Idolaters

Ephesians 5:5. “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inhertance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

What is a whoremonger? Strong’s  Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible  lists the word as a derivitive of pornos,  with connotation especially of male prostitutes who sell their bodies for financial gain.

An unclean person is impure and greedy, and people who choose to live in such a way are guilty of idolatry and will have no part in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Their choices condemn them to hell.

How many times have we all heard the question, “But how can a loving God condemn anyone to hell?”  In all the centuries through which people have voiced that question, the answer has remained exactly the same.  It is not God Who condemns us to hell. It is our own choices to disobey God and live in a way that dishonors Him, as well as dishonoring our own bodies, that condemn us.

Paul was writing to new believers who had probably been involved to some degree in the sexually immoral worship of Diana.  He used strong language here to make them aware of the need for them to turn their backs on the old behaviors.

Choices have consequences.  When we choose the behavior, we choose the consequence.

Advertisements

Foolish Talking

Ephesians 5:4  “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.”

Some have looked at a verse like this one and thought, “Well, I guess Christians just don’t get to have any fun.  They go around all day with long faces, looking like doom, never talking about anything but the Bible.  No, thanks.”

Such would be Satan’s interpretation of the scripture.  Believe me, there’s a lot of laughter in my life without my having to resort to obscenity, profanity, and vulgarity.

Nehemiah 8:10 says that the joy of the Lord  is our strength. Job 8:21 and Psalm 126:2 both speak of God filling our mouths with laughter.

The point here is that there is a lot to laugh about without having to resort to the ribald. One of the myriad of things  for which I thank God is the joy, the fun, the laughter in my life.  My closest friends share that laughter with me without ever devolving to vulgarity.

Proverbs 17:22  “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

NO Fornication!

Ephesians 5:3. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints:”

Yesterday I mentioned that the worship of the goddess Diana was corrupt with sexual sin. It was so much a part of the culture that very few were not affected by it.  Here, Paul steps up to the plate, so to speak, and tells the Ephesian believers that there must be NO such behavior for them. No kind of impurity or greed should be evident in their lives.

I’ve been thinking about the struggle it must have been for some of them.  Steeped in a religion that not only encouraged sin, but also demanded it, they must have  been amazed at what the apostle was teaching them. It was a complete 180 change for them. Their families who were not believers would have questioned them about their lack of participation in Diana-worship.I’m sure there was mockery and derision, and perhaps threats of  disowning them from the family .Maybe there was physical retribution. They may have lost their jobs and become outcasts.

This  command was far more than just  a directive against sexual immorality. I required a complete change in lifestyle that would affect everyone the Ephesian believers  were related to and knew in the community.

Walk in Love

Ephesians 5:2. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”

The city of Ephesus certainly did not walk in the love that Jesus exampled. They worshipped the goddess Diana, and there was great sexual sin involved in that worship.  Paul admonished the new believers in Ephesus to put away the old habits, to live pure and holy before the people of the city, and to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.  His obedience to God was a “sweet-smelling savor,” a sacrifice that was fragant to God.

As our nation becomes more secularized and less God-centered, we too are devolving into great immorality. Don’t misunderstand me. There has always been sin. The difference is that  it was kept in the dark and not flaunted.  Today, sin is presented boldly.  Demands are made that it be legalized, and those demands are being obeyed. At the same time, Christianity is coming under stronger attack than ever.  Our idol may not be Diana, but it is most certainly worship of all that is fleshly.

We can be, as Jesus was, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God if we determine to walk in His love.

Friday Counseling Issues: The Personality Disorders

“He/she  is such a narcissist!”

Such a statement has become quite common, and applied like a coat of varnish over anyone who seems even a tiny bit more self-involved than we like.  It’s usually a major overstatement of the situation, but like lots of other psychological terms, it is applied freely  when it really doesn’t apply at all.  We need to be careful with our words.  Words mean things, and contrary to the old “sticks and stone” jingle, they DO hurt.  They hurt, and they remain in the human psyche for a very long time.

The legend from which we derive the name for this disorder is, briefly, that a very handsome  young god named Narcissus saw his reflection for the first time in a pool of water.  He fell in love with himself at first sight, and eventually fell into the water and drowned.  Narcissus flowers sprang up  in the place where he died.

The moral of the story is that being totally consume with oneself leads to nothing good.

The person who has true Narcissistic Personality Disorder goes way beyond being just a little vain. These people truly believe that they a special, set aside for some glorious destiny in which the whole world will acknowledge their unique qualities, and they will finally receive the glory and honor they deserve.

Their envy of others  goes way beyond reason, and in some cases can lead  them to commit crimes against the object of their jealousy.  They are capable of murder, believing they have done the world a favor.  Of course, as with any other disorder, there is a huge degree of difference among narcissists.  Not all of them are sociopaths!

They often present an arrogant, haughty attitude because they alone understand how wonderful they are.  The rest of the world needs to catch up.  They can be quite charming, lulling another person into believing that they are truly interested.  Their only real interest, however, is in self-promotion.  They take praise and adulation as their due.

They are often innately dishonest,  exxagerating their accomplishments in order to achieve whatever status they desire. They are certainly capable of abuse, although most of the time it is not visible.  They are master manipulators,  seeming to know exactly where to put the knife of sarcasm, belittlement, and criticism  to do the most harm.  When they are confronted with their nasty behavior, they will raise their eyebrows in shock and claim that you simply must have misunderstood them.

They are never wrong. Ever. They don’t apologize for anything unless doing so will further their cause.  You can’t win an argument with a narcissist.  You can’t reason with an unreasonable person.

There is no specific treatment.  Talk therapy can help IF the person acknowledges he actually has a problem.

Followers of God

Ephesians 5:1.  “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children:”

If we take heed to the passage we’ve just finished, we WILL be imitating God.

Beloved children often imitate their parents. They do so because they have experienced the sacrificial, unconditional love of their parents.

How much more should we imitate the God Who allowed His Son to sacrifice His own life in our behalf.

Forgive

Ephesians 4:32. “And be ye kind one to another; tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

Anyone who grew up in Sunday School and church, as I did, memorized this verse as a child.  I wonder, though, how many of us truly understood and practiced it.  I was in my early ’30’s before I finally comprehended fully the importance of this verse. Once you get it, it will change your life. All the other ugly things we’ve discussed in this passage are mitigated by the act of forgiveness.  Bitterness, clamour, evil-speaking, and malice are worn away by the wonderful erosion of choosing to forgive.

Forgiveness is not an event. Only God can forgive and forget. We have a lot of trouble with forgetting, and whenever the memory pops up, we need to choose to forgive yet again.

I have written several posts about forgiveness on my Friday Counseling Issues thread. Here is where to go for the first one.  You can find them all if you follow the links near the bottom of the post under “related” items.

So here are the 20 commands Paul has listed for us in this chapter, starting in verse 17:

  1. Put away lying
  2. Speak truth
  3. Be angry without sinning
  4. Do not hold your anger from one day to the next
  5. Do not give way to Satan
  6. Stop stealing
  7. Work
  8. Give to the needy
  9. Let no corrupt words come out of your mouth
  10. Speak only that which is good
  11. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit
  12. Lay aside bitterness
  13. Lay aside wrath
  14. Lay aside anger
  15. Lay aside clamour
  16. Lay aside evil-speaking
  17. Lay aside malice
  18. Be kind
  19. Be tenderhearted
  20. Forgive

This is God’s will.