Ephesians Chapter Five, Walking In The Light
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.
Ephesians 5:1 & 2
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
This verse causes some confusion as many take it to mean that, if you
do these things, you go to hell. That's not what it is saying as we all sin even after we
are saved. But, if these things are a normal part of your life and you are comfortable with
that, then you need to ask yourself about your own salvation. The Holy Spirit living in the
believer convicts us of sins and calls us to repent. If we ignore that and don't repent, we
will be troubled in our minds instead of comfortable in sin. Paul says those that are doing
this and comfortable in it are idolaters meaning they have put this activity above the Word
of God and worship it more than God.
Ephesians 5:6 & 7
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.
Those who engage in the sins described will face God's wrath and
judgment. Not only are we not to do those things but we are not to associate with them as
they participate in them. We can tell them about Jesus and how to be delivered out of sin
but, when they go to do those things, we are to separate ourselves.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as
children of light
It is interesting to note that Paul tells the Ephesians believers that
they "were once darkness" and not that they were in darkness. That may seem like a small
point but it is crucial to understand our relationship with Jesus. Before we were cleansed
of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ, we focused on the things of this world and left
God out of our daily lives. Without God, there is no light because God is light and in Him
there is no darkness. Therefore, we were darkness but, when we accept His gift of grace, God
gives us a piece of Himself to live in us (the Holy Spirit). Then, with God living in us, we
are light and we should live like what we are.
Ephesians 5:9 & 10
(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and
truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Fruit is naturally produced by a tree when it has plenty of water and
light. Likewise, when we are children of God, fruit should be produced as we study His Word
to find out what pleases Him. The water for our tree is the very Word of God and God Himself
is our light as He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. That fruit will be that we seek to
do the right thing as defined by God's Word in every part of our lives and at all times. We
not only read and study the Word but we also will put it into action as children of God.
Ephesians 5:11 & 12
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.
Since we are children of God who is light, we do not have any business
messing around in the dark. As light, we naturally expose things that are hidden in the
Ephesians 5:13 & 14
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.'
When light appears darkness recedes as they cannot reside in the same
place. Light comes from God who in fact is light. God knows all things and, on judgment day,
all things will be made visible.
Ephesians 5:15 & 16
Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making
the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Paul reminds the Ephesians that they (and we) are to live disciplined
lives. We are to be careful not because we are afraid of losing our salvation but because we
do not want to miss opportunities. A wise man focuses on things of God which are eternal
while the unwise are focused on the things of this world. Each and every day God brings
people and things into our lives and we have the chance to demonstrate His love to this evil
world. If we do not slow down and look for them (be careful) we will miss many if not all of
them and so also miss out on many of His blessings.
Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will
We all want to know the will of God for our lives and many pray for it
to be revealed to them. It is always good to pray but to really understand the will of God
requires more as His will is contained in His Word. There are many that will say that they
are following God's will by doing certain things but when those things are not consistent
with the Word then they are not in the will of God.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled
with the Spirit.
Here we have an example of understanding the will of God. As a former
drunk, I know that the more drunk you get the more evil and detestable things you get into
and that is what Paul is saying here. There are many who say that God is sending them out to
drink with people in hopes of winning them to the Lord. We are free, in Christ, to drink but
going out drinking is not a way to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Your drinking friends
will probably end up pulling you down and out of the will of God for your life. As Paul says
here, it is way better to get full of the Holy Spirit than any alcohol or drug. There is no
drug available that can compare to the "high" of walking in the Spirit with the very Creator
of the universe. If you are struggling in your efforts at overcoming addiction, the answer
is found in this verse as Paul says to get full of the Spirit.
Ephesians 5:19 & 20
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.
Now, Paul encourages us to be the light to fellow believers and to lift
them up in our worship. When we come to worship in groups, that prayer and praise can help
to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ. He reminds us to give thanks for everything
and that includes the trials that we all face. When others see us in worship and they know
that we have had some trials and may even be going through some at that time, they will also
learn to praise God in the midst of their storms.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The word "submit" here causes some confusion for many people as a
better translation would be "respond". Submit makes us think of doing what someone tells us
and that is not what it is talking about here. Respond is where we do something based on
what someone else has done. Paul is telling the Ephesians (and us as well) to respond to
other people in the same way that Christ would and that is with love. We do this not because
of the person we are dealing with but because of Jesus and what he has done for us. We
submit to Him and respond to others as He would.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the
head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in
Now, Paul begins to tell us how we are to walk in the light in our
homes. We must start by understanding that this passage deals with the marital relationship
between two Spirit filled Christians. Some serious trouble can start when we try to apply
this teaching to a marriage where one of the people does not walk in the power of the Holy
Spirit or perhaps does not even know the Lord Jesus. It is not possible to apply this
section of scripture to our marriages without the power of the Holy Spirit. This passage
begins by assuming that Christ is at the center of the relationship and this speaks to the
spiritual strand of the marriage. Once again, the word "submit" is better translated as
"respond" and here we see that wives are told to respond to their husbands as if they were
dealing with Christ.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave
himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the
word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any
other blemish, but holy and blameless.
The focus now shifts to the men as we are told to love our wives as
Christ loves the church. We are reminded that Jesus gave up His very life for His bride (the
church) and we are to do the same. That may include putting our own lives at risk but it is
so much more as Paul reminds us of why Jesus laid down His life which was to make us holy.
This is the second strand in a strong marriage as the husband and wife should be like-minded
in their pursuit of the things of God.
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own
bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but
he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his
Now, Paul turns to the third aspect (strand) of a marriage and that is
the physical relationship. Although we all have different things that we would like to
change about our bodies, we still love and take care of ourselves. The same is true for a
married couple in that they can and should take care of each other's physical needs. One of
the biggest problems today is that too many people skip the spiritual and mental aspects and
get right to the physical. This may seem to work for a period of time but, without all three
strands, the rope of the marriage will break.
'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united
to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.'
Paul now quotes from Genesis chapter
two and we are reminded why God created men and women. Adam had named all of the
creatures on the earth and they all had helpers (mates) but there was not a suitable helper
for him. That is why God created Eve from the very flesh and bone of Adam and the two were
meant to be together. The simple fact of the matter is that God created a man and a woman
for each other and neither one will ever be whole without the other in their life. Many
times we as humans just settle for any mate that comes along but we must remember that God
has created one just for us and He knows what He is doing.
This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the
One of the mysteries that Paul is talking about is the fact that Jesus
left His Father in heaven to come down here for us. He lived a perfect life here and then
gave that life for us (His bride). We are joined to Him through our faith and the Father
sees us as one. Another part of this mystery for Paul would have been the fact that Jesus
did this for Gentiles (non-Jews) as well as for Jews. We all must be joined as a part of His
bride that is the church.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself,
and the wife must respect her husband.
Just as believers are made one with Christ and walk in His light, our
walking in the light begins at home and loving our wives. This is a sacrificial love just as
Jesus gave up His humanly life for the church. We, as husbands are called to regard the
needs of our spouse as if they were our own because we are one. If husbands do that, then
the wives will not have any problem showing the respect that Paul says they must do. On our
own, this would be impossible but we have the power to do this if we listen and obey the
leading of God through the Holy Spirit.