The difficulty in the church in Ephesus was the same difficulty today’s churches face. They were not sure whom they should follow. Most decisions people make are based on cultural and traditional norms and lifestyles around them. Today, more than ever before, Christians are confused and torn in trying to choose between the lifestyle and culture of the world and the way of life God approves and accepts.
That is why we, the followers of Christ, must constantly make choices in our spiritual journey of life: Do we choose that which displeases God or that which pleases Him? Do we follow the living God, our Creator, or the gods of the world? More often than we would like to admit, we negotiate or compromise and then justify our decisions and actions.
Joshua challenged all the Israelites when he said: “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)
Joshua challenged the people to forsake idolatry and to serve God. He did not say it was okay to serve other gods as long as they also served the Living God. It had to be either the living God or their gods. He asked them to make an either/or choice, an exclusive choice.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus: “Be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). The same challenge applies to us, too. Are we going to follow the gods of this world system or the one living God?
The answer seems to be very clear but applying it in our daily living seems to be difficult. The gods of this world are very powerful and influential. Being a Christian and living a godly life is like swimming against the current. The corrupt and ungodly world system in which we live makes it very difficult to go forward, but God is there to help us through the Holy Spirit.
Paul said that the Christian walk is at least three things:
• It is walking in godly love, the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross by dying for sinners.
• It is being light in the world.
• It is being wise, not foolish. Believers should walk and live in the wisdom that comes from God through His holy Word.
1. Walk in Love
When he wrote to the church in Corinth, Paul said: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
2. Walk in Purity
God said: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) What is impurity? Paul starts his list with sexual immorality of any kind and then moves on to other sins in general, such as impurity of thought, filthy language, suggestive jokes foolish talking, etc. Believers are warned to have no part in such ungodly behaviour. To do so is to dishonour the name of Christ, to destroy other lives and ruin one’s own testimony and bring terrible retribution.
Rather, Christian believers must be a light in the world and “live as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The Ephesians “were once darkness, but now they are light in the Lord.” Paul did not say that they had been in darkness, but that they had been the personification of darkness.
Now, through Jesus, they had become light. He is light and they are in Him so now they are a light in the Lord. Therefore, they should walk as children of light, producing the fruit of the Spirit, consisting of all forms of goodness, righteousness and truth.
Goodness is an inclusive term for all moral excellence. Righteousness means integrity in all dealings with God and men. Truth is honesty, equity and reality. Put them all together and you have the light of a Christ- filled life shining out in the darkness of the world.
Light, by nature, exposes what is in darkness and the contrast shows sin for what it really is. Verse 11 says: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them.”
3. Walk in Wisdom
Verse 15 says: “Be very careful, then how you live, not as unwise but as wise.” The Christian walk must be one of wisdom, manifested in the lives of believers who understand the will of God and live by it.
Verses 16-17 say: “Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
In these evil days, you must decide where you belong and whom you will serve: Jesus or the corrupt world system. The eternal destiny of your soul rests in your hands; it’s your choice. Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).
God wants you to make an exclusive choice. You will either serve Jesus. . .or you will not.
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian