1 So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, 2 and live in love as Christ loved you—so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God. 3 Listen, don’t let there be a hint of sexual immorality among you. Any demoralizing behaviors (such as impurity and greed) are inappropriate topics of conversation for those set apart as God’s people. 4 Don’t use abusive language (swearing, obscenity) or spurt nonsense. Don’t make harsh jokes or talk foolishly. Make proper use of your words, and offer them thankfully in praise. 5 This is what we know for certain: no one who engages in loose sex, impure actions, and greed—which is just a form of idolatry—has any inheritance in the kingdom of God and His Anointed.
6 Don’t be fooled by people who try to excuse these things—they just use meaningless words to show empty souls. For, in His wrath, God will judge all the children of disobedience for these kinds of sins. 7 So don’t be persuaded into their ignorance; and don’t cast your lot with them 8 because, although you were once the personification of darkness, you are now light in the Lord. So act like children of the light. 9 For the fruit of the light is all that is good, right, and true. 10 Make it your aim to learn what pleases our Lord. 11 Don’t get involved with the fruitless works of darkness; instead, expose them to the light of God. 12 You see, it’s a disgrace to speak of their secrets (so don’t even talk about what they do when no one is looking). 13-14 When the light shines, it exposes even the dark and shadowy things and turns them into pure reflections of light. This is why they sing, ‘Awake, you sleeper! Rise from your grave, And Christ will shine on you.’ (Some scholars think this verse may have been an early “baptismal hymn.)
15 So be careful how you live; be mindful of your steps. Don’t run around aimlessly as the rest of the world does. Instead, walk as the wise! 16 Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times. 17 So understand and be confident in God’s will, and don’t live thoughtlessly. 18 Don’t drink wine excessively. The drunken path is a reckless path. It leads nowhere. Instead, let God fill you with the Holy Spirit. 19 When you are filled with the Spirit, you are empowered to speak to each other in the soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs; to sing and make music with your hearts attuned to God; 20 and to give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed for all He has done.”
What do we need to bring into the light so that we can walk in the light and live in unity with others? (Note: Paul is not pointing out how they are to earn their salvation. He is showing them how to live out their salvation as they seek to conform to the image of Christ. So don’t see this as “This is how I get saved.” It’s, “This is what life in Christ is meant to look like. I honor the sacrifice of Jesus and I love my neighbor as I walk in the light of Christ.”)
1. Our sexuality. We are called to self-sacrificial, boundaried love, not selfish, unboundaried lust – specifically, God designed sex to be experienced by a man and a woman in marriage. The intimacy Christ shares with His Bride, the church, is shared with no other. It’s an analogy. There is a reason God puts borders around our sexuality. Chaos in some form comes when properly placed fences go down; life flourishes when they stay up. This is not to say that sexual sin is unforgivable – which is good news for all of us, I suspect. It is forgivable. It’s noting that sexual sin is outside of God’s design, and a life lived in the light of Christ does not embrace it or applaud it, but seeks to live out sexuality in a way that honors God, protects others, and allows us to live in purity.
2. Our words must be true and helpful vs. false and destructive. This is speaking truth in love. If we just speak truth without showing love, we are destructive. If we show love without speaking truth, then we are false, and we just enable. Our speech should be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that we can provide answers to everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
3. Our circumstances. We are called to contentment and generosity, not greed.. Philippians 4:11-13: “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Contentment is such a gift. Do we have to have physical comfort and material things to be happy, or do we look to Christ to strengthen us in our times of need? And those who have plenty – do you look around to identify those in need? A greedy community will never last, because it is full of resentment, competitiveness, and selfishness. A generous community is full of applause, kindness, and self-sacrifice, and it will flourish as everyone looks out for the needs of others, and commits to contentment no matter what the circumstance.
4. Our time (mindful and purposeful vs. lazy and unfocused). Mindful is not the same as obsessing, and purposeful is not the same as driven! It simply means be alert, aware, prepared, and engaged as you are able. Remember, David had men in his army who ‘understood the times, and knew what to do.’ (1 Chronicle 12:32). There was a time in American history when Christians could coast (in the sense that culture largely agreed with them. Not anymore. We have our work cut out for us. We are now in a place where we need to be “ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us” more than ever. This might not be a bad wake-up call. We have to revisit our Bibles, engage in conversation with other Christians, study, read, listen not only to the church conversation but to the cultural one.
5. Our attitude. We are to be helpful and thankful vs. leeching and grumbling. Ever had a friend who always complained, always borrowed and never lent, and always wanted their life to be better but never helped anyone else’s life to be better? What about the friend who looked for the good, lived generously, and looked to improve the lives of those around them? One drains, the other fills. One divides, one unifies.
- Philippians 2:3-4: “Don't be selfish; don't try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
- Matthew 20:25-28: “Do you want the Kingdom run like the Romans run their kingdom? Their rulers have great power over the people, but God the Father doesn’t play by the Romans’ rules. This is the Kingdom’s logic: whoever wants to become great must first make himself a servant; whoever wants to be first must bind himself as a slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as the ransom for many.”
6. Our focus. We need to stay focused on God and the person of Christ vs. idols “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:21, 25). Idolatry happens in any circumstance where there is something you feel you must have to be happy, that is more important to your heart than God himself. We would not lie, cheat, steal, gossip, lust, or abuse others unless first we had made something—human approval, reputation, power over others, financial advantage, sexual desire, fame, comfort—more important and valuable to our hearts than the grace and favor of God as experienced through the person and work of Jesus. (HT Tim Keller, “How To Find Your Rival Gods,” christianitytoday.com) We need to stay focused on God and the person of Christ
- Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”
- Colossians 3:1-3 “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”
- Hebrews 3:1 “Dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God's messenger and High Priest.”
- Hebrews 12:2: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.