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. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
(Ephesians 5:5-6 ESV)
One of the drawbacks of studying just a verse or two of the Bible a day is we can forget the context within which each day’s words were written. As a result it is easy to apply incorrect meaning to a passage, such as today’s.
In this section of Paul’s letter he has been contrasting the behavioral characteristics of people who are God’s children and those who are not. Yesterday, we learned that people who are part of God’s family should not engage in inappropriate sexual conduct. That is what the world does. But God does not want His children to live like that. Paul continues to expand on that topic today.
Everyone who is sexually immoral, or impure, or covetous (in a sexual way; who idolizes sex) has no claim to God’s inheritance. Now, its safe to say that all human beings fall into this category more or less, even those of us who are God’s born-again children [John 1:12-13]. None of us live 100% pure lives. But God’s children have an inheritance awaiting us in heaven because our sins have been forgiven by God [Ephesians 1:11-12]. So Paul cannot be referring to us here.
Paul’s point is not that any sexual sin keeps a person out of heaven. Believers may fall into sexual sin or may carry sexual sin from their past, unsaved life, into their life as a believer. It happens. God does not condemn such a person. God condemns people who practice sin [1 John 3:7-8].
If you want to play a musical instrument you practice playing it. You intentionally try to become better at it. In the process, though, you will occasionally play bad notes. But your goal is to eliminate such mistakes.
Likewise, those who want to live according to God’s design will practice living that way. This does not mean they won’t mess up at times. Of course they will. But the fact that they are intentionally trying to live God’s way is proof they are saved and are on their way to heaven.
On the other hand, those who are deceived into thinking their behavior is not sin will incur God’s wrath. We are responsible for the information we receive and what we do with that information. We may receive false information – empty words – but the responsibility for knowing it is false rests with us. We can’t blame anyone else for our own deception.
Those who practice sin without regard for what God says will not be in heaven because they see nothing wrong with their behavior [Galatians 5:19-21]. They live in disobedience and don’t see a need to repent. The result is their sins are not forgiven and hence they will have to face judgement.
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