Pastor James J. Barker

Text: EPHESIANS 5:1-17


  1. In life we see that most people are followers and very few are leaders.
  2. Men like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln stand out because they were great leaders.
  3. Hundreds of biographies have been written about their lives, their military campaigns, their interesting sayings, and so on.
  4. As Christians, we are to follow our great leader – a man who stands much taller than Caesar and Napoleon and Washington.
  5. Our great leader is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the image of the invisible God, God manifest in the flesh. He died on the cross for our sins.
  6. The apostle Paul says that He "hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour" (5:2b).
  7. So rather than follow a man, we are to be "followers of God" (5:1). The only time it is acceptable to follow a man is when that man has been appointed by God over us (cf. I Cor.11:1).
  8. In today’s text, we see that Paul instructs the Ephesians to be "followers of God" (5:1). This involves our walk with God. Walk is a key word in this epistle, used seven times. The word "walked" is also used once.



    1. As I said, "walk" is a key word in this epistle (cf. 2:2,10; 4:1,17; 5:2,8,15). God is more interested in our walk than in our talk.
    2. This is not to suggest that our talk is unimportant (cf. 5:4,12). It is just that people pay more attention to our walk than to our talk (cf. 5:13).
    3. In natural life, children bear the family likeness and should seek to uphold the family name. I read an article recently by evangelist Bill Rice III and he aid his dad always used to say to him, "Bill, remember that you are a Rice."
    4. In natural life children are careful to uphold the family name, but even more so in spiritual life. In spiritual life, we should manifest our Father to the unsaved world, and seek to walk worthy of our calling as His "dear children" (5:1).
    5. Another way in which we resemble the Lord is by "walking in love" (5:2). We are to do this by giving ourselves for others as Christ did (5:2). Amazing love! How can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me?
    6. Because Christ died for us on the cross, we should live for others. One poet put it this way:

"Others, Lord, yes, others!
Let this my motto be;
Help me to live for others
That I may live like Thee" — Charles D. Meigs.



    1. "Fornication" (5:3) usually means illicit sex among unmarried persons. Adultery usually refers to illicit sex between married persons.
    2. Here Paul adds "and all uncleanness" (5:3), which would include adultery, homosexuality, pornography, and all immorality.
    3. "Covetousness" in this context refers to lusting after immoral sex. Exodus 20:17 says: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife."
    4. H.A. Ironside wrote: "The word rendered ‘covetousness’ does not refer here to greed for money. It is, rather, sensual greed. It is that vile, disgusting greed for sensual gratification, the vilest thing of which the human heart is capable."
    5. Paul says in verse 3, "Let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints." What a terrible testimony to the world when a professed Christian gets involved in immorality.
    6. Not only must we be careful to avoid immoral behavior, we must also be careful to avoid immoral talk (5:4). It amazes me that the former president of the USA, undoubtedly the most important man in the world can get on a telephone and talk dirty to a young woman!
    7. And it amazes me that people spend a lot of money dialing these dirty phone sex numbers. How degrading! How disgusting!
    8. "Filthiness" (5:4) includes this filthy talk, dirty stories and jokes, obscenity, and indecency.
    9. "Foolish talking" and "jesting" (5:4) refers to empty chatter, which often leads to gutter talk, and crude jokes with double meanings. I heard some of these vulgar jokes years ago on TV and I am ashamed to admit I have a difficult time forgetting some of them.
    10. This is why I am opposed to the TV. The Bible says, "Fools make a mock at sin" (Pro.14:9). Rather than joke about sin, we ought to be giving thanks to God for all He has done for us (5:4b). This is pleasing to God and a blessing to others.
    11. The Bible makes it very clear that people whose lives are characterized by these sins are lost and on their way to hell (5:5; cf. I Cor.6:9,10; Gal.5:19-21; Rev.21:8; 22:15).
    12. "Idolater" (5:5) in this context refers to the "covetous man" who is coveting after illicit sex. He worships the human body. God created the human bodies and God created sex. But when men and women go beyond the parameters God has set up, there is trouble (cf. Rom.1:24,25).
    13. Unsaved people are always trying to deceive us into thinking that sin is now acceptable (5:6). They use "vain words" to defend and excuse extra-marital sex, pre-marital sex, perverted sex, etc. But the Bible says "the wrath of God" will come down "upon the children of disobedience."
    14. We see this proven true every day: people die of AIDS, and suffer from other STDs. I read recently that 20% of Americans now have herpes. One of the reasons so many people are having nervous breakdowns and going to psychiatrists, and taking psychotic drugs is because of guilt. Most of these mental, nervous, and emotional disorders result from guilt.



    1. Not only do unsaved people walk in darkness, they are darkness (5:8).
    2. Walking in the light will yield "the fruit of the Spirit" (5:9). Those who walk in the light produce the fruit of the Spirit:
      1. "goodness" – moral excellence, in contrast to the moral depravity and immorality of those who walk in darkness (cf. 5:3-7).
      2. "righteousness" – integrity in our dealings with God and men.
      3. "truth" – "Honesty is the best policy." Jesus is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). If we are His followers (cf. 5:1), then we must always be truthful.
    1. God wants us to "prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thess.5:21; cf. 5:10). We are to put everything to the test – every thought, every word, every idea, every action. We need to stop and ask ourselves: "What does God’s Word say about this?"
    2. Every area of life should come under His divine searchlight – our conversation, our way of living, the way we dress, the books and magazines we read, the way we conduct our business, the way we entertain ourselves, the way we raise our children, etc.
    3. We are to "prove" what is acceptable to the Lord (5:10; cf. Malachi 3:10; Rom.12:1,2).
    4. Rather than associating with the wicked, we ought to "reprove them" (5:11). This Scripture certainly forbids true Christians from getting entangled in ecumenical endeavors (e.g., PK, WCC, NCC). Rather than fellowshipping with these apostate organizations, we should "reprove them."
    5. "It is a shame even to speak of those things" which these wicked unbelievers do (5:12). That is why it is hard to preach about these other churches. Their behaviour is so shameful, it is difficult even to mention it in polite company. For example, years ago an Episcopal priest in Brooklyn was arrested smoking crack while he was typing his Sunday sermon. It was in all the newspapers and I referred to that at the time. But around the same time some other Episcopal priests were caught in a homosexual orgy. They were all dressed up like Marilyn Monroe – Which is hard to talk about in front of children!
    6. Their behaviour is so vile and filthy, Paul says "it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret" (5:12). What is really tragic is that this sort of disgusting wickedness does not even shock most people anymore. People sit mesmerized like zombies in front of the TV watching idiots talk trash (e.g. Jerry Springer show, etc.). No act of indecency is considered too lewd or disgusting to talk about on TV.
    7. Even Mrs. Dole had to give a report on the new drug "Viagra." Nothing is considered off-limits or personal anymore.
    8. This constant bombardment defiles the mind. We are seeing the results on every hand.
    9. It is because we are opposed to this so-called "new morality" (which is not new, both the OT and the NT describe it vividly) and the so-called "sex revolution" and "gay rights," and so on, that Christians are vilified and hated vehemently by many unsaved people. It is because their darkness is "made manifest by the light" (5:13).
    10. Our job as Christians is not just to reprove but to awaken those that are slumbering (5:14). The great Bible teacher, Matthew Henry, said that this verse serves to remind us "of the great stupidity and the wretched security of sinners, how insensitive they are of their danger, and how inapt they naturally are to spiritual motions, sensations, and actions."
    11. Therefore, we must "walk circumspectly, not as fools (the kind described by Matthew Henry), but as wise" (5:15).
    12. The word "walk" is used eight times in this epistle. It is a key word in the book of Ephesians.
    13. "As wise" (5:15) men and women, we are to be "redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (5:16). To redeem the time means to "buy up the opportunities." If a store nearby was selling good ink pens for a dime each, I would race over there and buy them all.
    14. In like manner, we are to redeem the time. Each and every day brings new opportunities, open doors, new people – people who are lost and need to be saved.
    15. Redeeming the time means not wasting the precious time God has given to us. LOST TIME CAN NEVER BE REGAINED.
    16. The "days are evil" (5:16b). And soon the day of God’s grace will be over, and our opportunities will be over, and our service here on earth will be over.
    17. It has been pointed out that the Greek word translated "evil" is poneros, which is where we get our English word "pornography." When one considers TV, cable TV, Hollywood movies and videos, magazines in stores and newsstands everywhere, even radio is getting dirtier and dirtier, and even the Internet is filled with filth – it would be accurate to say that today the "days are pornographic."
    18. "Wherefore be ye not unwise" (5:17). In 5:15, Paul said: "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise." Now he repeats: "Wherefore be ye not unwise" (5:17). We are to understand what the will of the Lord is." This is crucial. Because of the wickedness of this evil world, the horrible darkness that seems to be getting worse and worse, the shortness of time, and so on, we must understand God’s will for our lives.
    19. It may sound strange but there are many Christian people who are out of the will of God. One of the reasons for this is because they do not take time to read the Bible. The best way to discern God’s will for your life is to read the Word of God.


  1. Clarence Darrow was a famous attorney, debater, public speaker, and writer. But perhaps he is most famous for being an infidel. He gained notoriety for defending anarchists, murderers, and corrupt union officials.
  2. Probably his most famous trial was the Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925 where he defended a high school teacher named John Scopes, who broke a state law by teaching evolution.
  3. In 1937, H.A. Ironside wrote: "I am reminded of something that occurred just recently in this city (Chicago). There was an open religious forum down town. Clarence Darrow was there to represent the Atheists, another to represent Protestantism, another Roman Catholicism, and another Judaism. The Catholic got up and told why he was a Catholic, and the Protestant got up and told why he was a Protestant, the Jew why he was a Jew, and then Clarence Darrow, the Atheist, got up to speak, and he said, ‘Gentlemen, I have been very much interested in one thing. I noticed neither Protestant, Catholic, nor Jew ever referred to the Bible. Evidently they no longer value that so-called Holy Book as they used to do.’ And then he went on to declare that he was an Atheist because he had no use for a Book that they never even mentioned. What a pitiable thing that professed Christians should attempt to tell why they were Catholic or Protestant and never once refer to the Bible! Oh, that you and I might be genuine Bible Christians!"

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