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 coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)
Things Improper For God’s Children
Certain things should never be part of the Christian’s life. This has always been true how a child of God should live separate from the world’s influences. Saints are those who are in covenant with God through the blood of Christ, living above the standards of the world. It is not uncommon for the carnal mind to accept fornication as a part of life. Covetousness is an engine that drives the soul to look for happiness in material gain. The lottery is so popular because it is covetousness. Obscenities fill the airwaves, movie screens, social media and have become the language of the world. Foolish talking or coarse jesting is the speech of the worldly mouth engaging in the language of Ashdod. However, the Christian will not accept the standards of the world as their framework for life.
Ephesus was the capital of proconsular Asia. Paul visited the city near the end of his second missionary journey and established a church. There were many things in the city destructive to the character of the first disciples of the church. The Temple of Diana had been prominent in the city, with sexual immorality at the center of the religion. Ephesus was such a wealthy city, they rejected the coffers of Alexander the Great to rebuild the city destroyed by fire and paid for the project out of their own pockets. The background of Ephesus is strong in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. He admonishes them to reject the lifestyle of the Ephesians. Fornication may be acceptable to the Ephesian culture, but no one called a child of God should engage in such immorality. Premarital sex was sinful. No Christian should be accused of such degradation.
Covetousness is the quiet sin that is often overshadowed by perceived larger sins. Ephesus was a town filled with wealth and materialism. Material gain was the goal of a city filled with riches. Everyone lived prosperous lives with an abundance of fine homes, servants, food, wine, expensive clothing, and a couple of Lexus chariots parked out front. Wealth was not the problem. The heart longing for and desiring those things is where sin produced a bumper crop of covetousness. Paul pleads with the Ephesians saints to not be known as greedy, materialistic people in the midst of the dark, sinful world of Ephesus. They were to stand apart from that kind of greed. The saint was also to be distinguished by the nature of his speech. It is easy to fall into the speech of the world to fit in with the world. The saint must change his speech to mold itself perfectly with the language of God. Filthiness, foolish talking, and coarse jesting do not the Christian make.
Paul’s plea is a strong warning. He desires for God’s people not to let those things that defile even be named among the church, as is fitting for saints. This same plea is needed today for Christians to refrain from activities associated with the world that identify them with the world. The people of God (saints) should not engage in sexual immorality. Do not engage in such activity that would bring shame and reproach to the church of Christ. Let the conduct of life (speech especially) be filled with the grace of God and not the language of the world. Paul makes it clear that those who engage in such activities will not inherit the kingdom of God. Engaging in sexual immorality, covetousness, and uncharacteristic speech will damn a soul to hell. The saint does not act that way. They set themselves above the pollutions of the world to be near the heart of God. There are things proper for the child of God, and there are things improper. A Christian makes a distinction.