Summary: If you claim to belong to Christ your life must reflect change.

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May 23, 2010

Morning Worship

Text: Ephesians 4:17-32

Subject: Living the Christ-like Life

Title: It’s Personal

We’ve been going through the book of Ephesians, one of Paul’s great masterpieces of theology. Last week I shared with you about what Paul says you are “in Christ” and the authority you have because of your relationship and I also spoke of how you can have all the authority you need and not be in a proper relationship with God and that authority does nothing for you. You must be in a continual relationship with Him in order for you to be able to accept the fullness of all His promises. We also saw how all the power and authority that is given us is not ours at all but it is His power at work in us. The ultimate value of that power at work in your life is not the signs and wonders that you will do in Jesus’ name, or the healing you can bring or the gifts that operate in your life. The real value of that power that is at work in you, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, is that it is sufficient to bring about change in your life. Change is the one word that strikes fear in the hearts of people – saved or unsaved. For many change is not good, is not easy and is not wanted.

A man went to the doctor. "You," said the doctor to the patient, "are in terrible shape. You’ve got to do something about it. First, tell your wife to cook more nutritious meals. Stop working like a dog. Also, inform your wife you’re going to make a budget, and she has to stick to it. And have her keep the kids off your back so you can relax. Unless there are some changes like that in your life, you’ll probably be dead in a month."

"Doc," the patient said, "this would sound more official coming from you. Could you please call my wife and give her those instructions?"

When the fellow got home, his wife rushed to him. "I talked to your doctor," she wailed. "Poor man, you’ve only got thirty days to live."

For the born again believer change is something that should come freely. When you trusted Christ you were changed – you became a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come…

I want to walk you through our passage today to show you that God’s desire for your life is change and it’s personal – for you and for you alone.

Lord, open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

I. CHANGE IS A PERSONAL CHOICE. 17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. The word “so” makes a connection with what Paul has written up to this point. The first three chapters he emphasized the spiritual standing of a believer and the authority that has been given you. In the first part of chapter four then, he relates the gifts that God has given to the church to help you live out who you are “IN CHRIST”. And now he follows up with this line of thinking. If God has called you and placed you in a position of authority, and if He has given gifts to the church to help you, “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ…”, then you can no longer continue to live the way you used to live. This is not a word of spiritual guidance to give you a suggestion of the direction God desires for your life. Paul says, “I insist on it…”. He insists on what? That you no longer live like the Gentiles! When Paul uses the word “Gentiles” here he is referring not just to “non-Jews”, but to those who are pagans – who worship false gods. He says that if you have Christ’s authority, if you are part of the church, then for you to go on living the way you lived before is “futility”. That word in the original language means, “moral depravity.” And futility comes from your thinking. That word means your thoughts, emotion, or your will. In other words, if you continue to live like that you are walking in the flesh and not in the spirit. For a person to claim to be a Christian and live like a pagan brings reproach to the name of Christ and to God the Father. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Have you ever known people who live in the past with the phrase “if only” on their lips continually? “If only I hadn’t blown out my knee I could have been a pro football player!” “If only I had married so-and-so my life would be different!” if only…if only… if only…! Well that is what Christians who don’t change are doing – only they aren’t just saying it- they are living it out. If only I hadn’t become a Christian…! Verse 18 says, 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Now this is talking about those who do not know the Lord. How does that happen? How is it that some remain in darkness and others come to the light? 1) 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 3And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. It is satan who places the veil over the eyes of unbelievers, but it is Jesus Christ who opens the eyes of our hearts to believe. It’s a choice. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. The longer people stay in the sinful life the more difficult it is for the light to break through to them. They lose all sensitivity. The can no longer respond to any moral stimulus. So how is it that some Christians actually fall back into their old traps? It comes down to making a choice. You either make a choice to live for Him or against Him. It’s a choice and it’s personal. No one else can do it for you.

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