teaches us to trust him. In those circumstances we see him bring good out of evil. We give thanks for life, breath, friends, salvation, hope, God’s love, and his care even in hard times because the Spirit controls them.
Spirit-filled people give thanks to God the Father (1) because He is the Giver of “every good and every perfect gift” (Jas. 1:17); (2) because of “his indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15); (3) because of his salvation, “the gift of God” (2:8); (4) because he gives us the victory, “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57); (5) because it is part of worship: “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).
In 1636, during the Thirty Years War (one of the worst wars in the history of mankind in terms of sheer number of deaths, epidemics, and the economic results) there was a godly pastor whose name was Martin Rinkert. In a single year, this pastor buried 5,000 people in his parish – about 15 a day. He lived with the worst that life could do. But if you look in your hymnal, you’ll find that in the middle of that time, he wrote a table grace for children - our thanksgiving hymn: “Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices. Who wondrous things has done, in whom his world rejoices.”
If I had spent the year holding 5,000 funerals of the people I served, could I write for my children a song of thanksgiving to God? It’s an unusual thing that in history many who have the least to thank God about thank him the most.
Spirit filled people give thanks to God the Father and Spirit-filled people give thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s in his name because he is the means of access to God (Eph. 2:18). “No one comes to the Father but by me” (Jn. 14:6). “There is one God and one mediator…” (1 Tim. 2:5). It’s in his name because of his authority and power. “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved “(Acts 4:12). “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
Spirit-filled people edify one another, worship with one another, give thanks with one another. And lastly…
D) Spirit-Filled People Submit To One Another
…submitting to one another in the fear of Christ (21)
Spirit-filled people are meek, gentle, submissive. They aren’t haughty, aggressive, self-assertive, proud, but Spirit-filled people have a spirit of humility and obedience. This does not imply that we must submit to others unconditionally. Rather, we submit to one another when the wishes of others and our response is in line with reverence for Christ. The fullness of the Spirit leads to mutual submission, not to individuality, pride, or disunity (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26-33; Phil. 2:1-5).
Spirit-filled people submit to one another in the fear of Christ because their mutual submission is out of reverence for Christ reflecting his humility in themselves.
This is the third contrasting program for living: “Live Carefully Not Recklessly”. Reckless living is exemplified by drunkenness. Careful living is exemplified by being Spirit-filled. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will edify one another and worship God together with joy and music that springs from our hearts. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will be thankful concerning all things that are consistent with the Fatherhood of God and the authority and power of Jesus’ name. When we are filled with the Spirit, we will be submissive to one another as unto the Lord in the fear of Christ. The filling of the Spirit is manifested in our relationships to each other and to God.
Spirit-filled people are people who live their lives carefully. They are careful to imitate God, to walk in love, to abstain from evil, to produce goodness, righteousness, and truth (and thus to discover what pleases God), to expose the evil deeds of the people of darkness (calling them to repentance), to use their time wisely, and to live in the full understanding of the will of the Lord.
Does that describe your life? Are you careful about how you use your time? Are you careful about understanding the revealed will of the Lord? Are you careful to be filled with the Spirit? If your life is not Spirit-filled then what is it filled with? I urge you to examine your life under the microscope of God’s Word and put things right if they are out of balance. The world is full of attractions to use up your time and attention. Satan doesn’t want you to have time for God or to understand his will. Only if you’re filled with the Spirit will you stand up and stand out for God as salt and light in a dark and thirsty world.
The challenge from this text today is this: Is the filling of the Spirit evident in your life? When others look at you, talk to you, and listen to you, do they see and hear the Holy Spirit speaking and acting through you? Or, are you stifling the work of the Holy Spirit?
Does the Holy Spirit have his way in your life, in your attitude to God and to other people? Or, are you permitting things in your life which grieve the Holy Spirit? Is your attitude to God marked by thankfulness or do you regularly complain about your lot in life? Is your relationship to others characterized by mutual encouragement and mutual submission or are you constantly pushing for your own way?
What is your response to this passage going to be? Will you forget it or will you confess anything that would hinder the filling of the Holy Spirit in your life, beseeching God that he would fill you with his Holy Spirit to his glory and the blessing of his people.
1 Imitators of God (see Matt. 5:43-48; Lk. 6:35; 1 Jn. 4:10-11). Imitators of Christ (see Jn. 13:34; 15:12; Rom. 15:2,3,7; 2 Cor. 8:7-9; Phil. 2:3-8; Eph. 5:25; Col. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:21-24; 1 Jn. 3:16).
2 See 1 Thess. 4:3, 7; Gal. 5:19; 2 Cor. 12:21; Col. 3:5
3 See 1 Thess. 4:6
4 Stott, 192.
5 “Kingdom of Christ” = “kingdom of God” because (1) Christ is God; and (2) the kingdom of Christ is the same entity as the kingdom of God.
6 “Witnessing in a Soviet Prison,” Christianity Today, June 21, 1974.
7 Leadership, Vol. 1, no. 2.
8 Vance Havner in Who Said That?: More than 2,500 Usable Quotes and Illustrations
By George Sweeting.
9 W. Frank Harrington, “The Love That Brought Him,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 51.
10 Tom Trip, “A Deadly Game at Chernobyl”, Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
11 Inspiring Quotations #1024.
12 John MacArthur, Ephesians, 250
13 Barbara McKeever, Christian Reader, “Kids of the Kingdom”.
Related Topics: Christian Life