Ephesians 5:1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.
Not all children are equally loved by their parents, even if they ought to be. Those who are bright, beautiful and talented are often preferred above their siblings. Similar personalities might also cause a parent to favor one over another. And of course, some children alienate their parents through rebellion.
That said, there is something more important than what your mom or dad thinks of you, and that is what your heavenly Father thinks of you. Paul assured the Ephesian Christians that they were all dearly loved children. Not just the best of them, but all of them. The core identity of all who believe in Jesus Christ is that they are dearly loved children of God.
After Jesus was baptized, a voice from heaven said: This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17). Likewise, before his crucifixion, the voice came a second time: This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Matthew 17:5). God loves everyone, of course, but Christians have the added assurance that we are dearly loved because we are in Christ (Ephesians 1:1).
This is why Jesus could pray for his disciples saying, [You] have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:23). This is the same as saying, You have loved them as much as you have loved me. We are dearly loved children of God, not because we are bright, beautiful or talented (or even good) but because we are in Christ.
Ephesians 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality.
The reason some people do not come to Christ is because they want to be in charge of their own sexuality. Sexual freedom is the highest personal value some people have. Contrary to their culture, however, Paul directed the Ephesian Christians to be sexually pure.
Several years ago I married a beautiful couple in their twenties, who were very much in love. Before the ceremony, as I stood back stage with the groom, I offered some advice. When it is time to kiss the bride, keep it rather brief so you won’t embarrass her. He said he would do his best, but that he was a little nervous, since this would be their very first kiss. Even in a promiscuous culture they were sexually pure.
Ephesians 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
We might think of greed as a little sin, but Paul considered it idolatry—the worship of another god. We can test ourselves for the sin of idolatry by asking, What do I love the most?
Whatever a man loves, that is his god for he carries it in his heart. He goes about with it night and day; he sleeps and wakes with it whatever it is—wealth or self, pleasure or fame (Martin Luther, slightly revised). If we love anything more than God, we are guilty of idolatry, and are outside the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
The wording here is interesting. Paul did not say the Ephesian Christians used to be in darkness, but that they actually were darkness. They were like black holes that swallowed up the light around them. Some people brighten up a room just by leaving.
We are no longer darkness, however, but are light in the Lord. We have no light of our own but, like the moon, reflect a greater light. Therefore Jesus said, You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). And, let your light shine before others (Matthew 5:16). This is something to keep in mind whenever we enter a room.
Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
The Bible does not condemn drinking wine in moderation, but strongly condemns drunkenness. Some of the Ephesian believers may have been in the habit of drinking too much, and Paul did not want that to be part of their Christian life. Instead of being drunk on wine, he wanted them to be filled with the Spirit. Both produce a kind of joy, but one leads to debauchery, and the other leads to holiness.
The way to be filled with the Spirit is mentioned next. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:19-20).
A friend of mine received a voicemail message, after which the caller forgot to hang up. This could be embarrassing, but what followed was several minutes of loud singing to the glory of God. He was not drunk on wine, but was filled with the Holy Spirit. This is what Paul wanted for the Ephesians, and this is what God wants for us.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Christianity was not easy for the apostles, or for the early Christians. They struggled against their opponents, against their sinful natures, and against demonic forces. Left to themselves they could not win. But with God’s help, they would not lose.
A Christian man was imprisoned for his faith, and severely tortured for years. The guards told him to give up his Christianity, in favor of atheism, so he could be released. He replied, The test of a bridge is not when a cat walks over it, but when a train rolls over it (Richard Wurmbrand). He explained that many atheists became Christians on their deathbeds, but no Christians became atheists on their deathbeds. God kept him strong to the end, and he will do the same for us.
Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Paul knew that Roman soldiers did not go to war without proper equipment. Sword, shield, breastplate, helmet and footgear were essential for victory. Likewise, Paul wanted believers to be dressed for spiritual battle. Prayer, faith, truth, righteousness and salvation is what he prescribed. Soldiers are not prepared for battle unless they are properly dressed, and neither are believers.
There was a time in Israel’s history when Not a blacksmith could be found . . . because the Philistines had said, Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears! (1 Samuel 13:19). God’s people were living in defeat because their enemies had taken away their weapons. This is Satan’s goal for the church as well.
The devil wants to disarm the church by taking away its gear, and the church disarms itself by not getting dressed for battle. Prayer, faith, truth, righteousness and salvation are the victorious Christian’s uniform. We should never leave the house without being fully dressed.
Reflection and Review
Why is it important to know that we are God’s dearly loved children?
What are the dangers of sex outside of marriage?
Why is greed idolatry?