Lesson 11: Ephesians Study
In the first two verses of Ephesians 5- we are told to walk in love, just as Christ loved us. Pauls letter then goes on to describe what walking in love is NOT. Here is what Paul has told in this letter in regard to how we conduct ourselves: as Christians we are to walk worthy of our calling; to not walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their thinking; to walk in love, to walk in the light and to walk wisely, carefully and make the most of every opportunity. The mention of sexual sin reveals that 2000 years ago, the world and society were as obsessed with sex then as they are now. The Temple of Diana in Ephesus was a center for sexual sin. The temple was in reality a place of prostitution under the façade of being a type of religion whose worship consisted of unspeakable sexual acts. We might think we are not so debased- yet our society worships sex and it is seen in every part of our society.
We were all born with what theologians call an Adamic nature. This means we are born with fallen natures which are dead in sin and trespasses and unable to discern spiritual truths because we do not possess the Spirit of God. Every since Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, natural man has wanted to decide for himself or herself their own standards of right and wrong what is good and evil.
When it comes to sex, our societys thinking, is any type of sex between consenting adults is acceptable. It this type of thinking that has led to the legalized marriage between the same sexes. And of course when you have these types of views conforming our society you must deal with the consequences of sex outside of Gods rules which include: abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, and all types of emotional and physical problems that arise from the misuse of Gods gift that is intended to be enjoyed in the marriage of a man and a woman.
That is why Jesus said, I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly, but the thief comes to kill, and destroy and steal. God gave us the gift of sex as well as many other appetites He intended for us to enjoy according to His laws. The enemy loves to pervert the way in which we fulfill God-given desires.
Paul expands on the teaching of the Lord Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount which condemned sexual sin. The Roman Empire under which Paul lived was mired in sexual sin of all types at the highest level. Today we are told there are many homosexuals in places of power and influence in Washington in our government. In fact sex and politics seem to go hand-in-hand. The sexual misconduct of presidents, the rich and famous have been of great interest to the media and the public in general. Look at the media frenzy surrounding Tiger Woods actions.
Paul says all sexual immorality as defined by Gods commandments is not only immoral, a sin, but it is also impure. Now the world would call us prudes for such a statement. It says sex is beautiful and is a private relationship between two consenting adults and should be of no concern or business of anyone else. Again we see how the world wants to conform our thinking and somehow intimidate us into going along with their beliefs in the name of tolerance. But we cannot escape our responsibility for Paul tells us in verse 11: have nothing to do with fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. We are to speak the truth in love. And our world needs to hear the truth- not only is eternity at stake- our society and the very existence of the life and freedoms we have enjoyed as a country who proclaimed it was one nation under God are at risk. Our generation must hand over our country to the next generation- we must not grow weary in well doing. We do reap what we sow; and the time for our generation is growing short. We must be busy about our Lords work.
Paul says the sins are so serious and should never be the object of foolish talk or joking which reflects a non-serious attitude toward what are deadly sins. This- Paul said is nothing to laugh about- but something to be wept over.
Paul says no immoral, impure or greedy person will have any inheritance in the kingdom of God. This does not mean anyone who commits these sins will not go to heaven- it means anyone who continues to live in them and commit these sins is one who continues to choose to stay in darkness and not come to the light because their deeds are evil. They choose where they will spend eternity, because hell is not only a place of fire, torment and memories it is a place of utter darkness. Scripture tells us many of us were guilty of such sins and were darkness but now are light. But we also can fall into those sins- but having fallen into that pit- we do want not to stay there. King David committed such sins with Bathsheba and he paid for it- with personal illness and the death of a son- but he was miserable and asked God to forgive him and restore him. A Christians can commit those sins- but cannot bear to continue in those sins-they make him/her miserable.
He also says something interesting, in verses 6&7: Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things Gods wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them Do you see what the world today and our society does to address such problems? They commission a group of learned , educated individuals to study the issue and come up with their findings. It is like our government studying debt, poverty or crime- ever learning but never coming to the truth. They think they can diminish the problem by studying it- but the problems continue to increase. They decide to call sin and immorality by another name as if that will solve the problem. Sin is sin and it cannot be washed away by calling it something else instead of what it is- it is not a choice or a lifestyle it is sin. And what can wash away our sins- nothing but the blood of Jesus. You can legalize it by passing a law- but mans law that is opposed to Gods Law and Word is never just or right. It is wrong.
Isaiah said Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.: ( Isaiah 5:20)
Verse 8 reminds us what we once were. for you WERE once darkness ( past tense), but now ARE ( present tense) light in the Lord. We are told in Proverbs 20:27: The spirit of man is the candle (lamp) of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly. Who is the light of the world? Jesus. He came into the world of darkness. He is the Word, the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. The Word is a lamp unto feet and a light upon our path. It is this light we are to walk in for we are children of light. Christ in us, is not only the hope of glory, He is the light of our life and we are to let the light that indwells us shine forth into darkness. It means we must keep our lamps cleaned and filled with oil in order to be effective.
God is light. In Him there is no darkness.
Satan is darkness. Spiritual darkness is the work of the devil.
Spiritual darkness is his domain.
Spiritual darkness brings Gods penalty for those who remain in it.
Spiritual darkness is the destiny of all who refuse to come to the light. Hell is described as a place of outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
So we not only are to walk in love- we are to walk in light, as He is in the light and there His blood continually cleanses us from our sins. Paul tells us of three specific fruits that are a result of walking, living in the light. They are : goodness, righteousness and truth.
These fruits are produced in light. It is interesting when we look at nature and see not only the creative genius of God, we see illustrations of spiritual truths in nature all around us. Consider the role of the light of the sun, which is life giving, life providing and life sustaining in our physical lives compared to the role of the light of the Son in our lives which is also life giving, life providing and life sustaining.
The process of photosynthesis is all about light and life. This process takes place in plants and is responsible for feeding almost the whole world. The plants containing chlorophyll take energy from the sun and convert it into a storable form, usually glucose, to use for their own life process. These plants are eaten by animals, including humans, for food who then convert that food into energy. This ongoing process created by God creates food for sustaining our lives- but did you know it also produces as a byproduct- oxygen which is necessary for all oxygen breathing life on earth. And then we exhale carbon dioxide which is necessary for the process of photosynthesis that occurs in plants. The cycle of life that only the genius of God can provide.
He has provided everything we need for life. He sent His Son- in whom was the light of life. So that we who were once dead in sin and trespasses and in darkness which became spiritually alive and now then we were indwelt by His Life and His Light.
If we walk in darkness we produce byproducts which are described in Galatians 5: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery , idolatry and witchcraft; hatred , discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. We might describe these as the fruits of the bad tree or the sinful nature.
On the other hand, if we walk in the light, we will produce the fruit of the Spirit described in this cluster in Galatians 5: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. These are produced by the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer when we walk in the light, walk in love, walk not as the Gentiles do in the futility of their thinking, when we walk according to our calling Paul calls it keeping in step with the Spirit.
In this section of his letter to the church in Ephesus Paul only mentions three fruits- goodness, righteousness and truth.
Goodness refers to our relationships with others.
Righteousness is the basis for our relationship with Holy God.
Truth refers to our relationship to ourselves. We must be honest with ourselves- we must not deceive ourselves and think more highly that we ought nor should we think less that we should of ourselves.
Paul says find out, discover what pleases the Lord. We are told without faith it is impossible to please the Lord. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Our five-fold purpose for life is found in the two greatest commandments and the Great Commission. ( W. E. D. F. M. ) [Worship, Evangelism, Discipleship, Fellowship& Ministry)
Today, as never before, we are being asked NOT to speak the truth in love in the name of tolerance, and pluralism. We are being marginalized and even condemned and being accused of being narrow minded. But yet we are told: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to eternal life and only a few find it. ( Matthew 7) (The Sermon on the Mount describes the narrow way.)
Should we sit by silently while the world and our society goes down the broadway that leads to destruction in the name of tolerance and pluralism? Should we isolate ourselves choosing not to speak out the truth in love? How else can we fulfill the Great Commission?
So Paul tells us to walk wisely- making the most of every opportunity. Here is the best question you can ever ask- what is the wise thing to do- in light of my present circumstances; my past experience and my future goals. Paul then gives us specific instructions. He tells us do not be foolish ( which is the opposite of being wise) but understand what the will of God is. Be not drunk with wine which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit. ( Ephesians 5:17&18) When a person is filled with wine or any type of alcohol he is said to be under the influence. That influence Paul says will lead to debauchery- or corruption. Whatever fills a person- controls a person.
So why are we not living the Spirit filled life more than we are?
There are several reasons:
- Lack of knowledge about the Holy Spirit do not study the Word which is a lamp and a light.
- Fear of man makes us timid
- Ashamed of Christ.
- Lack of trust – fear allowing God to have control of ones life leading to un-surrendered will
- Love of the world.
- Sin- regarding iniquity in our hearts.
We are told in Pauls letters we can grieve the Spirit ( Ephesians 4: 30) And also Paul writes in I Thess. 5:19 – : Do not quench the Spirit.
What is the difference? I believe we grieve the Spirit when we commit a sin or break one of Gods law. These are called sins of commission.
We quench the spirit when we refuse to do something God wants us to do. Example: that small still voice of God tells you to speak to a friend or fellow employee about Christ and you refuse to do so. That is called a sin of omission.
In either case, when we have grieved or quenched the Spirit of God we must confess our sins. I John 1: 9 says when we do confess(agree with God and repent) He( Lord Jesus) is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Now we are a vessel that can be filled with the Spirit.
Lets talk about the Holy Spirit a minute to make sure we understand who He is and what He does.
The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is a person, not some impersonal force. He is the Spirit of God. His role is of utmost importance to us as believers.
We are regenerated by the Spirit. born of the Spirit. John 3.
We are indwelt by the Spirit. and led by the Spirit. Romans 8:14
We are sealed by the Spirit. Ephesians 1:13
We are assured by the Spirit.- Romans 8:18
We are empowered by the Spirit. Ephesians 3- may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.
Being sealed, regenerated, indwelt, are once and forever occurrences but being filled with the Spirit is a done over and over again as the Spirit empowers us to do the work of the ministry, to witness, to worship, to fulfill our purpose and walk worthy of our calling.
I John 5: 14 and 15 says: This is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask- we know that we have what we asked of Him. What did Paul just tell us? Therefore do not be foolish- but understand what the will of God is. His will is that you be NOT drunk with wine which leads to debauchery but be FILLED with His Spirit.
So first comes a desire to be filled with the Spirit. Guess what? That desire comes from the Holy Spirit, Himself who works in you both to will and do the good pleasure of God.(Phil 2)
Next we look to see is there a lack of knowledge regarding how the Spirit works within me? If so- I need to study the word and ask the Holy Spirit to guide me in truth and understanding. There is great misunderstanding in the church today among believers regarding the person and role of the Holy Spirit.
Am I prideful? God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud.
Am I afraid of man? God has not given me a spirit of fear and greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.
Do I regard sin in my heart? Do I have unconfessed sin that is either sins of commission or omission. Confess it.
Do I not trust God to want for me what is best for me? Is Proverbs 3 a reality in your life?
So in order to be filled with the Holy Spirit- you need to study and understand who the Holy Spirit is and what His role is in the life of the believer.
You need to surrender your will completely to Gods will. ( This is the most difficult step and the most common hindrance to being filled.)
You need to hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is a pre-requisite.
You must confess your sins. Only a cleansed vessel can be filled.
Claim by faith the fullness of the Holy Spirit according to the promise of I John 5:14,15.
Believe you are now empowered by the Holy Spirit by faith in these truths and can operate now in His Power and His might.
We do not make this claim based on feelings but on these facts that Paul would say you must reckon to be true.