Darkness held us hostage until love broke through. We were shadowed from the radiance of God’s glory. This is Hell’s way. It operates in subtlety. It turns on its fog machine. It surrounds us with haze, a real type of spiritual pollution that hangs in the air around us. Confusion results as distortion mars our vision. Before long, we are blinded.
Set your eyes on the way of Jesus. That’s the counsel we get from Paul in Chapter 5 of Ephesians. Let the Spirit guide you; for having a guide is better than trying to follow a map, especially when you find your way shrouded.
Christ threw Himself into the middle of our mess. He did so because of His love for us. He lived a life of perfection—not to prove to the devil that He could do so—but because He had to in order to satisfy the justice due upon all sin. “He who knew no sin became sin that we might be the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus’ life revealed a fragrance, a sweet smelling savor pleasing to the Father. This aroma could only be released through the crush. Squeeze tight a lavender blossom and its perfume wafts from it, even bringing a sense of calm to those who breathe it in.
Consider the heaviness and fullness of the weight that pressed upon the Son. Think of the boots that stomped on this gentle Man of sorrows. He felt on His neck the angry feet of family, nation, religion, and government.
All of these elemental institutions turned against the Son of God. Together, the representatives of these parts of our world rejected Him and then pounded on Him, at last hammering His body to the Cross.
And the aroma that came forth from Him rose to Heaven.
He gave Himself to it all so that we could be loving lives of Light for Him.
The Way of Salt and Light
What should such lives look like? How are they to be shaped?
God inspired Paul to tell us a few important practical things.
Start with your hands and watch what you do with your bodies. Sensuality and immoral activity lead to uncleanness. And this word speaks of more than disfavor and ill repute.
Medical studies reveal the potency and degradation that casual attitudes related to sex have introduced to human physical systems. There are now more than 20 recognized transmittable viruses, parasites, and bacteria that circulate primarily through promiscuity. This is not mere opinion; it is reality and it is recognized. Consider this: The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports that the best defense against sexually transmitted disease is to live a life of “mutual monogamy,” meaning “that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you.”
In other words, faithful marriage beds are the safest sexual spaces known to exist – this is known even at the government level. And so I believe Paul warned about this first because there’s a very quantifiable health hazard attached to its practice. He called this a “sin against your own body” (1 Corinthians 6:8) and encouraged believers to view their flesh and bones as temples for the Spirit.
Watch your soul is another instruction here in Ephesians 5. Covetousness and greed are labeled by Paul as forms of idolatry. In 1 Timothy 6, he wrote that the love of money is the root of all evil. It makes one a miser and misers are among the most miserable of people.The promise here in Ephesians is that His Light in us produces what is good and right and true. And our world could sure use much more of these things. Click To Tweet
Watch your mouth comes next. Be wise with your words and determine to talk less. Avoid obscenities, foolish jesting, gossip, maligning, and backbiting.
Our words should be Gospel words. Our conversations should be seasoned with salt.
Salt words purify and preserve. Salt hits an open sore and, yes, there’s a sting almost at once. Tell someone the whole truth and you might stir some agitation. This represents the start of the healing process. The big question is this: Are we willing to risk such a confrontation–one that could result in a strong reaction?
Salt and Light. These are revolutionary elements of faith in the Son. The promise here in Ephesians is that His Light in us produces what is good and right and true. And our world could sure use much more of these things.
We carry the Message. We also are to be ready to sound the alarm, to shout out Truth to those asleep, slumbering under the stifling blanket of the world system.
Wake up! Rise and receive the Light of Christ! This is what we are to announce to people.
The Spirit is the Key
Paul defines the real key to making wise choices. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. His filling is better than any wine for wine can lead one to drunkenness.
The Scriptures tell us that God gave wine to gladden the heart of man and oil to make his face to shine (Psalm 104:15). The Word also says that wine is a mocker (Proverbs 20:1).
Do these represent a contradiction in terms? Not at all. Follow this with me.
There’s an appreciation we are called to. Taste and see that the Lord is good. But there is intoxication, a poisoning that makes one numb and irrational.The wonder and fruit of Creation—the good and very good tastes, sights, sounds of what God has made—should lift us from our deadness. Click To Tweet
The wonder and fruit of Creation—the good and very good tastes, sights, sounds of what God has made—should lift us from our deadness. We should enjoy beauty and the delight of food. Think about it: the ordained celebrations for the nation of Israel were feasts.
The wine Jesus made at the wedding of Cana in John 2 was the best any had ever tasted. It was very, very good. It was given as a gift to save the affair and to testify to the joy of the Lord that is our strength.
The delight of that moment came at the request of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and so came a story for the ages. No one left Cana dull and stupefied on that day. Instead, they left with a story to tell. We are still talking about it hundreds of years later.
And so be filled with the Spirit. Feeling empty just now? Ask and you shall receive. Ask, just as Mary asked Jesus.
Be filled and let loose with the song that fills your heart. Sing to yourself and sing out to everyone else (see Ephesians 5:19).
Taste and see. Taste and sing. Praise Him for the life that He gives.
The Glory of the Bride
Lastly in Ephesians 5, Paul takes us home — right through the front door actually.
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).
Wives are addressed first. Paul is not issuing words of correction or legalism. He is not writing to put women in their place as some assume.
Wives come first as a matter of honor. To be a wife is to hold a position of dignity. “He who finds a wife finds good” (Proverbs 18:22). Proverbs 31 concludes Solomon’s great collection of wise words with a lengthy paean to the virtuous woman, a wife whom her husband trusts and who serves to make his name famous all over town.
All of this comes together with Paul’s wonderful, high, holy, and beautiful declaration regarding the glory of the Bride. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word” (Ephesians 5:25-26).
The Church is the Bride betrothed to Christ. He has gone to prepare a place for His Church, and this Bride will be celebrated by Him as One without spot or wrinkle. That day of promise is coming.
For now, every wife should see herself in such a glorious Light. Marriage was designed to reveal a portrait of the love God expressed in Christ toward His own. And all believers, as members of His Bride, should also hold fast to the glorious standing God has given to them.
A wise, wonderful Bride brings warmth and spirit to her home. And so the Church should submit to Christ as her Head, and reveal an open heart and a mode of service that awakens sleepers to the reality of eternal life in God.
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