IMMORALITY, IMPURITY AND GREED ARE OUT!
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 thanksgiving. 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 of God (Eph. 5:3-5).
We must always keep in mind that the recipients of Paul’s letter were once immoral, impure and greedy people!
The change in a person’s lifestyle, who has become a follower of Jesus, is and must be so radical that they live as citizens of a completely opposite kingdom with opposite standards of behaviour.
Paul defined these two opposing realms as the kingdoms and light and darkness. Light is a synonym for everything for which God stands – morality, purity and generosity in every way towards others as a reflection of God’s character. Darkness – the absence of light – represents whatever God is not. Paul summed up the characteristics of those who insist on living in darkness by three words – immoral, impure and greedy.
We don’t need to look very far, in the world around us, to recognise these characteristics in those who refuse to acknowledge God and live under His authority. Selfishness and all its ramifications dominate human society. It’s everyone for himself regardless of what it does to others. Selfishness controls even the most humanitarian of professions – medicine and its associated disciplines.
In my country, if a seriously ill or injured person cannot produce a medical aid card or the upfront amount demanded by a private hospital, he or she can die outside without being seen of treated, and no one cares a hoot. Our government hospitals and ambulance services are no better. People die waiting for an ambulance. Babies die before help arrives for a woman in labour. The motto of employees of these services, mostly controlled by unions, is generally ‘That’s not my job.’
Paul urgently implored these new-born babies in Christ, “Don’t be like that.” He has already explained in detail that they have been given a brand new life. They were once dead to God but, because of His grace, they were now alive and able to respond to His Spirit in them. They had been restored to the family of God and given unrestricted access to the Father. It was now up to them, with all the resources God had given them to live their new lives, to leave the old ways behind and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in them.
What did Paul mean by ‘immoral, impure and greedy’?
Purity is a state of being unmixed with anything that taints or pollutes e.g., pure water has no pollutants in it. A pure person is one whose behaviour is not tainted with immoral actions or standards. To be impure is to taint one’s being with actions or behaviour that are not part of upright living.
Greed is “a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed” – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/greed – retrieved January 2016.
What is idolatry? http://www.gotquestions.org/idolatry-definition.html
“The definition of idolatry, according to Webster, is “the worship of idols or excessive devotion to, or reverence for some person or thing.” An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God.”
These vices have no place in a believer’s life because Christ has set him free from the standards and practices of the world. His citizenship is in the kingdom of light where the standards of righteousness apply. It is up to each citizen of the kingdom of God to establish new patterns of behaviour based on the choice to imitate Jesus rather than the citizens of the dominion of darkness.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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