“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”
—Revelation 2:2-3, 6 emphasis added
The Ephesian church was tremendously nurtured by Paul, Timothy, and John. Paul wrote 1 and 2 Timothy while Timothy was the pastor at
The saints in
A generation from its founding, the church and the Ephesian Christians were mature. Two generations from Pentecost, the church at
In our own culture, just a generation ago people had to search to find anything that was off-color or pornographic. But today you have to work to not find that wickedness. Yet we are not that much different from the society in which the Ephesians lived.
It is also notable that the saints at
How can gross immorality, such as existed at
Repent of your past: We all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks (Ephesians 2:3; 5:3-4).
Having renounced all connection with their old ways (Ephesians 5:12), they would not even talk about them, or remind others of what they used to do. (That principle is something to bear in mind when giving a “before and after” testimony of salvation.) A simple application is this: do not let your mouth go back to the old ways of telling or laughing at off-color stories, double meanings, or the innuendo. Do not quote the TV shows. Instead, use your mouth to give thanks to God. Have you fully renounced your old ways and repented of your past?
Learn that your calling is different: We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10). Have you truly comprehended what a special calling God has given to you?
Learn the spiritual secret of putting off and putting on: Put off your former conduct [lifestyle], be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24). In the streets of
Resist evil influences: Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11). Because the
Commit to truth and kindness: Putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor” Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:25, 32). Are you committed to honesty and kindness? Are you willing to humbly forgive—even when ill treated?
Release anger and pride to God: Be angry, and do not sin, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice (Ephesians 4:26-31). Have you released your anger and pride to God?
Jesus addresses His people with authority. He says, “I have the message—the eternal gospel. I am the One who holds the message in My right hand, and I walk in the midst of the church; I am examining what you are doing with it. I am looking at how you are living in light of the message you have received.” Are you, like the saints at
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