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Verse of the Day – Ephesians 5:6-7
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.
Here in our text we see a group of people referred to as the “sons of disobedience.” Who are these people? How do we recognize them? Why are they called the “sons of disobedience”?
The term “sons of disobedience” appears three times in the Scripture. It is here in our verse for today and also earlier in Ephesians 2:2 and also in Colossians 3:6. Let’s look at what the Bible tells us about these people.
The Sins of the Sons of Disobedience
The chief sins of the sons of disobedience center around the lust of the flesh. Ephesians 2:3 tells us that they conduct themselves “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.” The text we have been examining in Ephesians 5 has shown us that they practice sexual immorality living in impurity motivated by greed and that their speech reveals the true condition of their heart as they participate in obscenity, foolish talk, and crude joking. And in Colossians 3 we see that they are involved in “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” The passage goes on to mention “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language” and gives instruction that we should “not lie to one another.”
So we see that there is the same basic list mentioned three times. Those who would wear the label the “sons of disobedience” are actually easy to identify. These are people who are driven and motivated by their own lust, whether it be from their fallen minds or the cravings of their sinful bodies. The basic root here for all of these sins of disobedience is found in covetousness and lust. It is greed and idolatry. Unrestrained desire.
But these people do not just give in to their lust and greed. They are in bondage to it. They cannot escape and indeed do not want to escape. They are bound as slaves to the sinful desires of their bodies and the evil thoughts of their depraved minds.
Have you ever heard someone who is not a believer tell a story about something that they did and it is sinful and depraved and reckless and you just sit back and wonder, “What were they thinking?” The truth is that this kind of life is based on thinking and speaking and living with complete disregard for God and His Word. It is living for self.
Sin, Self, and Sons
This is why we who once were “sons of disobedience” and “by nature children of wrath” must understand that the gospel starts with repentance. Jesus never said that just anyone could follow Him. Hear me now! I am not denying that Jesus called and invited men and women to come follow Him. I am not denying that we must preach the gospel to every creature. But I am saying that Jesus taught us that in order to come after Him and follow Him we must at the same time deny self. The invitation is an invitation to obey commands. Come. Repent. Believe. Follow.
This is critical in understanding both salvation and discipleship. Jesus came to save us from sin and from self. And if we are going to follow Him we cannot do what we want and disregard what He wants. How foolish is it to think that we are following Him if we are doing whatever we want to do without any care for what He wants?
It is actually quite amazing to think that there are those in the church today who teach that following Jesus does not mean a change in how we live. The command is to “come”, to “follow”, to “deny”, to “put off” and “put on”, and to “repent and believe.” If we are not changed, if we do not deny self, if we do not think, talk, and act differently then we have no basis for assurance or hope when it comes to salvation.
If we are following Jesus we cannot be following self or anyone else. The real danger, the true horror, is that so many churches have evangelistic programs and discipleship methods that at their heart deny the gospel. Instead of teaching people how to follow Jesus they teach people how to try and have Jesus without forsaking their sin at the same time. How to get what they want from God for their own benefit at no cost. What is even more frightening is the idea that many are appealing to the flesh and to sinful desires and to the pride of individuals all in the name of preaching the gospel. We appeal to the flesh. We lure people by telling them that they can have whatever they want if they just want it bad enough.
The Word Faith movement finds its doctrine rooted in covetousness and greed. Seeker sensitive and emergent preachers are the same. Stimulate people’s minds via a worship experience with idols, candles, and cake walks (otherwise known as icons, incense, and labyrinths). We appeal to pride, to lust, to the mind of fallen men. And fallen men and women, as sons of disobedience, will be quick converts to a false, powerless gospel, because there is nothing they would rather do and nothing they are able to do but follow their fallen minds and fulfill their fallen lusts.
The easy-believism and cheap grace being presented today allows people to take Christ and set Him up at the family altar along with all the other gods, images, saints, ancestors, and superstitious relics that give hope and encourage belief. But this is not Biblical hope nor is it saving faith.
Salvation starts with a change – coming to life from the dead. As we are called to this new life by the Holy Spirit we turn from self and sin and embrace Christ, abandoning all that we were without Him. Discipleship continues, as we are empowered to take up our cross daily, deny self, and follow Him.
Remember, if we are doing what we do just for what we can get out of it – even if it seems we are doing what is right – then we are nothing more than “sons of disobedience” being driven by our own lust and pride and greed. You know, we can be greedy for good things and we can be proud about spiritual success. It is called self-righteousness. And God hates it.
If we are to boast may we boast only in Christ, if we are proud may we be proud of all that God has done to redeem us, and if we desire something with all our hearts may we desire nothing more than to know Him and love Him more sincerely.
We can walk in love, or in lust. We can serve Christ, or sin. We can be “sons of your Father in heaven”, or we can be “sons of disobedience.” And how we think, talk, and live tells us all we need to know about whose son we are.
Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)