HomeBLOGAn exposition of Ephesians 5:1-21 & the command to obey & demonstrate this, by Bill Rhetts
June 18, 2019
An exposition of Ephesians 5:1-21 & the command to obey & demonstrate this, by Bill Rhetts
These great commands by our Lord are rarely truly applied, obeyed and/or practiced (at least from my observations). Therefore I put this sermon together for the Lord’s people. I did an exposition of the Text, and shared several experiences, and how I applied this passage to them.
The sermon notes to this teaching are available below this video.
If we we’re
to back up a bit, in chapter 4 Paul admonished the church with a series of
injunctions. From ‘walking in unity,’ to ‘walking in the truth,’ to ‘walking worthy’
of bearing the name of Christian.
order to accomplish these commands and expectations, we see ‘two chief injunctions.’
The first is to ‘Not grieve the Holy Spirit’ (in 4:30), and the second to ‘be
filled with the Holy Ghost’ (5:18).
the relationship of a lawfully wedded ‘man and woman’ to Christ and His bride (the
church). That’s how important both the Church and marriage are.
in chapter 5, Paul admonishes us even more.
1-7 is ‘walking in Love.’
In verses 8-14 is ‘walking in the Light.’
In Verses 15-21 is ‘walking in wisdom.’
are more than admonishments, they’re more than commandments. Paul Bayne (aka
the Radical Puritan) described this as to “prosecutith” the aforementioned
I don’t care if you have graduate degrees in the book of Ephesians. Knowledge is useless without character, courage, and action. To not obey and demonstrate these commands is a sin of omission. Though obeying these commands are not salvific, they are an evidence of salvation. If a professing Christian does not consistently demonstrate these great commands, I would ask ‘are they even saved?’
Let us begin our exposition with vs 1-7 ‘walking in love.’
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk
in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering
and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
3 But fornication and all uncleanness
or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for
saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking,
nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of
thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator,
unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any 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. 7 Therefore
do not be partakers with them.’
Verse 1 begins with the command to “Therefore be imitators of God as dear
In the Greek this can be better translated as “Become therefore,
or prove yourselves to be therefore.”
This command refutes the teachings of easy believism. If a man has
truly been born-again (regenerate), he is converted from being perverted.
A convert is more than a ‘believer,’ they are a cleaver, and an
imitator (mimētēs) of God. In other words,
if you claim to be a Christian, prove it. Because we are more than ‘believers,’
we are demonstrators.
Moreover, a Christian will imitate ‘the God and Jesus of the
Scriptures.’ This word “God” in verse 1 is the Greek work Theos. Which means
the Godhead (or Trinity) of the Scriptures.
A convert ‘with reverence’ will continually glorify and demonstrate
an awe for the Father, as they exalt Christ, and as they walk in His Holy
Spirit. Which will include the simultaneous warring against their flesh, and
repenting of sin.
Charles Spurgeon said “Meditation is a happy, holy, profitable
engagement; and it will instruct us, strengthen us, comfort us, inspire our
hearts, and make our souls steadfast. But we may not stop at meditation. We
must go on to imitation of the character of God. We must let our
spiritual life not only bud and blossom in devout thought, but let it bring
forth fruit in holy action.”
Paul said in verse 2
‘And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and given Himself for us, an
offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.’
In vs 2a Paul tells us
to “walk in love.” So many understand what love is, but the following is what
love is not.
A Biblical love is not today’s ‘sensual love’ that withholds the truth,
or that accepts sin.
1 Cor. 13:5-6 says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not
envy; love does not parade itself (or boast), is not puffed up; 5 does not
behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does
not rejoice in iniquity (or does not celebrate or delight in sin), but rejoices
in the truth;” (definitions inserted by author).
In vs 2b Paul said
“Christ also has loved us…”
We must understand the last word ‘us’ here. The “us” here is the
blood-bought repented church.
When the Scriptures speak of God’s amazing love, He is referring
to His chosen people, and in the N.T. His church (His elect). His wondrous love
is not for lost worldlings. God’s love for the lost world is a mere ‘benevolent’
This word “love” here in the third portion of verse 2b is the
Greek work agapaō, which means ‘to love
in a social or moral sense, ‘to be loved by God, to welcome, to entertain, to
be fond of, to love dearly, and to be well pleased…’
God is not “well pleased” with the world. The Bible says He hates
those that practice sin (Psalm 5:5-6), and that He’s angry with the wicked
every day (Psalm 7:11).
There’s the manmade cliché that’s often used by carnal men, that
“God loves the sinner, hates the sin.” This cliché is bordering blaspheme. God
is not in-love with those practicing iniquity.
Recently another street preacher was arrested while preaching at a
homosexual pride parade. But this preacher was wrongfully telling those that
were practicing and celebrating this sin, that “God loves you!” I watched one video where he said “God loves
you” several times within 15 minutes, as he quoted John 3:16 out of context.
As stated on my Twitter feed. “If a Christian is arrested for
telling the lost world at an event that’s celebrating abominable sin, that “God
loves you,” I’m not sure I would call their arrest “persecution.” The Bible is
clear that God “hates those that practice iniquity.””
In vs 2c it says that
Christ had “given Himself for us.”
Christ gave Himself for who? Who’s the “us?” – His church!
Paul said in Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no
longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the
flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Verse 3 says, ‘But fornication and
all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is
fitting for saints;’
This word ‘fornication’ is a general term for
any and all forms of sexual immorality.’
This word ‘uncleanliness’ can mean any and all
sin. But more specifically, as Paul Bayne said, “For uncleanliness. It may
signify all sin, but here it is to be taken to note all inferior filthiness of
the same kind of fornication. Observe that Christians must keep themselves not
only from more gross swervings, but from the least filthiness of flesh and
This fornication and uncleanness is in total contrast
to the “sweet-smelling aroma” in verse 2.
John Trapp described this fornication and uncleanness, “As standing in full opposition to that sweet-smelling savour (ver. 2.), being no better than the corruption of a dead soul, the devil’s excrement. That people fitly punished this filthy sin, who put the offenders heads into the paunch of a beast where all the filth lieth, and so stifled them to death.”
said “Let it not be named among you.”
This word “named” means that it’s not only sin
to commit these sins, but its sin to approve of them (Rom 1:32). But today’s ‘carnal
Christians’ (if there was such a thing) will say “We’re all sinners,” as they sinfully
continue in their sins, or ‘wink and nod’ at others sins.
A Christian will hate their sins. Paul Bayne
said, “We see then that we must have sin in extreme hatred; that we must be so
far from doing it, that we must not name it without hatred.”
But Paul ends this verse reminding us that if
you’re saved, we are “saints.” Though we may be saved sinners. We are now
When a sinner becomes born-again (regenerate) they
are translated from being ‘hagos (an awful thing)’ to ‘hagios. This saved saint
(hagios) means to be sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless or religious,
ceremonially, consecrated): To be a most holy thing, a saint.’ And all of the
above can only be attributed to the imputed attributes of the Godhead. So then,
we ought to act more like ‘hagios,’ and less like ‘hagos.’
Verse 4 warns
that ‘neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are
not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.’
Wycliffe says “These words do not preclude spontaneous Christian
gaiety and a sense of humor, but they indicate that Christians are not to indulge
in empty frivolity. In the Greek they connote the sort of jesting that is
vulgar and unclean. The antidote for the Christian is thanksgiving.”
Christians are forbidden to engage in foolish conversations, dirty
jokes, off color jokes, sexual innuendos. Not even to laugh at such nonsense. Not
even to watch or listen to music, plays, or movies with such.
Bayne said, “The Devil wisheth no other musicians, and what
agreement hath the behaviour of vices in plays with Christian sobriety?”
I remember at my father’s 80th birthday party, one of
his friends (a professing Christian) attending the party decided to engage in
jokes that were ‘sexual in nature.’
(tell how I rebuked & exposed his sinfulness a few months later while on his death bed, with my mom as a witness. How his nurse was utterly shocked & mad that I would say such things to him. That’s demonstrating this passage to him).
(Tell them about the Ham Radio group in Montclair, and the two
fellows that frequently used the S word & F word in nearly every paragraph.
Tract and run from being “partakers” with them.)
We must not be
partakers with sinful people, and their sinful deeds, more about that in verses
Verse 5 says ‘For
this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an
idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.’
If a person continually commits these sins (without repentance),
it is evidence they have not been regenerate (born-again), hence they are not
part of the present ‘kingdom of God,’ and will not go to heaven in the future,
but will perish in hell.
Since we have not yet addressed this sin called “idolatry.”
Yes we all have idols in our lives. Idolatry isn’t just religious
statues and golden calves. Perhaps the golden calf of the 21st
century is our own minds, or the false deity of ‘me, myself and I.’ Or the deity
of ‘iPads, iPods, and iPhones.’
If you can’t repent from these carven technological idols, and if
you can’t keep them out of your own sanctuary, then leave them in your car, or throw
them in the trash.
Paul warns us many times throughout the Scriptures, “do not be deceived.”
And now in Verse 6 he says,
‘Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath
of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.’
This is what I consistently see on Facebook, ‘vain empty words’ of
deceit, as FB friends try to make excuses for sinfulness.
You think my words are too harsh for them? You think my
unfriending them is too harsh? But God’s Word here is extremely harsh, as he
warns them that “because of these things,
the wrath of God comes upon the sons
It says in Rom 1:18 ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in
Gal 3:6-7 says, ‘Because of these things the wrath of God is
coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked
when you lived in them.’
And God’s wrath increases, Romans 2:5 warns, ‘But in accordance
with your hardness and your impenitent heart, you are treasuring up for
yourself wrath, in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of
It says in John 3 that the world is condemned already, that’s why
they need the Gospel.
So what are we going to do with all this information and knowledge?
We’re going to put it to practice, and demonstrate it.
Now is where it starts getting real serious.
In verse 7 Paul said
“Therefore do not be partakers with them.”
Do no associate yourselves with them, or the lawlessness they
stand for. Because a loving walk is a holy walk. In other words, to walk with
them is ungodly, and unloving (Psalm 1).
As one Puritan said, “We are not to familiarly accompany the
Flee from their presence. As John Trapp said “Lest by infection of their sin ye come under infliction of their punishment. We are accountable as well for sins of communion as of commission.”
John Gill said “Be not ye therefore partakers with them. In their
sins, and acts of disobedience; by keeping needless company with them; by
abetting and encouraging sinful practices; by conniving at them, and not
reproving for them; or by committing the same things.”
This is not saying that we should not go where they are. We’re to
be in this world, but not of the world. But we’re not to extend unequally yoked
friendships, or common courtesies to them.
(Tell them about my recent resignation from a “Christian”
organization, and my 4 page letter of indictment).
Next is verses 8-14, walking in light.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you
are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the
fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and
truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the
Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful
works of darkness, but rather expose them.12 For it is
shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all
things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes
manifest is light. 14 Therefore
He says: “Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
Verses 8-10 says, ‘For you were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of
the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what
is acceptable to the Lord.’
Notice the ‘were’
in verse 8. A Christian is a person
that used to practice these sins.
They were once known for walking in sin (darkness), but now are known for
walking in the light of the Lord.
Verse 9 says believers will demonstrate
‘(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth),’
The Greek matters
in this verse.
(agathōsunē) is our horizontal kindness, or benevolence
(dikaiosunē) is the evidence of our
vertical righteousness in Christ, that Christ has declared the sinner (now
saint) righteous before the Father; therefore we ought to act like it.
This ‘truth’ (alētheia) is an ‘objective’ truth that
must be told and believed under any and all circumstances.
In the next verse
is another admonishment, as what we’re to do with this knowledge. And that is to
apply it, and demonstrate it.
Verse 11 commands “And have no fellowship
with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”
To “have no
fellowship” with them, literally means to ‘stop fellowship’ with them. We need
to break-up with the world.
said, “Have no fellowship with, not only do not practice them yourselves, but
do not join with others in them, by consent, advice, assistance, or any other
way whereby ye may be defiled by them.”
As John Trapp quoted Perkins in his commentary. “No needless society for fear of infection; get the wind of those stinking carcasses; “hate the garment spotted by the flesh,” that is, avoid ill company (saith Perkins).”
Just as Noah
gathered God’s elect, and His chosen creation onto that Arc, while fleeing from
partaking with the world, we too ought to do the same. But preach (or share)
His glorious Gospel while we’re still here.
I’m seeing an
increase of “believers” tell the church to get along with the world. But they
will use Romans 12:18 out of context. Which says “If it is possible, as much as
depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
I am guilty of
this too. But there’s a grave danger in believing one verse out of context. There’s
a reason why I have a statue of ‘Lady Liberty’ holding her scales of justice upon
our bookshelves. Though I fall miserably short. It is to remind me to consider
those theological scales. To consider the weight of all the Scriptures. The
whole counsel of God.
There must be a
balance amongst our theological scales. If our scales are leaning too far into
verse 18, it wrongfully implies that Christians are to try to ‘get along’ with
everybody. Or wrongfully be tolerant of sin, so that we can ‘be at peace’ with
everybody. But that’s a fatal misinterpretation of the Text. Because when we
tip our scales back to verse 9, we see the healthier balance to “Let love be
without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”
In other words, though
it ought to be our goal to ‘live at peace with others,’ but never at the
expense of compromise, tolerance, or acquiescing to sin.
It says in
Eccles. 3:8 there’s “A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a
time of peace.”
Though Jesus is
the Prince of Peace (Ish 9:6), He also came to divide.
Jesus said in Matthew
10:34-36, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to
bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her
mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’”
And not only are
we not to have fellowship with the lost
world, were to rebuke or expose them. We’re not to have ‘fellowship with sin,’ we’re
not be an ‘agent of sin,’ nor be an ‘accessory to sin.’
And the commands
of this Text, keeps getting more serious.
Verse 11b says “but rather expose them.”
This word ‘expose’ is the Greek word elegchō, which means that we’re to find fault with, to confute, to
admonish, to convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, and/or reprove.
It is the Christians duty to ‘oppose and expose’ darkness
(sin). That is part of being the Biblical “light” that’s associated with
In the context of
two or more witnesses bringing a charge against an Elder, it says in 1 Tim 5:20
says “Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also
Verse 12 says ‘For it is shameful even to
speak of those things which are done by them in secret.’
It is not only sinful
to practice the aforementioned sins, it can also be sin to speak of them with idle
chatter (gossip), or to speak of them with no response to those sins.
We mustn’t gossip
of others sins done in private, but rather we must rebuke them. And when sins
are committed publicly, we may publicly rebuke them.
If your doctor
discovered you had cancer. Would you want your doctor to tell you about it, or
just talk about it amongst his staff?
The next two
verses better explain how this process of ‘exposing’ works.
Paul said in vs 13, ‘But all things that are exposed
are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who
sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”
expose sin (or evil) coupled with the remedy (the Gospel), God decrees some to
repent and be saved, but not others. Those the Lord saves, will be translated
from darkness into the kingdom of light; hence a supernatural event known as ‘salvation.’
Next is verses 15-21 is ‘Walking in Wisdom’
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not
as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming
the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore
do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.18 And do
not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the
Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the
Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the
Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting
to one another in the fear of God.’
Verses 15-16 says ‘See
then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the
time, because the days are evil.’
Verse 15 speaks of our ‘way
of life,’ or our ‘life-style,’ that we’re to walk circumspectly. This circumspectly
is the Greek word akribōs [ak-ree-boce’],
it is an adverb which means to walk diligently, exactly, or perfectly.
Another scholar described ‘walking circumspectly’ as a wartime
soldier walking through a minefield.
Verse 16 warns us to
‘redeem the time, because the days are evil.’
I enjoy some hobbies. Such as camping, cycling, and ham radio. Though
camping is great for my marriage, I have to discipline myself when engaging in things
that have no eternal significance.
Verse 17 says ‘Therefore
do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.’
This is another command, but to stop wasting your time, to stop
walking unwisely, to stop being foolish – repent.
Verse 18 said ‘And do
not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the
This verse compares a man who is ‘drunk with wine’ to a man
‘filled with the Holy Spirit.
Since I’ve done extensive topical studies on alcohol, I’m not
going to expound too much on this subject here. But drunkenness is sin. And it
is contrary to a born-again (Spirit filled) person. And in some cases, it can
be sin without becoming drunk. Upon your request I can email you my teachings
Regarding being filled with the Lord’s Spirit. One scholar said it
this way –
“No believer in Christ is ever commanded to be indwelt by the
Spirit. His indwelling is certain and permanent (Jn 14:16,17). Nor is a
believer commanded to be baptized with the Spirit. This has already been done
(1 Cor 12:13). But believers are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. Hence
there is individual responsibility; there are conditions to be met if we are to
experience the Spirit’s control in our lives.”
I cannot have more of the Holy Spirit than another Christian
sitting next to me. But I can be more disciplined, more sanctified, and more
submitted to the Lord. Hence, more empowered, and more gifted by Him. Salvation
is monergistic, but Holy Spirit willing, sanctification is synergistic.
The next three verses are an evidence of the “Spirit filled
‘speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things
to God the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one
another in the fear of God.’
I don’t have a great outwardly singing voice, but I can inwardly sing
a great melody and music in my heart, onto the Lord.
A “Spirit filled” Christian can be thankful for ‘all things,’ not
just good things, but we can be thankful for the good, the bad, and the ugly
things in our lives.
Today it seems that many believers faith is wrongfully built upon
circumstances, or ‘who’s is in the White House,’ or a sinking sand.
I think of some of my professing Christian colleagues like LAPD
officer Tom Baker, who told me I was “too zealous.” Or Lt. Rick Albee, who told
me I was “too bold.”
Nevertheless Horatius Bonar said “A believing man will be a zealous
man. Faith makes a man zealous. Faith shows itself by zeal. Not by zeal for a
party, or a system, or an opinion; but by zeal for Christ–zeal for His church,
zeal for the carrying-on of His work on earth.”
Even to complain about the weather, is to complain about God’s decree,
and His Sovereignty. Almighty God has His hands on the thermostat.
A ‘Spirit filled’ Christian will be empowered by the Holy Spirit,
to rejoice in all things, thru thick or thin.
Dr. Theodore Zachariades said, “The culture or
ethos of Western Civilization is no longer tethered to its roots. It is heading
full speed into oblivion. Why is the church so eager to follow this course?
This is proof positive that the institutional church is just that, an
institution. The true body of Christ, all true saints of all ages, the
predestinate; as Wycliffe put it, will continue to resist come what may.
Christianity is not a retreat into ghetto-hood. It is a confrontational way of
life, and a comprehensive world view that has a message from beyond the world,
that alone can transform the world. “Jesus is Lord” was the first confession of
faith. He remains the only hope for the world.”
In closing I’d like to give the following benediction.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in
the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58.
Or as I often post on social media.
As always brethren – Love ‘biblically’ – repent – be salt and light – be holy – be sanctified – fear God – pray without ceasing – keep His commandments – grow in His grace and knowledge – put on the whole armor of God (and use it) – walk circumspectly – believe in and trust Jesus – obey the Gospel – share the Gospel – preach the Gospel – contend for the faith, – disciple each other, hate the things that God hates, and love the things that God loves – rejoice in sufferings – keep the faith, work-out your salvation, and endure to the end!