But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Ephesians 5:3-5, ESV.
Having called the church to imitate God and love like Jesus, Paul lays out some practices that can never fit in with that calling: “sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness.” Sexual immorality and impurity cover any sexual practice outside of the God-given sexual relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. Covetousness is an idolatrous act where the sinner cannot be satisfied without having whatever his neighbor has. Paul also makes it clear that frivolity, vulgar language, and joking about such matters have no place in the life of a child of God. None of this should surprise us.
What may seem a little shocking is Paul’s summary judgment that nobody who is involved in these sinful practices has any inheritance “in the kingdom of Christ and God.” It certainly sounds like Paul is telling the church that these sins will keep them from eternal life. Indeed, he is. Anyone who practices these things is resisting Christ’s reign and rejecting His kingdom. In contrast, the one who finds satisfaction in Christ will not persistently seek for it outside His rule. That is why thanksgiving is presented as the opposite of “filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking.”
Should the professing Christian be troubled if they are involved in such sins? Absolutely. The idea of missing the kingdom should send chills down their spine. Persistent sin in the life of a person who holds themselves out as a Christian indicates that either their profession or their lifestyle is a lie. In either case, the solution is the same: turn to Christ in faith and repentance.
This is your hope if Paul’s words make you concerned about the state of your soul. It is the hope of the gospel. Grieve over your sinful rejection of the rule of Christ. Repent and believe in Jesus as your Savior and Lord. Then follow Him in the power of the Spirit. You may stumble at times, but you will be walking in the right direction—following Jesus.
My prayer is that each of you knows the joy of repentance and the forgiveness of sin!