Coming right out of vv.3-5 and the exhortation to stay away from sexual sin, Paul now counters the idea that ‘come on, sex is not really that bad‘:
“Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience.”
(Ephesians 5.6, NET)
The teaching on sexual immortality is so clear, as is the consequence in v.5. To truths like this society often pushes back: it’s only sex, it feels good, so, it can’t be that bad, right?
To this Paul says that we are to let nobody deceive [us] with empty words. This could just as easily say something like let nobody [seduce you into error] with [false teaching on sexual sin].
We don’t have to look far to see example of the world’s very liberal (and seemingly unchanging over time) attitude to sex;
“For men, it was socially acceptable to partake in sexual relationships outside of their marriage. Men could both hire prostitutes and have concubines without being viewed as unfaithful.”
(Love, Sex, & Marriage in Ancient Greece, Ollie Wells, worldhistory.org)
“While prostitution was considered a sinful act, in urban areas throughout medieval Europe it was tolerated as a necessary evil.”
““[m]any teenagers and young adults have turned the free-sex mantra of the 1970s into a lifestyle…”
(Rachel Hills, time.com)
A brief snapshot of history, sure, but the persistently prevailing attitude is one that Scripture calls deceptive. There is truly nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1.9) and as long as we are alive there will be teaching and rhetoric that ‘having sex with anyone you like, whenever you like‘ is good.
Almighty God, as maker of heaven and earth, says otherwise. To engage in any kind of sexual contact with those other than your God-ordained spouse is to miss the mark set for us by the Creator as the created (1 Corinthians 5, 7.2-5, Matthew 19.6, for example).
To accept the teaching that it doesn’t matter how you use your body, sexually, is to be deceived with empty words. God wants more for you, and more from you, than to be taken in by teaching that, ultimately, leads you away from His Kingdom (v.5).