3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:3-4 (NIV)
This is the continuation on my series on Ephesians 5. If you have been to a religious church, you will find the above verses to be among the most abused in the Bible. Those who are theologically infested have been brainwashed into thinking that the only acceptable way for Christians is to behave like mindless drones, like the Borg in Star Trek. They see God as a tyrant who gives orders and Christians as drones who obey every one of them without question. The Bible is God’s mouthpiece recording these instructions.
This is why religious churches like to use the above verses to impose on their congregations. They will say, “See, these verses say God says no all any sexual immorality, impurity, obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking. So, don’t you dare to sin against God!”
Are they right? What these people constantly failed to do when they read the Bible is to read it in the right context. Verse 3 and 4 are established on the context of Verse 1 and 2. In my earlier post, I have shown you that it is crucial for us to see ourselves as beloved of God and what Jesus had done for us at the Cross. Only after we have succeeded in doing so, will we be qualified receive instructions from God and walk in true love. It is impossible for anyone who does not believe in being loved to walk in love.
The same principle applies to the above verses. When you are truly established in God’s love for you, the above verses are nothing more than confirmation to who you are. You don’t have to try to obey them just as dogs do not have to try obey the law that says, “Thou shalt bark.” The disclaimer here is, the love here is real love, not the perverted type that says, “ God loves you so much that if you ask him for an egg, he will give you a poisonous scorpion to sting you to show you his sufficient grace.”
In contrast, if you are not convinced of God’s love for you, the above verses are just religious bondage. They are burdens to you. No matter how hard you try, you will fail and feel condemned. Ironically, this is the outcome that religious churches want to achieve despite their claim to the contrary.
Let me give you another clue. Look at the last part of Verse 3:
“because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
Why can’t we engage in sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed? Is it because God will send us to hell or give us some thorns in the flesh to show us his sufficient grace? The answer is “no”. We don’t do these stuff because they are not suitable for us as God’s holy people. This means we are already God’s holy people before we decide to do or not to do those things.
As believers, our holiness is an established state. It does not depend on our actions. For those who don’t understand, let me make it more direct. We are holy regardless on whether we sin or not. We do not reject sin in order to achieve holiness. It is not necessary because we are already holy. The only reason we reject sin is because it is not suitable for us as God’s holy people.
To make it even simpler: First, be holy. Second, no sin.
The last part of Verse 4, tells us what to do to replace sin:
“but rather thanksgiving.”
Thanksgiving is a state where we look for good things in our lives to thank God for. This will result in positive thinking. So, instead of sinning or trying not to sin, the better way is to fill our minds with positive thoughts.