Look Carefully

Tuesday, June 9, 2015, 10:14 p.m. – The song “Hallelujah,” from the animated movie “Shrek” is still going through my mind today. The song speaks of lust, allurement, adultery, fornication, trickery, deceit, cover-ups, temptation, yielding to temptation, lies, murder, war, the conquering of kingdoms, and celebrations of war victories (conquered kingdoms). It also speaks of mouths which voice empty (cold) “hallelujahs,” i.e. “Glory to God.”

So, the song has a theme of hypocrisy, of not living up to the moral standards by which we claim allegiance, and of using the name of God to justify our evil deeds and our unholy wars. It also speaks of secrecy, lack of wisdom and discernment, and of arrogance in thinking we can’t fall, but we can. As well, it speaks of complacency and apathy, and lack of concern for truthfulness and integrity, and of using lame excuses for why we didn’t obey God, I believe. The song ends by questioning the existence of God and by cynically expressing the sad reality of war, especially those fought in the name of God, but by those who dishonored God and who gave lip service only to God – cold and broken hallelujahs.

Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV).

Walk in Love (vv. 1-2)

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.

What does it mean to be an imitator of God? It means we follow God/Christ and we emulate him, i.e. we follow the example he has given to us on how to love, serve, and obey him, on how to love and minister to the needs of others, and on how to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to him. So, if we want to follow him, and emulate him, we have to know him, who he is, what he is about, what goes through his mind, his passions and compassions, and his heart. We have to know his divine will and purposes, to the best of our understanding, and his character and personality. And, the way we get to know him is first of all by believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives, by the Spirit, via death to sin and living to righteousness, and then by spending time in his word each day, in listening to him speak his truths to our hearts, and then by doing what his word teaches us we should do.

And, we are to walk (conduct our lives) in love (god-like love), as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. This reminds me of Romans 12 where it teaches us to offer our bodies (our whole being) to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is our reasonable service of worship of him; no longer conformed to the ways of this sinful world, but transformed in the renewing of our minds, so that we may give evidence of God’s good, pleasing and perfect will for our lives. This kind of love is selfless, and considers the good of others over one’s own comfort and even reputation. This kind of love is truthful, and shows integrity, and is honorable and trustworthy, and does not use trickery, lies or manipulations to get its way. It is faithful, moral and upright, and it gives up its own life for the benefit and goodwill of others, but not according to human standards, but according to God’s standards of what is best for us.

Not Named (vv. 3-14a)

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

Paul said that these sins must not even be named among them. Now, he didn’t mean they should not be addressed if they existed, since he was certainly naming them for that purpose, so what could he have meant? Perhaps his meaning is more along the lines that they should not even be known (practiced) or even thought of or heard of among them. The NIV translates this to say that there should not even be a hint of sexual immorality among them. I tend to favor this interpretation, because it fits with the idea of these sins not even being heard of, because they don’t exist in any shape or form among them. This would include no sexual jokes, no sexual innuendos, no flirtations, and no being entertained by TV shows and movies and the like which hint at sexual immorality, and which have suggestive content, or flirtations between people, especially by those married to others, let alone which contain lewdness, sexual promiscuity, nudity and the like within them. I don’t believe married people should even be reading or watching romance novels/movies, because they may lead their hearts toward wanting to have someone else besides their spouse.

No one who makes a practice of these things, i.e. who walks (conducts his life) according to the flesh, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if we walk according to the Spirit, and if, by the Spirit, we put to death (present tense, suggesting ongoing) the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). If we should sin, though, we have Jesus Christ as our advocate whose righteousness stands in our defense, because his righteousness has been credited to our account, i.e. for those who walk not after the flesh, but according to the Spirit. All this is the working of the Spirit in the lives of those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ to save them from their sins, yet we must yield to the Spirit’s control and submit ourselves to the cross and to Christ for his work to have its effect in our hearts and in our lives.

Let no one deceive you with empty words. There are so many liars and deceivers in the world, in the government, and in the church. There are so many false shepherds of the people who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They mouth empty words and promise you freedom and eternal life with God while they tell you that you don’t have to repent of your sin and that you don’t have to obey God, but that all you have to do is “believe,” although that is rarely explained. Or else they tell you that you just have to pray some prayer, and then they tell you that you are now saved, that nothing can ever take it away from you, and that you now have the hope of heaven when you die, no matter how you live your life from this day forward, and that God is pleased with you no matter what you do. Oh, how wrong! God’s wrath will come on those who choose to continue to walk in darkness while they claim to have fellowship with God. God’s word says so.

We are not to partner (join in) with them in their sin. If we are in Christ, we once walked in darkness, but now we are light in the Lord, so we should live as though we truly are children of light (all goodness, righteousness and truth), and we should find out what pleases the Lord and do it. We should have NOTHING to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, not even should there be a hint of such in our lives, but rather we should be ones who expose such evil. This, again, means we are not to be entertained by it, either.

Wake Up! (vv. 14b-21)

Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 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.

So, what do we need to do with all this knowledge? If we are conducting our lives according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, then we need to wake up from our slumber and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on us. So, how do we do that? We don’t do it in our own flesh, or by good works to try to earn God’s favor. We do it through submission to the cross and through surrender to God’s will for our lives, and by humbly repenting of our sin, and turning to God to walk in his righteousness and holiness. And, all this is possible, not because of our own righteousness, but because Jesus Christ, God the Son, gave his life for us on the cross and he took the penalty for our sin for us so that we could die to sin and live to righteousness. By his stripes we are healed! Amen!

If we are in Christ, by faith in him, we need to watch how we walk, be wise and discerning, and use our time for God for his purposes and will, because we live in a world filled with all kinds of evil and in an age of great deception, so we need to open our minds and hearts to hear what the Lord wants to say to us, and not close our minds to the Spirit’s voice. We should not do what leads to out-of-control living, but we should exercise self-control, and we should continually be putting the deeds of the flesh to death and filling our hearts and minds with the things of God, instead. The more we say “No” to sin and worldly passions and desires, and we, instead, in the power of the Spirit within us, live godly, self-controlled and upright lives while we wait for Christ’s return, the more we will be filled with the Holy Spirit, and will desire and will do what brings honor and glory to God’s name, and that which edifies and strengthens the body of Christ in their faith.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.