FYI, This sermon is about sex.
Ephesians 5-1-21 (Mp3 File for download)
There are notes below that I never got to.
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 5:1-21
Last week… Identity, take off, put on, become who you are
Today, Paul continues to build out how we are to walk out our identity in Christ. In this section he again in verse one he reminds of of something that is a very vivid picture. He says to be imitators of God AS BELOVED CHILDREN.
Before we get further, lets think about that for a minute. How many of you have had a child imitate you? Or say at some point that they wanted to be like you? How amazing is that feeling? I remember at one point I had worked at several places and one of my boys said, “when I grow up, I want to work at Chick-fil-A, and Lowe’s and Kingsway” I tried to tell him he would really rather have one job, but the sentiment was not lost on me. My son wanted to be like me. Even recently, one of them was saying how when they get older they can get background checks and work on decks with me… Why do children want to be like their parents? Because their parents are the most loving, and supportive people they know, or at least they should be. There is something about being of the same substance that makes us want to be like our parents when we are that age.
Paul is painting a picture of that for us here. He is reminding us again that when he is giving us guidelines for behavior that they are directly tied to the fact that when we do them, we are becoming just like dad! These are not rules to make us miserable, but to draw us into the full reality of who we are meant to be. When you turn your life over to Christ, and accept HIs death for you, your substance changes at the core of your being so that your actions are those of a totally different family. You were following the Father of lies, and now you are following The Father of all.
So today we are going to look at how we are called to imitate God.
Three contrast to imitate God
Son’s of disobedience to Beloved Children
At our core, every one of us is a worship machine. We are hardwired to worship , and are worshipping all the time. The difference is what we worship.
A pastor and author by the name of Mark Wilkerson said this, ”You cant turn off worship. It’s your basic human wiring. To not worship is not to live. It’s like a garden hose on full blast. You can aim it at the grass, or the shrubs, but you cannot stop it’s flow.”
Now, worship does not mean singing songs, or a service. Worship happens on the sidelines of a soccer game, parents who worship their children, it happens when people put on their favorite team’s gear and yell at their TV at the top of their lungs. It happens anytime you do something to please someone else. If you are wondering about what you worship, think about what drives your decisions. What is the baseline, core reason you do what you do? If it is your comfort, someone else’s opinion, or someone else’s success, that is what you worship.
Now, I will say that just about anything we do can be done either as an act of worship to God, or of worshipping something else. A good question to ask is “who gets the credit for this?
The difference between an idolator and a saint is that an idolator worships things, a saint uses things to worship God.
There are three things that Paul mentions twice in this section. They are three very common forms of idolatry that he is pointing out as examples of things that do not imitate God, and he goes as far as to say that it is because of these things that the wrath of God is coming upon the son’s of disobedience. I am only going to talk about one, because the principle applies to all three.
Sexual immorality: I know, we are in church, we shouldn’t talk about sex right? Well, the truth of the matter is that the world is telling us things about sex all the time, constantly feeding us images, and ideas about what sex is, and what the world says it is supposed to be. The truth is, that of all the things that get worshipped in our society, sex is probably the most worshipped thing out there. Why do you think that is? Is it because it is gross, and the world is gross? No. Actually, I believe that sex is such a worshipped thing is it is because it is one of God’s greatest gifts. So, Let me try to get at this at its core.
I know we don’t usually talk about this, but since Paul brought it up. We are going to talk about it.
First of all I think it important to point out that God invented Sex. He designed the plumbing and installed all the wiring in our bodies. It did not take God by surprise what happened when he put two naked people together in a garden with nothing really to do. In fact, he said that Adam was to cleave to his wife, which is a term that is similar to the word “weld”. Now, as with all of His creation, sex was meant to be a signpost for us. it was meant to point us to something of the nature of God. If you look ahead at next weeks reading, you will see that the context that God created sex to operate within was Marriage. God created marriage to be a parable of his love for us. He wanted us to understand something of the intimacy of the trinity, and the mystery of being one with someone. So, he created sex as the consummation of the reality of oneness within a relationship. God gave us a context to live out the fulness of what he intended us to see about who he is. He wanted to give us a context to understand the depth of love he has for us.
Now, the problem with sexual immorality is that it takes a piece out of the puzzle of God’s Love for us. It eats the preverbal icing off the cake of real relationship, and then throws it up. It flies in the face of what God created it to be and reduces sex to an object of worship instead of a means of worship.
Just so we are clear. The Bible is very clear that all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is sin. So, sexual activity before marriage, extramarital sexual activity, including pornography, and even Jesus said that if we look at someone with lust in our hearts we commit adultery with them.
Sex is more pervasive in our culture than ever. Here are a few statistics for you. Taken from a book called Redemption, by Mark Wilkerson.
-More than 70 percent of men ages 18-34 visit a pornographic website in a typical month
-Fourty-seven percent of families have said that pornography is a problem in their homes.
-28 percent of those admitting to sexual addiction are women.
I had heard a number of years ago that statistically, most kids today are first exposed to pornographic material on the internet by the age of 10, and it is usually an accident.
This is something that those of us with young children must be vigilant and proactive with our young ones. We need to teach them about God’s intention for Sex. Let them know, as I have heard Mark Driscoll say, “it’s not God, it’s not gross, it is good.”
So, the question becomes, How do imitate God and walk in my identity in Christ by following his rules about sex? Well, Im glad you asked.
Here is my explanation as best as I can explain it. If you are in Christ, and finding all of your identity and worth in Him. You have come to a place where you have given over your life to Him. You have trusted Him for every aspect of your past, present, and future. You have yielded your life to him, not out of fear, or compulsion, but because you see that what He has to offer you is so much better than what the world has to offer. When you go around God’s plan for sex, you say “I know better than you God!” But, when you yield to God’s revealed will for sex, you are recognizing that you are not God, and you show other people that there is something that is more worth my time, and my energy, and my worship. You worship God by refraining from sexual activity, and when you are married, you worship God by rejoicing that he gave you, not just a sexual partner, but he has taken two people, and made them into one person, and your lives are now knit together in a way that mere sex can do.
As I think about the result of this in our society, I have to think that the pervasiveness of unGodly, and unbiblical views of sex naturally lead to ungodly and unbiblical views of the products of sex. When Sex is about worshipping a personal pleasure, and two people have their lives geared towards the worship of selves, when their union results in pregnancy, the impulse is also to devalue the life that was created.
Darkness to Light
This is what we are supposed to do with sin. we bring it into the light, so that it can be exposed. He says that we are light, so we should not be doing things that are done in darkness.