This sermon is number 21 in a series of 36
Ephesians - Part 21
"The Christian: The Divine Impersonator"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2000 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
We're entering into the fifth chapter of Ephesians now, Ephesians chapter 5, and we'll begin reading from verse 1. The passage that we'll be looking at this evening is verse 1 through to verse 7, and we've entitled our message: 'The Christian: The Divine Impersonator'.
Verse 1: "Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 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. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 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. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them".
In our very first message in chapter 1 and verse 1 of this book, many months ago, we looked in much detail at the city of Ephesus and what it meant to live in Paul's day in the city of Ephesus. If you were to go to Ephesus today, you could walk through that little town as it has been excavated, and parts of that old ancient city have been found. I'm told that you can walk down a street of marble, you can look around you at buildings that people once lived in, and businesses that they once worked from. Bit by bit archaeologists are restoring the city of Ephesus.
As they uncover that great city, they are finding that the grandeur of it is something that surpasses, perhaps, any city that is alive today. It was a metropolis, a great place of significance in the ancient Roman world. But as they are uncovering these great things about this ancient city, they are also finding that there was great vileness, great sin, and great iniquity that took place within it. In fact, I'm told that as you walk down that marble street in the middle of that city, that they have uncovered signs that Soho and London, or any other red-light district in the world, has nothing to touch. Indeed, if you were a sailor coming into Ephesus and you walked right into the city, there were signs inviting you to partake of freely - absolutely freely - of the temple prostitutes in that city. Free prostitution to any travellers!
Within the temple of Artemis, the virgin goddess, there were ritualistic prostitutes. They were there, and they were paid money by men and women within that civilisation, to have ritualistic sexual intercourse to worship their deity. If that's not enough to speak of the vileness of it, the thing that perhaps comes home to us the most about how iniquitous this place is, is the fact that there was nothing seen to be wrong with all of that civilisation and the practices of it. The donations that were given by the men paying for the ritualistic prostitutes, they didn't keep them, but they donated them to the temple - and the temple was looked after, and the maintenance of it, by the money that was taken in from this ritualistic religious prostitution.
Some might say that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world, and the 'do-gooders' - as many would say - are shouting about how it represents the worst in all of modern decay in society, but the fact remains that here in the city of Ephesus to be a prostitute of this kind was a great honour in society. It was extremely honourable for you to be in a profession bringing money - and indeed serving the community in the town, and even your religion - to build up the temple and to build up worship to the goddess Diana. Nothing seemed to be wrong with it, in fact - as far as they were concerned - in a philosophical sense they had united the lust of the flesh with religion, so that the desires and appetites of a man could be swallowed up in a religious ritual and it didn't seem to be as sinful. As far as they were concerned Diana, and her religion, was able to meet the need of body, soul, and spirit.
Now, as you look at this backdrop and this context, you can understand why the passage that we're reading tonight was so revolutionary to these Ephesians. They thought there was nothing wrong with this ritualistic prostitution, with the worship of their fertility god in this manner within the temple - it was normal. Therefore when Jesus Christ, by His Spirit and in Paul, in this little epistle comes and tells them the sexual ethics of the Christian church, it rocks them! What to them seemed necessary, seemed commendable, seemed acceptable, to God was sin. You can see the demarcation line, and it's not between religion and non-religion, but the demarcation line is between pagan religion and God's faith. This is where Christianity, Bible-believing Christianity, stands above all the rest - at least one of the ways it stands above - in its Christian sexual ethics. It is the only faith that dictates and commands chastity outside of the marriage bond and relationship - the only faith that lays it down.
Why then do Christians fall into sexual sin? One writer says that it's the 'cookie jar' syndrome - a little boy whose Mummy has just made some cookies, and they're lovely and warm smelling. She puts them into the cookie jar and sets them up on the kitchen bench. She goes away to do a few messages, and comes in and she finds the little boy with his hand dug deep into the cookie jar. Red-faced and embarrassed he turns round to his mother and he says: 'My hand is in the cookie jar resisting temptation'. Isn't that where we are at times? We are in the world, trying to resist temptation.
The disciples said to the Lord: 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples'. One of the statements within that prayer of the disciples was: 'Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil'. I say it again, that we pray that God may not lead us into temptation, but we lead ourselves in - we find ourselves with the hand in the cookie jar, and then we fall into sin, whatever type of sin it is - and we ask the question: 'Why did that happen?'. We are living in the society of the cookie jar - through media, through newspapers, magazines, television, advertising, even in the workplace, in family life now, and even in the church of Jesus Christ - we are bombarded by an environment of sinfulness, idolatry, adultery, fornication, all sorts of sins are treated as the norm. Even when, in the church, we stand and tell what God's ethics and rules are concerning the sexual realm, we are 'fuddy-duddies', we are 'a puritan', we are 'Victorian'.
Do you know what we need? We need a revival in holiness. There is a revival of sin, but we need a revival of holiness! This book I continually recommend to you, and I'm going to recommend it until you all read it! At the beginning of one of the chapters in 'Power through Prayer', E.M. Bounds quotes John Wesley - and I've quoted this before, but I'm quoting it again because it never ceases to thrill me. Listen, he said: 'Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer'. Is that what you want to be? Can you pray like M'Cheyne: 'Oh God, make me as holy as a saved sinner can be'? Listen: that is the secret, that will bring an awesome revival to the church of Jesus Christ, because the Gospel itself - now listen to what I'm saying - the Gospel itself has no inherent power of itself, but it moves as men filled with the Holy Ghost, and men of holiness, move with it. I don't need to tell you that the effectiveness of the Gospel message has more to do with the holiness of the one who is preaching it than the words that he is saying. I believe that with all my heart. That is why Bounds could say within his book: 'It takes 20 years to make a sermon, because it takes 20 years to make the man'.
'How can we be holy?', you might say, 'In a sin sick world, in a world that is intoxicated and saturated with all types and kinds of filthiness?'. Well, here is the answer within our passage this evening, first of all: the way to be holy is to imitate the divine being. Look at verse 1: 'Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children'. Again we see Paul using this little word 'therefore', 'Be ye therefore', and we've learnt week after week to look back when Paul says that, and look back to what he is pointing back to. He's been talking, in chapter 4 the last two verses: 'Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you'. We looked last week at how we are to put off the old clothes, and this is the wardrobe of the Spirit of God that we are to adorn ourselves with. We're to put away lying, we're to put away stealing, we're to put away all sinfulness of the old nature that has died with Christ, and we're now to put on the love of God in Christ Jesus. 'Therefore', Paul says, 'to do that you must be a follower of God as dear children'.
The word 'follower' in the Authorised Version would be better translated, it literally means: 'imitator' - 'Be therefore imitators of God'. The Greek word for 'imitator' is the word that we get our English word 'mimic' from, to mimic or to copy something. What it denotes is an actor, an actor who spends time, spends all his energies and efforts in studying a character with the view to reproducing it. Have you got it? 'Be imitators of God'. In the Old Testament Scriptures God told the children of Israel these words, they're familiar to many of you: 'Ye shall put away out of the camp of Israel every leper' - put away out of the camp of Israel every leper. He went on to say: 'Any kind of vile, infectious disease, put it out!' - and He was saying that, not just for the safety of those who hadn't been infected by it yet, but the reason - the primary reason why God told them to put out from among them all uncleanness - is found as the very foundation of the whole Old Testament law of God. Listen, God had said to His people: 'Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy'.
That was the legal dispensation, and that spoke of physical defilement, leprosy, all kinds of diseases outwardly or inwardly within the body. But now we are in the dispensation of grace, and what it speaks to us of is the uncleanness of the flesh, of the soul, and of the spirit - we, as those who are to imitate God, are to put away from us all uncleanness! This is a part of the law that has been repeated for us in the New Testament, for Peter repeats it - 1 Peter 1:16: 'Be ye holy; even as the Lord your God is holy'. Do we imitate God in our holiness?
What is the motive for this imitation? It's given in verse 1: 'as dear children'. Any of you that have children, or have been among children for a while, will note the way they imitate adults - don't they? They watch Daddy driving the car, and all of a sudden you turn round and you see him moving the steering wheel, changing the gears, and pulling up the brakes - imitating. You hear them imitating many things, bad words, they have a pencil sticking out of their mouth [pretending] they're smoking, they pretend to drink, they're doing all sorts of things - and psychologists tell us that the things that they learn through life many of them, most of them, are learnt as they are children. Do you see the connection? Paul says you are the children of God, here is your heavenly holy Father, you imitate Him as you imitated your earthly father.
The three admonitions that Paul gives in this passage, which lasts right down to verse 17, he says first of all: God is love - we know that, don't we? Because God is love, he asks us in verses 1 and 2 of chapter 5: 'Walk in love'. Your heavenly Father is a God of love, you are His children, therefore you walk in love as your heavenly Father. Then he says God is light and, in verses 3 to 14, he says: 'Because your heavenly Father is light, you're His children, you walk as children of light'. Then he says God is truth and, in verse 15 to 17, he says: 'Therefore, because God is truth, you're His children, walk in the wisdom of the truth of the word of God'. All of those walks are an outcome of chapter 4 and verse 1, which is the walk that they are to walk worthy of in the calling with which they are called.
There are folk in this meeting tonight, and they have children that are wayward. They have no thought of God, they have no thought of Christ, they have no thought of holiness - and at this moment of time they are deep, saturated, drowning in the world - and what is it doing to your heart? It's breaking it! We learnt last week that when the child of God walks in sinful ways, it grieves the Holy Spirit. Is your heart grieved for a loved one? Can you imagine how God's heart is grieved for us when we walk and we do not imitate Him, or we imitate the world around us? How are we to live holy in this evil and wicked and adulterous generation? God says: 'Imitate Me, and you shall be holy!'.
The second thing he tells us to do is in verse 2, he says: emulate the love of Christ. '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'. Verse 31 and 32 of the previous chapter, you see, is a great contrast to what he's just said in verse 2. In verse 31 he's talking about bitterness, unholy wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking - he tells them: 'Put it away from you!'. What are you to put into the place of all that unseemly sinfulness? It is to walk in love, the antithesis, the opposite of all those sins that he has talked about. The Greek word for 'love' here is the word 'agape'. It is the word depicting the love of God - not 'filio' (sp?) which is a love between brothers and friends, not 'eros' which is that sexual attraction between a man and a woman, but 'agape'. We are to walk in the love of God, shedding the love of God from our hearts to other believers and unbelievers around us. This is what marked the early church of Jesus Christ - Behold! They love one another! Indeed everything was surrounded by love, they lived together, everything they owned was with one another, they shared it with everyone. Indeed the Breaking of Bread was called, in those early days, 'the love feast'.
Love characterised the church in early times, and the reason for that is: that Christ is and always shall be our perfect example, the example that we are to follow. God says: 'Be followers, imitators, of God' - and here you have proof of the Trinity, for in verse 2 - one minute, verse 1, he's telling us: 'Imitate God', and verse 2 he tells us to 'walk as Christ has walked'. What more proof do you need? How did Christ walk? He tells us: 'He gave himself [as] an offering, a sacrifice for sin'. The greatest proof of the love of Christ is that Christ laid down His life for us at Calvary's cross, that He gave Himself for us - and we love Him because He first loved us and gave Himself for us! God, our heavenly Father, showed His love for us in that, while we were yet sinners, He demonstrated His love for us in that Christ died for us! Paul is saying: 'This is how you imitate God. You imitate God by a walk of holiness, and that walk of holiness will be exemplified in a walk of love for other people, just as Jesus Christ the Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you'.
God's love is always displayed by the action of giving. In John 3 and 16, that very famous gospel text, it says: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave'. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we find God giving - God gives life to all mankind. In the second book, the book of Exodus, we find God gives His law to mankind. In the book of Joshua we find that God gives land to His own people to live in, and to have shelter and protection and joy in. In the book of Psalms we that God gives His people strength and comfort through these prayers and songs of Zion. In the Gospels we find that the Father sends the Son to be the Saviour of the world - He gives His only begotten Son. Then in the book of Acts He sends, at Pentecost, His Spirit - He gives another Comforter. Finally, in the book of Revelation, He gives hope - for we are not as others who sorrow without hope, but we have a blessed hope whereby we comfort one another with these words: that the Lord shall burst through the clouds, and we shall go to be with Him forever! What a hope!
Do you see how our Lord and our God is a giving God? He loves to give, and we are to walk in His example, we are to give as He gave Christ, and as Christ gave His life at the place called Calvary. First John 3:16: 'We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren'. Again in chapter 2 and verse 6 we are told: 'Walk as he walked'. I wonder do we realise the impact of what a life of love has upon the life of an unbeliever? Do you know the story of the Auca Indians and their conversion in South America? You've maybe read the book of Jim Elliot. In January 1956 five young American missionaries were killed, martyred for their faith, trying to reach these Auca Indians with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, at this moment of time, their five killers are Christians, their five killers are pillars within the church of Jesus Christ in that particular part of the country. Indeed the house of prayer, where they called it 'The Place Where God Speaks', was built by those five killers right on the spot where they martyred those missionaries. How did that happen? How was there such a revolutionary change, from being ones who martyred men of God, to becoming men of God themselves? Do you know what happened? Rachel Saint, the sister of the martyred missionary Nate Saint; Betty Elliot, the wife of Jim Elliot; went back to those who had killed their loved ones and demonstrated the love of Christ to them.
Does that not blow your mind? That is the love of Christ, they were laying their lives down so that they might win others. The gift here, that's talked about in verse 2, is the gift of Christ. It's spoken of, look at it, as an offering, as a sacrifice to God. This is the amazing thing, it doesn't say that Christ was a gift to the world - there are other Scriptures we could turn to tonight to show that He was a gift to the world for salvation, but that's not what this verse says. It says that Christ gave 'himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God'. An offering is anything given to God, sacrifice involves death. This gift of an offering to God, and the gift of a sacrifice to God, by Jesus Christ is eulogised in this statement that it was: 'an offering and a sacrifice to God', look, 'for a sweetsmelling savour'.
The Lord Jesus Christ, as He hung at Calvary's cross, was the true burnt offering. He was the total, complete, obedient sacrifice for sin to God - and that sacrifice there at Calvary ascended unto God as a sweet smelling savour. Do you know what the High Priest used to do on the Day of Atonement? As he was about to enter into the Holy Place, he would take in one hand a bundle of sweet smelling incense off the golden table of incense, and in his other hand he would lift the censer filled with fire. He would walk beyond the veil, and as he went through into the presence of God he would take that incense and pour it upon that torch, the fire was lit from the burnt offering altar, and as he sprinkled it upon that fire there would arise in that place such a smoke of a savour of a fragrance - it would cover the Ark of the Covenant, it would cover the mercy seat. The reason was to present to God a sweet smell from the sin offering of propitiation.
In Leviticus and chapters 1 to 3 we have the offerings in the word of God. We find there the offerings of a sweet savour unto God, and there are only three kinds. First of all there is the burnt offering. Secondly there is the meal offering, and thirdly there is the peace offering. The burnt offering was a sweet smelling savour that pictured complete and utter devotion, the whole of that animal was burned unto God as a sweet smelling savour. It wasn't an offering for any particular sin, or any laws that were particularly broken or transgressed, but all that was was a scent to go to God, to please God at the fact that blood had been shed and had made sin the victim, and Christ the victor - and what a savour of joy that was to God!
Then there was the meal offering, which spoke of the perfection of God in His Son, His image, His stamp, His express person of purity that could not be defiled. What an offering to God that was. Then there was the peace offering, it spoke of reconciliation between God and the sinner, that rose as a sweet smelling savour to God. All of these brought joy to the heart of God - why? Because the Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself to God, this is purely a part of the crucifixion that was to God! The sweetness of it was that He offered Himself without reservation, that's what was sweet to God. Don't believe any nonsense that He almost withdrew in the garden of Gethsemane. Don't believe any nonsense, that is taught from pulpits and books in this day and age in which we live, that the Lord Jesus Christ was troubled with sin all through His life. God forgive them! He was an offering of a sweet smelling savour.
Adam couldn't do it, and he failed - and every man since Adam failed, but the last Adam was victorious! He is the only man that could be said to bring a sweet smelling savour to God in His obedience, in His purity, and - this is the point that Paul is bringing to us - in His forgiveness. The forgiveness that He purchased at the cross through that sweet smelling savour, we are to walk in that way of forgiveness with our brothers and sisters in Christ. As F. B. Meyer put it: 'In love so measureless, so reckless of cost, for those who were naturally so unworthy of it, there was a spectacle which filled heaven with the fragrance and God's heart with joy, and it is this: that God could now be reconciled to the sinner' - and because of that, my friend, you ought to be reconciled to them as well. We ought to walk as He walked, and He said through His Spirit: 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends'. Do you want to be holy? Imitate God in His love, and lay down your life for your brothers and sisters in Christ. The poet put it well when he said:
'Others Lord, yes, others,
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others,
That I may live like Thee.
Lord, let my life be given
And every moment spent
For God, for souls, for heaven,
And all earth's ties be rent.
Thou gavest Thyself for me,
Now I give all for Thee'.
How to be holy? Thirdly: separate from sexual sin. I'm glad to say that the doctrine of separation from the world is still part of the church of Jesus Christ, because it's still part of the word of God - but whether it is being practised is another issue. Certainly we find, within the New Testament, that there is to be a separation from the world in sexual immorality and their ethics system. Verse 8 of this passage, that we'll start to look at next week, says that we are to walk as children of light. In verse 3 Paul gives us the reason why we are to shun sexual immorality, the last word: 'as becometh saints'. The word 'saint' simply means someone who is set apart, someone who has been brought from the darkness and deadness of sin, into the life and the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It primarily means someone who has been chosen, someone who has been separated to live a holy life! If you don't want to live a holy life you may forget about Christianity! For that's what it is: a holy life before God.
Paul warns us to shun the world, and he gives us the various types of sin that we are to avoid. First of all he says: 'But fornication', look at that word fornication. It literally means illicit sex among unmarried in the community, but here it means more than that - not simply that act of sexual intercourse outside the marriage bond, but it means here in this context any form of sexual immorality. The Greek word is 'pornea', it's the word that we get our English word 'pornography' from - any illicit sexual activity at all. He shows us that by a second description: 'fornication and all uncleanness', and that broadens the sense. It means immoral acts, impure thoughts and pictures, art depicting impurity and sin, obscene books and other suggestive material, anything indecent - and effectively anything that feeds that old beastly desire and passion within us. Alright, let's name them: tabloids, slick magazines that make the reader grovel in the dirt of the lives of the stars, soap operas taking pleasure in iniquity - my friend, we can practise in these things only if we ignore the word of God.
Thirdly, he says: 'covetousness'. Generally speaking when we talk of coveting we think of the lust of money, but literally 'covetous' means - the Greek word literally means 'over-reaching'. It means to have a sensual, or any desire or lust, for anything. It speaks of an appetite, an insatiable lust and greed to satisfy the appetites of the body and of the soul. That can be seen right back in the Ten Commandments - Exodus chapter 20 and verse 17 God said: 'Thou shalt not covet' - and one of the things He said not to covet was 'Thy neighbour's wife'. It is all sorts of lust. Fornication, uncleanness, covetousness - Paul says: 'Let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints' - not once! You could say: 'Well, you've just named it tonight!' - that's not what Paul is meaning. Paul means never let it be named, having been committed - it should never be mentioned as happening within the church of Jesus Christ. I would go further, I believe Paul is actually saying here: 'Nor should these things be discussed in a way that might lessen their sinful shameful character, and make you, or tempt you, to fall from holiness'.
I believe the devil's strategy within the church is to get believers to talk and speak of sin in a light manner. Then, what they are doing today is, they are beginning to excuse sin in their lives and in the church - and the next step of that familiarity with sin will be to commit the sin itself! Paul is saying: 'Don't even dwell too long, or look too intricately into sin, or eventually you may fall yourself'. The old English poet, Alexander Pope, put it well when he said this:
'Vice is a monster of such frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen'.
In other words, if you're going to hate vice it's got to be seen for what it is. But listen to what he says in his next verse:
'Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace'.
That is the awfulness of sin, and we are not to name it among us as being committed, we are not even to dwell or talk about these things - why? Because, as Paul says, it doesn't become saints of God's holiness. He moves from actions in verse 3 to speech and thoughts in verse 4, look at it: 'Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks'. Warren Wiersbe says: 'There are two indications of a person's character: what makes him laugh, and what makes him weep'. Here we have it: filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, which are not convenient. What is filthiness? Listen: it's dirty stories, it's suggestive jokes, anything with sexual colouring, or forms of obscenity, or indecency - we ought not, as the saints of God, to have them on our lips or in our minds!
Then he says: 'foolish talking' - the Greek word is 'morologia' (sp?). 'Logia' comes from 'logos' which means 'word', and 'moron' - we use that word moron, don't we? 'Moron-talking', foolish talking, talking about empty things, moronic talk, empty conversation, vain questions and debating, talking without thinking, opening your mouth without putting your brain in gear, saying something you don't really mean, speaking without wisdom, speaking and not considering the results of what you say - that is all foolish talking! Then, thirdly, he speaks of jesting - now I want to say this: he's not talking about all types of humour and jokes, for the Bible says and the book of Proverbs tells us that laughter is like a good medicine. Indeed, it's said that a good laugh is like a jog now, an inner jog! So I'm going to try and laugh as much as I can from now on! There's nothing wrong with laughing, but it is what we are laughing at. Here we have Paul telling us, the Holy Spirit, that all course jokes, unsavoury talk with hidden meanings - this literally is translated as this: 'able to turn easily'. Now what does that mean? You know what it's like to be in the conversation of a man or a woman, and you make a quite innocent remark and can't see any harm in it, but they are able to turn it on its head and make it something else. Double talk, innuendo - my friend, as the children of God we're to have nothing to do with this, nothing with insinuation.
But, you know, I wonder has Paul got a further meaning in this, for he talks about people who can turn around in their conversation easily. It is the man in the office, or the man fiddling with a spanner underneath a car, or the man or the woman in the factory, who is able to talk their talk by day, and come into the church of Jesus Christ and talk the church talk at the weekend. My friend, the word of God is teaching us that these are not children of God if this is the way people live. A famous preacher on one occasion was coming from a conference, and he was invited to a big grand house for his lunch. He was sitting in the drawing-room with a great company of mixed people. All of a sudden one of the ladies said: 'Let's go, ladies, and help the hostess with the lunch', and they all got up and went out and it was only the men left. One of the men walked in and said: 'Men, I've got to tell you this story I heard today while the ladies are gone'. This preacher's friend piped up and he said: 'Hold on a minute brother! There may be no more ladies in this room, but the Holy Spirit of God is in this room and He can be offended greater than the most sensitive woman that you have ever met'.
Is that how we talk? Not to grieve the Holy Spirit? Do you know what we're to use our tongue for? Look at the verse - for thanksgiving: 'rather giving of thanks'. Now this is the pinnacle, and I want you to hear this please, and I know that this must be for us tonight. Verse 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' - there's the Trinity again, 'the kingdom of Christ and of God', one kingdom, one God. Now listen: if you habitually live a life of unholiness, God has reserved hell for you. That's what this is saying, this isn't talking about the judgement seat, about losing a reward or anything, or getting second place - if you live a life of sin, it is hell! That's the Bible! My friend, if it is without Christ, or [with] any form of idolatry - and the reason why Paul uses the term 'idolatry', describing these three things that he's already described in verse 3, he's just repeating them - he calls covetousness idolatry, why? Because it is worshipping the creature rather than the Creator, it is living a life as if there is no God! Now listen: if you're here this evening and you're not saved, you mightn't think it, but you're living life as if there's no God, because you've rejected His gift of love, His Son. You need Him, He is the only one who will get you to glory, it is His blood, it is His sacrifice that was a sweet smelling savour to God, that is the only thing that will get you to glory - and if you don't have Him, you don't have heaven, you have hell!
The world is lenient on sin, the world today has a tolerant attitude toward sin, and: 'If you don't gratify your desires you'll become some kind of repressive, inhibited, warped individual. It's cultural, therefore let's make it legal'. Everybody accepts it, and even in the church of Jesus Christ, men - so-called - of the cloth are condoning it and practising it, and God says to us in our generation today: 'Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience'. God judged the world in a flood, He judged Israel for adultery when they lay - 24,000! - 24,000 wiped off the face of the earth because they lay in adultery with Moab. God judged Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin of sodomy, homosexuality - and, my friend, there's a day coming when God will judge this world for its sin, and it is ripe unto judgement. He says: 'Marriage is honourable, and the bed undefiled - but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge'!
Are you saved? Are you saved? For if you're not, God's going to judge you! Believer, are you holy? Because God's going to judge you too. But what a note that Paul could say: 'And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God'. Now, let's go away tonight, let us walk as saints, let us walk in a holy life, let us walk as the children of light and of life. And, as he finishes in verse 7, let us therefore be no partakers with them in anything! Let us shine forth the glory of our heavenly Father in the way that we live our lives.
Our Father, we remember how the High Priest of God had written upon his forehead: 'Holiness to the Lord'. Lord, we know that we're accepted in the well-beloved, and in His righteousness, and in His holiness - but yet, Lord, it is only His life flowing through us that will be acceptable and pleasing in Thy sight. Therefore we pray that we will put to death daily that old man, and that we will let the new man in Christ Jesus shine through us, that men and women around us may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven. Lord, make us a holy people, and conform us unto the image of Thy dear Son. To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all we ask is to be like Him. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the twenty-first tape in his Ephesians series, titled "The Christian: The Divine Impersonator" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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