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A Decisive Approach Toward Sin #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2023 12:00 am

A Decisive Approach Toward Sin #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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March 30, 2023 12:00 am

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I want to be like Christ. That means that I don't want to be marked by recurring patterns of sin.

That's the only right thing for you to think if you're a Christian. God has given us the gift of life, but life is serious. That is, what we do has consequences, especially when we sin. And as Don Green continues to teach God's people God's Word on this edition of the Truth Pulpit, he offers a decisive approach toward sin.

Hello there, I'm Bill Wright. We're continuing our series, As You Walk with Christ. It will again be in Ephesians 5, this time verses 11 through 14.

So turn there in your Bible as we join Don now in the Truth Pulpit. Here in Ephesians chapter 5, Paul is giving us an extended section of teaching on Christian purity. And if we could summarize it, we could say it perhaps in this way, is that life is serious. And we walk in the love, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit, but we're mindful that life is serious and that there are consequences to the way that we live. We've been saved out of sin.

We're mindful that God will judge the living and the dead, and that we will appear before the judgment seat of Christ and receive a reward for the way in which we've lived. And we want to maximize that reward. And as I stand here before you and teach the Word of God, every one of you, I want your eternal reward to be maximized. I want you to receive the fullest possible reward from God for your Christian living as you could possibly receive.

And that's what your desire should be too. You should be living with and eye toward the fact that you are going to stand before God and give an account. 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verses 8 through 10.

Speak of that. And so what does that mean? Well, it means that you as a Christian have a settled disposition. You have a firm recognition that it is incumbent upon you to put away the remaining vestiges of sin that are still in your life, to turn away from immorality, to turn away from foolish talk and coarse jesting. Look at Ephesians chapter 5 verses 3 and 4. Paul says, immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you as is proper among the saints.

There must be no filthiness and silly talk or coarse jesting which are not fitting, but rather a giving of thanks. Here's what I want you to see from that text. There's a certain lifestyle that is proper for those who are Christians. There are things that are fitting, and then there are things that are improper and that don't match what our position is in Christ. And what Paul is saying is that the filthiness of the world, the coarse jesting, the immorality of the world is something that you should understand and have settled in your heart, that you are a sworn enemy against those things.

And we need this instruction, don't we? We're mindful of the fact, we realize that our desires and our hearts sometimes tempts us toward evil. We're mindful of the fact that the world knows just exactly how to package sin to make it attractive even to us. We're mindful of the fact, aren't we?

The Scripture says that Satan is going about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. And so we realize that while we are, in one sense, we are very secure in Christ, yet in our day-to-day living we're vulnerable because there are these weak points that are vulnerable to attack. Our own desires, the environment of the world, the spiritual realm of Satan that seeks to discredit Christians and lure them into sin and thus dishonor Christ.

We're mindful of all of these things. And the question becomes, how is it then that we separate ourselves from sin? How is it that we can establish a life that is firm in its trajectory toward purity?

How does that happen? Well, Paul here in the first ten verses of Ephesians has shown us that. We've gone over it so many times. And what he's doing now as we come to verses 11 and 14 is, if you think about it like a baseball diamond, Paul is rounding third and heading toward home. He's coming in these four verses. He's coming to his conclusion on this particular section.

And he's about to bring us to the point where he scores the run, as it were. He brings it to a climax for us to understand exactly what it is that we do and to give us a mindset that conditions us, that entrenches us in a pursuit of holiness, in a pursuit of purity. And if you're a Christian here today, that's what you should want for your life. And what he does in these three verses, these four verses I should say, verses 11 to 14, is he gives us three final thoughts to deal decisively with sin. And the first thing that he does here is he lays out these three elements of a mind for holiness.

Well, the first thing that he does is he shows you, number one, how you must deal with sin. If you're taking notes, here in verse 11 he shows you how you must deal with sin. And it's important to have a strategy, to have a plan of attack for sin. If you're not thinking through these things, if you've never really seriously dealt with biblical teaching on sanctification, on that process of growing to become more and more like Christ, then if you've never really thought about it, then I'm not surprised to know, without you even telling me, that your Christian life is inconsistent. That sometimes things go well, and other times you're just so vulnerable to sin it seems like you have no power over it whatsoever. Well, you know, that comes from, in part, from not really thinking through what Scripture says about sin and dealing with it.

And there are convictions, there are concrete pillars that must be driven into our character upon which everything else rests. The pillars of holiness are laid out for us here in verses 11 through 14. Now Paul has considered the consequences of sin. Look back at verse 5 and 6 with me, again, just by way of reminder, he says, Know that no immoral or impure or covetous man has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. He says, know in verse 6 the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. And so, as we're starting to realize, we're saying, you know what, for unbelievers, the consequences of sin are massive.

There are eternal consequences for sinners, and that their love for sin and the things that they pursue lead them into eternal destruction. You say to yourself, well, thank God I've been delivered from that. Well, yes, that's right, praise God for his mercy in your life.

Absolutely. But carry it through and work it through another step or two and realize, okay, I've been delivered from the eternal penalty of sin. Well, what I want now is I want to be delivered from the power of sin. I want to be more and more separated from sin in my life.

That should be a conviction of yours. That should be one of the deepest desires of your heart. I want to be like Christ. That means that I don't want to be marked by recurring patterns of sin. That's the only right thing for you to think if you're a Christian. And now what Paul does here is he, having shown us our responsibility to live differently, he's now giving his closing argument.

He's giving his closing instruction on what that looks like. And notice in verse 11 he tells you exactly how to deal with sin in a Spirit-inspired brevity that is easy to see and remember. Verse 11, writing as a command.

This is not optional for us. It is not optional for you to decide whether or not you will deal with sin. If you're a Christian, God commands you. God as King exercises his royal prerogative over your soul and says, this is how you must live. This must be the formative desires of your heart.

What does he say? Verse 11. Remember we're reading the Word of God written to his people. He says, do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.

Here's what I want you to see. Sometimes the most powerful principles of Scripture are profoundly simple. And what Paul has done here is he's given us a two-fold command. There's a two-fold way in which you should think about sin. First of all, notice there's a contrast. He says, do not participate in these unfruitful deeds, but instead even expose them.

And just as a general observation, what I want you to see is this. Is that there is a negative and there is a positive command here. There should be in your mind a two-fold approach to sin. One that says, I don't participate in it.

And secondly, less, perhaps less often considered. You have a strengthened resolve to expose it. What's Paul saying here? On the negative side, he says, do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness. In other words, refuse them. Have it settled in your mind that whenever sin comes, whenever temptation presents itself to you, whether you're prone to being a gossip or a cheat or a liar or whether it's in the realm of sensual immorality being presented to you, whatever the area of sin is that you are particularly vulnerable to, you have it settled in your mind that the principle is established. That is not a realm for me to enter. I refuse it.

I reject it. And it's not enough simply to say, well, that's wrong, but look, we're all weak and we all fall into sin. And you just kind of temper the commands of Scripture with a sense that says, I'm going to acknowledge some defeat before I even get into it. And you make excuses before you even enter the battle.

You plan your escape strategy before the bullets even start flying. What kind of Christian soldier is that that says, you know, I admit defeat before I even move forward? No, that's not how we deal with sin. That's not how we think about it. We think about it biblically.

We think about it from God's perspective. And what God says is, do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness. Refuse them. Make no room in your heart for it. Make yourself a sworn enemy of these unfruitful things that Paul has been discussing earlier in the text. The sins that you know you particularly struggle with, don't make room for them. Refuse them.

Say, this has no legitimate place in my life whatsoever. Even if it's sins that you enjoy, particularly if it's sins that you enjoy the darkness of it, well look, Scripture says don't participate in that. Don't you realize that those deeds cannot be separated from the way that God views them?

And the way that God views them is that those who continually practice those deeds will be the objects of his eternal wrath? There's not room for you as a Christian to think about sin in a way that accommodates it in your life. There should be settled disposition that says, I refuse that. Why do you refuse it?

Look back at verse 11. It's unfruitful. There's no good in it.

There's nothing profitable in it. And so what Paul is saying here is that your mindset as a Christian is to stop making room for those sins in your approach to life. It means that when your mind starts to go there, you say, no, I can't even think that way. When the people who lead you into those sins come in, you say, you know what, guys, I gotta go. I'm checking out. You guys lead me into darkness, and I don't want that in my life.

I'm not going to participate in it. You know, it's that settled so that it's not just a general sense that sin is bad and whatever. It actually starts to form settled convictions in your heart that drive the way that you live life day to day.

That's it. And then once you've settled that, and that's clear in your mind, Paul then goes on and gives this positive command to increase the pursuit of godliness in your life. Look at verse 11 here.

This is very interesting, very challenging, and it's very helpful. Scripture so often does this. It gives us not only a negative command, but a positive thing to pursue as well. And he says, don't participate in them. It has the idea of stop participating in them, but instead even expose them. What's he saying here?

Well, there's a couple of things that we need to have in mind. Your sanctified life exposes the wickedness of sin because it creates a contrast with the way that the world lives. It exposes a contrast with the way that sinners live. That godly life convicts sinners around you of their guilt and pollution.

Look at verse 8 with me. He says, you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light. Let it be your pattern of life, your pursuit of life to manifest the truth and holiness of God that has taken root, has taken captive all of your affections and priorities. He says, walk that way. And now what he's saying is when you walk that way, there is going to be an exposure that takes place of sin and darkness all around you.

It's fascinating to realize that this happens without us even thinking about it. And Paul says, you be mindful of what your life represents. You're a child of light. You're a child of God. You're a child of Christ. And as that, as a representative of his, be mindful of what you're carrying. Be mindful, as it were, of the uniform that you wear, of the badge that is on your life.

The badge of Christ, the badge of his redemption. That's why Jesus says you're the salt of the earth. You're the light of the world in Matthew 5, 13 to 16. Salt has a preservative capacity, has a preservative effect.

It's a retardant against decay. Light exposes darkness. Light and darkness cannot simultaneously exist. And so this inevitable contrast that your life represents sheds light on the works of darkness. It exhibits the true nature of sin as vile and destructive. And so Paul says, don't participate, but instead even expose them. We recognize, wow, this is what God has called me to.

Now, that leads us to a second point. Why you must deal with sin. Point number one was how you must deal with sin. Secondly, Paul addresses why you must deal with sin. And I have to tell you, I love verse 12. I love Ephesians 5, verse 12, because it shows us that there is no room in our Christian lives for the sins of our flesh.

Why is it that we go through the spiritual effort to resist sin? Well, Paul lays it out for us here in verse 12. He says, why is it that you don't participate? Why is it that you expose them?

Look at verse 12. He says, for. He's given his reason here. He's explaining it, because. Here's why you live this way. Here's why you engage the effort. Here's why you don't just simply drift along with the stream of culture and the stream of society. Here's why a church doesn't cater to the desires of unsaved people in order to try to increase their numbers.

All of this is tied together. Verse 12, he says, for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. Why is it that you must deal with sin? First of all, sin is shameful. Sin is shameful.

Look at it there in verse 12. He says, it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. We stand in conviction against the depraved nature of our world.

Why? Because what animates the world and its desires, what drives our society, what drives our entertainment, what drives our politics, it's wrong and it's shameful. It's a disgrace.

It's a dishonor. And look, what you and I as Christians, as we look on that, what our response is is that we don't justify sin in our lives by saying, well, everyone does it, and the ungodliness of the world becomes an excuse for compromising with ungodliness in your own life. That's not the right perspective. You see, you and I, we don't judge ourselves in comparison with what other men are doing.

That is the quicksand that sinks down into hell. You don't want to think that way. You don't want to approach life that way and say, well, what's acceptable to me, I'll determine by being just a little bit better by the world around me. That's foolish. That's ungodly carnal thinking. You know, so you don't say, well, I don't get as drunk as the guy next to me does.

I don't get as drunk as often as he does, so I'm better than him. That's not the point at all. No, you come and you say, what does God think about all of this? What does Scripture say about it? What Scripture says is that all of that stuff is a disgrace. It is a sinful dishonor against its creator. It is indecent. It is dishonorable.

And so our conviction, our approach is, you know what? The people in the world may live that way, but I understand from God's Word that that is a shameful, disgraceful way to live. It is a dishonoring way to even think. And so I will have no part in it. And it's because it is shameful that I will have no part in it.

And understand, in what Paul's doing here, remember he's building up and reinforcing the reasons that you know how you must deal with sin. You say, this is disgraceful, therefore I refuse the way of the world for my standard of living. Therefore I will live a life that is opposed to it and has the effect of exposing the wickedness.

Why? Why do we refuse it? Why do we reject it? Why do we rebuke it? Why do we refuse and rebuke it? Why?

Because it's shameful. All of this worldly sin and the continual downward spiral. It's a vortex of shame. And because it's like that, then I'm going to refuse and rebuke it. Now look, what you and I must do is we must go to Scripture and let it soak into our minds so that your resolve is unaffected by it.

And that your personal conviction and disposition is unmoved. It is firm against it so that you are able to stand against the ever-growing tide that would try to carry you out to the sea of ungodliness. You say, no, I'm not cast loose here. I'm not some loose piece of seaweed on the beach that can be carried out with the tide. No, I'm anchored like a lighthouse here. I'm not moving.

I'm unmovable on this conviction. And what will come of that? What happens as a result? What can you expect to flow from life as a result of that? Well, we see that sin is shameful, but there's an effect that it has. Look at verse 13. And this is where Paul starts to speak in very compressed language. And it takes some effort to unpack what we think he's getting at.

He says, but all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. And why is it that you must deal with sin? Sin is shameful. What Paul is saying here in verse 13 is that that kind of separation is enlightening. It has an instructive effect.

It has a convicting result on the world around us. Paul is showing us what happens when we live in obedience to Scripture. And what he's saying in verse 13 is that your faithful Christian life exposes evil by creating a contrast with it. When people who are in darkness see your faithful life, it exposes the sinfulness of their own life. When you show a Christ-centered approach to life, it exposes the fact that they are not of like affection.

It shows them that they are in love with themselves and they are in love with sin when they see that you're not like that. The contrast can't be held. What happens when you walk into a dark room and flick on the light switch? Well, yeah, the light comes on, but everything that's in the room is made visible as a result.

And you can see the chaos that is in an unkept room when a light is turned on. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with part one of a message titled, A Decisive Approach Toward Sin. We'll have part two for you next time on The Truth Pulpit, so be sure to join us then. But right now, Don's back in studio with a pastoral word of encouragement.

Well, thank you, Bill. My friend, there is a pastoral word that I would share with you here today. You know, I'm mindful of the fact that Jesus said that there would be many on the day of judgment who would call him Lord and yet be shocked to find that he was going to send them away because he never knew them, it says in Matthew chapter 7.

And my friend, I just want to encourage you to examine your own heart. Do you really know Christ? You know, for so long in my life, there was such an extended period of time in my life where I said that I was a Christian, I claimed to know Christ, but I didn't, really. I was a stranger, I was in darkness until the Lord actually saved me.

Well, my friend, I don't want you to live in that cloud of self-deception that I found myself in many times. Do you realize that Christ died for sinners just like you? Have you turned from sin and put your faith completely in him? Have you been born again? Jesus said you must be born again in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. My friend, my prayers are with you that if you're not saved, God would open your eyes. And if you are a brother or sister in Christ to me, God bless you. Continue walking with Christ. Trust him because he will deliver you into heaven and it will be far more wonderful than you could ever imagine. Thanks, Don. And thank you, friend, for joining us today. I'm Bill Wright inviting you back next time when Don Green teaches God's people God's word from the truth pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-02 12:01:55 / 2023-04-02 12:11:15 / 9

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