Before Anything Else

Message:  In Ephesians 5Paul went from the topic of unity and ministry right into our conduct as Christians. He starts by telling the church to “be imitators of God”. I’ve heard that scripture so many times that sometimes it loses impact until I intentionally think about it again. Paul was literally telling us to copy what God does. His heart, his love, his attitude, his response to sin, his treatment of people, his purity. Then he brings up sexual immorality, impurity and greed as things contrary to the nature of God. It almost sounds out of place to the contextual topic, but it seems that is the point he is making. Sexual immorality, impurity or greed is so opposite of God’s nature that Paul says “it shouldn’t even be heard among you as proper for saints.” Paul describes our sexuality as a gift from God worthy of giving thanks and he goes on to say that even joking about it in a crude way is unacceptable. This is so serious that he told the church ”Here this: any sexually immoral, or impure or greedy person who is an idolater does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of God.” I thought it was interesting that this last verse lists these sinful things, and then labels the people doing them as idolaters. After reading it this way I saw these particular sins differently than before. They are not simply shortcomings that we occasionally commit and repent from. These are premeditated mindsets and lifestyles that are chosen and because they are chosen above obedience to God they become objects of worship. This is dangerous ground and we can’t gloss lightly over it because salvation depends upon our complete surrender to God. There literally can’t be anything in our life that we are unwilling to surrender. This causes a lot of guilt and shame and many people get stuck here or bypass the guilt and ignore it. Today my challenge to myself is to examine the things in my life that may have a stronger hold than they should. I may not see myself in the category of sexual immorality as a married woman, and I may not see myself in the category of greed if I’m looking at it from the view of finances. What if greed is deeper than that? What if greed is actually a bigger form of selfishness than acquiring finances. Maybe it’s power, or attention seeking, or independence? What is driving my life? What is sitting in a non-negotiable spot in my life that even God himself would have to pry it from my grip? Is there anything in my life that I would fight against God to keep if he told me to lay it down? Position? Relationships? Reputation? Status? Ministry? There should be nothing in my life that God can’t touch.

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