Ephesians 5:3,4 Sexual immorality . . . must not even be named among you . . . Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking . . . but instead let there be thanksgiving.
When I was in my early teens, my father and I knew a man with a particularly foul mouth. Though he must have known my father was a pastor, he did not hold back around him. Filth just poured naturally out of him. I remember my father lamenting once how he wished it would be as easy for words of thanksgiving and praise to pour out of his own mouth as it was for this man to spew forth obscenities.
That seems to be what Paul was getting at in today’s passage. He denounced sexual immorality but did not stop there. He insisted that I am not even to speak or joke about it. I always thought that Paul sounded a bit like a fun-killer here. I know I’m not supposed to do it, but I can’t even joke about it?
This attitude betrays the reality that I do not always understand why God has boundaries for my behavior in the first place. I often view God’s rules as arbitrary barriers, manufactured only to test my obedience. Don’t eat the apple.
Through my addiction though, I learned the painful lesson that following self has consequences from which God is trying to save me. I was created to live in right relationship with him and when I pursue myself as god, I make a mess of life. When I follow self above all, my wayward pursuits manifest themselves in my behavior and speech, always causing some destruction. The worst destruction may just be that I do not come to know God as I should. Everyone who is sexually immoral . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ (v. 5). When I follow me, I do not follow God.
Faith is keeping my eyes on God, making my behavior follow. When I pursue God, He fills me, flowing out of me into the lives of those around me. When I pursue sexual immorality, lust or pornography, that also fills and flows out of me. What comes out of my mouth is a reflection of that which is in me. If I am filled with filth, that will pour out of me. If I am filled with God, that too will spill over into my behavior and speech. What I put in is what I will get out.
Paul insisted that I am to continually fill myself with God. My life is not to be defined by the pursuits of my own destructive desires. Daily, I must fill myself with God. In doing so, He will naturally flow out of me through my behavior and speech.