Living in the Light
Living in the Light
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 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. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.” (Ephesians 5:1–12 ESV)
In my first post on pornography I attempted a definition and then tried to show how far our culture has moved from biblical standards of sexual immorality in order to provide some context for this discussion. In my second post my goal was to expose the darkness of sexual immorality by contrasting it with God’s good gift of sex and then to highlight the fact that sexual immorality can be forgiven through faith in Christ.
Here I want to talk about how to overcome the temptation to sexual immorality, pornography in particular. The first step I explained in my last post, namely faith in Jesus Christ. Each one of us must admit that we are a sinner, a natural born rebel against God and in need of forgiveness. We must place our trust in Christ for forgiveness and submit to His leadership in our lives. For a clear presentation on how to become right with God click here. There can be no liberation from any sin without first surrendering to Christ.
The passage quoted about is actually very helpful to us in overcoming sexual immorality, indeed any sin in our lives. In it the Apostle Paul emphasizes our identity, our love, and our focus. It may be helpful before continuing to carefully re-read this passage.
Following faith in Christ we have a new identity. In this passage we are called “beloved children, saints, and children of the light.” Christians are not defined by their past or their sin, Christians are defined by their relationship to Jesus. We must live in light of who we are in Jesus. Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time. We will therefore either expose the darkness by our light or our light will be extinguished and we will become partners in the darkness. So as we make our way through life, navigate relationships and make daily decisions, we are to ask ourselves, “is this behavior consistent with who I am in Christ?”
We are called to be imitators of the love of God shown to us in Jesus. Keeping the love of Christ before us is powerfully transformative. How can we continue to engage in sinful behavior for which our Savior and Lord suffered and died? How can we willfully displease Him by spurning His desire for my life? The greater our appreciation of the love of Jesus for us, the greater our love for Him and the greater our love for Him the greater our desire to live for Him. When we endeavor to live for him we begin to love like He loved. Because the love of Christ is a self-sacrificial love that does no wrong to another person we are to walk in love, in other words, we are to live out a loving pattern of behavior in all our relationships. So we are to ask ourselves before we undertake any action or entertain any idea, it is loving? Am I expressing the love shown to me by Jesus? Sexual immorality in general and pornography in particular is unloving since it is using others to satisfy our selfish desires.
The Apostle calls us to focus on “pleasing the Lord.” We do not do this in order to find acceptance with God, but rather because we have been accepted by Him! Living for God’s pleasure is the natural response of gratitude for what He has done for us in Christ. So we are to focus on “love”, “thanksgiving”, what is “good and right and true” and as we do our lives will be transformed. Of course the Apostle points out that the converse is also true. If we focus on “immorality”, “impurity”, and “covetousness”, by viewing images, talking about these things with others, joking about them and making light of them, then we will believe the lie that God does not care about our sexual purity and we will become partners in the darkness.
So here is the process: we think about sexual immorality, we speak about it openly, we dismiss it as a joke and then we engage in it. It is much easier to do something immoral if you can joke about it first! Instead we must fill our minds with Scripture, speak about the truths we discover with others, give thanks to God for those truths in worship and we will begin to live in light of them. That is how the Bible bears fruit in our lives. It is a process. It will not happen overnight. We will not win every battle, but we will begin to see the darkness for what it really is and we will gradually live in the light.
May God grant it to be so for His glory and our good.