(Vs. 1.) The opening sentence gives us the theme of this chapter. As the children of God, we are to imitate and follow after him in acts of righteousness and holiness, in loving and forgiving one another, in acts of mercy and goodness and in freely distributing to the needs of others (Titus 2: 7-10).
(Vs. 2.) "Walk in love." Here is the key to all that is commanded, expected and needed for godliness and sanctification!
(1) Live in love to God our Father, who has given us all things in Christ;
(2) Live in love to Christ, for the love he has for us, the relationship we have with him and the things he has done for us, but chiefly
(3) Live in love to one another. Our example is Christ, who loved us and give himself for us. He was both Priest and Sacrifice, giving his blood as a sacrifice to redeem us to God. This principle of love is sufficient motivation for mercy, forgiveness, kindness and all godliness! (Matt. 22:36-40; John 13:34,35; 1 John 3:23.)
(Vs. 3, 4.) Paul names several sinful practices which are unbecoming to children of God and which love for Christ and for one another should constrain them to avoid. "Fornication" is committed between unmarried persons and was thought by the Gentiles not to be sinful. "Uncleanness" includes adultery, incest, homosexuality and all unnatural lusts. "Covetousness" is an immoderate desire after worldly, material things, but, judging from the context, it denotes continual thoughts and desires for the above lusts. Not only should believers avoid these sins, but they should avoid any thoughts or suggestions by liberal thinkers that they are not exceedingly sinful!
"Filthiness, foolish talking" and "jesting" are sins of the mouth and tongue. It is much more becoming for a believer to be giving thanks to God and speaking of his kingdom, his mercy and his blessings than to employ his tongue in secular foolishness. To be more precise, filthiness of tongue is obscene words, blasphemy and offensive language. Foolish talking is vain, idle and unprofitable babbling, filled with exaggeration and worldliness. Jesting can become sinful when too much emphasis is given to humour, kidding and joking. Christians are happy people. They are a family of joyful friends who can share humour, experiences and pleasures; but they must carefully avoid even wholesome humour, giving themselves to more spiritual conversation which edifies and builds up the believer in faith.
(Vs. 5-7.) "With reference to fornication, unclean sexual practices and greed for the material things of this world (which is really idolatry), don't be deceived by the vain words of so-called free thinkers and liberal religionists. These practices are evil, and no person who walks in this manner has any inheritance in the kingdom of God. A sinful, corrupt life brings the wrath of God upon a religious person as quickly as upon an atheist. Do not be a partaker with the evil men even though they profess to believe on Christ."
(Vs. 8.) "At one time you were in total darkness, not knowing the evil of sin, the will of God, nor his true righteousness. You gave vent to the flesh and cared not for the glory of God. You are no longer in darkness, but are enlightened by the Spirit of God. Therefore, walk as children of light, not in sin and the works of darkness, but in faith, truth and holiness."
(Vs. 9.) The fruit of the Spirit (the kind of life produced by the presence of the Holy Spirit) is "goodness" (as opposed to greed, lust and cruelty), "righteousness" (as opposed to carnality, evil and worldliness) and "truth" (as opposed to hypocrisy, lying and deceit). Where the Spirit of God dwells, there will be to some degree the appearance of this fruit (Gal. 5:22).
(Vs. 10.) There are many things which are "acceptable to the Lord" the person of Christ, his righteousness, sacrifice and mediation, the persons of his people in Christ and the lives and conversation of his people when they are becoming to the gospel and according to his will (Col. 3:20; Heb. 13:15,16, 20,21).
(Vs. 11.) The believer will not and cannot find and enjoy social fellowship with ungodly and profane people (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Though we must work, live as neighbours and often converse with unbelievers, it is impossible for a true believer to enjoy and seek out the company of persons who know not and do not love our Lord. We reprove them not only with words but with a godly life which exposes their vain way of life, as light that drives away darkness (Heb. 11:7).
(Vs. 12, 13.) Their secret lives of pride, lust, envy, hate and idolatry are even shameful to speak about; but as light reveals and discovers things unseen in darkness, so the sins and evil of men will be discovered and revealed by a true witness of the gospel of Christ and a godly life and attitude. All righteousness (whether by word or deed) which reveals sins is considered spiritual light.
(Vs. 14-17.) This is written to the believer; for the children of God sometimes need to be revived, awakened and rebuked for their indifference and carelessness (Rom. 13:11-14). "Take heed to your walk. Don't be a fool; the fashion of this world passes away. See to your calling and election; examine your faith; take inventory of your worship, prayer and devotional life; look to your attitude and daily walk." Wise men walk with God in a careful and diligent use of the time God has given them because these are evil days and many are led away. "Do not be unwise, but seek the will of the Lord!"