In our study of Ephesians chapter five, we will look at Paul's practical guide to walking in the light of Jesus Christ. In chapter 4 we looked at learning to be the light and how it is possible. Now, Paul gives us some general guidelines and then he gives us specific advice for married couples.
"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." NIV translation
Paul gets started with his practical advice for walking in the light with a reminder of the reason. The reason is plain and simple in that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again so that we may have eternal life with him. Because of that fact, we know what love is and are called to demonstrate it.
"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." NIV translation
Paul gives us a list of things that should not be a routine part of our lives as we walk in the light of Jesus. That is not to say that Christians do not do such things as we all fail to live up to God's standard but when we fall we repent and ask forgiveness. Paul begins with sexual immorality and we must understand that this does not have to be the physical act but can even be looking lustfully at another person. Maybe you do not lust after sex but Paul also adds greed to the list. Greed is the attitude of getting as much as you can no matter what or who gets in the way and lusting after more and more money or possessions. We cannot live in the light just on a Sunday and the rest of our time lust after these things.
"Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." NIV translation
Another big part of walking in the light is controlling the tongue and Paul gives us specific examples of what that means. The "foolish talk" that is listed is talking about bragging of sins. There are those that boast about the number of people they have slept with or how drunk they got the night before or other things like that and Paul is saying that sins are nothing to brag about. Coarse joking is talking about jokes that refer to this type of behavior and we do not want to even hear jokes about sin because sin is a very serious matter. These are all things of darkness and as children of light we do not belong in these activities. We should replace that kind of talk with thanks to God for rescuing us from our old life styles that included those things. This is also what James was talking about when he called us to tame the tongue (see James 4).