In the first four chapters of Ephesians, Paul explained how and why we should live a life of love. In chapter 5, Paul went on to tell us that love is a sacrifice. (Don’t we know it!)
But God doesn’t require anything of us that He didn’t first ask of His own dear Son.
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 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” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
We can either offer ourselves as fragrant offerings and sacrifices to God — or we can commit idolatry. Those are the only two choices.
“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. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 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. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them” (Ephesians 5:3-7).
Those are really strong words, the kind that send chills up my spine as I see my own sinful nature portrayed. (Oh, but for the grace of God….)
Paul defined idolatry clearly in verse 5. “No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater.” The dictionary defines idolatry as “excessive or blind adoration, reverence, devotion; obsession, madness, mania.”
Paul says these are “improper for God’s holy people.” Remember that “holy” is from the Hebrew word qodesh, and it means to set oneself apart for a specific purpose.
The first three chapters of Ephesians went into great detail about how we are God’s set-apart people, so you can be sure He’s very jealous for our worship and devotion. He will not allow us to “prostitute” ourselves to another obsession, no matter what it is! As Paul says, “there must not be even a hint” and “because of such things God’s wrath comes on those are disobedient.”
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 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'” (Ephesians 5:11-14).
How long has it been since you allowed the light to expose the sinful, disobedient deeds of your own heart?
“But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God” (John 3:21).
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness” (1 John 2:9).
The point I’m hoping to make today is that there are only two ways to live, in the light or in the darkness, and there’s a dramatic difference between the two. This is not an issue on which you can straddle the fence. You’re either in the light, offering yourself as a fragrant offering, or you’re in the dark, ready to partake of the wrath of God.
Idolatry consists of immorality, impurity and greed. What do children of the light look like?
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)…
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:8-9, 15-20).
God wants your “excessive adoration, devotion and obsession” to be focused utterly on Him. He wants you to be “drunk” with His Spirit who indwells you, so obviously intoxicated that you break out singing praise songs (not bar tunes). Thankfulness spills out of you. Your very breath is filled with thanks “for everything,” and the very room you’re in is filled with “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” because you were present.
I’m not there yet. Are you? Paul says to “be very careful… making the most of every opportunity.” He also says, “Do not be foolish.” (Remember that “the fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’ [Psalm 14:1]”).
Whom will you worship? Actions speak louder than words, do they not? Remove all hints of idolatry from your heart and “be filled with the Spirit.”
This post was an excerpt from Anne’s book, Blessed to Be a Blessing: The Mystery of Why God Chose You, a verse-by-verse study of the book of Ephesians. As Anne says, “If you can get a grip on what God has done for you and the power He wants to flow through you, you’ll be re-energized to serve Him and others for the rest of your life!”