EPHESIANS 5: Maturing Repentance Toward an Order of Love
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person– such a man is an idolater– has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Be very careful, then, how you live– not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery– but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
The Apostle Paul in this 5th chapter of Ephesians states clean behavior is a must for the saints. This means that a Christian person who has Christian behavior is one who is seeking Christ’s character. We want to be like Him. Paul tells the Ephesians what this doesn’t look like in verses 3-5 and what it does look like in verses 6-14.
“Clean living” would be the lifestyle Christ Jesus modeled. Moreover, for us, this means personal sacrifice and maturing repentance (learning along the Way). These two go hand in hand. There seems to me to be a strong correlation with what I want to call “maturing repentance” (sanctification) with Christian love. Until the fullness of God has come to believers as the body of Christ, the very goal of Christians is unity. Remember, the Apostle Paul explains how these will be achieved in this passage. First, Christ Himself is actively filling believers with the Spirit as 5:10 states. Second, 5:18 informs believers to receive Him in an ongoing manner.
We are to “be filled” because we are maturing into the fullness of the Body Christ has provided. We should be aware that Paul is speaking of more than being “born again and initially receiving the spirit of Christ.” There is much more to it. He is speaking to what should occur after a commitment of loyalty to Christ.
“Debauchery” (not a word we use a lot) is then forbidden for the Christian. Paul tells the Ephesians to understand that such a lifestyle is nothing less than idolatry. This reminds me of Lord Jesus who in John 8:34 said, “Anyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” Also, the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:16 makes the same claim.
Instead of being a slave to sin or enamored with an idol, we are to be filled with the Spirit and in straight forward language Apostle Paul states the action through which Christ fills us with the Spirit. This is not just an individual filling, but more so a filling up corporately. The maturing he is focusing on has the body of believers in Christ unified in a confession and commitment to Christ. Each all together. The believers’ action in the filling up into the fullness of God should be as verses 19-21 encourage. We are to unify with each other in living with music in our hearts to the Lord and thanking God and submitting to each other out of reverence to Christ.
In what areas of your life do you seek Christ’s character? Where do you hide from him?
Are there habits and choices you continually make that pull you away from Christ?
Are there habits and choices you continually make that draw you close to Christ?
Is “clean living” easier or harder than it was in Paul’s day?