Summary: We have our security and our significance from God. Stop asking for things that He already gave you and start believing that you have them and act on the fact that they’re true.
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Ephesians is a very high book. Paul is writing to a church he spent quite a bit of time with, possibly upwards of three years. Therefore, this is a church that had been taught by him, and had learned plenty of what he had to teach. Because of this, the themes in this book are very high; they’re not low. There are two options that everyone has: (1) they can try to profane this book, and put everything on the lower shelf for you and just miss the whole thing; or (2) they can preach it like it says. We are going to see that it is very high, and that means that you might not get it. It is not because you’re not smart, but it is because some of the concepts require you to marinate and to just spend some time thinking through.
On the other hand, the main thing that Paul is writing in this book is very simple. He is doing the same thing he does in every epistle, which is this: he’s saying, “Here’s what you are,” or “Here’s who you are,” and “Now, act like it.” He’s saying, “Here’s your role; here’s who you are. Here’s your title. Now, act like it. Here’s your job description; now do it.” He’s laying out who we are in Christ, what it means to be a saint, and then he’s going to tell us what that means.
The problem that he is addressing, which we can relate to right now, is that the Ephesians lived in a culture, much like ours, that was full of idolatry. It was full of false ideas about God. Idolatry was constantly coming at them, and the Ephesians had the ability to move very easily towards pragmatism, to make God something that is less. Every false religion does two things very well: (1), they exalt man; and (2), they diminish God. That’s what every false religion does. They diminish God and they exalt man. That was the danger that the Ephesian church existed within, and Paul flips that back around and exalts God and diminishes man, so that we can finally worship Him correctly. Therefore, as we start this passage, this is where this book is really relevant for us. It is the cure for casual Christianity. The cure for casual Christianity, then, for superficial and shallow Christianity, is this book of Ephesians, and it comes down to this idea of putting God and man in their proper places.
This is the introduction from Paul. It says: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 1). This is a normal salutation. There are a few key elements here, but we are going to hit them a little bit later. The first thing I want to focus on is this idea of “in Ephesus.” He is writing a church in the city. In this city, idolatry was rife all over the place. I want you to think for just a minute what idolatry is. Idolatry is giving credibility; it is giving precedence to a thing as God. Anything, a statue or even an idea, that is not God that we give credit to and worship as God is considered an idol. But what really is the root of idolatry? This helps to start off the book. The root of idolatry is the idea that we want and try to get our security and our significance from something else rather than the real God of heaven and earth. You can make your job an idol because you are trying to get your security and your significance from it. You can make your spouse an idol because you get your security and your significance from them. What do I mean by security and significance? It is seen in this idea: “My 401k makes me significant; it makes me secure.” That is where you are getting your security and significance. “Well, I am okay because I won that race,” or “I’m okay because I have this job title.” These things are idolatry, and this is the common denominator from back then and today. Idols are something that we get our security and our significance from. Now idols are crazy because they demand sacrifice. Look at every other God and every other religion; they make sacrifices. For example, if you are a farmer and you want to have crops, and you say, “Well, we need to have crops,” you gather people together to have a mating ritual for fertility. And then you say, “Well, now we’ll have crops.” Or, “Well, now we need more corn, so let’s throw our baby into the fire and maybe the god of corn will give us corn.” And that’s what they did. They fed the fire god, Molech. There was a big mouth and they would roll their baby into it. The point Paul is showing the Ephesians is that they already have their security and significance in God so they can reject the allure of idolatry. It is a theme you are going to see throughout the whole Bible. You already have your security and your significance in God.