“Separate from the Lust of the World”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.3-6
Ephesians chapter 5. Last time we were in Ephesians 5, we preached from verses 1-2. And the title of the message was in the form of a command: “Live in Christ’s love.”
Let’s reread those verses Ephesians 5:1-2 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
The title of the message was taken from verse 2 “walk in love.” We would understand that today as “to live in love.” And the love that we are to live in is the love of Christ, as it says in verse two, “walk in love just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us.”
So we are to live in the love of Christ. We are to express that love towards one another. And we talked about how love is patient and kind. Forgive as Christ forgave, when sinned against, be patient. Give and give for the good of the one loved.
In the last message I had us picture ourselves as children in a warm, loving home. The very atmosphere of this home is full of love and kindness, tenderness and patience.
It’s a warm and inviting home and you remember the warm crackling fire and who could forget the smell of cinnamon buns … ok …. And how the children are safe and secure their laughter filling the air …how there’s a godly mom and dad … And the kids can share and do share their innermost thoughts without being afraid of the anger of mom or dad. There’s a big Bible on the coffee table…
And there certain kinds of attitudes and actions that do not belong in this scenario. There is a certain kind of lifestyle and certain words that are not to be spoken in this kind of a home.
This was all to picture the love that our Heavenly Father has towards us. And the kind of love that fills the atmosphere of this home of our Heavenly Father is the self-sacrificial love of Christ. This kind of love gives, expecting nothing in return and gives and gives and gives yet again. And it gives for the sake of the good of the one receiving the love.
Now, in contrast to this …the opposite of this in verses 3-6 … Imagine bringing these kinds of things into the loving home of our Heavenly Father.
Let’s read Ephesians 5:3-6 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
One who is a child of God is obviously to separate himself from the sins mentioned in this passage. What we have here is clearly not the love of Christ but the opposite of that. In verses 3-6 are the lusts of the world.
So last time we saw how Paul exhorts us to “live in Christ’s love.” And this morning in verses 3-6 we have, “Separate from the lusts of the world.”
First, in verses 3-4, we have the responsibility given. Our responsibility is to separate from the lusts of the world.
And then in verses 5-6 we have the reason for this separation.
Responsibility: Separate from these 6 sins (Eph. 5:3-4)
But first verses 3-4, the responsibility to separate from the lusts of the world.
Notice the six sins. We have immorality, impurity, and greed in verse three. and the last three are in verse four … And they are filthiness, silly talk, course jesting. So six sins in total.
And we are exhorted concerning these sins. In verse, three we have immorality, impurity, and greed … These things are… at the end of verse three… “not even to be named among you as is proper among saints.”
The sins mentioned in verse four: filthiness, silly talk, course jesting …. These sins he says “are not fitting.”
And instead, what is to describe believers is the “giving of thanks.”
Now, let me address that these are not fitting and that they are not even to be named among you, as is proper among saints. They are not fitting and they are not proper.
Someone who has trusted Christ …. someone who has repented of his sins and who bears the very name of Christ on his life… these sins are not proper …they are not appropriate for a holy one, for a saint. A saint simply means someone who is a holy one. They are holy, they are set apart by God through the gospel of Christ.
You are not a saint because the Catholic Church deems you to be one. You are a holy one if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and you believe that Christ death takes away your sins from before God and trust in Jesus and told him you want nothing to do with anything of you and you want all of everything that has to do with him. This is a saint.
And so the church is made up of saints. And so because of what God has done in Christ in the gospel, we must not have these sins “even to be named among us.”
TRANS: First, let’s discuss what it means that the sins are “not even to be named among us.”
Not Even Named Among Us
What does Paul mean in verse three that these sins are not even to be named among us? What he means, generally speaking, is that these sins are not to be tolerated. These sins are to be separated from. We have no common ground with the sins. We have no fellowship or connection with these sins. No one could connect us with these sins.
And so these sins are not to be named among us. In other words nobody is to be able to come into our individual lives and be able to say that we have something in common with these sins.
So generally, you separate from the sins. But specifically what this means is that number one … These sins must not describe you. You’re not known for actually practicing these kinds of sins. This is not to say that a believer does not struggle with sin. But it is to say that his life is not known for enjoying these sins. These sins are not to be named among you, that is, they are not to describe your life.
So these sins are not to describe your life, but also second… these sins are not to be discussed in an inappropriate way. And so when you do talk about these sins, it must be clear that you don’t tolerate them. These sins are not to be named among you, that is, don’t talk about them in an inappropriate way.
Third, and by way of application of this passage is what Psalm 101:2-3 discusses 2 …I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. 3 I will set no worthless thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.
In other words, we don’t tolerate or appreciate venues where these sins are glorified and rejoiced in. “No worthless thing before my eyes.”
The interaction that we have with these sins is never on the level of toleration. We don’t listen to those words, we don’t laugh at those jokes, and we don’t watch the world glorying in its filthy sin.
TRANS: Now, what are the sins not to characterize our lives? What are the sins that are not to be discussed in an inappropriate way and what are those things that we are not to appreciate?
You can see in verse 3, the 3 sins: immorality, impurity, and greed. Also in verse five, the same words are mentioned. “That no immoral, impure person, or covetous man.” The three sins are repeated.
TRANS: So take the first one: immorality.
This word immorality can refer to various sexual sins. It’s a general term to refer to any physical intimacy outside of marriage between one man and one woman. “This is not even to be named among you, as is proper among saints.”
Immorality is not to describe your lifestyle. You are not to talk about immorality in an inappropriate way and you are not to tolerate or have fellowship with entertainment and other venues that speak of immorality in an unbiblical way. You, as a saint, are not to have fellowship with or have some bond with immorality.
This is the world’s form of love. Christians know the true love of God in Christ. The world only has a twisted form of it. It’s lust, desire. For the world, the purpose of giving yourself is to get what you want.
Secondly, the word impurity there in verse three. It says there in verse three “or any impurity.” You can understand this as every kind of impurity or all sorts of impurity. In other words, any kind of impurity is not to be named among you. This is a very general word for something that is morally defiling.
Crude behavior, suggestive and provocative actions and attitudes, and certainly living a life that mocks the teachings of Jesus must not characterize your life. Nor should you discuss, tolerate or have fellowship around these kinds of things.
Next, greed. This is the exact opposite of self-control and moderation. Instead it is pursuing selfishness. It is an attempt at gratifying your own desires at the expense of others. This is the desire of the world and is not what characterizes the love of Christ. This is the attitude of achieving your goals while stepping on anyone who gets in your way. This is the attitude of “Here’s what I’m going to get for myself and if you are not on board and you’re in my way, you’re gonna get run over.”
Authoritarianism and a lust for more; a dictator, not one who loves. It is an insatiable desire for more: more stuff, more control, more power, more submission at the expense of others.
This is not to describe you as a “holy one of God.” You don’t glory in those who exhibit greed nor do you follow them. “Not even named among you.”
Greed and covetousness, desires for more and more can exhibit itself not only business, purchases, and evidence itself in credit card and other kinds of debt, but it’s also seen in the church or wherever power, authority, money, or possessions can be attained.
But for you … “Not to be …even named among you.”
TRANS: Now, in verse four we have a transition from our conduct to our conversation. We start off the list with the word filthiness.
Filthiness can describe either your conduct or your conversation. This is anything that is shameful or disgraceful and anything that his lewd or base, crude behavior.
Now the rest of these words in verse four concern our conversation, our speech.
Silly talk. This is foolishness. The speech of a fool. This is speech that is distracting from truly edifying conversation among believers. This is conversation that the world is taken up with. What would fools talk about? Do you know fools? Of course you do. These are they who do not live a life of sound wisdom. What do they talk about? It’s discussion about pop culture, movies and the movie stars, the glitz and the glammer. It’s what the daytime talkshow hosts generally like to talk about. Are you taken up with the talk of the world? This is not proper for a holy one of God!
And then coarse jesting. This is a ridiculing of others or dirty jokes. These are your late-night television shows and things some men feel they could joke about with the guys but probably shouldn’t take it home to your wife and kids.
This is cutting others down in order to ridicule them and to embarrass them. It’s got a mean spin on it. “But we’re just having a little fun!” Humor should not do anything else other than build up. Humor is good, but needs to be placed under control. If you wouldn’t want your spouse or daughter or your parents to know that you speak that way or that you listen to that or watch that online, you’d better think twice before doing it.
Instead of these kinds of things, at the end of verse four, what should characterize us is the giving of thanks. This seems like an odd contrast between coarse jesting and thankfulness.
So why thankfulness instead of ridiculing others? Well, in the original language this is a play on words. Those words look the same at the beginning of the word. It’s kind of like we are to love, not lust. Love and lust both start with the same letter. That’s what going on here with coarse jesting and thankfulness. They both start the same way. It’s a play on words.
So, we are to live in the love of Christ not the lust of the world. So be thankful … Let your life be described as one who gives thanks. When everybody else is talking filthy and using lewd language discussing what lost, foolish people do and are so full of bitterness and complaint, let your speech be filled with thankfulness.
TRANS: Now, why should you separate from these sins? Why is it that we are not to have these things “even be named among us?” Why are they not proper?
Because verse five, “those who practice these things have no inheritance in God’s kingdom.”
Don’t act like unbelievers because unbelievers are not going to inherit the kingdom. And if you live this way…are you really a holy one of God? Answer, for certain: No!
Reason: Because these sins characterize those under God’s wrath (Eph. 5:5-6)
Ephesians 5:5-6 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
If a so-called believer can actually say that he is enjoying his life of immorality and impurity and covetousness and greed, he’s glad he’s living this way … we know … Yes, we certainly know that this individual has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
The immoral person, the impure person, or covetous man…. he lives this way, he’s described this way …. that person is not a saved person. He’s not a Christian no matter what he says. He is no saint of God.
This is certainly the case. As Paul begins verse five “for this you know with certainty.” There is no doubt about this. There is no questioning of this fact. Someone whose life is described as immoral. He is known … The guy is known for being impure. And when you think of that lady, what you think of is her covetousness and her desire for more.
And the one who is covetousness who has a lust, a desire for more power, stuff, money, or immorality itself or whatever, this individual this passage says is an idolater, not a saint.
Everyone is known by their actions. Prov. 20:11, “Even children are known for his actions.” A professional thief may help the old lady across the street, but really what he is known for is being a thief. Just like that, someone may go to church, or even pastor a church, and so he does some good things, but if you were to get into his life just a little bit, you would know that he is known for being immoral or impure or a greedy and covetous man. All he wants is more money, more power, or more pleasure. And some of these people use their outward appearance at church to hide their true worldly desires.
Men in ministry seem to be especially tempted. I’m not talking about the health and wealth preaching who don’t even hide their covetousness; that’s obvious.
But even in good churches, the big temptations for men in ministry are often put this way: glory, gold, and girls. Men in ministry fail to honor God because of their covetousness.
That’s not to say that just because a man struggles in these areas, it does not mean that he is not saved. It’s when he is sinning in this way and he doesn’t care. That’s the concern. The struggle with sin is a good thing and it shows God is at work in your life. But it’s high-handed defiant sin that causes concern.
No inheritance in Christ’s Kingdom
And Paul says these people do not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. That doesn’t mean there’s some believers who will live a sinful life and they won’t get an inheritance. No, the only contrast in the passage is between having an inheritance or having the wrath of God. There is no other option here. If your life can be described as immoral, impure, or , you have no inheritance, you are not a holy one of God.
TRANS: But the saints have an eternal inheritance as children of their heavenly Father.
But a holy one could be deceived about this. Even though Paul says we know this for certain … that people whose lives are described by these sins don’t have an inheritance in Christ’s kingdom … we know this for certain … even though that’s the case, there is the possibility of being deceived about this.
These sinners receive God’s wrath (Eph. 5:6)
Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
It is very easy to be deceived about these things. How many people who go are in churches today are living these kinds of lifestyles and they are truly idolaters? But with their flattering speech they convince true holy ones that they too are holy ones.
The son who, though he lives with his girlfriend, has convinced his parents that he is saved. Or the daughter who moves out of her parent’s place for the very purpose of sowing wild oats.
God’s people have been easily deceived thinking that the wrath of God would not come upon those children of disobedience.
As …Revelation 21:8 says … “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
And the sad truth is that today the church has been deceived and those who name the name of Christ are tolerating the sins of the world and they are named among those who bear Christ’s name. From church leaders, to parachurch ministries, to individuals in local churches, the church is tolerating the sins. God’s people have been deceived about this.
But instead, those who act in such a way must be confronted about their sin and we must seek to restore them. And if they refuse to repent, we must practice church discipline.
Just as … 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.
Pastors today are characterized by these sins. I don’t want to discuss certain names, but many of the largest churches in America are either presently involved in or were involved in some scandal. Either that or they are publicly and explicitly teaching, in an inappropriate way, marital intimacy in mixed groups in front of thousands of people. Churches are using explicit billboards to attract audiences as they seek to discuss all of the details of what belongs only within the confines of a married relationship …they discuss these things in front of the world.
They do this, all the while disregarding the fact that the individuals that they are attracting to their services are struggling with sin in this particular area.
They blatantly advertise their detailed, risqué sermon series to individuals who are struggling with immorality. This is not the love of the brethren.
In a book entitled The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, the author, Ron Sider, demonstrates that evangelicals are allowing the sin of immorality to be named among them. Sider himself would be an evangelical and he’s critiquing his own movement.
He says that in the 1990s, there was one place in the United States where the number of unmarried couples living together jumped a lot more than in any other place. And that is the Bible Belt in the southern part of the US.
It has been said that the youth within evangelicalism are only slightly less likely, 10% less likely, to engage in intimacy before marriage then non-evangelicals.
Sider writes that since 1993, 2.4 million young people have gone through a program called True Love Waits. He says that only 12 percent kept their pledge to wait until marriage. The rate of self-claimed evangelicals who live together before marriage is 25% versus 33% of the general population.
According to Ron Sider, 26 percent of evangelicals do not think that intimacy before marriage is wrong. And the percentage of Christian men involved in pornography is not much different than the unsaved.
There are leaders in the churches and the people in their pews are tolerating these sins. Are you tolerating these sins?
Let me ask you this … and you won’t hear me hammer this home much …but would you seriously invite Jesus to your next movie night? As they speak in that show and perhaps your filter filters it much out … Are what they’re talking about in your movies a distraction from or a support for godly edifying conversation?
The movies that you watch, the shows on television, and the music that you listen to …. Are the sins we discussed this morning tolerated or glorified in … in your entertainment choices?
Did you know that even the Disney movies promote and glory in disobedience to parents and the enjoyment of sin, and encourage mistrust of authority? And I’m telling you, children don’t learn the same way that kids do. These are anti-biblical values produced by lost people and watched by almost every child in the Western world. In these movies, you can hear the cries of a rebellious child coveting her own way and wanting so much to disobey her parents. And these shows reach the hearts of generation after generation. And they are rated “G.” And your Clearplay doesn’t block that out!
Folks, immorality, impurity, and covetousness … not to be even mentioned that you might tolerate these sins.
The failure of the evangelical church has testified that allowing these sins to be mentioned among them defiles those in the church, and most importantly the name of Christ.
With your toleration of these sins, shall you take the very name of Christ and drag it through the mud? Will you bear his name in vain this way?
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 5.3-6
No, there must be a difference. There must be a difference between us and the world. Why else would a lost person want to be saved? And we are bearing the name of God. You dare not take his name upon you in vain.
And if you do tolerate these sins in your life, you can cause another brother to stumble and destroy him for whom Christ died.
Let me remind you that the discussion of these sins is within the context of Ephesians as an application of the gospel. No one gets victory over sin by turning over a new leaf or flipping a switch.
The one who has trusted in Jesus must remember Christ and what He did. It sounds so simple and so cliché, but you must remember Christ and the gospel.
Purposely bring to mind into your home and into your heart ….as you interact with others as you listen and watch what you do …. purposely bring to mind into your home and heart Christ and His gospel. Bring the knowledge of His self-sacrificial love for you into your lifestyle choices. Bring a Holy Spirit-empowered understanding of His excruciating death on the cross on your behalf into your speech. What effect is whatever I’m doing or saying having on the testimony of Christ? How is what you are doing and what you’re saying affecting someone else for whom Christ died?
Remember Christ and turn from your wicked ways. Let’s sing …
537 Not I but Christ. New song. FIRST LINE
The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World ↑