(Ephesians 5:5) “For 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.”
On first glance, this is one of those verses that make you say, “Whoa! What in the world is this?” The first three chapters in Ephesians talk about God’s grace apart from works and our place in God’s program today as a result of His grace. Now we come to this verse that seems to say works do matter when it comes to our salvation. It causes many to stop and wonder, “Am I going to lose my salvation?” In fact, most commentaries won’t even touch this verse – check it out if you doubt what I’m saying. So what is Paul saying here?
Once again, the misunderstanding comes from a lack of context. Taken out of context, this verse can appear to say that anyone who does these things will not go to heaven. But if we start reading in Ephesians 4:25, we see a passage describing how a Christian ought to live compared to the unsaved. Notice the subjects covered: Lying, anger management, stealing, offensive words, bitterness, sexual immorality. These are sins committed by the old sin nature. Our lives in Christ are meant to be distinctive from the normal life of the unsaved. What is acceptable to the world should not be acceptable to us because we are now walking in the “new man.” (Ephesians 4:24) We are not to live like unsaved people.
This verse does describe the sins of the unsaved and the ultimate destiny of those who do not know Christ. So the meaning in context is this: If we find ourselves doing these things, God is telling us that we are not living consistently with who we are in Christ. If we are living in sexual immorality, covetousness or idolatry we are living like the unsaved. Our behavior does not display our true identity in Christ. Going even further than that – When the world sees us behaving like those who don’t know Christ, what kind of witness do we have that testifies to the difference Christ made in our lives?
This is not a verse warning that we could lose our salvation if we sin. It is a verse about losing our testimony. Our actions should be distinctive from the world by demonstrating the new life we have in Christ instead of the old life we had in Adam.
Renewed Thought – When God sees you, He sees Christ. Who do the people around you see?