To Be an Imitator of God, Here is What Not to Do, Part 7 — Ephesians 5:5 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation #10)

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A series of homilies on Ephesians 5 & 6

A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”

I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians 5 & 6 (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.

Ephesians 5:1-5:

1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

——-

Matthew Henry said, “Woman was taken out of man; not out of his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled underfoot; but out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “The greatest miracle that God can do today is to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”

We have seen how that any Christian who is living in continuous sin is in danger of not receiving the blessings that God has for all saints. Paul specifically names sexual sin, uncleanness, and coveting as serious dangers to the Christian’s walk. While sexual sin requires activity outside of the body, coveting takes place inside the body — in the heart and mind — and that is what makes it so dangerous.

It is so dangerous that it can lead to idolatry — the worship of something or someone other than God — if we are not careful. Coveting fosters in us a desire, not only for that which we do not have, but for that which we cannot have — that which is forbidden to us. It can often lead us to try to get what we want at the expense of others. It hinders generosity — it is a spirit that wants instead of gives. It causes us to offend our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because we are so focused on what we want that we show no concern for the needs of others. It is also a self-destructive spirit; even though we may get what we want (or what we think we want), we will still be unsatisfied with it, and we will be under God’s punishment to boot.

Joseph Exell lists in his commentary some of the seemingly innocuous emotions that arise in our hearts that can hide idolatry in our lives. These emotions are so familiar that we can slip into idolatry without even noticing it.

1. Esteem. That which we most highly value we make our god; for estimation is an act of soul worship.

2. Mindfulness. That which we are most mindful of we make our god.

3. Love. That which we most love we worship as our god. To love and to adore are sometimes both one. Love, whenever it is inordinate, is an idolatrous affection.

4. Trust. That which we most trust we make our god; for confidence and dependence is an act of worship which the Lord calls for as due only to Himself.

5. Fear. If you fear others more than Him, you give that worship to them which is due only to God.

6. Hope. That which we make our hope we worship as God; for hope is an act of worship. Those that make their own righteousness the foundation of their hope, they exalt it into the place of Christ, and honour it as God; and to honour anything as God is evident idolatry.

7. Desire. That which we most desire we worship as our god; for that which is chiefly desired is the chief good in his account who so desires it; and what he counts his chief good, that he makes his god.

8. Delight. That which we most delight and rejoice in, that we worship as God; for transcendent delight is an act of worship due only to God; and this affection, in its height and elevation, is called glorying.

9. Zeal. That for which we are more zealous we worship as our god; for such a zeal is an act of worship due only to God; therefore it is idolatrous to be more zealous for our own things than for the things of God.

10. Gratitude. That to which we are most grateful, that we worship as God; for gratitude is an act of worship.

Besides fear, all of these are good emotions and feelings to have. (Fear is even good, as long as it is a healthy fear of the right dangers.) However, the height of these emotions in our lives ought to be found in God, otherwise we are living in idolatry. We must honestly ask ourselves: Do I love my spouse more than I love God? Do I trust my best friend more than I trust God? Do I fear losing my job more than I love God? Do I desire a new house or a new car more than I desire to please God with my life? Do I delight in a relationship with someone I am not married to more than I delight in God? Am I more zealous about a football team or a political candidate than I am about the things of God?

We ought to make it our goal that the highest demonstration of our love, our commitment, our fear, our hope, our trust, and our zeal is found in God — not in people or things that we have set up as gods in our lives.

Let’s pray.

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