Here's a modern parable for you: “A boat at anchor doesn’t
disturb the water. Only after leaving the mooring does
it break the water and send out ripples. A boat will
make waves when it is under full sail or powered by a motor.
Though the waves may disturb other vessels, the boat also
creates a wake which makes sailing easier for following
here's the interpretation: “Many Christians are like boats
that don’t move forward in case they disturb the water. They
float through life keeping Christianity a secret because
they don’t want to cause a ripple.
When we are motivated to leave our mooring (declare
to the world we are Christians), it may break friendships or
even separate families. If we continue to follow
Christ through the Sea-of-Life, we will make ripples.
As we rev-up our spiritual life, drawing upon God’s power,
we will certainly cause waves in the devil’s kingdom.
One thing is for sure: we can’t expect to go on a
voyage without making waves. The waves caused by our
voyage may upset some, but remember that we also cause a
wake. With our course firmly set on God, we won’t know
who will decide to follow in our wake ...” (both parable and
interpretation by Ian Coates).
We can't expect to be a Christian without making some
waves in our world!
Paul wants the Christians in Ephesus and us to make
some waves in our culture.
As the parable has suggested, that action could be
unpleasant at times.
Paul continues to flesh out the nitty-gritty of what
making waves as a Christian will look like in a pagan
chapter 5, he talks about three ways that we do this: living
in Christ's love (5:2-8), living in Christ's light (5:8-14),
and live in Christ's wisdom (5:15-21).
Let's look quickly at the first of these areas this
Paul admonishes all Christians to live in Christ's love.
Paul wants these believers to practice three
behaviors: reproduce certain actions, renounce certain
evils, and heed certain warnings.
Now let's read 5:2:
“And walk [or live] in love, as Christ also has loved us and
given Himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God for a
Here are three actions that Paul desires that we reproduce.
First of all, we live in Christ's love when we
“as Christ has loved us.”
Most of the world loves conditionally.
“The world's pattern is this: 'As long as you meet my
needs, you can stick around.'
The type of love the world practices depends on the
says, 'I love you because you are nice to love, because you
stroke me, or because you haven't done anything to offend me
or hurt my feelings.'
... For Jesus, love is never controlled by the
flows from Jesus because it was His nature to love others.
... He did not love the people who deserved His love.
There was not anybody alive who deserved it!
He loved people—sinners, harlots, the outcasts of
society—because He wanted to love them.
He touched the untouchables because love [and mercy]
made Him do it” (Bullard).
Someone has observed: “While we were yet sinners,
Christ loved us because of our desperate condition and utter
helplessness in sin.
How far we fall short of following His example!
We have our circle of friends, chosen largely because
of what they can mean to us.
Our choice is governed by our likes and dislike, by
prejudice or favoritism, all of which are condemned by
Christ's way of loving us.
How often we do not even care to have fellowship with
those outside our social circle ...” (Paxson).
You see, our love is conditional.
Someone has noted that when Jesus was put upon the
cross, He symbolically stretched out His arms to embrace all
who would see God's grace and His goodness and repent of
their sins. We
live in Christ's love when we love unconditionally.
Secondly, we live in Christ's love when we love
“He has given Himself for us.”
leads a weekly 'Christian Circle' at a local nursing home.
An Alzheimer’s patient named Betsy faithfully
attends, led there by a staff worker, and sits through the
week Janet introduces herself, and every week Betsy responds
as if she’s never seen her before.
After a few weeks, Janet learned that Betsy has
retained the ability to read.
She has no comprehension of what she is reading and
will repeat the same line over and over, like a stuck
record, until someone prompts her to move on.
But on a good day, she can read a passage straight
through in a clear, strong voice.
Janet began calling on her each week to read a hymn.
One Friday the senior citizens selected “The Old
Rugged Cross” for Betsy to read. 'On a hill far away stood
an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame,' she
began, and stopped.
She suddenly got agitated. 'I can’t go on; it’s too
sad, too sad,' she said.
Some of the seniors gasped, and others stared at her
years of living at the nursing home, not once had Betsy
shown the ability to put words together meaningfully.
Now, obviously, she did understand.
Janet calmed her: 'That’s fine, Betsy. You don’t have
to keep reading if you don’t want to.'
After a pause, though, she started reading again, and
stopped at the same place.
A tear made a trail down each cheek.
'I can’t go on; it’s so sad' she said, unaware she
had said the same thing two minutes ago.
She tried again, and
again and reacted with a sudden shock of recognition, grief,
and the exact same words.
Finally, when Betsy seemed tranquil, Janet led her to
the elevator to return her to her room.
To her amazement, Betsy began singing the entire hymn
from memory: 'And I love that old cross where the dearest
and best for a world of lost sinners was slain ... I will
cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for
Somewhere in that tattered mind, damaged neurons had tapped
into a network of old connections to resurrect a pattern of
meaning for Betsy.
In her confusion, two things only stood out:
suffering and shame. Those two words summarize the human
condition, the condition she lives in every day of her sad
life. Who knows
more about suffering and shame than Betsy?
For her, the hymn answered that question: Jesus does”
Jesus' love for us is a personal love; we too must learn to
love others personally.
We live in Christ's love when we love personally.
Lastly, we must learn to love others sacrificially,
an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling
“During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of
England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes.
The execution was to take place at the ringing of the
evening curfew bell.
However, the bell did not sound.
The soldier's fiancé had climbed into the belfry and
clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from
she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she
wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands.
Cromwell's heart was touched and he said, 'Your lover
shall live because of your sacrifice.
Curfew shall not ring tonight' (sermonillustrations.com)!"
This maiden's suffering is almost trivial when
compared to that of our Lord, but both showed a sacrificial
suffered hardships on behalf of another.
Sacrificial love causes us to do the same.
We give up our rights in order that another might be
live in Christ's love when we love sacrificially.
Did you notice that Christ's love has nothing to do
with erotic love?
Hopefully, this is understood, but several recent
film makers have tried to make Jesus into a fornicator or a
homosexual. As one who never sinned according to
Hebrews 4:15, He was neither of those!
Christ's great love, as our friend and Lord, becomes
a reality when we reproduce His actions of loving others
unconditionally, personally, and sacrificially!
Are you making waves in your world by reproducing
Living in Christ's love also means that we must renounce
“But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it
not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints;
neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor course jesting,
which are not fitting [or proper], but rather giving
Here's two more
stories that serve as good leads into the evils that Paul
says we must renounce.
“A little boy's mother had just baked a fresh batch
of cookies and placed them in the cookie jar, giving
instructions that no one touch them until after dinner.
But it was not long until she heard the lid of the
jar move, and she called out, 'My son, what are you doing?'
To which a timid voice called back, 'My hand is in
the cookie jar resisting temptation!'
The fact is, no one can resist temptation with his or
her hand in the cookie jar.
There are open cookie jars all around us.
The [most glaring] cookie jar of our culture is the
television, dwelling in the heart of nearly every home in
it off, and the goodies are present in open magazines, on
billboards, at malls, on computers, on I-pods, on DVD
are living cookie jars everywhere, inviting passersby to
taste their wares.
... Keeping one's hand out of the cookie jar is a
challenge for all God's children” (Hughes).
Here's the second story: “There was a 1,200 member
church in Ohio [denomination unknown] whose preacher 'came
out of closet', disclosed to his church that he was gay,
divorced his wife of some 25 years by whom he had fathered 3
church’s response was a standing ovation!
'We were relieved!' members said, 'We thought he had
cancer or some other life-threatening disease.'
It is sickening to think about how 'X-rated' our
society is; [those members could not see his
soul-threatening sin!] ... It is tough to live a “G-rated”
life, a “God”-rated life [in our X-rated society], but that
is exactly what [Paul calls us to do]” (Daniels).
Now Paul spells out six evils that we are to
renounce. “Love as the world comprehends it is perverted
[and focused purely on satisfying the flesh].
It is self-centered, as is each of the evils that
Paul mentions” (Black).
The first evil is fornication or sexual immorality
(it comes from the Greek word “porneia,” from which we get
our word “pornography,” and did you know that the word
originally came from a word meaning “to sell”?
Yes, to sell your body for a price).
This word stands for every kind of unlawful sexual
intercourse, and you can clearly see that it is
self-gratifying to the core.
Consider the man who is unfaithful to his wife
[sadly, church leaders included]; he cannot possibly be
doing what is in her best interest.
What he is really doing is seeking to fulfill his own
all starts in the mind long before the body gets involved.]
“If there is a clear lesson from Jesus’ statement in
his Sermon on the Mount, it is that what one does with his
or her mind does matter” (Black)!
Living in fornication and sexual immorality is not
the example Jesus gave us to follow” (Bullard).
The next evil is called “all uncleanness” or it could
also be translated “all impurity.”
Paul is telling us to drop anything that will make
us impure in the sexual realm.
“In our day, Paul would urge Christians not to read
those books or magazines, not to watch those TV programs,
and not to attend those movies that promote sexually immoral
thoughts lead to impure actions.
Avoid the very hint of such immoral things in your life if
you want to be like [Christ]” (Bullard).
should be no question about where you stand as a Christian
in regard to sexual sin” (Black).
Another preacher says it this way: “Forget the
pressures which all spiritual leaders have but which act as
excuses for only a few.
Forget the part that other people play in the process
The bottom line is fleshly desire uncontrolled.
Fleshly desire unpurged.
Fleshly desire allowed to have its way.
That is the point where we must triumph” (L. Smith).
Someone came up with a good five part test for you
when you watch some form of media: “M = Message – What is
the message and how is it coming across?
E = Effect – What effect is this presentation having
on me? D =
Damage – Will I suffer damage (ex. unhealthy fantasies,
ungodly images, lustful thoughts) from this?
I = Instead – What could I be doing instead that
would be more productive and more constructive?
A = Ask God – Does this glorify God and would I feel
comfortable with Jesus in the room with me” (Sloan)?
The opposite of all uncleanness is living purely and
with self-control, just like Christ!
The third evil to renounce is covetousness or
greediness or the desire to always have more.
The tenth commandment states: “You shall not covet
your neighbor's house, you shall not covet our neighbor's
wife” (Exo. 20:17).
Sexual immorality can involve coveting a
relationship with someone you do not have a right to.
Covetousness leads you to act for your own interest,
and not for that of your neighbor.
It is a self-love, and is, of course, a distorted
“Greed tells us that we must have more than we have
right now and that we must do anything it takes to get more,
including sacrificing marriages, kids, careers, and friends”
Greed can cover more than just people and money; it can
include the desire for anything that takes the place
of God in our lives (Black).
Paul then states that these evils of fornication, all
uncleanness, and covetousness should not even be named among
church members since those evils just do not fit or are not
proper with who they are.
These evils are just not suitable whatsoever to one
who calls herself or himself a Christian.
We should renounce or repent of those evils!
Paul then gives three more evils that Christians are
Filthiness is next evil.
This filthiness is basically shameful talk or
sexually oriented remarks.
You see, we as Christians not only don't participate
in such actions, we don't even talk about them!
We don't want any part of such obscenities (Bullard).
“Our tongues and ears are not steeped in vileness” (Paxson).
The next evil is “foolish talking” or talk which
is silly or stupid.
This would especially include “conversations that
ridicule or mock God's lofty standards for His people”
Athenians of Paul's day mocked him when he preached about
the resurrection (Acts 17:32); they thought Paul's godly
position was really philosophical stupidity.
Christians are not to participate in these kinds of
senseless and degrading conversations.
The last evil to renounce is course jesting or
“The Greek term here means 'able to turn easily,' and
isn't it amazing how some folks can very easily turn
anything that is said or done into something dirty?
All such corrupt speech mars the life of one who
would [follow Christ].
We cannot have a foul mouth that devalues the things
which God highly values” (Bullard).
“We should not be gloating in the laughter [which
makes fun of that which is sacred]” (Paxson).
Again notice how Paul says that conversations filled
with filthiness, fooling talking or ridicule, and course
jesting or downgrading that which is holy are just not
fitting or proper again for God's children.
You see “when you made a commitment to Jesus Christ,
you made a commitment to live a holy life, a separated life,
a life that is completely unlike the ways of the world.
Jesus is going to be the boss of your life, not your
promiscuous passions, not your fleshly sensualities, not
your insatiable desires, not your perverse conversations.
Renounce them or repent of them!
These are all “out of place” because it is Christ and
His example that should be “in place” in our lives as His
Living in Christ's love means that we must renounce certain
evils. Are you
making waves in your world by renouncing these evils?
Living in Christ's love means reproducing His loving
actions, renouncing fleshly evils, and heeding certain
first warning is found in 5:5: “For this you know, that
no fornicator, unclean [or impure] person, nor covetous man,
who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of
Christ and God.”
The first warning is that habitual
participation in evil can cause you to lose heaven!
Those who practice the evils mentioned previously
will have no part or place in heaven.
Their wicked practices that they have adopted from
their culture have debarred them from gaining eternal life
who claim to follow Christ, but then live a sensual life,
will not make it to heaven.
Paul is very plain here.
Only the saints doing what is fitting and proper for
the saints will get to spend eternity with all the saints!
The saints at Ephesus could not call Artemis and
Jesus god at the same time.
They had to chose one or the other.
The saints in Prescott can not call Sensuality and
Christ god at the same time.
We must chose one or the other.
And the god we chose will determine the destiny in
which we will spend eternity!
Warning one: habitually practicing evil can cause you
to lose heaven!
A second warning is found in the next verse: “Let no one
deceive you with empty words; for because of these things
the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
Paul knew that the
members in Ephesus would hear false arguments encouraging
them to return to their pagan and fleshly ways of living.
The same is true in our day.
One commentator rightly noted: “It is all to easy for
believers to be influenced by the surrounding world and to
succumb to its ways of thinking and behaving.
The result is that what is acceptable to the culture
becomes acceptable in the church” (O'Brien).
Remember the church in Ohio?
“Our world is telling us: 'Affairs are great; do
whatever you want.
Premarital sex is just fine.
Homosexuality is all right.'
It is the same old line: gratification of our own
Paul warns about being deceived by the world's
People of the world talk about liberation and freedom from
inhibitions, but it is all egocentic and sinful.
Paul says, 'Don't buy into that system.
God offers something better.
God's wrath [or His punishment] will ultimately come
upon all who live by distorted love, even upon those
professing to be Christians who remain unrepentant”
Don't blindly follow our sensually possessed American
culture and let it lead you stray into eternal punishment!
Warning two: “Let no one deceived you; God's will
punish those who do these evils.”
Then there is a third warning, and it that may be the
most difficult of all.
It is found in verse 7: “Therefore, do not be
partakers with them.” That
word “partaker” means “sharing with someone in doing
something together” (BGD).
“You are no longer to participate in immoral acts
or unholy conversations, which could mean severing some
old friendships” is Paul's meaning for the members at
might that apply today?
It could mean switching off the TV, the radio, or the
I-pod; it could mean clicking off a certain webpage; it
could mean ejecting the DVD or video tape.
Will you have the courage not to be partakers with
them? Just as
the tornado siren warns of storm damage, will you heed
Paul's warning about the fleshly life that can cause
spiritual and eternal damage?
“A few years ago, the founder of a drugstore chain
became a Christian.
Shortly afterward, as he walked through one of his
stores, he noticed the magazine racks with their glossy
copies of several well-known pornographic magazines.
Although he was retired from active management, he
called the president of the company and urged him to get rid
of those magazines.
The president protested because substantial profits
were gained from their sales.
Being the largest stockholder, the founder himself
stood to lose a lot of money by such a decision too.
But he remained firm in his objection, and he
offensive magazines were removed from all 1700 drugstores.
When the founder was asked what motivated him to take
this action, he replied, 'God wouldn’t let me off the hook'"
you going to make some waves in your world by heeding the
warnings that Paul gives?
Live in Christ's love by reproducing His love, by renouncing
the world's evils, and by heeding Paul's warnings!
There was “a Haitian preacher who told his people a
parable about a man who tried to sell his house for $2,000.
A perspective buyer could not afford the house at
that price, so after haggling with the owner, the owner
decided to let the house go for $1,000 with one stipulation:
the owner would retain ownership of a nail that protruded
from just over the door.
The buyer took possession of the house, but after
several years the original owner decided he wanted it back.
The new owner refused to sell.
The old owner found the carcass of a dead dog, and
hung it from the single nail that was still his.
Finally, the stench rendered the house uninhabitable,
and the residents were forced to sell it back.
This Haitian preacher concluded, “If we leave the
devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to
hang his rotten garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s
Have you given Christ everything, except your sexual life?
When are you going to get rid of that perverted nail
so Satan won't continue to have a hold on you?
Close up the cookie jar once and for all!
Like Paul himself basically said: “The promiscuous
life and the Promised Land are two things that just won't go
in Christ's love, not the world's distorted love!
Make some righteous waves and a holy wake as you
journey toward heaven!
Repent and confess your sins right now.
Heed Paul's warnings!
Give Christ your all!