“In Christ” Brightness in Dark Times
Scripture: Ephesians 5:1-14
Central Theme: Living out Christ-likeness
Objective Statement: Believers can live out Christlikeness in an evil world by embracing three practices.
Practice #1- Imitation. (v.1-2)
Practice #2- Isolation. (v.3-7)
Practice #3- Illumination. (v.8-14)
- Do you know anyone that has a distinctive walk?
- There are certain people I know that you can see from a distance and by the way they move you can tell who they are even if you can’t see their face.
- You can even see distinctive walks between families. When I see my brother and my dad together, I often laugh to myself because they have similar mannerisms and movements.
- Gait is a word that only athletes or medical specialists use very often.
- It refers to the way a person walks—the movement of a person’s limbs while in motion.
- When there is an abnormality in a person’s gait, it can potentially cause health issues.
- Likewise, every person has a behavioral walk, the way they move through life. One’s manner of life is of the utmost importance. In the experience of a follower of Christ, it determines whether Christ’s love and character are demonstrated or obscured.
- In the second half of the book of Ephesians, Paul uses the verb “walk” several times to help guide the reader of this letter through the text.
- His desire is to connect the identity of the person in Christ to the practice of the person in Christ.
- He doesn’t just want us to believe that we’re in Christ, he wants us to behave like we are in Christ.
- He wants us to live out Christlike character in how we walk- how we live our lives.
- In last week’s text we saw this pattern that we are told to live out.
- The pattern was this: Put off, and Put on.
- Out with the old. In with the new. Embrace the process.
- It takes all 3.
- If you try to do the right thing without getting rid of the wrong things in your life it won’t work.
- If you try to get rid of the wrong things in your life without a plan to replace it with right things then that won’t work either.
- If you just try it once or twice and try to do it on your own, that won’t work.
- Today we are going to see Christ as the incredible example of what it looks like to live a life that honors God.
- In today’s text we can summarize what it looks like to walk as someone who is growing in Christlikeness by seeing three practices that we can live out.
Believers can live out Christlikeness in an evil world by embracing three practices.
Practice #1– Imitation v.1-2
(1) Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
- The word for followers here is the word "mimetes". It is where we get the word mimic from.
- It literally means imitators.
- We are to imitate God. We do what he does. This is what it means to be godly.
- He even gives us an example of how we imitate.
- We are called “dear children”.
- The word dear is called “aygopetos”- it’s a form of agape. Loved.
- What a beautiful picture of what it means to be an imitator of God.
- Innocent children imitate others in their surroundings all the time.
- Kids are designed to imitate.
- When they are young they want to be like mom and dad.
Illustration: Kids imitate their Dad’s. Whenever I mow, my son gets out his little mower and follows me. He pretends to start it just like I do. One day he even kicked the tire when I kicked the tire. It’s cute when they are young, until you do something you don’t want them to imitate!
- Why should we live this way?
(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.
- Here is this word again.
- This time we are told to walk in love.
- Live a life that is characterized by loving words, actions, and motives.
- What is the example?
- "as Christ also hath loved us"
- Who is better to imitate in striving to walk in love than Christ Himself? No one.
- How did he love us?
- He hath given Himself as “an offering and a sacrifice to God.”
- We have the example of Christ giving himself to God and God receiving the offering “for a sweetsmelling savour”.
- What Christ did was right, good, and acceptable to God.
- When it comes to pleasing God, we should look to the example of Jesus, who in lived, death, and resurrection completely pleased God.
- We are all helped by examples, though, aren’t we?
- One of the best things to help the general homeowner or car owner is YouTube! You can pull up a video of people repairing just about anything. This is a big help!
- We should follow Christ’s example like dear children and live out what he exemplified as best we know how.
- "as Christ also hath loved us"
- A big part of the discipleship process is based on imitation.
- True discipleship is not just know what I know. True discipleship leads to "do what I do".
- Christ told His disciples “follow me”. When He did they understood that to be the call of a rabbi to a disciple. “Go where I go. Do what I do. Live where I live and like I live.”
- The disciples had to say what we say, "Follow me as I follow Christ."
- We become like Christ as we imitate Him. We do this by knowing Him through His Word, and following Him alongside other believers who are biblically trying to do the same thing.
- If we are imitating Christ it will look like:
- Death, Burial and Resurrection.
- Practice #1 of becoming Christlike is imitation.
Practice #2- Isolation. V.3-7
(3) But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; (4) Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
- In many ways the put off and put on paradigm is still being used.
- The word "but" puts a contrast between verses 3 and 4 and verses 1 and 2.
- In contrast to the love of God that we imitate as we are trying to display, these things are the opposite and in opposition to that kind of walk. Put on imitating God in love.
- This is what “becometh saints”. “Becometh” means dresses well, decorates. This is in keeping with what a saint ought to do and look like.
- Put off these things:
- Fornication- any kind of sexual contact outside of a man and woman who are covenanted in monogamous marriage.
- Uncleanness- This is impurity of any kind.
- Covetousness- Uncontrolled and unrestricted desire for things that are not yours. Another word for it would be greed.
- Filthiness- Obscenity, Obscene talk
- Foolish talking- Perverse talking, bafoonary
- Jesting- Mocking or making fun in a coarse or obscene way
- "let it not be once named among you"- These issues are so dangerous, and so destructive, that there must be an absolute restriction on such things. There are some things that are not to be tolerated even a little bit.
- How much nuclear waste do we want in our drinking water? The answer is always, NONE!
- These things are not about being managed, or regulated.
- These behaviors are note about limiting to small doses of participation.
1 Corinthians 6:16-20
(16) What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. (17) But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. (18) Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. (19) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
- Paul commands the Corinthian church here to flee from sexual sin rather than flirt with it.
- If you take fire to the bosom you will get burned.
- We must remember that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, and that we should not try to mix works with the flesh while be indwelled by the Spirit.
- What is the alternative to filthy mouths?
- "But rather giving of thanks"
- We should use our mouths for honoring God and thanking him for what we have, not for base and lewd talk.
- We need God's help to control our sexual appetites, our material appetites, and our tongues.
- To do this we must starve the flesh. We cannot try to manage an acceptable amount of sexual sin. We must run from it!
(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. (6) Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. (7) Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
- Unclean person
- Covetous man- idolater
- "hath any inheritance"
- Let no man deceive you…
"for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
- People who have an identity and a practice of life that is continually characterized by these things is displaying that there has not been true repentance or regeneration.
- If there is no fruit, then there is no root.
- Or if the fruit is not in keeping with the fruit of the Spirit, then the root must be in the flesh.
- Children of Disobedience is who we used to be.
(1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
(2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
(3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
- It’s not who we are now.
- That’s why he says, “Be not ye partakers with them…”
- People who participate habitually in these sins where this is the pattern of their lives are not in Christ.
- There has not been true repentance and faith.
- Don't participate with them because that is not who you are.
- If you do participate with no repentance and no change as the pattern of your life it is evidence that you are not in Christ in the first place.
- The second practice of someone who is trying to grow in Christlikeness is isolation.
- Sometimes the answer is not to limit exposure.
- The answer is to eliminate exposure.
- God does not require us to be perfect after we get saved. He does express that if there is no difference after we are saved and we continue to live sinful lifestyles without repentance then we give evidence that we are not saved.
- I need to make sure that I eliminate things in my life that bring the possibility of exposure to sin.
- So, we should
- watch our entertainment choices.
- Watch our relationships
- Maintain healthy, loving relationships with our spouses.
- Set up boundaries for ourselves and for our kids.
- This second practice is Isolation- We should avoid these sins. We should run from them. We should not even flirt or mess with them. We must be wiser than that.
Practice #3- Illumination. (v.8-14)
- Now this is going to be the controversial part of the sermon.
- But I think this part is very important.
(8) For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
- "were"- again, this is who you used to be. What was it?
- "darkness"- You used to act like they now act. What is it?
- Corrupt communication.
- Dead in trespasses and sins
- Foolish talking
- "are"- Your present state. That’s what you were.
- "light in the Lord"- Light. Light reveals. Light exposes. Light gives life.
- "walk"- live.
- "children of light"- Be who you are. Live out light.
- What does that look like?
(9) (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
- This is what the Spirit produces.
- You are in the Spirit. You are in Christ.
- You are indwelled by the Spirit.
- What the Spirit produces is "goodness and righteousness and truth"
(10) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
From G1384; to test (literally or figuratively); by implication to approve: - allow, discern, examine, X like, (ap-) prove, try.
Total KJV occurrences: 23
(11) And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
- Put off "fellowship"
- "unfruitful works of darkness"- These works do not bring about spiritual fruit. They produce spiritual death.
- Put on "reproving them"
- A.S. dictionary-
- elegchō; a prim. vb.; to expose, convict, reprove: — convict (2), convicted (2), convicts (1), expose (1), exposed (2), rebuke (1), refute (1), reprimanded (1), reprove (4), reproved (1), show...fault (1).
(12) For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
- Not much explanation is needed of this verse.
- There are some things that are done behind closed doors that are not right. They are immoral.
- How do we "have fellowship" with "unfruitful works of darkness"?
- When we are entertained by them.
- When we approve of them.
- When we financially support them.
- When we are silent about them.
- When we allow them into our home.
- When we participate with them.
- I think that it is a sad thing that in some part the immoral sexual revolution has been financed by people who name the name of Christ.
- Sometimes we look more like the world than they are influenced by us.
- He says to “reprove” them-
- That means to speak against it.
- That means our kids need to know what is right and wrong.
- Now disagreeing with a persons immorality and ungodliness does not mean we hate them.
- To walk in love towards those who have a different position than what the Bible teaches about sexual sin, homosexuality, divorce, pornography, and adultery means that we care about them enough to talk to them, to know them by name, to be kind to them, and to speak the truth in love to them.
- We do not hate them. We love them.
- We have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness.
- Reproving- correcting, speaking out against the darkeness- is what it means to be a child of the light.
(13) But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
- We should stand against these evil works.
- We should speak against them. They are shameful. So shameful that even conversing about what is done brings shame.
- Evil is exposed and made apparent by reproving. It's the only way it happens.
- "whatsoever doth make manifest is light"- The only thing that brings something to light is light.
- If we are children of light then our lives will shed light in the darkness and reprove evil deeds as wrong.
(14) Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
- This is a quote from Isaiah 60:1, which says “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
- This is an invitation for the person who dwells in darkness to be made into light by the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- The Gospel is only good news if people know why they need it.
- Sin when it is finished brings forth death.
- People that are participating in the unfruitful works of darkness are storing up wrath against the time to come the scripture says.
- How much do I have to hate someone not to share with them the coming tidal wave of God’s wrath against all ungodliness.
- The invitation is for all to “Arise, shine!”
- When you accept Christ as your Savior He will perform a resurrection!
- You’ll go from spiritual death to spiritual life!
- We should be careful about the things we practice.
- How is your character? Your character and integrity can be measured by what you do when no one is looking, or when you think no one knows.
- We can be sure that everything that we do in secret will be exposed eventually.
- We need God to live through us at every moment so that he can make us who we want us to be.
- He needs to shine his light on and through us.
- How does walking in love make you an imitator of God? Explain
- How might you lovingly excuse yourself from an impure conversation?
- How can partnerships (business, social, recreational) impact your spiritual life?
- How do you serve as light in the world? How does your life illustrate the relationship between waling in love (v.2) and living as children of light (v.8)?