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Walk In Love (Ephesians 5:1-5)

The man’s relationship to his parents is superseded by a higher loyalty—the loyalty to his wife. In order to achieve the high ideal of marital bliss, he leaves his parents and clings to his wife. In marriage, the husband and wife become one flesh...Husbands love your wives as you love yourself - wives respect and obey your husbands.

Ephesians 5:1-2 - In Ephesians 5, Paul discusses the social conduct of the believer. We are called upon to be imitators of God as beloved children. Furthermore, we are instructed to walk in love. The Spirit immediately gives us the standard of that love - just as Christ loved us. The term sacrifice implies the notion of bloodshed. As an offering, Christ’s death was voluntary, but as a sacrifice, His death was costly. This sacrifice was well pleasing to God. It was a fragrant aroma to Him; for He was perfectly satisfied with the Lord’s sacrifice. If we walk in love—and love our brethren as Christ loved us, the sacrifices involved will be a fragrant aroma to God.

Ephesians 5:3-5 - These verses tell us of things and persons God hates. The sins mentioned in verse 3, for example, are so detestable to God that they ought not even be mentioned among believers. Immorality, impurity, and greed - these sins are not to be talked about among the saints or holy ones of God.

The sins censured in verse 4 are all too common: obscenity, indecency, empty conversation, double meaning, filthy stories, silly talk, suggestive talk, and coarse jokes. This kind of talk is unbecoming of a child of God. Instead of engaging in these sinful things, we should be occupied in giving thanks to God for all His blessings.

Verse 5 tells us, in no uncertain terms, that anyone who is immoral, impure, covetous, or an idolater has no place in the kingdom of Christ and of God. This would be a description of an unbeliever. May God, by His grace, deliver His people from the sins that are abominable in His sight.

  • Fornication: When it is mentioned in the same verse as adultery, it means illicit intercourse among “unmarried persons.” In Eph. 5:5 it means any form of immorality.
  • Uncleanness: immoral acts, impure pictures, obscene books, or any sex-related material designed to stir the basest of passions.
  • Covetousness: this generally means the lust for money. In the context of Eph. 5:5, it is referring to sexual desire; the insatiable greed to satisfy one’s sexual appetite outside the bounds of marriage.

These things should not be named among believers.

Walk in Light (Ephesians 5:6-14)
Ephesians 5:6-7 - Darkness and deception go hand in hand in with spiritual things. In order to avoid these things, we need to walk in the light. “Let no man mislead you with plausible arguments.” Moral standards have plummeted and are being justified by some. There are many cults today who can explain away nearly all the fundamental doctrines. The unsuspecting and immature believer can be swept away with their reasoning, but when their arguments are carefully analyzed, one sees that they are only empty words (i.e. modernism - the liberals). Blind leaders of the blind look forward to judgment with fear, for “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 5:7 exhorts us not to associate with these people, because it will dishonor Christ and ruin one’s testimony.

Ephesians 5:8-14 - In verses 8-14, Paul gives a discourse. Verse 8 reminds us of our former condition of darkness. We were not just darkened - we were darkness. Ephesians 4:18 says, “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” We were actual darkness. Now, however, in Christ we are light. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Because of our new state as believers, we should walk as children of light.

Ephesians 5:9 is parenthetic, but very important. Most reputable scholars quote this verse as follows: “For the fruit of the light consists of goodness, righteousness, and truth.” This is in keeping with the context (For the fruit of the Spirit, see Galatians 5:22-23).

Eph. 5:10 says, “Proving what is pleasing to the Lord.” This echoes Romans 12:2. As we walk as “children of light” we will be called upon to test and prove many things, accepting only those things, which are pleasing to the Lord. This is what really matters in our life. As the Lord’s life was pleasing to the Father, so our life should be pleasing to our Lord - in our conversation, standard of living, clothes, books, pleasure, friendships, and sports.

The Lord’s attitude toward such sin as fornication and adultery was seen in Numbers 25:1-9. 24,000 Israelites were slain because they sinned with the women of Moab. The Lord’s attitude toward homosexuality was displayed when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and brimstone from heaven (read Genesis 19:24-28). Those who practiced sexual sins experience God’s judgment in other ways - these are mental, emotional, and/or nervous disorders. These are changes in personality; for instance, the effeminate often become more feminine (see Romans 1:27).

In the final judgment, God will show no mercy to whore mongers or adulterers. Goodness represents moral excellence. Righteousness is having integrity in dealing with God and men. Truth is honesty, equity, and reality. Put these all together and you have the light of a Christ-filled life shining out of the darkness.

Ephesians 5:11 contains a very necessary exhortation - “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” This is a clear command. As children of the light we should not participate in works of darkness (i.e. the world, the flesh, and the devil). Instead of participating in them, we should expose and reprove them. Our Christian faith is very demanding. Not only does it govern our actions, but it also controls our tongue. See James’ exhortation here.

Ephesians 5:12 says that it is disgraceful in God’s sight to speak of those things done by unbelievers in secret. Television, newspapers, magazines, and novels are full of indecency and obscenity under the guise of “being true to life.” Beloved - watch your eyes and ears, and guard your tongue.

In verse 13 we have the exposing and reproving ministry of light. While we are told not to speak nor think of the lurid practices of the children of darkness, there are times when we, as children of Light, should, through the Word and the power of the Spirit, expose and reprove gross error.

Ephesians 5:14 is an approximate quotation from the O.T. (see Isaiah 60:1 and 26:19). This verse suggests that the child of God who is not actively engaged in walking in the light is a person sleeping among the dead. In this backslidden condition, we could be mistaken for one of the children of darkness. Because of this, there comes the urgent call to awake out of sleep - immediately we arise and Christ will shine upon us.

Walk in Wisdom (Ephesians 5:15-21)
In the next seven verses, Paul contrasts foolish footsteps and careful conduct. This is the last of the seven references to our walk in the epistle. This is a dirty and foul world that we are passing through; we should walk as wise men, carefully choosing our steps, lest we become contaminated with the filth, grime, and squalor of the world. In Ephesians 5:15, he writes, “See then that you walk circumspectly.” As children of God we should walk carefully, exactly, and responsively.

What is the wisdom that we are exhorted to walk in? It is to walk and live the truths of the previous verses, and in a broader sense, the teaching of the Scriptures. As we walk in wisdom, making the best use of our time, we redeem the time or buy up the opportunities (Eph. 5:16) Make the most of every opportunity by speaking to the children of darkness about Christ. We must bind, beautify, and build the Church of God. We must glorify the name of our Heavenly Father.

In Ephesians 5:17, Paul asks us as wise men to try and understand the will of God as a whole and in particular for our life. We do not have to look very far to find God’s will for us (see Eph. 5:18). Negatively, we ought not get drunk with wine. Positively, we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is not a request, but a command. This is not a filling that takes place once and for all. Instead we are to constantly be filled by the Spirit.

Being filled with the Spirit is not an ecstatic experience as some claim. We are filled when we obey the truths mentioned in the first seventeen verses of Ephesians 5. These verses speak of turning away from sin and of separation from the world. In other words, clean out the luggage and rubbish and the Holy Spirit will fill that space. To be filled with the Spirit, we must confess and put away all sin in our lives. See 1 John 1:9. We must yield ourselves utterly and completely to God (Romans 12:1-2).

Let the Word of Christ dwell richly in us. See Col. 3:16. Finally, we must be emptied of self. See Galatians 2:2a. The exhortation or command here is that we should “always be filled.” In order to always be filled, we must confess and repent of our sins and rid ourselves continually of anything that would disturb our fellowship with God. The Book of Acts shows that there are special endowments and special fillings for special purposes. We cannot fill ourselves with the Spirit, God must fill us. He will do this if we do not have sin that has not been confessed in our life.

The parallel passage in Colossians 3:16 exhorts us to let the Word dwell in us and then shows the same results will follow as being filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:19-20 shows us the result of being filled: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. It follows, therefore, that the person who is full of the Word will be full of the Spirit. It is through the Word of God that the Spirit controls, directs, employs, and fills us. Notice the four ways in which the joy of Spirit-filled believers are expressed:

  1. Speaking to one another
  2. Singing and making melody with all your heart
  3. Giving thanks to God for all things
  4. Being in subjection to one another in the fear of Christ (Eph. 5:21)

Psalms—Hymns—Spiritual songs – The Psalms are the writings of David, Asaph, and so on. Hymns are uninspired songs, which give God praise and worship. Spiritual songs are any other songs that deal with spiritual themes. “Singing and making melody with all your heart to the Lord.” The Spirit-filled life is a fountain, bubbling over with joy. See Acts 13:52. There are four results of the Spirit’s filling:

  1. Boldness in testifying for the Lord (Acts 4:8-12, 31, and Acts 13:52-14:3)
  2. Power for service (Acts 1:8, 6:3, 8, and Acts 11:24)
  3. Generosity (Acts 4:31-32)
  4. Exaltation of Christ and of God (Acts 9:17, 20, Acts 2:4, 11, and Acts 10:44-46)

Domestic Conduct of the Christian (Ephesians 5:22-33)
The theme of the Spirit-filled life that began in the last passage occupies the next section entirely up to Ephesians 6:9. This section shows us the domestic conduct of the Christian. Notice the relationships mentioned: Wives, husbands, and children, as well as parents, servants, and masters. The most important relationship is taken up first in verse 22, “Wives are instructed to be in subjection to their own husbands.”

A paraphrase of Ephesians 5:22 is enlightening. “You wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your own husband, in the same way as you submit to the Lord.” This submission is real, but it is unique. God did not take material from Adam’s head so that he would Lord it over her, nor from his feet, that he might trample her. God took her from his side, to be his partner - an equal. The submission is not bondage; it is unto the Lord, expressing willing and cheerful compliance - all that we would give Christ if He were physically present.

Ephesians 5:23-24 gives the family order. This was established in creation. For the husband is the head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the Head of the Church. Believing wives should remember that her subjection to her husband is a picture of the church’s subjection to Christ.

In verse 25, Paul turns from the responsibilities of the wives and dwells at greater length on the responsibilities of the husband. They are to “love their wives.” But what does this really mean? If it were left to some men’s judgment, it would not mean much. However, God gives us the standard for the love a husband must have for his wife. “Just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it.” Where there is love shown like this by the husband, there needs to be no fear of subjection on the part of the wife. The divorce courts would be shut down.

In verse 26, Paul shows us Christ’s relationship with the Church. He has sanctified her, (i.e. set her apart) - and cleanses her (the washing by the water of the Word). This washing is with the Word, as applied by the Holy Spirit. See John 13. The future aspect of this ministry of washing with the Word is brought before us in verse 27. “That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church.” The Lord looks forward to the time when He will present His glorious Bride to Himself. This is a unique statement. [Explain] The Church’s beauty is mentioned - no spots, wrinkles, or blemishes. On the day of presentation she will be absolutely holy, blameless, and perfect.

The Spirit applies this instruction to the husbands in verse 28, saying that they are to love their wives in the same way as they love their own bodies. The natural instinct of a person to take care of his body is given as an additional reason for a husband to love his wife. She is of his flesh, so he should take care of her - for they are one flesh. No one ever hated his own flesh—everyone feeds his body and cares for it (see verses 29-30). This is what Christ does for His body, the Church. “We are members of His body” - The grace of God is amazing!

In verse 31, Paul quotes from Gen. 2:24 – “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” This describes the primary relationship between husband and wife in marriage. The man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife - the two become one flesh. Verse 32 declares that the marriage relationship is a great mystery. This is one of the mysteries of the N.T.; something concealed and unknowable until divinely revealed. The human relationship of marriage is magnified by serving as a model for the heavenly relationship of Christ and the Church.

The man’s relationship to his parents is superseded by a higher loyalty—the loyalty to his wife. In order to achieve the high ideal of marital bliss, he leaves his parents and clings to his wife. In marriage, the husband and wife become one flesh. Verse 33 is a summary of the aforementioned truths: Husbands love your wives as you love yourself - wives respect and obey your husbands.

Dan Snaddon