Ephesians - Live Like You Really Are
January 29, 2012
A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available by mailing a request to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Ephesians 1:2 – “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In our series of messages through the book of Ephesians, we began last Sunday with a short introduction to the book. Then we gave consideration to two words in verse 2– “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Last week we thoroughly examined the word grace, reserving peace for this week’s study.
One of the longings of humanity throughout all ages has been peace. As long as there has been war, there has been a desire for peace. But there are deeper longings.
Illus. – Before her death, advice columnist Esther Lederer, otherwise known as Ann Landers, received about 10,000 letters a month from people requesting advice. When asked what her most common question was, she answered that people seem to be afraid or worried about something. They’re afraid of losing their health, they worry about their job, and they’re filled with concerns about their family. People are wracked out about their neighbors or frustrated with their friends. A great preponderance of letters described relational ruptures and family friction.
In short, people are looking for peace but can’t seem to find it.
Peace is a very prominent theme in the Bible. In fact, the word peace itself is found in 400 verses in the Old and New Testament. That doesn’t count synonyms, and allusions to peace in all it various shades of meaning and usage.
However, important and prominent as it is in the Bible, peace is perhaps one of the most illusive qualities in our lives. In our hustle and bustle world, with all our trials and problems and struggles, how do you find peace? Well, it depends on which kind of peace you’re talking about. Like grace, peace is used in different ways in the Bible. In fact, like grace, the Bible actually talks about three kinds of peace. Let’s examine each one, and then we’ll go back and discover how to find each kind of peace:
I. FIRST, THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF PEACE WITH GOD – Romans 5:1 – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:”
According to the Bible, because of sin, lost man and God are at enmity with one another.
• The unsaved person is at war with God.
All of us are born sinners, and from a very early age, every one of us freely chooses to sin and run our own lives instead of obeying God. Isaiah put it this way: “All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way.” (Isaiah 53:6)
• And because of sin, God is at enmity with the lost person.
The Bible teaches that God is angry with sin. He cannot tolerate it, and it must be judged. And the sinner who refuses to come to God God’s way is under God’s wrath. Jesus said in John 3:36 – “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” And Paul said in Romans 1:18 – “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”
Peace WITH God occurs when a sinner turns to God and is reconciled to Him. Dear friend, you will not find true, lasting peace until you meet the Prince of Peace.
II. THE SECOND KIND OF PEACE THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF IS THE PEACE OF GOD – Paul said in Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
The peace of God may be defined as “an inward spirit of tranquility and sereneness of heart and mind that abides even in the midst of trouble and trial.”
Illus. – Years ago, two artists set out to paint a picture representing perfect peace. The first painted a canvas depicting a carefree lad sitting in a boat on a little placid lake without a ripple to disturb the surface. The other painted a raging waterfall with winds whipping the spray about.
On a limb, overhanging the swirling water, a bird had built its nest, and sat peacefully brooding her eggs. Here, she was safe from her predatory enemies, shielded and protected by the roaring falls.
You see, the peace of God is not the ABSENCE of trials. Rather, it is the result of remaining calm and cool in the MIDST of trial. The opposite of peace is anxiety and worry when facing perplexing circumstances.
Only saved people can experience the peace of God. It’s for believers who are controlled by the Spirit, for it is one of the “fruit of the Spirit” found in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, PEACE…” But a Christian can lose the peace OF God if he’s not living in the Spirit and not walking in faith, but rather is filled with fear and care.
III. THE THIRD KIND OF PEACE SPOKEN OF IN THE BIBLE IS PEACE WITH OTHERS. – Hebrews 12:14 exhorts us “Follow peace with all men…”
This kind of peace is harmony with other people that results from following biblical principles of relationships. It’s God’s plan that His people be peaceable and live without strife and contention. But this kind of peace doesn’t come by our own strength and power. It comes by having a close fellowship with the Lord, being selfless and others-centered and by being daily filled with the Holy Spirit. It cannot be manufactured. It is God producing HIS character in our lives, making us peaceable and harmonious and amicable.
So that is a very brief and cursory examination of the three kinds of peace the Bible speaks of: Peace WITH God, the peace OF God, and peace with others THROUGH God.
Now it doesn’t help us an awful lot just to know these facts. The Bible says, “knowledge puffeth up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). But what will keep us from being puffed up is when we put our knowledge into action. It’s in DOING that we are so easily humbled because we all to often fall so far short of what we ought to be.
So let’s think now about how we can experience each of these three kinds of peace. To do that I’d like to address them in the reverse order in which I first presented them:
1) First, let’s think about how to have PEACE WITH OTHERS.
We won’t spend a lot of time with this one because we recently had a whole series on the “one anothers” of the New Testament learned that we as believers are to love one another; honor one another; be of the same mind with one another; accept one another; serve one another; bear one another’s burdens; submit to one another; bear with one another; forgive one another; encourage one another; build one another up; and many other commands in the Word of God about how to treat one another.
As we as believers put these one another commands into practice, it produces peace and harmony and unity. Doing these is wise in God’s eyes, for James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” May God help us who know Christ as Savior be a people who are at peace with one another because we’re loving and ministering to one another.
2) Second, how can we have the PEACE OF GOD—that inner tranquility of heart, even in the midst of trials and difficulties?
Turn with me to Philippians 4:6-9—that great passage on how to have peace OF God. In this passage, we find five keys to have the peace of God in our lives:
• The first step is to STOP WORRYING – Paul begins in verse 6 by saying, “Be careful for nothing;…” To “be careful” here means to “be full of care” or “full of worry.”
Today we would say it this way, “Do not worry about ANYTHING.” Worry is a waste of time. Someone has said that “Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Worry will not change one thing, and furthermore, it doesn’t work:
> It can’t change the past.
> It can’t control the future.
> It only makes you miserable today.
Worrying about a problem never solves it. It only does one thing—it keeps you in turmoil, the opposite of peace.
We must come to the place where we see that worrying is a SIN.
O.S. Hawkins said, “Many of us assume that God merely looks upon worry with a frown, but the fact is: He strictly forbids it in His word.”
Charles G. Trumbull went as far to say, “Worry is sin; a black, murderous, God-defying, Christ-rejecting sin; worry about anything, at any time whatever. We will never know victory over worry and anxiety until we treat it as sin. For such it is. It is a deep-seated distrust of the Father, who assures us again and again that even the falling sparrow is in His tender care.”
• The second step to experience the peace of God is to turn your cares over to God in prayer – After saying not to worry about anything in verse 6, Paul goes on, “…but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Paul says we are to bring all our burdens to the Lord in prayer.
Henry Blackaby in his book Experiencing God writes, “As you no doubt have discovered, becoming a Christian does not make your problems go away. But it does give you an advocate to whom you can take every concern.”
How true the words are to that famous hymn, What a Friend We Have in Jesus: What a friend we have in Jesus; All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit; O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
When burdens and problems and fears and trials weigh us down with worry and anxiety, God help us to take them to the Lord in prayer!
• But one of the keys to gain victory over worry that is so often missed is found in Paul’s command to pray these prayers to God WITH THANKSGIVING.
Take the worry you’re dealing with right now, or the worry you went through in the recent past and ask yourself how in the world you can THANK GOD for it? The ONLY way is to HAVE FAITH that God loves you and will do only what is best for you; to truly BELIEVE, as Paul says in Romans 8:28, that things WILL work together for good for you; to, as my pastor used to say, “TRUST the heart of God when you cannot trace the hand of God.”
It is only in the times of trouble that we can find out the true measure of our trust in God and His promises in His Word.
When you realize that your heavenly Father truly loves you and cares for you and when you know that He will turn all seemingly bad things into good for you if you are God’s child, you can truly thank God in your trials.
Instead of worrying about things, trust your Heavenly Father. As Corrie ten Boom said, “Don’t wrestle, just nestle.”
Illus. – A ship was sailing from England at New York, and the captain of the ship had his family onboard with him. The ship found itself in a terrible storm which awakened the captain’s little eight-year-old girl.
“What’s the matter,” she asked her mother.
Her mother told her they were in a terrible storm.
The little girl asked, “Is Daddy on deck?”
“Yes, Sweetheart, Daddy is on deck.”
The girl then lay her head on her pillow and went back to sleep.
Folks, our Father is on deck! When you found yourself in a crisis, God didn’t call an emergency meeting of the Trinity! He knows what’s going on, and He will guide you safely to shore. When we worry we’re distrusting His control and care. TRUST Him and THANK Him for the storm.
When you replace worry with prayer and thanksgiving, you’ll experience what Paul says in verse 7: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
• Paul’s next step to find the peace of God is to change your thought patterns.
Even though we may experience the peace of God described in verse 7, if we’re not careful, it won’t be long until we’re back to worrying again. That’s why Paul tells us in verse 8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Instead of worrying, replace those negative, worrying thoughts with thoughts on the Word and the Lord. There is no greater antidote to worry!
In his devotional book My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald’s Chambers, asks this question: “Are You Obsessed by Something?” and then goes on to say we should be obsessed only by the presence of God. – He says, “If I am obsessed by something, I will be thinking of it all the time, throughout the day. And into the night, I’ll even dream about it. Now if we’re so conscious of God’s presence all the time, nothing else can get into my life - not worries, not concerns.”
The more you dwell on the Lord and think His thoughts, the bigger He looks and the smaller your problem looks and the greater your faith to see that Jesus has indeed overcome your problem.
Isaiah said, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)
And Paul adds “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6)
• Paul’s final step to the experience the peace of God is this: be obedient to the truth you have been taught – Verse 9 – “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
This is one of the primary reasons God’s people do not have peace. You simply will NOT have the peace of God in your life if you’re living in willful disobedience to God and His Word.
Christian, is there some area in your life in which you’re disobedient? If so, you’ll not experience the peace of God in your life. You’ll be defeated; you’ll be in turmoil; you’ll not be happy.
The most miserable person in the world is not the unbeliever in his sin. No, the most miserable people I’ve ever seen are believers with a guilty conscience—believers fitted for the kingdom, but wallowing in the hog pen of sin. The only answer is to confess your sin and forsake it and serve God with a whole heart, not a double-minded one.
3) In closing, let’s consider lastly how to have PEACE WITH GOD.
As I said earlier, the person who is not saved does not have peace WITH God. He is in a state of enmity with a holy God. How can you have peace with God?
Paul gives the answer in Romans 5:1 – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace with God is obtained through Jesus Christ alone, not by any good works you can do to appease God. You could never in all your lifetime appease God for even one sin you have committed. When you sin, you owe a debt that has to be paid no matter what. But, praise God, JESUS paid the sin debt on the cross so that God is satisfied and you can be reconciled to Him.
But how?—Paul says a person is “justified by faith.” There is no other way! You must come to God in faith, trusting in what Jesus did on the cross to pay for your sins and make reconciliation between you and God. Then, and only then, can you make your peace with God.
Illus. – The great 19th century preacher, Charles Spurgeon, tells of an old bricklayer who fell from a scaffold and was injured so badly his life was quickly ebbing away. The local minister was called, and when told of the condition of the man, he knelt down beside him and said, “My dear man. I’m afraid you’re about to die. You had better make your peace with God.”
Barely able to utter a word before because of his intense pain, the man suddenly became animated and replied with great sincerity and confidence, “Make my peace with God? Make my peace with God?—Poppycock! Sir, that was made for me upon Calvary’s Cross eighteen- hundred years ago; and I KNOW it! I may die now, but only to awaken in the sweet arms of Jesus.”
Then the bricklayer breathed his last breath and went home to His Lord.
Where does such resolute confidence come from? It comes from the personal experience of having been saved and KNOWING—not hoping, thinking, supposing you are reconciled to God. Dear friend, wouldn’t you like to have peace with God—to know that your sins are forgiven, to know that if you died today, you could be absolutely guaranteed that you would go straight to heaven to be with Christ eternally?
Oh, make your peace with God today TODAY! I urge you, before it is everlastingly too late, to come to Christ and BELIEVE on Him!