Charles Simeon Commentary - Ephesians 5:5 - 5:7

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Charles Simeon Commentary - Ephesians 5:5 - 5:7

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Eph_5:5-7. This ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon lite children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

NEVER can we be wrong in bearing our testimony against sin. As for those who, from a zeal for the Gospel, pass over subjects of this kind as legal, we cannot but think them grievously mistaken: for St. Paul, whose love to the Gospel was so ardent, that “he counted all things but dung and dross for the knowledge of it,” was inferior to no man in inculcating the necessity of holiness, or in denouncing the judgments of God against indulged sin. The words before us amply illustrate this: for, specifying particular sins, which would surely prove fatal to all who lived in them, he made them the subject of a faithful appeal, and of a most solemn warning to the Church of God in all ages.

Were we to speak of this subject under distinct heads, those which we have just mentioned would afford an easy arrangement: but on such a subject as this, I think that the mention of distinct heads would he an interruption to us, and weaken the impression which the text itself is calculated to convey.

We declare then to you, brethren, that sin indulged will destroy your souls—

[The Scriptures speak of sin under the twofold character, of the “filthiness of the flesh, and the filthiness of the spirit [Note: 2Co_7:1.].” Both these kinds of sin are mentioned in my text: “fornication and uncleanness” belonging to “the flesh,” and “covetousness” having its seat rather in “the spirit.” Now these, whether more open and flagrant, or more secret and refined, are alike fatal to the soul, if they be harboured and indulged. They alike exclude us from heaven: for it is impossible that a person who lives in the commission of them should “have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” — — —]

And “this,” if you know any thing of Christianity, “you know”—

[The whole voice of Scripture declares it. Even reason itself may be considered as bearing testimony to it: for what delight can a holy God take in an unholy being? or how can the Lord Jesus Christ, “who died to destroy the works of the devil, exalt lo a participation of his kingdom one who is fulfulling the works of the devil? We may as well conceive that “Christ and Belial should have communion with each other,” as that a man who regards and retains iniquity in his heart should enter into the kingdom of heaven — — —]

Let nothing, therefore, weaken the impression of this upon your minds—

[There are those who will dispute against this. They will speak of “uncleanness,” especially if the marriage-bed be not invaded, as, at most, a venial fault, necessarily arising from the ardour of youth, and undeserving of any serious regard. And as to “covetousness,” there is no such thing existing in the world, if every person’s estimate of himself may be relied on. Men will, indeed, impute it to others; but no one acknowledges it in himself. Every one covers it with some specious name: ‘It is prudence, economy, diligence, a proper regard for one’s family; and surely there can be no blame attached to habits like these.’ But let it be remembered what “covetousness” is: it is a desiring of any thing for its own sake, that we may find our happiness in it, rather than in God; and place our dependence on it, rather than on God: and that whether it be in a man of opulence, or in a person of low degree, is equally “idolatry,” and will infallibly exclude a man from the kingdom of God. As for all the pretexts that may be urged either for this or for uncleanness, they are but “vain words,” that will “deceive you,” to your eternal ruin. Look and see what fornication brought upon the whole nation of Israel [Note: Num_25:1. with 1Co_10:8.]: or what coveting did in the case of Achan; who, amongst two millions of people was singled out by lot [Note: Jos_7:10-26.]: and be assured, that however secret your sin be, or however sanctioned by the habits of those around you, “the wrath of God will, sooner or later, come on all the children of disobedience” — — — Full well I know, how pleasing it is to be told that we have nothing to fear, and how ready we are to credit such unfounded assertions: but to what purpose will it be to “speak peace to ourselves, when God has said that there is no peace?” I warn you then, beloved, not to listen to any such delusive suggestions, by whomsoever they may be offered: but “let God be true, and every man a liar.”]

And let nothing under heaven induce you to comply with the solicitations of others, or to imitate their sins—

[Though you are united in a Christian society, and profess all the doctrines of Christianity, you still are liable to be seduced by the arguments and examples of those around you. But remember, that, if you are partakers with others in their sins, you shall be “partakers also with them in their plagues [Note: Rev_18:4.].” And it will be little consolation to you, in the eternal world, that you have partners in misery: nor will it be any excuse for you, that you have been deceived. God cautions you against deceit, whether it originate in yourselves or others. His word is plain: his warnings are solemn: and if you will not obey his voice, you must reap the fruits of your folly. Unite not, then, with any in a course of sin. Partake not with any, either in following their evil ways, or in giving your sanction to them. Your duty is, to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them [Note: ver. 11.].” If you profess to be children of light, then must you walk worthy of your holy profession, “shining, before all, as lights in the world.”]

If, however, you have been drawn aside to sin, then humble yourselves for it without delay, and turn unto your God in newness of life—

[Blessed be God! your state is not hopeless, though you may have fallen into sin. For at Corinth there were some who had been guilty of the very transgressions here referred to, and yet had obtained mercy through Christ: “Such were some of you,” says St. Paul; “but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God [Note: 1Co_6:9-11.].” So, then, may ye be washed, and justified, and sanctified, if you turn unto God through Christ. The blood of Christ shall be sufficient for you, as it was for them; and the Spirit of Christ shall operate as effectually in you as in them. “Only acknowledge your transgressions,” and “flee for refuge to the hope that is set before you;” so shall you find mercy of the Lord, and “your iniquity shall not be your ruin [Note: Eze_18:30.].”]