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Speak in godly ways

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Speak in godly ways

Lesson Text: Ephesians 5:3-21

Preached in Quabbin Valley on 3/1/09


We have heard to old adage that “actions speak louder than words” and while that is true to a certain extent if our speech, our words don’t match our actions we are looked at as hypocrites and actors. People, who are twofaced, say one thing and do another. The fact is that our actions must match our words and our words must match our actions.       

Paul here lays out a command for the Ephesian Christians and for all Christians. He says first off that we are to be imitators of God and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us. This is a repeated thought one that Paul has discussed before. Last week we talked about walking in a manner worthy of the Gospel and what that meant well here Paul brings up this idea of walking again. Walk in love and he will go on to say how we are not to act and how we are not to talk and then give us the proper things to say and how we are to act.

            It is very important that we understand that Paul is not giving us an option here he doesn’t say you should live the way I tell you but if you don’t that’s OK. No, he is clear that those who live according to this world to the system of things that are controlled by Satan are not going to inherit the kingdom of Christ and God. This is not optional this is how Christians are to act and conduct themselves.

The first no, no that Paul brings up is:

Sexual immorality

            Sexual immorality is fornication this is any sexual act that is not within the bounds of the marriage covenant. Anything you can think of is off limits. Next we have:


            Impurity, this is any unclean actions, gestures, acting out in violence. Impure or unholy actions.

Covetousness which he tells us is Idolatry

            Covetousness is longing for what others have and obsessing over it. Not being satisfied with what you have but always wanting more. Worshipping the created instead of the creator. That’s idolatry and that’s worshipping something other than the one true God.


            This is general bad moral behavior, acting in ways that even our morally corrupt society considers wrong. You might remember last week how in a passage in Corinthians that Paul said a man is doing something that is detestable even to the pagans. That’s what is being talked about, even the pagans don’t do.

Immorality, Impurity, Covetousness, Filthiness these things are not to be talked about among Christians and if we aren’t to talk about them that is in casual conversation then how much less are we to be involved in them? These things are to be avoided like the plague. We are not even to causally discuss these things in our everyday conversations. Christian if you find yourself causally talking about these things you know you need to stop and repent of it.

Foolish talk

            Foolish talk this has to do with talking in ways that doesn’t make any sense or saying things that are foolish like “no one loves me” and what you want is for people to say “oh yes we love you”. That’s foolish talk it is also linked with the next thing that’s mentioned.

Crude jokes

            Dirty, vulgar jokes, Jokes that are meant to hurt or cause embarrassment. We are masters at hurting others and then saying “I was just joking” or “you can’t take a joke”. We use jokes often to hide our arrows. Crude jokes also refer to jokes that are sexually graphic or sexual at all. Paul is discouraging wicked, profane, speech.

Someone said: Profanity is a public announcement of stupidity.
Swearing is a careless man’s way of trying to be emphatic.

            It just makes you end up looking stupid.

Filthiness, Foolish talk, and Crude jokes are all improper for the people of God, none of this should be coming out of our mouths but Paul will tell us what should be coming out of our mouths and what our talk and our actions are to be characterized by.

            One other thing that we need to keep in mind is that of the books we read, the music we listen to, and movies and shows we watch. We need to ask ourselves is this show, or movie, or book that I am reading filling me with goodness, truth, love, ect or is it filling me with what Paul wants us to avoid with those things that after a period of time lower our reaction to them, raise our tolerance to them to the point that they almost become common place so we feel no shame in them.

Josiah Wedgwood, maker of famous pottery, was showing a nobleman through his factory one day. One of Wedgwood’s employees, a young boy, was accompanying them. The nobleman was profane and vulgar. At first, the boy was shocked by his disrespect; then he became fascinated by the man’s coarse jokes and laughed at them.

Wedgwood was deeply distressed. At the conclusion of the tour, he showed the nobleman a vase of unique design. The man was charmed by its exquisite shape and rare beauty. As he reached for it, Mr. Wedgwood purposely let it fall to the floor. The nobleman uttered an angry oath and said, “I wanted that vase for my collection, and you have ruined it by your carelessness!” Wedgwood answered, “Sir, there are other ruined things more precious than a vase which can never be restored. You can never give back to that young man, who just left us, the reverence for sacred things which his parents have tried to teach him for years. You have undone their labor in less than half an hour!”Morning Glory, Sept.-Oct., 1997, p. 32 [2]

Our speech and the things we allow ourselves to listen to and watch affect ourselves and affect others. These things should not be coming out of our mouths and we ought to guard ourselves against listening to and watching these things.

The first thing Paul tells us to be is:


            Our speech and our lives are to be full of thankfulness.

Psalm 57:9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. (Psa 57:9 ESV)

Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Col 3:15 ESV)

Being thankful is honoring God in our words and our deeds. Not being greedy or idolatrous, letting our speech be full of thanksgiving to God.

Fruit of light

            We are to have the fruit of light Paul says in Verse 9. That is our actions and words are full of love, joy, peace, and righteousness.        Those things that are good, those things that are right, and those things that are true are those things we need to be talking about and doing. Paul doesn’t give us specifics at this point but just general ideas. We are able to discern what is good, right, and true and Paul wants us to do that. He tells us to try and understand what the will of the Lord is, not try in the sense that we can’t figure it out but try in the sense of do it. We know what the will of the Lord is, we have been reading about it. We don’t have to guess.

Paul tells us in Galatians about the fruit of the Spirit which would be the same as the fruit of the light.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Gal 5:22 ESV)

            We are told by Paul in verse 10 to:

Expose darkness

            This has to do with not getting involved with the wicked deeds and talk of others. If you refrain and refuse to get involved with the wicked speech of others that exposes it, people start to feel uncomfortable around you when they are doing these things. I can’t tell you how often I hear people at work say things like “Oh sorry” when they say a swear or “Don’t speak like that when James is around” they often feel uncomfortable and tell me their sorry when they speak or act a certain way. That is exposing their deeds. But it also includes rebuking a brother or sister who is speaking or acting in a un-Christ-like way. It’s not just, not getting involved in the act but correcting and rebuking the sinning Christian. It also includes exposing our thoughts and desires to the light of Christ and examining them to see if they are wicked and if so they are to be left behind. That’s exposing the darkness.

Romans 13:12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Rom 13:12 ESV)

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1Pe 2:9 ESV)

Paul continues to give us instruction concerning our speech when he says in verse 19 and 20:

Speak to one another in:

            Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs, making music in your hearts to the Lord.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:16 ESV)

We do that singing to one another and giving it to the Lord when we gather on Sunday morning but Paul is exhorting us to do this often. Speak to one another with the joy of the Lord on your lips, speak to one another about the love of God in Christ, and sing to one another concerning the great gift of salvation. Our speech ought to be salt and light just as our actions ought to be salt and light because we are people of salt and light cleansed by the blood of the lamb.


            I want to conclude by rereading Ephesians 5:5-7 and 15-17:

Ephesians 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; (Eph 5:5 ESV)


Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15 ESV)

Let us all prepare our hearts as we gather around the table of the Lord.


[1]Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.

[2]Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.

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