-You have been saved by grace through faith not through your own good works
-You are God’s handiwork, created anew in Christ Jesus to do good works
-I urge you, go live a life worthy of the calling you have received
This summary of Ephesians up to this week…answers three big questions of the human heart:
Can I have real Peace?
-Peace with God,
-Peace with self
-Peace with others
-If you place your faith in the grace of God revealed in the gospel.
Can I live with lasting Purpose?
-If fact, God himself has included you in his plans, his grand purposes.
Can I live with real Passion…I mean can I bring my whole self along?
Yes…in fact you must…all your heart, mind, soul, strength.
-It’s not just “get through life trying to believe some facts or obey some rules” or trying to sustain your own form of “emotional energy” to manufacture faith or passion.
-God is eternal passion and if you stay connected to him, to his power, you CAN move through life with his passion (emotions come and go)…but you have to keep connecting to.
Human brokenness, as evidenced in every conceivable problem and misery is driven by the empty search for peace, purpose, and passion…apart from relationship with God.
It is no surprise that these things that drive us would be found, ultimately and fully, only in relationship with God…since it is God who has made us.
*These three things, by the way, might be helpful to see as the “check engine” lights to recognize if we have become unplugged from the Spirit’s power.
– In John chapter 4, Jesus had an encounter with a woman that was so important that it made it into John’s very limited account of Jesus’ life.
At the end of John’s gospel, he wrote that “If everything Jesus did were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
Okay, with that fact in mind…this event must be super important…since it was one of just a few things that made into John’s book about Jesus.
-A woman of the Samaritan race, a race despised by Jews came to a well where Jesus was resting. (He was physically worn out)
-Jesus asked her “Will you give me a drink?”
-He served her by asking her to serve him.
-She said, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”
-She was shocked that he initiated conversation.
-Jesus replied “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
-She, very much missing the Lord’s point…filtered his words through her own lens.
-“Sir, you don’t have a bucket and the well is deep, where can you get this living water.”
-Jesus said “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
-Again, she hears his words through the filter of her own empty life strategy…a strategy that had failed over and over.
-“Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
*She is thinking… “If this guy does have some way to ease my burden of walking all the way out here and carrying water over and over and over…it will at least solve one of my many day to day problems.”
-Jesus, goes straight to the behavior that gives evidence of her broken life strategy.
-Evidence that she has no peace, no real purpose, and no real passion.
– He said “Go call your husband and come back.”
-“I have no husband” she replied.
-Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
God said through Jeremiah,
“You have forsaken me, the well of living water…and you have tried to dig your own wells, broken wells that cannot hold water.”
This woman was dumping men into her broken well, trying to stop the leak, trying to quench the thirst.
6 men so far and counting…and they could give her what she needed.
She became a follower of Jesus that day.
*So, If I were to say to you:
“Look around at the many broken wells being dug aall around you, maybe by you…all attempts to get at what people believe to be the real problems…and the real solutions…”
And then I were to say…
“The real problem is people have forsaken the well of living water…and the real solution is Jesus, the spring of eternal life.”
Would that sound “churchy”, “simplistic”, “judgmental” “out of touch with reality”, maybe you believe it…but it just seems “impractical”
Maybe it is real in a spiritual, churchy sort of way…maybe real in the life to come when you dead…but not real in actual world you live in.
A world with hard jobs, and bills, and difficult relationships, and mental/physical struggles, and morning breath and evening fatigue…how is it practical in that world?
Jesus knew this woman had real needs…she got thirsty, she got tired, she got lonely, she clearly had practical needs.
But the kindest and wisest human who ever lived…spoke to her of her greatest need…him.
I’m going to read through some of Eph. 4:17-5:21 and as we walk through the passage…I hope to draw your attention to a few points that can help us see what it means to live our lives out of the peace, purpose, and passion that God has given us in the gospel.
17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live (walk) as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity (become callous), they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
The Ephesians were in fact Gentiles, so are they to not be what they are?
He is not using racial terminology…as he tells them to not “walk” or “live “as Gentiles…he is using “kingdom” terminology.
They are to no longer live in their former kingdom of darkness…they are now in the Kingdom of God’s life…included as his people.
They no longer have callouses on their hearts…God has remade their hearts so they can actually “feel” again.
Yes, they can feel shame…because shame, like pain, is a gift to protect us from injury and death…but of the moral, spiritual, emotional kind.
They can feel shame…but they have experienced forgiveness.
So…he writes next…in general terms that we are put off our old selves and put on the new self.
Then, starting in verse 25…he gives some specifics of this putting off and putting on.
As we look at this passage it is super important to remember:
-It’s all grace
“AND” not “or”
-WE are to give full effort to do good
So, we must continually plug into God’s power for this putting off and putting on…and continually give full effort to do.
His power makes this a possibility…our effort makes this a reality.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
*Don’t lie, speak truth…because you are one body.
*When the physical body loses the ability to communicate accurately…brain to muscle…like in a neurological disorder, the whole body suffers.
Likewise, Lying shuts everything down in relationships…lying was normative then, as it is in our culture now.
In virtually every TV show, lying is assumed, lying is most often seen as “good” thing, a necessary thing for relationships…but it’s not.
Lying is a spiritual, relational neurological disorder…we simply cannot function in health if we don’t live in truth with one another.
26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
Not all anger is sin, but all anger offers a potential foothold for the enemy in relationships.
A foothold (enemy penetrates behind lines) becomes a stronghold…starts taking over.
28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Some of these people, now in the church, maybe many…used to be thieves.
Now they are to work for what they spend and not steal.
But look at how the gospel transforms work… “Work so, you can share with those in need.”
A not so subtle reminder that relationships in the Kingdom of God…are to be “give” not “get” centric.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (give grace to those who hear).
“Unwholesome talk” is literally “corrupting speech…the idea is like a rotten piece of fruit that spreads its rottenness to other nearby pieces.
Instead of “rotting” talk…speak what is “helpful for the need at hand”…suitable for the occasion… “What needs to be said here?”
How do I know?
Ask: Will my words empower then to live more fully in the truth of God?
Ask: Will they come away from this conversation more hopeful, more grateful, drawn to Christ
And this doesn’t necessitate “preachy words”… “spiritual sounding words.”
Most often, grace infused speech:
Simply REFRAMES the conversation to include the reality of God….whether he is directly mentioned or not.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit means: don’t unplug from his power through living outside his holy will.
Holiness is living in line with God’s purpose…revealed in how we live in relationship to God and one another.
To grieve Him…is the equivalent of unplugging from him.
We can unplug from him, but we do not “lose him”
Paul wrote that…“In Him you were sealed for the day of redemption”
If you have been saved you are sealed(God has his seal of ownership is on you)…but you can unplug from the power source.
To lose fellowship with the Spirit of God, is not to lose relationship with God.
Then he gets very specific…
Remember he has gone from the “large, all encompassing” truth of the gospel, the purposes of God…beliefs
To the love of Christ that our hearts must more and more embrace…what is to shape us on the inside…value
Only, now in this chapter…does he get into this detail…these specific choices that are to be made day to day in the trenches of life together…our behavior
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We will not do any this perfectly…so we will need forgive each other a lot…even as God, in Christ, forgave us.
5 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
In forgiving one another we are imitating our Father…and living like the Savior.
Like a child, tries to do what she tries to imitate mom or dad…we are to do the same.
However, there is not a single place in the New Testament where the death of Christ is MERELY an example to be followed.
The larger context of the Lord’s example is always his atoning death…his sacrifice paid for our sins.
Humans have long tried to turn the gospel into only “Jesus the role model”
But he is “Jesus the savior, who died for our sins.”
If he is not the Savior…then he is certainly not Jesus the role model.
And when he is only “Jesus the role model”…then the whole thing is thought to be a shame, a fraud…when we fail…and we do fail to live like him.
But Jesus is the Savior (who is of course, worthy of imitation)
So, when we fail, it only serves to illustrate that we are most in need of a savior…not just an example.
Then, he offers some more practical application of new life in Christ.
5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
The Roman empire at this time, if it’s even possible to imagine, was more highly sexualized that America is right now.
They had no internet…but sexual imagery was everywhere….on buildings, statues, paintings, drawings, bedroom walls…their own form of porn…was everywhere.
And sexual immorality was deeply embedded in cultural norms…it was widely embraced and celebrated across the empire.
I say that to say this…it’s always been hard, it always will be hard…to live in ways that are God-honoring in regards to sexuality…there have always been mine field’s everywhere.
We are physical beings…God has designed sex and sexual attraction as good things…we have perverted that good.
It remains, still, God’s good plan and gift…
…but even as it is a source of good as we operate within God’s design parameters.
…It will always be a source of misery because we continually act outside of God’s plan.
So much harm is done by the perversion of human sexuality…it is heart breaking…lives are ruined by what was designed as a good thing.
But please don’t give yourself a “break” by saying “It’s harder for us now, or me in my unique situation.”
I mean you can do that…but it will not be a “break” as in making things easier for you…it will make things much worse for you.
If you want to give yourself a “break”…then embrace grace as the power to live a life of love and to put away the stuff that is really bad for you and others…like sexual impurity of all kinds.
This life of love and purity is possible…Rome, AD 50 or America, AD 2021.
Don’t buy the lie that sexual purity is impractical or impossible…it is not.
And, then watch your mouth…don’t join in the stupid and empty conversations swirling around you.
4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
He does a play on words here that is lost in the English translation.
He uses two words that sound similar in the Greek…but one is translated “coarse joking” and the other “thanksgiving”
“Course joking” is what we might call a “quick wit”…someone who always has the “smart reply”…in this context it is witty and inappropriate speech.
The boys or the girls…chuckle… “She’s so witty.”… “He’s so funny”…yes and so foolish.
Thanksgiving versus coarse joking…means using words that are focused on what God has given and what he is do e…rather than trying to look smart or witty…a focus on self.
It’s not that we are to inject “Thanks be to God” in every conversation…whether it would fit in the context or not…that’s can be weird and unhelpful.
It is that our conversation, which should seem “normal” to others in one sense…will leave them drawn to God(in that sense it will feel unusual for them).
Whether they know what is happening in the moment or not…our words are reframing life for in ways that leave people full and not empty.
You have experienced this, I’m sure…I know I have.
Next, he warns them off from those who were teaching that you can do whatever you want…and still believe you are a follower of Christ.
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
These are not simply people who are weak and who occasionally fail…but people who have embraced rebellion and are trying to convince others to do the same…don’t partner with (join them).
You used to live in that darkness…but now you ARE light in the Lord…so live enjoying that light.
You know it wasn’t any good to live in the dark…in fact that life was “fruitless”
It left you hungry for more, wanting…empty, famished.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible.
As children of light…we are to be done with the fruitless (empty, unfulfilling) deeds of darkness.
As our lives should expose a life apart from God as the empty and unfulfilling thing that it is.
But “exposing” is not about being vocal and angry about “all that is wrong” with culture.
It is mostly about “being” light…light doesn’t “try” to expose problems…it does simply by being itself.
A floor can look clean in the dark.
Turn on the light and the light doesn’t emit a sound “The floor is dirty”…the dirt that was there is exposed by the coming of light.
This is not to say that we should never speak out against things that are wrong…
But to function most effectively as children of light in the darkness…we cannot be the complainers, the naggers, the naysayers of culture.
How can we be purveyors of “good news” and be known as cultures “grumps” at the time.
We are not to be known mostly for what we are “against” but what we are for.
Light doesn’t just reveal problems…it reveals beauty.
Our city’s beautiful Botanical gardens looks like masses of shade of grey at night…in the light of the sun…the manifold beauty is revealed.
As light…we represent God’s judgment on sin…by avoiding it…and by manifesting the beauty of a life lived in line with his will.
Then he gives what was a part of a hymn, or a well-known saying of the time:
This is why it is said:
“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
If we are followers of Christ…this is for each of us, our poetic testimony.
Sleep was a common term for death…here is it spiritual death.
We were asleep, dead in our sins, but we have been raised up to new life…and now Christ shines his light on us.
We are children who live in his light.
*None of this is an exhaustive list of do’s and don’ts.
It is not a New Testament law to be obeyed.
These are practical examples of what it means that…
…since you have believed the gospel, and have received Christ as Lord of your heart…go live the truth in your daily lives.
*So, if you were to ask Paul,
“Paul, I go to WSU, and you didn’t mention how I should respond to my classmate who is…(you fill in the blank).”
*Or “Paul, I work in manufacturing and my boss is (you fill in the blank) what should I do?”
“Can you write a longer list that covers this and every situation?”
No, that’s not the point….that would be to miss the point.
These are examples… not a list to be followed.
The principle behind these examples is…
15 Be very careful, then, how you live (look carefully then how you walk)—not as unwise but as wise,
Walk through your life in the wisdom of the gospel…it is the truth.
What does that mean exactly?
Well, all that he has been saying…but in essence it means “buy up the time”…don’t squander your life.
Live in the revealed truth of the gospel.
16 making the best use your of the time, because the days are evil.
This is practical…in the days, minutes…that God gives you “make the most of them” or “buy them up”…spend them, don’t waste them.
No one is saving their life…everyone is spending or wasting it.
Because the days are evil probably means… “under God’s judgment”.
What you see around you (all that is opposed to God) is going to collapse under its own sinful weight.
17 Don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Okay, Paul…but how do I pull this off?
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery (wasted life). Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
“Really, he is mostly concerned with me not getting drunk?”
That is the grand application of this?
No, remember all this is a representation of what it means to live out gospel beliefs and values…more of that to come in the next section.
But what you have here is a compare and contrast.
When someone is drunk on wine…they are under the influence or under the control of the wine…
To be under the control of wine leads to a ruined life.
I have seen people’s lives destroyed (and their families as well) by them living under the control of alcohol.
In fact, to live under the control of anything other than God is going to have really bad outcomes…money, pleasure, power, pride, or substances.
So… “don’t be under the control of wine” is not about “being drunk is the worst possible sin”
But is Paul saying…
“So, you know how when someone is drunk with wine they are controlled by it and it produces terrible outcomes?”
They have wrecks, kill people, lose their jobs, their health, their kids don’t thrive…
“Yeah, we know about that.”
“Okay, take that idea and apply it to the Holy Spirit…being filled with the Spirit is how you are to pull off this life of walking in wisdom in all your various circumstances.”
The realm of God’s will for your life is the realm of his power for your life…live under the Spirit’s control.
You are to live under the control of God’s spirit…this will bring the opposite of what living under the control of alcohol (or any other thing we allow to control us) will bring…
The Spirit’s control brings God’s life into our lives.
The original language used (Be filled with the Spirit) is not “be filled” as a onetime event.
The language is “keep on being filled” with the Spirit.
We do receive the Holy Spirit at conversion(one time event)…but we are filled with the Spirit…again and again as we continually plug back in.
We move through life…as parents, as patients, as teachers, as students, as construction workers, as retired people…as whatever we are in God’s plan for our lives…buying up the time.
Making the most of this day and hour, and that one, and that one…until, time is over.
We do this with peace and purpose and passion…BY “continually” all through the day, plugging back into the power.
Being filled, continually…because we leak.
Since we leak, we must be continually filled…we have to get used to it continually being filled with the Spirit.
We don’t fill up, like a car…then go drive for a few hundred miles…we have to stay connected to God…and continually reconnecting to him.
This is part of what Paul meant when he said “pray without ceasing”…live in constant connected communion with God.
Remember the Samaritan women where we started this morning?
She wanted to have her physical thirst permanently fixed…so she wouldn’t have to keep walking and carrying heavy water every day.
Jesus didn’t fix that…even after her conversion…she had to make that walk and pull up that heavy bucket and carry that jar of water back to her home…with her 6th lover living there.
She still had to deal with the ongoing results of how she had been with 6 different men…no telling how many children that meant.
She still had to deal with the gossip of her neighbors and the mental scars of her old life.
But now, she had Jesus in her life…she had this spring of living water.
She had peace with God…
she had life purpose (purpose that would include walking to the well and carrying water back to her family…day after day)
and she could do this with a real passion (not an empty one that had taken her from man to man) but
But she would need to continually tap into this spring of water…in order to live in line with this peace, purpose and passion.
She would have to keep coming to the well for H2O and to Jesus for spiritual power…in the ongoing challenges of her life.
We, like her…are leaky buckets…we need to be continually filled.
So…that’s why he gives next what might have seemed sort of random or out of place but now it makes perfect sense.
Paul about using psalms and hymns and thanksgiving and having music in our hearts…
What is all this about…has he lost his train of thought?
No…this how do we stay on track in our lives…this is part of staying connected.
This is how we life with Truth in our minds, gratitude in our hearts…shaping our lives in community.
How in the world are we to live our busy, distracted, often painful lives and keep on being filled with the Spirit?
How are to stop allowing our leaky buckets to run dry before we remember to fill them back up?
Or the power analogy…our batteries to run out before we plug back in.
Well…we are live in connected community.
And in that community…we focus on worship, focus on gratitude, focus on Jesus.
We are to make sure that focus shows up in our conversations, and in our hearts and in our minds.
19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let the truth salt your conversation…you don’t have to quote chapter and verse to do so.
*I had conversations this last week…about difficult jobs, the death of family members, soldiers and airmen in terrible struggles, kids who are deeply struggling.
In all those conversations…it was no stretch to talk about the reality of God in practical ways.
Worship in your heart…let the gospel shape you at the emotional, feeling level.
Give thanks for everything…let gratitude shape the course of your lives together.
Speak of the reality of God in your conversations with one another.
This is practical and doable…and enormously helpful.
Then…and finally, and powerfully.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Bottom line for our lives together…
If you will try to put my interests first and I will try to put your interests first
And we do this because of our reverence(our love, respect) for Christ…
We are positioned to live in God’s peace, purpose and passion…his power, ability for our lives.
I hope you see how so very practical, difficult, but practical this is.