Series: For edification
Message – Dear Children
Since the start of the year we have been talking about “Equipping the saints for ministry work”. We’ve done this through teaching on the gifts, their expressions in and outside of the church, edifying our siblings in Christ and becoming skilled at receiving edification ourselves.
Please turn to Ephesians 5.
Last week we were in Ephesians 4 and learned 10 different things concerning the gifts of God’s grace and its impact on our v fruit bearing in our time there.
This week we are going to learn (SAY I AM GOING TO LEARN) …we are going to learn to develop habits which encourage growth into Christ’s likeness.
Let’s begin by just reading the passage…
Eph. 5:1-21, HCSB
“(1) Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. (2) And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. (3) But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. (4) And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. (5) For know and recognize this: no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God. (6) Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient. (7) Therefore, do not become their partners. (8) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light– (9) for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth– (10) discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. (11) Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead, expose them. (12) For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. (13) Everything exposed by the light is made clear, (14) for what makes everything clear is light. Therefore it is said: Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you. (15) Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk–not as unwise people but as wise– (16) making the most of the time, because the days are evil. (17) So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (18) And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit: (19) speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music to the Lord in your heart, (20) giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (21) submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.”
Now let’s break this into a few sections and draw the vine life out of these words….
Vs. 1-2 “(1) Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. (2) And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.
“Be” literally means “to become.”
This is both a positive command and a negative warning.
Who can remember a day when, just to get a job at a McDonalds – you had to be able to hear a verbal instruction from an employer, understand what they meant (or figure it out if you didn’t understand it) and FIND a way to make it happen or you wouldn’t keep your job!
Back in those days managers were NOT babysitters. They did not hold your hand and explain every little detail. They told you what to do and it was up to you to figure it out and make it happen.
When I look back on it, it was not belittling it was empowering. I was not treated like a child in diapers who needed my food pre-chewed…I was treated like an adult who had a brain and could figure out what needed to be done and get it accomplished.
This is a skill which is often lacking in today’s world. People are simply TOO lazy to develop what I call “applied learning skills”.
What do I mean by “applied learning skills?” The ability to read or hear something, ponder it and extrapolate a reasonable meaning and plan of implementation.
Though it sounds a little technical – it is actually nothing more than common sense. It is one of the basic human abilities that sets us above the animal kingdom. Animals can learn and adapt and even remember, but this goes beyond that to intuition and understanding the reasons BEHIND the statement.
While many in this room have HAD the experience of being told to do something you did not understand and had the basic intelligence to figure it out and make it happen – we often lose our common sense, street smarts the moment we hear a message or open our bibles.
Now why am I bringing this up here? Well, for two reasons…
- This statement we just read in Eph. 5:1, is an example of what I mean.
- I’m training you for ministry work which also requires teaching you to reason, learn and apply your learning without having to have your hand held.
As I said, this 1st statement supplies an example of the need for “APPLIED LEARNING SKILLS”. I will explain –
A pastor will tell a congregation “Be imitators of Christ as dear children” and one of the following will be the results:
- The largest group of people will not even remember the God given command by the time they reach the parking lot.
- The second largest group (the ones I call the critics) will walk away and not understand HOW to do it and even claim the pastor is not doing his job, because he didn’t show them HOW to do it.
- The third largest group will talk about it and say how great it was and how much better our Christian lives would be IF we became imitator of Christ – but then never get around to actually doing it.
- The last & smallest group will be hearers, ponderers and doers.
Now there are ALL kinds of reasons for these reactions, but I guarantee that the results were NOT the fault of the Pastor. How do I know this?
The scriptures do not say the well taught will find or have the door opened to them… But the one who seeks our knocks will. God placed your ability to learn in your own hands – not somebody else’s!
Behind that, Paul was a decent minister of the gospel don’t you think? How did he teach these people… oh, he just told them to do it! He issued them a command.
Jesus too… He did not carry around a marker board, a projection TV and a bag of hand puppets to teach with – even His “visual” examples were all AUDITORY!
Now, I know that there are three basic types of learning – auditory, visual and interactive.
But like the work example I mentioned earlier – the boss gave an auditory command. It was up to the worker to supply his own visual and interactive means of comprehending and application…and an for GENERATIONS millions of common, everyday people were capable of doing this!
Why am I spending SO MUCH TIME on this one point?
Because… if I can teach you to fish….I will have done my job. 1Cor. 1:18-24 says..
NKJV “(18) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (19) For it is written: “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND BRING TO NOTHING THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRUDENT.” (20) Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (21) For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (22) For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; (23) but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, (24) but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
So let’s look at this command – “Be imitators of God as dear children”
What are you getting out of this in terms of What to do and HOW to do it?
Supply your own visuals – a little boy following around his father.
Why does he follow him around?
- He admires him
- Wants his approval
- Wants to be like him
Dear – agapetos ONLY used for believers as united to God or each other in holy love.
Children – Those who God loves and cherishes as a Father.
- He sees his dad shaving and tries.
- He sees his dad working on a car and joins him.
- A daughter cooks with her mother.
What are they doing? They are studying their heros and mimicking what they do.
APPLIED LEARNING Skills! So simple a child does it without even being taught how to do so.
Now I told you this is both a positive command and a negative warning.
It not only directs us to where our attention and efforts should BE, but warns of of where they should NOT be….Vincent says that “it is a warning against lapsing into old vices.” Which is sustained by all Paul said in the last chapter about loving and pursuing truth and being angry against sin and evil and this is justified by what he is about to say about being partakers with the world.
(3) But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. (4) And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. (5) For know and recognize this: no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God. (6) Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for because of these things God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient. (7) Therefore, do not become their partners. (8) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light– (9) for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth– (10) discerning what is pleasing to the Lord
“Partakers“ is a compound Greek word from metechō, “to hold with” another, and Sun “with,” the compound word meaning, “partaking together with one.”
This warning is that the saints should not participate with the sons of disobedience in the vices mentioned in verse 5. Again this is in the present imperative with a negative, It literally reads “Stop therefore becoming joint-partakers with them.”
Now this is the serious bit and we need to allow room in our hearts for God’s word regardless of our personal theologies. The words simply mean what they mean – let’s not read INTO them.
The reason for not lapsing into our former sins is seen in the words, “for you were at one time darkness.”
The verb “were” is in the emphatic position. The sense being, “You were darkness in the past. So do not again become darkness.”
The word “light” is phōs, referring to light itself – not in the sense of reflecting – but BEING.
As we learned last week – we need to love and pursue truth. We have become one with Him Who IS truth! In the same way – this “light” is referring to what we have in essence become!
The completeness of the change a Christian undergoes when they “put off the old man” and “put on the new” is a complete and total metamorphosis!
Last week I told you the word “new” means NEW IN QUALITY and that this QUALITY is nothing less that what makes God – God in terms of character!
The absolute change from darkness to light this passage is talking about is indicated again by the use of the abstract term. We have become SO possessed and SO penetrated by the LIGHT of TRUTH that we can no longer rightly be described as simply “enlightened” but as ourselves now BEING LIGHT ’in the Lord,’. Like I pressed last week – we never lose Him as our source!
It is in virtue of our fellowship (our koinonia) with Christ that our new apprehension of things came to be and it has transformed our being and IS transforming our lives.”
*** (spend time with this) ***
The natural command therefore is “Walk” like it!
The word “walk” means, “to order one’s behavior, to conduct one’s self.” It is in the Present imperative form. In other words this verb “walk” commands an habitual action;
Habitually live lives which reveal the true inner change that has happened to you when you put off the old and put on the NEW. Let your true NEW nature of being IN YOURSELF – LIGHT ITSELF – be obvious to all around you.
Jesus said it this way, “You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men that they may witness your good works resulting from your union with Me and so glorify our Father in heaven.”
The word “children” is teknon, “a born one,”. It emphasises looking upon a child in the light of their birth relationship to their father.
Like father – like son!
There is in this a subtle hint of anticipating similarities due to hereditary traits.
Now verses 9-10 offer the reason WHY we live this way. They say, “(9) for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness, and truth– (10) discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.”
Now, you may have thought it weird that my translation uses the word, “light” instead of “spirit”, but it is in keeping with the flow of the text and some early manuscripts have the word “light” instead of “spirit”.
The Nestle and the Westcott and Hort texts have “light” rather than “spirit.”
The fruit being mentioned here – which we are to bear is a product of our new nature which was spoken of in terms of “light”.
Of course all of this is as much figure of speech as it is reality. Light is speaking of the moral results of the light of truth. What kind of actions…what manner of living is produced by a heart which is born of, committed to, in love with and is following after TRUTH? One that produces goodness, righteousness and truth!
“Goodness“ here is in the sense of “active goodness” or one could say “good works”
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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