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Devotional Hours with the Bible, Volume 8: Chapter 31 - A Call to Christlike Living

By J.R. Miller

      Ephesians 5:11-21

      This chapter is a call to Christlike living. "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children" is its keynote. This means that sin is to be avoided. There are vices that are not even to be named by those who belong to Christ; they are so vile, so loathsome. It is a black list, indeed, that is given in the fifth verse--people who have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Perhaps we do not draw rigidly enough, the line that divides between the things of God and the things of the evil one.

      Our passage starts with an exhortation which calls for uncompromising separation from all unholy things. "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." We know what works of darkness are. All sin is of darkness. It shuns the light. It hides away out of sight. It lurks in the shadows. Everything that is contrary to God's commandments, is a work of darkness. A Christian is to live a pure and holy life. But more than this--he is not even to have fellowship with the works of darkness; he is not to have anything to do with them. He lives in a different world, a world whose atmosphere is the love and the holiness of Christ.

      The reason for this counsel is frankly given. "For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret." It would stain our lips even to tell of these vile things! A disciple of Christ should never allow himself to mention impure things or to think of them. He should never permit his ears to hear unclean stories. Books and newspapers which describe vile resorts and the deeds that are done in them--are not fit to be put into the hands of those who are following Christ. They leave a trail of foulness wherever they go. A godly man in his old age said that when he was very young, another boy drew him aside one day into a secret place and, opening a book, showed him a vile picture. He glanced at it only for a moment--but it left a blotch on his memory, like a stain on a white garment. All the fifty years he had lived since that hour he had not been able to forget that moment's unholy glance. We cannot keep ourselves too carefully from all fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.

      The call to awake implies that the state of sin is a state of moral death. "Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead." People living without Christ resent the suggestion that they are dead. They claim to be very much alive, indeed. Many of them are full of ambition and are in the very forefront of the world's leaders. They are active in business. They are high in the ranks of society. They wear badges of honor won in life 's arena. They think the meek and lowly people are the dead people--those who do not seem to care for earth's prizes. But as God looks down upon men, those are dead--who do not know Him, who are unconscious of the spiritual realities about them, who live only for this world. Especially are those dead who are living in sin and for pleasure--dead while they live! The voice of God calls over all such, as Christ called at the door of the grave of Lazarus, bidding them awake from the dead.

      The next exhortation is a call to walk with eyes wide open. "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise." The way is full of danger. He is very foolish indeed, who goes carelessly through this world. Yet there are many who seem never to have a serious thought about life. They never try to avoid the temptations that beset them. They have no sense of responsibility. They walk as if blind into all manner of temptations.

      Another lesson is the value of opportunity. "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Everyone's path is filled with blessings from heaven--but we must watch for them and take them as they come, or we shall miss them altogether. Youth is a time of special opportunities. If it is wasted, it never can be redeemed afterwards.

      There is a strong lesson here against drunkenness. "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." A glass of wine may seem very harmless as it sparkles on the table--but what "debauchery" is in it! This picture of the evil, the shame, the strife, the trouble, the harm--which the wine cup contains, needs no filling out.

      A wise oriental shiek mentioned to a young Arab prince, from whom he was about to part, a list of crimes and bade him choose the one which seemed least harmful. The young prince turned in horror from murder, theft, immorality--and told the patriarch that he would choose intemperance. "You have chosen that," said the wise old man, "which will bring you all the rest!"

      There is always danger in wine. There still are some Christian people who claim the privilege of using it on their tables and on other occasions. But they do not know what they are doing, how unwisely they are acting, what possibilities of harm there are in what seems to them such a pleasant and innocent habit. Our nature craves stimulation, and this, men tell us, they find, when they are jaded and weary, in the wine cup. But Paul says that there is a better way--instead of being drunk with wine--be filled with the Spirit, he says. There is debauchery in wine--but in the Spirit are all pure, holy and heavenly aspirations. If we would let the divine Spirit into our heart we should have such satisfying, such filling of the life, as would give us deep and blessed joy, the joy in which there is no bitterness.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - Christ's Ascension
   Chapter 2 - The Holy Spirit Given
   Chapter 3 - A Multitude Converted
   Chapter 4 - The Lame Man Healed
   Chapter 5 - The Trial of Peter and John
   Chapter 6 - The Sin of Lying
   Chapter 7 - The Apostles Imprisoned
   Chapter 8 - Stephen the First Martyr
   Chapter 9 - The Disciples Dispersed
   Chapter 10 - The First Ethiopian Convert
   Chapter 11 - The Conversion of Saul
   Chapter 12 - Peter and Cornelius
   Chapter 13 - Gentiles Converted at Antioch
   Chapter 14 - Peter Delivered From Prison
   Chapter 15 - The First Christian Missionaries
   Chapter 16 - The Council at Jerusalem
   Chapter 17 - Paul Before King Agrippa
   Chapter 18 - Paul's Voyage and Shipwreck
   Chapter 19 - Justification by Faith
   Chapter 20 - The Life-Giving Spirit
   Chapter 21 - Christian Living
   Chapter 22 - The Law of Love
   Chapter 23 - Abstaining for the Sake of Others
   Chapter 24 - A Lesson in Self-Denial
   Chapter 25 - The Lord's Supper
   Chapter 26 - Paul on Christian Love
   Chapter 27 - The Risen Christ
   Chapter 28 - Paul on the Grace of Giving
   Chapter 29 - The Flesh and the Spirit
   Chapter 30 - The Imitation of Christ
   Chapter 31 - A Call to Christlike Living
   Chapter 32 - The Christian Armor
   Chapter 33 - Christ's Humility and Exaltation
   Chapter 34 - The New Life in Christ
   Chapter 35 - Paul's Counsel to the Thessalonians
   Chapter 36 - Paul's Charge to Timothy
   Chapter 37 - Sober Living
   Chapter 38 - The Priesthood of Christ
   Chapter 39 - Heroes of Faith
   Chapter 40 - Believing and Doing
   Chapter 41 - The Power of the Tongue
   Chapter 42 - The Heavenly Inheritance
   Chapter 43 - Beneficial Warnings
   Chapter 44 - Sin and Salvation
   Chapter 45 - God's Love in the Gift of His Son
   Chapter 46 - Jesus Appears to John
   Chapter 47 - Heavenly Worship
   Chapter 48 - The Saints in Heaven
   Chapter 49 - The Heavenly Home
   Chapter 50 - The Great Invitation


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