ALIVE Living | Ephesians 4:17-32
Topic: New Testament Passage: Ephesians 4:17–4:32
Christopher Rich – November 24, 2019
ALIVE | The Way Unearned | PART VIII
ALIVE LIVING| Ephesians 4:17-32
Introduction | Living in Relationship
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we continue our series walking the through the book of Ephesians called ALIVE: The way Unearned where we see life with God has been given to us.
In Christ, we have been made alive for a purpose. To live in the way God has created us. Both the rewards of and endurance in this life are by His grace alone so they are by nature unearned.
We have seen great theological truths about our new identity in Christ, how we are to be unified and pursue maturity as the people of God. The vision and the plan has been laid out. Talking about the need for growth in unity and maturity is highly aspirational. But reality can come crashing down quickly when we begin to access how immature we truly are and how many different areas of our life are not yet “walking in a manner worthy” but seem to still be walking dead. This gets compounded when we are trying to walk in community, edifying relationships, with one another because everyone else is also in various states of growth, maturity, with their own flavor of brokenness and sin. Conflict will invariability happen, and we have to know how to address and engage with it because how we live in relationship matters to God.
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth – Mike Tyson
We exist to be unified and to build one another up! That’s the idealistic desire and direction, but there is a realistic disposition that can sometimes cause destruction. We’re trying to live out this new life but then there are other people…..who might punch us in the mouth. We also cannot forget our roll and contribution to a culture of conflict. For others, we’re the other people making it difficult. How are you, me, we going to address this? We have responses that are similar to the world. The world and the church do love, relationship, and conflict the same ways… not healthy. Division, retaliation, bitterness and destruction rule the day. When we are loved, pursued, spiritually alive people, in relationship with God, how we do love, do relationship, and yes even how we do conflict needs to be distinct from the world. Jesus said we’ll be known in the world by what? Our love for one another. If gospel unity is going to be experienced as a community then gospel purity needs to be pursed as individuals in community. Our life with God is tied to our life with God’s people. We cannot believe that the vertical relationship we have with God, if it is vital and active won’t impact our horizontal relationships. We don’t live dead, we live as ones who have been made alive. So there is a transformation that changes what it means to be alive and how we now live.
PART I | Living New | Ephesians 4:17-24
Eph 4:17-24 |17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Living Old (17-19) - There is a way that orphans, outsiders, unloved, spiritualty dead, rebels of God live in their head, heart, and hand doesn’t lead to greater flourishing life with God and others but instead works against relational harmony as the focus is on self above all else. The old you without Jesus looks like:
You have a hard heart - What should be beating for God beat by beat giving you new and renew life is instead is a cold dead stone where nothing life giving flows out of and nothing live giving can be received.
You cannot see properly - Darkened understanding – you’re see shadows you don’t have the clearest perspective on what is true. You see things incorrectly because you are in the dark, so you harm others.
You don’t think properly - futile minds how you think isn’t working to promote unity. There is a dulled processing that is empty and unproductive. The way you think through conflict is ignorant of what gives life.
You’re separated from the Life of God – You don’t live properly. You are not connected to God, you’re separated from Him. Sin separates us from one another, so your conflicts don’t resolve with anything that looks like reconciliation or restoration, but instead only leaves wreckage and separation. The result….
You become callous- Callous is to lose all feelings… with a stone heart, blind eyes, unproductive mind, separated from God you don’t have a warm tenderness but a cold numbness. You are numb to the pain you cause and that you feel. The result of being disconnected from the God of life is a deadness of relationships. When you are numb you begin to look for things that will make you feel something you pursue that which can you sense of life lived. “Given themselves up” means there is a spiritual condition AND there is a personal responsibility and response that comes from this Sexuality/sensuality, greedy (feeling full when you are unsatisfiable), impurity (idolatry) pursuit of that which is false and does not give life.
But… Do you not know who you are? What about Jesus!? None of these things you learned as a disciple. This isn’t part of our training as Alive people. You didn’t hear the Gospel, repent of sin, and follow Jesus because you saw people who are precisely like everyone else. There was something peculiar and compelling about the community that was created. You are not a spiritually dead rebel orphan, you an adopted alive citizen.
Living New - The way unearned is not a way unchanged. Sin needs to be turned from. We are not made alive by repentance, but we are made alive to practice repentance. In Christ, we have been gifted with soft hearts that illuminate our understanding of this new life. Like wore out clothes, our old life does not suit our new life. Parts of our old life will have to be taken off and new ways of being will have to put on.
Living new assumes Jesus has made you new- He is saying when you live old it’s like you don’t know Jesus. Have heard about Jesus, you’ve heard the good news of the Gospel. He has made you new to live a new way you’ve been taught that is shown by Jesus and was secured by Jesus for you!
Take of the old – What is old doesn’t belong to you any longer! It’s not yours any more because you are not the old self anymore. These ways of being are driven not by the truth but by the lie what you’re not the new you, you are the old you. Do not deceitful desires (not desires to deceive but desires that deceive you) that was they way you were, you are that no longer. When you’ve been made new, had a transfer of status from one life to another there is an identity you’ve taken off. Freed prisoners don’t put on orange jumpsuits. Liberated soldiers take off your uniform and stop fighting.
Be renewed in your mind – To ask God to work in you in your spirit by the Holy Spirit, present tense. The mind is the center of our desires and engagement with the word. There is a once and forever change of identity and status AND there is a daily, moment by moment Holy Spirit empowered life. In our old lives our mind was darkened and calcifying but in our new life we have a mind that is constantly being renewed and refreshed. Martin Luther says all of life is one of repentance, this means our growth will be a process.
To put on the new – Like wore out clothes, our old life does not suit our new life. Parts of our old life will have to be taken off and new ways of being will have to put on. There is a conversion we experience that is parallel to the recreation work of God that He has performed in us. We don’t make ourselves new God has made us new. Our new self isn’t being created, we have been created new by God. These aren’t instructions, these are reminders of the reality. (2 Cor 5:1-17) You are a new creation, make in the image and likeness of God so you desire “true righteousness” is similar to Justice and holiness is a dedication to what is true. Wear what makes sense for who you are.
PART II | Living Ways | Ephesians 4:25-29
Eph 4:25-29 | 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Living Ways– A community of new (not yet perfect) people, who are in a process of growth will be at times experience conflict. People will harm one another with their words though passive falsehood and active anger, consumerism, or ugly attitudes. Words have great power, especially in how we relate to others.
Put off Falsehood (Attitudes) - Hidden bitterness. When we keep things hidden, we don’t give opportunity for them to be effectively addressed. The elephants in the room get bigger and bigger. John Mackay said, “A lie is a stab into the very vitals of the Body of Christ.” Communities are based and built on mutual reliance. There needs to be trust and support. Once trust is lost it is difficult to recover. What is false has to come out!
Put on the Truth – In speech. It means you might have to have some clear conversations so there is an opportunity to work things out. These conversations as so necessary to actually address what is in our hearts so we can bring out what is to walk towards what should be. When we speak the truth in love, we are letting out what we are keeping hidden. True peacemaking might first require peace breaking where the peace is shallow and superficial lack of conflict rather than deep union and wholeness together.
Why? Because we’re members one of another – Hidden bitterness hinders brotherly unity. We do not like to engage in conflict, instead we like “Northwest Nice” where we pretend there isn’t an issue when there is in fact a deep divide keeping us apart. When you’re lying about a person or harboring a deceitful attitude you’re stabbing a part of the body and it will cause internal bleeding that weakens the whole body.
Old self sin in anger (Emotions) - Assumes we are going to be angry. We don’t think emotions matter so we get angry and we think anger is always wrong so we don’t process it. Instead we let it stew. The account grows longer. This isn’t necessarily talking about righteous anger, it is talking about the type of anger that is destructive to relationships. The type that is out to punish others with selfish intentions.
Resolve it quickly – Be proactive not self-protective. We nurse anger it like it’s a baby dragon and then we wonder why it grows up to torch a whole village. Time doesn’t heal all wounds it can make them fester.
Why? To not give the Devil an opportunity – The enemy comes to steal, destroy and kill, he does this in relationship. The more you’re harboring anger the more you’re giving the enemy opportunity The slanderer, the adversary is at work to divide and destroy and you’re inviting the enemy into the community to bring disunity into the body. What do you want to feed? Sometimes we just want to feed ourselves….
Don’t be a selfish consumer (Actions) – There are no real robin hoods like a socialist hero. When a thief is actively working they’re working to take what is not theirs. They want the fruit of another’s labor, they want possessions that are not intended for them. They see the gifting or blessing of another and say I want that. It’s coveting in action. It takes effort to steel but the effort benefits one and harms another.
Actively produce – When we are actively working towards greater unity working honestly (with integrity about who we are) then we aren’t consuming we are producing. The fruits of your labor and giftings are used and active to produce more and that production isn’t simply so you can generate more but so you can be more generous. You are sharing, you get to enjoy the fruit of your labors and so do others. It’s win-win.
Why? To bless and share with others who are in need. We need each other! God’s vision for community is one where everyone is producing and where needs are being met by one another as we are sharing. To share in the body is to serve the body for growth. We are producers for other, we are not takers for ourselves.
Don’t have corrupting talk speech come out. (words) Words are bookended because of their importance in life creation or destruction. These are words that are like spoiled food. It’s used to reference rotten fish or maggot infested fruit, spoiled bread. What comes out of your mouth isn’t edifying. It tastes bad and it makes you sick. It might even sound good at first but there is the seed of death in it.
Speak what is good for building up! Speak what is true “you are an x not a y” Words can also be used as a balm as new people speak words of life, truth, and encouragement to intentionally build one another up rather than recklessly tear down. Proverbs 12:18 says our words can be like sword thrusts or can bring healing.
Why? To give a gift of grace to those who hear. Building up of people. When it makes sense, when it fits the need, as fits the occasion. That is a gift to the community rather than what is tearing down the community. A speech gift. When has someone said something to you that brought you to your knees… when has someone said something to you that was a gift, that gave you strength at the right time to build you up? When have you said something that just tore down a relationship? When have you said something that just dumped a bucket of water on a burning fire? Our words need to be gifts to others!
PART III | Living Forgiven | Ephesians 4:30-32
Eph 4:30-32 |30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
You cannot overpower or run from the Holy Spirit, but you can grieve Him. The Holy Spirit is grieved when God’s people walk in way that divide and destroy the unity of the body. You were sealed by the Holy Spirit, to make it to the day of redemption (final consummation to glory) God’s work in the past has secured your future, so it’s not matter of losing your salvation for eternity, but are you flourishing today with others? When, not if, conflict, pain, and sin are experienced in Gospel Community we all have opportunities to have our righteous anger turn to unrighteous malice and bitterness. These manifests in the following ways:
- Bitterness – refuses to desire reconciliation and instead wants to keep harboring resentment
- Wrath and Anger –We can explode in anger or smolder in wrath. When we’ve been wronged, we want the other person to suffer, our wrath. God’s wrath is just, ours is just wrong.
- Slander - is seeking to destroy the reputation or character of any other with violent words.
- Malice – is actively desiring or plotting evil towards another. You have to shut down your part of the conflict… first.
Confess this truth… you are not God. You may think you’ve been wronged, you may actually have suffered injustice. Let God sort out justice. If we consider how we have sinned against God and the merciful way we have been forgiven, it should lead us in the way of kindness and forgiveness towards those who have wronged us. It doesn’t say “wait until others have put all these things away, then you wait for them to be really sorry and then work to earn their forgiveness and eventually be back you favor.” You have a tender heart so you cannot be a safe harbor for bitterness. Forgiveness is literally “acting in grace towards another”
You may be struggling to forgive yourself or others. God has, don’t put yourself in opposition to God or act like you’re more important than what He says about you. At the same time don’t think that what you think of another brother or sister is more important than what God has said about them and done for them.
“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” – Corrie Ten Boom
Forgiven people forgive and walk in kindness with tender hearts. Unforgiven people walk with bitter cold hearts. This means we need to be ready and willing to forgive the unrepentant. Forgive proactively with pursuit regardless of their repentance not so they can be released of Guilt but to release yourself from bitterness and malice. Free yourself from a self-imposed prison through forgiveness. You walking in bitterness doesn’t do ANYTHING to the other person, it only robs you of life today. You waiting for them to get better, for them to understand all they have done, before they receive any kindness from you is not the gospel. Jesus has forgiven us when “we know not what we’ve done”. We can and should do the same where we can safely. You might need to be prepared to do this a few times in your Christian life. Wash rinse repeat. This is not a command to enter into our endless endure abuse. It is a call to freedom to free yourself from anger and bitterness toward another by forgiveness. Forgiveness frees you! Forgiveness does have a cost, and it was already paid by Jesus for you on the cross where justice was served.
When we are forgiven by God in Christ, we forgive others not because we are the better or bigger person but because of what’s been done for you by the best person. Jesus.
If you are in Christ, you are forgiven! Live forgiven. If you are not in Christ, repent of sin, be forgiven and know God’s kindness to us when we Trust Jesus.