Summary: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light! (Ephesians 5:8)
Living for Christ - Ephesians 4:17-5:20
In the second part of living for Christ Paul gives the church of Ephesus instructions on how to remove any remaining rags of sin that remain after conversion. Ephesians 4:20-24 states “That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” To remove the rags of unrighteousness Paul says is accomplished: 1) by focusing on the truth found in Jesus 2) by putting off the old self 3) and by having a new attitude in your mind about sin and righteousness. If one does these steps, then 4) one can live a holy life.
Step 1: Focus on the Truth Found in Jesus
A New Heart
Since Jesus Christ bought you at a price you should feel compelled to serve Him – and with your new heart of flesh you have no excuse not to do so! We had an incurable disease called sin. Sin can be defined as doing anything that does not please God. Since all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) we all deserve death (Romans 6:23). No matter how hard humanity tried we could not stop doing the things that pleased us rather than doing the things that pleased God. We were focused on the things of this world rather than living in His kingdom. No matter how hard we tried we always fell short of God’s expectations. We needed a spiritual heart transplant! Moses - Deuteronomy 30:6 (NIV) - 6 The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. Moses understood that the children of Israel could not live holy without their hearts being circumcised by God. Jeremiah - Jeremiah 31:33 (NIV) 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah after pleading with God to not destroy Israel realized the only way that Israel could live a holy life is through a spiritual heart transplant. Ezekiel - Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV) 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
The sacrificial system of the Old Testament was external and as such God was distant – they ignored Him! The new covenant was internal – God’s spirit was with His people everywhere they went! We needed someone to pay the price of our sins and give us new life!
Humanity was promised a heart transplant! In the USA a heart transplant costs approximately 1 million dollars! For Jesus our heart transplant costs Him his very life! John 3:16 states God gave His only Son Jesus to die on the cross so that through His death the wages of our sins might be paid in full. In other words, the condemnation that we deserved death was given to Jesus Christ who had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). In John 14:6 Jesus states He is the only way for our relationship with God the Father in heaven to be restored. In 1 Corinthians 6:20 we are told we were bought at a price – Jesus’ own very life. This should compel us to serve HIM!
Righteousness is Better than Sacrifice
Just because Jesus paid the price for all our sins does not mean that we have a license to keep on sinning (Romans 6:1). God’s demands to be righteous and holy have never changed! He still is pure light (1 John 1:5) and such still has the expectation of holiness because there cannot be any darkness in Him! To the church of Rome this obviously was a temptation – to rely on grace to justify and perpetuate sin! If one has this kind of cheap grace attitude, then one is simply not saved!
The Spirit inside of us gives us the power to no longer sin! Now more than ever God has the expectation that His children will no longer sin! Following the laws is no longer a burden to a Christian because His Spirit enables us to obey! This does not mean that we will be sinless but does mean we are to strive to be righteous and holy. The provision for repentance (1 John 1:8-9) is meant to restore one’s relationship with God, not perpetuate sinning as if one never receives the heart transplant!