These first two verses go with ch. 4:17-32.
1 “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” These words are
closely connected with the preceding. In ch. 4:32 Paul had urged the example of God
in one very momentous matter (forgiveness); he now urges it in a more general sense
and on another ground. We ought to forgive men because God has forgiven us —
all admit that; but moreover, we ought to imitate our Father in His forgiveness and
in His loving spirit, because beloved children should always imitate, and will always
strive to imitate, what is good in a beloved father. Forgiving love is one of the
great glories of our Father; it has been made peculiarly attractive in our eyes,
because it has been exercised by Him towards us; every consideration, therefore,
ought to induce us to show the same spirit. This is the only place in which we
are distinctly called to imitate God. But the same truth is given expression to by
Christ when He says, That ye may be the sons of your Father which is in
heaven, for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth
rain on the just and the unjust.......Be ye therefore perfect, even as your
Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:45,48) Forgiveness
belongs to the dignity of our nature (our being partakers of the Divine nature –
II Peter 1:4) that there can be proposed to us as our end likeness to God.
It is designed that there should be a perpetual unfolding and enlarging of our
spiritual powers and excellences. All our desires, hopes, efforts, are to be
toward this. We are to be:
· filled with the Divine thoughts,
· replenished with the Divine energy, and
· warmed with Divine love.
As a child catches the tone of his father, so are we to catch the tone of our heavenly
Father. WHAT A CONTRADICTION, TO BE CHILDREN PECULIARLY
LOVED AND NOT TO SEEK LIKENESS TO GOD?
Followers of God (v. 1)
This is the high destiny of God’s children.
· THE DUTY HERE COMMANDED. “Be ye imitators of me.” It is to do:
ü what God does;
ü because He does it;
ü as He does it.
The special point of imitation here is the duty of showing a forgiving spirit
to one another.
· WHY WE SHOULD IMITATE GOD.
ü Because we are His “dear children.” Whom should children imitate but
their father? Believers have had experience of their Father’s wisdom,
love, and power, and it is only an instinct of filial love to imitate such
ü Because we were originally made in His image (Genesis 1:26), and
though that image has been marred by sin, it is to be renewed in the
process of a Christian experience (ch. 4:23).
ü Holiness consists in the imitation of God. “Because it is written, Be ye
holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44; I Peter 1:16).
ü The prospect of perfect likeness to God in the day of our Lord’s
appearing. (I John 3:2.)
· MEANS TOWARDS THE FULFILMENT OF THIS DUTY.
ü Pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17), especially:
Ø for fuller measures of His grace,
Ø for larger disclosures of His love, and
Ø for a deeper insight into His truth.
ü Live continually as being under His eye. (Psalm 139:6-7.)
Consider how others have followed Him. (I Corinthians 11:1.)
Imitators of God (v. 1)
· HOW IT IS POSSIBLE FOR US TO BE IMITATORS OF GOD. It is
vain to try to imitate God if all resemblance to God is beyond our reach.
But this is not the case. While speculative theology is fatally successful in
magnifying the distance between man and God, practical revelation is ever
bringing us nearer to God.
ü We are like God by nature. God is spirit, and we are spiritual beings.
All spirits are of one family. God made us in His own image. It is our work
to revive that image where it has been obscured and to carry it up to higher
ü We can imitate God in very small ways. Because He is infinite and we
are finite we are not to infer that all common likeness is impossible. The
smallest pool may bear a perfect image of the sun.
ü We are susceptible of indefinite growth and improvement. Because we
are sadly unlike God now it does not follow that we may never resemble
Him. “It is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he
shall be manifested, we shall be like him” (I John 3:2). God has
revealed Himself to us. We cannot imitate what we do not know. Mysteries
of the Divine nature must ever lie beyond our sight. Nevertheless,
something real about God we do know. For we have seen Christ, and he
who sees Christ sees God (John 14:9).
· IN WHAT RESPECTS WE ARE TO BECOME IMITATORS OF
GOD. We cannot attain to His almighty energy nor to His unfathomable
wisdom. Yet we may imitate the method of these Divine attributes in the
exercise of corresponding human qualities. But the resemblance to God
that is both most important and most attainable is moral and spiritual
likeness in character and conduct. Consider especially in what points we
most need to be like God.
ü Generous giving. There are men who are always grasping for
themselves, and others who distribute abroad. The latter are like
God, who is ever raying out blessings.
ü Forbearance. In nothing do we more need to imitate God than in:
Ø His gentleness with sinners,
Ø His long-suffering patience, and
Ø His forgiving mercy.
ü Love. This is nearest to the heart and very being of God, for God is love.
(I John 4:8) He who loves his kind most widely and warmly is likest
God (see v. 2).
· WHY WE SHOULD BE IMITATORS OF GOD.
Ø It is our natural duty. Nothing short of this will satisfy the claims of
right. It is not enough that we follow the best men and conform with the
utmost propriety to the pious fashions of the times, nor even that we obey
our own consciences. We have to make our conduct agree with God’s
conscience. Duty is infinite — a ceaseless climbing to higher and yet
higher regions of holiness. We cannot reach the pinnacle of perfection
at once, and we are not guilty for not doing what lies beyond our present
powers. But we are blameworthy if we aim at less than perfection and
if we ever rest contented with any lower stage of progress. “Ye therefore
shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Ø We are under obligations of gratitude to become imitators of God.
The word “therefore” calls our attention to these obligations. It points
back to the previous words, wherein we are exhorted to forgive one
another, even as God also in Christ forgave us. (ch. 4:32)
Ø Our highest blessedness will be found in our resemblance to God.
He is ever blessed. Everything ungodlike must be ultimately a source
of pain and death. Though the imitation of God begins in toil and
sacrifice, it grows into the deepest peace and the richest gladness.
· BY WHAT MEANS WE MAY BECOME IMITATORS OF GOD.
Ø Worship. Heathen gods are objective representations, and even
monstrous exaggerations, of the natures of their devotees. Such gods can
have no good moral influence. But God, as He is revealed in Christ, is
infinitely above us, and full of wonderful beauty and attraction. As
we gaze upon His glory in rapt devotion we are changed into His likeness.
We all imitate, consciously or unconsciously, what we admire. When we
see a great picture we wish to paint; when we enjoy good music we desire
to produce it; when we see noble deeds we are fired to emulate them.
Ø Meditation. As St. Francis is said to have received the wounds of Christ
on his own person by intense meditation on them, we may receive the
spiritual likeness of our Lord — a more profitable resemblance — by
contemplating and dwelling in the spirit of His life. Then also we shall
have the likeness of God. He who is nearest to God in prayer and
communion grows likest God.
Ø Obedient action. We must do Divine deeds of holiness and charity if we
would have the character that a habit of such deeds begets. All this God
will supplement and vivify by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit breathing
His own life and likeness into us.
· IN WHAT SPIRIT WE ARE TO BECOME IMITATORS OF GOD.
“As beloved children.” Thus loved children venerate and imitate their
parents. Here is no room for spiritual pride. For when we lose the childlike
spirit we fall away from the imitation of God. They who imitate God most
truly are most simple and childlike, and that spirit of trust in a loving parent
which is the highest educational influence in the child, must be in us if we
would be good imitators of God.
2 “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for
us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor.”
Now, if God regarded with infinite delight the self-sacrifice of the only begotten
Son for the sake of His brethren, there is no way in which we can delight our Father
so much as by following in the Elder Brother’s footsteps and being ready to sacrifice
ourselves out of love to the brethren. And walk in love. Taking up anew the
exhortation of ch. 4:1. Let your ordinary life be spent in an atmosphere of love.
Love supplies the motive power to all the right relations with our fellow man. Drink
it in from heaven, as plants drink in the sunshine; radiate it forth from eyes and face;
let hands and feet be active in the service; let looks, words, and acts all be steeped in it.
Even as Christ also hath loved us. The passing from the Father to the Son as
our Example is not a new departure; for the Son reveals the Father, the Son’s love
is the counterpart of the Father’s, made visible to us in the way most fitted to
impress us. Though Christ’s love, like His Father’s, is eternal, the aorist is used,
to denote that specific act of love which is immediately in view – Jesus was an
example of love in His life, for He went about every day doing good. (Acts 10:38).
And hath given Himself for us. The Pauline phrase (Galatians 1:4; 2:20; Titus
2:14; I Timothy 2:6), simple, but very comprehensive: “Himself” — all that He was
as God, all that He became as Man, a complete self-surrender, a whole burnt
offering. “For us,” not merely on our behalf, but in our room (after verbs
of giving, dying, etc.); this, indeed, being implied in the idea immediately
following of a sacrifice, which, alike to the Jewish and pagan mind,
conveyed the idea of a life given in room of another. An offering and a
sacrifice to God. Offering and sacrifice are nearly synonymous, but the
first probably includes the whole earthly career of Christ incarnate:
· His holy life,
· blessed example,
· gracious teaching,
· loving companionship, as well as
· His atoning death,
which last is more precisely the θυσία - thoo-see’-ah - sacrifice. The offering
and sacrifice were presented to God:
· to satisfy His justice,
· fulfill the demands of His law, and
· glorify His holy and righteous government.
For a sweet-smelling savor. Allusion to Noah’s sacrifice of every clean beast
and of every fowl — “ the Lord smelled a sweet savor;” (Genesis 8:21) - that is,
the whole transaction, not the offering merely, but the spirit in which it was
offered likewise, was grateful to God. The whole work of Christ, and the
beautiful spirit in which He offered Himself, were grateful to the Father, and
procure saving blessings for ALL who by faith make the offering their own.
He is “Just and the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus” – (Romans 3:26)
The Walk of Love (v. 2)
We are bound to love one another.
· THIS WAS THE GREAT DUTY OF THE LAW. “All the Law is
fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”
(Galatians 5:14). “The end of the commandment is love” (I Timothy 1:5).
All our duty to our neighbor is summed up in love. Love supplies the
motive-power to all right relations with our fellow-men.
· THIS WAS THE NEW COMMANDMENT OF CHRIST, “A new
commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another” (John 13:34).
The love thus newly enjoined has certain important characteristics.
ü It must be the love of deeds, not words. “Let us not love in word,
neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18).
ü It must be ardent. “Above all things have fervent charity among
yourselves” (I Peter 4:8).
ü It must be self-sacrificing. “We ought also to lay down our lives
for the brethren” (I John 3:16).
ü It ought to be a love well guided and controlled. “This I pray, that
your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all
judgment” (Philippians 1:9).
ü It ought to be a constant love like that of Christ. “Having loved His
own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end” (John 13:1).
ü It ought to be a decisive test as to our condition in God’s sight.
“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none
occasion of stumbling in him” (I John 2:10). “We know that we
have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren”
(ibid. ch. 3:14).
ü It must be a love recommended by the highest examples. “God is
love.” (ibid. ch. 4:8) “If God so loved us, we ought also to love one
another.” (ibid. v. 11) We are to “walk in love, as Christ also loved us.”
(v. 2) “Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”
The Pattern of Christian Love (v. 2)
“As Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and
a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” Jesus was an example of
love in His life, for He went about every day doing good (Acts 10:38).
But it is to His suffering of death that the apostle points us for the most
sublime and impressive illustration of His love. The words suggest many
· WHO OFFERED HIMSELF? It was Christ, the only begotten Son of
God. It was His own voluntary act. “Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). “Who loved
me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). It was love that
prompted the gift of Himself:
· WHAT DID HE OFFER? Himself. Not the blood of others, much less
the blood of bulls and goats. It was the offering of the body of Christ
· FOR WHOM? For us, while we were yet enemies (Romans 5:10).
Whether He died in our stead or merely for our benefit is determined by the
context, which represents Him as giving Himself “an offering and a sacrifice.”
(v. 2) This language marks the distinctly substitutionary character of
Christ’s death, just as He is Himself described elsewhere as “a ransom for
many.” (Mark 10:45)
· TO WHOM DID HE OFFER HIMSELF? To God. That is, with the
design that God might accept the sacrifice. God had pleasure in the death
and atonement of His Son. (Isaiah 53:11)
· IN WHAT MANNER? “As an offering and a sacrifice.” The term
“offering” applies to propitiatory sacrifices, as well as to free-will offerings
(Hebrews 10:18, 14). The additional word, “sacrifice,” marks the
clearly propitiatory character of His offering (ibid. ch. 7:27).
· WITH WHAT RESULT? “For a sweet-smelling savor.” This phrase is
applied to propitiatory as well as to free-will offerings, as, for example, to
the burnt offerings of Noah (Genesis 8:21). The sacrifice of Christ was
well-pleasing to God, who could henceforth manifest His character “as just,
and the Justifier of him who believeth in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26) The whole
passage teaches us:
ü The unsoundness of that theology which sees in the sufferings of Christ,
not a propitiatory sacrifice, but the love, faith, and submission of God’s
Son, as an example to man. This view is altogether one-sided.
ü The unsoundness of that theology which sees in His sufferings a mere
exhibition of love, without that element of righteousness which made
these sufferings necessary. If love alone could save, why should He
have suffered or died at all? It is the atoning love that is the element
of consolation to man.
ü The unsoundness of that theology which sees the redeeming power of
Christ in His birth rather than
in His death, as if the event of
were transcendently more
important than the event of
ü That there is in Christ’s love, not merely a force of argument or motive,
but a very rule or measure, of the love which we ought to exercise
toward each other in the bonds of the gospel.
The Sacrifice of Christ (v. 2)
· THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST WAS VOLUNTARY. He gave Himself.
He said He had power — right as well as ability — to lay down His life
(John 10:18). Had the sacrifice of Christ not been the free giving of
Himself, it would have been like the human sacrifices of the heathen — a
fearful deed in those who slew him and of no import to any one else. The
essence of the sacrifice, all that gave to it propitiatory efficacy, was the
willingness of the Sufferer who offered Himself. God is not pleased with
pain and death. What He is pleased with is the devotion, fidelity, and love
that endure pain and death in the fulfillment of an unselfish and noble
· THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST WAS OFFERED TO GOD. Christ
was not simply a Martyr to truth, nor only a Sufferer in the cause of
humanity. The cup that He drank was given to Him by His Father. His
persistence through mortal agony was in submission to the will of God.
sacrifice of Christ that has been too much neglected in our theologies —
the obedience of Christ. Paul saw tints when he said that Christ became
“obedient unto death.” (Philippians 2:8) Thus the cross was an altar
and the crucifixion an offering to God.
· THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST WAS WELL-PLEASING TO GOD.
In primite language it is said that when the smoke of Noah’s sacrifice went
up to heaven “God smelled a sweet savor” (Genesis 8:21) — literally, “a savor
of satisfaction,” i.e. it was acceptable to God. So Christ’s sacrifice is
described as “an odor of a sweet smell.” (v. 2) Such an act of fidelity to God
and love to man could not but be pleasing to God. Thus the sacrifice becomes a
propitiation; it becomes the means through which God looks favorably on
those for whom it is offered.
· THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST WAS MADE ON OUR BEHALF.
“For us.” Men had often offered sacrifices for themselves — to express
their own devotion and to expiate their own sins. It is customary now for
people to talk of making a present sacrifice in order to secure a future
advantage. But Christ’s sacrifice was not for His own interests. It was the
Shepherd giving His life for the sheep, the Friend laying down his life for
his friends. His was the pain, ours is the gain; His the cross of death, ours the
crown of life.
· THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST WAS OCCASIONED BY HIS LOVE
TO US. “Christ also loved you.” There was no necessity that Christ should
die. Ordinary duty would not have required the sacrifice, for, though
fidelity and obedience entered into it, these elements were consequent on
the free undertaking of a work of love by Christ. Christ as a man was
possessed of a great love of His kind that constrained Him to die for the
world; Christ as the Son of God and “the very image of His substance”
(Hebrews 1:3) died because He was full of the love of the Father for His
· THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST SHOULD LEAD US TO WALK IN
ü In return for His love. Love should inspire love. If it does we shall show
our love to Christ by loving our brethren.
ü In breathing His Spirit. Christianity is not merely appropriating the fruits
of the work of Christ. It is following in His footsteps. Christians are called
to be imitators of God, especially as He is manifested in Christ. An imitation
of God must therefore consist chiefly in an exercise of love like that of
Christ. His love to us led Him to submit to crucifixion. He asks us simply
to walk in love.
The Walk Suitable to the Children of the Light (vs. 3-21)
fearful prevalence of sensual vice at
to dwell on it emphatically as one of the worst rags of the old man, a rag to
be wholly and forever cast away. But, indeed, there are few heathen
communities where sensual vice does not flourish when men have it in their
power to indulge in it. (Does this mean, with our obsession with sexuality,
natural and perverted, that the
CY -2010) It is singular how universal sin is in connection with the irregular
and disorderly indulgence of the bodily appetites. It would seem as if God
made this a special matter of probation, for when these appetites get the upper
hand, they lead into terrible excesses, and, by bringing disease on both mind
and body, avenge the sin to which they have impelled. First, they tempt men
to sin, and then, as if in heartless mockery, they scourge them for having sinned.
Compare Romans 1:19-32.
3 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named
among you, as becometh saints;” But. Another of the remarkable contrasts of this
Epistle; the fumes of lust are doubly odious in contact with the sweet savor of
Christ’s offering. Fornication and all uncleanliness (impurity), or covetousness.
The combination of covetousness with sins of the flesh, occurring several times in
the apostle’s writings (I Corinthians 5:11; Colossians 3:5; and here), is rather
unexpected. Πλεονεξία - pleh-on-ex-ee’-ah - covetousness, covetous practices,
greediness - means the desire of having more, which is peculiarly true of sensual
sins; but it is not coupled with them by a καὶ - kai - and but disjoined by an ἢ -
ay – or indicating something of another class. In the mind of the apostle, sensuality
was inseparable from greed, unnatural craving for more, dissatisfaction with
what was enough; hence the neighborhood of the two vices. Let it not be once
named among you, as becometh saints. The practice of such sins was out of the
question; but even speaking of them, as matters of ordinary conversation, was
unsuitable for saints; the very conversation of Christians must be pure. The
exhortation bears on Christians in their social relations; had the apostle been
treating of the duty of the individual, he would have urged that such sins should
never be admitted even to the thoughts or the imagination.
4 “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient:
but rather giving of thanks.” Neither filthiness.- αἰσχρότης - ahee-skhrot’-ace –
filthiness from (αἰσχρός – ahee-skhrosn - shamefulness, i.e. obscenity) implying
that such things are disgraceful, ugly, revolting, the opposite of καλός - kal-os - fair,
comely, attractive. Nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient
(becoming):” It is proof of a corrupt heart, for “out of the abundance of the heart the
mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34) [consider the degradation in American Society
exhibited in modern sit-coms on TV – compare them with Amos and Andy, The
Honeymooners, Red Skeleton, Mayberry, The Life of Riley, etc. – CY – 2010]
This would be well understood in sensual, frivolous
in the Good Ole
seasoned with double entendres and obscene allusions or inuendos, VERY
PERNICIOUS IN ITS MORAL EFFECT. There is no reason to suppose that
the apostle meant to condemn all play of humor, which is a Divine gift, and which
in moderation has its own useful place as a means of refreshing and invigorating
the spirit; it was the jesting associated with ribaldry (amusingly coarse or irreverent
talk or behavior) that drew his reproof. But rather giving of thanks. Eὐχαριστία –
yoo-khar-is-tee’-ah – thankfullness - is somewhat similar in sound to εὐτραπελία
-yoo-trap-el-ee’-ah; - jesting: the reason for putting the one in opposition to the
other is not very apparent; the meaning seems to be that, in place of giving vent
to lively feelings in frivolous talk and jesting, it is better for Christians to do so
by pouring out their hearts in thanksgivings to God for all His goodness.
Warning against Unbecoming Speech (v. 4)
“Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but
rather giving of thanks.”
· THERE ARE THREE VARIETIES OF UNEDIFYING SPEECH.
ü “Filthiness.” This term, though referring to acts as much as words,
points especially to that obscenity of speech which is so disgusting to the
moral sense of man. It is proof of a corrupt heart — for “out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” — and, more than anything
else, makes the tongue “a fire, a world of iniquity,” even “set on fire of
hell.” (James 3:6)
ü “Foolish talking.” This is the talking that will have many idle words to
answer for at the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36). It is more than
mere random gossip; it is the talk of fools which is folly and sin; it includes
“corrupt speech” (ch. 4:29). It is aimless, senseless, frivolous talk. Our talk
ü ought to be full of reason and purpose, and bright with happy suggestion.
ü “Jesting.” The apostle does not condemn the pleasantry which lends
such a grace and joy to conversation, but the wit that is allied to lewdness,
brimming over in double entendres, and tending to demoralization.
· THE APOSTLE’S JUDGMENT UPON THESE KINDS OF
SPEECH. “Which are not convenient.”
ü They are not so in themselves, for the character of impropriety
essentially attaches to each of them.
ü They are not so in the speakers, who incur a still deeper reproach and
prepare for themselves a graver judgment.
ü They are not so for the hearers, who, though they may be amused for
the moment, are not profited, but rather debased by such conversation.
· THE RIGHT USE OF THE TONGUE. “Giving of thanks.” Christian
cheerfulness ought to express itself, not in buffoonery or levity, but in
thanksgiving and praise. We have much to be thankful for in our daily lot,
and the thought of the indulgent kindness which supplies all our need ought
to repress anything like foolish or scurrilous discourse. The language of
thankfulness will minister grace to the hearers.
5 “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous
man, who is an
idolater, hath any inheritance in the
God.” For this ye know. This is an appeal to their own consciences, made
confidently, as beyond all doubt. That no whoremonger (fornicator), nor unclean
person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom.
No such person (unrepentant) has an inheritance in the
Covetousness, the twin-brother sin of uncleanness, is denounced as idolatry.
It is worshipping the creature more than the Creator, depending on vast
stores of earthly substance in place of the favor and blessing of God.
It must receive the doom of the idolater; instead of inheriting the
kingdom, he must die the death. The doom in this verse is not
future, but present — not shall have, but hath, inheritance, etc. (compare
ch. 1:11, 18). The lust of greed overreaches itself; it LOSES ALL that is truly
WORTH HAVING, it may have this and that — lands, houses, and
goods — BUT it has not one scrap in the kingdom. Of Christ and God.
The two are united in the closest way, as equals, implying the divinity of
Christ and his oneness with the Father in the administration of the kingdom.
Warnings against Covetousness (vs. 3-5)
It is odd to find covetousness, which is often a sin of respectability, linked
with sins of gross immorality but it too, springs from selfishness, like the
other sins mentioned. It has its origin in the same unholy root.
· CONSIDER THE NATURE OF COVETOUSNESS. Covetousness is the
inordinate love of riches and manifests itself in several ways.
ü In the eager anxiety to attain wealth, without respect either to
God’s glory or our own spiritual good.
ü In a sinful acquisition of wealth by extortion or fraud. (I Kings
21:2, 13; Proverbs 10:2; 28:8.)
ü In a reluctance to use our wealth for good ends. (I Timothy 6:17-18.)
· HOW IS COVETOUSNESS TO BE REGARDED AS IDOLATRY?
Covetousness makes a god of our possessions and to give them the homage of
our hearts. All the essential elements of idolatry are included in this worldly
disposition. The covetous man transfers to riches the love, desire, joy, trust,
and labor which God demands for Himself. His sin is all the greater because he
knows that his god is no god. Jesus said, “Take heed and beware of
covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of
the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15) It is a solemn thought
that one of the most common sins is associated with idolatry and is very
serious in God’s sight! The warning of the text is applicable:
ü to all whose thoughts run more upon earth than upon heaven (Luke
12:22, 25, 29-31);
ü to all whose comfort depends upon worldly successes (ibid. v. 19);
ü to all who grudge the time that is spent in religious duties (Amos 8:5).
The sin of covetousness is, therefore, to be jealously avoided:
ü because it is odious to God “The covetous whom the Lord abhorreth”
ü because it is destructive to ourselves:
Ø in turning our hearts from God (I John 2:15),
Ø in filling our hearts with trouble and care (>I Timothy 6:9-10), and
in keeping us out of
ü Let us, therefore:
Ø estimate the world at its true value,
Ø meditate much on the fatherly care of our God (Luke 12:31-32;
Ø act in faith upon the promises (Hebrews 13:5), and
Ø remember the terrible brand of idolatry which rests upon
It is a solemn thought that the most common of all sins is the most
serious in God’s sight. Yet there is nothing in the condemnation
of this sin that justifies the theory of other-worldliness, or the
neglect of the duties of common life.
Warnings against Impurity of All Kinds (vs. 3-5)
The sins here described in vs. 3-5 were common among the heathen, and
received no adequate check from their moral guides. Indeed, the old pagan world
regarded them as things indifferent. They are, for the most part, sins
against ourselves, as the sins condemned in ch.4:25-31 are sins
against our neighbors. They are to be condemned on many grounds:
corruption that is in the world through lust is inconsistent with the Divine
nature (II Peter 1:4).
which is “to purify a people to Himself” (Titus 2:14); “to cleanse us
from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (II Corinthians 7:1). Jesus
suffered in the flesh that we should die to the flesh (I Peter 4:1).
(4:29-30). That pure and holy dove will not dwell in a cage
of unclean and filthy birds.
Ghost (I Corinthians 6:18). They waste it as well as dishonor it
“And thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are
consumed” - (Proverbs 5:11); “receiving in themselves that
recompense of their error which was meet” - (Romans 1:27).
against its life, its aspirations, its happiness (I Peter 2:11). They even
darken the judgment and the understanding (Hosea 4:11). No sort of
sin so hardens the heart.
v.6.) “For the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.”
They subject transgressors to God’s judgment, for “whoremongers and
adulterers God will judge” - (Hebrews 13:4). And they keep them out
of heaven (I Corinthians 6:9; ver. 5). These sins of impurity are not even
to be named among saints, who are to be pure in thought, pure in heart,
pure in speech, pure in life. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal
body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:12). To this
end we must:
ü Avoid all the occasions that prompt to impurity:
Ø idleness (Ezekiel 16:49);
Ø evil company (Proverbs 7:7-27); and
Ø all other sins (Proverbs 1:25).
ü Make a covenant with our eyes (Job 31:1).
ü Watch over our thoughts (Malachi 2:16).
ü Delight in God’s Word (Proverbs 2:10, 16).
ü Continue in prayer (Psalm 119:37).
6 “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh
the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Let no man deceive you
with vain words:” - No man, whether pagan or nominal Christian: the pagan
defending a life of pleasure as the only thing to be had with even a smack of good
in it; the Christian mitigating pleasant sins, saying that the young must have an
outlet for their warm feelings, that men in business must put all their soul into it,
and that life must be brightened by a little mirth and jollity. As opposed to what
the apostle has laid down (v. 5), such words are empty, destitute of all
solidity or truth. For because of these things cometh the wrath of God
upon the children of disobedience. The sophistry is swept away by
an awful fact — the wrath cometh, is coming, and will come too in the
future life. It comes in the form of natural punishment, Nature avenging her
broken laws by deadly diseases; in the form, too, of disappointment,
remorse, desolation of soul; and in the form of judgments, like that which
befell the Canaanites and
CY – 2010) or the sword which never departed from David’s house.
(II Samuel 121:10) The Scripture is very plain that “the abominable, and
murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars,
shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone”
But they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and
lusts. (Galatians 5:24)
Divine Wrath upon Disobedience (v. 6)
It was necessary for the apostle to mark the true nature and real end of impurity in
all its manifestations. “Let no man deceive you with vain words.”
· IT IS NO UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE FOR WICKED MEN NOT TO
SEE THE WICKEDNESS OF THEIR ACTS. The heathen regarded moral
purity as a thing indifferent, and many of their moral guides palliated some
of the worst features of pagan sensuality. They argued, as some have
argued in modern times with a wicked levity of purpose, that sins of
impurity have their origin and their justification in the very constitution of
our nature, that they are not inconsistent with many social virtues, and that
they are not injurious to others. It is one of the blinding effects of sin that
men do not see their sin “through the ignorance that is in them, because of
the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18).
· IT IS A MISTAKE TO SUPPOSE THAT THE WRATH OF GOD IS
LIMITED TO THE PRESENT LIFE, and is merely entailed through the
connection established by the Divine government between sin and
suffering. There is such a connection written in the physical constitution of
man. Sinners often in this life receive in themselves “that recompense of
their error which is meet” (Romans 1:27 – This is said of homosexual
sins! CY - 2019). The drunkard is punished here in broken health, in loss
of substance, reputation, and happiness. But we are not to suppose that the
wrath against sin. Scripture tells us plainly that sins of impurity entail
judge whoremongers and adulterers (Hebrews 13:5), and that “the abominable,
and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars,
shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone”
7 “Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” If you are partakers
of their sins, you must be of their punishments too. Refuse all partnership,
therefore. Your natural instincts recoil from partnership in punishment; let
your spiritual instincts recoil from partnership in sin.
Christ was “separate from sinners” but was in society that He might win
sinners to God. So should we be a witness to sinners and point them
to Christ. Jesus prayed for us! (John 17:11-15, 20-21)
Psalm 7:11 says “God is angry with the wicked every day” - Righteous
indignation against certain forms of evil is an experience of a most imperative
and holy character. We should lose our reverence for a God who did not become
with sinners. It was the more needful to affirm this truth at
the deities of heathenism (Greek mythology) were supposed to be addicted to such
crimes as uncleanness and
imaginations of men, with a set of men and women who were for the most part fit for
penitentiaries and state prisons. Morality received no backing from the
mythology. But the thought that a God so loving as our heavenly Father is
wrathful with the covetous and the unclean, and allows His wrath to burn
against them, is surely calculated to wean men from such sins. There seems
to have been insinuations in Paul’s time that the Divine wrath against
impurity and covetousness was mythical, just as such insinuation prevails at
present. But surely the frightful punishment which these sins entail in the
order of nature speak to the spirit of man about the reality of the Divine
wrath. Not all the ameliorations of science (or philosophy – CY – 2010) –
can bring it about that men can so sin with impunity; the unclean are cursed in
the very nature of things with a grievous curse, and the covetous suffer of necessity
in their pinched and miserly souls. God is an angry God against those who love sin,
and our only course is to forsake it. Hapless and Olshausen believe the word here
rendered “covetousness” to mean in this connection “intemperance,” the
desire, not for gold, but for fleshly gratification — the making a god of the
belly, and so an idolatry. Of course, if this sense be taken of pleonexi>a, it
agrees better with the context and makes more emphatic Paul’s appeal for
purity. Do we make as much in these days of the Divine wrath as we
should? As the love-pain of God, as one writer has called it, it is surely well
fitted to enforce morality.
Covetousness Among the Worst of Human Crimes (vs. 3-7)
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once
named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish
talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous
man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the
of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these
things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not
ye therefore partakers with them.” The subject which we gather from these
words is that covetousness is amongst the worst of human crimes.
· IT IS HERE CLASSED WITH CRIMES OF THE WORST
CHARACTER, There are three sins among which covetousness is placed
in the text: unbridled licentiousness, “fornication,” and “whoremongery” —
revolting indecency; “filthiness,” that which is so unchaste and impure as to
awaken universal disgust; and immoral speech — speech that is frivolous,
untruthful, obscene, profane. These are sins confessedly of enormous
magnitude. All true souls recoil from them, all pure minds renounce them
as a degradation of the race and an offence to Almighty God. But mark,
amongst these covetousness is placed. It is ranked with them as related to
them in moral vileness. More than this, it is singled out as worse than these
— “a covetous man, who is an idolater.” What is idolatry? Holding
anything nearer to the heart than God. The “covetous man” loves money
more than anything else, and
money is his god. We here in
very zealous for the conversion of heathen idolaters. We create and sustain
costly organizations, but there is no idolatry more real, more powerful,
more damning, than the idolatry
that prevails throughout
god in heathendom is more earnestly and constantly served than Mammon
is served in this island? Before the introduction of Christianity into this
country there were many idols
at Leicester, the
the temple of Bellona; in
temple of Diana; and at
temple on every hill and in every valley, in every church and house.
Mammon has said to
· IT IS HERE CLASSED WITH THE WORST OF CRIMES, AS
EXCLUDING FROM THE
no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an
idolater, hath any
inheritance in the
this passage may be inferred:
ü That heaven is a kingdom. There is rule and order there.
ü That heaven is a Divine kingdom. “Kingdom of Christ and of God.”
Christ reigns there. He is in the midst of the throne; His Spirit animates all;
His Spirit fills all with adoring wonder and worship. Christ reigns as God
there. βασιλείᾳ τοῦ χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ - basileia tou Christou kai Theou –
Kingdom of the Christ and of God. The heavens are a kingdom managed,
not by Divine partnership, — it is governed by God in Christ.
ü That heaven excludes evil characters of all descriptions. How clearly and
forcibly this is declared in Scripture! — “The works of the flesh are
manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness,
lasciviousness ... of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in
time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of
God” (Galatians 5:19-21). “Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and
whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and
maketh a lie.” (Revelation 22:15) With the excluded will be the covetous
man. Yes, though he has been a member of a Christian Church, though
cultured in intellect, chaste in feeling, and refined in manners, though an
eloquent preacher of the gospel of benevolence, he will find no admission
into that world. He will be “without.” With whom? Will he have a place
set apart for himself? No, with the common damned.
· IT IS HERE CLASSED WITH THE WORST OF CRIMES
REPUGNANT TO THE DIVINE NATURE. “For because of these things
cometh the wrath of God.” Paul says, in his letter to the Romans, that “the
wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men.” (Romans 1:18) His deep, settled, immutable
antagonism to wrong of all kinds is clearly revealed in the gospel of
Jesus Christ. But is there any sin more repugnant to the Divine nature than
covetousness, which is idolatry? What sin has the Almighty denounced
with greater frequency and force than that of idolatry? But why should
covetousness be so abhorrent to the Almighty?
Because it involves a real-appropriation of the blessings
God’s will is that whatever a man, either by good fortune or by industry,
obtains of this world’s goods, should be expended for the advancement of
truth and the general promotion of human happiness. But the covetous man
Ø to pamper his own appetites,
Ø gratify his own vanity, and
Ø promote his own selfish and ambitious ends.
ü Because it involves an utter perversion of his own spiritual nature. The
powers of the soul are not given to amass material wealth, nor the
affections to love it. On the contrary, they were given to gather elements of
the highest knowledge, and to love and serve the Infinite supremely in all.
The soul was made to have God, not money, as the dominant subject of
thought and the dominant object of love.
ü Because it involves the promotion of misery in the universe. Nothing is
more repugnant to the heart of the loving God than misery. The cause of
universal happiness is His, but the covetous man is necessarily a promoter
of misery in his own soul, misery in his circle, misery through the creation.
God’s order is that no man should live unto himself, that all should labor
for the common weal; in this way only:
Ø the good of the universe can be served,
Ø its blessedness advanced, and
Ø its order maintained.
ü Every man who sets himself up as his own end in labor and life opposes
all the arrangements of God. He does what he can to create discords in its
harmonies, miasma (a highly unpleasant or unhealthy smell or vapor)
in its’ atmosphere, poison in its streams. No wonder, then, that the
“wrath of God” is against “the covetous man.”
Separation from Evil (v. 7)
The apostle counsels believers not to be partakers with sinners. That is, in
their sins, not their punishment. We are here taught:
· THAT IT IS POSSIBLE FOR BELIEVERS TO PARTAKE OF THE
SINS OF OTHERS. They may do so by conniving at them, by not
checking or punishing them, by not mourning over them, as well as by
actually committing them. It is a dishonor to God, a lure to others, a
mischief to ourselves, to stand in the way of transgressors. (Psalm 1)
· THAT BELIEVERS OUGHT TO MAINTAIN A VERY SEPARATE
WALK IN THE WORLD. They who have named the name of Christ ought
to depart from iniquity (II Timothy 2:19). The cry to them ever is,
“Come out from among them, and be ye separate” (II Corinthians 6:17).
There is no common standing-room for Christ and Belial in the Church.
This does not countenance our separation from society; for Jesus, who
was “separate from sinners,” was always in society that He might win
others to God. Our walk is yet to be as separate as it is to be circumspect,
that we may stand apart from the plagues that will descend upon a
8 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk
as children of light:” For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in
the Lord:” Another expressive “but.” To make the contrast more emphatic, it is
not said, “ye were in darkness, but are now in light;” but, “ye were darkness
itself, and are now light itself,” and this last is explained by the usual
formula, “in the Lord.” There was a celebrated Ephesian philosopher,
Alexander, who was called “The Light;” but not from that source had the
light come. The idea of light-giving is also involved in their being light.
“Arise, shine, for thy light is come.” (Isaiah 60:1) - The phrase “ye were
sometimes darkness” is very impressive, for it indicates a moral as well as
an intellectual darkness. A hard heart is always linked with a blinded
understanding. The two act and react upon each other, becoming
alternately cause and effect. Men do not care to retain the knowledge of
God in their thoughts, and God, in judgment, gives them over to a
reprobate mind. (Romans 1:24,26,28) – “but now are ye light in the Lord:”
Conversion has wrought a radical change in the understanding as well as
the heart. Walk as children of light. Another expressive image, denoting close
connection with light, as if they were actually born of it; hence THEIR LIVES
SHOULD BE FULL OF IT! The figure connecting darkness with sin and light
with purity, common to all languages, underlies the exhortation.
The Darkness Turned into Light (v. 8)
As a reason for their not lapsing into vices from which they had escaped,
the apostle reminds them of the darkness of their pagan condition.
· THEY WERE ONCE DARKNESS ITSELF. “Ye were sometimes
darkness.” The phrase is very impressive, for it indicates a moral as well as
an intellectual darkness. A hard heart is always linked with a blinded
understanding. The two act and react upon each other, becoming
alternately cause and effect. Men do not care to retain the knowledge of
God in their thoughts, and God, in judgment, gives them over to a
reprobate mind. (Romans 1:28) The most enlightened natures of the ancient
world were thus “darkness”
an altar the confession of its ignorance. (Acts 17:23) The phrase, “darkness,”
suggests three thoughts.
ü There is fear in darkness — the fear of enemies, the fear of death, the
fear of undefined agencies. Heathenism was full of fears. Death was a
dark and terrible specter.
ü There is discomfort in darkness. Light, its opposite, is the symbol of joy.
ü There is danger in darkness. Enemies use the nights for their deeds of
violence. We stumble on a dark night; we fall down precipices; we take a
wrong road. How expressive is the term as applied to the heathen!
· THEY ARE NOW “LIGHT IN THE LORD.” Conversion has wrought
a radical change in the understanding as well as the heart. Believers are
now light “in fellowship with the Lord” (I John 1:3). There is more
implied than the flashing into a human mind the knowledge of the truth;
there is the renewing of that mind into the love of the truth which it knows.
Otherwise the light would torment and not comfort. But believers, thus
doubly furnished may well be called “light in the Lord.” The light of the
sun does not stream down directly upon the world; at least, it comes to the
service of men reflected from a thousand objects which receive it upon
their surfaces; similarly the world sees the glory of the Sun of
righteousness (Malachi 4:2) reflected in the millions of saints who are
“lights in the Lord.” (Philippians 2:15)
· THE DUTY OF BELIEVERS IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES —
“WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT.” That is, as those in nearest
connection with it.
ü As light signifies joy, believers walk in the joy of an assured hope and a
perpetual cleansing. “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, ... the
blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).
ü We walk in the day and therefore should not stumble. “The darkness is
past, and the true light now shineth” (ibid. ch. 2:8). We ought to keep
an eye fixed on the straight path of duty, and avoid the by-paths that
lead to darkness and ruin.
ü If we walk in the light, we ought clearly to recognize the fellowship of
all travelers to
with another.” We are going the same way, inspired by the same hopes,
meeting the same difficulties, arriving at last at the same home.
9 (“For the fruit of the Spirit – (φωτὸς–- fo-tos – light) is [shown] in all
goodness and righteousness and truth.”) The exhortation is confirmed by this
statement of what is the natural result of light — goodness, the disposition that
leads to good works; righteousness, rectitude, or integrity, which is most careful
against all disorder and injustice, and renders to all their due, and especially
to God the things that are God’s; and truth, meaning a regard for truth in
every form and way — believing it, reverencing it, speaking it, acting
according to it, hoping and rejoicing in it, being sincere and honest, not
false or treacherous.
The Fruit of the Light (v. 9)
It is shown or seen in all the forms of “goodness and righteousness and
truth.” The good, the right, the true, are only to be realized through the
light that streams from the Sun of righteousness — “the true light” that
“now shineth.” The apostle says the fruit, not the fruits, of the light — as if
to show that it takes all the three colors to make this light. Christianity
would be a very imperfect; manifestation of God if a single one of these
elements were missing from the true light.
· GOODNESS. It is spoken of elsewhere as a fruit of the Spirit
(Galatians 5:22), and therefore is not mere beneficence, for it has its
source in religious principle. This excellence, in its various aspects of
kindness and generosity, is kindled by the light that illuminates the
· RIGHTEOUSNESS. The light which communicates a knowledge of
righteousness to the mind also infuses a love of righteousness into the
affections. This principle has a due sense of Divine obligation, and subjects
the believer in every relation of life to the guidance of Divine Law.
· TRUTH. This is a direct emanation of the light. It is religious truth,
working ultimately to truth of character in all the genuine forms of
10 “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” A general rule
applicable to the whole walk. To prove is to ascertain by test and
experiment. (I used to see things my father-in-law, Paul Cathcart, had
written with the letters TTP beside them, meaning TESTED, TRIED, and
PROVED – CY - 2010) Our whole walk should be directed to finding out
what things are pleasing to Christ, rejecting at once everything that is not so,
and clinging to all that is. We are not to follow the tradition of our people, and
not to take a vague view of duty; we are to prove the matter, to put it to the test.
For the supreme practical rule of the Christian’s life must be to
Christian Life (vs. 8-10)
“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk
as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and
righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” These
verses present to us the Christian life in its transformation, obligation, and
· TRANSFORMATION. A true Christian is one who has been changed
from darkness into light. The figurative language implies:
ü A change from immorality to holiness. “Darkness” is the emblem of
depravity. “They that be drunken are drunken in the night.”
(I Thessalonians 5:7) The ghastly legions of hell win their most terrible
victories in the gloom and silence of night. The “light” is a symbol of purity.
ü A change from ignorance to knowledge. Darkness clouds our vision, and
hides from us the world in which we live. Man in an unregenerated state
is in the moral world as a man in midnight. “Light” is a symbol of
ü A change from sadness to joy. Darkness is depressing. Even the
irrational creatures feel its dejecting power. Sin is sadness;
true religion is joy. We are told that there is “no night in heaven.”
(Revelation 22:5) It means that there is no immorality, no ignorance,
no sorrow there. How great the change that has taken place in a true
· OBLIGATION. Two duties are here indicated.
ü Walking in light. “Walk as children of light.” Don’t go back into
darkness. Nay, don’t remain in the twilight of Christian experience, but
step farther and farther into the day. Leave the valleys, scale the hills, and
come more directly under the broad beams of day. To walk in the light is
to walk intelligently, safely, and joyously.
ü Pleasing God. The ninth verse being parenthetical, the last clause of the
eighth verse should be read with the tenth, “Walk as children of light,
proving what is acceptable — well-pleasing — unto the Lord.” “Be not
conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your
mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect
will of God” (Romans 12:2). The expression “well-pleasing” to God throws
a light upwards on God and downwards on man.
Ø It reveals God. It indicates:
o His moral susceptibility. He is not indifferent to the moral
conduct of His creatures. It indicates:
o His forgiving mercy. Man, though a sinner, can, through
His infinite mercy, render himself acceptable to Him.
Ø It reveals man.
o It indicates the highest end of his being. What higher object
can a creature have than to please THE CREATOR?
o It indicates the highest blessedness of his being. The
smile of the Creator is the heaven of the creature.
· DEMONSTRATION. The Christian man develops in his life certain
glorious things. “The fruit of the Spirit [‘light’] is in all goodness and
righteousness and truth.” He demonstrates in his life:
ü Divine beneficence. “In all goodness.” He is full of social love, tender,
ü Divine righteousness. He is a man of inflexible honesty, unswerving
rectitude. In him the “righteousness of the Law is fulfilled.” (Romans 8:4)
ü Divine reality. His thoughts, sympathies, actions, are in harmony with
the eternal realities of being. He is neither a visionary nor a hypocrite. His
thoughts are true, his life is sincere.
· CONCLUSION. What an infinite boon is the gospel to mankind! How
glorious the transformation it effects! how righteous the obligation it
imposes! how great the power it confers! — a power to demonstrate in our
life the good, the right, and the true.
The Experimental Test of the Lord’s Will (v. 10)
As the ninth verse is a parenthesis, the apostle states that it is by walking as
children of light we are in a position to prove “what is well-pleasing unto
· CONSIDER THE TRUE STANDARD OF JUDGMENT AS TO
RIGHT AND WRONG. The believer is not to discover it in whatever may
be well-pleasing to himself, but in what is well-pleasing to the Lord. It is
the Lord Jesus Christ who is Lord of the conscience to regulate all our
thoughts and all our actions. He has a supreme lordship over our life as
well as over our death: “For whether we live we live unto the Lord.”
(Romans 14:8) He is thus not merely Savior and Example, but Director
of His people in all the concerns of religious life. In difficult situations,
therefore, the true casuistry (clever but unsound reasoning) of life is to ask —
Will this action be well-pleasing to Christ?
· CONSIDER THE SUBJECTIVE TEST OF THIS DIVINE WILL.
Believers are enabled, in the clear light in which they walk, to discover the
right path. It is through their being transformed by the renewing of their
mind that they “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will
of God”(Romans 12:2). Similarly we learn that “if any man will do His
will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7:17).
Light admitted into the understanding contributes to win the affections,
and, the affections won, open wide the doors for the admission of
MORE LIGHT! To know the law you love and to love the law you know
is the best condition in which human beings can be. It is the union of
clear light in the understanding with perfect purity of heart which
distinguishes the kingdom of redemption in its final practical triumph.
11 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather
reprove them.” And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.
The point of this exhortation is in the adjective “unfruitful.” The works of darkness
are unfruitful; they produce no goodness, give rise to no satisfaction, to no moral
results that are “a joy forever;” or, if fruit they have, it is shame, remorse, and
despair. Contrast this with the renovating, satisfying, joy-producing, fruits of
righteousness – Christians are to stand apart from every evil work. There must be
no fellowship with darkness. The friendship of the world can only be purchased
at the cost of the Father’s friendship (James 4:4). But rather reprove them.
The Christian attitude must be aggressive toward all the forms of sin. Do not
be content with a passive attitude towards them, but take the aggressive and
expose their wickedness, whether in public or in the domestic circle. A testimony
has to be lifted up against ways that are so shameful and that bring down
THE WRATH OF GOD!
12 “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them
The groves of
speak of such deeds was not only wrong, but shameful; so extreme is the delicacy
which Christianity fosters. Too much pains cannot be taken, by parents, masters
of schools, and others, to foster this delicacy among the young — to exclude from
conversation the faintest touch of what is unbecoming. (Nowadays, it is just
the opposite, freedom of expression includes taking the name of God in vain, foul
language in schools, pornographic dress, etc – compare what was done in secret
in Ezekiel’s day – Ezekiel 8:9-18 – like the song “No One Knows What Goes on
Behind Closed Doors – notice how God dealt with it [v. 18] – CY – 2010)
(The Following in this color is taken from the web site lesson dealing with
Ezekiel 8:9-18 and is included here for emphasis and convenience: CY – 2010)
Goings on at the God forsaken shrine.
vs. 7-10 - clandestine behavior - in secrecy
v. 11 - Seventy men/ancients of
know better - formal representatives
Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan - who was prominent
in Josiah's reform movement - meaning of his name -
"The Lord is listening" - v. 12
"every man his censer" - each acting as priests,
offering to the pictured idols, which none but the sons
of Aaron had a right to use and which was offered to
v. 12 - boasting that God did not see them, He had
forsaken His temple and gone elsewhere - they
were free to do as they liked without fear.
stances they took toward judges. (This being the week of June 5-12,
Old men - secret practices - private chambers.
Behind closed doors they reveled in the orgies of
a degraded society, then appeared in the streets as
On what images are they gazing? Wickedness planned
and gloated over of a deep sin of the soul. Ultimately, it
will come out for the imagination of the heart colors
the external conduct. Mark 7:15,18-23
Think of the import if this was taught in school. It used
to be and thanks to God, it still is in private and Christian
Nothing short of the new birth which only Christ can give
can save our souls. David said in his penitence in Ps. 51:10 -
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right
spirit within me"
A man's sin is not one bit the less because his brother's sin
is greater - Sin hardens.
(v. 16b) - five & twenty men....BACKS TOWARD
eastern religions today is preferred to Christianity.
(Think of the secular media's intrigue with Islam)
II Chron. 29:6
Worship of God involves purity of heart and life;
idolatry means a lower moral life!
"worshipped the sun" - one of the best gifts in the
solar system - we know philosophy gets us in hot water
and is nothing and to put science on a pedestal as all
there is in life is idolatry because it places knowledge
v. 14 - notice the general prominence of women in the
v. 17 - Making light of sin - Gethsemane and
were necessary because God could not make
light of sin. The only way to deal with sin is to
confess it and with God's help, shun it!
v. 18 - The unpitying aspect of the Divine judgments
is again prominent. SUCH SINS DESERVED,
AND COULD ONLY BY EXPIATED BY, THE
JUDGMENTS TO WHICH WE NOW PASS.
GOD DEALING IN FURY! OUR GOD IS
A CONSUMING FIRE! (Hebrews 12;29)
Yet, even these sins are not beyond cure. The light of Divine truth must be let
fall upon them, that they may be corrected. “All things that are reproved are
made manifest by the light.” There is a necessary connection in Scripture
between truth and holiness, and the truth must first be applied to the
ignorant and the wicked, that it may make way for the sanctifying agency
of the Spirit. The sun-glass (magnifying glass) of truth held in the hand of the
rebuker will concentrate the light from heaven upon the conscience of the
sinner so that he will see it full of all nameless lusts, and that very light will
kindle a fire to consume them, unless the sinner, loving darkness, should turn
away from the unwelcome light. Therefore let Christians remember the duty of
pious and prudent reproof, which may not only put sin to shame, if not to
silence, but lead the sinner from darkness to light, from the kingdom of
Satan to the
, but, to denote this transformation. The rendering of A.V., giving to
13 “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for
whatsoever doth make manifest is light. But all things t hat are reproved
are made manifest by the light. As, for instance, when our Lord reproved the
hypocrisy of the Pharisees — their practices had not seemed to the disciples
very evil before, but when Christ threw on them the pure light of truth, they
were made manifest in their true character — they appeared and they still appear,
odious. A just reproof places evil in a light that shows its true character. For
whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Literally, this is a truism; anything
shone on is no longer dark, but light. The nearest approach to this, morally, is
that light has a transforming power; when the light of the gospel shines on
anything dark or evil, it transforms it into what is light or good. This is not
uniformly true; all the light of heaven turned on hell would not make it morally
light; but it is the general property and tendency of moral light to transform.
The exhortation would thus mean — Use your light to reprove what is evil or dark,
for not only will the true character of the evil thereby be made apparent, but your
light will have a transforming power. But if this were the meaning, we should
expect in the end of the verse, not φῶς ἐστι - foce es-teen’ - is light, but
φῶς γινεταί - foce ghin’-etai; - to denote this transformation. The rendering
of the Authorized Version, giving to φανερούμενον - fan-er-o’-omenon; -
making manifest - an active meaning (“whatsoever doth make manifest is light”),
is rejected by most grammarians, as not being consistent with the usage of the word.
The meaning which that rendering gives is this: “Light is the element which makes
all clear.” We should thus have in the latter clause a proposition, affirming as
universal what in the former clause is affirmed of one particular case; “things
reproved are made manifest by the light, for it is only light that makes things clear.”
The exhortation to reprove would thus be confirmed by the consideration that the
only way of making immoral things appear in their proper character is to let in
on them the light of the gospel. The great practical point is that Christians
ought to let in and diffuse the light.
Separation and Rebuke the True Attitude toward Works of Darkness
The apostle thus describes the duty of Christians in reference to evil works.
· THE CHARACTER OF THESE WORKS. “Unfruitful works of
darkness.” They spring out of darkness, they delight in darkness, THEY
LEAD TO DARKNESS ETERNAL. They are not naturally unfruitful,
for they are fearfully prolific of result, but, IN THE LIGHT of God they are
fruitless, because most unlike to the fruits of light, which are goodness,
righteousness, and truth. They have “no fruit unto holiness,” with an end
of eternal life (Romans 6:22).
· THE DUTY OF SEPARATION FROM THEM. This is a negative
security. Christians are to stand apart from every evil work. There must be
no fellowship with darkness. The friendship of the world can only be
purchased at the cost of the Father’s friendship (James 4:4).
· THE DUTY OF REBUKING WORKS OF DARKNESS. This is to
be done with the view of producing a consciousness of guilt and evil. The
Christian attitude must be aggressive toward all the forms of sin. The
rebuke is to be administered:
ü with the lips, using all plainness, yet with prudence and meekness, so as
to win Gentiles to the truth; (“speaking the truth in love.” ch. 4:15)
ü with our lives, which, by their holy separateness, ought to demonstrate
the folly and sin of the world. A holy man is a visible reproof of sin.
· THE REASON FOR THIS ATTITUDE OF SEPARATION AND
REBUKE. The heinousness of the sins and the necessity of making them
manifest to the sinner’s conscience.
ü The sins are:
Ø done in secret, and
Ø they are too shameful for mention.
Such sins would naturally shun the light of day, for “every one that doeth
evil hateth the light” (John 3:20), and could not be committed to
language without risk of defilement to others.
ü Yet they are not beyond cure. The light of Divine truth must be let to fall
upon them, that they may be corrected. “All things that are reproved are
made manifest by the light.” (v. 13) There is a necessary connection in
Scripture between truth and holiness, and the truth must first be applied
to the ignorant and the wicked, that it may make way for the sanctifying
agency of the Spirit. The sun-glass of truth held in the hand of the rebuker will
concentrate the light from heaven upon the conscience of the sinner so that
he will see it full of all nameless lusts, and that very light will kindle a fire
to consume them, unless the sinner, loving darkness, should turn away
from the unwelcome light. Therefore let Christians remember the duty of
pious and prudent reproof, which may not only put sin to shame, if not to
silence, but lead the sinner from DARKNESS to LIGHT, from the kingdom
14 “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,
and Christ shall give thee light.” Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest.
The person addressed is “Thou that sleepest.” Sleep is an apt figure to describe the
sinner. He lives in an unreal world, full of dreams and fancies, quite unconscious of
the real world around him. The sinner dreams of safety and peace. He is carnally
secure (Romans 13:11; I Thessalonians 5:6). He may even walk in his sleep.
He is wholly unprotected against danger. If he knew of his danger, he
would not be asleep. He needs, therefore, to be roused. And arise
from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. The promise to the
sleeper - “And Christ shall give thee light.” The light that comes from
Christ can reach even the dead: “The hour is coming, and now is, when
the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall
live” (John 5:25) This is evidently intended to give an additional impulse to
the Ephesians to walk as children of the light; but a difficulty arises as to the
source of the quotation. There is no difficulty with the formula, “He saith,”
which, like the same expression in ch. 4:8, is clearly to be referred to God.
But no such words occur in the Old Testament. The passage that comes
nearest to them is Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and
the glory of the Lord hath risen upon thee.” The simplest and best explanation
is, not that the apostle quoted from any lost book, but that he did not mean to give
the words, but only the spirit of the passage. This is evident from his introducing the
word “Christ.” It must be owned that the apostle makes a very free use of the
prophet’s words. But the fundamental idea in the prophecy is, that when the Church
gets the light of heaven, she is not to lie still, as it’ she were asleep or dead, but is to
be active, is to make use of the light, is to use it for illuminating the world.
The apostle maintains that the
therefore, was not to sleep or loiter, but spring forth as if from the grave, and
pour light on the world. The changes which the apostle makes on the form of
the prophecy are remarkable, and show that it was to its spirit and substance rather
than to its precise form and letter that he attached the authority of inspiration.
“Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the
armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)
What to Imitate and to Avoid (vs. 1-14)
· THE IMITATION OF GOD AND CHRIST.
ü The imitation of God. “Be ye therefore imitators of God, as beloved
children.” The force of example is abundantly acknowledged. How much
do most of us suffer from the low standard of opinion and practice with
which we are surrounded? On the other hand, we have all felt what it is to
come into contact with one who is raised above the common standard. By
his strength of principle and generous sentiments and noble endeavors he
kindles our aspiration. We should like to be what he is. The wonderful
thing here is that God places us (which is of far greater consequence)
under the influence of His own example. This is the only place in which we
are distinctly called to imitate God. But the same truth is given expression
to by Christ when He says, “That ye may be the sons of your Father which
is in heaven, for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and
sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. Ye therefore shall be perfect, as
your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46,48) Paul has just exhorted
us to imitate God in His forgivingness. This imitation of God proceeds on
what was referred to before — our being made after the Divine image. It
proceeds on what is referred to here — God being our Father, and as such
communicating a kindred nature to us. But for this kindred nature with God
we should have no more conception of Him than the brutes have. “The idea
of God, sublime and awful as it is, is the idea of our own spiritual nature
purified and enlarged to infinity. The infinite Light would be forever
hidden from us, did not kindred rays dawn and brighten within us.” It
belongs to the dignity of our nature (our being partakers of the Divine
nature) that there can be proposed to us as our end likeness to God. It is
designed that there should be a perpetual unfolding and enlarging of our
spiritual powers and excellences. All our desires, hopes, efforts, are to be
toward this. We are to be:
Ø filled with the Divine thoughts,
Ø replenished with the Divine energy,
Ø warmed with the Divine love.
As a child catches the very tone of his father, so are we to catch the tone
of our heavenly Father. There is a reason given for our being eager to
imitate God. We are His beloved children. Oh, the love bestowed on us!
Sonship forfeited and then restored. What a contradiction, to be children
peculiarly loved and not to seek likeness to God! But this leads on to the
ü The imitation of God is also the imitation of Christ. “And walk in love,
even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a
sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell.” Christ is presented for
imitation in His love. We are not to understand that love was an attribute
more distinctive of Christ than of God. For love is the greatest attribute of
God. But we are to understand that Christ was especially the manifestation
of the love of God. In Christ’s love we see what God’s love is. And to
imitate Christ in his love is the best way to imitate God. And how does
love manifest itself? Selfishness manifests itself in isolation. Love, on the
other hand, manifests itself in approachableness. And this was the form
which Christ’s love took. He loved us so much as to come within human
conditions — to become one of ourselves. And that (wonderful as it is)
was not the extent of His approach to us. For, coming into our nature, He
next threw Himself into our position, He became our Representative. And
He presented before God for us the offering of a perfect life. He especially,
in His death, presented the sacrifice which had full atoning virtue for our
sin. And this presentation of Himself as an offering and a sacrifice to God
(with the love that prompted it) was for an odor of a sweet smell. More
grateful than to the sense of smell was the incense that the High Priest took
with him into the holy of holies was to the heart of God the incense from
His life and sacrifice which Christ took with Him into heaven. It is an
incense which continually rises before God with acceptance. The love
which prompted to this and carried it out to completion is here proposed
for our imitation. But how need we think of copying such a pattern? As
well set down a child to copy a masterpiece of a Raphael or an Angelo?
But let us take these things into consideration.
Ø He has made provision for our imitating Him. We are to be thankful to
God, that, amid many bad examples and imperfect examples of good men,
He has given us one perfectly good example. He has shown us that a life of
the highest unselfishness is not impracticable in our humanity. If that had
been all, the effect would only have been to fill us with despair. But the
apostle does not encourage us to imitate Christ without pointing to His
sacrifice of atonement. His atonement having been accepted for us, His
perfect life has been accepted too, as that which with assisting grace we
may now hopefully strive after.
Ø Compared with the example of God, the example of Christ is more
circumstantial. We know that God is love, but in Christ we see, under
many conditions, how love operates. There is much detail upon which we
can dwell and from which we can obtain help as to the details of our life.
Ø It is an example easily followed from its familiarity. It was a perfect
example; but not in the way of being apart from us, but rather in the way
of being so close to us as to be easily understood. It was the time:
“When truth, embodied in a tale,
Did enter in at lowly doors.”
Ø It was an example accompanied with the strongest incentive to
imitation. It was not merely that He taught us the reasonableness of a good
life, and exemplified it; but He placed us under infinite obligation in dying
for us, and then, having obtained this immense advantage, He comes
forward and asks us to imitate Him.
Ø We are to imitate Him in His love by walking in love as He did. This
does not imply any unnatural straining; but, in the ordinary walks of life,
we may find sufficient sphere for the exercise and growth of love. We are
specially to imitate Christ in the missionary character of His love. We are to
feel for sinners as in need of salvation. And we are to sacrifice much in
order that those ends for which He died, and on which His heart is set, may
be furthered. Let us, then, choose Christ as our Pattern with the whole
energy of our wills. And let us follow Him, not as perhaps we may have
done, with a faint and yielding purpose, but in the full conviction that in
following Him we shall best imitate God.
· THINGS TO BE CONDEMNED.
ü The things that are not to be named. “But fornication, and all
uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as
becometh saints.” The apostle points here to a fact which is sometimes
forgotten, that there is a sphere of that which is not to be named. There
are, for instance, books written, in which blasphemous things are said
against the Savior. There is this reason for not reading these books or not
repeating blasphemous expressions contained in them, that they stick to
and pollute the imagination. So the apostle teaches that saints are to be so
cultivated in their sensibilities, to have such a delicacy of feeling, that they
will not talk about or hint at things connected with fornication and
uncleanness. To take to them in conversation indicates a coarseness of
mind, a polluted state of the imagination. That is the proper circle, whether
family, or Church, or neighborhood, from which the very name of such
things is banished. We are surprised that covetousness is classed as it is
here among the things which are not to be named. It is a sin about which
strange things are said in the New Testament. It is said that the love of
money is a root of all kinds of evil. The apostle teaches here that saints are
to have such sensitiveness as to be repelled from the very mention of
covetousness, as that which would pollute their lips. Think of a community
educated up to that state of refinement.
ü The things which are not befitting. “Nor filthiness nor foolish talking, or
jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks.” There are
things, the apostle teaches, which are to be condemned on the lower
ground of their being improper, or conducing to no good end. By the first
mentioned we are to understand, especially, that which is foul in speech. If
we distinguish foolish talking from other faults of speech which are
mentioned in this Epistle, we must limit it to what is senseless in speech.
Fools have a way of talking in wanton disregard of what is rational, as
though their rational powers were given them to be played with. The word
translated “jesting” is sometimes used in a good sense. And Barrow has
shown that there is a wit which is not to be condemned, but which is fitted
to minister harmless delight to conversation, to expose things base and vile
to due contempt, to reprove some vices and reclaim some persons, to
confute errors that do not deserve solid confutation, to repel unjust
reproach and obloquy, and to counterbalance the improper use of it. “It is
bad objects or bad adjuncts, which do spoil its indifference and innocence:
it is the abuse thereof to which (as all pleasant things are dangerous, and
apt to degenerate into baits of intemperance and excess) it is very liable,
that corrupteth it, and seemeth to be the ground why in so general terms it
is prohibited by the apostle.” “All profane jesting, all speaking loosely and
wantonly about holy things, making such things the matter of sport and
mockery, playing and trifling with them, is certainly prohibited as an
intolerably vain and wicked practice.” “All injurious, abusive, scurrilous
jesting, which causeth or needlessly tendeth to the disgrace, damage,
vexation, or prejudice in any kind of our neighbor, is also prohibited.”
“There are some times and circumstances of things wherein it concerneth
and becometh men to:
Ø be serious in mind,
Ø grave in demeanor, and
Ø plain in discourse.”
To what the apostle condemns as not befitting he opposes giving of thanks.
There is a fitness in thanksgiving at all times (“giving thanks always,”
as it is said in the twentieth verse); but we are to understand that there is
a singular fitness in the present connection. Thanksgiving is speech put
to the best use (implying both seriousness and joyfulness). Let there be that,
the apostle would say, and it will rectify and hallow all speech.
ü The things which are not safe. “For this ye know of a surety, that no
fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, which is an idolater,
hath any inheritance
confident, as declaring what was attested by their own consciousness or
practical acquaintance with the kingdom. It is the kingdom, not only of
God, but of Christ and God, that is to say, a kingdom peculiarly associated
with the cross of Christ, in which God shows his deep detestation of sin by
punishing it in his Son. A kingdom that is ruled over by One who shed His
blood that sin might be done away, cannot receive into it those who sin
and do not mean to give up their sins. By their very antagonism to the
whole spirit, law, ends, of the kingdom, they shut the door against
themselves. We are surprised again that the covetous man appears in such
company, and further here that he is singled out for special remark.
“Nor covetous man, which is an idolater.” There is idolatry in the other sins,
that is, sensual pleasure is put in the place of God. And that may be the light
in which the apostle views the devotees of pleasure as shut out from
inheritance in the kingdom. But the covetous man is put forward as being
an idolater by pre-eminence. Christ had already said, “Ye cannot serve
God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24) The covetous man is not he who values
money and seeks to serve God therewith. But, according to the thought here,
he is one who idolizes money, values it in itself and not for God’s ends, sets
his affections on it, trusts in it; and, such being his relation to it, then it is
easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for him to enter
is not true of the others, that he can go on in his sin without incurring the
opprobrium (harsh criticism or censure) of men, and (partly from the
difficulty of drawing the exact line between the right and the wrong
love of gain) without suspecting himself that it is getting a hold upon him,
and thus (without such checks as the others have) getting hardened in his sin,
we can understand how he should be called by pre-eminence the idolater.
Warning. “Let no man deceive you with empty words: for because of
these things cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience.
Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” (v. 6) It would seem
that there were apologists for vice, who, by their representations, tried to
entice the Ephesian Christians back to Gentile ways. One of their
representations was that, besides being pleasant, it was safe to do these
things. So apologists for vice are ready to say this and many other things
still. But “let no man deceive you with empty words.” Such words have not
as their contents eternal truth. “For because of these things cometh the
wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience.” (ibid.) The sons of
disobedience are those who (in their love for sin) disobey the gospel of
Christ, by which alone there is deliverance from wrath. Refusing God’s
mercy, how can they escape God’s wrath? They are not only lying under
ordinary judgments or condemnation now, but they have yet to be dealt
with for these very sins. “After their hardness and impenitent hearts
they are treasuring up for themselves wrath in the day of wrath and
revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:5) It is for
those, then, who regard their safety (to bring in no higher consideration),
whatever apologists may say, to refuse to be partakers with the disobedient.
ü The things that are dark.
Ø They are in their walk to be separate from their former state. “Ye were
once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”
(v. 8) They had been brought up in heathen darkness. It was that in which
they lived and moved and had their being. And so, by appropriation, it was
more or less embedded in their nature. But now, living and moving and
having their being in the Lord, that is, in light (as contrasted with heathen
darkness), and being enlightened by Him through His gospel and Spirit,
they were light. And such being their state, there was a call to walk as
children of light. We are to walk under the incitement of the glorious fruit
of Christian illumination. “For the fruit of the light is in all goodness and
righteousness and truth.” (V. 9) The philosophic triad is the true, the
good, and the beautiful. The Christian triad as given here, and with which
we ought to be familiar, is the good, the right, and the true. The good,
or excellence of the heart, comes first; for that is first in God. Then follows
the right, or regard to conscience, to eternal principle. And, lastly, there
is the true, or regard to reality, not only in fact, but in thought (including
the perfect in form). We are good in cherishing a spirit of love; we are
righteous in doing our duty; we are true in conforming to Divine forms
of thought, Having these three in us, then it may be said that the beauty
of the Lord our God is upon us. (Psalm 90:17) We are to walk in the
way of proving what is well-pleasing to Christ. “Proving what is
well-pleasing unto the Lord.” (v. 10) It is not what the apologists for
vice say; IT IS WHAT CHRIST SAYS! It is that which is to be
tested. (Remember the TTP, Tried, Tested and Proven in v. 10 above
in the exposition. CY – 2019) It is implied that we have the means of
testing all things in this light. There are many things which, put to the
test by us, we must reject! They are revealed in our Christian
consciousness as wrong. There are other things which we see to be good,
not merely in the convincing light of truth, but in our own blessed
experience in the doing of them we feel that we have the approval of
the Master, we can even now hear His words, “Well done, good and
faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23) Our position, then, must be separation
from darkness. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness.” (v. 11) The fruit of light is one, A GLORIOUS INDIVISIBLE
CLUSTER! The works of darkness are many. The fruit of light is fitted
to incite us. The works of darkness should deter us. They are unfruitful.
They yield nothing that is worthy of the name of fruit, but only SHAME
Ø They are to take an aggressive position toward DARKNESS! “But
rather even reprove them.” (ibid.) They were not to pass them over in
silence or find excuses for them, but to hold them up to reprobation to
the doers of them. As darkness was aggressive toward them, so were
they as light (even for their own safety) to be aggressive toward the
darkness. They were to lift up the Gentiles to their own position. It is
added, as showing the clamant (forcing itself urgently on the attention)
need for reproof, “For the things which are done by them in secret it is a
shame even to speak of.” (v. 12) It is added further, as showing the use or
end of reproof, “But all things when they are reproved are made manifest
by the light.” (v. 13) “All those secret sins are laid bare in their real moral
character, unveiled and brought into distinctness before the moral
consciousness, by the light of Christian truth, which is at work in your
reproof; by the light, I say, it is made manifest — for, it is added,
‘everything that is made manifest is light’ (ibid.) has ceased thereby to
have the nature of darkness, and is now of the essence of light.” And thus,
whether there was amendment or not, they would be making an inroad on
the territory of darkness, making dark deeds stand out in the light. (See
Ø They are to take this aggressive position in consistency with the
awakening call of God. “Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest,
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee.” (v. 14)
The words are from Isaiah 60:1-2, and receive from the apostle a Christian
o It is a call to the child of darkness. He is described as sleeping and
dead, that is, in sin. He is insensible to the infinite importance of
spiritual and eternal things.
o It is a call to awake and arise. “Awake, thou that sleepest, and
arise from the dead.” (v. 14) He does not let the child of the
night alone. He comes to the sleeper and bids him AWAKE, to
the DEAD and bids him ARISE! And in His very summons
there is an AWAKENING, QUICKENING POWER!
o It is a call to which a promise is attached. “And Christ shall
shine upon thee.” (ibid.) As if it were said, “The sun is already up,
and will pour his enlightening rays upon thee.” So while we are
sleeping and dead in our sin, it is true that the Sun of righteousness
(Malachi 4:2) is up shining upon this world of ours, and we must up
and catch His rays. Other men are up and doing their work under
the light of this Sun; why should we be asleep and dead in sin?
The Walk Suitable to the Children of Light:
No Fellowship with Sins of the Flesh (vs. 1-14)
· SINS OF THE FLESH DENOUNCED, with a corresponding sin of the
spirit — covetousness (vs. 3-4).
· REASONS WHY SUCH SINS SHOULD BE RENOUNCED BY
No such person has
any inheritance in the
ü The wrath of God cometh — is present and visible — for such things on
very evil men (
ü They belong to the world of darkness, and Christians are children of
light (v. 8).
ü Christians, as living in the Spirit, should bring forth the fruit of the Spirit
ü They should ascertain and follow only what is pleasing to Christ (v. 10).
· REASONS WHY SUCH SINS SHOULD BE REPROVED BY
ü They are so evil that it is a sin even to speak of them (v. 12).
ü The true character of such sins is seen by light let in on them (v. 13).
ü The light has a tendency to transform (v. 13), and by letting in the light
that shows the odiousness of the sin you may be the means of changing
the sinner; while you reprove you may also improve him.
ü It is for this purpose the Church has got the light — when the light is
brought to her, her Lord calls on her to awake and shine (v. 15). Such
precepts and considerations have
a wider bearing than
groves. Sins of the flesh flourish even in Christian lands. Young men!
Lay these things to heart; fear God and keep His commandments, and
be not misled by any of the sophistry to which you listen; for they
that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts.
Two Worlds of One Race (vs. 11-14)
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather
reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are
done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest
by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he
saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall
give thee light.” The text may be regarded as a portraiture of two distinct
worlds of men on this earth:
(1) the world of the wicked and
(2) the world of the Christly.
Here we have:
· THE WORLD OF WICKED MEN. The characteristics of these men are
ü They are worthless. Their works are “the unfruitful works of darkness.”
Ungodly men live in moral darkness. The sun, which alone reveals things as
they are in the spiritual world, shines not in their heavens. All the light they
have are the electric flashes of an impure atmosphere. They work in the
dark, and their works are “unfruitful.” That is “unfruitful “‘ of good. The
soil that is sterile as regards its capability of producing fruit is often fertile
in its capacity to produce noxious weeds and poisonous herbs; so the
ungodly soul — it is unfruitful in goodness, but prolific in crime.
ü They are clandestine. “Which are done of them in secret.” Though there
may be an allusion here to the abominable mysteries which were celebrated
character of a sinful life. All is secret. Sin is necessarily hypocritical; it
speaks in a false voice; it works under masks. The more corrupt the human
soul the more sneakish and clandestine. The good alone can afford to be
bland and open.
ü They are shameful. “For it is a shame even to speak of those things.”
Heathenism has ever abounded and still abounds with nameless iniquities
(Romans 1:24-32). But sin in all its forms is a shameful thing. It is
essentially disgraceful, disreputable, and ignominious. A man has only to
think calmly of it in the light of conscience and God, in order to bring
burning blushes to his cheek. Sin is a shame. (Beware of what is spoken
in Jeremiah 8:12 – “Were they ashamed when they had committed
abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they
blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of
their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.”
ü They are sleepy. “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest.” A
sinful soul is sleepy in a moral sense. It is unconscious of its moral
surroundings — it is filled with illusory dreams; it must one day be aroused
to a sense of reality. Unlike natural sleep, moral sleep does not refresh and
invigorate, but enervates (weakens) and destroys.
ü They are mortal. “Arise from the dead.” Everywhere the Bible
represents sin as a state of death. The sinful soul is like a corpse. It is
odious and the victim of external forces. Such is the world of wicked
men around us. It is worthless, clandestine, shameful, sleepy, mortal.
· THE WORLD OF CHRISTLY MEN. These are represented by the
has a work to do with the other — the dark world of wickedness around
them. And it is here indicated. What is it?
ü Separation. “Have no fellowship.” It does not mean, of course, that
Christians are to have no relations or dealings with the ungodly. This
could not be, and ought not to be if it could. It means that they are to have
no spiritual identification with them — no thoughts, purposes, or feelings
alike. That, like Christ, they are to be “separate from sinners.” (Hebrews
7:26) Morally detached as the lamp from the darkness. “I have written
unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be
a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard,
or an extortioner: with such a one no not to eat” (I Corinthians 5:11).
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate saith
the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will be with your.”
(II Corinthians 6:17).
ü Reprehension. “But rather reprove them.”
Ø Reprove them by lip. In the name of purity and truth expose
and denounce their wickedness.
Ø Reprove them by life. Let the life stand in such a grand
contrast to all that is sinful that it may be a standing rebuke.
ü Illumination. “All things that are reproved are made manifest by the
light.” Hold forth the light of the gospel in the midst of a “crooked and
perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
ü Resuscitation. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.”
Thunder in the ear of the sleeper; speak life into the heart of the dead.
There is LIVING LIGHT FOR ALL IN CHRIST! “Christ shall
give thee light.” “He is the Light of the world.” The idea of this verse
seems to be that, if Christians will use all their efforts to convert men,
they may expect Christ to shine upon them and bless them. The “light”
that comes from Him is a soul-quickening light. “The hour is coming,
and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God:
and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25). Elijah raised the dead; so
did the apostles. We, also, in God’s great Name, can raise the dead —
dead souls. The resurrection of a soul is a far grander work than the
resurrection of a body. Let us sound the blast of the gospel trumpet
over moral cemeteries, and the graves will open and dead souls come
forth to life.
The Trumpet-Call of the Gospel (v. 14)
Since it is light that manifests, there must be a rousing voice to awake the
sleeper, that the light of life may be poured fully upon him.
· THE PERSON ADDRESSED. “Thou that sleepest.” Sleep is an apt
figure to describe the sinner.
ü He lives in an unreal world, full of dreams and fancies, quite
unconscious of the real world around him. The sinner dreams
of safety and peace. He is carnally secure (Romans 13:10;
I Thessalonians 5:6). He may even walk in his sleep.
ü He is wholly unprotected against danger. If he knew of his danger, he
would not be asleep. He needs, therefore, to be roused.
ü His work is wholly suspended. So long as the sinner sleeps in spiritual
death he does no good, he gets no good, he cares for nothing. The figure
of the text is, therefore, very expressive.
· THE COMMAND ADDRESSED TO THE SLEEPER. “Awake ... and
arise from the dead.” The first thing is to open the eyes; but we are not to
suppose that the sinner has any power of himself to open them, any more
than the man with the withered hand had power to stretch it forth before
Christ said, “Stretch forth thine hand.” (Mark 3:5) It is the light which
Christ is to shed upon the sleeper that will awake him. Just as the sun in
the natural heavens, shining upon the eye of a sleeper, awakes him, so the
beams of the Sun of righteousness end THE SLEEP OF DEATH!
ü The cry, “Awake!” is the voice of love. A mother’s love will lull her
child to sleep, but if the house is on fire, it will take another turn, and
startle the child from its slumbers.
ü The cry, “Awake!” is the voice of wisdom. The sinner loses much by
sleeping. The thief pilfers by night. The tare-sower goes forth in darkness
to sow his seed. If you sleep on till death, you lose everything.
ü The cry is a voice of command. Who commands? It is He who redeemed
you with His precious blood.
ü It is a voice you have often heard:
Ø in sermons,
Ø in sickness,
Ø in sorrows,
Ø in calamities.
· THE PROMISE TO THE SLEEPER. “And Christ shall give thee
light.” The light that comes from Christ can reach even the dead:
“The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice
of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25). The dead
are not quickened before they hear His voice, but His voice causes them
to HEAR and LIVE! Christ will give you light to carry you out of the
society of the dead into the companionship of the children of light,
because it has already introduced you into the fellowship of the
Father and the Son. “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness,
and put on the armor of light.”
Awake! (v. 14)
· A DESCRIPTION. A particular kind of man is here addressed — “thou
that sleepest;” “the dead.”
ü The man is asleep. His sleep is spiritual indifference. Whether or no he
has an abstract belief in religion is not of the slightest moment. He may be
an atheist or he may be orthodox of the orthodox. So long as he is sleeping
it matters little what he might have been doing had he been awake. The
sleeper may have his eyes open to secular interests; he may have a quick
intellect in speculation or a vigorous energy in business. Yet angels who
see that he is unconscious of the greatest realities must regard him as a
dreamer or at best as a restless sleep-walker.
ü This sleep is a sign of death. It is more than sleep. It is unnatural and
impossible to a soul in full energy. Spiritual perceptions must have been
dulled and spiritual powers paralyzed to admit of this blindness and stupor
in regard to Divine things.
· A CALL. Awake! Up! Arise! A loud voice disturbs the sleeper.
ü God calls:
Ø in providence, rousing the careless soul by the shock of some sudden
change; and often
Ø in the gospel, for it is the duty of the preacher to speak in trumpet-
notes, not merely to teach the attentive but also to rouse the listless.
ü It is important to respond to this call; for sleep is
Ø a sinful neglect of duty;
Ø a foolish loss of blessings — he who sleeps till the full day never
sees the glory of the sunrise; and
Ø a dangerous condition — the longer a man sleeps the more difficult
will it be to awake, and meanwhile death and judgment may be
ü It is possible to awake. The spiritual sleep is partly voluntary and semi-
conscious. As a man sometimes knows that he is dreaming so he may be
made aware that he is spiritually asleep and may rouse himself if he will.
There is rousing power, too, in the Divine voice. It vexes a man to have his
rest disturbed, but as one who wakes the sleeper when his house is on fire
it comes for his deliverance and he will do well to bestir himself.
· A PROMISE. “Christ shall shine upon thee.” There is something to
wake up for. Christ is THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD! His people are
now “light in the Lord.” (v. 8) He brings to the waking soul truth, purity,
and joy. When the storm rages and the dark night lingers, and to wake is
only to take up again the burden of sorrow and grope in the hopeless gloom,
a man has some excuse for sleeping. Despair may sleep. But the Christian
finds a bright morning responding to his opening eyes. We are not to wake
only to kindle a poor light for ourselves. We are rewarded for waking by
THE CHEERING BRIGHTNESS OF CHRIST! We must rouse ourselves,
however, to enjoy it. The people that sit in darkness see the great light only
when they awake and arise from the dead.
15 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,”
See then that ye walk circumspectly. The construction is
somewhat peculiar, combining two ideas — see that you walk strictly, but
consider well the kind of strictness. Do not walk loosely, without fixed
principles of action; but make sure that your rules are of the true kind.
Many are strict who are not wisely strict; they have rules, but not good
rules. Not as fools (unwise), but as wise. This rendering brings out the force
of ἄσοφοι -– asophoi – unwise - and σοφοὶ <- sophoi – wise - “fools” (Authorized
Version) is rather strong, for it is not utter folly that is reproved, but easy-mindedness,
want of earnest consideration in a matter so infinitely vital, so as to know what is
16 “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” or, buying
up for yourselves the opportunity, the idea being that of a merchant who,
knowing the value of an article and the good use to which he can put it,
buys it up. (Think of the attention one gives to a bargain or good deal
that you would not want to let get away! CY – 2019) The opportunity is the
opportunity of spreading the light and acting according to it; and the reason
assigned, “because the days are evil,” indicates that, owing to the prevalence
of evil, there is much need for the light over which the Christian has control. It
may be hinted likewise that the prevalence of evil is apt to cool the love
and diminish the zeal of the Christian; hence the need for special eagerness of
spirit in the matter — he must greedily watch for his opportunity.
Paul is consequently anxious that in evil days, such as those upon which the
Ephesians have fallen, they should be watchful and wise enough to “buy up
eagerly their opportunity,” and do the best they can for their age. This is by
holy living. There is no other way of understanding the times and fulfilling
our course in them. (Like David who “served his own generation” [Acts 13:36 ] -
CY – 2010) It will thus be seen that Paul appeals to the Ephesians,
by both the love and wrath of God, by the expediency and power of a pure
life, to walk worthy of their high calling. In this way he expects to enlist
them in the great army of united and brotherly souls who are gathering
round Jesus our King and Head. May we all respond to his appeal!
The Love and the Wrath of God Enforcing Morality (1-16)
Paul is still working for the unity of the Church and calling for that watchful and pure
walk on the part of the Ephesians which can alone promote it. He consequently brings
to bear upon them the allied motives of the love and the wrath of God. And here we
may remark, in passing, that the moralities which have tried to work themselves
without the aid of Divine sanctions have proved practically powerless. No
“independent morality” has as yet rendered any appreciable service to the
world. We still need to be OVERSHADOWED BY THE DIVIINE! Paul,
moreover, begins with love, and then passes on to the fact of the Divine wrath.
· THE LOVE OF GOD PATERNAL AND FRATERNAL SHOULD
MOVE US TO MUTUAL LOVE. (Vs. 1-2) The Ephesians are exhorted
to follow their Divine Father as dear children. The constant love of the
heavenly Father lights all the children on their way and rebukes their want
of love. The first motive in this section is, therefore, paternal love, a call to
children of God to be loving like their Father in heaven. But the second
motive is from the fraternal love of Christ, which led Him out of
consideration for us to “give Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice
to God for an odor of a sweet smell” (Revised Version). The self-sacrifice
of Christ, we are here taught, was a very precious offering in the
Father’s sight. In the cross the Father for the first time saw perfect
obedience carried up to the point and in the article of death. While in one
aspect Jesus realized the Father’s wrath on the cross, because the Substitute
for sinners, in another aspect He was contemplated by the Father with the
utmost complacency. Self-sacrifice is fully appreciated by our Father in heaven.
Now, if God regarded with infinite delight the self-sacrifice of the only begotten
Son for the sake of His brethren, there is no way in which we can delight our
Father so much as by following in the Elder Brother’s footsteps and being
ready to sacrifice ourselves out of love to the brethren. What a spirit this
would infuse into our Church life! In this passage Christ is really
represented as both Priest and Victim. In the same way we may delight the
mind of God in being victims and priests in our loving relations to the
· THE WRATH OF GOD IS A REALITY TOWARDS THE COVETOUS
AND UNCLEAN. (vs. 3-7.) The idea that God will not be angry with wicked
men must be dismissed from all minds, Righteous indignation against certain
forms of evil is an experience of a most imperative and holy character. We
should lose our reverence for a God who did not become angry with sinners.
It was the more needful to affirm this truth at
heathenism were supposed to be addicted to such crimes as uncleanness
and covetousness. Olympus was filled, by the impure imaginations of men,
with a set of men and women who were for the most part fit for
penitentiaries and state prisons. Morality received no backing from the
mythology. But the thought that a God so loving as our heavenly Father is
wrathful with the covetous and the unclean, and allows His wrath to burn
against them, is surely calculated to wean men from such sins. There seems
to have been insinuations in Paul’s time that the Divine wrath against
impurity and covetousness was mythical, just as such insinuation prevails at
present. But surely the frightful punishment which these sins entail in the
order of nature speak to the spirit of man about the reality of the Divine
wrath. Not all the ameliorations of science can bring it about that men can
so sin with impunity; the unclean are cursed in the very nature of things
with a grievous curse (see Romans 1:27), and the covetous suffer of necessity
in their pinched and miserly souls. God is an angry God against those who
love sin, (“God is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 7:11) and our
only course is to forsake it. Harless and Olshausen believe the word here
rendered “covetousness” to mean in this connection “intemperance,” the
desire, not for gold, but for fleshly gratification — the making a god of the
belly, and so an idolatry. Of course, if this sense be taken of πλεονεξία –
pleh-on-ex-ee’-ah - covetousness - it agrees better with the context and
makes more emphatic Paul’s appeal for purity. Do we make as much in
these days of the Divine wrath as we should? (Fleshly gratification is
definitely associated with “abortion on demand.” Contemporary man
has no concept of how great a sin in God’s eyes that abortion is!
CY – 2019) As the love-pain of God, as one writer has called it, it is
surely well fitted to enforce morality.
· PAUL FURTHER SHOWS THAT THE DEEDS OF DARKNESS
ARE UNFRUITFUL. (vs. 8-11.) He tells the Ephesians they were once
in darkness, and did these deeds of darkness. But they have come into the
light which is shed upon our path by our radiant Lord. They must walk,
consequently as children of the light, remembering that the fruit of the light
(so Revised Version) is in all goodness and righteousness and truth. Thus
they would prove what is well-pleasing unto the Lord. In so doing they
would have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but would
rather reprove them. Now, in arguing that the works of darkness are
“unfruitful,” (compare “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof
ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.” Romans 6:21 –
CY – 2019) Paul is advocating morality on the ground of expediency. He
has already applied the Divine sanctions, but he does not hesitate to back
these up by showing that what God wills is good. Natural law endorses the
Divine precepts. But this is quite distinct from the position that the natural
law can secure obedience when it stands alone. All experience disproves
this. Utilitarianism (the doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or
for the benefit of a majority – a concept apparently employed by
Progressives in contemporary culture. As below – THEY TOO WILL
DISCOVER THAT THEY HAVE MADE A GREAT MISTAKE!
CY – 2019). is not a sufficiently broad basis for a sound morality.
But the expediency of moral rectitude is an important argument in its favor.
Sooner or later a man who commits deeds of darkness finds he has made a
· BUT IT IS A PURE LIFE WHICH WILL REALLY REPROVE THEM.
(vs. 12-14.) It is thought sometimes by superficial people that accurate
descriptions of the deeds of darkness will do something to disgust people
with them. But this is Satan advising man again to become wiser by eating
forbidden fruit. Paul’s opinion is that it is a shame to speak and therefore to
think of what is done by the sinful in secret. All the prurient (having or
encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters) curiosity which
feasts itself like flies on foul corruption is of the devil The true plan,
therefore, is not to mention such matters. Let them be buried in oblivion,
but let Christians awake from all lethargic slumber, and arise from the
corruption of spiritual death, and in the light of Christ live purely. Thus
shall the deeds of darkness be reproved. All that we have to do then is to
carry in the light, and the darkness and its deeds will stand convicted
before us. The Ephesians are to indulge in no scandalous conversation
under the pretence of defeating the doers of the dark deeds; but they are to
walk in the light of Christ and be pure, and lo! the sinners shall hide
themselves before them.
· TIME MAY BE REDEEMED BY HOLY LIVING.
(vs. 15-16.) There has been some discussion as to the exact meaning of
“time” in this passage. Harless is clearly of opinion — in which, as in most
matters, he is followed by his French disciple, M. Monod — that
“opportunity” (der rechte Zeitpunkt) best expresses τὸν καιρόν – to kairon –
the season. Paul is consequently anxious that in evil days, such as those upon
which the Ephesians have fallen, they should be watchful and wise enough
to “buy up eagerly their opportunity,” and do the best they can for their age.
This is by holy living. There is no other way of understanding the times and
fulfilling our course in them. It will thus be seen that Paul appeals to the
Ephesians, by both the love and wrath of God, by the expediency and power
of a pure life, to walk worthy of their high calling. In this way he expects to
enlist them in the great army of united and brotherly souls who are gathering
round Jesus our King and Head. May we all respond to His appeal!
Jonathan Edwards, the famed Puritan minister preached a sermon on
The Preciousness of Time and the Importance of Redeeming It dated
December, 1734 and can be found at www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/works2.vi.xiv.html
(also see The Preciousness of Time by Jonathan Edwards, December, 1734,
this web site – CY - 2010)
The Circumspect Walk (vs. 15-16)
· ITS NECESSITY. The duty of reproof involved the necessity of
circumspection in those who were bound to administer it. It may be a small
thing to Christians “to be judged of man’s judgment” (I Corinthians 4:3),
yet they cannot afford to disregard the force of public opinion. They
ought to “have a good report of them which are without” (I Timothy 3:7).
It is evidently with reference to onlookers that the counsel of the
apostle is given. “Walk m wisdom toward them that are without,
redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5). When we consider the number of
our enemies, the inconstancy of our minds, the strictness of the Divine
requirements, and the jealousy our Divine Master cherishes over His
people, it is impossible to walk acceptably unless we walk circumspectly.
· THE NATURE OF THIS WALK. We are to “walk circumspectly, not
as fools, but as wise.”
ü We are to have knowledge of the true way (Jeremiah 6:16,
Matthew 7:14), not as the fool, who misses the path.
ü We are to follow the light that falls upon our path, not like the fool,
who turns aside to darkness, only to stumble in it (Proverbs 4:27).
ü We are to foresee the dangers of the way and provide against them,
not like “the simple, who pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3).
ü We are to have the Lord for our Companion by the way, like “Enoch,
who walked with God” (Genesis 5:22-24). The fool seeks the company
of the foolish.
ü We are to keep in view the end of our walk. “Receiving the end of your
faith, even the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:9).
· THE APPLICATION OF THIS PRINCIPLE TO THE PROFITABLE
There can be no wise or careful walking without a due consideration both of
the value of time and of the importance of using our opportunities for doing
ü The nature of this redemption of time. It is not the mere effort to rescue
the fleeting hours of our life from idleness, vanity, distraction, or excessive
devotion to business, but an effort to lay hold of opportunities for doing
good, to make the most of them, to allow no distractions of pleasure or life
to stand in the way of their right employment. Jesus, in His extreme youth,
was eager to be “about his Father’s business” (Luke 2:49). We are to
do good unto all men “as we have opportunity” (Galatians 6:10). We
are to do good to our very enemies, after the example of that Father who
“maketh His sun to rise upon the evil and the good” (Matthew 5:45).
We are to use our opportunities also for receiving good, giving all
diligence to make our calling and our election sure (II Peter 1:10).
ü Reasons for redeeming the time. “Because the days are evil.” It is not
because our days are few, though that is also a very good reason.
Ø We have lost much time already (I Peter 4:3);
Ø we do not know how much time yet remains to us (James
Ø we have to give an account of all our time and opportunities.
The reason assigned by the apostle is the evil of the days. Time must not be
lost if the evil is to be quickly and effectively counteracted. The apostle
does not hint the nature of the evil. Yet it is allowable to suppose that the
days were evil, not in themselves, but by reason of man’s wickedness and
Ø It is the evil of sin, rather than the evil of punishment, that is
Ø It is part of the evil that MEN DO NOT SEE IT AT ALL!
Ø It is part of the evil that they do not mourn over it.
Ø It is part of the evil that they will do nothing to remove it.
Ø There is, therefore, all the more reason for Christians bestirring
themselves in all seasons and spheres of action to counteract the
evil of the days.
The Value of Time (v. 16)
· ALL TIME IS OF HIGH VALUE. They who kill time destroy one of
the best talents God has given them and rob Him of a sacred trust He has
lent to them.
ü Time is not our own property. We are servants and have to account to
our Master for our use of His hours.
ü Great concerns have to be attended to. Not only is art long while life is
short, but duty is great, the claims of service are many, and the wants of
our fellow-men are numerous. In this world of toil and strife and sorrow
every moment is of value for some good deed of mercy or some solid
work of truth.
ü Lost time is irrecoverable. We cannot redeem the time that has been
wasted. A repentant diligence may bring back the inheritance that was
squandered away in extravagant folly; careful attention may bring back
the wasted health; but time once gone is gone forever.
ü Time may be made of increasing value. An hour is worth more in the
use of one man than a day with another man.
· SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES ARE OF SPECIAL VALUE. Paul
urges us to buy up “the seasons.” All time is not of equal value. There are
moments of peculiar preciousness. Woe to him who, through heedlessness
or willful negligence, lets them slip! The moment when the rope floats by
the drowning man it must be seized or he dies. Strike the iron while it is
hot. Sow the seed in the spring if you would reap the harvest in the autumn.
ü Youth has its golden opportunities that belong go no other age. Young
men especially should make the most of their own season. (“Remember
now thy Creator in the days of thy youth...” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)
ü Manhood has its time of vigor for work that will be beyond the strength
of old age. The wise man will watch for occasions of usefulness that his
word may be “in season.”
· THE TRUE VALUE OF TIME CAN ONLY BE OBTAINED AT A
COST. We have to buy it up before we can make use of it.
ü We must spend thought in considering how we can best use our time
and in watching for right opportunities. For want of due consideration
there is a frightful lack of economy of energy and time.
ü We must sacrifice our own pleasure in giving up time that we are
tempted to expend on ourselves, our amusement or our rest, to the service
of God. He who only gives to God his leisure moments, when he is worn
and jaded with his own selfish work, makes but a poor offering.
ü We must put out greater energy in order to make our time of more value.
Few of us work on the highest subjects at full pressure. The busiest
might do more good if, when they cannot as yet find time for serving
Christ, they would make time.
17 “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
The “wherefore” bears on all the preceding argument: because ye are children of
light; because LIGHT is so valuable and so indispensable; because
your whole circumstances demand so much care and earnestness.
“Unwise” is equivalent to senseless; “understanding,” to both knowing and
laying to heart, as in parable of sower: “When any one heareth the word of
the kingdom, and understandeth it not,” (Matthew 13:19) i.e. does not
consider or ponder it, “then cometh the wicked one,” etc. The will of the
Lord is the great rule of the Christian life; to know and in the deeper sense
understand this, is to walk wisely and to walk surely. It is a sin against our
rational nature, against our high calling, and against the Lord, not to use
our intellectual faculties with supreme relation to the Lord’s will.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own
understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct
thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
The Christian Walk (15-17)
The apostle urges a circumspect, wise, and earnest life, closely conformed in
all things to the will of God, fashioned according to that idea of wisdom which
is set forth in the proverb, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”
(Proverbs 9:10) Nothing is of more value than fixed principles for guiding our life.
One settled conviction may be of inestimable value; e.g. the conviction that
nothing can come to any good in the end which is against the will of God.
Whenever greatness is achieved in any sphere of life it is through the force
of well-kept rules. Every great author, artist, statesman, has owed his success
to certain principles of action to which he has rigidly adhered. It has been
remarked that the Puritan Age was an age of convictions; ours is an
age of opinions (worst still, an age of polls - CY – 2010). But what we need is
convictions, and pre-eminently the conviction that the only true, safe, and
blessed rule of life is to follow implicitly the will of God. We find here rules
for a careful Christian life
(2) in Christian society.
ü Walk circumspectly, or strictly, not carelessly.
ü Walk wisely, taking pains to ascertain that you so walk as to gain
the great end.
ü Redeem the time, or buy back the opportunity (see Exposition).
ü Understand; i.e. lay to heart and follow the will of Christ.
ü Avoid intoxication and all wild excitement and unhallowed
ü Be filled with the Spirit, and the holy, blessed emotions which He
ü Cultivate Christian song, and make melody in your heart to the
ü Let thanksgiving have a special place in your exercises.
ü Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of the Lord.
As Christians have not only duties, but also joys, belonging to their individual
life, so they have both duties and joys belonging to their social life. What is
most characteristic of the social duties of Christians is mutual submission;
consideration of one another — of what is due by one to another, and still
more of the loving service which one may be able to render to the other.
What is most characteristic of their social joys is the element of thankfulness
in which they flourish; they should ever live as those, who in Christ have
received mercies beyond all calculation; and they should make abundant
use of song to give expression to such feelings and to deepen them in so doing.
This joyous element goes a long way to give brightness to the social life of
Christians; they will not miss the more carnal delights on which worldly men
set so much store, but will feel that God puts joy in their hearts, more than
in the time that their corn and wine increased. (Psalm 4:7)
The Right Understanding of Duty (v. 17)
This is necessary to its efficient performance.
· UNWISDOM. (folly, lack of wisdom) The thought of the apostle turns upon
the misapplication or misdirection of our powers. “Be ye not unthinking
and senseless.” It is a sin against our:
ü rational nature,
ü our high calling, and
ü against the Lord,
not to use our intellectual faculties with supreme relation to the Lord’s
· THE IMPORTANCE OF A TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD’S
WILL. Religion is a question of knowledge as well as feeling. Knowledge
supplies the basis of feeling. Though Scripture tells us not to lean to our
own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6), it tells us to love with knowledge and
all judgment. The knowledge is needed both to stimulate and to regulate the
love. We must know our duties, dangers, temptations, in respect to every
condition of life in which we are placed by Divine providence. It is the
will of the Lord Jesus Christ which supplies the true standard of action
TO EVERY CHRISTIAN! The direction of our life is to be determined
BY HIS PRECEPTS!
18 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;” Drunkenness is suggested
because it is a work of darkness; it is the foe to vigilance and earnestness, and it
leads all who yield to it to act unwisely. It is the social aspect of drunkenness the
apostle has in view — the exhilarating influence of wine in company, giving a rush
of high spirits. Ασωτία - as-o-tee’-ah – excess, riot; from α and σωζω,- asode’-zo;
the opposite of savingness, wastefulness, dissoluteness, or the process of being
dissolved, involving perdition. Spoken of the prodigal son, “riotous living;” the
habit which sends everything to wreck and ruin. (Luke 15:13)
Warning against Drunkenness (v. 18)
The tremendous sin of intemperance must have had a great hold upon a
commercial city like
beware of such an insidious vice.
licentiousness (Ibid. v. 20).
(I Corinthians 6:10.)
Therefore Christians ought to avoid it, abstaining altogether from intoxicating
drinks on the grounds of Christian expediency, and using their influence to
rescue others from its ruinous fascination. But be filled with the Spirit.
Instead of resorting to wine to cheer and animate you, throw your hearts
open the Holy Spirit, so that He may come and fill them; seek the joy that
the Spirit inspires when He makes you to sit with Christ in heavenly places,
so that, instead of pouring out your joyous feelings in bacchanalian songs,
you may do so in Christian hymns.
Drunkenness and Its Antidote (v. 18)
· THE SIN. It was the mistake of some of the earlier advocates of
temperance to dwell too much on the economic arguments against
drunkenness, to the neglect of those which are supplied by religion. That
dissipation wrecks a man’s position in the world is plain and sad enough.
But it is not worldly self-interest that is chiefly outraged thereby. The sin of
drunkenness is its great condemnation. It is a sin against God and man.
ü It desecrates the temple of the Holy Ghost.
ü It unfits a man for his mission in the world.
ü It occasions brutal unkindness to others:
Ø robbing the family of daily bread for the sake of gross self-indulgence,
Ø bringing poverty and gloom, wretchedness and terror on the home, and
Ø giving to children a hideous inheritance of disease and constitutional
tendencies to the same vice.
ü It opens the door for other vices. Instead of pleading intoxication as an
excuse for a crime committed in the madness of drink, a man should be
made to feel that the wickedness of putting himself into such a condition
was aggravated by the terrible results.
· THE TEMPTATION. In order to remedy the fearful evil we must
consider how it arises.
ü From customs of sociability. Drinking has been regarded as an almost
necessary accompaniment of friendly society.
ü From lack of mental occupation. Men spending hours together of a
winter’s night without any education to supply food for the mind resort to
the glass as the one available relief from the tedium of doing nothing.
ü The craving or nervous stimulation. This is the real thirst of the
excessive drinker. What is called “low spirits,” resulting from general ill
health, or nervous debility, or trouble, or as the natural consequence of
previous indulgence, creates the craving for stimulants. Early in the present
century, Lord Jeffrey quoted a statement of a physician of
respecting some of the most prosperous merchants of that town. “He
informs me,” said the lord advocate, “that few of the richer sort live to be
fifty, but die of a sort of atrophy. They eat too much, take little exercise,
and, above all, have no nervous excitement.” This condition tempts to
indulgence in nerve-stimulants.
· THE ANTIDOTE. We must have an antidote if we would remedy the
evil. Mere negative abstinence without anything to support and encourage
it is impossible on a large scale and in the worst cases. Paul, by a flash
of inspiration reveals the cure. “Be filled with the Spirit.” These are old
words. Yet they read strangely in the present connection — so little have
they been heeded by zealous but unimaginative and unspiritual social
reformers. We are to pray for the Spirit of God which Christ assures us will
be given to all who ask for it (Luke 11:13). How is this to counteract
ü It counteracts the craving for nervous stimulation. It is itself a pure and
vitalizing spiritual stimulus, infusing at once restfulness and energy.
ü It supplies interest and occupation. For the Spirit of God is the
inspiration of thought and power.
ü It purifies and elevates social relations. They who are filled with the
Spirit will find that “singing and making melody in their hearts” is a more
congenial accompaniment of social intercourse than drinking strong drinks.
19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
making melody in your heart to the Lord;” Speaking to yourselves. Literally, this
would denote antiphonal singing, but this is rather an artificial idea for so simple times.
It seems here to denote one person singing one hymn, then another another, and so on;
and the meetings would seem to have been for social Christian enjoyment rather than
for the public worship of God. In the Epistle to the Colossians it is, “Teaching and
admonishing one another with psalms,” (Colossians 3:16) and this has more of the
idea of public worship; and if it be proper to express joyful feelings in the comparatively
private social gatherings of Christians, it is proper to do the same in united public
worship. In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. The precise meaning of these
terms is not easily seen; “psalms” we should naturally apply to the Old Testament
psalms, but the want of the article makes the meaning more general, equivalent to
“songs with the character of the psalms;” hymns, songs celebrating the praises of
the Divine Being, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; “spiritual songs” or odes
of a more general cast, meditative, historical, hortatory, or didactic. But
these must be “spiritual,” such as the Holy Spirit would lead us to use and
would use with us for our good. The two clauses correspond: “be filled
with the Spirit;” “speaking in spiritual songs.” Receive the Spirit — pour
out the Spirit; let your songs be effusions sent forth from your hearts with
the aroma of the Holy Spirit! Singing and making melody in your heart
to the Lord; i.e. to the Lord Jesus. Some have argued that while ἄδοντες -–
adontes - denotes singing and praising God, ψάλλοντες – psallontes – melody –
means striking the musical instrument. But ψάλλω – psallo - primarily to twitch,
twang, then to play a stringed instrument with the fingers, and hence, to sing a hymn,
sing praise; - is so frequently used in a more general sense, that it can hardly be
restricted to this meaning here. The great thought is that this musical service must
not be musical only, but a service of the heart, in rendering which the heart
must be in a state of worship.
Christian Worship (v. 19)
We have here, not only an interesting picture of worship as it was conducted in the
early Church, but also apostolic directions for Christian worship that may be applied
to all times. Consider some of the chief features of this worship.
· IT IS PURE. The context shows that this point was of especial interest
under the circumstances that obtained when the Epistle was written. The
pure and simple observances of
the Christian assembly at
have stood in striking contrast to the riotous orgies that characterized the
heathen festivities. In those pagan ceremonies intoxication and
licentiousness were recognized accompaniments. Instead of indulging in
drunkenness, the Christians seek to be filled with the Spirit; abandoning
immoral practices, they occupy themselves in social worship by singing and
making melody in their hearts. Pagans separated morality from religion. To
Christians neither is possible without the other. Christian worship must be
offered up in THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS! Christian conduct is purified
and elevated by the inspiration of worship.
· IT IS SPIRITUAL. We are to make melody with our “heart.” The
heart stands, not for the feelings only nor chiefly, but generally for the inner
life. Worship must begin here, or the richest music and the sweetest song
will be an empty mockery. Whatever be our forms of worship, we have
constantly to remember that the spiritual God can only be really
worshipped in spirit (John 44), in inward thoughts and feelings of devotion.
· IT IS EMOTIONAL. Religion is not all feeling. It is based on
convictions, and it develops into actions. But religion does not dispense
with emotions. It touches our whole nature — the emotional part with the
rest. It makes great use of feelings as springs of active and sympathetic
influences. We ought to cherish feelings of love and adoration. In worship
this element of religion finds its natural scope and exercise.
· IT IS JOYOUS. Instead of gloomy rites and bloody sacrifices
Christians have music and song in their worship. They are living under a
gospel and should echo back the glad tidings of God’s love. They are
coming to a Father and should approach Him with happy home-confidence.
They are following Christ, who gives His joy to His people (John 15:11).
· IT IS VOCAL. It begins in the heart, but it does not remain hidden
there. Deep feeling naturally wells out in strong utterance. Religious
emotion is encouraged and assisted by adequate expression. Of all
parts of religion thanksgiving should be least reserved.
· IT IS MUSICAL. “Making melody.” We cannot make the service of
praise too beautiful, because we should offer to God what is best in form
as well as in substance, and because the music of song assists the feeling
that it expresses. Slovenly singing is a mark of indifference and irreverence.
· IT IS CONGREGATIONAL. “Speaking one to another.” This is
probably an allusion to antiphonal congregational singing. But whatever be
the method adopted, and though a choir may take its part in the service, it
is plainly the intention of Paul that all the people should sing, and that
thus one should exhort and encourage another. We cannot praise God by
· IT IS ADDRESSED TO GOD IN CHRIST. “To the Lord.” Pliny
writes how the Christians in his time met in the early morning to sing
hymns to one Christ. We are not to sing simply for our own delectation or
spiritual culture, or merely to attract and interest others, but mainly as
addressing GOD and CHRIST in praise and communion.
20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of
our Lord Jesus Christ;” Giving thanks always for all things” - this being not only
a most Christian duty, but an excellent way to keep the heart in good tone,
to keep up happy feelings — the duty not being occasional, but “always,”
and not for things prima facto agreeable only, but “for all things” (see
Job 2:10; Romans 8:28) Unto God and the Father in the Name of our
Lord Jesus Christ. God the Father is the proper Object of thanksgiving,
as of prayer generally; but the thanks are to be given in the Name of Christ.
That is, through Him who has brought in the economy of grace, whereby for
wrath we get blessing, for suffering we get reward, for misery glory; whereby,
in short, the whole aspect of life is brightened, and even the greatest trials
and sorrows turned into real blessings.
Thanksgiving (v. 20)
There are three points in this exhortation to thanksgiving that arrest our
attention, viz. the time, the objects, and the method.
· THE TIME FOR THANKSGIVING. There is a time for everything.
When, therefore, is thanksgiving seasonable? Always. As we should pray
without ceasing by living in constant communication with God, so a spirit
of gratitude should pervade our whole life and express itself by the
brightness and color that it gives to every action (Psalm 34:1 – “I will
bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”).
If the context limits the application of Paul’s words to public worship,
the breadth of their incidence is still very significant. Every Christian
assembly should be joyous with praise, in every prayer supplication should
be mingled with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). There are times when
this is difficult, e.g. in trouble and in moods of spiritual depression. But the
difficulty would be diminished if we thought less of our own feelings and
more of the gifts and deeds of God’s goodness. Modern religion is too
subjective, and therefore it fluctuates with our varying phases of
experience. Thanksgiving should call us out of ourselves to contemplate
and praise God. Under the darkest cloud a thankful heart will see
innumerable causes of gratitude. But let our thanksgiving be honest. If we
do not feel grateful, do not let us try to force the expression of gratitude.
· THE OBJECTS OF THANKSGIVING. “All things.”
ü Personal blessings. While we thank God for common gifts to all
mankind, our gratitude would be warmer and more genuine if we reflected
on the special proofs of His goodness in our own lives.
ü Fresh blessings. If thanksgiving is to be perpetual it must constantly find
new food for gratitude. This, of all parts of worship, should not be a mere
repetition of old, worn thoughts. Our ideas on this point are too narrowed
by conventionality. If we are careful to say grace before meat, why should
we not be equally ready to thank God for a good book, a cheerful visit, or
a refreshing walk?
ü Things that we cannot see to be blessings. Gratitude for troubles is
difficult to realize. It is only possible through faith. But if we believe that
God is blessing us in them we should thank Him as one would thank a
surgeon for even amputating a limb to save his patient’s life.
· THE METHOD OF THANKSGIVING,
ü It should be offered to God our Father. It is a direct speaking to God.
As He is the Father of mercies, His fatherhood should be the attribute that is
most in our thoughts when we praise Him. We are not rendering adulation
to a distant monarch who claims it as the condition of sparing our lives; we
are expressing our love and genuine devotion to our Father. There should,
therefore, be no cringing abjectness in our worship. It should be cheerful
ü The thanksgiving is to be given in the Name of Christ; i.e.
Ø in recognition that God’s blessings come to us through Christ; and,
Ø as receiving and appreciating them in the spirit of Christ.
21 “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (ἐν φόβῳ χριστοῦ –
en phobo Christou - in the fear of Christ. The last of the participial exhortations
depending on the general exhortation of v. 15 to walk strictly, Most commentators
connect it with the three immediately preceding participles (speaking, singing,
giving thanks), but are unable to find a link of connection. Better connect with
v. 15. Mutual subjection is part of a wise, circumspect walk, i.e. mutual
recognition of each other’s rights and of our obligations to serve them. In
some sense we are all servants, i.e. we are bound to serve others; the very
father is, in this sense, servant of his child. So in the Christian Church we
are all in a sense SERVANTS! (“By love serve one another,” Galatians 5:13;
compare Matthew 20:26-28; John 13:15-16). This view is in harmony
with the humble spirit of the gospel. Pride leads us to demand rigorously
from others what we fancy they owe to us; humility, to give to others what
Christ teaches that we owe to them. The one feeling is to be discouraged,
the other exercised and strengthened. In the verses following we have this
precept split up into its constituent filaments. The reading of Revised Version,
“in the fear of Christ,” has more authority than Authorized Version, “in the
fear of God.” It brings to our mind the wonderful example of Christ in this
element of character (compare Luke 2:51; Hebrews 5:8). Reverential regard for
Him should inspire us with the same spirit (Philippians 2:5-8).
Exhortation to Exercise Wisdom in Regard to our Manner of Walk
“Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise.” The object to
which we are to look is this — how we walk; in other words, the conduct of our life.
In regard to this we are to be careful. At cross-roads there are sometimes finger-posts
put up to indicate where the different roads lead to, that travelers may be at no loss.
By looking carefully at these, they may save themselves much trouble and delay. So it
becomes every traveler to eternity to know the road that he is taking, whether it is
the narrow or the broad. (Matthew 7:13-14) There are finger-posts put up by God
(in the Word) by which we may ascertain this and put ourselves right if we have to
our grief taken the wrong road. But, seeing many do not make use of these
finger-posts (do not look at them at all, or only carelessly, and thus exhibit
great folly), the exhortation takes the negative as well as the positive form.
“Not as unwise, but as wise.” The word ἀκριβῶς – akribos – circumspectly;
accurately; exactly; translated “carefully” may also be translated “precisely,”
and suggests this, that we are not only to look to the general correctness of our
conduct, but to look to it down to the smallest details. It is only by thus going
carefully over it in detail, with no foregone conclusion in our mind, but earnestly
seeking God to search us and to discover to us what can be altered for the better,
that we may be able to bring it out into some beauty of conception as a whole.
There are two things in regard to which we are to exercise wisdom.
· TIME. “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” The right
management of our time is what we are particularly to look to. The
exhortation is to redeem the time, that is, the time meted out to us on
earth, in which to fulfill the Divine purposes. Literally, as given in the
margin, we are to buy up the opportunity. The idea is that every moment
has its own duty assigned to it. By doing the duty in the moment, we make
a purchase of the opportunity, we turn it into a gain. We keep abreast of
time; we avoid subsequent collision of duties. Whereas by not doing the
duty in the moment, we contract debt, we fall behind. Instead of being the
free owners of our time, we become slavish debtors to it. We are to be like
merchants that seize every vantage that is going. Merchants, that travel
about from place to place, do not get a vantage at every turn. They must
lay their account by an amount of fruitless toil. But as heavenly merchants,
we are in this enviable position, that every moment comes laden with
pass rich in all the gains of a good life.
ü Good planning. If we would redeem the time in its days, then we must
anticipate them by wise economical arrangements. We must see them
coming, and know how (God willing) we are to fill them up. The light that
we have got from past days we are to put into some workable scheme for
the days to come. To the excellence of a day-plan it is essential that we
rightly proportion between the various duties of life (so that none are left
out or do not get their proper place). We are to keep up the right
proportion between our severer and our lighter engagements. It behooves
every one to have a task, a definite task, a task that taxes his energies. And
if he does not have it by necessity of procuring his daily bread, yet should
he have it by necessity of steadying himself. But it is not good for the bow
to be always bent, and, if we manage well, we shall find time (and find it
good for the doing of our task too) to relax ourselves in social enjoyment.
We are also to keep up the right proportion between our religious and our
secular duties. (With this last statement in mind, the best I have ever heard
of partitioning the day is:
Ø 8 hours work
Ø 8 hours play
Ø 8 hours rest.
Our spiritual exercises would be included in the playful hours. CY – 2019)
The latter, as a general arrangement, must take up a large
proportion of our time. Six to one is the proportion indicated in the
command. But in every well-planned life there will be found ample time
for religious duties. Every day is to begin with an acknowledgment of God.
It may seem utopian to expect morning devotions of one who has to be at his
work at six o’clock. And yet it only requires a little taken off sleep or off
the previous evening to secure the necessary time for God. And surely that
is not too much to expect of any Christian in the interest of a well-ordered
life. Morning devotions alone will not make the day good. Only when these
have been conscientiously engaged in there will be felt to be an obligation
to make the day’s work harmonize with them. The evening may be utilized
for self-improvement and ministries to others. And the day is to end, as it
began, with God. It is only by such planning (in the name of Him who is not
the author of confusion – I Corinthiains 14:33), that we can expect to be like
merchants accumulating a large fortune.
ü Good planning followed up by decisiveness in execution. There is a
reason given for redeeming the time: “Because the days are evil.” The very