We’re Bible believers and Bible believers are supposed to have standards. Typical standards govern hair style and length, dress, dating, attendance, giving, soul winning, and so forth. These are generally set by men for men. They keep pastors and churches from becoming too much like the world. They add some uniformity to the congregation.
But they don’t, as a rule, draw you closer to God or conform you to the image of Jesus Christ.
God also has some standards. For instance, God’s standard of righteousness is Jesus Christ, Rom 10:3-4. When a person receives Jesus Christ, he has God’s righteousness, 2 Cor 5:21. If he doesn’t have Jesus Christ, then he is not righteous. In Eph 5:1-7, we find some more of God’s standards for us. These include:
God’s Standard of Authority – Eph 5:1 – “Be ye therefore followers of God.” What a simple and, yet, profound standard. This is what Jesus told Peter to do in Jn 21:19, “Follow me.” You might ask, “I can’t see God. How do I follow him?” When you are determined to follow God, he makes his orders plain and clear. They are found in the Bible. The Holy Spirit teaches you God’s words so that you can obey Christ and follow God, Jn 14:23-26. When you follow what God said, you are following God. When you don’t follow what God said, then you are not following God. In 1 Sam 15:22-23, Saul had rejected the word of the Lord and Samuel said he was in rebellion and stubbornness.
Similar to the military, God has delegated authority to certain individuals for the benefit of others. For example, when you’re a child, God leads you through your parents. To follow God, you must obey your parents, Eph 6:1-3. If you are a wife, God leads you through your husband. To follow God, you must obey your husband, Eph 5:22-24; 1 Pet 3:1-7. If you’re a servant, God leads you through your master. To follow God, you must obey your master, Eph 6:5-8. Therefore, God’s standard of authority is his word, and his commands are clearly stated in his Bible.
God’s Standard of Love – Eph 5:2 – “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us.” In Jn 13:34, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” Paul said, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Eph 5:25. God’s standard of love is Christ’s love for us. He loved us enough to lay down his life for us, and there is no greater love than that, Jn 15:13.
God’s Standard of Conversation – Eph 5:3-4 – “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, not foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” In these two verses, Paul deals with our conversations among saints in v.3, and our conversations in general in v.4.
Christians should never entice each other into immoral relationships by even once mentioning fornication. We should always speak purely and avoid this subject. Christians should never use any unclean words or speech to beguile or seduce others to follow them. See 1 Thes 2:3. Christians should never talk others out of their money or possessions (1 Thes 2:5) or defraud others (2 Cor 7:2). In many modern churches, all of these standards are being violated. Churches are trusting environments where it is easy to trick people with your words.
In our conversations we should never use filthiness, like dirty jokes and inappropriate language. We should refrain from foolish talking, and rather speak of things that edify others. We should refrain from jesting, which is just talking for diversion or merriment. None of these are “convenient,” which means they are not suitable or proper for us. God’s standard is that we should keep our conversations clean, wise, and purposeful. Above all these, when we speak we should be giving thanks (Eph 5:20; 1 Thes 5:18).
God’s Standard of Conduct – Eph 5:5-6 – “no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater.” As you know, when people have been saved, they will never be judged later and sent to hell. They are secure for eternity. However, they cannot sin with impunity. Notice that the three sins Paul mentions here are the same ones we’re not to even bring up in our conversations. When you talk like these you start acting like these. Whoremongers, those who practice lewdness, unclean persons, see Rom 1:24, and covetous men, defined as idolaters (Col 3:5), will suffer eternal consequences for returning to these ways of life. They have no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” That is, they don’t lose their salvation, but they lose their inheritance. See similar passages in 1 Cor 6:9-10 and Gal 5:19-21. You can’t return to these works of the flesh and live like you did before you were saved. Paul said, “Let no man deceive you with words.” Don’t let them talk you into going along with them. God will pour out his wrath on the children of disobedience (Eph 2:2) for these sins. He’s certainly not going to let his children get away with these things.
God’s Standard of Association – Eph 5:7 – “Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” God’s standard of association is that we separate from the people who are living like those in Eph 5:5-6. See 2 Cor 6:14-18. God said, “Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing…” Paul said, in 1 Cor 5:9-11, not to keep company with a brother who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner. You’re going to know and try to reach lost people with the gospel who are involved in this stuff. But you’re not to associate with a brother or sister in Christ who has gone back to these sins.
Conclusion: God’s standards are clear and very beneficial. They will draw you closer to God and help you to be more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Follow God, love others like Christ loves us, never say anything to defraud a brother or sister in Christ, keep your conversations clean, stay away from the works of the flesh, and separate from those who are involved in the works of the flesh.