17 May 2020, 11 a.m


Walk as The Child of God

Speaker: Dn Lee Pang Wee
Text: Eph 5:1-14

1. Introduction

2. Walk in love

3. Walk as children of light

 

Reflection Questions

  1. Consider what you once were before you became a Christian, and what you are now as a Christian. What has changed? Share this with another person.
  2. Give an example of what can prevent you from being a fragrant offering to God.

(refer to verses 3-7)

  1. How does knowing your identity in Christ help you to walk as the child of God?
Transcript:

Good morning everyone! How is everybody? Hope all of us are keeping well. We will continue this mode of recording the sermon during this circuit breaker period. So today, I am recording this sermon on the passage just read to us. Before we go on, shall we first pray together?

 

Our Heavenly Father, as we open our bibles this morning, may we ask your Spirit to guide us and give us understanding to Your Word. May your Spirit help me to share your Word clearly. In Jesus Name we pray.

If you have followed us in this Ephesians series, you would learn that the first 3 chapters are mostly on doctrines – what we are to believe. The next 3 chapters, 4-6, are on conduct – how we should live.

 

We have learned that Christians ought to live differently from the rest. Christians must live differently, because they are now different. Christians have a new life, a new identity. Our identity now is in Christ. We no longer are associated with the world. We are in the world, but not of the world.

 

How Christians ought to live differently? The answer from Chapter 5 is: We live differently by walking differently. Therefore, the title of today’s sermon is: Walk as The Child of God.

 

But why walk? Well, it is not about the manner, or the gait, of our walk. Each of us is different. Also, with COVID19 lockdown, our only walks now are from our room to the kitchen and to the fridge and back, and this repeats many times in the day. No, I am not talking about this walk either. I am talking about our walk with God – the way we live our lives according to our faith.

 

Yes, Paul at times used the idea of a run – an athlete running a race. It is to encourage perseverance and self-discipline. But more often than not, Christian life is an image of a walk. So, we read, “Enoch walked with God”. “Noah walked with God.”

 

And Eph 2:10 commands us: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before-hand, that we should walk in them.”

 

God wants us to walk steady, sure and steadfast. God does not want us to dash for 100m, then slow down, or even stop. We are to walk, constant and steady.

 

In this chapter 5, Chrisians are told we can be different from the world when we: Walk in love (v2), when we walk as children of light (v8), and when we walk in wisdom (v15). Today, we shall look at the first two ‘walks’. Let us now take a walk through these verses 1- 14.

 

V1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

 

Be imitators of God. Christians are to ‘follow after’ God. To imitate God is to imitate Christ, to follow after Christ.

 

Paul starts with the word ‘therefore’ – meaning, with this reason Christians ought to imitate God. The reason is in the earlier chapters we have gone through.

 

In Chapter 4 we learn that Christians are forgiven in Christ. Christians now have a new life in the Spirit. We are to put on a new self. We are to display the likeness of Christ.

 

And chapter 1 gives us more reasons. We are blessed with spiritual blessings in Christ. We are called, and adopted into God’s family. We are now children of God, redeemed, forgiven, and made heirs. And the Holy Spirit himself is the guarantor of this. God is our heavenly Father, and we are his beloved children.

 

I once heard this illustration. A family is out on an outing. The parents and the children. The children like to run ahead of the parents, but when they come to a junction, they look back and eagerly ask, “Father, which way to go?”. And the father would say, “Wait, follow after me”. So the children waited, the father speeded up, and the moment it’s clear which way the father goes, the children happily run on again.

 

Christian lives have many junctions as well – choices and decisions to make. We can decide to ask God which choice to take, or to go on our own. How we decide is guided by these 4 words – be imitators of God. Follow after God. Which way would God the Father would go? Then obey and follow, because we are his beloved.

 

V2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

 

Now, as the family walks on, the children begin to bicker with one another. Call each other names, argue with each other, fight with one another. The older bully the younger. The parents tell the children, “Stop it ah, else no ice cream later …”.

Christians sometimes behave that way as well. We bicker with each other, plot against each other, pull our weight on the other.

 

Verse 2 tells us – Walk in love, as Christ loved us. The bible doesn’t tell us to look to the ice-cream. It tells us to look to Christ. Look how Christ walked. Christ walked in love. Look how he loved. Sacrificially. He gave himself up for us. Christ is a life of love and giving. Look, how he obeyed and sacrificed himself, it is a fragrant offering to God.

 

Therefore, be like Christ, follow his obedience. We obey not to get the love of God; we obey because we are loved. God the Father loves us before the foundation of the world. God did not love us because he knew we’d obey in year 2020, or 2025. No. He loved us from the beginning. Therefore, we obey because we are loved. And this is what new life in the Spirit is. This is the relationship in the new covenant – God our kind and loving Father, we his beloved in Christ.

 

Eph 2: 4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved

 

We are made alive in Christ – we are identified with Christ; this identity sets us apart from others.

 

Now, let’s go back to the family on an outing. And as they walk on, they come to another junction. And down one path, there are many people. It seems a lot of happenings, people chilling out. It’s cool to be there.

 

So, the children called out, “Father, father, let’s go there! Many people there! I want to go there!” But, the father says, “Not that way, but this way!”.

 

That way is the way in Verses 3 & 4. That way, is the way of the world, and Christians are not to walk down that path.

 

V3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

What is sexual immorality? A straight answer is sexual intercourse before marriage. Or, when you are married, sex with another person other than your spouse.

 

What is covetousness? It is when THINGS replace God in our heart. When THINGS become a god to us, they become idols, and we – idolaters.

 

In fact, the word “covetousness” is sexually nuanced here. It means greed for someone else’s body. So here is the thing.

 

The sexually immoral live a life of self-centredness, self-gratification. One cannot wait until marriage to have sex, and the other, wants more than what marriage gives. How does having sex before marriage shows your love to your boyfriend or girlfriend? How does it show you are not wanting it for yourself? How does sex outside of marriage show that you love your spouse? How does it show the nature of Christ, who loves you more than himself, who denies himself and gives himself up for your sake? Idolaters want things for themselves, things are a means to their end. This is the opposite of how Christ lived.

 

What about jokes? Is it wrong for Christians to tell jokes? No. But Paul is asking, how do sexually suggestive, perverse, crude jokes edify? How do talks that gossip, create bitterness, distrust like fake news – impure words – promote Christian unity? Again, is it for self enjoyment? Should our mouths that are supposed to give thanks to God, be used for such?

 

And v5 says those who live like this have no place in the kingdom of God.

 

V5 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 V6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. v7 Therefore do not become partners with them;

 

But the world will use all means, lies, half-truths, smooth talks, peer pressure, and deceits to coax you to join them, and to justify your behaviour.

However, we are not to associate with them anymore. Not to live like them, not to encourage the way of the world by doing the same ourselves. God will judge the world. And if we continue to follow after them, then we too would be judged with them.

 

Let me conclude this section with the following:

  1. As the beloved child of God, we are to imitate God the Father
  2. To imitate God the Father is to imitate Christ
  3. Our identity in Christ compels us to walk after Christ – a life of love and giving
  4. We cannot continue a life of sin and self-centredness. It only leads to judgement.
  5. To make a difference, we are to walk in love, as Christ loved us

 

We go on now to the next section, from verse V8 to 14

 

V8-14 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.

 

V8 tells us what we once were. We once were darkness.

 

What does it mean, “we were darkness”? Remember Eph chapter 2.

 

Eph. 2:1-2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.

 

Darkness is where sin dominates. Where the spirit of rebellion rules. Where the unredeemed live.

 

That was what we once were. But now, we are not. We cannot be. Not supposed to be.

V8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),

 

Why? Because now, we are the light in the Lord. Like day and night, light and darkness are opposite. Are different. So verse 10 says we are to discern, to live in a way that is acceptable, that would please God.

 

Let us be clear, we are not the light, but light in the Lord. Jesus is the light, he is the light of the world. Jesus is the true light.

 

But our identity in Christ makes us light in the Lord. By ourselves we have no light. We reflect the light of Christ.

 

Yet, v8 also tells us we are children of light. Let me explain. The moon itself does not give light. The moon reflects the light from the sun. Yet, in the darkness of the night, the moon itself is the light. It exposes the dark night when and where it shines. When and where we walk as children of light, we too expose the works of darkness.

 

Some years ago, my family and I were in Bali for a family holiday. We booked a local tour – Mount Batur Sunrise Hike. We were excited, the tour promised the most spectacular sunrise at the top. But soon we realised that Sunrise Hike means we are to start hiking from the base at 3:00 am, in order to reach the top at 6:30 am to catch the spectacular sunrise. Our hearts were swooned over, so we didn’t think about what it

means to walk up the mountain at 3:00 am.

 

Yes, it was very dark. Everywhere was darkness. Not long after we started the hike, we found ourselves having to suddenly avoid a rock here, a steep slope there, and many times we nearly twisted our ankle. Soon, the young and fit ones, they went further and further ahead of us. Chris and I found ourselves stumbling more and more in the dark.

When sunrise began to chase the darkness away, we didn’ know where we were, except for sure, not the top. And as we looked down to where we came from, we realized how dangerous, how fatally dangerous, it was to walk in the darkness. We didn’t see the spectacular sunrise. Later, we were told those who reached the top on time, didn’t see it either, because it was too cloudy that morning. The advertisements

didn’t tell you all this.

 

So, for 3 hours, our walk in darkness was futile, unfruitful and even dangerous. This is what verse 11 means.

 

V11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light.

 

Works of darkness are unfruitful works. Contrast this to verse 9, the fruit of light is found in all that is good, and right and true. Christians are to display what characterizes God – goodness, righteousness and truth. The things of darkness – evil deeds, unrighteous acts, lies and falsehoods – these are shameful and are done in secret.

 

Now, Verses 13 & 14 tell us two practical ways in which we can walk differently.

 

One, we can expose the darkness, for anything exposed by the light becomes visible (v13). The idea here is light will make visible what is in the dark. Now, some good intentioned Christains see it their duty to call out what is ungodly. We have to do it with grace and wisdom. It is one thing to call out a sin a sin, it is another when we kill the sinner with the sin. I think the idea of exposing is to warn, to explain, to show a person

the danger and consequence of a sin, and not to expose the person to condemnation.

 

Even then, can we expose all darkness, can we fight all the darkness? We might not. But we may win some immediate darkness around us over.

 

So, verse 14 says we may win over darkness by expressing the light of Christ in us. When the light of Christ is visible in us, we become the light to those in darkness. Anything that becomes visible is light.

 

There was a Christian daughter-in-law who lived with a very demanding and unjust mother-in-law. The mother-in-law was yet a believer then. For many years, this sister lived under the oppressive rule of her mother-in-law. But out of her Christian conviction, she tried her best to love her mother-in-law. Each time her mother-in-law treated her badly, she returned with greater love and care for her. Until one day, the mother-in-law realized how different she behaved. She realized her own way of treating her daughter-in-law was very wrong. She saw that her daughter-in-law’s faith makes her different. Few years later, the mother-in-law herself became a Christian.

 

We can’t fight darkness all the time, but we can win over darkness sometime, by expressing the light of Christ in us. And every day, there are many many opportunities to do so, because darkness is everywhere around us. But when the light of Christ is visible in us, there will be one darkness less.

 

I would like to summarize this section as follows:

  1. Christ is the light of the world
  2. Our identity in Christ makes us light in the Lord, we are children of light
  3. The works of darkness is unfruitful
  4. As children of light, we expose darkness
  5. As light in the Lord, we express the light of Christ

 

Paul ends this section with a hymn believed to be sung during baptism.

 

V14b “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

 

It calls Christians to wake up. Christians are not dead. We are alive. We are made alive in Christ. We have a new life. A new identity in Christ. But often we forget, and we go to sleep. It is time to wake up, to take a walk. A different walk.

 

But how do we walk from here. May I leave us with this simple 3 steps:

  1. Step 1. Consider what you once were before you became a Christian, and what you are now as a Christian. What has changed? Share your conversion testimony. Our CG did this exercise before we started on our study of Ephesians. We are very encouraged by each other’s testimony. I encourage you to do the same, with your CG, with your prayer partner.
  2. Step 2. Identify one area of spiritual struggle that prevents you from being a fragrant offering to God. Ask God to help you overcome it. Everyone of us has a struggle at one time or another. Do not be discouraged. None of us is a perfect saint. The key thing is to be honest with yourself, recognise the problem. Share with someone whom you trust, ask him/her to pray with you.
  3. Step 3. Make a plan to change, to walk differently from now, to walk as the child of God from here. Commit this in prayer to the Lord.

 

Let us pray:

 

Our Father in Heaven, we thank you that your word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path always. Help us to walk worthy of our calling. Help us to walk in love as Christ loved us. Help us to walk as your child of light. Give us grace to hold out your light, so that the world may know you and see your glory. In Jesus Name I pray.

 

References:

  1. Ps Daniel. 16 Feb 2020. “Blessed in Christ. Saints – set apart, consecrated. Adopted – past – to be holy and blameless. Chosen.Predestined.Redeemed – present, forgiven. Sealed – future – ownership, the Holy Spirit himself is the seal, guarantee our inheritance”
  2. Ps Daniel. 1 Mar. “We once walked. 2:2. But now … 2:4. We should now walk 2:10”
  3. Dn Luwin. 8 Mar. “Unity of God’s people = the Glory of God (2:19-22)”
  4. Clinton Arnold, “Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament”, Zondervan
  5. Bryan Chapel, “Ephesians”, P&R
  6. Paul Gardner, “Ephesians – Encouragement and Joy in Christ”, Christian Focus
  7. Kent Hughes, “The Mystery of the Body of Christ”, Crossway

 

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