Ephesians 5 - A call to purity


Let’s go to the word of God, Ephesians, chapter 5. Who would have thought that we would have been still in Ephesians, after all these months. When I started, I remember just doing that chapter on the armor of God and then going back very innocently and saying, ok, we’ll take a couple of weeks, 2 or 3 weeks and do the rest of Ephesians. Well, here we are, many, many months after, but I hope it’s been good and I hope it’s been instructive for you.

Chapter 5 of Ephesians, verse 1, beginning with verse 1, it says: “Be imitators of God therefore –that therefore is very important because it suggests that it’s a conclusion of something that has come before, so- ….. be imitators of God therefore as dearly loved children and live a life of love just as Christ loved us, and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or of any kind of impurity or of greed, because these are improper –unsuitable, one would say,- for God’s holy people, nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure, no immoral, impure or greedy person, such a man as an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore, do not be partners with them, for you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret, but everything exposed by the light becomes visible for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said, ‘Wake up, oh sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.’

There’s a conclusion here of this whole thing. “….Be very careful then how you live, not as unwise, but as wise making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the spirit, speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God, the Father, for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and submit to one another out of reverence for Christ…..”

Praise God. What a beautiful and at the same time, how should I say, weighty passage, I mean it, we are overcome by the heaviness of the call of this passage. You know, I would summarize the challenge that is presented to us by the Apostle Paul as a call to purity. I mean, I think that is the unifying theme throughout these various verses, a call to purity, to living a pure life, living a holy life, living a life that is pleasing on to the Lord.

And you can see, right there, we spent time examining the previous verses in chapter 4, in the previous couple of weeks when I had the chance to analyze this passage, and it was that same insistence on behavioral consequence on what God has done for us and all the mysteries and the beauties of the revelation that we have received in Jesus Christ.

And, from chapter 4 on, we have said that the Apostle Paul has been dedicating a good amount of time to kind of breaking down what it means to be a member of that Kingdom of God and to be a part of that plan that God has put together, that he describes so well in chapters 1, 2 and 3. And so now, he’s really breaking down, you know, I don’t know how many have heard of Francis Shaffer’s book, entitled ‘How now shall we live’. I think it was he who wrote that book, if not, he should have written it, but I know the title exists and there is a book with that title: How now shall we live.

And so, I think, one could say that this is what the Apostle Paul is saying here: How now shall we live? In the light of what Christ has done and all these things that have been revealed to us in scripture. And so, he spends time breaking down various areas of life and showing us how we should live, how we should walk, there’s an expression that is used here translated as live, but it is really like walking, beripatei. How should we walk in life.

And, so in chapter 4 he spoke about certain areas of behavior. You know, I see four areas of behavior that the Apostle Paul speaks about or four areas of human life, I would say. One is the mind, we talked about that. So in chapter 4, verse 23 he said, ‘to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self….’

And then he spoke later on in chapter 4 in some of the following verses, 25, 26, 27 and so on, about relationships, how we should relate to each other, not lying to each other, not being angry and having that simmering anger stay with us and being resentful and manipulating each other or talking in ways that are inappropriate and so on and so forth, and bitterness, and rage, and brawling and slander and every form of malice and we should not engage in any of those behaviors.

So, there’s a relational aspect to things and then there’s a third aspect of how we talk that is in both passages, in chapter 4 and chapter5, you know, in verse 29 it says of chapter 4: “…do not any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths….” And later on it talks about the same thing, “…obscenity, foolish talk, coarse joking….”, in verse 4 of chapter 5. So, how we talk is very important as well.

And you know, it’s very easy to underestimate that area in the Christian life as well. We are very aware, oh, yes, sexual purity and so on and so forth, but you know, the Apostle Paul also talks about our mouth, how we talk. That’s an important area.

So, we have the mind, we have relationships, we have the mouth and how we talk with each other, and how we relate to each other. And then I guess the fourth one is just shear behavioral, moral issues, and what kind morality, what kind of moral life we should lead. So, you see that the Kingdom of God has implications for all those areas of human existence. And we should not isolate one area at the expense of the others.

We, Christians, are good at that. Many times compartmentalizing and so one would think that the only way that a person can sin is sexually. You know, the way some Christians talks, but we can sin in the way we treat each other, we can sin in the way we speak, we can sin in the way we think and in the patterns of our thoughts.

So, all these different ways are parts of that holy life that God wants us to lead, and we should see the whole package, and we should see things systemically and as a whole. To ask the Holy Spirit to work in whatever area of our life he needs to work.

And all of it really comes down to what he says in verse 1 of chapter 5, “…. Be imitators…” mimetai or mimeta is the word, where the word mime and imitate come from. It is the idea of aping and copying move by move. I’ve read somewhere that in Greek rhetoric and oratory speakers were trained in how to be a good public speaker, which is very important in Greece, by imitating the emotions and the style of the great orators of the past. And that was one thing, just the mechanical imitation and of the patterns of arguing and putting together logically the arguments that one is going to present in trying to convince an audience.

So, you had to imitate, and a lot of…. In art it’s, the same thing, a disciple imitates a master and tries to do things the way the master does it until later on he can do things his own way when he becomes more sophisticated. But, it’s this idea of copying and of following step by step, motion by motion, word by word, the model established by a Master. And who is the greater Master of holiness than our God? Amen

Jesus himself said, ‘Be holy as your Father who is in heaven is holy…” And I think the Apostle may have had that in mind when he says, “… be imitators of God, therefore….”

You know, until I had to really study this passage, that didn’t hit me as hard, you know, “… be imitators of God..” What an audacious concept! To try to imitate God? I mean, that’s crazy. But that’s the level of the challenge.

We need to see God, we need to understand God and you know, as I say this it comes clear to me now what he means when he says, he talks about understanding God. Where is that? Can you find it in the….. , verse 17 “… therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is…”

And you know, why do we need to understand what the Lord’s will is? Because if we are going to imitate God then we need to understand him. Right? I mean, you can’t imitate somebody if you don’t know them, if you don’t know their style, if you don’t know how they do things. And so, that’s why we need to study the word of God, we need to dedicate time to understanding God’s way of doing things, his character, his attributes, because as we understand who he is, we understand the way he acts. As we see Jesus portrayed in the gospels and the way he dealt in all kinds of different situations and how he handled different kinds of challenges and difficulties and attacks on his ministry, and adversity and demonic confrontation and illnesses of those he loved and so on and so forth, and we see how he acted, temptation, then, we can imitate him and we can try to be like him and walk in his steps.

I also remember the other passage where the Apostle Paul says that as we gaze at the face of Jesus and we fix our eyes upon him, we are transformed from glory to glory and we become like him. You see, so it’s this idea of… we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and we need to observe him, we need to observe how God loves and acts and moves and then we must try to imitate him

Of course, our imitation will be at such a low, low level, but that’s what we must do. We must try in human proportion to be like our God. Guau! Can we say amen to that? That’s the challenge of an entire lifetime, but you know, that really summarizes everything. “Be imitators of God therefore….”

One could almost title this sermon like that ‘Imitators of God’ and of course you can break down that concept into all kinds of different things and what Paul does is he just gives us a few examples of how we can imitate God.

He says, “… as dearly loved children….” Why does he mention children? I was watching Esther here during the worship time and her mom was raising her hands to worship, and you know, what that little baby of….. how many months? 7 months was doing? She raised one hand, at one point, she raised both hands: imitators.

You know, children learn by imitating and they don’t even realize it but that’s the way God has programmed them. They imitate parents and they become like them in many ways. I mean, it’s amazing how observant children are. I think God has enabled them to do that so that they can survive.

So, we need to be imitators of God as dearly loved children. When I think of ‘as dearly loved children’, I also think of…. I don’t know, maybe, children that are dearly loved are tender, and they cling to their parents and they feel well taken care of, and they’re malleable and they’ve received good training so they imitate their parents, they want to imitate their parents because they love their parents and they feel loved by their parents, they’re clothed to their parents.

And there’s no father that’s going to love us more than our Father. I mean, we are dearly loved children. So, we can afford to be clinked to him and to like to be with him. Esther was calling out to here dad right here, and you know, he was nearby so she was trying to get his attention. It’s like that that we’re supposed to be. I mean, sometimes we’re so sophisticates vis a vis God, we’re so… you know, we take our time. I mean, what really obey the word or not, do I want to love him or not, do I want to submit myself or not? You know, modern man particularly can be so rebellious at times and we take our time in deciding whether we’re going to choose God or not.

And you know, the Bible calls us to that simplicity of heart, that innocence of attitude. The wisdom of the child of God has a certain innocence to it, it has a good naturedness to it. The merely rational mind is sophisticated and cynical and skeptical and questioning and it takes it time in analyzing and deconstructing and putting them back together.

The only attitude that is appropriate for a child of God is to neatly just submit to God, let themselves be loved by God and be innocent as ……the Lord spoke about ‘unless you’re like children you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven’. We must, I must pray, ‘God, make me innocent, make me simple, remove all the false sophistication of the intellect and so on’.

Hey, and you know what? We don’t become fools, we don’t become morons either. Paradoxically we receive the mind of Christ and then we can analyze anything, whether it’s scientific, whether it is artistic, whether it is legal or governmental or logical, or spiritual because then God gives us his mind, his understanding, and that’s the beautiful thing of having this attitude of, ‘hey, let’s imitate God, let’s not be choosing this or that, but rather let’s just love God, let’s ourselves be loved by God as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us.

You know, that call to love is the essence of being imitators of God. God is love and if we’re going to imitate him, we’d better imitate him in his love. And you know, love is the sum total of every virtue. All the other virtues really that are mentioned are summarized in love and contained in love. Love is like the color of white which scientifically contains all the other colors. You break the color of white in its structure and it yields all the other colors, and I believe love is like that too. Love in its essence has all the components of all the other virtues brought together, that is love.

This is why, I mean, this connection here, time and time again the Bible always goes back to love and it is the foundation and it is the crowning virtue as well. So, it’s calling us to live a life of love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, because the greatest measure of love is Christ’s sacrifice and that will always be, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. And so that life of purity begins with a life of love, of living a life that is a sacrifice on to God.

Jesus lived his life as a sacrifice and actually he became a sacrifice. And the Bible calls us in Romans chapter 12 to be living life as a sacrifice. And you know what? I think that the life of purity and the life of holiness is the life of sacrifice. It’s a life of foregoing a lot of pleasures, it’s a life of struggling against your inclinations, it’s a life of conflict, inner conflict and it’s a life of just yielding your flesh and yielding your urges and your cravings to the Lord, time and time. It’s making a decision once and once again, several times a day, many times a week, over a lifetime, and of giving up all kinds of things in order to live a life that is pleasing on to God, really it has t o be a life of love.

And then, you know, he gets really in our case. I mean, he gets deep inside our skin. It says, “…. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality….”

That’s uncomfortable to talk about. You know, in our culture that kind of thing can be very threatening and very uncomfortable, but that’s the call of the gospel. You know, we are to live such lives of purity that not even a hint, I mean, that’s the goal, that’s the mission, vision, statement. That’s the task that is ahead for every believer: to remove every indication, every evidence of immorality. It’s the pursuit of a lifetime, it will involve much inner conflict, it will involve perhaps some failure and realignments, but we shall never lose sight of what the calling is for a believer, of removing every hint, removing every indication, every evidence of getting to a point of purity in our life that it is sealed completely. That is the goal, there must not even be a hint.

You know, there’s something here very important which is the gospel is a radical, radical departure from the way the world sees these things. For Paul to call Greco Roman believers to a life of purity, it was one of the most radical statements that have ever been made in history. Because if you look at the life of the Greeks and the Romans, you know, to them prostitution and sexual relationships and sexual freedom, and license was a very, very common thing. It’s what you find for example in many European countries and in many sectors of American society as well. You know, what’s the big deal? I’m a sexual being and therefore I have a right to express that and there’s no problem. As a matter of fact there are whole sectors of society that see the Christian call of holiness as ridiculous and repressive. You know, all of Freudian psychology, for example, and much of modern counseling, secular counseling is based on this idea that sexuality should not be repressed and that it leads to neurosis. They see the Christian call to purity as unhealthy and repressive, because whether it’s in Greece or Rome 2500 or 2000 years ago, or in modern society when you don’t have a standard that is absolute that’s what you end up doing. You know, that’s what the mind will tell you. Man left alone to his vices of thinking and of processing immorality, will arrive at that sooner or later.

So, when Paul wrote to the Ephesians Christians saying ‘live a life of purity, do not let immorality…’ I mean, he was surrounded, these Christians surrounded by temples where prostitution was common. I mean, you know, that there were sacred prostitutes in Ephesus, in other places whose role was to serve the goddess Aphrodite particularly, by being prostitutes. And in other cultures in the Middle East there were homosexual prostitutes as well who plied their trade, they were sacred, homosexual priests and prostitutes. And apparently the temple to Aphrodite in a Greek city, I don’t remember which one, was built from the profits, the profits of prostitution in that city. So, you can imagine that a culture that allows a temple to a God to be built from the profits of prostitution, what are their moral values?

Greek believers and gentile believers from Rome or Greece and all the surrounding Mediterranean world, when they came into the Kingdom of God, they were dealing with this baggage and the culture around told them it’s quite ok and all of a sudden here comes the Apostle Paul with this Judeo Christian world view saying, guys, you cannot live that way. There should not be even a hint of sexual immorality. I mean it was a radical thing. It was very conflictive, it was very challenging. It was a very daring thing, only God really, a revelation from God could lead to that kind of call.

So, it says, “… or any kind of impurity or of greed….”

Interestingly enough, look again here. Impurity and greed, you know, some people think, well, I don’t go to a prostitute, I don’t commit adultery, I’m not a fornicator or whatever, but you know, hey, it says even also greediness, hoarding your money and wanting more and more, materialism and all this lust for material things. You know, it’s put in the same place as immorality.

“….These things are improper for God’s holy people…”

We are a holy people, we are set apart, we’re different from the world, and I know that in this modern world the call to purity is just as scandalous, just as difficult, just as threatening as it was 2000, 2500 years ago. But it is the call of the gospel and we don’t say that legalistically or anything like that, it is simply God’s gentle call to every believer saying, hey guys, this is what I have for you and when you violate that you open yourself up to all kinds of dangers, all kinds of risks, all kinds of emotional damage. How much damage has been done to this culture by the license that we practice? Marriage has been destroyed, not destroyed but certainly quite damaged. And you have a whole generation or two of children that are paying that price.

A lot of the homosexuality that we see comes from marriages being broken, often in Christian homes, homes where there’s only a mother or there’s not a father present; or fathers haven’t been taught how to be pure and how to love their children appropriately. And all the abortion that is taking place damage women, men who are just full of lust and so on and not prepared to be fathers or good husbands and on and on and on, and it has its ramifications for the whole of society and God’s call to holiness is not out of a desire to make life difficult for us. It is because he has designed us in a certain way. We have to operate in a certain way and when we break away from that design, we are out of our access and we are open to all kinds of dangers.

So, the call to holiness is a very practical call, actually. It’s a call simply for our own good. It’s not because God wants to be a party pooper.

“…..nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving….”

You know, it’s the are of conversation and the mouth. He gives only three possibilities: obscenities, of course, cursing and using foul language; foolish talk I find it a little bit more intriguing and interesting. Foolish talks it says it’s used as empty talk. You know, what is foolish talk? It’s when we make comments that are stupid and senseless. We just talk out of inertia and we say things like, I’m going to kill you, or I don’t care, I hate you, or when we’re talking about murmuring and talking inappropriately about somebody else.

Christians, our conversations should be substantial. The Apostle Paul speaks about being seasoned with salt. We should, when we talk we should realize the mouth is a very powerful weapon. Apostle James speaks about that. And our conversation can either weaken us or strengthen us. The kind of conversation that we carry with people and even in our own mind as we think within our own selves, can weaken or strengthen us. So, we should be very careful about how we use our mouth and how we talk, what kind of conversations we have, what kind of people we talk with. There are people that their conversation is going to weaken us and dilute our spirituality and we should always try to be around people who can edify us with good, solid conversation.

I mean, it doesn’t mean that every once in a while we can’t talk about silly things and so on and so forth among ourselves, but we should always be careful that it not be contrary to the values of the Kingdom of God.

Coarse joking, you know, dirty jokes and so on shouldn’t be a part of the language of a Christian. These things are out of place, they’re inadequate for us. Instead of that he gives an example, I don’t think he’s just, be always thanksgiving, but guau, instead of using your mouth for silly things or obscene things, use it to thank God for all the things that he does. I think it’s just a wonderful alternative.

And he says, “…. For of this you can be sure, in other words, he’s being very solemn here, no immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God…”

In other words he’s referring to people who practice this, who’s character is defined, behavior is defined by these practices of immorality, of greed or of impurity, that person cannot enter into the Kingdom of God, because the Kingdom of God is holy, it’s pure, is perfect and it’s like bringing germs into a surgical room where people are going to be operated. It contaminates.

So, this is why we need to try to live lives that are up to the call of the Kingdom of God. And you know, anybody who is impure, or greedy or immoral is an idolater because they’re making of their objects of desire their God and they’re willing to put that object of desire in the place of God. So they are idolaters and idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of God it says in the Bible. So, there’s a connection there made as well.

“…..Let no one deceive you with empty words….”

Why does he say ‘let no one deceive you with empty words’? Because in that time, in the Ephesians environment there were for example the Gnostics who had these religious doctrines that were contrary to that call to purity and holiness and they were among Christians. Gnosticism was a sect, a religion, a cultic religion that threatened Christianity actually, in the first couple of centuries, and Christianity battled against the alternative of gnosticism, just as then we have the New Age, for example and so on, which a variant of gnosticism, by the way.

And you know, the Gnostics, for example, taught that the body really was totally inconsequential, the only thing that really mattered was the spirit and so your body, it had no importance and it was a prison and it was going to be destroyed and so on and so forth. They had no dignity and therefore whatever you did with your body, it didn’t really matter. So you could engage in all kinds of impure things and you could just satiate your body with impurity and it was ok because the body was impure anyway. So, that kind of reasoning and theology was seeking to penetrate Christian thinking and it sounded very profound, just like the New Age can sound very profound, but it is empty talk, it’s empty…. There’s so much empty talking that passes as theology, even in Christian theology. A lot of theology that is simply rationalism with a veneer of spirituality and it’s just empty, foolish talk and it should be denounced as such. And so, Paul say, hey, don’t let yourself be deceived by that kind of foolish thinking, it doesn’t get you anywhere and do not ever believe the opposite because God’s wrath does come through such things on those who are disobedient. It’s a very solemn call to not let yourself be dissuaded in any way by any kind of arguments that teach the contrary.

And then there’s a whole other stream of thinking in Christianity that says, hey, God is grace. You’re already saved, you cannot lose your soul, you cannot lose your salvation and God loves you as you are, and he accepts you as you are and salvation is not by actions but by grace of God. And there’s the implication, well, you know, go ahead, sin, it’s ok, because you have a loving, gracious God, he wouldn’t send you to hell.

And so, the Apostle Paul says, don’t let yourself have your guard down, because God is very serious about this kind of holiness.

“… for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord….”

You know, this imagery, this metaphor of light is so powerful. I wish I had all the time to really deconstruct and break down that image. But it is an image that comes back time and time again in scripture. Light is associated with Christian holiness and darkness with immorality and impurity.

And it says, “… you were once darkness…” You know, when we were living a life outside of God’s holiness and commandments, not only were we in the darkness, actually we were darkness, we were defined by darkness. There is the kingdom of darkness which is the kingdom of hell were the demons move and that when you act in certain ways you’re essence, you’re defined by darkness. People who do not have Jesus Christ are darkness.

“…. But now, it says, you are light ….”

So, now we are made of light, we are luminescent beings and we associate ourselves with light, and light is the domain of life, of goodness, of love, of justice, of righteousness, of purity, of good intentions, of kindness towards others, of mercy and of integrity. All those wonderful values that lead to life and to joy is where we belong. And the weapons that we use to fight our wars are not weapons of darkness. The Bible says that they’re weapons of light. You know, those weapons of goodness, forgiveness, peace, love, the fruit of the spirit.

And you know, those are not wimpy weapons, by the way, they’re pretty powerful. The Bible says that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are powerful in God for the destruction of strongholds.

Imagine, those weapons, they’re pretty powerful, but they’re gentle and they’re loving, they’re made out of noble substances, but they’re extremely effective. And so, our lives should be associated with light. Light also speaks of frankness, of openness. You know, the believer who lives a life that is pleasing on to God doesn’t need to worry about hiding. That’s what happened with Adam and Eve, when they sinned, they fled from God and they hid themselves. You see, there’s something when you’re living outside of the will of God you feel fear, you feel somehow contaminated, you feel distant and you seek darkness and secrecy. And that’s what it is, the darkness.

Jesus said that the men of this world do not like light, they didn’t receive him because he is light. I am the light of the world, because they loved their worlds of darkness and so light shines upon darkness and it dispels it. And so, when you’re doing something that is not of God you want to dwell in the darkness. But when you have accepted the values of the Kingdom of God, then you move in light. You have nothing to hide, you don’t have anything to dissimulate or be ashamed of, because you’re an open book, the IRS can come into your moral life and do an audit and you say, ok, go ahead, buys. Come on. What do you need? What papers do you need? It’s like that. Few of us can never…. I don’t know who can claim that, I cannot, but that’s really what we are called to do, to associate ourselves with light and to live a life associated with light, not darkness, of openness, of frankness, of living… our heart is in our hand. Therefore, everyone to see.

“… live as children of light and find out what pleases the Lord,…”

Again, that was the other thing I was looking for. We need to find out what pleases the Lord. We need to find out what God is all about so that we can imitate him.

“….Therefore, do not be partners with them, for you were once in darkness, find out what pleases the Lord, verse 11, have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them…”

In other words, here’s an even more radical call. Not only are we not to be affiliated with the deeds and the domain and the actions of darkness, but what we need to do is expose them. You know, there are two ways that you can take that verb ‘expose’. One of them is, and it’s probably the easiest for many of us, the church is called to be prophetic in the world and so the world needs clarity and the church is the source of that clarity. So, the world out there is behaving in ways that are contrary to the will of God and that are destructive of life and the church is supposed to expose the deception that the world lives in by announcing truth and denouncing behavior.

That’s what happens for example in this whole gay marriage thing. You know, many of us find ourselves in the dubious position and the unpleasant position and the unwanted position of having to say to the world, that is not right and we do not agree with it and we must resist is. We expose it and people hate us for that, because men do not want their habits exposed. They want to be able to do it and do it with good conscience, and think themselves moral and ok with God and here’s the church spoiling their party by telling them, no, that relationship is not of God.

And people want to have promiscuous relationships and relationships that are not of God and here’s the church saying, I’m sorry, you know that living together is not of God. What? People get mad, people… they get offended but we’re supposed to expose it, with gentleness, with fear and trembling, with awareness of our own sinfulness, with humility, but we’re supposed to expose it.

But here’s another way as well that we should see this. We should expose ourselves as well, now, that is much more difficult, you know. And here’s this very therapeutic thing, when you are wrestling with a sinful temptation, or with a sinful situation, expose yourself, not expose yourself in all the ways, but what I mean is expose your actions, denounce yourself, go to somebody who you trust, a good friend, an accountability partner and say, hey, you know, I’m dealing with this problem, or I did such and such a thing and denounce yourself, bring yourself out into the open.

And you know what happens? There’s something very therapeutic and very powerful when you share a temptation or a sin, or a situation in your life with somebody and you confess it, not only to God but you confess it to somebody else, because you know with God sometimes we confess things and he’s out there, we don’t see him, but man, confessing it to somebody else, that’s very therapeutic.

The Bible speaks about confessing our sins one to another so that we might be healed. You know, let’s be a community of people that can be trusted. Let’s be a community of people that we can go to each other and if we’re fighting with the temptation, if we’re engaged in a certain situation, let’s go to somebody, as soon as possible and say, hey, I’m dealing with this, I’m struggling with this. I don’t care what it is, I do hope that in this congregation people who are dealing with sin in their lives will always find gracious, grace-filled ears and no judgment and no condemnation. I don’t care what it is, whether it’s homosexuality, promiscuity, sexual relationships of any sort, anger, resentfulness, whatever. I do pray that we will be a community where people feel free to go to somebody else and say, hey, I’m dealing with this. Can you pray with me? Can you be there for me? Would you like to be my accountability person, because I want to do God’s will, expose to darkness in ourselves as well. Don’t just expose the darkness out there, let’s expose the darkness in ourselves. Let’s talk about it appropriately and with integrity and that has the power to dispel de darkness, the light switch is turned on.

Any psychologist will tell you, when you share your struggles they lose a lot of their intensity and the more you denounce yourself and open yourself, the more control you have over whatever it is that you’re dealing with, so we need help. I mean, we need people in the trench with us, trench buddies that can be there for us. And I’m going to leave it there.

“…have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them, for it is light that makes everything visible, this is why it is said, wake up, oh sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you…”

We have to open the door for Christ to shine on us. Right? So why don’t we do that. And take a moment now to, you know, this is not meant to make you feel as you walk out of here, impure, or guilty, or inadequate, this is meant to administer the healing, salve of God in our lives and in our spirits, it’s meant to encourage us, it’s meant to challenge us in the best of ways.

Your loving Father is saying, hey, I want to protect you. I want you to remain here in the fold of the family. Don’t walk out of the fold because I need you and I want to make sure that I can protect you and that I can cover you from that evil demonic system out there that’s going to ravish and destroy your inner being, and so stay with me, stay within my values, stay within my fold.

It’s that call to purity. Purity is the most beautiful thing in the world, I tell. It is the most wholesome feeling and it leads to vitality, it leads to clarity of thought, it leads to joy, it leads to a sense of intimacy and nearness with God. It’s so good, so good. It’s nothing like living a life that is holy, pleasing on to God.

So why don’t we embrace that tonight. If there’s a sin in your life, take a moment right now, let’s just bow our heads. Let’s us bow our head and receive the cleansing call of the word of God.

Father, I confess that I am not up to that high, high calling that I’ve just brought forth to my brothers and sisters, but I want to be there and I reaffirm my desire and my intention to live that life that is pleasing on to you and I thank you for the victories that have been achieved and we want more of it, Father. So, we embrace that call right now, we do not flee from it, we do not question it. We receive it, we accept it, we embrace it and we confess our sins, we confess whatever it is that we are not doing to please you and we commit, we commit to a life of holiness.

Help us to be light in the world. And help us to be resources for those that are struggling with sin in their lives. Help us to be gracious and loving and compassionate, and kind, and to have a listening ear, so that we can be also a resource for those who are struggling with sinfulness in their lives. And we thank you, Lord, we thank you for the fact that you love us just as we are and you work with us. You’re such a loving Father, such a forgiving Father, and we do not want to presume, we don’t want to abuse your love, Lord. Thank you. Thank you, in Jesus’ loving name we pray. Amen and amen. Praise God.