Ephesians 5:3–7 (NIV)
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. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.
This lesson is the practical side of being imitators of God. Paul is, yet again, imposing a safety margin on our righteousness.
This is especially applicable to sex. Of all the sins, that one seems to have the most power to make us stupid. It’s not enough that we avoid sexual immorality. There must not be even a hint of it.
In modern terms, sexual sin is especially dangerous because it literally involves chemistry. In an amazing chain of events, an image falling on the retinas of my eyes can lead to chemicals being released into my bloodstream. Those chemicals can make me stupid. As a result, I can do stupid things with enormous consequences, for myself and for God’s glory.
Thus, it’s best to prevent this process for even getting started. That means not even seeing those images. That’s a long way from the actual sinful acts, yet it’s the surest way to prevent them.
“Not even a hint,” Paul says.
There’s another advanced lesson in this passage. Paul says that an immoral, impure or greedy person is actually an idolater. Think about that for a moment. Paul is saying that idolatry lies at the root of people’s immorality, impurity and greediness. How’s that?
The things they chase after may not be little statues, but they’re still things.
They’re worshipping things.
Both of these lessons should inspire some serious introspection. Are they just clever concepts you should understand, or are they rules for living that you should assess yourself on? Should you even get someone else to assess you?
Practicing Christianity is more important than studying theology. When Jesus said, “Follow me,” He wasn’t talking about doctrine.
Are you overconfident about your ability to avoid sin? Do you use a safety margin, or do you think you’re not at risk? Also, do you see idolatry in your heart when you’re tempted?
Assess your priorities. What do you really care about?
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