Ephesians 5:3-6 The Role Of Thankfulness In Sanctification

Our text this morning is found in Ephesians 5:3-6. It says,

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.

Introduction

In Ephesians 1-3 Paul laid out a theological framework concerning the new life and the new nature that every believer has in Christ. In Ephesians 4-5 the apostle Paul has been developing a theme concerning the unity and purity of the church which has been purchased by Christ’s sacrifice.

Having taught us that we are a new creation in Christ, and having taught us the theology supporting these things and praying for us to understand them, Paul now is teaching these believers the new Christian ethic about how to behave as a result of all of this grace.

Dr. John Stott speaks of the importance of this progression within the context of Ephesians when he says, “What we are governs how we think, and how we think determines how we act. We are God’s new society, a people who have put off the old life and put on the new; that is what he has made us. So we need to recall this by the daily renewal of our minds, remembering how we learned Christ…We must actively cultivate a Christian life. For holiness is not a condition into which we drift. We are not passive spectators of a sanctification God works in us.”

Paul begins by listing six sins that every believer needs to put away. Paul could not be more clear about these sins.

  1. Sexual immorality – (pornea) sex outside of marriage, fornication, encompasses every sexual sin

  2. Impurity – perverted, sensual, degrading and gross sexual sins such as homosexuality and other perversions,

  3. Covetousness – greedy to practice such sins, consumed in the heart and mind toward sinfulness, a deep craving to do anything unclean

  4. Filthiness – Obscene, bile or disgusting in speech or conduct, morally hateful

  5. Foolish talk - filthy, characteristic of fools, frivolous, senseless

  6. Crude joking – vulgar, immoral, flippant. “To joke about such things will eventually degrade them; to thank God for them is the way to presume their worth as a blessing of a loving creator.”

Paul is also clear about the consequences concerning these sins. He says that these sins “must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” He also says in Ephesians 5:5, “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.”

We should expect such clarity concerning these things because it is the apostle Paul who wrote to the Corinthians saying, “But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2) Paul’s embrace of the Gospel changed the way in which he lived and the way in which he talked.

Oswald Chambers speaks of the importance of Paul’s clear and faithful teaching when he says, “The author who benefits you most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives you expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling for utterance.”