Ephesians 5:3-7: Motivations for Personal Purity

Why should a Christian not have sex before marriage or any other form of sexual sin? Why should a Christian not tell dirty jokes? Why should a Christian not swear? Why should a Christian not be greedy? It is to these questions that we turn as Paul gives the Ephesians motivations to be personally pure. Paul has been speaking to the area of unity, to the area of relationships, and about those sins that we do against each other like lying, stealing, slandering, unforgiveness, etc. But Paul is not only concerned about our unity he is also concerned about our holiness, in particular our personal purity. Put off the old man, not only in how you reacted to others but in how you conduct yourself as well.

In Ephesians 5:3-7 Paul moves into the area of personal holiness and gives the Ephesians motivations for personal purity,

‘But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 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. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them.’

These verses naturally divide into 2 parts, v3-4, and v5-7. In verses 3-4 Paul calls the Christian to not be associated with certain sins, sexual immorality, impurity, greed, and sinful speech, and he motivates them in this direction by an appeal to their identity as saints, ‘as is proper among saints.’ Then in v5-7 we see Paul repeat the same sins, sexual immorality, impurity and greed, but this time he motivates them not to partner with unbelievers in these things because of the certainty of the judgement of God upon them. In the language of motivation we talk about using the carrot and the stick; honey and vinegar, Paul utilises both. So our message will be divided into two parts looking at these in turn.