Ephesians 5.3-20 (NIV)
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. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 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. 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.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:
‘Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.’
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Light vs dark
After God created 24 hours of alternating darkness and light, one of the angels asked him, ‘what are you going to do now?’
God said, ‘I think I’m going to call it a day.’
I’ll pause for a few moments while you all pick yourselves up from the floor and catch your breath from laughing hysterically. Pause
We are into week 10 of our series going through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians – called… does anyone know? I know you can hear me, though I can’t hear you all say together… 1.. 2.. 3.. ‘That was then, this is now.’
Paul loves to talk about the change when we become followers of Jesus – and here, he says, For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord (8). That phrase again: in him, in Jesus.
We’ve sung already this morning, ‘Light of the world’ – he is the light, the true light, which has come into the world (John 1.9).
But Jesus also said to his followers, ‘You are the light of the world’ (Matthew 5.14). In other words, when we become part of God’s family, we start to shine with the light of Jesus.
Often in church we major on God’s forgiveness, which in Jesus is total – there is no sin too big for God to forgive, no person too far for him to bring you home.
Often in church we major on God’s grace, how the life he offers us in Jesus is completely free, undeserved, and won for us by Jesus, not through our own efforts.
It is all free – but it is not cheap. All Jesus offers was won for us at great cost. We are worth a great deal to God – what is he worth to us?
What’s the most expensive gift you’ve ever been given? For Jess it’s her engagement ring. She isn’t allowed to wear it in hospital, so she has to take it off regularly. What do you think she does with it? She certainly doesn’t take it off and chuck it on the floor!
How do you treat the gift of life Jesus has given you? How do you treat the light of Jesus? Paul says in Ephesians 4.1, live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
The life God gives us may be free – but it is not cheap.
Last week we started to look at the difference between life in the dark (that was then) and life in the light (this is now). If you still have your questionnaire, you may find it helpful to fetch it later and look at it again.
Or maybe something from today’s passage spoke to you a bit more. Paul mentions obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking – when it should be thanksgiving on our lips (4).
Paul mentions immoral, impure, and greedy people – he calls them idolaters (5) – why? Because rather than worshipping God, these people are selfish, worshipping themselves and their desires, instead of God.
Children of light
Christians should not look like this – we should look different, we should look like Jesus, not the world.
It isn’t easy, it takes effort, but God gives us the Holy Spirit to be our help and guide.
Paul encourages us to be holy (3), wise (15), full of goodness and truth (9). He warns us not to get drunk on wine, but instead to be filled with the Spirit (18).
Many of you will recognise my water bottle. Here it is. Do you think I fill it once, and have done with it? No! I go on filling it, throughout the day.
That’s what Paul means here about the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t mean, be filled once, but go on being filled with the Spirit.
This is important, because otherwise our light will go out. Our light comes from Jesus, through the Spirit. We can only live as children of light (8), we can only live a life worth of the calling we have received (4.1) if we go on being filled with the Spirit (18).
The Holy Spirit gives us the power and strength we need to turn away from the deceptive and disobedient deeds of darkness – and turn towards the light and love that are ours in Jesus.
Paul says (8): For you once were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. See how much light there is when we all shine together.
As God’s family, let us turn towards the light of Jesus, let us shine with his light, and let us share that light with others. Let’s spread his light in place of darkness, his peace in place of panic, his love in place of greed.
Let us live as children of light (8). Amen.