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The Way We Were #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
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November 6, 2023 12:00 am

The Way We Were #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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November 6, 2023 12:00 am

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It's through false teaching and false hopes of salvation where Satan lures people into traps and has them trusting in things other than Christ for their spiritual well-being.

That is where the deception lies. He blinds them so that they won't see the gospel of Christ. Before we were saved, when we were dead in our sins, what characterized our condition? Well today on The Truth Pulpit, Pastor Don Green begins an examination of what factors actually enslaved us so that we might better appreciate the magnitude of salvation. Hello, I'm Bill Wright, and Don is continuing our series, Your Sin and God's Salvation, with part one of a message titled, The Way We Were.

And Don, what do you have in store for us today? Well Bill, you can only understand salvation when you understand that it is a deliverance by God. And you can only appreciate the deliverance that God has given us if you understand something about the nature of what we were before we were saved. The Bible tells us here in Ephesians 2 that we were dead in sin, dominated by the devil, and doomed to suffer the wrath of God. That's the way we were before Christ saved us. Stay with us today as we study the wonder of God's salvation in Ephesians chapter 2. Thanks Don, and friend, let's join our teacher now in The Truth Pulpit. If I just told you in a five minute conversation, if I just gave you a little three minute sermonette up here and said you were dead in your trespasses and sins and now you need to know Christ, that would be true as far as it goes, but the full weight of what that means would not rest upon your soul.

It would not affect you like it should. You would not see all of the different dimensions at which this truth is true of you. And so Paul gives this summary statement, you were dead in your trespasses and sins, and then he goes on to explain exactly what that means and exactly how dead you were. And he's going to give us a threefold sense of that captivity to evil in verses 2 and 3. And so you were captive to evil powers, now we're going to look and we're going to see three aspects of what that captivity was like. What were you like before you became a Christian? Where was your life existence at?

What was your threefold slavery before God saved you in Christ? It's around you, it's inside you, it's above you. Your total inner and outer environment was arrayed against you in such a hostile manner, there was no possibility that you could have saved yourself. There was no possibility that you could have even recognized the danger that you were in, just like a fish swims in water and is oblivious to its environment, contrary to what you might have been taught by that doctrinally rich movie, Finding Nemo.

A fish has no awareness of its environment, it is not self-perceptive, it can't analyze and see what is around it. Well, beloved, that was you before you were a Christian. You were in an environment and you just assumed it all, you just moved and lived and breathed and had your being in a hostile environment that was leading you to eternal destruction, and you couldn't step outside of that environment to assess it apart from the revelation of God. What was that threefold slavery, that threefold captivity before God saved you in Christ?

Well, first of all, you're going to see that the world enslaved you. Paul says in chapter 2 verse 2, that you lived, look at the text with me, he says, in which you formally walked according to the course of this world. It says you were born into this world, not just in a physical sense, but you were born into a spiritual environment that governed the way that you thought, that governed the way that you acted, that had influence upon you in ways that went beyond anything that you could have thought. You were born into a spiritual environment.

You walked, you had your manner of living in a world, in a society, in a philosophical environment that rejected truth, rejected Christ, and followed the thinking and the fashions of the times. It's true that there is at one level a sense, and this is often explained in the fact that, you know, you look at the supermarket counter and the glossy magazines and media and all of that and you see that that is driving much of the thinking of the world, and that's true, but I want you to realize that it's more than just that. It's more than just that obvious outward hostility to the things of God, that positive attack on scriptural truth and scriptural morality. It's more than that. There's a negative aspect to it that is even more definitive and that cannot be denied. What I'm about to say cannot possibly be denied, and people who are in the world would even affirm what I'm about to say. Think about the world in which you live.

Think about everything that defines life and entertainment and media and news around you. The course of this world, defined from God's perspective, can be said like this. They have no interest in the Bible. Indeed, they do everything they can to silence it and mock it, to define it out of existence. There is no place for the Scriptures in public discourse, is there?

It is not welcome in public discourse. They have no interest in repentance or prayer. People love their sin. They have no sense. They like to be independent. They like to be assertive. And so the whole spirit of dependent prayer about which we sung earlier in the service is something that they would mock and reject and say, I don't need that.

Apparently, I'm stronger than you if you need that because I don't. That's the spirit. That's the course of the world. They have no love for Jesus Christ. If they use his name at all, they use it to curse and mock.

Not to reverently bow before him, not to love him as the creator of all things and the savior of the world and the one to whom they will one day stand before in judgment. They don't know Christ like that. They don't want Christ like that. They would hear none of it.

That's the course of this world. It is totally anti-God. It is totally anti-Christ.

It is totally anti-Scripture. They have no abiding interest in heaven as the abode of a holy God where his people will worship him. Oh, they don't want to go to hell. They want to go to someplace nice and dreamy and green where everything is love and peace. But to be at the throne of a holy God and to cast camp crowns at his feet and to love him and to worship him and to give him all of the glory in a reverent response of worship throughout all of eternity, that is something they don't want.

If this room were filled now with people of the world and I told them this is what I'm going to talk about, you have the opportunity to walk out and there's no hard feelings, there would be a stream of people heading for the exits because they don't want that. It's the course of the world to reject everything about the central truths of Scripture and everything that we hold dear as Christians. And that's the environment in which you were born into. You were born into a spiritual environment in the world that would do nothing to point you to Christ and would do everything to point you away from it.

We could stay it this way. There is no debating what I'm about to say. They prefer their opinions to a biblical worldview. They're not interested in Scripture.

Even those, watch this, because this will get hit pretty close to home, even those who engage in political action against various kinds of immorality, name the external sins that you want to, abortion, homosexual marriage, whatever else you want to add to the list there. When people enter into that realm to see how much the world enslaves them, you must acknowledge that as soon as they enter into a political realm to engage those issues, they shut down Scripture because Scripture won't gather votes. It will offend voters, and so they have to silence the gospel to team together with other religions that are anti-gospel but would share a sense of outward morality. So that in order to engage the world even on the sins of the world, Scripture is silenced because people go in and they say, we can't possibly talk about the Scriptures here because no one will listen, we'll lose before we begin.

Look, if you're embarrassed by the Bible and your politics, then you are captive to the world. The world has so enslaved you and the opinions of men have so gathered in your thoughts and fears and your deferences and what you're trying to accomplish that when Scripture is silenced you have given in to the spirit of the world, even if you're standing for an outward sense of morality. Paul says we were all like that, and whether we were outwardly religious in our unsaved condition, or whether we were defiantly immoral, the world system drove us away from God and shaped our lives. The evolutionary thinking of the world was defining our education and our thinking. And so, you were in an environment, you were swimming in a sea of existence that you could not escape.

That's where you formally walked. That's what was defining you before you were Christian, somehow something other than the saving gospel of Christ determined your course of life. And just to realize that it manifests in different ways, whether it's outward religion or defiant sin or just a blind casual indifference to the things of God, it all has a common root.

The world environment, the course of the world has no interest in Scripture, no interest in Christ, no interest in the saving gospel. That was you. That's where you were, Paul says. It's frightening to think that we were a fish in a sea and we couldn't jump out of it. And the harvest net of judgment was coming to sweep us up. We didn't even recognize our environment and we couldn't escape it. We were just going to be gathered up with all of the other rotten fish and brought to judgment.

That was you, that was me. Now, what else can we say about our former captivity from this text of Scripture, Ephesians 2, 1 through 3? The world enslaved you, yes, but secondly, it was more than that, Satan enslaved you. Satan enslaved you.

We were subject to supernatural powers that were hostile to us and hostile to the God who saves. Look at verse 2 with me again. And please look at the text with me.

Don't just take my words for it. All we're doing here is we're just giving the sense of what Scripture has already said. And here it is in verse 2, you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world. Notice the parallel construction, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Paul says your former walk was according to the ruler of the power of the air.

Stated differently, your former life was in line with the world and with Satan, with the devil himself. Ephesians emphasizes this evil realm, even though it tends to slip out of attention even in the best of Christian preaching, the book of Ephesians emphasizes this evil realm and warns us against it. Not only here in chapter 2 verse 2, but look over at chapter 4 verse 27. Chapter 4 verse 27 says, do not give the devil an opportunity. Chapter 6 verse 12 says, chapter 6 verse 12, our struggle, actually look at verse 11, put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, it's not against men, it's not against outward forces that we see with our physical eyes, but it's against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Look down at verse 16, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. So throughout the book of Ephesians, from start to finish, after Paul finishes his burst of praise and prayer for believers, he is introducing, he is mindful, right at the very surface is this opposition of a hostile force named Satan, the devil, who was aligned against you in your spiritual well-being. Scripture says that Satan is the father of lies.

He is the prince of the power of the air, which somehow indicates the realm in which he operates. We won't try to define that, but in that invisible realm, Satan influences the world for evil, and that is consistent with his wicked career that Scripture traces back all the way to the Garden of Eden where he first tempted man to sin. And we see the results of that. We see the catastrophe that fell when Satan tempted man into sin and paradise was lost and death entered into the world. Scripture says that was the course, he was the one, that nature is what defined your walk in the world.

Wow. He is a deceiver. He deceives men and he deceives nations. And he does it, watch this, he deceives men and nations, not in a red suit with a pointy tail and a pitchfork.

No, no, no, that kind of trivialization, that making a joke of it totally diminishes the reality of the enormous supernatural spiritual threat he is to all of mankind, collectively and individually. Satan is a false angel, he is a fallen angel, better stated, who generates ungodly philosophies and false religion which oppose God's truth. Turn over to 2 Corinthians 11, I want you to follow me through a couple of things here. Look this back a couple of pages in your Bible, 2 Corinthians 11, beginning in verse 3. 2 Corinthians 11, verse 3. I just want you to get a sense in these brief cross-references of Scripture, a sense of the realm in which Satan operates because we trivialize it too much with our superficial thinking.

In 2 Corinthians 11, verse 3, Paul said, I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. He's correcting the Corinthians for being too undiscerning and welcoming in, teaching, and a false gospel that was actually satanically inspired in order to deceive them and to lead them astray from Christ. Drop down to verse 14, actually verse 13, as he talks about these false teachers. He says, such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness whose end will be according to their deeds.

Now watch this. Where is it that Satan operates? Where is his realm of operation? How does that manifest itself in the course of this world? How does it manifest itself in the way in which you formerly lived? It manifests itself through false systems of philosophy, false teachings, false gospels. And whether it is atheism or a works-based religion or whether it's New Age stuff or whether it's devil worship, it all has a common thread, a common root of Satan blinding men to biblical truths so that they will not receive the gospel of Christ. You're in 2 Corinthians. Let's turn back to 2 Corinthians 4 for just a moment. I want you to see where the attack is, where the realm of operation is. 2 Corinthians 4 verse 3, Paul says, Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.

Here's his realm, beloved. False teaching that blinds people to the gospel. Systems of thought that distract people away from the simplicity and purity of repentance and faith in Christ. It trivializes the evil realm when people blame Satan for their sins of the flesh or they blame the devil because they can't find a parking spot. What we need to understand is the description that Scripture gives to us of Satan is that he is behind entire systems of thought in order to obscure Christ from the eyes of sinners. And every false religion, every teacher who does not just lay forth the necessity of repentance and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sin is being animated by, ultimately by the work of the devil because it's through false teaching and false hopes of salvation where Satan lures people into traps and has them trusting in things other than Christ for their spiritual well-being. That is where the deception lies.

He blinds them so that they won't see the gospel of Christ. And it can be very elaborate. It can be very seductive. It can seem very, what's the word I'm looking for, very respectful, very dignified.

Think of the college professor smoking his pipe in his classroom. It doesn't have to be, you know, sacrificing animals in a devil's sacrifice thing. It's all over. It's everywhere. And the multiplicity of deception simply make it all the more difficult to find your way through the maze. In fact, you can't find your way through the maze with your dead and sinful mind. And what Paul is emphasizing, turn back to Ephesians chapter 2 right now, what Paul is saying is, in the context, the overall context of Ephesians 1 and 2, Christian, brother and sister in Christ, what Paul is saying is, is that's the realm to which you used to belong. That's the life that you used to live before you came to Christ. You were captive to Satan with the rest of the men.

Watch this. In your natural power, in your natural strength, with your natural thinking informed by a worldly environment that is anti-God, those were your tools of weaponry to try to get out from the domination of a supernatural foe with supernatural intelligence engendering false systems of thought to keep you from the gospel. You were hopeless. I was hopeless. There was no way out. You were tricked.

You were deceived. You were brought into a spider web of deception and there was nothing that you could do to get out of it except to watch that spiritual black widow get closer and closer to you, ready to strike the venom of your eternal destruction. That's what you used to walk in.

That's the ledge that we're looking over. Nothing less than the abyss of hell and you were defenseless. You were dead in trespasses and sins in a world environment that wouldn't help instruct you to find your way out, but instead drove you deeper into the deception, somehow orchestrated by a fallen angel, Satan himself, and that was the course that you walked according to.

Look at verse 2 with me again, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience which we saw from 2 Corinthians blinds people to the gospel, blinds them through systems of thought and sends out servants who look like servants of righteousness with their pointy hats and their gold gilded robes, with their suits and million dollar smiles and who knows how much cosmetic surgery and all telling you what you want to hear. God wants you healthy. God wants you happy.

God loves you just like you are. Do you see how bad it was? Paul's point is that you shared in that manner of life. The world's philosophy and Satan's deceitfulness do pose big obstacles to faith. Next time, Pastor Don Green will show us how the flesh is an all too willing accomplice, but that thankfully no obstacle stands a chance against the Holy Spirit. Join us as we continue our series, Your Sin and God's Salvation. That's next time on The Truth Pulpit.

Right now though, Don's back in studio with some closing thoughts. Friend, one of the things that I'm always mindful of when I'm here in studio is I'm mindful that there are people out in the audience that are like I used to be, thinking that they were Christians but not really having the life of God in their soul. You've perhaps read the Bible or gone to church, but you've never really turned your life to Christ in repentance and saving faith.

I was like that. I know what it's like to be self-deceived. I just encourage you, if you've just viewed Christianity as something kind of casual and not all that important, my friend, examine yourself.

See if you're truly born again and let that work of God in your heart lead you to truth, lead you to the Scriptures so that you would enter into the profound life that belongs only to those who are true Christians. Thanks Don. I hope you'll visit to learn more about our ministry. That's Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you next time for more from The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-06 05:14:37 / 2023-11-06 05:23:55 / 9

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