Letter to the Ephesians: Commentary, Part 8 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

Ephesians, Chapter 5:1-14, NKJV:

Walking in Jesus’ Footsteps

Walking in Love (vv.1-7)

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.”

We are to imitate Christ and to trust Him as a child trusts his parents. He will guide us into all that is good and beneficial for us. We are to walk in the type and style of love that He demonstrated for us while here on Earth, and to let it be as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to Him. As children of God, we are to avoid all types of uncleanness or covetousness such as sexual immorality and fornication, foul and crude language, coarse jesting that turns something precious into a target of obscenities. Our true course of action is to be in a spirit and attitude of thanksgiving. Remember that He has rescued us from such a life and worldview and brought into His presence and security (John 10:28-30).

Paul re-emphasizes the consequences of sexual immorality and other sins that will forbid one from entering the kingdom of God. To keep up a life of debauchery and still claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ is to show that your claims are built upon sand and wishful thinking, and you are not really saved (Matthew 7:21-23; Hebrews 6:4-6).

Sexual sin is no different than any other sin in that it will keep you out of heaven if you are not fully surrendered to Christ. Immorality is as old as humanity itself, and the tidal wave of pornography and deviancy that is sweeping up the minds and emotional character of both men and women is thrown at us every minute of the day. Even the best of us succumb to eyeing that good-looking man or woman and think of intimacy with them. The key is how to resist going any further down the rabbit hole of deviancy before it wrecks you, your family, and your relationship with God.

If you have stumbled and did something with someone that ended up going farther than you expected, I pray that right now you get that sin settled and confessed before the LORD. He saw it all anyway, and if you persist in such behavior, it will be used against you at the Day of Judgment. I pray that any sin you commit is confessed before God and that you repent of it and do everything in your power to keep away from it, such is its severity (Matthew 5:27-30).

Ask the LORD to make such things as porn sickening and disgusting to your soul. Use your computer with family present. Get a filter placed on it by your spouse; anything to rid yourself of the sick and vile cesspool that it is. Do not let the devil get the better of you.

Another issue Paul deals with is one that many churches tend to overlook or ignore altogether, and that is the need for spiritual discernment and caution. We need to guard ourselves against the words and actions of deceitful people who sound pious and righteous but who are used of the devil to get a foot in the door of a thriving church. These wolves begin to cut away at the foundations by various ways such as gossip, rumor, innuendos, and accusations against the elders or other authority. Many churches have new members classes where the doctrines, beliefs, and expectations are presented to any new and prospective member. Classes such as these will tend to separate the authentic from the deviant and any trouble they may want to cause.

My family and I joined a Presbyterian congregation while we were living in Louisiana, and before they accepted us as members, we had to attend a new members class that included giving our testimony, a series of lessons on the Confessions of Faith and the Catechisms (teachings), a basic knowledge of the Word, and an examination before the elders and pastor. All of that took a couple of months, and then we were given the “right hand of fellowship” at the morning service. My daughter was not able to pass to the next grade of Sunday School until she had learned the first five questions of the Shorter Catechism and had memorized the Ten Commandments and explained them.

By the way, she was seven years old at the time. Tedious? Yes, but the church’s membership was faithful and knowledgeable of the Word and procedures of worship. It is not a bad model to follow for any church that is serious about real growth and maturity of spirit.

Walk in the Light of Christ (vv.8-14)

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.’”

The former life of the Ephesians has been adequately described by Paul. He has presented the traits of their evil past and now tells them to present a holy contrast and be imitators of God. They had been in the bonds of spiritual darkness and were now transformed by Jesus Christ into being the children of light, which will also be presented by the apostle John in describing true Christian character (1 John 1:7). Paul now breaks down the specifics of spiritual darkness and its nature to show them and us the horrid effects of being ensnared in such a life.

All of it is the work of Satan. Unbelievers do his bidding because they are under his control in a “dominion of darkness” (John 8:44; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:13; 1 John 5:19) and are hopelessly bound until freed by coming to Christ in faith (Matthew 11:28-30; John 14:6). Spiritual darkness also brings with it the wrath of God (Romans 1:18), and if the Gospel message is rejected by anyone, they are cast into eternal darkness, which is one of the traits of hell and its everlasting horrors.

The authentic follower of Jesus Christ is to walk in a manner evident by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and to find out through prayer, study of the Word, and counsel from the elders of the church what the will and plan of God is for them. A mark of a serious believer is their willingness to watch out for and expose the works of darkness based on the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), not opinion or a self-anointed role. The church is never to tolerate or be complacent in matters of what is taught and preached from the pulpits. We MUST be students and experts in the Word of God, always being aware of anything that is out of line with the Scriptures and the sound doctrine of the faith (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

If we ignore evil, it is the same as encouraging it, and if we stay quiet, all we do is promote it.

Some things are so disgraceful that they need little exposure by discussion, as the danger posed by them is too great a risk. Any situation such as this needs to be dealt with immediately and thrown out of the church. The light of Christ always exposes the works of darkness, and we are to always be in the light of Christ in all we say and do. Evil, corruption, compromise, and avoidance of sin by both pastors and members are certain signs that the church of today has not complied with what the Scriptures teach us to do when we do see maliciousness and malevolence both in society and within the walls of what is supposed to be the house of the LORD.

Either we celebrate Immanuel, God with us (Isaiah 7:14), or we paint the words “Ichabod” on the doors, for the glory has departed and Ephraim is content with his idols to be left alone (1 Samuel 4:21-22; Hosea 4:17).

Listen, if you have ears to hear.