Christ Covenant Church
Rev. Marq Toombs
24 March 2019
Lust says, ‘What Can you do for me?’
Love says, ‘What can I do for you?’
– Tim Keller
Series — Re:Lent – A Time to Give Up
[sketch notes & talking points]
Sermon Text — Ephesians 5:1-7
Recently we started a new mini-series called called Re:Lent. A Time to Give Up.
The goal of the series is to help us give up our sins for the Lord and give up ourselves to the Lord.
God the Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. Why? For what purpose? “That we should be holy and blameless before him.”
We are learning how to live as God’s chosen people and become holy and blameless before the face of God.
Put another, we are learning how to live in the family of God as children of God. This means learning to love God with our heart, mind, soul, and body.
As you know, St. Paul is calling on us to put off the old man and to put on the new man. To put off the old man requires us to get out of Adam. To put on the new man requires us to get into Christ.
Now, as we follow the flow of the text, we hear Paul calling on us to think, feel, and act in ways that are “consistent with our new identity in Christ” (Thielman).
Last week we considered ways we use our mouth, hands, and heart. This week we will consider ways to use other (more private) body parts.
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. 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. Therefore do not become partners with them.
When Paul says, be imitators of God, what does he mean?
We have already seen that God is One in essence, Three in person. So, does Paul mean be imitators of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?
Yes and No.
I take him to mean be imitators of God the Father, since he says as beloved children. He is fleshing out the Father and children relationship he first mention in Ephesians 1. (who) The Father (what) predestined us (why) for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ.
As children of love adopted into the family of God we are expected to become imitators of God the Father.
Gk. mimetai. become imitators (copycats or mimics)
Imitation is not just a form of flattery, it is form of adoration.
God the Father loves his adopted sons and daughters just as much as he loves their brother Jesus.
We know this is true because God uses the same term of endearment for Christ and Christians — they are God’s beloved (Eph.1:6; 5:1).
Therefore, adopted orphans should walk in love before the Father as children of God, with all the assurance and confidence supplied by faith, hope, and love.
God loves us, and so we should love God in response.
As we have seen, God the Father sets the rules for his family. We are learning the rules and how to abide by them.
We can summarize this section in this way:
Positively, our Father requires us to walk in love; negatively, our Father forbids us to walk in lust.
“between the horses of love and lust you are trampled under foot.” – U2 /Bono
Lust is more than desire, and it is even more than sexual desire. But it is not less than that, especially in this context.
In his book Steering Through Chaos, Os Guinness explains that “lust is an idolizing of sex in the sense of an unethical and unrestrained expression of sexual impulse.”
Lust can be expressed in many ways. It can be expressed in your heart when you admire and desire someone or something that you are not rightly permitted to have.
It can be expressed in your body when you want to be admired and desired by others.
It can be expressed by others when they want to stir up your passions and pleasures.
We live in a lustful, sex-obsessed, culture. It’s everywhere – advertising, music, social media, films, novels.
For example, once upon a time, pornography was much harder to come by. Now it is so easy to come by that it’s almost mainstream. Anyone with a smart phone and internet connection can access it.
St Paul says lust – in the form of sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness – must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
– sexual immorality— includes all forms of adultery, fornication, pornography whether hetero/homo-sexual
– impurity — sexual fantasy and erotica // this is prevalent in our entertainments –
– covetousness — craving more things and better stuff; unbridled greed and discontentment. This is not just about craving money, it is also about craving sex and acquiring other things.
See the Law of God — “And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
He adds that lust – in the form of language and speech – filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place
– filthiness — double entendre; perverse language; sexually suggestive speech
– foolish talk — sarcasm and cynicism
– crude joking — usually about sexual and bodily functions; standard fare on our favorite sit-coms and movies
Those who walk in lust should not expect to receive any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Instead of grace there will be wrath for the sons of disobedience.
Here disobedience describes a person who is indifferent concerning God and his word and obstinate about his/her sin.
A problem for everyone.
“A man who says he never sins sexually will lie about other things as well.” – Judge Haigler
Christ loved his Father so much that he delivered himself up on the cross for all his adopted siblings. Jesus offered and sacrificed himself on the cross in obedience to his Father’s will.
Christ’s sacrificial death on the altar of the cross was a sweet savor and fragrant aroma to God.
Jesus loves us, laid down his life for us, and wants to help us walk before the face of God according to the rules of the household. Jesus wants to show us how to glorify the Father by doing the will of the Father.
If becoming imitators of God the Father seems abstract, ethereal, or idealistic, try to focus your efforts on imitating Jesus the God-man.
Just as children imitate their parents, so younger siblings imitate older siblings. Jesus is the one and only true Son of God. No one is more like the Father than our brother Jesus, so we would do well to imitate him in giving, offering, and sacrificing ourselves for others.
When Christ exchanged his life for our death, we were still orphans. We were dirty, filthy, and nasty orphans, infested with sins and infected with death. Yet the Father was so satisfied with the offering and sacrifice of the one true son on behalf of his chosen and predestined people, that he was pleased to adopt us into his family.
We do not need to prove ourselves worthy of his love nor do we need to earn his favor.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…in love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:5).
So think about this for a minute: God the Father elected and loved orphaned children in eternity and he sent Jesus into the world to secure their adoption. God the Father loves his adopted children in history and sends his Spirit into their hearts.
The Spirit of adoption testifies to our spirit that we are really and truly the sons and daughters of God. The Spirit of adoption enables us to call upon God as Abba Father.
“You are no longer orphans, but you are members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).
A time to give up our sins for the Lord and give up ourselves to the Lord.
A time to give up our lusts for the Lord and give up our love to the love of the Lord.
Lust says, ‘What Can you do for me?’ Love says, ‘What can I do for you?’ – Tim Keller
Thanksgiving = eucharist
The table is the place where the Father reminds us that he loves and forgives us, that Jesus laid down his life for us, that the Spirit seals us for the day of redemption.
Come to the table and listen to your Father, your brother, and the Spirit. And you will find grace in your time of need.
The Father loves you, Jesus is on your side. The Spirit is for you. God is relentless in his pursuit of you.