February 9, 2018
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
We are into Ephesians 5, looking at Little Acceptable Sins – sins that too many believers tolerate, and even encourage, in their own lives and the lives of other Christians! One more time, here is our featured Scripture – Ephesians 4:22 through 24, upon which this series is based:
…put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
righteousness and true holiness.
Paul is putting forth the argument that followers of Jesus Christ ought to show forth their new nature implanted by God through the Holy Spirit when they are born again (see John 3:3-8). This nature is Godly! It does not and cannot sin! (See I John 3:9; 5:18). It is only the sinful human nature out of which flows sin! And to show forth the new nature of “…Christ in you, the hope of glory…” (Colossians 1:27), it entails putting off or putting to death the old sinful nature with which every mother’s child is born! (See Mark 8:34; Romans 3:10, 23; 6:11). But what does the manifestation of the new nature – the new man – look like? In the verses following our featured Scripture, Paul lists many of the traits we are to both manifest (the new man) and avoid (the old man)!
• In Ephesians 5:5 through 7, the apostle tells us what should not be in a believers life! He is expanding on what he has written in verses 3 and 4 (see our previous blog). Here are verses 5 through 7:
For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man,
who is an idolator, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the
wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be
partakers with them.
This does not mean that the Christian who falls into sin will lose his or her salvation and be kicked out of the kingdom! For it is evident that we are still plagued by our sinful nature! It is as John writes to believers in I John 1:8 and 10:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us
….If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is
not in us.
As Christians, we will sin because we still have the old man, the sinful nature, within! But here is the good news in I John 2:1: “…if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
Apparently, there were, then as now, people who claimed to be followers of Christ, but lived like the heathen! The cult of the Gnostics taught that the material world was evil, and through special knowledge (Greek gno’-sis) one could escape the material world and attain high spirituality. But since the human material body is already evil in Gnostic thinking, then some taught one can do whatever one physically desires, and this will not affect one’s spirit! So an ‘enlightened’ person supposedly could sin continually, and still be in God’s favor! Not so!!! As Paul wrote in Romans 6:1: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! ”
So Paul’s warning in verses 5 though 7 focuses on those who habitually practice fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, and idolatry! But concerning God’s true children (see John 1:12, 13): “…do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:7 and 8). Thank God for His provision of continuing forgiveness for Christians – ongoing cleansing – through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ! (See I John 1:7, 9).
Fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, idolatry – are these Little Sins (as in our series title, Little Acceptable Sins)? Hardly! But it is surprising that such sins are often overlooked and even accepted in our churches. (In my 45 years of being a pastor, I have seen a notorious womanizer be asked to serve as a deacon! In another case, a child molester was elected to the deaconate! More than once I witnessed a vulgar and unclean man voted in to be a trustee! And a covetous person – an idolater in Paul’s words [see verse 5, also Colossians 3:5] – continue to be a church leader!) It seems that when Little Sins are accepted, they can lead to bigger and bigger sins also being accepted! (Compare Revelation 2:6 with 2:15, and see the progression from deeds to doctine).
• Ephesians 5:8 – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” This reminds me of what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:13: God “…has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Two kingdoms:
✞ The power of darkness – Satan’s kingdom! This encompasses not only a vast spiritual (demonic) army (see Ephesians 6:12), but also “…the kingdoms of the world…and their glory…” (Luke 4:5, 6), with unsaved humanity populating the devil’s dominion!
✞ The kingdom of the Son of His [God’s] love. This kingdom is now within us (see Luke 17:21), and not yet manifested to the world (see John 18:36). But someday, perhaps soon, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15).
The moment we open our hearts to invite the Savior in our lives to be ours, we are translated from one kingdom to the other – without ever changing places physically!
• Ephesians 5:9 – “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.” Instead of manifesting fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, and idolatry; the life of the Christian is to show forth “…the fruit of the Spirit…” – such “…fruit…is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth…” And we learn the nine manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22 and 23 (International Standard Version): “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” There are no Little Acceptable Sins – no wickedness at all! – in anything we manifest of Christ and His kingdom and the new life He has implanted within us!
By your Christian life, determine to show forth Him! (See John 3:30).