The kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:5-7)

Making sense of this unique phrase.

Do you read this as a warning that you might not go to heaven?

Ephesians 5 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a person is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (NIV)

It didn’t mention heaven. Readers substitute heaven because that’s how kingdom of God has been understood. But the Bible’s narrative isn’t about us going to heaven; it’s about God’s kingship being restored to earth.

We’ll take it phrase by phrase, but first the backstory: the Bible’s narrative of the kingdom of God. Continue reading “The kingdom of Christ and God (Ephesians 5:5-7)”

Sex and power (Ephesians 5:1–5)

How you love tells us how you use power.

Language expresses culture. Abusive language rises in a culture of abuse. “F. you” is so common that we no longer hear it as a curse, wishing sexual abuse on someone.

Four-letter words are the language of power and humiliation — a graphic verbal image of the powerful forcing themselves on the humiliated. It’s a snapshot of what’s wrong with the world, the culture of injustice.

There’s a world of difference between genuine love and screwing people over. Continue reading “Sex and power (Ephesians 5:1–5)”

The scent of your words (Ephesians 4:29 – 5:2)

What we say reveals who we’re speaking for.

Want peace on earth? There’s a message that can deliver it. No, it’s not “Everybody try harder!” It’s the announcement that the hostilities are over because God has rescued humanity from the warring factions of evil, into the reign of his anointed. That’s the good news of salvation.

Words matter. Continue reading “The scent of your words (Ephesians 4:29 – 5:2)”

Thieves vs philanthropists (Ephesians 4:28)

Game’s on. Who’ll win?

Ever been robbed? You come home to a broken window and the realization that someone has been in your space. They’ve taken your stuff — some of it irreplaceable, like that ring that belonged to your Mum.

The thief doesn’t care about you, or your Mum, or how your children will sleep after the intrusion. For the thief, you’re not human; you’re just your stuff. Continue reading “Thieves vs philanthropists (Ephesians 4:28)”

No place for the devil (Ephesians 4:27)

Let the right one in.

Do not give the devil a place (Ephesians 4:27).

Three questions, but first a clarification. One translation says not to give the devil a “foothold.” That’s a very odd image, as if the devil is climbing up a rock face. The word is topos, a generic word for place.

So:

  1. Who is the devil?
  2. What kind of place does the devil want?
  3. How do we avoid giving the devil a place?

Continue reading “No place for the devil (Ephesians 4:27)”

Processing offence (Ephesians 4:26)

Growing up, I was never angry. Anger was sinful, so I could never be angry.

One day I discovered this in Ephesians 4:26: In your anger, do not sin. God knew I would feel angry, and he asked me to manage my response.

I can’t tell you how liberating that was. For the first time, I could ask myself the question God asked Cain, “Why are you angry?” (Genesis 4:6). Owning the emotion was the first step to processing it. My anger often came from frustration, sometimes from injustice, occasionally I’d transferred it from another issue. Identifying and owning these emotions (affect labelling) was a stepping-stone to a healthy response. Continue reading “Processing offence (Ephesians 4:26)”

The truth about lying (Ephesians 4:25)

Lies gain a competitive edge, but truth unifies us.

Read Ephesians 4:25.

Lying gives me a competitive advantage. With a lie, I manipulate people for the outcomes I want. “I didn’t do it” avoids punishment. “It’s a wonderful old car” rewards the seller. You show an idealized image on social media, where romantic relations begin.

But lies are murder for relationships. The first lie was a brother saying, “Let’s go out into the field” (Genesis 4:8). It wasn’t an outright lie; more a deception to destroy the competition. Cain felt unaccepted. He believed his lie: he’d be more acceptable if his brother wasn’t in the way.

Words open worlds.

Lies fabricate a world where no one lives. To enter a lie is to choose a wasteland of isolation, to become “a restless wanderer on the earth” (Genesis 4:12).

Truth opens the door to authentic worlds, worlds we can share. But truth feels vulnerable. Truth risks rejection.

Continue reading “The truth about lying (Ephesians 4:25)”