In the body of Christ, God expects conformity. Not a conformity to rules and regulations out of fear, not a conformity to rules and regulations out of legalistic pride, but a conformity to righteousness out of deep love and affection for Jesus Christ.
It's one of the most basic commands in Scripture. Christians need to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel. So what does that walk look like, and how do you know if your life, well, honors Christ? And when you fight temptation, when sin frustrates you and your Christian walk stumbles, how should you respond? John MacArthur is answering important questions like those here on Grace to You in his study called Getting in Step with the Christian Walk. It's a practical look at the basic steps you can take to live a life that honors Christ.
And with that, here is John MacArthur. Take your Bible and let's look together at the fourth chapter of Ephesians. Ephesians chapter 4. When you come to Jesus Christ, you enter His church, the body, you receive His salvation, He gives you all the rights and honors and privileges that come with being a Christian.
And then He says, I want you to conform to My standards, doesn't He? He says, if you're not going to conform and cooperate with what the church is doing, then you're better off to be out. In fact, sometimes the Lord puts people out on His own. And He said to the Corinthians, because of the way you have acted within the church, some of you are weak, some of you are sick, and some of you have died. And in 1 John chapter 5 He says there is even a sin unto death, where the Lord literally excommunicates a believer, not losing salvation but being put out of the church fellowship because they are more of a hindrance than a help. Listen, beloved, if people can join athletic teams and businesses and conform with such rigid conformity, if people can be so fearful of being un-synagogued by the Jewish superstructure of their day that they literally damn their own souls and blind their eyes to the reality of the Son of God, if people can make those kinds of commitments to things that don't matter, do you imagine that we as Christians can make a high level kind of commitment to walk in the fashion that God has asked us to walk within the framework of His own beloved church?
I think we should, don't you? I think that's what Paul is calling us to do in the last three chapters of Ephesians. In the body of Christ, God expects conformity, not a conformity to rules and regulations out of fear, not a conformity to rules and regulations out of legalistic pride, but a conformity to righteousness out of deep love and affection for Jesus Christ.
But nonetheless, conformity. I want to do what God wants me to do. I want to be what God wants me to be because of all that He has done for me.
I want to walk worthy. I want to be a worthy son, a worthy child. A believer calls himself a child of God. A believer has joined God's family, belongs to the heavenly Father, and that says something about how he ought to live. If I'm my father's child, then I will honor my father. A sad failure in our commitment.
It is indeed not to live up to such an identity. Now, beloved, you need to know this. This is a constant principle of the New Testament.
It's everywhere, basic to teaching principles for living. We are to walk worthy of our calling. We know what He's done for us. We know who we are. We know the principles. We are to walk worthy. 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 1 says this, Furthermore then, we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more.
Now do you get the point? We have taught you how to walk and oh, I exhort you now to do it. To do it. You see, first there has to be the teaching. You can't expect the believer to function on what he doesn't know. You can't live a principle you don't know.
You can't behave in a way you don't understand. And you must search the Word of God to know the principles. Proverbs tells us that you'll know the wisdom of God when you desire that wisdom, like you desire gold, like people search for silver.
When you search to know God's wisdom, you'll know it. 28th chapter of Job, I was reading yesterday, it describes the first part of the chapter, describes how men will work to mine out treasures. And it talks about the fact that they will go to any length conceivable to get treasure out of the ground.
In fact, let me show it to you. Look at Job chapter 28. He says here, Surely there is a vein for the silver and a place for gold where they refine it. Iron is taken out of the earth and bronze is smelted out of the stone. He setteth an end to darkness and searcheth out all perfection the stones of darkness and the shadow of death. What Job is saying here is it's incredible that man will literally go down into the pits to find treasure, to find gold. He'll uncover the stones of darkness.
He'll go into the shadow of death. He searches out everything to find silver, to find iron, to find bronze. He talks about verse 6, The stones are the place of sapphires and it has dust of gold. And there is a path which no fowl knows, which no bird knows, and which the falcon's eye has never seen and the lion's whelps have never trod, nor the fierce lion passed by.
In other words, this stuff, these sapphires and diamonds and rubies and gold and silver are hidden in places that the animals don't know and the birds don't know in dark places and deep places and man will go to find them there. He puts forth his hand, verse 9, on the rocks and overturns the mountains by the roots. He cuts the rivers among the rocks and his eye sees every precious thing. He binds the floods from overflowing. He sets up a dam and then he pans for gold.
Man will do anything. And Job says when it's all said and done, you know what he never finds? He never finds the wisdom of God. And then when you come to Proverbs chapter 2, you hear the writer of Proverbs say this, When you put as much effort to know the wisdom of God as men will do to find gold and silver, then you'll know God's wisdom. And listen, until you know God's wisdom, until the basis of doctrine is there, you don't know how to live. You have to know God's wisdom. Back to Colossians for a minute, or chapter 1, verse 9.
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you. And to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will...now listen...in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Paul says, Oh, I want you to be filled with the knowledge of His will. That's in your mind, all wisdom, all understanding. The result, verse 10, in order that ye might walk...what's the next word?
What's the next word? Worthy. You see, again, the worthy walk is predicated on knowledge. Being fruitful in every good work, predicated on knowledge.
Strengthened with might, predicated on knowledge. Giving thanks, predicated on knowledge. That's why we teach the Word of God, beloved. That's why week after week after week I teach principles of the Word of God. I don't spend a lot of time telling stories. I spend a lot of time just trying to whip you into emotional frenzies.
I just want to teach you the principles of the Word of God so you can live them out. Now we could do that. We could have sanctified pep talks, and I could pull out some of my oldies but goodies, and we could tell you all the jokes I know, and we could laugh and scratch the whole time. And we could get all traumatized emotionally, and I could tell you tear-jerking stories, and we could just really have a real emotional bath.
And you know what? You'd get all emotionalized and then 15 minutes later you'd forget everything you ever heard. There wouldn't be any principles there. You know, pastors and teachers weaken the Word of God when they come to people and exhort them about duty, and they've never taught them doctrine because they've sucked the motive out. They've removed the principle.
I can illustrate it this way. We'll assume this. You all drive 55 miles an hour.
I say we'll assume that. Why do you drive 55 miles an hour? You don't say, well, you know, I was just praying about it one day and it seemed to be right to just drive 55 miles an hour, so I've just decided I'll do that.
No. The reason you drive 55 miles an hour is because there is a doctrine, and that doctrine says you will drive 55 miles an hour. Your duty is predicated on that doctrine. Around the first of April you don't say to your wife, honey, I wouldn't it, let's send a large check this year to the government. They've done so much for us, the lovely parks that we enjoy, the highways upon which we take our vacation, the wonderful programs they have to provide for the needy.
This government is so great. Let's just...let's several thousand dollars. In fact, let's borrow to do it, honey, because I just...I feel there's something in me that wants to do this.
No. The reason you send that in there is because there is a doctrine that says you're going to send it. That's one of the rules, and that's the way it is in the Christian life. You don't arbitrarily do things, and unless people know the reason, you have a hard time getting them to make a commitment to the duty, you understand?
And so what happens is you can become a sort of a Christian cheerleader and you get everybody in there and you get them all committed to doing stuff. They haven't got the faintest idea why, unless you teach them doctrine. James 3, 1 says, Stop being so many teachers, for theirs is the greater condemnation. And you know what I'll be accountable for? The Lord's only going to ask me one thing. Did you dispense to My people My truth? Isn't that right?
That's all. And I just...I want to discharge my ministry to the full and discharging my ministry to the full means that I must teach you the principles of the Word of God. At first I've got to get you to listen, and then I've got to convince you that you ought to operate on those things.
That's God's calling to me. I'm not interested in getting you to conform legalistically. I'm not interested in getting you to conform emotionally.
I'm not interested in intimidating you into that. I feel that my responsibility is to give you the truth of the Word of God and to allow you the responsibility to obey it or not obey it. And I think if we just get in the pulpit and just try to whip people into emotionalism, or we just tell them to do things all the time without giving them a theological reason for doing it, we leave them empty and we miss the point. Doctrine, people, is the key to Christian living. People today say, Well, we just want to love everybody and we don't want to make doctrine an issue. And then you have everyone today who comes sort of on the borderline of liberalism and saying, We've got to forget theology and just set it aside and just...we just have to love everybody and let's not talk about theology. We'll just all get together on the basis of love.
It's a wonderful thought. It's just not biblical. Let me show you some verses.
Ephesians 4 23. You know, I've been reading a lot in the last few years about church renewal. And there's a lot of books on church renewal.
Some of them are good and helpful and I've appreciated them very much. But in all of the talk about church renewal, it's kind of interesting because there's a lot of suggestions about how to get the church renewed. We've got to renew the church.
And there are suggestions. The way to renew the church is to change the structure. We've got to...we've got to kick against the traces. We've got to get rid of all the old patterns, dump this, get rid of that. We've got to do it in small groups. We've got to have little groups of interaction and sharing. We've got to have it oriented this way and we've got to do it this way.
We've got to rearrange the furniture and make people face each other. And we've got to get people to spill out their problems to each other. And we've got methods and manners and solutions. And a lot of it is very kind of exterior and superficial. Some of it is more deep and meaningful. But they're all suggestions of the new methodology for renewal. There's new methods for it, new ways to do it.
Well, you know something? You can do that to your purple. You can reorganize the church every six months for the rest of your life and never know renewal. You can change the furniture all you want. You know the first principle of Christian education, move the chairs.
You can do that as much as you want. You can reorganize and restructure and reset and change the format and the methods and the plans and the programs until you die and never have renewal because Ephesians 4 23 says, you are renewed in the spirit of your what? Your mind. If the church really wants renewal, it will find renewal when it imparts to the people of God the truth of God so that their minds can know it. That's the basis of renewal. And then, frankly, it matters little how you arrange the furniture or what methods you use because you've got a whole lot of renewed people and renewed people are going to carry on the work of the Lord in whatever framework. But notice, it is the mind that is the source of renewal. The renewal that comes to the church comes in the mind, the thinking process. That's why in Ephesians 1 17 the apostles said that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened. In other words, God knows that the heart of the matter is to know His truth in your mind.
We must know doctrine, beloved, before we can ever know duty. Philippians again, chapter 1 verse 9, and here's a verse that I hear a lot, but a lot of times people don't quote the whole verse. And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more.
And they stop there. They say, Oh yes, we must love more and more. And we've got to forget about all of these things about doctrine. But you didn't read the verse.
It says, I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment that you may test things that are excellent. See? You've got to be discerning.
You've got to make judgments. You've got to know doctrine and theology or your love is less than God's love, which is discerning, knowledgeable, makes judgments. In Colossians chapter 1 and verse 10, He says that you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work. That's the goal.
How? Increasing by the knowledge of God, the best rendering of the preposition, by the knowledge of God. As you know God, you walk worthy.
As you know God, you're fruitful in every good work. Colossians 3, 10, put on the new man that is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created Him. To know God, to know Christ, to know His Word, that's the issue. Peter says at the end of his second epistle, chapter 3 verse 18, grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Knowledge, people, knowledge. You've got to know the Word of God.
You should hunger for it and you should search for it and you should seek for it as treasure, the way men will go to the pits of the earth to seek gold and silver. Paul wanted people to be perfect, mature, complete. Colossians 1, 27, he says, Christ whom we preach, warning every man, teaching every man that we may present every man, perfect.
We want mature saints. You say, that's great, Paul. Chapter 4 verse 12, Epaphroditus is praying that everybody would be perfect and complete in all the will of God. They wanted mature, perfect, complete people. And of course the answer came in 2 Timothy 3, 16, all Scripture is given by inspiration of God that the man of God may be perfect.
Thoroughly furnished unto all good works. You can't do the good works without the knowledge of the Word of God. And so, beloved, we teach you the principles. We must know the Word of God. But the church for years has not approached it that way. We've gotten all wrapped up in the follies of relationalism and we've missed the point. We're so busy worrying about relating to each other that we don't even know what the foundation of a relationship is. People, you can't live what you don't know, right?
You can't play the game if you don't know the rules. You can't live within the framework of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and walk worthy of it unless you know the standards. We must know the Word of God. Paul, bless his heart, he knew so much and yet the great cry of his heart was, Oh, that I may know Him. Remember that, Philippians 3? And James' great cry was that I might receive the engrafted Word, James 1.21. And Peter, that we might desire the pure milk of the Word, we might grow thereby.
And so it is that the standard of God is the basis of behavior. Now listen, go back to Ephesians 4 and I'll close. I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation to which ye are called. Beloved, God is calling by His Spirit for you to walk worthy. Did you get that? To walk worthy.
Now let me tell you something in closing. You know what happens when you walk worthy? Look at Hebrews chapter 11. You remember the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11?
So wonderful, so wonderful. First there was Abel in verse 4, who offered to God a more excellent sacrifice. And then there was Enoch, why he walked so worthy. One day he took a walk with God and God liked him so much and their fellowship was so sweet, he just kept on walking and the two of them walked right up to glory.
And he never even died. And then there was Noah and Noah walked with God for 120 years while he built that boat. And then there was Abraham and Abraham and Sarah, they walked with God and they walked a worthy walk, a walk of faith. And then there was Isaac and then there was Jacob and then there was Joseph and then there was Moses. Against the opposition and against the system, they walked with God and theirs was a worthy walk. They lived up to what they knew. And then there was Rahab the harlot in verse 31. And then there were a lot more. Look at verse 32.
What will I say more? From the time it would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah and David and Samuel and the prophets who through faith subdued kingdoms and wrought righteousness and obtained promises and stopped the mouths of lions. Hey, wouldn't you like to be a part of that crew? Isn't that a great group to align with? Who quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Women received their dead raised to life again and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection and others had trial of cruel mocking and scourging, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment they were stoned and they were sawn in half and they were tested and were slain with a sword and wandered about in sheepskin and goatskin being destitute, afflicted and tormented. What a group! What a group! But look at the next line, verse 38, of whom the world was not what? Worthy. Listen, you walk worthy and the world won't even be worthy of you. Well, let's pray together. Father, we come with a great deal of conviction in our hearts to You because we know that such a high calling demands such a worthy walk. We want to live, walk daily lifestyle conduct in accord with Your standards.
We've chosen to belong to Your society, be a part of Your family. We want to be in honor. We want to adorn the doctrine of God. We want to put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
We want to silence the critics. We want to live to Your praise. We want to live to Your glory.
We want to conform to Your standards out of love. Help us to walk worthy and in so walking transcend this world and be among those of whom the world was not even worthy. That was true of You, Lord more than anybody else.
And we want to be like You. Thank You, Father, for the fact that we can walk worthy as we are strengthened in the inner man by the Holy Spirit. As Christ settles down to be at home in us, sheds in us His incomprehensible love, as we are filled with the fullness of God, we become able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. And Father, we know that thus we can walk worthy.
So may it be that we commit ourselves to that and that we study to know the truth so we can live it. We pray in Christ's name. Amen. God bless you. This is Grace To You with John MacArthur.
Thanks for being with us. John has titled our current study from Ephesians 4, Getting in Step with the Christian Walk. Now, of course, with the time constraints on our broadcast, we're able only to hear part of John's sermon today. But even if we heard it all, we wouldn't say that the learning ended there, right, John? I mean, our hope is that when people hear these messages on Grace To You, that would create a hunger for God's word that will drive them to study for themselves in greater depth and really absorb the Word of God and make the truth their own.
Oh, I totally agree with that. I've always believed my whole ministry long that the goal was not only to explain the Scripture but to increase people's appetite for the Scripture. And I will say this, expository preaching is the proper way to preach, explaining the text of Scripture. But listening to expository preaching, honestly, is an acquired taste. There are people who want to be entertained by the preacher. They want to hear stories. They want drama.
They want cleverness. And there are plenty of clever preachers and dramatic preachers that do that. And if you step into that kind of setting and you do exposition of Scripture, people who are used to superficial preaching probably are going to respond by saying, well, he wasn't very good, because it is an acquired taste. But once you acquire the taste for the explanation of Scripture, when it comes to you in expository preaching, you're going to actually be unsatisfied until you can go deeper. And I would just mention to you that, as you know, we have 33 volumes of commentaries on the New Testament, every book of the New Testament. I would like to suggest to you that maybe you haven't looked at commentaries in the past, that you might want to start now with the volume on Ephesians, the MacArthur New Testament commentary on Ephesians.
It will take you far more deeply into these things that we are talking about. The commentary series really became my project of a lifetime, and each volume is designed to unpack the full richness of the Scripture text. Particularly the book of Ephesians, our current study coming from Ephesians 4, covers every aspect of Christian living, all the way from the doctrine of election to the spiritual battle with Satan and even your prayer life. Great resource for every Bible student. Purchase the commentary volume on Ephesians, or maybe pick up the entire MacArthur New Testament series with significant savings on each volume. And whether you buy one volume or the set, shipping is free in the U.S. Place your order now. Right, and when you're asked tough theological questions, when you're preparing to teach God's Word to your family, or if you're just studying Scripture for yourself, the MacArthur New Testament commentary series is a huge help. Order the Ephesians volume when you contact us today. You can place your order at GTY.org or call us on our toll-free number, 800-55-GRACE. Each commentary is available for the same affordable price, and shipping is free.
You also get a discount on each volume if you order the entire 34-volume set, which covers the whole New Testament. So again, go to GTY.org to order or call us at 800-55-GRACE. Now if John's teaching has encouraged you, maybe you've especially benefited from a lesson you heard on this radio broadcast, or if you're grateful for the thousands of resources Grace to You offers for free at our website, we would love to hear from you. You can email your feedback to letters at GTY.org, or mail us a letter to Grace to You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California, 91412. And remember to follow Grace to You on social media.
You'll find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff. I'm Phil Johnson, encouraging you to be here tomorrow when John continues his study, Getting in Step with the Christian Walk, with a look at the transforming power of God's word. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
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