Wow. Only two chapters left in Ephesians and then we’ll head toward Colossians, another one of Paul's prison epistles. We've already studied Philippians, and we'll have Philemon to punch through quickly after Colossians. If there is one theme to label this chapter with, it would be “Let Love Rule.”
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
- God calls us to practical action when it comes to following Him. He is to be the singular model and ultimate standard to which we strive. We strive not to earn His love, but as a natural response to His love.
- There are many paths this world entices us to travel. In verse two, we’re encouraged to “walk in the way of love.” Matthew 7:14 reminds us that “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” As you walk your narrow path, follow the “love signs” along the way. Stay the course!
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
- In chapter 4, we were given counsel on how to act as believers. Of course, when Paul wrote this prison letter, it didn’t have chapters or verses, so chapter 5 is somewhat of a continuation of how we are to act.
- It clearly instructs that there must not be even a hint of bad juju. This should cause us to consider a question: What indirect suggestions am I signaling to others in terms of my conduct? There should be no trace or tinge of sexual immorality, impurity, greed, improper talk, obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking. Oy. “Father, purge me from these hints of impurity that cultivate infectious sin in my life.”
- Make note that we’re given the code to what we are to fill our thoughts with: thanksgiving.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:
“Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
- I love verses that speak about the light of Christ. Especially, Matthew 5:14 that says, “You are the light of the world.” Christ is the ultimate light, and we are to reflect His light, just as the moon reflects the sun. Live in the sunshine! Absorb His truth so you radiate His glory.
- Charles Spurgeon gave stout words once: “The man who is asleep does not care what becomes of his neighbors; how can he while he is asleep? And oh! Some of you Christians do not care whether souls are saved or damned...It is enough for them if they are comfortable. If they can attend a respectable place of worship and go with others to heaven, they are indifferent about everything else.” Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead!
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- In verse 16, we’re told to make the most of every opportunity. This isn’t a “seize the day” reference, although a little carpe diem isn’t a poor exclamation. The Greek word opportunity in this text doesn’t speak to time, but refers to the time (meaning, the season). There will be seasons in your life when you have definite occasions to bring glory to Jesus. Seize the season!
- Pretty straightforward reference here about not becoming drunk. It doesn’t condemn drinking, but drunkenness is a different state because it impairs our thinking. Our thoughts are to be stimulated by the Holy Spirit, not depressed by alcohol. Tough message, but a truthful one (see Proverbs 23:21 about how drunkards become poor and drowsiness clothes them).
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
- The word submit tends to make the eye twitch for some folks. Sadly, it’s nearly a taboo term. In this context though, submission literally refers to "showing mutual submission to one another." It’s not speaking to someone’s value or ability, but that we should consider ourselves “under rank” to others. There is a God-appointed order, and we must submit to His purposeful structure.
- Wives are instructed to submit to their husbands, just like in Colossians 3:18. As a reminder, submission doesn’t pertain to ability, value, or brains. But, God did establish the man as the leader within the home and the church.
- Clearly, a man is instructed to love his wife. When a wife shows humility toward him, the man should honor this humility and show loving action. Think about how Jesus washed the disciples feet in John 13:8. As the disciples walked with Jesus and began submitting themselves to Him and His teaching, Christ showed an act of love (one of many) by washing their feet – and then fully dying for all of mankind. Now that's real submission and love in practical action.
- Let’s end with these thoughts in mind: “Let no man be so tenacious of his own will or his opinion in matters indifferent, as to disturb the peace of the Church; in all such matters give away to each other, and let love rule.” (Clarke). Amen.