Ephesians 5Read Text
“Therefore” – Since I am a new man (4:17-24), since I am sealed with the Holy Spirit (4:30), forgiven by God (4:32), and a beloved child (5:1)… As a child imitates his earthly father, let us likewise imitate our loving heavenly Father. Sounds like good, solid, Christian advice right? And it is (it’s right there in the Text)! But if that’s all we were told it would be helpful, but not super-helpful. What does it look like to be an imitator of God?
“Walk in love” (5:2a). Ok. He’s focusing on one specific attribute of God, love. But with us having so many definitions for the word “love”, what does he mean here? The Biblical definition of love, agape. The love of God, from God, only accomplished in us through the Holy Spirit. Ahh, more helpful, but still what would that look like?
“… as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (5:2b). We are to follow the example of how Christ loved/loves us, His bride; selfless, sacrificial service to other as a worshipful offering to the Father. Now we’re getting somewhere. We can look all through the gospels and epistles to see how Jesus loves us. But Paul goes further into detail about some specifics on what walking in the love of Christ actually looks like. Though definitely not an exhaustive list, he takes the rest of chapter 5 and most of 6 to give us some practical imperatives (commands).
5:3-5 – Do not sin with my body, my words, or my thoughts/desires.
5:6-14 – Do not tolerate these sins in my own life (mortify/kill them ruthlessly!) nor in the life of one who claims to be my brother in the Lord. Instead expose those sins to the light of God’s Word. Compare the way I’m living & thinking to the Truth of the Word and where we are out of bounds, repent and submit to God’s desires. That way we may all walk in love and in the light of truth.
5:15-17 – Walk in wisdom. Wisdom submits to the Lord and His will. What is the Lord’s will? How do know? We are told to “understand” the Lord’s will, not “seek to understand”. This is not some vague command to try to figure out which decision is right for us or what to do in this situation. No, he tells us to understand what he is about to say. He tells us the Lord’s will for each of us.
5:18-20 – The Lord’s will first off is that I not be controlled or influenced by anything other than the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will always lead us to Christ and His Word. So we are to be filled with/controlled by the Holy Spirit. We hear that a lot! Is this a command to run around babbling with our banners and shofar in tow? Nope. He goes on to tell us what the Spirit-filled life actually looks like.
5:19-21 – We are to encourage one another in the Lord, worshiping Him. We are to give thanks to God for all things because He is totally sovereign and completely in control of all things (Eph 1 & 2). And we are to submit to one another because of what Jesus has done and who He is – “Lord and God” (John 20:28). Ok, fine, submit. How? To whom? What does this submission look like? I’m glad you asked, because Paul takes the next 21 verses to break it down for us in 3 areas of life (4 actually, but I’ll point that out as we go): marriage, family/the home, work life.
I’ll go deeper into these aspects of life in a later post. But, even with what we have here so far, its clear that we need the Word to be a “lamp to our feet and light to our path” (Ps. 119:105) and we need the Holy Spirit to lead us along that path “in all truth” (John 16:13). How loving and merciful is our God to reveal His will to us, not leaving us to wander around, aimlessly groping for Him in the darkness!