Summary: Paul in Ephesians 4:17-19 is insisted that the church of Ephesus no longer live with their former rags of sin! The light that pointed out their sin and used to offend them was now to be seen as living waters that sustains them!
Living for Christ (Ephesians 4:17-5:20)
Part 1: Rags, Rags and more Rags
Live Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/
Note: Come dressed in rags for a sermon illustration.
The message is all about living for Christ 24/7. By giving you my own conversion story I am going to invite you to remember your own story as well – for we all approach the cross pitiful, poor, blind, and naked! After having remembered where you came from, like Paul I implore you to not return to your former ways! Being reconciled unto God means living a holy life that is an honorable sacrifice. While many rags remain may Christ see His blood flowing throughout our lives in all that we do. I will begin by giving part of my conversion story.
I had a very loving family. We did not have much but had the basics of life. I remember my mom searching and counting out pennies so that she could buy some milk for our cereal. I don’t remember ever getting new clothes – being the middle child most of my clothing was hand downs. However, I do remember how much my parents loved each other and their children. My mom when I was in university worked night and day so that she could not only support a family of seven but also to give me some spending money to come home and visit from university!
I had a loving church. Unlike many of the children you hear about today – I was fortunate and was brought up in the church. I remember reading an article when I was working on my masters that intrigued and uplifted my spirits. The author started out by stating that 9 out of 10 are not saved. He explained how Christianity had fallen as the centre of society to the periphery of our modern day age. Just when I started to get depressed with his article he changed his focus and said that this was a great time to live! You don’t have to go to Africa to find a mission field – it is right here! The stories of Bible characters that I took for granite knowing I get to tell for the first time to many hearers!
Rocks of my Heart. It was like my life was one in which I lived on a rocky beach. Living for this world kept my heart like a stone. No matter how hard I tried I just could not get to those living waters that my family and church was experiencing! My life while pristine based on so many worldly standards but at the same time was absolutely full of jagged rocks of sin. I would hear my family or my Sunday School teachers talk about God and the unspeakable joy He gave them but for me God was just intellectual and not spiritual. Many times I would avoid singing in church and to my shame (I am a pastor now) would sleep during the sermons.
I want to go to Ephesians 4:17-19 to explain how we all approached God when we got saved. There are four great rags of sin that I want to focus on from Paul’s teaching:
1) Futile thinking
2) Darkened mind
3) Hardened heart
4) Sensual being
Rag 1: A Futile Mind
A futile mind is one that thinks happiness is attainable through one’s own ability when in reality our plans are like dust chasing after dust. Psalms 146:3-4 states “Do not put you trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans become nothing.” I looked at the world and those who appeared to be the happiest were the rich, famous and power people. Satan told me I could be like them … I just had to work hard and follow their footsteps. I thought I had a better plan than God had for me. I thought I could seek out and find happiness on my own. If I was to be a nerd I wanted to be a famous and very rich one! Chasing after the things of this world is like dust chasing after dust. How futile I was … after all 1 Corinthians 3:19 states the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. Proverbs 19:21 states: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Who has not thought about their future? Who has not planned for careers, family, homes, vacations and retirement? It is not just the bigger decisions that we make plans for it is also the smaller ones as well. For instance, every Saturday and Sunday night I leave free to spend time with my family. We make plans to watch TV, go to a movie, visit friends … But since chance happens to everyone (Ecclesiastes 9:11) then I have no guarantee my plans will result in a better, career, home vacation or retirement. If human effort always led to success in achieving our goals, then God’s plans would always have to take a back seat! How futile it is to think that happiness is attainable by one’s own ability – are not our plans merely dust chasing after dust?