Monday, June 20, 2016, 8:36 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV). Imitators of God (vv. 1-2) 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. The word “imitate” can mean either to pretend to be someone, such as to fake being like someone, much like an actor might do, or it can mean “to follow as a pattern, model, or example” (M-W Dictionary). It is the latter meaning that is intended here by this passage. There is no pretense involved in being an imitator of God. Rather, it means to pattern our lives (our lifestyles) after God – Father, Son & Holy Spirit - and after his divine character and the teachings of Jesus and those of his NT apostles – particularly those teachings on the subject of godly and holy living, and then to do so in truth. There are many “actors” in this world of ours who make pretense at being followers of God, but in reality they are still followers of the flesh and of the world. They are hypocrites, much like the Pharisees of Bible times, who liked to look good on the outside, but inside they are full of wickedness. When we are followers of God, we are to walk in love. This love is God-like love which loves others even if they hate us and mistreat us in return. Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners; when we were enemies of the cross of Christ. He gave up his reputation, his home in heaven, his time, and his life for us so that we could be set free from slavery to sin and so we could become servants of his righteousness. And, this is how we are to love others. It is not love to tell people lies. It is not love to pat people on the back and to tell them it is ok when we know they are steeped in sin. True love does not pacify sin. It speaks the truth in love to its neighbor, and it rescues people from enslavement to sin. It also encourages holy and righteous living, and it makes no excuses for continued willful sin against God. Jesus loved people enough to tell them the truth. He loved us enough to give up his life so that we can die to sin and live to righteousness. May we love others like he loves us. Sexual Immorality (vv. 3-6) 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. When this Bible translation says that these things must not even be named among us, it is not saying we should not discuss these issues. We need to talk about these issues, and not just sweep them under the rug. We are never to ignore sin or to pretend it does not exist. We are to expose the fruitless deeds of darkness. So, then, what does this mean? I believe it means, as the NIV translates, that there should not even be a hint of sexual immorality among us. It should not exist in any form among those who profess the name of Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives. So, how do we define sexual immorality and impurity? In what ways do these exist today? The Bible clearly defines adultery and fornication as sexual sin, as well as this includes homosexuality. Jesus said that adultery was more than just the physical act of sex between people not married to each other, one of whom at least is married to someone else. He said for a man to look after a woman and to lust after her in his heart, that it is adultery, as well. God defined adultery in the scriptures, with regard to our relationship with him, as us following after other gods and looking to those other gods to meet needs in us that should be met only in our relationship with our Lord. I believe, as scripture parallels the Lord’s relationship to his church (his bride) with that of a man (husband) with his wife (bride), that we can extend adultery to mean sexual desire after anyone other than our spouse, as well as looking to have sexual or emotional needs met by anyone other than our spouse, and in ways meant only to be fulfilled through the union of a man and a woman in marriage. Many extra-marital affairs begin when people look outside their marital relationships to have needs met by someone else who doesn’t know them or live with them, and who makes them feel good, and with whom they never have to discuss budgets, in-laws, children, and the like. People also turn to pornography, masturbation (self-gratification), sex-texting and extra-marital secretive internet relationships with others, and the like, in order to satisfy their lusts, and in place of natural and loving relations with their spouses. This, too, is adultery, sexual immorality and impurity, and it can also be idolatry. If people profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, but their lifestyles are marked by sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness, the Bible teaches us that they do not have the hope of heaven and eternal life with God. This does not mean we have to live in sinless perfection in order to be saved and to have eternal life with God, but what it does mean is that if we say we have fellowship with God but we walk (conduct our lives) in darkness (sin, wickedness), then we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). The Bible teaches that if we walk according to the flesh that we will die (spiritually for eternity), and we won’t have the promise of eternal life with God. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh, we will live with our Lord for eternity. Peter said that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. If we continue living sinful lifestyles, according to scripture, we are not promised eternal life. A saved life is a crucified life. Not Partners with Them (vv. 7-14) 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.” Not only are we not to participate in any form (or hint) of sexual immorality, but we should not partner with those we know are living such a lifestyle. They should not be our best friends and our closest companions, by choice. This includes not watching TV shows which glorify immorality and which entertain us with other people’s sins. We should not be taking these sinful acts into our minds, and especially we should not be partakers with them by allowing ourselves to be entertained by them. Sexual immorality, especially the hint of it, is all throughout TV shows, and it especially presides within many TV commercials. Instead of partnering or participating with the sexually immoral, we are to conduct our lives (our lifestyles) as children of light, who have been delivered out of the hold sin had on our lives, and who have been set free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness – all in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit at work within us, as we cooperate fully with that work. Instead of living to please ourselves, we are to live to please God in all that we do and say and think and are. Instead of glossing over sin, and ignoring it, and saying what itching ears want to hear, we need to expose these unfruitful deeds of darkness, and we need to call our brothers and sisters to come out from among those who are participating in such things. We must then call them to live holy lives pleasing to God. We have to stop worrying about offending people with the truth, and we must stop being concerned about whether or not people will like us. We need to speak out on these issues, and call people to repentance, and to obedience to Christ and to his Word. This is true love! This is what Jesus’ death is all about. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He did not die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. Look Carefully (vv. 15-21) 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. So, we need to examine our hearts and lives. We must see where we are not walking according to the Spirit, but where we may still be yielding to our sinful flesh day after day. We should then repent of our sin, and follow our Lord in obedience. We ought to daily be in the Word, listening to our Lord speak his truths to our hearts, and then we must be doing what his Word says. And, we ought to encourage one another to walk in his Spirit and in his love and in his truth, and to forsake sin, and to follow our Lord in surrender and in obedience, instead of shying away from truth telling in order to not offend people and so that they will like us. It is essential that we care more about our brothers and sisters in Christ and the people of this world and their spiritual condition than we care about being liked. This is true love. This is what it means to walk in love, and to love as Christ loved us. Have Thine Own Way, Lord Adelaide A. Pollard / George C. Stebbins Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, While I am waiting, yielded and still. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Search me and try me, Master, today! Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now, As in Thy presence humbly I bow. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Wounded and weary, help me I pray! Power, all power, surely is Thine! Touch me and heal me, Savior divine! Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Hold o'er my being absolute sway. Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me!