Three Classes Of Children. Ephesians. 5:1-9.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man. who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.)
Sanctify us, O Lord, through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth. Amen.
Beloved in Christ:Life is too short and our knowledge too limited ever to think that we are beyond childhood. When people have passed the strong days of their lives and are going down the hill toward the Jordan, we sometimes say they have become childish. It seems to me that the oldest people in the world have lived such a short time that we have a perfect right to address them in the face of eternity as children. And when we compare that which we know with that which we do not know, surely we are always little children. Sometimes in the Word of God the Holy Spirit speaks of little children in distinction from older people, and sometimes He addresses all children of God as dear children. If you have noticed the reading of my text carefully you have found there are three classes of children mentioned here, and it is to these three classes that I now invite your attention, and may you as you sit before me this evening find yourselves surely in the second class, and also grow into the third; and may God, the Holy Spirit, prevent you staying in the first class if you should be there.
Three Classes Of Children.
I. The children damned. II. The children delivered. III. The children dear.
[I] There are some children that are lost.
“For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” – or, better translated, the children of unbelief. Now if such people as are mentioned in my text and in the verse just quoted shall have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God, pray tell me, where shall they dwell in all eternity? And if the wrath of God shall rest upon them, what are they but children damned? Who are these children dammed? Whoremongers, unclean persons, covetous people – all a result of unbelief. Look at it as you will, every crime in the world is a direct child of unbelief. On the great Judgment Day the question will not be asked, did you kill? did you murder? did you steal? did you lie? for all these things are only the children of a mother that will be mentioned. He that believeth not shall be damned. Why? Because unbelief is the mother of all uncleanness. Let a man confess to me that he does not believe in Christ, and it is only another step to show him that he does not believe in the Bible; it is only another step to show that he does not believe in the true and living God, and only another to show that he does not believe in a Judgment to come, and to show that that man, if it is necessary, will do anything mean and low if the law does not catch him, for his own selfish ends. In other words, unbelief is the mother of all sin, and is the damning sin, and from this mother are born such illegitimate children as whoremongers, unclean persons and covetous people.
 Some one might say, why mention these people so often? Dear friends, when you read these epistles of Paul carefully, you will find that it was the crime and the sin among all the nations addressed, and it would be just as true today. If the Apostle Paul were to write a letter to the Clevelanders, and to the Cincinnatians, and to the Columbusites, or to the Chicagoans, he would have to speak of these same sins that he did when he wrote to the Ephesians and to the Thessalonians and to the Romans. A whoremonger is a man that will do anything to ruin families; he is a man that has no faith in God; he is a man that does not care if he does pollute the family altar; he does not care if he does ruin your wife, your sister, your daughter; he is the meanest man in any community, and that man will never enter the kingdom of God in the condition in which he is. I hope there are no such children sitting before me tonight.
But let us not for a single moment imagine there is only one commandment in the world that makes a man unclean. “Nor unclean persons,” it is said here. We all acknowledge that the man that has no respect for the family, and for virtue, is a thoroughly bad man, but how about the man that does not know who the true and living God is? How about the man that curses and swears? How about the man that does not keep the Sabbath Day holy? How about the man that does not treat his aged father and mother as he ought? How about the man that will take a dollar that is not his own? How about the man that will lie in order to make a bargain? How about the man that will covet that which belongs to his neighbor? My friends, I am afraid we are overlooking the fact that one commandment in God’s sight is just as precious as the other, and there are people that are disobeying the third commandment all the time that are called respectable, and in God’s sight they are just as mean and low as a dirty whoremonger. A man has no right to do as her pleases on the Sabbath day. A man has no right to treat his father and mother as he pleases, unless he pleases to treat them rightly. A man has no right to curse and damn just because he is angry; he is guilty, and just as long as a man has sin in him, willful sin, and does not try to keep the commandments, so long he is an unclean person, and an unclean person shall never enter the kingdom of heaven. That is certain as God’s Word is true.
It is just as true of a covetous man. Oh, how we pat some men on the back when they have a big bank account, and big house and yard, and a great many farms, and are rich, and we say, that man has made a success; and the probability is that he has made a success to go right to hell; that is what he has done. What is a covetous man? “For this ye know that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” He is an idolater, a worshiper of false gods. I have a thousand times more respect for the poor Indian that worships the sun, than for a man that will get down before 160 acres of dirt and worship it; a thousand times more respect for the man that worships the unknown god on Mars’ hill, than for the man that will run over his bank account year after year, gloat over the swelling account, and refuse to help the poor and the needy. I say that man is an idolater of the worst kind. How often we take a man into church discipline when he commits this wrong or that wrong, but he can be an idolater and we pat him on the back, and when he gives two or three dollars, just about as much as the poor wash-woman, we pat him on the back and are thankful that we got them from the rascal that is going straight to hell, and we know it. He shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. The great Gaspare said one time of an idolater that he has four rules by which he will stand: The first is. Forget God, lest I be converted; the second is, Forget my neighbors, my friends, my good old father and mother, lest I might do an act of charity; the third is, Forget my conscience and my soul, lest I might change my mind; and the fourth is. Forget death and the Judgment and hell fire, lest I go crazy. That is a great theologian’s definition of a covetous man. Yes, he does not want to think of God, or he might yet be converted; he is an idolater; he wants to forget his fellow men entirely, lest he might do some little kind act; he wants to forget his conscience and his soul lest he might yet change his mind and give up his little God; he must not think of death; it makes him shiver; he will not go to a funeral, for fear he might die. Oh, if there is anything he despises to hear, it is of the Judgment and of hell fire, for he knows he will go there. And so, rather than lose his mind, he bows down before his dirty dollars and worships them, and for him there is no room in the kingdom of heaven. That is the first class of children mentioned in our text tonight. Around all of them you will find one common band, one label – unbelievers in Christ!
[II] There is a second class of children spoken of in this text:
“Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.”
Dear children are called children of light. They have been delivered from darkness unto light, and this deliverance has been to goodness, righteousness and truth. Oh, what a wonderful thing it is to be delivered from the natural life to the Spiritual, from total darkness to the light of salvation! What a great delivery it is for a man to come out from the bondage of Satan and the world, and his own flesh, into the glorious liberty of children of God. The Truth shall make you free, said Jesus. When the Son shall make you free, then you shall be free indeed. What a glorious liberty therefore it is for one to be delivered from darkness to light, from darkness to the light of goodness! When God takes a child of Satan and makes him a child of His own, He makes him a good child, and the desire of that child is to do good, because God has been so good to him. Let us not boast of our goodness, but when we have been delivered from darkness, let us remember that as delivered children we have before us this mind, how can I do good, and where can I do good? What a glorious life it is when men have that in their minds! What a glorious city Mansfield would be if every man and every woman and every child would constantly look about and ask the question, what good thing can I do today, and where can I find something good to do this hour? And there is so much to do everywhere – so many opportunities are given to make the world better! How much good it does sometimes to help a man in a time of need, and to take his hand just when he feels despondent and hardly knows what to do the next hour, meet him with a smile and a God bless you and help you today! Brethren, let us be children of light, delivered from darkness to the glorious liberty of light.
 And not only should we strive to do better and be kinder every day, but also strive as children of light to be delivered from darkness to the light of righteousness. For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness. The Lord Jesus Christ is righteous. As we heard this morning. He is full of grace and truth. He is a fountain that always runs over, is always waiting to cover us with His righteousness. He finds us poor, lost, condemned, helpless sinners, and when we lie there like a worm, helpless, He picks us up and says, the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which is lost! And when He picks us up, He puts His garment of Righteousness on us, and clothes us carefully with that white garment of Righteousness, and then, when we have that garment on, a question comes into our minds, and we never can get away from it; it comes to our minds in the morning when we get up; it is in our minds at noon, and in the evening, and that question is always this. Is it right? The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, and out of that path the child delivered from darkness to light never can stray, except he says. Lord, lead me back. I want to do right because Thou hast covered me with Thy righteousness!
 The child delivered not only comes back from darkness to the great light of goodness, and to the great light of righteousness, but to the great light of truth. Christ said of Satan that he is the father of lies. Christ said of Himself, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is as much difference between being lost, and being saved, as there is between darkness and light. There is as much difference between being lost and saved as there is between hell and heaven, as there is between Satan and Christ. Satan is the father of lies. Christ is the Truth. And when we are delivered from darkness to light, the question will arise every day, how can I tell the truth better than I have been telling it? A man absolutely cannot love lies and be a child of God. I believe one of the hardest things in the world for a man to do, is to tell the exact truth every time, under all circumstances. How many people there are who think an exaggeration is all right. It is a lie, and nothing but a lie; it comes from Satan and from darkness, and not from God. Truth does not vary one iota from that which is exactly true, and that should be our aim, as children delivered.
In one sense there is only one way of delivering us from darkness to light, and that is through the cross of Christ. It is said of a certain married woman who had been living in adultery with a single man, that her conscience one time was awakened and she made up her mind that that kind of a life must now cease. She took from the wall of her own home a picture of the Crucifixion of Christ and laid it down before the door of her parlor, and then, when the door was opened and the young man was about to step in, he started back and said, “What means this picture on the floor?” She said, “Step right on it, and come in.” “I will never do it,” said he. “Yes, but you and I have been stepping on Christ and Him crucified for years, and I made up my mind that if you ever came into this house again you have got to step right on that Crucifixion.” He stepped back and never entered. He turned his attention to Christ and Him crucified, gave his heart to God, and asked Him to make him clean; and the wife from that day on proved to be true to her husband and family, and lived a clean life. Brethren, there is absolutely no hope and no help except Christ and Him crucified for a dying world.
[III] These children delivered belong in a certain sense to the third class, which I shall now mention. In one sense there are only two classes of people; they are lost or saved; they are in darkness or light, but there is a difference between being delivered, and growing in grace, and consequently there is still a third class, the dear children:
“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an Offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it be not once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” As I was reading this text over and over, meditating on it and praying over it throughout the past week, I wondered whether any of us belong to the third class or not. I do know that there are many children delivered, but how many of the delivered children are dear children? How many Christians are there today who walk as Christ walked; who talk as Christ talked; who thank as Christ thanked?
“And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.”
 Did you ever notice how Christ walked? He walked for thirty-three years on this earth with the special intention of walking up to Calvary’s hill, and there with bleeding feet pour out His life’s blood for you and me because He loved us. He walked from heaven above, where all things were His, and lay down on earth without a pillow, slept in a borrowed grave, that He might make us rich. How many children of God today are dear children, that are actually willing to suffer for the Word’s sake and for their salvation? How many of us are living a life of sacrifice? We sing about missions. We sing that we will go where Christ wants us to go, and we will do what Christ wants us to do, but how many of us are willing, if necessary, to wear the home spun that we may help bring the Gospel to the ends of the world? How many of us are willing to take the little idol of money and consecrate it to God until we feel it? I do not believe one of us feels what we are doing. It does seem to me that there is a Christianity which is very strange to us Christians. It does seem to me that there is a life for a Christian that is away above your preacher, away above the average Christian. I am not sure but that it is above all of them. Where is the man on earth that is walking as Christ walked?
 Where is the man on earth that is talking as Christ talked? Christ said some things that were very funny. When He pictures a man, the old Pharisee, walking up to a little water or wine and finding a little gnat, then pouring that water or wine through a sieve or strainer, in order that he might not touch the gnat, and then, on the other hand, pictures that same Pharisee trying to swallow down a great big camel, hump and all, it makes one laugh. When the Lord Jesus Christ pictures to us the old Pharisee standing before us with a large beam sharpened and run into one eye, and through his head, and the other end down on the ground like a log, trying to pick a little mote out of his neighbor’s eye, if that were found in Puck it would make us laugh; but where do you ever find Christ saying a foolish thing? where do you ever find Christ sitting down and gloating over fornication, talking about bad people as if it were a joke? where do you ever find Him saying anything that was not for the bettering of humanity. We are taught as dear children, as follows: “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” In other words, we are to so live that these things are so foreign to us that they never enter into our conversation. “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient.” Did you ever analyze a joke carefully? Did you ever notice they never seem very funny unless they are a little bit filthy? And did you ever notice that things are not real funny unless they approach the sacred? Do you know why the theater loves to have such a theme as “Our Pastor?” Because the devil always makes a thing look funny if it just concerns the preacher, and if you will notice the joke books carefully, and the funny conversations, you will notice that nine times out of ten it takes a certain amount of sinning to make the people laugh. Where are the Christians that are keeping up on that plane where God wants them today? Stop saying things that Jesus Christ would not say! I do not know of any text that I have preached on for a year that makes me feel more humble and more sinful than this text tonight. There isn’t a week that this text does not push me down from the dear children to the children delivered, and let us beware that we are not pushed down to the children of darkness.
 How many of us here tonight are thankful as Christ was thankful? When there were only five loaves of bread and two fishes among all that vast multitude, He thanked the Father in heaven. It made no difference where He was, He looked heavenward with thankful eyes. When He stood by the grave of Lazarus, His best friend, He thanked His Father in heaven. How many of you have stood by the graves of your dear ones and thanked God in heaven? How many of us are thankful as Paul was thankful? I am preaching tonight for the sole purpose of bringing those that are in darkness into light, those that are out of the kingdom of God into the kingdom of God, those delivered from darkness into the light of great kindness and goodness, righteousness and truth; my purpose is to lead those that are delivered into the higher life, and may we tonight, by the help of God, strive to get up on the high plane, into another mansion of God’s great house. Let not your hearts be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and then I will come again and take you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. When you walk with Christ you walk from mansion to mansion; when you talk as Christ talked, you go from mansion to mansion; when you thank as Christ thanked, you go from mansion to mansion, and thus you will be led, as one who can occupy only a little space, into the great universe of God.
In conclusion, let us become true to the King of heaven. It is said of a certain Prussian officer, that when he fell on the battlefield and was sorely wounded, Pastor Woerth came along and saw him; he saw the blood oozing from the newly struck wound; he saw the heaving breast; he saw the pale lips and the cold sweat on his face, and the glazing eyes; he saw there was life in him, and he bowed down in sympathy, and said, “Dear officer of the army, how are you getting along?” And with his dying breath he said, “I am always getting along well when I go where the king sends me,” and in a few moments he went home to the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Oh, may God help us tonight, whatever our trials are, wherever we are sent, whatever befalls us, let us be happy in Him, realizing that we are always getting along well when we go where the King sends us. Amen.
(Congregation, led by pastor, repeats in concert the Apostles’ Creed:)
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost; born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He descended into hell; on the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Our heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the blessing of the hour. We thank Thee for this eternal epistle written by Thy great servant, Paul. And we pray Thee, O God, that this message of the Holy Spirit may tonight take hold of our hearts and our souls and show us the difference between children damned and children delivered, and the other difference between children delivered and the children made dear. Do Thou help, heavenly Father, that our aim in life may be to walk in the foot-prints of our Savior, that we may talk as He talked, and thank as He thanked, and while we are now in the center of His footprints, may we pray the prayer which He so graciously taught us:
Our Father who art in heaven; Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen. How were men saved in the days of Abraham – in the days of David – in the days of Daniel – how were men saved in the four hundred years between the Old Testament and the New? There never was a day in the history of the world that a man could be saved any other way than through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and when God gives a man anything, it is salvation.
Salvation by faith in the Old Testament days; salvation by faith in the days of Christ; salvation by faith in the days of the Reformation; salvation by faith in Christ this morning; salvation by faith in Christ to the end of the world! God never changes His plan of salvation. The Old Testament Christians were saved by faith in the coming Christ; the thief on the cross was saved by faith in the present Christ; the apostles and all the followers in the Christian era were saved by faith in the crucified Christ. And so, my friends, the penny never changes. The gift of God’s grace is too precious ever to change – too perfect.
– Long, S.P. The eternal epistle Lutheran Book Concern, Columbus, OH, 1906. Lutheran Library.