#MeToo exploded on the scene in October 2017 when actresses encouraged people to tell their sexual assault stories. Men like Harvey Weinstein, Dr. Larry Nasser and most recently, Bill Cosby, had their hidden lives exposed. A month later, #ChurchToo came into use as victims of sexual assault within the church stood together. These movements are good for our culture and the church. While Paul didn’t originate the #MeToo movement, these common grace Bible principles are found here in Ephesians 5.
Christian purity is determined to walk in love. (Ephesians 5:1-7)
How would you attempt to illustrate the opposite of Christ’s love? Paul does so in Ephesians 5: 1-3, by giving three categories opposite of love. These are 1) Sexual immorality 2) impurity, any form of law-breaking behavior (external) and 3) covetousness, all internal desires.
1 – Sexual immorality is the opposite of love.
Paul uses the phrase “sexual immorality” twenty-five times in the New Testament. It’s a catch all phrase that includes any form of sexual activity outside the bounds of covenantal heterosexual sex: extramarital, premarital, prostitution, even pornography. Whether consensual or not, Christians do not engage in sexual immorality. We are governed by an authority higher than our own desires. God’s people are governed by God’s Word.
2 – Impure speech is the opposite of love.
Impure speech or filthiness is shameful/disgraceful speech. Foolish talk detracts from serious conversation about the things of God. These are individuals who turn a conversation intending to direct attention away from Christian concerns. Crude joking is not bathroom humor, but sarcastic ridicule. Speech intended to cut down a person by making others laugh; speech in a school bus or break room banter disguised as a joke, but the motives are intended to harm a reputation. Ephesians 5: 5,7 states that we, literally, do not participate in their sin.
3 – Covetousness is idolatry. Idolaters do not inherit God’s kingdom.
Idolatry is self worship disguised by an object or desire that is the opposite of love. Paul is trying to teach us that, when these desires become unsatisfied longings over time, we can become unthankful and pursue those desires in sinful ways. When these desires, whether sexual desires acted on, desires that in and of themselves may be fine, or speech intended to harm others characterize our lives, we become idolaters.
The Christian church hones in on the sexually immoral, but Paul’s emphasis is all three. Sexual immorality, impure speech and covetousness. People who are unrepentant in these three areas will not inherit the kingdom of God. Genuine repentance is more than saying “sorry” when you get caught. Repentance accepts the consequences of sin with humility. Repentance attempts to clear our name through greater accountability.
If you wish to listen to the entire sermon, please click on the link below.