AVOIDING THE DARK WEB
Lord deliver us from evil.
Read EPHESIANS 5:1–7
5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
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. 5 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.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
- Ephesians 5:5 Or kingdom of the Messiah and God
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Q: What is the chief end of man? A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever’ (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1).
Again, we have a ‘therefore’. Removing the textual break, the sense becomes clear: God through Christ has forgiven us (4:32); follow God’s example, therefore (1). Forgiving others as we have been forgiven, as Jesus urges us, is hard to put into practice. Yet forgiving others is a key component of ‘living a life of love’ in imitation of Christ (1, 2). Also difficult is focusing our lives on God rather than ourselves. Sexual immorality and pleasure-seeking dominated the world of the first Christians. The same sins recur in Paul’s writings (eg., 1 Cor 6:18; Col 3:5; 1 Thess 4:3). These are not just dated warnings for an earlier age. God intended us to enjoy sex and the beauty of creation, but there is a reason Paul put sex and materialism together in the same clause (5). Illicit sex pervades our TV screens. Varied sexual relationships are constant components of movies. The sexual escapades of celebrities are prime-time news. Sex and materialism have merged to become ever more alluring. Sexually attractive people dress in the glamorous clothes which the ads urge us to wear. They eat tantalizing gourmet food. They drive the beautiful cars they want us to desire as part of our self-image.
The writer names such materialism for what it is: greed, which is idolatry, the worst of Old Testament sins (Deut 32:16). Paul says idolatry means worshipping the creature more than the Creator (Rom 1:25). Idolatry is portrayed as spiritual adultery, flirting with the ungodly, filling our lives with God-substitutes. We Christians are far from immune to it. Materialism is insidious; temptation is everywhere. We Christians can be deceived, too easily accepting the world’s values, too easily lured into its dark web. We must be in the world, but not of the world. Sometimes that requires conscious disconnection – and for that we need power beyond ourselves.
‘Through the cross, Christ’s love empowers us / worldliness and self deny; / by His Spirit it inspires us / Him, through love, to glorify’ (Charles Louis Fouvy, 1928–2015, additional verse in John Bowring, 1792–1872, ‘In the cross’).
Lord, we are not deceived by empty words regarding the evil of this world. Thank You for a Bible by which to inform us.
Book and Author Intros
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.