Should a professing Christian be concerned about the Wrath of God?
When we were children, we often imitated who and what we saw. We imitated our parents, our siblings, and even TV characters. If we didn’t have good roles models to follow it often resulted in poor decisions and bad character.
The first verse of Ephesians 5 gives us a clear directive on whom we should imitate – we are to imitate God.
How do we imitate God?
We should first look at His character. He is:
• Slow to anger
• Steadfast in love
• Doesn’t return evil for evil
• Full of Grace
We should also look at what He said. To summarize what directives Jesus gave in Luke 6:
• Love your enemies
• Do good to those who hate you
• Pray for those who spitefully use you
• Do not retaliate
• Be generous
• Be compassionate
• Do to others what you would have them do to you
• Be kind to the unthankful and evil
• Lend without expected return
• Do not condemn or judge
• Be merciful
One thing that we must remember when considering the directive to imitate God from Ephesians 5 is that Paul is talking to Christians, “beloved children”. Of course, the world would do well to imitate God, but the world, the non-believers, have no ability to do so, they do not have the Spirit of God within them.
Ephesians 5:2 says, “Walk in love” – this is basically a repeat of verse 1 since, if you imitate God you are walking in love. The focus in this verse is the sacrifice of Christ. If we are to walk in love, we are to live sacrificially.
There are things associated with a person’s name, things that are “named among” our name. Such as, our occupation, our recreation, our personality, our temperament, our charity, etc. For example, before I was saved, I was proud to have violence and sexual immorality “to be named”, to be attached, along with my name. But God says, there are things that “MUST NOT BE NAMED AMONG US”. They are sexual immorality (which includes, but is not limited to fornication, homosexuality, and adultery), impurity, and covetousness (which is idolatry).
As we continue in Ephesians 5, Paul speaks of things that are “out of place”. As I read that this week I began to consider “things that are out of place”. Like a wild animal in your living room, a clown at a funeral, and a hot tub in a jail cell. As we consider these things, and other things out of place, we can help but think, that doesn’t make any sense, this doesn’t fit, it is “out of place”.
The few things Paul gives in his list of “out of place” for the Christian are; filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking. If these things are common in your life, know that God says they are “out of place” – they don’t make sense, it doesn’t add up, there is a disconnect somewhere.
In this list of things that “must not be named among us”, and things that are “out of place”; we must not say, “yea, it’s probably a good idea to limit, or quit this or that.” No! No! It is NOT a “good idea” – it is a MUST!!
Before we get into the “why” it is a must, first consider that Paul says, “DO NOT BE DECEIVED”. Why would he say that? Because the world, that is in the sway of Satan, will try to deceive you; how? With empty words. It would be logically that those overtly “in the world” would speak “empty words” – but these words are much more sinister. These empty words are coming from false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing.
What empty words do we often here from these wolves in sheep’s clothing?
“You don’t need to worry of God’s Wrath, you said the sinner’s prayer.”
“You don’t need to worry, there are people in the world much worse than you.”
“Don’t give it a thought, you were baptized.” (you were confirmed, you go to church, fill in the blank)
Don’t make the mistake of thinking Paul shifted gears and started talking to the world in this chapter, HE IS TALKING TO THOSE IN THE CHURCH! So, when he says, do not be deceived by empty words, for because of these things the Wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience he is talking to the churched, those that believe their hand has been stamped for Heaven.
The only logical conclusion you can make is that a person, professing believer or not, that has sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking “named among them” is a son of disobedience AND the Wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience.
Ephesians 5:5 tells us that the person that has done these things cannot inherit the Kingdom of God – that disqualifies all of us! But, by the Spirit we are able to put to death the deeds of the flesh. By Christ Blood we can be cleansed. Colossians 3 tells us that these things must be put to death. We are also told that although we did these things at one time, we must NO LONGER. This should give us tremendous hope that we can be redeemed and cleansed from these things. But on the other hand, this should strike fear in us if we have not put them to death, but instead continue in them.
If God has illuminated your heart and mind with the Truth, if He caused you to be born again, if He has put His Spirit within you, if you are a new creature in Christ, wouldn’t it stand to reason that you would walk as a child of light rather than a child of darkness?
Ephesians 5:8 reminds us that we were once darkness. Not that we occasionally walked in the dark, or occasionally did wrong. No! It says, “you were darkness”. If you are still darkness you will walk as a child of darkness in sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness.
But if that is not true….
Walk as a child of Light!
Galatians 5:25 gives us another if/then statement we often see in Scripture: “If we live in the Spirit, let us ALSO walk in the Spirit”. When we were darkness we walked by the desires of the flesh; but, Galatians 5:24 says, “those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”.
In Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “it is NO LONGER I who live, but Christ lives in me.” He goes on to say (paraphrase) although he lives physically in the flesh, he is not walking by the flesh as he once did, his walk now is by faith in Jesus.
WE DARE NOT SAY, “I CAN’T QUIT THIS OR THAT!”
Romans 6:6 speaks of the OLD MAN BEING CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST! When you are in Christ the old you is dead! The body of sin is done away with – why?
“That we should no longer be slaves to sin”
We were slaves to sin, we were darkness….BUT NO LONGER!
Paul exhorts us to “AWAKE” – come out of your slumber and walk wise. The world is watching, walk different, walk in such a way that the name of Christ is exalted. A fool doesn’t concern himself with how his conduct looks to the non-believer, a fool spends his time on worthless things. We are told to be wise! A wise man makes the most of his opportunities to honor his King, a wise man stores up treasure in Heaven, a wise man doesn’t get bogged down on the temporal things, a wise man is concerned about the effectiveness of his witness since the world is watching. A wise man understands what the will of the Lord is.