Keep it light
Show the Family resemblance1So here’s what you should do. Imitate God. You’re his cherished kids. Act like it. 2Let people see love when they look at you, just as we see the love in Christ who sacrificed himself for us. He offered himself to God, like a sweet-smelling incense.
3When it comes to sex sins, craving what belongs to someone else, or doing anything that makes you feel dirty, don’t even talk about doing it. People devoted to God don’t devote themselves to that kind of behavior. 4They don’t use filthy language, either. So don’t go around telling dirty jokes or saying things that make you look like a fool. Instead, when you talk, spend more time thanking people and God.
5I’ll tell you one thing you can be sure of. There’s no place in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God for people who commit sex sins, or who crave what belongs to someone else, or who behave in a way that should make them feel dirty. People like that are no different than someone who worships idols. 6Don’t let yourself get sucked into believing lies meant to trick you into doing something you know is wrong. God punishes disobedient people. 7So don’t have anything to do with those liars and the people they sucker into believing the lies.
Out of the dark, into the light8You used to live in spiritual darkness. Not anymore. You live in the light that the Lord shines on you. Own it. Embrace it. Then shine as children of light. 9You know what grows out of light like that? Goodness. Spiritual integrity. Truth.
10Work on learning what it takes to please God. 11Don’t sneak off into the darkness to take part in what’s going on there. You’ll find nothing worthwhile there. Instead of sneaking into the darkness, shine your light on it. Let people see what’s going on. 12It makes you feel dirty to even talk about what goes on there in secret. 13But once you shine the light into the darkness, it’s easy to see what is going on. 14Yet I want you to know this. When you turn the light on, everything lights up. It’s like you’ve heard it said:
“Wake up sleepyhead.
Rise and shine, you’re dead no more.
Christ is shining on you.”
Fill up on the Spirit instead of wine15Be careful how you live. You’ll see people who don’t make wise choices. Do not follow their example. Instead, use your head. 16These are tough times for doing good. So whenever you get a chance to do something positive, go for it.
17Don’t do anything dumb. Discover what God wants you to do. 18Another thing, don’t fill up on so much wine that you get drunk. That can mess up your life bigtime. Instead, fill up on the Spirit. 19And sing to each other psalms, hymns, and other kinds of songs inspired by the Spirit. Go ahead and sing them out loud. Let your heart enjoy the melody of the music to the Lord. 20All the time and for everything, give thanks to God the Father, through the name of our leader, Jesus the Messiah.
Husbands and wives, love each other21Defer to one another. You know that’s what the Messiah would want you to do. 22Wives, defer to your husbands just as you would to the Lord. 23Think of your husband as the head of you and your family just as you think of the Messiah as the head of the church. Christ is the one who is responsible for saving everyone in the body, which is the church. 24Just as the church obeys the Messiah, wives should obey their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives with the kind of love Jesus showed for the church when he gave his life for her. 26He did this to purify her and dedicate her to God. He washed her clean with water and the word. 27He did all this so that when the time comes for the church to be presented to him, she would arrive in glory and spiritually beautiful—without any ugly spots or wrinkles. There would be absolutely nothing wrong with her. 28That’s how much husbands should love their wives—as much as they love their own bodies, and even as much as they love life itself.
29No one hates his own body. Instead, we feed it and take good care of it, just as Christ takes care of the church. 30We are members of Christ’s body. 31“That’s why a man leaves his parents for a woman. The man and woman become part of each other—two people, yet one.” 32This is a perplexing mystery that I’m talking about—the relationship between Christ and the church. 33Anyhow, every husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. And every wife should respect her husband.
Jewish priests burned incense in the sanctuary of the worship center. It was considered a sweet-smelling offering to God. The formula, reserved for use only in worship, included equal parts of tree sap, mollusk shells, galbanum sap, and frankincense (Exodus 30:34).
The Greek word is often translated as “righteousness.”
Bible experts debate where Paul got this quotation that sounds like a song lyric or lines from a poem. One guess has Paul pulling from the prophet Isaiah. “Those who sleep in the earth will rise up…“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you”(Isaiah 26:19; 60:1 New Living Translation).
Many Bible versions translate this phrase as “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (New Living Translation). Many Bible experts explain that the early Christians seemed to think of the name of Jesus as a bit like a prayer key to unlock the door that leads to God the Father. Others say that by praying to God in the name of Jesus, Christians are expressing their gratitude to both the Father and the Son for the gift of salvation that came through what Jesus did when he sacrificed himself and through what the Father did when Jesus rose from the dead.
This phrase is often translated “to sanctify,” or “to make holy.” A more literal translation: “That he might sanctify her and cleanse her by the washing of water through the word.”
Some Bible experts speculate that “water” is a metaphor describing baptism, which itself is a symbol pointing to the death and resurrection of Jesus. When a Christian goes down under the water, it symbolizes Jesus going to the grave. And when the Christian comes up out of the water, it symbolizes Jesus rising from the dead. “Word” may refer to the Gospel story of Jesus and the preaching it inspired.
Paul warns Christians away from sex sins (5:3). How do you think the attraction to sex sins in Paul’s time compares to the lure today?
Paul says that people who give into the lure of sex sins “are no different than someone who worships idols” (5:5). Why do you think Paul would have considered that a fair parallel, sex sins to idolatry?
Paul warned the Christians not to “get sucked into believing lies meant to trick you into doing something you know is wrong” (5:6). What kind of lies do you think he had in mind? And if he were writing today, what kind of lies would he have in mind?
Paul said Christians no longer live in spiritual darkness. He encouraged them to “shine as children of light” (5:8). Can you think of any examples from the Bible when Christians did what Paul was talking about? Can you think of any time recently when you have seen a Christian shine like that?
When Paul talks about the nasty stuff that people do in the dark in secret he said “It makes you feel dirty to even talk about what goes on there” (5:12). What do you think he had in mind? And in our day, what do you think are some of the dirtiest and darkest things that take place in secret?
Paul tells people to give thanks to God “through the name of… Jesus” (5:20). How is that not like treating the name of Jesus as an abracadabra magical word?
As you read marital advice from bachelor Paul (5:21-33), what would you say to him if you could sit down and have a chat about it?
LIFE APPLICATION. In an odd and vexing statement that confuses Bible experts, Paul ends his mini speech about darkness and light by saying that “When you turn the light on, everything lights up” (5:14). Then he quotes a passage about the dead rising to life, with Christ shining on them—as though they have made the transformation from people of darkness to people of light. When have you seen that happen—someone leaving the darkness and becoming a soul of light?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul said something that easily applies to us today: “These are tough times for doing good. So whenever you get a chance to do something positive, go for it” (5:16). Do you have any tips you could pass along about how to stay alert to fleeting opportunities to do something good? Often, an opportunity shows up one moment and is gone the next. Unless we immediately recognize the window of opportunity and are prepared to respond, we miss the opportunity.
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul closes out his marital advice by saying, “Every husband should love his wife as much as he loves himself. And every wife should respect her husband” (5:33). What do you think Paul would tell a wife who is abused by a husband who does not show any indication of loving her? Do you think Paul offers any clue in 1 Corinthians 7:15, when he says that a person who has been abandoned by their spouse no longer has to feel bound to that person?