By Randall Pressnell
Senior Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mount Carmel
Focal Passage: Ephesians 5:1-10
Pastor Andy Stanley recently gathered with about 250 singles to answer questions on the topic of love, sex, and dating. The most pointed question of the night came from a middle-aged gentleman. “Why save sex for marriage?”
Here’s Stanley’s reply: “Good question. Your direct question deserves a direct answer. If all there is to life is this life, if you are merely a predator and women are prey, if sex is just physical and disconnected from the concept of permanency, exclusivity, and relationship, then I can’t think of a reason not to have sex with as many women as you can. … But if there’s more to this life … if there is a God in whose image you’ve been made and in whose image every woman you’ve met has been made, if sex is a creation that was created with a purpose and if part of that purpose is to enhance the expression of intimacy between two people … and if that fragile, wonderful, delicate experience we term intimacy can be damaged or broken through abuse, then your sexual conduct matters a great deal. So you have to decide what you believe. Not just about sex. About everything. Once you decide, the answer to your important question will be clear” (Andy Stanley, The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating, Zondervan, 2014, pp. 137-138).
One of the most sex-centered cities in the first century was Ephesus. Paul wrote to the new Christians of Ephesus coming out of that lifestyle. He wrote about God’s gift of human sexuality and His purpose for the same. He challenged them to live in the light of God’s standards for sexual morality rather than the darkness of the culture’s lack of standards for sexual morality.
God’s principles for sexual morality (5:1-4). Paul reminded the Ephesian Christ-followers that they were dearly loved children and that God’s love was the reason for them to practice a lifestyle based on being imitators of God. Likewise they should walk in love inspired by the way that the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for them. And because of His sacrifice for them sexual immorality should not be listened to, talked about, or even the subject of crude joking. It is not proper for saints! Sexual immorality includes any sexual relationship outside of the exclusive relations between a husband and wife. Immoral sexual relationships break God’s standards for sexual purity.
God’s penalties for sexual immorality (vv. 5-6). Paul said that the Ephesian Christians should know and recognize that sexual sin is ultimately idolatry as one loves pleasure more than they love God. When God’s principles are not followed there are penalties that must be paid. What does that mean? (1) An idolater does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God. (2) Payday is coming for the idolater in the coming of God’s wrath. Sexual immorality comes with a price.
God’s plea for sexual morality. (vv. 7-10) Paul expressed God’s perfect solution to this dilemma. Do not become their partners but instead walk as children of light. If Christ had changed them from darkness to light — they should act like they have been changed! Their lifestyle should be characterized by the light of Christ who will cause them to bear the fruit of goodness, righteousness, and truth. A Christ-follower’s walk should be one that results in the fruit of the light, discerning what is pleasing to the Lord.
Our culture says consensual sex between two adults is acceptable. God says any sex outside of marriage is sinful and destroys individuals and families. Christians must hold to God’s principles for sexual morality and should be ready to graciously help others when sex destroys.
— Pressnell is senior pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mount Carmel.