Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Ephesians, Chapter 5

Yesterday we learned that each person has a calling in Christ's church once we accept Christ's gift of salvation. Ephesians four also touched on what it means to live as a child of the light and what is expected of us. Today that theme continues in chapter five as Paul tells us very plainly what is expected of our news lives and how we should act. Just as he says with the very first line, we must strive to be imitators of God. How is this possible though? God is perfect, and depending on which side of the debate you are on, it is possibly a perfection we cannot attain.

"1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." – Ephesians 5:1-2

How can we be perfect? Do we even want to be perfect when the only perfect person that ever lived was nailed to a cross? This has been one of my greatest struggles in life because it is plainly laid out here in Scripture what God expects of me, yet I personally feel it is impossible for us to be perfect in this life simply because we are human. It is an unfortunate shortcoming that cannot be overcome. Being human means that we are sinful in nature, and because of that we are flawed. Paul goes on to list qualities that we should not have over the next couple of verses, but it is an impossible standard to bean imitation of God.

This is what makes grace so wonderful, since God meets us more than halfway because of Christ's death on the cross. This death made it possible for us to be saved because otherwise we have no shot at it. Does that mean it is okay to have sexual immorality, show greed, make coarse jokes, etc.? No it does not. Grace does not give us carte blanche to continue living the lives we lived before knowing Him. We must imitate the character of God through a pattern of love in all that we do. As we learned yesterday the Spirit of God is a life-changing force, and with that Spirit we can wash out what God doesn't want in our lives and fill it with love. Believe me, I know this sounds A LOT easier than it actually is to practice. That is what makes grace so amazing, because it makes up for our own natural shortcomings. Even in our best efforts to strive and imitate God we fall short, but the grace of Christ is still there to make up the difference and cleanse us to the standard God wants.

The rest of this first section teaches that we should turn away from fruitless deeds and concentrate solely on love. This again is something that is very difficult to practice, but the light of Christ is there to examine our hearts. He exposes that which is impure in us and works to expunge it. Once again, it is hard to be perfect here. I can avoid clearly pornographic materials, but I can still falter by not always making the best use of my time. In this chapter we're commanded to do both, and it is just as wrong to live up to one standard and neglect the other. This is where grace saves the day.

"21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." – Ephesians 5:21

I think this verse best sums up the closing part of the chapter when Paul talks about husbands and wives submitting themselves. Submission does not mean always giving in to what the other person in the marriage says. This does not happen in my marriage even though we are Christians and it is wonderful that way, because I know that I am often wrong and my wife is right. If you read the passage closely and take it literally you will also see that the man in a marriage has it much tougher than the wife. The wife only has to submit to a man's spiritual leadership. The man in turn must be like Christ and be willing to give up himself for his wife. This is a much higher standard and, as a guy, I certainly see where I get the much more difficult deal. Wives must love husbands, but husbands must love their wives as they loves themselves. This shows it is a symbiotic relationship and each partner has a difficult task.


  1. If we can't be perfect though God wants us to be, is it then possible to lose our salvation?
  2. What is your definition of grace based on this chapter?
  3. How do you see submission in marriage?

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