After Paul describes what a life changed by Christ looks like and reminds the Ephesians that they were forgiven, he begins chapter 5 with a “therefore.” In other words, because of these reasons – God’s forgiveness and your new life – you must “therefore” be thus and so…
What must Christians be? Paul says this:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ~Ephesians 5:1-2
Imitators of God. Because we are God’s beloved children, we are called to be like him. Christ gave the world the most conclusive example of sacrificial love it has ever known. Therefore, Paul tells Christians to imitate God, to walk in love, and to live sacrificial for others. These commands are couched in familial terminology. What child doesn’t imitate his father? It is natural to want to do so – especially when we are loved.
Paul goes on to name quite a few things that are unnatural and forbidden for God’s children. He tells us what we are not to be. Paul insists that those who make their lives out of practicing sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, filth, and foolish and crude talk have no inheritance in the kingdom of God. He warns Christians not to be deceived because many will make light of these very things. Do not listen to them Paul warns. God hates sin. A life lived justifying and dismissing fornication, homosexuality, idolatry, envy, foolishness, or even rudeness or unkind fun-making brings God’s wrath upon us. His wrath! These things – the things unbelievers all around us wink and smile about – are the very things that shut them – and, potentially, us – out of God’s kingdom. Little wonder why Paul insists:
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. ~Ephesians 5:11
Take no part! No part. Don’t wink at these things and look the other way when you see them. Don’t get as close to these things as possible and expect to avoid them. Don’t approve or applaud those who do them. Take no part. Expose evil for what it really is – what God says it is. Consider all the commands Paul gives in this warning: look carefully; be wise; do not be foolish; understand God’s will; do not get drunk; be filled with the Spirit; sing hymns and psalms; give thanks; submit to one another. And believe it, when you do, doubtless you will suffer for it just like Jesus did.
These are the everyday things we are exposed to in the world. Every single day we have a choice. Either we can participate and justify them or we can avoid and expose them. The former separates us from God. The latter proves we are his children.
Let no one deceive you. Sin is not a non-issue. Exposing it is your business.