Ephesians 5 - Living as the Light


Author: Gareth Russell Date: Sunday, September 17, 2017 Campus: Monkston

Ephesians 5
Grand Union Vineyard Church
17th September 2016

This morning we focusing on Ephesians 5.

I’m not going to lie to you, this morning it is going to get deep, it could get a little uncomfortable but in the end I believe this message is one that every person in this room has to really grasp for themselves in order to truly live in the freedom that God has given us.

Let’s read Ephesians 5:1-20

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 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.

3 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. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

‘Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.’

15 Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are here today and you call yourself a Christian, you are in the process of becoming. If you are here today and you call yourself a Christian, you are in the process of following Christ.

You are a work in progress. You are continuing being refined, shaped, moulded, and going deeper in intimacy with your Father God.

The most dangerous place for any Christian to be is the place where they think they have made it. They are done. They have crossed the imaginary line between being a non-Christian and a Christian and they are now safe on the other side.

Complacency is a disease within the church.

So, this morning we are going to be talking about what Paul is saying here in his letter to the church in Ephesus about what it really means to be a Christian and how we should focus our thoughts, our words and our actions in continually pursuing God.

We are going to be talking about four things:

Pursuing His Purity
Living as His Light
Walking in His Wisdom
Strengthened by His Spirit

First Pursuing His Purity, let’s read verses 1 - 7 again.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 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. 3 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. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: no immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.”

Why should followers of Jesus avoid doing bad things?

There are many reasons: because as it says in 1 Corinthians, our bodies are created by God and His Spirit lives within us, we are temples of His Spirit.

Another reason is that God has called us to be a holy people. Unholy acts and thoughts are simply inappropriate for a holy people.

And there is a growing issue, I believe among Christians, and I can put myself to some extent in this group that have allowed some of their behaviours, and their words to be excused because we want to “engage with the world”, we don’t want to be seen as weirdos or geeks and therefore we can cut ourselves a bit of slack when it comes to our actions.

I am not looking here to throw the rule book at you, to turn our faith in Jesus Christ from a relationship back into a ritual.

But what I am trying to do is to challenge myself and challenge you this morning, that these verses do not mince their words. These verses are not for someone else. These verses are to challenge you to your core that you should have not even a hint of sexual immorality in your life, that you should not even have a hint of impurity or greed or foolish talk or coarse joking - these, Paul says are completely out of place and out of line with who God is and what He is creating us to be.

What you share on Facebook, how you talk to your mates, what websites you look at, what thoughts you have about someone other than your partner, you know deep down what is unacceptable as a follower of Christ.

So, why do we justify it? I am preaching to myself here. Why do we lower the bar for ourselves and raise it back up, when judging others?

Paul says here that no immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Now, you might be thinking, does this mean if I have become a Christian but then have a bad day. Maybe I drink too much, or think a bad thought, or watch a video I know is not helpful for me.

Gareth, does this mean I am going to Hell.

The answer is no. But, the answer doesn’t finish there. There has to be repentance, you have to walk away from that behaviour, you have to recognise it is wrong, and you have to ask God for his forgiveness and strength to move on.

If you start justifying the behaviour, living the behaviour on a regular basis that you know is wrong and you are not repentant, you are actually embracing that behaviour - then the inheritance in Heaven - based on these verses comes into question.

We have to be people who prioritise the pursuit of holiness and purity, rather than prioritising comfort, money and even relationships.

We are not called to judge others and throw the rule book at them, but we are called to scrutinise ourselves, not depress ourselves and fall into self-loathing but rather honestly and deliberately look to continually become more like Christ.

So, we must Pursue His Purity.

Second we must Living as His Light.

Let’s read verses 8 - 14 again:

“8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said:

‘Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.’

Following on from the previous verses, this begins to show us why we must pursue purity. In the process of desiring holiness, we live as light.

We don’t live IN the light.

We live AS light.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world. And where there is light, darkness is exposed.

That word exposed has become a synonym for tabloid front page headlines, but this exposure is something quite different.

You see things in the darkness are by nature dark. They are evil, they are hurtful, they are selfish, they are destructive.

If these things are exposed, it is not so much about bringing about shame and embarrassment but more it is about redeeming them into the Kingdom of God.

Being in the light means it is visible, being in the light means it is transparent, being in the light means it is free.

Whatever is done in secret has no power over you when it is brought into the light. The most powerful tool the actions, thoughts and words of darkness have is secrecy and for some of you this morning, you know that you are in that boat. You have struggled with something for a while and you are tired of the fight. You are tired of the pain. You are tired of the constant battle to hide these things.

This morning God is saying, bring it into the light. Don’t struggle any longer. If you bring it into the light I will not condemn you, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus but rather I will free you from the burden of the darkness and allow you to live in the glorious freedom of the light.

We should be Pursuing His Purity, we should be Living as His Light, and finally we should be Strengthened by His Spirit.

Let’s read verses 18 - 20: 

“18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Let me first say alcohol is not prohibited by the Bible. Having a glass of wine or a pint of beer does not send you to hell.

But let me also say this, I think these verses do say that we shouldn’t get drunk.

Some of you may suddenly be feeling a sense of guilt right now. Me included.

I have been drunk many times in my life. But I think I have simply justified it to myself.

I actually don’t think being drunk makes me a better person. I don’t think being drunk helps me physically. I don’t think being drunk makes me make better decisions.

So, I am challenging myself. Why do I ignore these verses when it suits me. Maybe now is the time to address is.

But more than that, these verses are not only talking about what not to do, they are giving a clear message about what we should be doing.

Being filled with the Spirit.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones says this: “Wine - alcohol - ….pharmacologically speaking is not a stimulant - it is a depressant. Take up any book on pharmacology and look up ‘alcohol’, and you will find, always, this it is classified among the depressants. It is not a stimulant. Further, it depresses first and foremost the highest centres of the brain…They control everything that gives a man self-control, wisdom, understanding, discrimination, judgement, balance, the power to assess everything; in other words everything that makes a man behave at his best and highest.”

What the Holy Spirit does, however is the exact opposite. “If it were possible to put the Holy Spirit into a textbook of pharmacology, I would put him under the stimulants, for that is where he belongs. He really does stimulate…He stimulates our every faculty…the mind….the intellect…the heart…and the will.”

Some of you might be thinking, Gareth I like a drink and I don’t link the legalist and judgmental message you are presenting.

If you like a drink, have a drink.

But why are we so protective about personal behaviours and routines and less so about being filled by the Spirit? When did having a beer become more important than pursuing holiness?

If you have been coming to this church for a while you will know that we are a church full of grace. Everyone is welcome here, no matter your story.

But being a welcoming church does not mean we are less of a challenging church. Come as you are but don’t stay as you are.

Become better. Get closer to God. God deeper in your relationship. Become wiser. Pursue intimacy and holiness.

Become more passionate about justice and speaking for those unable to speak for themselves. Grow in confidence that Jesus is indeed the way, the truth and the life and that anyone who comes to Jesus, can know God.

That is the follower of Jesus I want to be and this morning I ask that you hold me accountable to that. Don’t let me off the hook. If you hear something I say or read something I post or see something I do that you think falls short of God’s plan for my life. Challenge me.

Do the same for yourself. Join a Union Group, move beyond the nicey-nicey conversations about dinner and football and begin building trust and accountability with one another.

Then we will be fit for battle. Then we will be an army ready to take some ground.