The season of Lent is very much about repentance. What Saint Paul says in these verses pertains to repentance as the result of having been resurrected in spirit; one who is governed by the Holy Spirit. What Paul will come to mean in this passage is people who behave in the ways he describes will not only not inherit God’s final kingdom, when Heaven is fully manifest on Earth, they also have no place in the present Kingdom of Christ (otherwise known as the Kingdom of Heaven) now.

Commonplace today is sexual promiscuity and sex as one’s sole identity. Paul, however, labels sexual greed as a form of idolatry. Greed (desiring sex, viewing sex, consuming sex - pornography!), Paul says is idolatry.

In contradistinction, the true religious experience of knowing the one and only living God in and through His Christ, Jesus, produces true enlightenment (vv. 8-9). The ungodly, having been illuminated by the Holy Spirit with the Word and being baptized or enlightened by the kingdom of God and translated from a kingdom of darkness, must now behave as a light-bearer. This will mean learning to think sober-mindedly, heavenly, in an enlightened way concerning truth, love and morality (v.10). Status quo in the world will not do. It cannot. Paul admonishes his readers to consider who God is, who they now are as children of light, and learn to live in the light of God’s love. Such teaching accords perfectly with the season of Lent: repent and embrace being resurrection people in the here and now.

Paul mentions three categories of worshipful music: psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, although there may be some overlap between them. However, it may be these are now newly composed to celebrate Jesus as the Christ and the new life the baptized are to have in Him.

Significantly, Paul quotes in v.14 one of these early Christian poems or hymns, dating to within years of the resurrection of Jesus. It is a startling jolt of a song, a siren to wake up, to rise, to live in the light of King Jesus, in the Spirit of His Kingdom. Yes, such songs are most appropriate for the liturgy of public worship, but Paul clearly envisions them being sung during daily routines, as the joy of resurrection life expresses itself. Paul seems to think singing is an excellent way of practicing and truly nurturing the Christian faith. His thought is that the life, death, resurrection and reign of Christ are the songs in the heart of those who are enlightened.

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Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in Ephesians 5:8-14.

Text Week-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Ephesians 5:8-14.