5.1 Be ye therefore followers (imitators) of God (copy Him and follow His example), as dear children;
The Christian has no greater calling or purpose in life than that of imitating The Lord Jesus Christ. As believers, we are called to imitate the example of Christ in all of our conduct. We are to be like Him, not as slaves trying to earn a wage but as His dear children.
The apostle John said, He that saith he abideth in Him so ought himself also so to walk even as He walked (1 John 2.6).
5.2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
The walk of the believer is a call to imitate God. Because God is love (1 John 4:8); therefore, “walk in love” (Eph. 5:1–2). Because God is light (1 John 1:5); therefore, walk as children of light (Eph. 5:3–14). Because God is truth (1 John 5:6); therefore, walk in wisdom (Eph. 5:15–17). Peter would say, because God is holy, be ye holy (1 Peter 1.15,16).
This imitating God is a continuation of the thought of putting on the new man in Christ. The tense for the word walk is in the present imperative, so it commands a deliberate, habitual action. This walk is a step-by-step, hour by hour, day by day walk that is following the example of Jesus Christ. Two very important aspects of the way that God’s people are to walk or be imitators of God are in forgivenessof one another (4. 32) and the other is in love for one another (5. 2). The Lord Jesus Himself is the supreme example in His self- sacrificing love for and forgiveness of lost sinners.
Relationships within the church are to be marked by the love of God. Jesus spoke of that at His Last Supper. “Love each other,” He told His disciples, “as I have loved you” (John 15:12). This new commandment also contained a promise. “All men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another” (13:35). This love that we are to imitate, (like the love that Jesus Christ demonstrated for us) is a verb. Like James 2 tells us, it is a love that is demonstrated by action.
Offering, sacrifice, sweet smelling savor- An offering and a sacrifice always speaks of a “cost!” The cross of The Lord Jesus Christ was the brazen altar where, He, The Lamb of God was offered as the burnt sacrifice. It is His sacrifice on the cross that takes away the sin of the world. Every sacrifice that was offered in the Old Testament by God’s command pointed to the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is most beautifully recorded in the book of Hebrews. The past tense does not suggest that Christ has stopped loving us but only that, when He gave Himself up for us, it was the supreme act of His love (see John 15:13).
A “sweet-smelling savour” refers to the various offering that we read about in Leviticus 1–5, wherein we see the burnt offering, meal offering, and the peace offering—all called sweet-smelling offerings because the sacrifice of a substitutionary animal upon the altar was offered to God, and the smoke from the altar was acceptable to Him. Their aroma was sweet to the Father. So, too, when you and I choose to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness and sacrificial love, the scent is sweet to the Father. Beloved, whenever we lovingly share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost, we are demonstrating the love of God and this is pleasing unto Him. Likewise, whenever we in the church express this sacrificial love towards one another in practical daily ways, the Father considers that to be a sweet smelling savor. These acts of love are expressions of worship that are well pleasing unto God.
Verses 3-5 record things that are unloving and unacceptable in the eyes of God. They are the very things that bring about the wrath of God.
Let me state very clearly here that verses 3-5 is not a list of kinds of people that God hates. They are a description of the habitual lifestyles of people who are not born again, no matter what they are taught or what they believe.
5.3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints (i.e. this means they are not to be spoken of with approval);
5.4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient (fitting, appropriate): but rather giving of thanks.
- Fornication – is a common and acceptable sin in the world today. The Greek word for fornication is any and every kind of sexual intimacy outside of the sacred covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.
- Uncleanness – all forms of immorality. In particular, this refers to anything that pollutes the heart and mind.
- Covetousness – is a grasping desire—and not just for money or material wealth. It may be a desire to be mentally superior to someone else. It could be coveting a home or a position. It is the violation of the tenth commandment. Jesus said beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things that he possesses.
- Filthiness – unclean speech, often veiled in innuendo or double meaning. It is the kind of language that the canned audiences laugh about on Comedy Central or prime time television sitcoms. Anyone watching culture knows that what once caused people to blush is now nothing but a joke because our culture has become totally desensitized. Proverbs says, fools make a mock of sin.
- Foolish talking – in context, foolish talking means to gloat or brag about sinning. Locker room talk.
- Jesting – does not mean good, clean humor. Jesting means to make light of sensuality and immorality. Light-hearted wickedness.It is the mentality that sin as described in the bible is archaic and really no big thing.
- Giving of thanks – one way to avoid coveting others’ possessions is to concentrate with thanks upon the good things the Lord has given us. The bible says that with food or clothing, be content. The root cause of our giving of thanks is because our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
5.5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
- Whoremonger – The Greek word translated “whoremonger” is pornos, from which we get our word “pornography.” Whore-mongering is embracing a prostituted life. And that can happen on the “900” telephones lines, on the Internet, in the things you read, and in the movies you see.
- Covetous man who is an idolator – A greedy person is an idolater because he puts things before God. Coveting does not simply mean to want something, it means to idolatrously want something; it means to inordinately want something. Coveting wants anything more than God. Coveting is saying that there is something besides God and His love and His salvation that I must have as a requirement for being happy.
Other lists of vices that imperil inheritance in the kingdom are also found in:
- 1 Cor 6.9,10 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
- Rev 21.8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
- Rev 22.15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
No inheritance in the kingdom of God and of Christ – people who habitually live in disobedient sin without repentance thereby prove themselves to be unconverted and the sons of disobedience (Eph 2.2) regardless of what their profession of faith is. Paul is not talking about the battle between the flesh and the spirit struggle that every saved person has. He is talking about the person whose lifestyle is the habitual embracing of one’s flesh. If you cater to your flesh day after week after month after year after decade, you need to take a careful look at your spiritual stand.
5.6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
There were false teachers who were preaching a gospel of “grace” without the need for repentance or hominess.
- Jude 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning (changing) the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dare are we make light of that which brings down the wrath of God? Filthy lusts must be rooted out. These sins must be dreaded and detested. No Christian will be sinless in this present life, but it is dangerously deceptive for Christians to offer assurance of salvation to a professing believer whose life is characterized by persistent sin and who shows no shame for that sin or hunger for the holy and pure things of God. John MacArthur
What does the message of the gospel of the grace of God teach us?
- Titus 2.11-15 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
The gospel of grace is really a life of repentance and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ. If you believe what you like about the gospel of the grace of God, but reject what you don’t like or agree with about the gospel, it isn’t the gospel you believe, but yourself. The warning is real. God’s wrath is coming for those who practice these things, whose identity is found in them. But it need not be your story. Paul said to the Corinthians under similar circumstances, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
5.7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
The command of God to the children of light is to remove the darkness, not to share in it. Even the appearance of it is to be abstained from. Paul is not telling Christians to avoid all contact with nonbelievers but to avoid joining with them in their sin. The unsaved world is our mission field. Where you live is your mission field. Where you work is your mission field. Where you play sports, which is your mission field.
5.8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
Paul reminds the believers of their former state prior to conversion. They were not just in darkness, they were darkness; living in ignorance and sin. Now are ye light in The Lord.
- Matthew 4.16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.
- 1 Peter 2.9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a real, transforming power that delivers those who believe it out of the kingdom and power of darkness.
Walk as children of light- You will remember that 1 John 1:7 speaks of walking in the light as He is in the light. Light is visible, isn’t it? That light fixture up there is simply being what it was created to be. It is not striving to be a light fixture. It is not trying to be relevant to it’s surroundings. It is simply being a light!
5.9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
Light produces good fruit of goodness, righteousness and truth.
5.10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
5.11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Paul’s instruction is plain and direct: Christians are to faithfully live in righteousness and purity and have nothing at all to do with the evil ways and works of Satan and the world. The two ways of living are unalterably opposed to each other and mutually exclusive.
- 2 Cor 6.14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
The unfruitful works of darkness are not to be ignored among God’s holy people. They are to be reproved (exposed; found fault with; corrected) in light of God’s holy truth. Our mission and presence in the world is to be holy as our Lord is holy and ambassadors of Christ by being salt and light in a world of darkness and deceit.
5.12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
The body of Christ should even be ashamed to speak of the things that unregenerate man is not ashamed to do.
5.13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
- John 3.19-21 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
5.14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
The source of this quotation is uncertain. Some believe it is a quote from Isaiah 60.1. It may be a fragment of a Christian hymn. This is a call to convicted sinners to wake from death in sin to a sense of thy guilty, lost condition, and look to Jesus Christ Who died for thee, and He will make thee light, and thus sanctify and save thee.
Would you please note that the deadness of men in trespasses and sins does not disable or free them from obligation to awake and call upon Christ Who will enable them to walk in newness of life. Jesus said that he who lives in sin, is a slave to sin. Sin is a hard taskmaster. It is the mother of all addictions and sorrow. If that is you this morning, I have great news for you…..
- Luke 4.18-21 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on Him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Jesus invites you to come to Him today and receive His forgiveness and a new heart.
- Rev 22.17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.