Cracking sermon from the Vicar this morning – I completely filled my A5 side with notes and had to turn over to annotate the notice sheet. So – here goes….(if the notes are unclear [or would be good to do so in any case] – listen to the mp3 via http://www.st-helens.org.uk – St.Helen’s Audio link)
People of Distinction: Love and Sex – Ephesians 5:1-6
Quoted Ted Haggard. Haggard’s statement shows that he and his church takes his sexual immorality seriously. Raising it today because we need to be v.v.aware of how insidious sexual immorality and lust is within the church. Immorality v.wide – not just pornography – the internet, daydreaming etc. We all know there is a part of our our lives that is so repulsive and dark that it makes us blush.
The sweet smell of love vv1-2
These are transitional verses, summing up the previous chapter. We are in the second half of Ephesians – therefore in the application section of the letter. Earlier in Ephesians we have seen that we are to live in a manner worthy of our calling. Eph 4:17 – do not walk as the Geniles do. Summed up as – we should imitate God. Be like Christ – other-person centred, loving sacrificially. Throwing onesself off the Gherkin wouldn’t prove anything. Perhaps throwing onesself under a bus (if one had just pushed you out of the way) – substitutionary. God likes the smell of warm bread and roast lamb – covers up the stench of our sin. All sacrifices in the Bible actually point to Christ. Love to the uttermost for the benefit of others.
The stench of immorality vv3-4
Mentioning love these days is usually linked to sex. So far Paul has focussed on what it looks like to be changed. chs5-6 applying with a different twist. Ch.5 – be different – be distinct – stand out (hence ‘People of Distinction’ as title of this series).
Three things should not be named (i.e. have no place) amongst God’s people
* Sexual immorality
The first two appear to be most important – as these are the ones picked up and expanded upon in verse 4. BUT – don’t forget covetousness. Lust for ‘more stuff’. We ought not to ignore this, particularly given that we are in the richest square mile in the country. Sexual immorality = porneia = fornication (as previously translated) – includes all outside heterosexual marriage – from one-night stands to promiscuity, incest, bestiality, homosexual practice. Porneia = the limits and order set in place by God have been exceeded. Not that sex isn’t great – but it is so great that God gave it as a wedding gift. If we take it out of context, we rip it out of place. Hints and innuendos, crude talk is basically sex without your clothes off. We are not banned from appreciating God’s comic genius in creating sex – but context. Need to think about this carefully as a church. Do you want your
life to smell good?.
Be sure of serious consequences
We need to be sure of serious consequences. Let no-one deceive you with empty words.
v5 – those who as a matter of course are sexually immoral are not going to heaven. Show by their lives that they won’t enjoy it in heaven. Idolaters – worshipping another – not Jesus but self-gratification.
Cut it out of our lives -w e know what happens to people who don’t. We were exactly like that once. We hear empty words about the deception of sex and the coming wrath. We are told – ‘God isn’t angry’, or ‘God is angry but we will be OK’. We are told that it is not good for us to abstain (Freud, Cosmo psychologists).
But, we are not immune to making excuses within the church. Some pastoral examples:
A. The Blind Spot – “the Bible isn’t clear / commentators disagree” – no – look at v.6
B. The Minimiser – “it isn’t THE unforgivable sin” – but v.5
C. The Presumption – “God will forgive me – he always does”
D. The Sola Scriptura – “show me the verse – you’re just referring to a systematic ethical framework”
E. The Freedom/Spirit argument – “I lead a Spirit-led life – Spirit didn’t tell me it was wrong”
F. The Antinomian argument – “I don’t live under law”.
G. The Self-Pity argument – “I am so weak, I can’t help it”
H. The Evasion argument – “We are all sinners – I’m no better than the rest of you”
I. The Blame Shift – “I was seduced/couldn’t help it”
J. The Corinthian Dualism argument – “It doesn’t matter what I do physically – the Spirit is what matters. I still go to RML, I still evangelise my friends – that’s what’s important”.
Be sure before you risk everyhing and blow your inheritance.