Summary: First of Three from Philemon. The Holy Spirit Tranforms us from the inside out.
Extreme Makeover/The Swan. Extreme outward change, God wants to be our makeover artist creating change from the inside out.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Ephesians 5:8
Two separate studies conducted several years apart concluded that only 10% and 9% of Evangelicals live lives different from non-Christians.– George Barna, in his book "Think Like Jesus"
There’s little difference in ethical behavior between the churched and the unchurched. There’s as much pilferage and dishonesty among the churched as the unchurched. And I’m afraid that applies pretty much across the board: religion, per se, is not really life changing. People cite it as important, for instance, in overcoming depression--but it doesn’t have primacy in determining behavior. George H. Gallup, "Vital Signs," Leadership, Fall 1987, p. 17.
The Holy Spirit as He is presented in Scripture is a change agent, therefore the Christian life is one of ongoing change, growth and development, not simply a one time change but a never ending process.
For the Next three weeks we’ll be looking at some of the changes the Spirit wants to make in us. This morning we look at Changed Lives. The first change we should se in our lives is…
1. A Change of Heart
v. 5 I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.
v. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts (intestines) of the saints.
Love is a key indicator of a life transformed by God’s grace. Jesus called Love for God and Love for others the two greatest commandments. John, the beloved disciple tells us that if we don’t have love for our brothers and sisters we don’t even belong to God.
Once you were alienated from God…But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death…Colossians 1:21-22
Because of Jesus’ ultimate act of love in dying to pay the price for our sins, we can have eternal life if we only trust in what He’s done, when we receive that undeserved gift of love, we in turn can offer love to others whether they deserve it or not.
The Fruit of the Spirit is love, the Scripture tells us, that fruit is the outward evidence of the inward change that the Lord makes in us when we come to him. If our love is not changed, we are not changed. So the first thing the Lord wants to change in us is our heart. Secondly the Spirit wants to work in us a…
2. A Change of Course
v. 6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.
I think this verse is perhaps the most fascinating one in the whole letter to Philemon “be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” In other words, the way to comprehend the full Joy of life in Christ is to share Jesus with others. Or in yet another way, if you’re not satisfied in your life in Christ, if you’re not experiencing Joy, if worship seems dull to you, try sharing your faith more often.
As I reflected on this verse it seemed to me that I’ve never known a grumpy complainer who was also an active witness for Christ, leading people to the Lord. On the other hand, every person I’ve known who is an active witness is full of Joy. Wow, the Scripture might be on to something here.
So the change of course we’re being encouraged to take is to be intentional and active in sharing our faith.
v. 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[a] who became my son while I was in chains.
The underlying story in Philemon is that Paul is writing a letter to a wealthy man who hosts a home fellowship group, this man’s slave Onesimus has run away, somehow encountered Paul and now has become a believer, Paul is sending him home. As a runaway, He could have faced the death penalty, but Paul is asking Philemon to change course, to act with grace and love and accept Onesimus back as a brother.
The changes the Lord wants to make in us aren’t always easy and sometimes they come at personal cost, time and effort.
Christianity is not meant to be an add-on to our life but a fundamentally different way of experiencing life, a transformation of who we are and what we do.
1 Corinthians 6 :9-11Do 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.