Let me call your attention to Ephesians 5 as we continue reading this letter to a local church in today’s Turkey.
“And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).
“A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one to another” (John 14:34-35).
We have seen in Ephesians 3-4 that there should be a world of difference between a Christian’s life and that of an unbeliever. The difference is like day and night. We should be striving toward maturity… not being blown around by wrong teaching, but applying biblical principles to our everyday life (Ephesians 4:11-13). The problem comes when our desires get in the way with our thinking. Then our emotions take over. Desires to have, be, or do can lead to strong emotions that get in the way of thinking straight about biblical principles. Desire for something (or someone!) or a position you don’t have can rule you. James put it like this,
“…each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).
Paul talked about the deceitfulness of our desires, tricking us into condoning obvious sin. Worship, he said, was not in rituals, but in sacrificing ourselves (5:2). We can’t have it all! Christian love cannot just go along with the world’s latest twist on things. Instead, we have to think straight and weigh our desires and pride against God’s word (Romans 12:1-2). The secret to growing up, Paul said, was to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. When you are controlled by the Spirit, it is almost like you are drunk! You sing, love, and praise with joy:
“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” (Ephesians 5:18-21).
This, then, is a good measure of how foolish you are when you are ruled by your emotional longings. If you are not singing with a grateful heart and loving others, then check out your desires. What are you lusting for? A desire can be from God as a way to guide us. But the intensity is the key. If you just MUST have it, then watch your balance! “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8). Rein yourself in. Force yourself to rethink the basic biblical principles with you focus on Christ Jesus.
The rest of Ephesians 5 shows how walking in light and love embellishes life. Submitting to one another is not about male dominance. But, wives are to counsel their husbands and then step back and help implement their decisions. Men are to walk in the light and not be deceived by their desires as well. It takes renewal of the mind, setting aside your “inordinate” desires, and walking in the light to think of your wife as your bride! In addition, children thrive in this environment of love where they are not the center of the universe but learn what honoring another is all about.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
“He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).
And always remember the gracious promise of the gospel: that Christ Jesus suffered and died so that the wrath of God’s perfect justice would fall on Him instead of each of us. He descended into hell. Then He was alive again! He ascended into heaven from whence He will come to condemn those who have not believed in Him. And even though we have stumbled along the way, He will give us life that will last for all eternity. We will live in His light and love forever.
Isn’t growing up worth it?