From the Word
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints.
Ephesians 5:1–3, RSV
In naming uncleanness in addition to fornication, the reference is to all sensual affections in distinction from wedded love. They are too unsavory for Paul to mention, though in the first chapter of Romans he finds it expedient to speak of them without disguise. However, also wedded love must be characterized by moderation among Christians. While there is a conjugal duty to be required by necessity, it is for the very purpose of avoiding unchastity and uncleanness. The ideal and perfect condition would be cohabitation with the sole view to procreation; however, that is too high for attainment by all.
Paul declares that the sin which he indicates should not even be named of the Ephesians. Unquestionably among Christians there will always be some infirm one to fall; but we must labor diligently, correcting, amending, and restraining. We must not allow the offense to go unchallenged, but curtail and remedy it. An occasional fall among Christians must be borne with as long as right prevails in general and such things are neither tolerated nor taught, but reproved and amended. Paul counsels the Galatians that the brethren restore the fallen in a spirit of meekness; and he blames the Corinthians for not reproving those who sin. I make this point for the sake of those who, as soon as they observe that all Christians are not perfectly holy, imagine there is no such thing as a Christian and think the gospel is impotent and fruitless.
The writer of the epistle assigns the reason why it does not sound well to hear such things about Christians,—because they are saints and it behooves saints to be chaste and moderate, to practice and teach these virtues. He calls Christians “saints” notwithstanding that in this life they are clothed with sinful flesh and blood. Doubtless the term is not applied in consequence of their good works, but because of the holy blood of Christ. For Paul says, “But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” Being holy, we should manifest our holiness by our deeds. Though we are still weak, yet we ought duly to strive to become chaste and free from covetousness, to the glory and honor of God and the edifying of unbelievers.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 85–86.
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