1Do as God does. After all, you are his dear children. 2 Let love be your guide. Christ loved us and offered his life for us as a sacrifice that pleases God.
3You are God's people, so don't let it be said that any of you are immoral or indecent or greedy. 4Don't use dirty or foolish or filthy words. Instead, say how thankful you are. 5Being greedy, indecent, or immoral is just another way of worshiping idols. You can be sure people who behave in this way will never be part of the kingdom that belongs to Christ and to God.
Living as People of Light
6Don't let anyone trick you with foolish talk. God punishes everyone who disobeys him and says foolish things. 7So don't have anything to do with anyone like that.
8You used to be like people living in the dark, but now you are people of the light because you belong to the Lord. So act like people of the light 9and make your light shine. Be good and honest and truthful, 10as you try to please the Lord. 11Don't take part in doing those worthless things that are done in the dark. Instead, show how wrong they are. 12It is disgusting even to talk about what is done in the dark. 13But the light will show what these things are really like. 14Light shows up everything, just as the Scriptures say,
“Wake up from your sleep
and rise from death.
Then Christ will shine on you.”
15Act like people with good sense and not like fools. 16 These are evil times, so make every minute count. 17Don't be stupid. Instead, find out what the Lord wants you to do. 18Don't destroy yourself by getting drunk, but let the Spirit fill your life. 19 When you meet together, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as you praise the Lord with all your heart. 20Always use the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to thank God the Father for everything.
Having turned the spotlight on sins which marred the believers’ witness, Paul calls them to face up to their guilt. Aware that he’s been appointed by Christ to be a witness to His people, he seeks to correct, comfort and guide them.
He tells them the antidote – they must keep to the front of their minds that they do not belong to the world but to God’s family, and this is how they should behave:
Their father is the God of truth, and all that He does expresses His righteousness; so they must live to please Him and do as He does (v.1). Jesus models this life. It was guided by love, to the extent that He surrendered it as a sacrifice to make them acceptable before God (v.2 and 1:7-8).
The Christian life shuns immorality, indecency, greed, and dirty, foolish and filthy talk. These are the characteristics of those who worship idols, not the living God. Indeed, people who profess to be Christians but who like this are deceiving themselves, will never be in God’s eternal kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
So Paul calls his readers to live pure lives. In verse 14 he quotes from the book of Isaiah. He does this purposely as the whole of Isaiah, especially chapters 40-66, is about God calling His people, Israel, to stay faithful to Him. At that time, they were in exile in Babylon, surrounded by idolatry and uncleanness; and the believers hearing the letter would have recognized that a similar situation faced them. They were surrounded by idolatry and uncleanness as well, and God was calling them – like He did Israel – to stay faithful to Him and live for Him as children of light.
Dear Father, We live in similar circumstances to the believers who received the letter, and you call us to be faithful children of light also. Help us to live pure lives as a witness to our sin-soaked society. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Tom Holland was born in Liverpool during the Blitz. Converted at 15, he studied Theology and was ordained as a Baptist Pastor. Tom received a PhD from the University of Wales and became a lecturer at what is now Union School of Theology, Oxford, England where he taught undergraduates, postgraduates and supervised PhD’s for 25 years. He is now retired and serves as Senior Research Fellow and is involved in writing and itinerant teaching/preaching ministry. He is married to Barbara; a teacher and they have three daughters and six grandchildren. Publications: Contours of Pauline Theology, Fearn, Ross-shire, Christian Focus Publications, 2004; Romans, Hope for the Nations, Apiary Publishing, London, 2018 , Tom Wright and the Search for Truth, Apiary Publishing, London, 2019, Missing Lense, Apiary Publishing, London, 2019, Romans the Divine Marriage, Apiary Publishing, London, 2020.