Summary: God wants us to us our minds for something much, much greater than futile thinking.
February 18, 2018 Sermon “Off with the Old, On with the New” - Ephesians 4:17-24
How many of you were here last Sunday? How many of you are here today?
I hope you were able to listen to Tom More’s message last week on Christian maturity. He gave an excellent overview of what maturity in Christ is.
He summarized it by saying that you are maturing in Jesus if you are attached to Him, connected to the body of Christ.
And he asked, “Are you part of the body of Jesus, attached to Him, or are you more of a fan. Is Jesus a guy you go to when you’re in trouble, or do you live in Him”.
Same way you might have friends that you only really connect with when you they have something you need, vs a friend that you are always in direct contact with, talking to every day.
It was an excellent message, and if you missed it or want to review it I encourage you to go to our web page and click on the Livestream link. Then you’ll be able to scroll down and listen.
I wanted to build on Tom’s great introduction to this theme of maturity in Christ by unpacking in a bit more detail the passage that we just had read to us, Ephesians 4:17-24. Let’s do that.
Briefly, I want to identify the problem. The Apostle Paul here is speaking to the church in Ephesus.
In chapter 4 he is telling the church and us that since they are In Christ, since they have placed their faith in the Son of God, they need to live a life worthy of the Lord, worthy of the calling into Christ that we have received.
We need to do this. This isn’t an option for us. It is, rather a trajectory for our lives. It is the way God points for us to go.
It is the way that Jesus goes before us and beckons us. Jesus Himself lived a life worthy of God, and by His Spirit He actually gives us the power to grow toward that being true in us.
Paul is saying this for a reason. God through Paul is calling us to live a life worthy of Jesus.
He’s saying this because it can be said at some level, that entry into the Christian faith can appear easy. It has a low threshold.
It’s not hard, at one level, to become a Christian.
By contrast, in order to become a Jew, as Paul was, a gentile male would need to be circumcised
That was a very high threshold which made it likely that only those who were genuine in their desire to become Jews would do so.
But to become a believer, we see that there is no such requirement. We become followers of Jesus by faith alone. There are no works involved in our salvation.
That’s very basic to true faith in Jesus. We can’t earn our way into a relationship with God. If we try we will fail, because you can’t get to God through works.
The thing blocking us is sin and our sin can only be dealt with through the sacrifice of Jesus, the precious blood of Jesus.
So we become believers through faith alone by the grace of God. That makes it relatively easy to come into the church.
But Paul is making it clear that all authentic believers in Jesus will be changed after coming to Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Most of that change, that work of making you and me a new creation, most of that work is done sovereignly by the Holy Spirit in us after we place our faith in Jesus alone.
But lo and behold, we have a part to play as well in changing.
And that part has something to do with remembering where we have come from, and being careful to remember that living in Jesus means NOT continuing in our former ways, our former conduct and our former way of thinking.
As we learn to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, we realize that this means that God brings transformation to our hearts, to our souls, to our minds and even to the way we use the strength and energy God gives us.
Paul talks about our minds here first. He says: “...you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking”.
What does futile meaning? Pointless, incapable of producing any useful result. It means thought patterns that produce nothing useful. What is an example of a thought pattern or way of thinking that produces nothing useful?