Summary: A sermon examining the transformation that Jesus brings in the life of a new convert.
The Transformation Of A Man Named Onesimus
One of the most amazing things I am privileged to see as a pastor is a changed life. Over the years I have seen countless people make a profession of faith in Christ. Unfortunately it seems that some are merely talking the talk without walking the walk. Henry Eerdmans said - "If I had a car with the engine that was ready for the grave, I'd have a new engine put in. I'd take the car into a mechanic who would put it in for me. If when I got that car back, it ran just as poorly, I'd begin to wonder if the old really had been replaced or just cleaned up. It is not different with our new lives in Christ." (Henry Eerdmans, Christian Personal Ethics, 1957, p. 383ff.)
There are some people who attempt to "clean themselves up" and there may be a visible difference for a while. We see this regularly, people will "turn over a new leaf so to speak". But how many times do we see people quickly burn out or fade away?
This was an issue that was explained by Jesus in - Luke 8:5 "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold."
You will find that the only seed that describes someone who is truly saved is the seed that fell on good ground. When you find an individual who is saved you find more than someone who has cleaned up their act...you find someone who has been washed...cleansed by the precious blood of the Lamb.
Salvation is more than just a changed life... it is a TOTAL TRANSFORMATION! We have an example of this total transformation in the biography of this man, Onesimus. Last week we began a study of Paul's Epistle to Philemon. It is a beautiful letter written by the Apostle Paul to a prominent member of the church at Colosse. Philemon had a slave by the name of Onesimus who had stolen from him and then went on the run. While on the run he encountered the Apostle Paul and Paul led him to Jesus. Jesus did a great work in his life and he was transformed spiritually. Now Paul has sent him back to his master in order to make things right.
For those of us who have been born again, I think we will be able to relate to much of his story. I would like to look at Onesimus' story and see what happens when someone has an encounter with Jesus. Let's look to the text and consider the thought "The Transformation Of A Man Named Onesimus".
Onesimus was changed on the inside... he was changed spiritually, but according to Paul, EVERYTHING about him had changed. When Jesus saves someone it will have an impact on their entire life. It is amazing to see anyone saved, but have you ever seen someone who was the epitome of evil turn to faith in Christ. In these individuals the change may be more apparent than others.
Let us keep in mind that the drug addicted... violent... barhopping... cussing... lying... cheating... adulterous drunk is no more lost than we were. Sin is sin... DEAD IS DEAD! And we were all dead in our trespasses and sins when Jesus came calling! But when Jesus saves that "stereotypical" sinner the change is absolutely amazing. And there was an amazing transformation in Onesimus' life. Look with me to verse 11 as we see that:
I. Onesimus Was A Rebellious Slave - Paul says in v10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: 11 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me:
Here we see Paul act as intercessor on behalf of Onesimus. He pens this letter to inform Philemon of the wonderful change that had occurred in the life of his rebellious slave. Paul talks about Onesimus' past.
Whether we like to admit it or not we all have a past. My past could be described as someone with good moral character and a form of religion but someone who did not truly know Jesus as my personal Savior. Some of you have a past that was just rough. You didn't know Jesus and you didn't pretend to! There are people under the sound of my voice that have been delivered from Alcoholism, Drug addiction, Sexual impurity, Anger, Hatred and many other sins.