3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:3–5, NKJV)
Continuing to warn against immorality, the apostle comes to “filthiness” in verse 4, which is indecency or nastiness. It particularly identifies communication that is obscene and shameful. That would certainly describe many (if not most) of the entertainment today, but it certainly is not limited to those venues. “Foolish talking” is silly buffoonery, stupid nonsense. Our words reveal our hearts. Therefore, our words should be kind and graced with thankfulness, not laced with vapid blather. “Coarse jesting” is crude jokes, rude and profane repartee, vulgar speech. The double entendre, that is designed to titillate with sexual innuendo, has no business coming from the lips of the righteous. There is no misunderstanding the apostle; fornicators, the immoral, the covetous and idolaters will not inherit heaven. Christ can save you from these sins, but, if you continue to commit them, you will not inherit heaven. Do not rationalize and remain in these sins; repent and renounce them all.
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (Ephesians 5:1–3, NKJV)
There are repeated warnings in the Scriptures of falling into sexual sins. Here, being imitators of God and walking in sacrificial love are the preventative measures we take to avoid the moral defilement of “fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness.” Ironically, the world often calls fornication, “love,” as millions upon millions commit this sin in the name of “love.” Sexual uncleanness occurs outside of God-approved marriage, and is the fruit of covetousness (Heb. 13:4; cf. Exo. 20:17). These sins are “not even to be named” among Christians. R. C. H. Lenski correctly explains this to mean that “such vices are to be so far removed from us that even an intimation or a suspicion of their presence among us should not occur” (The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians, p. 596). Christians are not immune to sexual temptations; but, we must resist them and reject them whenever they come (1 Pet. 5:8-9). “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). Then, we can be “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. (James 3:5–6, NKJV)
There is amazing power in your tongue. Of course, that is to say, there is great power in the words we choose to speak. Like a small match that sets an entire forest ablaze, the small tongue can do enormous damage. With it, one can engulf the whole body with the defilement of sin. Sinful habits are reinforced and perpetuated by sinful words that are put into action. Words have meaning, and the words we choose can hurt many souls, or conversely, our words can speak truth and build up the brokenhearted. Jesus said that our words either justify or condemn us before God on the day of judgment (Matt. 12:36-37). Just as we are careful when using a campfire in the forest, let us be careful not to use our tongues as daggers flung at an opponent, to disrupt, damage and destroy. Let us speak kindly, with gracious words that impart kindness and respect to others (Eph. 4:29).