Ephesians 5:1-21 Sermon Podcast - The Darkness, the Wrath, the Light, and the Joy
Series: The Book of Ephesians
March 17, 2019
Today Paul challenges us in one of our most personal and private areas – sex. But he does so in a way that is not only challenging but liberating – all based not on archaic rules and regulations, but on a dynamic, joyful present tense relationship with God as our Heavenly Father. God is saying “I know how the world lives, I know how all those around you live, but I am calling YOU to come follow me and live a different way. On this Saint Patrick’s Day Sunday we end with a daily prayer from Patrick that offers hope and promise for the road of life.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
Progress in scientific knowledge is obvious. However, while knowledge accumulates from generation to generation, it seems like each generation must start at the beginning again with morality because morality is ultimately about the individual will and how we will choose to behave. We can learn from great thinkers of the past, but we are no farther along the road in terms of our desire or ability to be good. We are not “better” people than our ancestors. Some generations are more evil in one direction and other generations more evil in other directions. It is “chronological snobbery” to assume that our morality is superior to someone else’s simply because they come from an earlier culture.
God’s wrath is fair and righteous indignation over how I harm or despise the creation, myself, or Him. Just as I knew much more about the long-term implications of my young children’s actions then they did (like why it was a bad idea to play in a very fun and innocent looking city street), so too my heavenly Father sets boundaries for me not because he doesn’t approve of me but because he loves me and knows what is best for me.
The focus of the bible’s sexuality ethics is not focused on who you love, or any of your many orientations. Rather, it is focused on which sexual acts are appropriate. It is about behavior. While some areas of the bible are vague and open to interpretation, it doesn’t seem like Paul’s argument for sexual purity is. It is part of the Christian gig. For many people, obeying God in their sexuality is the crucial move in their transformation as a disciple of Jesus. James 5:16 encourages us to find a fellow Christian with whom we can confess our sins and pray – and so be truly honest about our struggles.
In terms of alcohol and other humanly delights, listen to the balanced of scripture:
1. “Wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart…. Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do.” (Psalm 104:15, Ecclesiastes 9:7)
2. “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”- Proverbs 20:1
3. “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.“– Psalm 4:7
We are to be imitators of God, knowing we are dearly loved children, responding with thanksgiving, songs, worship, and joy, choosing to be careful and thoughtful about our words and actions. In public worship we don’t just sing for ourselves and God, but also to encourage those around us.
I arise today,
through God’s strength to pilot me,
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s hand to guard me:
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices…
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength:
the invocation of the Trinity.
Content Copyright Belongs to Langdon Palmer