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(Chapter 5.1-14).

The opening verses of chapter 5. grow out of the closing statement of chapter 4.-there is no pause in the sequence of the apostle's theme. He is going to name and warn against certain other terrible sins, but before doing so he interposes another of those positive statements on the nature of Christian conduct which are an outstanding feature of the apostle's letters. The light and shade of the picture are most effective here. The man who has just spoken out so boldly against sin is now appealing with great tenderness: "Be ye therefore imitators of God as beloved children." Divine forgiveness which has just been expressed in the terms of the Saviour's cross is to be the pattern for imitation by God's beloved children. We are to forgive as God our Father forgives; not grudgingly nor of necessity, but with a generosity that leaves no lurking sense of resentment or grievance. Such forgiveness will, indeed, need to be in constant exercise if we are to reflect in any degree the sacrificial love described in verse 2:

"And walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell."

We have already observed in chapter 4. several matters to which the believer must give attention if he is to walk worthily of his calling. He must walk in unity, he must "put on the new man," and he must give no quarter to those sins of temper and speech described at the end of the chapter. Now the apostle appeals:

"Walk in love." We are left in no doubt as to what he has in mind here, because he brings before us the supreme example: "Walk in love1 even a' Christ also loved . . . . and gave Himself . . Christ's love was a sacrificial love

"Himself He could not save,

Love's stream too deeply flowed; In love Himself He gave - . -

This offering of Himself is described as "an odour of a sweet smell" to God; it is the sacrifice of Christ viewed from the aspect of the burnt offering.

For us who once walked in the vanity of our minds, to "walk in love" after the manner of the perfect example of sacrificial love by which our Lord Himself brought infinite delight to His Father, seems to be altogether beyond our attainment. But a lower standard would be unworthy of our calling. So, the life of the believer is to be a loving life, lived with that sweetness and joy which remove it far above the path of mere servile duty. There is one way only to live such a lif~by the constant recollection of Christ's love for us. When the people of Israel were encamped in the wilderness, the godly Israelite, each morning and evening, could see in the smoke of the ascending sacrifice that which told of the spotless altar-victim giving a continual sweet savour to God. So must we daily gaze upon the great altar-sacrifice of Christ if we are in any degree to "walk in love, even as Christ also loved you."

Verses 8-6 contain a stern warning against sexual sin. Such warnings, which are frequent in Paul's letters, were necessary because of the terrible sexual excesses which were a feature of the pagan rites practised in the heathenism of the Gr~co-Roman world. Such matters were not fit subjects for discussion, and were to be banned from the conversation of the saints. The warning here given needs emphasis to-day. Sexual impurity has increased at an alarming rate during recent years. Facts and figures could be given which reveal only too clearly the present trend in Britain. The standard in these matters is absolute, and no attempt should be made to adjust it in any degree to the appalling looseness which is prevalent around us to-day. The sin of fornication stands in a class by itself (1 Corinthians 6.18), and calls for immediate and drastic action in the kingdom of Christ and God-the sphere of divine rule on earth. No fornicator can have part or lot therein. Specious arguments may be put forward in extenuation, but against these stands the demonstrated fact that divine wrath metes out terrible retribution to those who practise such things.

In this passage covetousness (greedy acquisitiveness) is associated with fornication. Covetousness may take various forms: it is the inordinate greed to possess what is forbidden. And the covetous man is essentially an idolator because he has enthroned self in the place of God: his own evil desires must be satisfied no matter what is the cost to others.

Passing from these matters which are not to be named among them, the apostle warns against other impurities of mind and speech

which are not befitting to the saints. "Filthiness" is used here of obscenity-all that is opposed to purity in sex matters. He has already warned (chapter 4.29) against "corrupt speech," i.e., any kind of speech which may have a defiling effect on others. Now he warns against "foolish talking or jesting," and these appear in a context associating them with sexual impurity. "Foolish talking": light, trifling talk about matters which God abhors- that talk of fools which is foolishness and sin together" (Trench). "Jesting" is near akin to "foolish talking." We all know the contemptible thing: the apparent pleasantry which conceals the impure thought so as to make it sound less daring; it is far more subtle than open indecent talk. How unfitting to the believer's lips such things are And yet the warning is necessary. We should always be on our guard against the accumulating influence of the impure speech which goes on around us lest it wears down our spiritual sensitiveness. The tainted story, the impure jest, should die in our very presence. And we should take care what we read as well as what we hear. Many a page of literature, commonly acclaimed, is soiled with the very thing the apostle here warns against. Why should we drag our minds through the muddy puddle even if it is the work of a man whose name stands high in the world of literature? Impure words will not come to the lips if impure thoughts are banished from the mind. If our thoughts are continually returning to the contemplation of Christ as brought before us in verse 2, then our lips will be increasingly employed "giving thanks."

The apostle presses still further his theme of the believer's present walk. Having set in opposition death and life, "the old man" and "the new man," he now introduces the opposites of light and darkness. The believer must view his relationship with "the sons of disobedience" from the standpoint of light and darkness :Be ye not therefore partakers with them; for ye were once

darkness, but now are light in the Lord: walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth) proving what is well pleasing to the Lord."

What the sons of disobedience now are, we once were-darkness. Now we are "light in the Lord": we should behave as such and our subjection to the Lord's will should be expressed in a walk, which will stand out in contrast to theirs, as light to darkness. Evil works in the darkness-its native element: goodness thrives in the light. Note the contrast in the terms

"The unfruitful works of darkness" (verse 11), The fruit of the light" (verse 9).

This contrast is used in another passage where "works" and fruit " are in juxtaposition

"The works of the flesh" (Galatians 5.19). "The fruit of the Spirit" (Galatians 5.22).

There is a fundamental difference in the metaphors. "Works" are the result of toil; "fruit" grows without apparent effort.

"Walk in love" (verse 2)-" Walk as children of light" (verse 8}. These terms are in no way opposed, but are complementary. They give us another example of the beautiful balance in the teaching of the apostle; a balance which was demonstrated to a marked degree in his own life. As the believer walks as a child of light he will display those qualities which are the fruit of the light-goodness, righteousness and truth; bringing all things to this criterion: "Is it well-pleasing to the Lord?" Against the background of the surrounding darkness such a walk will be a constant reproof to the works of darkness. At times, the child of light will feel impelled to register his protest in words; not in that "I am holier than thou" attitude, but fearful lest his silence should imply tolerance or consent. Smarting under the reproof of such a life the lynx-eyed world will seek, by open opposition, to get the believer to compromise, or by fulsome flattery to lull him to sleep. But this is not the time for indolence or sleep. The apostle rounds off this section of the epistle dealing with "light" and "darkness" with a rousing appeal and a precious proraise:

"Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee."

Let the voice from the prison reach our hearts to-day; and if we feel the inclination to sleep among the dead, let it rouse us to stand in the presence of Christ's glory and to shed its heavenly radiance into the surrounding gloom.

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