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Ephesians 5:1-5

Introduction:  I grew up in the days when love songs were popular in every type of music.  People protested the Vietnam War with the words “Make love, not war.”  I heard a lot about “free love” and “free sex,” with both of those phrases meaning the same thing.  The “free love” issue was not new in the 60’s, Paul said much about it in most of his writings.  It all amounts to a misunderstanding about what love is all about.  He begins discussion by defining “love.”

I. Live in love   vs. 1-2

     A. Imitate God

          1. We get the English word “mimic” from this Greek word.

          2. Believers have been adopted into God’s family (1:5) and should exhibit the family resemblance. [1]

          3. The only passage in the NT where the explicit language of imitation of God is employed. 1 But the idea is common in both Old & New Testaments.

          4. “Imitate God” is another way of saying “Live in love,” which is another way of saying “Be kind, compassionate, forgiving.”

     B. Walking in love requires sacrificial action:  “as Christ gave himself up for us.”

     C. Certainly the sacrifice of one’s own interests out of concern for the welfare of others is the quality above all that fosters harmony in the community.1

II. Avoid every kind of sexual sin (so called “love”)    vs. 3, 5

     A. πορνεία: to engage in sexual immorality of any kind, often with the implication of prostitution:  to engage in illicit sex, to commit fornication, sexual immorality, fornication, prostitution, unchastity, lewdness.

     B. ἀκαθαρσίαa: the state of moral impurity, especially in relationship to sexual sin; impurity, immorality, filthiness.  Not clean.

          It refers to immoral thoughts, passions, ideas, fantasies, and every other form of sexual corruption.[2]

     C. This “love,” as modern people call it, is selfish and harmful (to the persons involved and society at large) because it is a deceptive, counterfeit of God’s love.

          1. It wants to be satisfied, not give satisfaction

          2. It takes advantage of the other, instead of serving

     D. “Covetousness” or “greed” in this context refers to wanting someone sexually that is not yours to have. 

          1. Exodus 20:17, 10th Commandment

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

          2. Colossians 3:5  

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

     E. These sins should not be thought about or talked about.

Presumably, the assumption behind this prohibition is that thinking and talking about sexual sins creates an atmosphere in which they are tolerated and which can indirectly even promote their practice. It would not occur to the writer, as it might to us, that strictly speaking he is breaking his own prohibition by mentioning these sins in his letter! What he is really attempting to discourage is sexual sin becoming the object of interest in conversation.[3]

     F. Those who do them have lost their inheritance in the Kingdom   vs. 5


III. Watch what you say    vs. 4

     A. This probably refers directly to vs. 3, “must not even be named among you.”

     B. αἰσχρότης:  indecent. Impropriety, a summarizing improper conduct whether in action or word or even thought and intent; indecorum of any kind; conduct which when exposed by the light makes the person ashamed of himself; ugly, shameful conduct of any kind; conduct which is contrary to a person who follows after God

     C. μωρολογία:  talk like a fool; in an ungodly manner

     D. εὐτραπελία: coarse jesting involving vulgar expressions and indecent content; vulgar speech, indecent talk.  Crude, offensive, coarse language.

          To treat sexual matters as a topic of amusement is not to take them seriously enough and is likely to lead to an atmosphere in which the actual practice of sexual vices is also accepted too easily.

     E. εὐχαριστία:  to express gratitude for benefits or blessings; to thank, thanksgiving, thankfulness.

          1.  “whereas sexual impurity and covetousness both express self-centered acquisitiveness (strongly desirous of acquiring and possessing), thanksgiving is the exact opposite, and so the antidote required; it is the recognition of God’s generosity.”   (Houlden, J. L. Paul’s Letters from Prison. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970.)

          2. We should be thankful for our husbands and wives.

Conclusion:  God created “love” and “sex.”  He also created the combining of the two.  But we have made love = sex and that is not logical or Biblical.  The world needs to be taught about love, not sex.

Central Church.  Wichita, KS.  April 27, 2008.  PM.


[1]Lincoln, A. T. (2002). Vol. 42: Word Biblical Commentary : Ephesians. Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[2]MacArthur, J. (1996, c1986). Ephesians.  Chicago: Moody Press.

[3]Lincoln, A. T. (2002). Vol. 42: Word Biblical Commentary : Ephesians.  Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

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