“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Ephesians 5:3-5
There is something that I’ve noticed in my own life as it relates to my walk with Christ. Any extended amount of time spent away from God’s Word or His presence results in a numbing of my personal convictions. When I am consistently found in the Word, filling my mind, heart, and soul with truth, my convictions are sharp as a razor, and I find it extremely difficult to slip into old patterns of behavior or thinking. When I allow much time to lapse between encounters with God in His Word, the clear line drawn in the sand between right and wrong becomes increasingly difficult to discern. This is why we were never intended to spend much time apart from the Lord and the instruction in His Word because we are weak and prone to wander. It doesn’t take much for our affections to stray from our first love. I’m reminded again and again how painfully human I am.
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul charges the church of Ephesus to steer clear of even a hint of sexual immorality and impurity, knowing that even the slightest taste of this would quickly corrupt and destroy the whole. In the event that they would be tempted to understand this as a warning only against the physical act of sexual sin, Paul elaborates on this even further in saying that this also pertains to their words, our words. While the world indulges in every kind of activity that would bring pleasure, we are called to a much higher standard. The list of sinful behavior and speech described in these few verses characterize the lives of those who will have “no inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.” Sexual immorality, all impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk, crude joking, idolatry…all are unfitting for a follower of Christ, all are out of place, and all result in no inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
Can we just pause for a moment on this claim? While not always easy to swallow, Scripture is always true and never false in its claims. Whenever God draws the dividing line between His own and those who will not inherit His Kingdom, my ears perk up because more than anything else in this life, I want to be found among the faithful. I want to hear His welcome when I finally see my Savior face to face. Therefore, if God says that sexual sin, foolish talk, and crude joking will ultimately result in an eternity separated from Him, I’m ready to live my life with some solid convictions in these areas. You too? Good.
For too long, the bride of Christ has excused personal sinful behavior and justified unholy living. However, God never has nor will He ever tolerate our sin. Therefore, we shouldn’t either. As believers in Jesus Christ, as children of God who have been given new life, as sons and daughters who have been redeemed from the pits of sin in which we once dwelled, it’s time we embrace an intolerance for tolerance, a refusal to tolerate personal sin any longer. Have we forgotten that these very sins are the sins that nailed Jesus to His cross? Have we so quickly forgotten that these sins separate us from intimate communion with God? Have we forgotten that it was God’s hatred of sin that forced Him to look away from the blood stained face of Christ as He hung on that cross? His holiness cannot nor will it ever tolerate our sin. If we have been redeemed, let us then live as those who have been redeemed. If we have been given new life in Christ, let us then refuse to walk in the ways of the old life any longer! We are not supposed to look like those who don’t know Christ. The patterns and behaviors of our lives should look significantly different. Do they? Are we defined by the pursuit of Christ or the pursuit of pleasure? Determine today whom you will serve – the lusts of the flesh or Jesus Christ. You cannot serve both. Choose to be intolerant of tolerance. Refuse to tolerate personal sin any longer. Rise up, church. Assume your rightful place, and start representing Christ well.