Do Not Conform to their Sinfulness Page 1 of 3 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

Commentary on the Book of Ephesians
By: Tom Lowe Date: 10/27/17

Lesson 21: Do Not Conform to their Sinfulness (Ephesians 5:1-7)

Ephesians 5:1-7 (KJV)
1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
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.
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.
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.

This passage gives a needed spiritual health warning for Christians in the West, and increasingly in every continent. The media daily bombard our lives with words and images which express all of the things Paul mentions. We can easily be desensitized to the sinful by what has become “normal” in our society. The danger, then, is that we begin to think of the morally abnormal as normal and the things that tend to cause morale carelessness as matters of indifference. Christ-like love banishes the indecent. Smut should be suffocated in the holy atmosphere of our fellowship.

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;


We have learned that the Holy Spirit indwells every believer and seals every believer, and that we can grieve the Holy Spirit. If we engage in those things mentioned in chapter 4 verse 31{1], it means we will grieve the Holy Spirit—but it does NOT mean that we are no longer children of God. It DOES mean that the unsaved world won’t believe that we are the children of God. We are, however, SEALED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD UNTIL THE DAY OF REDEMPTION, the day when the Spirit of God will present the church to the Lord Jesus. This goal should lead us to chaste conduct.

Having been born again through faith in Christ, the Christian is therefore one of the “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4); and since “God is love” it is logical that God’s children will walk in love. When Paul encouraged his readers to “walk in love,” he was not asking them to do something that was foreign to the Christian life; for we have received a new nature that wants to express itself in love. This love is not mere sentiment and feeling. It is love that gives all, that counts no sacrifice too great for the object on which it is fixed. The old nature is basically selfish, and for this reason builds walls and declares war. But the new nature is loving, and therefore builds bridges and proclaims peace.

The believer is to be an imitator of God, especially in the matter of forgiveness. However, this applies to all aspects of the Christian walk. The Gentiles who formerly walked on a very low plane are now lifted to the high level of LOVE. They are now called “dear children” or beloved children. The plane of love to which they are lifted is the love which Christ exhibited when He loved us enough to give Himself as an offering and a sacrifice for us. This is awesome; imagine God speaks of us the same way He spoke of Jesus Christ: “This is my beloved Son” (Matt. 3:17). In fact, the Father loves us the same way He loves His Son (John 17:23{2]). We are born into a loving relationship with the Father that ought to result in our love to Him by the way we live. What more could the Father do to show His love to us? Is it asking too much for us to “walk in love” to please Him?

When Paul talked of IMITATION he was using language which the wise men of Greece could understand. Imitation was a main part in the training of an orator. The teachers of rhetoric declared that the learning of oratory depended on three things—theory, imitation and practice. The main part of their training was the study and the imitation of the masters who had gone before. It is as if Paul said: “If you were to train to be an orator, you would be told to imitate the masters of speech. Since you are training in life, you must imitate the Lord of all good life.”

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.

It is in view of the substitutionary, vicarious-death of Christ upon the Cross that the believer is to attain to such an exalted plane of love. The believer CANNOT walk with a grieved Holy Spirit, for only the Spirit can bring forth this fruit (“love” of God) in the life of a Christian. Remember that love is first on the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22{3].

“And hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour” is a clear-cut reference to the Cross. It makes the death of Christ more than the public execution of a criminal. The Cross was the brazen altar where the Lamb of God was offered as the burnt sacrifice. That sacrifice takes away the sin of the world. It identifies Christ with every sacrifice that was offered in the Old Testament by God’s command. THEY ALL POINTED TO HIM.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said to His disciples; “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

Above all the Christian must imitate the love and the forgiveness of God. Paul uses a typical Old Testament phrase, “a sweet-smelling savour,” which goes back to a very old idea, as old as sacrifice itself. When a sacrifice was offered on the altar, the odor of the burning meat went up to heaven and the god to whom the sacrifice was offered was supposed to feast upon that odor. A sacrifice which had the odor of a sweet savor was especially pleasing and especially acceptable to the god to whom it was offered. Paul takes the old phrase which time had hallowed—it occurs almost 50 times in the Old Testament—and uses it for the sacrifice that Jesus brought to God. The sacrifice of Jesus was well-pleasing to God.

What was that sacrifice? It was a life of perfect obedience to God and of perfect love to men, and obedience so absolute and a love so infinite that they accepted the Cross. What Paul says is: “Imitate God. And you can do so only by loving men with the same sacrificial love with which Jesus loved them and forgiving them in love as God has done.”

If God treated mankind like some Christians treat each other . . . And like some Christians treat their sinner neighbors and friends . . . This earth would be a place of untold agony. Jesus loved his enemies . . . He did not compromise with them, He did not love their sin, but He loved them. The essence of Christianity is love, and if we do not love our fellow man that we see, how can we love God whom we cannot see? We love Him . . . Because He first loved us, and if we are born again . . . Spiritually minded as we ought to be . . . We will display love in our daily living.

True love is two-fold, as expressed here:
1. TRUE LOVE DENIES SELF. Jesus the very Son of God was rich but for our sakes became poor. He took a body—and in that body He suffered, bled and died. He denied Himself . . . “Not my will, but thine be done.” He said, “I came not to do my will, but the will of the Father.” He never performed any miracle for selfish reasons. The love of Jesus is self-denying. He gave His life, His all. He gave up ALL for us; we should be willing to give up ALL for him.
2. JESUS SACRIFICED ALL, and gave Himself an offering to God “for a sweet-smelling savour.” “The sacrifice Jesus made gratified (or pleased) God. Three times in an audible voice God said, “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED”. . . “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON IN WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED; HEAR YE HIM” . . . “I HAVE GLORIFIED THY NAME, AND I WILL GLORIFY THY NAME ON THE EARTH.” As I said earlier in the lesson, if we do not sacrifice because we love Jesus then our sacrificial living, abstaining, and doing does not glorify God and is of no eternal value.

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