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Sent on a New Journey

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
January 18, 2021 1:00 am

Sent on a New Journey

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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Ephesians verse 17 through 24. So this I say and affirm together with the Lord that you walk no longer as the Gentiles also walk in the futility of their mind being darkened in their understanding excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them because of the hardness of their heart and they having become callous having given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity and greed with greediness but you did not learn Christ in this way if indeed you have heard him and had been taught in him just as truth is in Jesus that in reference to your former manner of life you lay aside the old self which is being corrupted in accordance with the lust of deceit and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

So ends the reading of God's Word. Let's pray. Father we do thank you that you have given us your word that you've revealed these truths to us which we could not discover on our own but that you have given us life and light in Christ and you've given us the Word and the Spirit. So Father we pray that you would take these words of Scripture and apply them to our hearts. We ask this in Jesus name.

Amen. I'm going to try to follow give a lot of phrases so you're going to need to follow along in the Scriptures to see if I'm I'm preaching what I'm supposed to be preaching here so but just follow the watch the text tonight don't don't go wandering off over there but look at the text to see where it's coming where the where the message is coming from. Okay in this in this section this passage of Scripture does attempt to answer some questions it seems to me several couple questions and that is how in the world do you deal with a corrupt society? Now that's I know you've never thought about that but anyway or what do you do in a corrupt society to change it?

How do you how do you live in this world? So this is the sort of a background to some of what's going to be said. The temptations and deceits of the world are pretty prominent and the human race has always been a challenge and human races is is a corrupt race we we prove that every single day and by our news or by our own actions that we we we need things but but this passage is saying that you Christian you and I are on a journey and that journey is like Bunyan's journey he was in prison so he gave us a good book out of that prison that consequence of that prison was it was it was pilgrims progress and he says every Christian is on a journey and we're headed toward that celestial city so we're but we're on a journey in the lost and a broken world and that's where we live. So the major point of the day's text is this is that regardless of what the rest of the world is doing you Christian walk with Christ so that's what we're going to be thinking about. Now let's look at the text that we have here this day because Paul is talking about two ways of life he's talking about two directions two paths and he's reiterating that and stressing that in a very strong way and the contrast is is truly stark. Now let's look at a little bit of the background in chapter in chapter 4 verse 17 he begins by telling us that he says Paul is saying I affirm together with the Lord. So a little background to that is you remember when Paul was on the road to Damascus the Lord spoke to him and struck him down there on that road and they went into the city and Ananias came and talked to him and and he became he became a believer and yeah and then he was in the city of Damascus talking about Christ and and they said this man was persecuting in the way and now he's now he's so now he's promoting the ways preaching Jesus and they they were ready to kill him so he went over the wall and went into Arabia and he was in Arabia for three years and he was taught by Christ. So Paul like all apostles of the New Testament they were men who were taught directly by Jesus Christ so that's what Paul is saying here he's saying he's speaking not on his own authority he says but I affirm with the Lord he's speaking with apostolic authority and so that we need to listen. All right there's another thing it's important to notice is that is to whom is Paul writing? Paul is writing to the Christians there in Ephesus of course Ephesus and what is now we know is Turkey and these are there may be some Jewish believers there but there were Gentile believers there but he uses the term Gentile in this text and when he's talking about Gentile he's uses it sometimes two different ways one time it's a Gentile who is not a Jewish lineage not a Jewish genealogy so they're ethnically not Jewish okay but the other time he uses the term Gentile it's just the way he uses it here he's saying they're a Gentile because they're not in the faith they don't have the faith of Abraham they don't believe in Christ so these are Gentiles who are on the outside they're the unbelievers so that's very important to recognize that's what he's saying but then he begins to describe there in verse 17 the way of the unbeliever the life of the unbeliever what's going on in the life and the thoughts of the unbeliever and he says they that they do not course to live a life like the Christian like the person who's been brought to Christ they are very very different and so he let's see he says there's a process that's going on in the new believer but that process is not happening in the life of the unbeliever and the God's words does shed light on our paths but it doesn't shed light on those who have rejected or pushing away from him so he says the way of the unbelieving world is really it's a way of walking in darkness and that's what he is sadly having to describe here about the way in which the unbelieving world lives and he says that they live in the futility of their minds now this is a mindset that is a mindset of the unconverted it is a spiritual mental and willful darkness that does exist in the life of the person that hasn't come to Christ and and it says he uses the word futile or futile and it describes the hopelessness and in the way of thinking Isaiah talks about this he uses that same phrase in Isaiah 44 verse 9 and he he says in that context he says those who fashion a graven image are all of them futile and their precious things are of no profit Isaiah goes on in that context to explain the meaning of that term in a very pragmatic way he says a man goes out he cuts down a tree he takes part of it he splits it up in small pieces of wood and he builds a fire and he cooks over it and warms himself over that fire that the other piece of wood he builds a piece of furniture and then the other piece he carves it into an image and he gets down and worships it he says that is futile that is empty that is vain and that's what he's describing here so he says that the unbeliever is in their thinking is is futile there is hopelessness there's there's there's no it's futile to think that you can put your all your trust in human reason rather than in the revelation of God and but that is the human race that's the way the human race thinks we think that if we can if we can reason things out then of course we can come to a great decision and even without God but that's vain it's empty it's impossible you know ever since the fall of Ab and Eve there's never been other than part from Christ has never been an innocent thinker or a perfect person in who has perfect reasoning it just isn't there and it just isn't in our human history and the Creator says the human race is fallen and we do prove that every day now as he begins to describe the the person who is outside of Christ here he says there's a slide in or a descent into darkness and and it's a darkness that is full of impurity and actually is a spiritual death so he says in verse 18 that this there's a decline in understanding how does a person have under their understanding darkened that's a good question how well if you begin by the fact that saying well there is no God God doesn't exist and you reject the evidences of creation and the and the beauty of creation itself is having been derived from the the work of a Creator God then you are in darkness without seeing and admitting the facts of the of the universe and of God himself your whole orientation your whole understanding is twisted so God is the only reference point to truth and life God is the only reference point to truth and life so being in a you know in a wilderness if you're out put out by yourself and you don't have a compass or you don't know how to read a compass and you can't read the stars well you're not sure what other signs in are there if you're in the northern hemisphere may be the true maybe the moss does grow on the north side of the tree but maybe you don't know how to do recognize that if you're in that kind of a place you are lost and the world is lost because it has no bearings they have no reference point to what is right and wrong and so the scripture describes them as being in darkness the cause of the facts that are not known a person's reasoning is then twisted it's distorted it is they can't be trusted and without a reference point your darkness you are in darkness and that's why this scripture describes says that the person who is the unbeliever without God is has a darkened understanding then Paul goes on to change say something else about that way of life he says that the the person who is in darkness is actually in experiencing a separation from God that means that the unbeliever as we know is excluded from the life of God they don't experience the life of God they live in his world they live among some of his people but they don't experience him and that is a very sad thing this is an obvious truth to every Christian they do not know God they do not know what it is like to have Christ reigning in their heart or the God speaking to them and guiding them and teaching that that is not happening they do not understand that they can come to God the Father and have their sins pardoned and be forgiven even though the whatever the sin is they do not understand that so without Christ as your advocate there he's not there before the Father pleading for you now I want to take a side note here and say well you know if a Christian non-christian doesn't know that the Father that's the Jesus is not standing there pleading before the Father for them then maybe I need to up my intercession for other people maybe I need to pray for my brothers and sisters or neighbors or whatever more and more because we need to be interceding like like Jesus does but anyway they the work of the Son and the Spirit is not evident in this person's life and the unbeliever is without eternal life from God at all okay why is there this lack of understanding and why is there's lack of knowledge what causes this and what causes this in the unbelievers life and I think when one answer is the reason is ignorance they do not know God they are ignorant because they have chosen to ignore God to avoid God to run away from God you can see that in a lot of lives the last part of verse 18 explains it a little bit better it says we are that we why are we ignorant of God is because of the hardness because of the hardness of their hearts this is a result of an action of the believer the person himself is resisting God so that's why they do not know God and then at verse 18 goes on and 19 goes on to describe this spiritual decline that's taking place it says they hardened their hearts and they are calloused toward God that's describing the same situation hardened your heart being calloused toward God and it's saying that this decline in somewhat in part is really deliberate it's deliberate you're you're pushing away and you know if you take a you work with hand tools you know what happens if you work it for them for a month or so very diligently every day your hands are going to be calloused and you know if you're walking around as a kid in the summer whether it's on the sandy beaches or a lonely forest soil or or the clays of the Piedmont you can get some pretty tough feet you can get calloused and things don't bother you as much well that's what Paul is saying here people have hardened their heart they're getting calloused toward God they're resisting him and the work of the spirit they're just resisting to a great deal and that's what's going on that's why this decline is taking place a good example of that which is the one very commonly used as the one where where the children of Israel are there in Egypt and Pharaoh is actually see he's seeing miracles he's seeing God brain plagues he's listening to Moses in the air and he's hearing the Word of God and over and over and over again he he refuses to give in oh then even his counselor say oh this is the hand of God even the priest of Egypt said that but he eventually resists and you know in Exodus 14 says God hardened his heart well God he kept hardening his heart so God said okay your heart's going to be hard and that's why as as he realized after he had given them up his anger of and resistance to God went into a full rage and that's why he sent the army to their death into the Red Sea he was in full rage against the people of God resisting and and fighting so as we look at this in verse 19 it says they have given themselves over to sensuality that's the next thing you resist God you harden your heart you walk in ignorance and then this person deliberately says they've given themselves over Romans 1 says the that God gave them over but here it says that this person this non-believer has they've given themselves over to sensuality and so that the downward spiral keeps going deeper and deeper and it's getting more difficult so this is a sensuality and not just in the sexual sensuality meaning but it's a total sensuality self-centered in every way everything is interpreted for that purpose and and that person's pleasure and their their pride and their and their glory they're just totally given over to self-indulgence and this is a sad thing nothing however nothing ever satisfies the lust of a defy of a person who's defiant enemy of God nothing will ever satisfy them it's the truth so what darkness and what blindness is being described here is is horrendous you know when we think about Pharaoh hearing the Word of God seeing the miracles of God then we think about Judas every day walking with Jesus and seeing miracles more miracles than Elijah and Elijah ever performed and yet he's hearing the perfect Word of God straight from the mouths of Christ and yet he wants more interested in what was in the money bag than he was interested in the Word of God and the kingdom of God that is frightening about how far a person can go what is God's earthly judgment on those who are callous and hardened their hearts well he turns them over and the to practice every kind of evil and impurity and greediness it says that in verse 19 I guess you heard that great hymn by Frank Sinatra which was I did it my way was that a hymn I guess it wasn't him anyway it was kind of like that or the great poem which was I am the captain of my soul you know I'm in charge of all everything so maybe we all want to be American idols in some way of shape or form but but here it's warning us against that that we need to be careful about the callousness things we might be callous toward but regardless of how indulgent a person becomes you'll always be that person will always to be disappointed or worse because life is only satisfied in Jesus Christ so that is the way of those who walk in darkness that's the first section here but you as a believer you are transformed you are being transformed you're different you are on a new journey and God has set you on that journey and you're to walk with Christ verse 20 begins with the conjunction but it says it's shifting from the way of darkness to the way of life and light in Christ but you are different and there is a real contrast between you and the worldly mind in chapter 1 of chapter 4 verse 1 begins this way says to walk urges Christian to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called and so we're to give glory to Christ in the way that we live but is as we look at verse 20 it's beginning to introduce this idea that you've heard the gospel and now you and I are learning from Jesus Christ we are learners we're being changed it is players the contrast of the unbeliever lives in ignorance the believer is learning from Christ the unbeliever is spiraling downward and the believer is being transformed and becoming more and more like Christ as God works in their life what a contrast one's this way one's this way what has happened to you as a believer Ephesians 1 13 says gives this summary in him you also after listening to the message of truth the gospel of your salvation having also believed you were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise you and I are living the Christian fight life not in our own wisdom not our own strength not by our own ideas and not by our own creation we are we have been brought to faith in Christ by his work it's his promise it's the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God in us that has changed us we are led by his spirit you know Jesus tells us if you're if we're going through troubled times and which when it when is there not some troubled times maybe now but he's he tells that he says to his he emphasizes learning from him and he says in Matthew 11 verse 29 take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls if you were learning from Jesus he's promising that we will find rest in our spirit in our inner being what a promise that's what this Paul is teaching here that it's in Christ that we grow so you know the phrase when Jesus said I am the way the truth and the light there's no way to unpack that that is so deep but he is the way the truth and the life life is in him and our life is to be lived for him so believer you are transformed by Christ and you're on new journey even in this lost and broken world that's where we are verse 21 begins to list the ways God is at work in you and he's he's for you first you were changed by the new birth you know the truth and that truth is in Jesus you know intellectually and you know experientially the person of Jesus Christ but verse 20 21 are talking about our hearing and our learning from Christ the believer is so different from the unbeliever who thrives on ignorance and is resistant but you you are listening you are hearing you are learning that's how different we are from the rest of the world verse 21 says you have heard him and have been taught in him just as truth is in Jesus notice these statements are about what has already happened to us already happened to the believer you are this way you have been taught you have been listening you're learning and it's going to continue from now until eternity believers are being transformed and that is what is meant by sanctification and more and more we're to be living more and more like Christ wants us to live verse 22 begins with some list of steps of that we take on this journey and it says you lay aside the old self and that means that we our formal ways of an unbeliever are left behind and that there is a change taking place there is an ongoing process Hebrews 12 one says it this way let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us and we are on that journey with Jesus because he is the truth in our life so there's a lot of things you know you know the lives of the devil you know the former ways of darkness but now you are walking in the light of Christ your eyes are open you see the corruption that comes through the lust of deceit and you see the lies of Satan and you see the lies of the world and you are being enabled to obey and follow Christ because God's Word is teaching you and the Holy Spirit is in you God is at work causing you to will and do his good pleasure that's what you're experiencing as a believer you are being renewed in the spirit of your mind verse 23 says in fact this is a command it says be renewed in the spirit of your mind that means that I want to do what God says I want to do what God's Word says I want to be more Christlike I want to be led by the Holy Spirit I want to obey the Word of God that's being renewed in the spirit of your mind and this is in contrast to what we were saw earlier the darkness of the understanding of the unbeliever but you are being renewed what a difference the Christian is guided by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures and when you read the word and the the Holy Spirit illumines that and warms your heart as you realize this new truth that you were coming in contact with so Romans 12 to says it this way and do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove or demonstrate what the will of God is that which is good and acceptable and perfect verse 24 says we are to put on the new self it's a description of how we're being changed and this is possible because God is at work in us he's changing us and it's you are led by the Spirit and so we reject the old sinful ways of our past or things that we may have done and we reject them more and more and so what it is is the Spirit leads you and the Word feeds you or the Word feeds you and the Spirit leads you that's what is going on in the believers life who is maturing in Christ Hebrews 5 14 says this describes the changes that are made and how those changes are made in us it says but solid food the word is for the mature who because of obedience or practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil by obeying Christ or when we obey Christ or when we repent or we change we're changed we we understand good and evil more our discernment is is raised to a new level and this is how we grow as Christians we're not on a progressive path of the world we're on a path following Christ have you ever wondered though when you read this and you say well wait a minute if Christians are being transformed I know some people who are Christians and they are not being transformed they just live like the world and and and and they're progressive in the wrong ways and how is that well I was thinking about that and he said you know when we are inconsistent in our living then yeah that's going to show up but if you look at verse 17 it says they no longer walk in this way it says oh that was the way you used to work no longer walk but verse 21 says if indeed you have heard him so that raises the question a caveat well maybe this person who's saying they're a Christian really hasn't heard or they're really not listening they're they're backtracking or backsliding whatever they're doing anyway the so the scripture shows us our inconsistencies and we're if we're maturing in Christ we are in the process of being transformed that's what Paul is saying here so what is the result look at verse 24 and we see the results it says put on the new self which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth we are being made into the likeness of God we are being transformed into disciples who are truly recognizable disciples of Jesus Christ because we're being changed this is such a contrast to those whose end is destruction itself notice it says you are we are created we're not doing this ourselves God has saved us God has done this work God is doing this work in us and only it's the work that only God can do himself notice exactly this is exactly what 2nd Corinthians 5 17 says therefore if anyone is in new crisis a new creation creation the old things have passed away behold all things that become new but then again look at verse 24 it is a loaded verse it is very unusual it's crying to describing in a sense the new self what is this new self it says you are created in righteousness and you are being created in righteousness what does that mean there's two sentences in which we can take that one God legally counts you righteous he's declared you righteous he took your place on the cross he paid for your sins and he adopted you as his child and he says now you were righteous what no I'm not but yes he says you are righteous you're my child but then because I've covered you with my blood but the other side of that is well yes I am being made righteous because I'm being conformed more and more to Christ as I go through life before I reach eternity he's going to make some more changes in me so you as we mature we will be changed to desire to live a more righteous life we will be changed to want to be more godly because of a change in of our heart of a new nature he's given us so we desire to be more like Christ we grow in righteousness but then it says you are created in holiness this is true in two ways God considers you holy because he has saved you he has adopted you he says and declares you are holy a saint is means a holy one a holy person but not only that he says I call you out the church to be a holy nation and then he says you are a holy priesthood but you say oh man not inside my thoughts in my life or don't match up to that but yet you are he's declared it legally so you are holy but then again there's the other side of that we are being changed we are being sanctified so as we mature we will be changed to desire and live out a more holy lifestyle before God because he's looking at us and we are his children because Christ gives us a new heart and a new nature we desire to be holy because God is holy well how do I explain this verse I thought about it and I thought what a statement of the love of God toward every believer he says you were holy you are righteous but yet we're not that is the electing love the loving arms of God reaching out and pulling you in and changing you and bringing you into a new relationship with him and declaring you his own he has chosen you he has loved you he's given his blood for you and now you're his and he's going to keep changing you what an statement of God's grace we are being created in righteousness and holiness of the truth it is God who acts and powerfully changes our viewpoints he changes our worldview he changes our attitude he changes our dispositions he changes us from what we know we really are and that is his grace God is in the process of making us new think about this Adam and Eve were made in the image of God they were perfectly righteous and holy and they sin but in this verse what does God say he says I am giving you a new image in Christ I am creating a new life in you and I'm going to make you and have made you and declared you righteous and holy he's giving it back to us what Adam and Eve lost blessed be the name of the Lord for that Wow how do you we live in a corrupt world we will struggle with that but it begins with following Christ it begins with leaning on him it begins by thinking about the themes in this text so regardless of how the rest of the world lives we are to live for Christ as he transforms us in this world and we go on this journey that's what this text says we need to meditate on it let us pray father in heaven we thank you for your grace today and we pray father for more of it tomorrow we pray father that you would fill us with yourself that you would change us and conform us to your image working in us to be more righteous to be more holy but yet you've already declared us to be holy and righteous because of the death of Christ father we praise you for this forgiveness and we pray that others will know that forgiveness as well we ask this in Jesus name amen
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-03 00:59:28 / 2024-01-03 01:10:54 / 11

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