Thursday, October 16, 2014, 6:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song, “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV). Walk in Love Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ~ vv. 1-2 The word imitate can have more than one meaning. In one sense, to imitate can mean merely to mimic another’s actions, mannerisms and behavior, which can be used to mock or to make fun of the person, or it can be used to deceive others into thinking we are something we are not. In another sense, which is the one being used here, it has to do more with following the example of another and/or to actually be or to become like another. Thus, if we are to be imitators of God, it means that we are to be like him in thought, word and deed, taking on his godly character and applying it to our own lives. We cannot, however, do this in our human flesh or outside of faith in Jesus Christ. We must first of all accept God’s invitation to salvation and to faith in Jesus Christ, and then through the infilling and indwelling person and power of the Holy Spirit, we can come to be like Jesus. Then, we are to walk in love. To walk has to do with lifestyle, i.e. how we conduct our lives each day, moment by moment. It has to do with how we live – think, speak and act. We are to live our lives in the love of Jesus Christ, and his love should then be lived out through us into the lives of others. Christ Jesus is both our example for how we should walk in love, as well as he gives us the power, wisdom and strength to walk in his love. So, what is love? In today’s culture here in America, via the influence of cultural tradition, peer pressure, society, and the media, I believe people, in general, and even believers in Jesus Christ have gotten somewhat of a skewed notion as to what love, in general, or even Christ’s love should look like. Oftentimes, for instance, sexual attraction or emotional infatuation is mistaken for love. As well, we have this idea of love as it being merely the act of being nice to people, giving them what they want, catering to them, and making them feel good. Yet, that is not how Jesus loved others. He gave his life for us so our lives could change. Yes, he did wonderful acts of kindness in healing people of their diseases, and he demonstrated awesome mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Yet, he was more concerned about what was best for them than he was with whether or not he made them feel good about him or themselves. Jesus cares about what we do and about how we live our lives. He cares about how we treat him and others, and it concerns him when we ignore him and his word and we decide to go our own stubborn way and/or return to sinful behavior. It bothers him when we profess one thing but live another. So, not only is he always with us - cheering, comforting, healing, encouraging and giving us hope - but he also with us urging, exhorting, correcting and sometimes chastising us, too, so we will walk in the right way. So, to love like he loves means we give our lives fully to God in submission, surrender and obedience to his will and to his instructions for our lives, walking in his ways, and in his truth, and in the power and working of his Spirit. As well, it means we give ourselves to meet the legitimate needs of others, which involves both encouragement and correction, comforting and exhorting, healing and rebuking. Needs are more important than wants. What is best for us is more important than making us feel good. We can do acts of kindness, and be healing and compassionate, but if we don’t give our lives to see people free from the control of sin over their lives, walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, obeying our Lord and walking in his ways, then we are not truly walking in Christ’s love. Not a Hint But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. ~ vv. 3-6 I think sometimes we get the idea that if we don’t commit physical acts of immorality that we are not guilty of impurity. Yet, that is not what this teaches us. There should not even be a hint of immorality in our lives. We should avoid and abstain (stay away) from even the appearance of evil (See: 1 Thess. 5:22 KJV). This word translated as “appearance” also means “visible form, shape, kind, outward show, sight,” etc. (Source: Biblehub.com). I believe that to apply this truth to our lives in all honesty, sincerity and with a heart desire to obey our Lord and his word, and to live lives pleasing to him, holy and upright, we must examine our lives, our thoughts, our actions, our words and all our daily activities to see whether or not we are participating in any form of evil or immorality and impurity. I believe that if we are honest with ourselves and with God, and that we examine all that we do, think, and say against this Biblical principle, and against the teachings of Christ and the apostles, that it should radically transform our lives. I also believe that if we truly are seeking to follow our Lord Jesus in obedience, and we do this heart examination, that we will have to cut a lot of things out of our lives which we have passed off as either innocent or as “not so bad,” thinking that if we didn’t go out and do the deed that we were ok. Yet, we should not lust in our minds or hearts after another with whom we are not married, whether of the opposite or same sex; we should not listen to songs which have suggestive lyrics; and we should not watch TV shows or movies which have sensuality and sexually suggestive material, and/or which involve sexual promiscuity or perversion of any kind, not even romance movies which hint at adultery. And, we should do this heart examination and allow the Spirit of God to work these changes in our lives because we love our Lord, and we want to please him in all that we do. Yet, there is another principle at play here that must be taken into consideration, as well. There are people among us who profess Christ as Savior, but who are still living sinful lifestyles without qualm, conviction, guilt, or any sense that they are doing wrong. Yet, if the Holy Spirit is truly living within us, we should feel conviction when we participate in things that are clearly evil (immoral, et al), even if we are just being entertained by evil. The Bible is real clear on this subject. If we say we love God, but we continue to live sinful lifestyles, then we are liars, and we don’t live by the truth (See: 1 Jn. 1-5). Not Partners Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” ~ vv. 7-14 A partner is someone with whom we closely associate, affiliate, collaborate and/or unite. He or she can be a person with whom we have an actual physical (in person) relationship, or he or she can be someone we know only via networking and/or by socialization on the internet. Or, the person can be someone with whom we have no direct relationship, but can be, for instance, a media figure, such as a newscaster, an actor, a politician and/or a sports figure whom we follow closely, agree with, adopt their stance and character, emulate, support, and/or find pleasure in and are entertained by their actions, words, etc. When we partner with people we participate or share with them in thought, word or deed (activity). So, what this is saying is similar to what we are instructed in 2 Corinthians 6 where we are told to not be yoked (partnered) together with unbelievers. When we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ by faith we are now yoked with Christ, so we should not allow ourselves to be partnered with people or with philosophies, teachings, values and/or entertainment which stand in opposition to Christ, his character, his will and his teachings, even if they claim to be Christian. Bad company corrupts good character. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. We are not to be partakers with the things of this sinful world, but we are to come out from the world and to be separate (set apart to God). Instead of being entertained by the “unfruitful works of darkness,” we should expose them. How You Walk Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. ~ vv. 15-21 We need to look carefully at our lives and how we are living them. If we are wise, we will follow the teachings of Christ and those of the apostles, and we will not join with the world in their sinful pleasures. If we are unwise, we will continue to do what we want without regard for God and for what his word teaches us with respect to holiness. To make the best use of our time means we use it to live for our Lord and to walk in his righteousness, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds so that we can discern the good, pleasing and perfect will of God (See Ro. 12:1-2). We should not live out-of-control lives following after the lusts and pleasures of sin, but we should continually be being filled with the Spirit of God and with all that he has for us. In other words, we should put off living for self and sin, and we should put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness (See: Ro. 6-8; Eph. 4:17-24). As we forsake and throw off the sins which so easily entangle us, so we can run the race set before us with perseverance, and as we yield more and more control over our lives to our Lord, then we give the Holy Spirit more room to work in and through our lives for his purposes and for his glory. Instead of involving ourselves in the junk this world has to offer, we should be engaged in holy living, drinking in the Word, and following in the ways of our Lord. And, our concern should be for the salvation of souls and for the encouragement, nurturing, strengthening and spiritual growth and maturity of our fellow believers. As well, we should be living our lives for the praise and honor of our Lord, being thankful for all he has done for us. My Jesus, I Love Thee / William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; for thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I love thee because thou hast first loved me, and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree; I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now. In mansions of glory and endless delight; I'll ever adore thee in heaven so bright; I'll sing with the glittering crown on my brow; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now.