College & Career Class Lesson Summary, March 24, 2019
The letter to the Ephesians is broken up in two halves. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 layout the truths of the Gospel Story and Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are therefore how the Gospel Story should impact Our Story. We’re also cognizant that these Ephesians believers have come out of a society that is steeped in paganism and all of the activities that go along with that. Therefore, Paul’s slant on how the gospel should impact a believer will have those pagan roots in mind.
Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
We often think very linearly about following God – as ducklings follow their mother. Yet, the idea of following God is much deeper than this. The word “followers” comes from a word that means to imitate. We might also say it is to image. When God created mankind, they were not only created IN His image, but they were created TO BE His imager. Mankind was given the gift of bearing God before the rest of God’s creation (whether on earth or even in heaven). Paul says that the believers are to be the imitators of God – not from a standpoint of deception, but of honest reflection.
We follow God, or image Him, as dear children – as His favorite children. Notice Paul already assumes something is true – that they are children. He is not encouraging these Ephesian believers to follow after Christ IN ORDER TO BECOME His children, but because they ALREADY ARE His children. A child doesn’t imitate the parents in order to become the parents’ child. They are already a child, therefore, walk as such.
And, in this, we walk in love in the same manner that Christ has loved us. Christ has welcomed us by faith, and by that very same faith, we have been given access to all of the gracious provision He has. We’ve been Justified (made righteous). We’ve been Sanctified (made distinct). We’ve been United together with Him (fellowship). God has provided us security, assurance, peace, specialness, oneness, closeness, etc. Paul says that we are to walk in that same fashion – providing security, assurance, peace, specialness, oneness and closeness to each other, in Christ.
Ephesians 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 5:7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
Paul takes their minds back to how children of disobedience walk. Paul draws a distinction between how their lives as pagans operated vs their lives now. A dear child of God walks in love, being the offspring and rightful family member of Love Himself. Yet, children who are the offspring of Disobedience walk nothing like a child of God. Paul wants them to walk in a manner that is becoming of a saint. This is another point worth being reminded of – Paul is not telling the Ephesians to walk in a certain manner in order to become a saint, but rather to walk in a manner that is congruent with the saint status they already have. Since these iniquitous activities have no inheritance in the kingdom of God, then why would someone (who does have inheritance in the kingdom) participate in these activities? If these aren’t activities that are associated with the kingdom of God, then why would you Ephesians participate in activities of a kingdom you are no longer part of? That’s the idea.
Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
A simple, yet clear reminder that they are now light in the Lord, therefore, walk as children of light. 1John 1:5 states that God is light and as being His offspring (by faith), they too bear the marks of their Father – that of light. And, I don’t want to belabor this point, but again, notice that they do not walk in the light in order to become children of light – they already are children of light and should therefore walk as such. So, what does this look like?
Ephesians 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 5:10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
First, it looks like a life that is animated by the production of fruit by the Spirit. This isn’t fruit that we set out to produce, but is fruit that the Spirit plants and harvests in and through us. This is what is acceptable unto the Lord. The Lord only plants seeds and reaps crops that are pleasing to Him. There is never a chance that He will reap rotten fruit in us. However, the changes are very high that WE will plant and reap rotten fruit if we attempt to claim the Spirit’s fruit as our own. Love, Joy, Peace, Temperance…these are not organic to us, but are organic to the Spirit. Let the Gardener work!
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 5:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 5:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Fellowship is unity and Paul would have these Ephesians having no unity with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove (expose) them. Paul says that there are some things he doesn’t even feel comfortable writing about that these unfruitful works of darkness are about, but if light is shining around them, then it exposes the works for what they are – born in darkness and unfruitful. The more we walk in light (allowing the Spirit to harvest His fruit in us), the more light is spread around us and invariably the more exposure will result of these unfruitful works. This doesn’t mean that we are to be God’s police force. This also doesn’t mean that the exposing unfruitful works shouldn’t happen through the lenses of Christ’s humility (considering your own self). However, it does mean that if one is walking in light, then naturally where that light goes, it immediately exposes what was formerly veiled by darkness.
Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
(Paul seems to be alluding to Isaiah 60:1-2) Paul recognizes that just as these Ephesian believers had the light of Christ’s resurrection shine forth on them, so too must these Ephesians capitalize on allowing their light to impact those in darkness around them. Paul doesn’t want the Ephesians to partake in their works of darkness, but he does want their light to be a beacon to their fellow citizens who are still bound in their pagan society.
Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
But, in this pursuit of their fellow citizens, Paul says to walk circumspectly (carefully/fully aware), which is a walk of wisdom and not as a fool. It is very difficult to maintain a confident level of awareness in the dark, but as a child of light, that light shines forth and exposes all that is before it making awareness ever present. Paul says to redeem the time because of the evil days that were upon them. In other words, make the most out of every opportunity to let their light shine so that others could experience the same awakening and resurrection of Christ that they have.
In the next section, we’ll see more of the contrast that Paul is making about our walking as children of light. We’ll talk more about what it means to be wise and then we’ll look at understanding the will of God and finally being filled with the Spirit. After this, the chapter closes describing the relationship between Christ and the church, using the husband and wife as prime examples.
Our story continues…