Dearly Loved Children Ephesians 5:1-7
[Intro] It’s a universal truth that children often imitate their parents. They
say what their parents say, they develop similar mannerisms, share the
same hobbies, interests, sports teams or sometimes even careers.
Here’s a funny example of a child imitating her parents. This comes from
Ali’s Youth Pastor’s Wife (kind of fitting) back in Missouri. Her name is
Daphne and her daughter is Teagan.
One day, when Teagan was around 4, she was playing with her stuffed
animals and dolls on the couch in the living room. Teagan had lined them
up and was gently picking each of them up and hugging them, declaring
over them words of love like, “Oh, how I love you so much,” and “You, you
are just so precious to me.”
Daphne was in a nearby room and happened to hear what Teagan was
doing. Assuming she was imitating her mother, Daphne thought to herself “I
am the best mom!” Just as Tegan picked up one last stuffed animal,
grabbed it held it up, and declared, “But you, your making me crazy today!”
[Recap & Trans to Text] In our text this morning Paul is encouraging us,
the church, to imitate our father. He says in verse 1, “Follow God’s
Example…” some translations read, “be imitators of God…” as dearly
loved children and walk in the way of Jesus.
And so specifically here in chapter 5:1-7 Paul is continuing to teach us (see
chapter 4) that certain behaviors are worthy and fitting for the Christian life
while others are unworthy and unfitting for the Christian life.
Christians are called to imitate our father in 2 ways here in vss. 1-7. We are
#1 Live A Life of Gratitude
#2 Live as Dearly Loved Children
[MP1] Live A Life of Gratitude
[Exp] Look at verses 3-4 with me please. 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
The end of verse 4 is the key to our text…but rather thanksgiving. Paul is
saying that the opposite or antidote to a self-indulgent life is a life of self-
sacrifice. A life of self-sacrifice is a life of thanksgiving or what we’re going
to call Gratitude.
Gratitude works out in 3 areas of our lives…
[SP1] #1 Sex vs. 3
[SP2] #2 Money vs. 3
[SP3] #3 Power vs. 4
[Exp] Again vs. 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual
immorality. The Greek word Paul uses here for sexual immorality is the
word Porneia. Where we get the word for pornography.
The idea of Porneia teaches us 2 important truths about sex.
#1. Sex is designed for a covenant.
Porneia can also be translated fornication. Fornication is sexual activity
outside of a covenant of marriage.
Ok, here we go. Christians and their conservative sexual values. Aren’t we
passed this yet? While sympathetic to this argument, I’m going to push
against it. Modern people look at the bible and see it outdated when it
comes to sex. One study 1 suggests that almost 90% of Americans have
engaged in sex before marriage. But majority does not rule in scripture. We
need to understand the purpose and design of sex in order to understand
why sex is designed for a covenant. Because if anything is true it’s this:
modern ideas of sex have proven that we are more broken and confused
than ever when it comes to sex.
[Illus] Dennis Hollinger in his book The Meaning of Sex explains, “to give
ourselves physically [in sex] while holding back our total selves in [promise]
is to miss the full meaning, power, and beauty of God’s good gift. God
designed that in sex we encounter the other as whole beings, the most
intimate expressive and full giving of ourselves to another. Such giving [can
only] be found in a trusting committed covenant relationship of marriage.” 2
1 The Meaning of Sex. Hollinger, Dennis. Pg.120
Here’s something to consider. For all of our modern views on sex,
especially when it concerns women and their rights, sexual expression in
marriage serves to protect women more than any other system. Statistics 3
continue to teach us that women suffer more than men in an open-sex
Sex is about sharing your whole life, your whole body, your whole self. This
is impossible without a promise. Sex outside of a covenant is performance
sex. This type of sex wonders, “Am I enough?” But sex within a covenant is
sex with a promise says, “I am fully loved.”
Final thought on how sex was designed for a covenant. God loves us in a
covenant. Jesus says to us, “this is my blood of the new covenant, poured
out for you…this is my body given for you.” Intimacy with God is based on
his promises. Sex is designed for a covenant.
The 2 nd aspect of sex we learn from the word Porneia is that…
#2 Sex is a gift.
[Exp] “but rather thanksgiving” teaches us that gratitude replaces sexual
The heart of sexual immorality is to take or use someone’s body for your
own benefit. Think of it like this: Sexual immorality says, “This is your body
taken by me.” To take what isn’t yours is a life of ingratitude.
Sexual immorality is dissatisfaction with God’s provision over our lives
and a denial of the Lordship of Christ over our bodies. In contrast to this,
sex as a gift is recognizing the gift giver. His plan, his provision, his timing
for you and sex. Can you trust God with this gift of sex?
When we trust God with sex, we imitate our Father. How? We live a life that
smells beautifully of Jesus! Jesus gives his body for us! The bridegroom for
the bride! A life of self-sacrifice, a life of gratitude. He broke bread and gave
thanks…this is my body given for you.
2 Ibid. Pg.
3 Ibid. Pg. 133
[FCF] Paul says that God’s people are to not even have a hint of sexual
immorality. Get rid of it! Do whatever it takes to live your life honoring God
with your body. Your body is a gift! Sex is a gift. Don’t harm it with sexual
immorality. Get rid of it.
[Illus] Have you ever had lice in your home? I know, you’re thinking, why is
a bald guy talking about lice!? Hang with me…we had an infestation of lice
a while back! What do you do when you get lice? Do you say, “eh, I’ll get to
it later? No big deal.” No! You drop everything and do whatever it takes to
get rid of these critters! In fact, nothing else matters! I remember spending
4 hours at the laundromat washing and drying sheets, towels, pillows,
clothes to get rid of the lice. Ali spent tons of energy and time combing out
Aubry’s hair and fumigating the couch and beds! We did whatever it took to
get rid of this unwanted impurity! If we do this with a tiny bug, how much
more should we do this with something as important as sex?!
[App] How do we apply this? It might be tempting to read this text and get
discouraged. Sexual sin is everywhere. It’s our past. It’s in our present. It’s
in our future. So, what do we do? First, ask yourself, do I want to submit my
life to Jesus in the area of sexuality? If the answer is yes! Then, you have
hope beyond hope!
Jesus says that prostitutes come into the kingdom of heaven before the
self-righteous. What does this mean? It means that the kingdom of God is
filled with sexually broken people who are willing to admit their brokenness.
The answer is simple, but it’s hard. Repent! Repent today. Repent
tomorrow. Repent, repent, repent! Get accountability. Remind yourself that
you are dearly loved child of God! Repent, and look to Jesus.
4 Scottish pastor Robert Murray McCheyne says this beautifully: “For every
look at you sin, take ten looks at Christ.”
Look to Jesus…why? because when you repent, the beauty of the gospel is
that you are forgiven! The more you walk in that forgiveness the more you’ll
flee sexual sin. Living sexually pure is living a life of Gratitude.
[Recap & Trans] Sex is not the only way we live lives of gratitude. We also
need to live lives of gratitude with our money.
[Exp] In vs. 3 Paul includes. “…or of greed…”
This isn’t the first time in Ephesians Paul mentions greed. Why? Greed is
also linked to ingratitude. Greed is also dissatisfaction for God’s provision.
A greedy heart concludes that God’s provision over their lives is
insufficient. Greed is idolatry.
[Illus] Think of greed this way. We began the sermon with the idea that
children who are loved imitate this love. A dearly loved child does not
decide that he wasn’t given enough for dinner and so at 10:00 sneaks
down to the pantry and eats food without permission. A dearly loved child
doesn’t steal from their parents, but instead they learn to give thanks and
be satisfied with what their parents have given them.
[App] Confession time…I can remember taking money off of my dad’s
dresser when he wasn’t looking. Why? Because I wanted a donut with
lunch, and I didn’t have any money. It was only about .75 but that didn’t
matter. This is embarrassing for me to admit. But what it teaches me is that
I didn’t trust that my father would provide for me, even with something as
silly and simple as a donut. Instead I stole it. It was a small amount but tells
a huge story about my relationship with him.
The Greedy person think that God owes them some sort of life that they
don’t have. The antidote to greed is gratitude.
[Recap & Trans] The gifts of Sex and Money are two of the ways we live
lives of Gratitude, Paul gives us one more here…
[Exp] Let’s look at vs. 4. “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or
coarse joking, which are out of place…
Why am I calling this power? Because at the heart of foolish talk, obscene
language or coarse joking is the desire to have power over another. This is
language that puts others, whether by joking or harshness, puts other in a
subservient or lower condition than you. Words or speech like this are a
reflection of an impure heart. And an impure heart is an ungrateful heart.
These verses make us think about our words. People know us by our
words. Would they describe you as a thankful or encouraging person?
[App] Who does this apply to? I joked about jr. high, and I see some of you
out there! Please listen to me. The impure speech comes from an ungrateful
heart. Take every opportunity now to use words that build up. To your
friends. To your parents, teachers, strangers. The more you remember how
God’s Words to you are words of love and delight the more you’ll flow with
words of gratitude and encouragement.
Foolish talk and obscenity are also lazy words. It’s using speech about
others that requires little thought or imagination. This type of speech picks
on others and their most vulnerable traits. Husbands and wives do this to
each other. Siblings do this. Friends. Strangers. Why? Because we’re
afraid. We don’t feel loved. We don’t trust God’s Words over us. Impure
speech exercises power over others instead of giving thanks for them.
In Colossians 4 Paul writes, “Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt.” Salt preserves and brings flavor. Grace forgives and
[Recap & Trans] Living lives of Gratitude in our sex, money and power is
only possible when we see how dearly loved we are.
Which the 2 nd way we are to imitate our Father.
[MP#2] Live as Dearly Loved Children
Let’s look at what it means to live as dearly loved children by looking at 2
motivators. A Warning & A Promise.
Motivator #1 A Warning
Before I show us this warning, I just want to say this real quickly. This
warning in a way serves as an encouragement to me, to us. Why do I say
that? Because we live in tumultuous times. Our world seems to be upside
down at the moment a bit out of control. But this warning reminds me that
there are more important issues than a virus or an election. This text deals
with our souls and our relationship with God. What we do with the results of
Tuesday’s election pales in comparison to what you do with this text.
Responding to a virus is insignificant compared to how you respond to
That said, back to this warning…
Look at vs. 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 God…and in vs. 6…such things God’s wrath comes upon
those who are disobedient.”
God will judge our sin.
This warning is for 2 groups of people this morning.
For Non-Christians here this morning
We say this every Sunday when at the communion table. We are so
honored and thankful you are here. We are sincere in this, but please
know, you’re not here by accident. God is doing something in your life.
Hear this warning as a loving plea for you to come to Jesus. The false gods
of Sex, Money, promise a life of pleasure, wealth but in the end leave us
empty and abandoned, apart from God. These will never bring you life.
Only Jesus can. If God is calling you to himself this morning, don’t wait.
For the Christian
This warning is for us as well. How? Because this warning to live pure lives
reminds us that we don’t just drift into holiness. We need to pursue it. This
warning motivates us to rid our lives of sexual impurity as someone riding
their home of an infestation. Not even a hint says Paul! But for the Christian
there is more than just a warning. There is also a promise. Which is our 2 nd
Motivator #2 A Promise
If there are those who don’t share in the inheritance of Christ. As a
Christian, you remember that you DO have an inheritance in Christ! You
are a dearly love child of God!
And God doesn’t just promise us that we are dearly love and that we have
an inheritance in the Kingdom of God and Christ. He Shows Us!
How does he show us?
In verse 2 Paul says that Jesus is a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
What does this mean? It takes us back to the Old Testament. The penalty
for sin is death. And, whenever the People of God would sin, they would
offer a burnt offering, a sin sacrifice of a lamb without blemish to God on
the altar. This burnt aroma of death was a sweet smell because it meant
life to the one offering it. The lamb died in their place. But lambs were
never enough to fully save us. We need a lamb who was like us! We need
a lamb from God who is God.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. His body
for ours. His life for ours. In his sacrifice on the cross he is a sweet-smelling
aroma of life to us.
And this offering of Jesus is a gift of God, our Father! He loves us and
delights in us! The cross is the proof that we are Dearly Loved Children!
The Cross of Christ is an image of thanksgiving! God’s sacrificial gift of his
one and only son, Jesus’ gift of his life and the Holy Spirit are proof that we
are dearly loved children! But because imagery is important, I want to close
with another image of how we are dearly loved children.
[Illus] 5 Do you know who Rick Hoyt is? At 51 years old Rick and his father
Dick have participated in over 1200 5k’s, Ironman triathlon events and
marathons since the 80’s. That might not sound to incredible until you hear
that Rick has cerebral palsy. Rick hasn’t been able to speak or use his
arms or legs since childhood. People told Dick and his wife to give up on
Rick. They told them to put Rick in an institution and go and live their lives.
His plight seemed impossible. But that’s not what they did. One day when
Dick was around 40 and Rick was in high school, they decided to run a
race together. Dick pushed Rick in a specially made chair. It was so
meaningful to Rick. And so since then Dick and Rick have participated in
252 triathlons (6 ironmans), 70 marathons, 94 half marathons, and 155
5k’s. Rick has a specially made wheelchair for the runs. A boat for the
swims and a special seat on his bike.
After their very first race do you know what Rick said to his father? He said,
“dad, when I’m running, I feel my disability disappear.”
Rick Hoyt is a deeply loved child! Even at 51 years old, they continue to
Dearly Loved Children Ephesians 5:1-72
This life-giving relationship wouldn’t be possible without sacrifice. Dick
sacrificing his time and money to be with Rick. And Rick, basking in the
love his father has for him brought him life and purpose! It’s safe to say that
Rick is extremely thankful for his father.
[Conc] Sin is more than a disability. It takes our very lives. It infects our
hearts and our souls. Some days it feels like we’ll never get better. In
particular in these areas of sex, money and power. But God, our Father,
doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t leave us in an institution and go on with
life. He doesn’t reject or push us away. But instead loves us dearly. Dear
Christian, God the Father has given you Jesus. Jesus has given you his
life. And the wonder and mystery of the Holy Spirit has given you eyes to
see, even in your sin and shame, how you are a dearly loved child of
Now, go, give thanks and imitate your Father.
Amen, Let’s Pray.