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Summary: Loving the world separates us from God – loving God separates us from the world.

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WHAT MUST I DO? YOU MUST BE HOLY

EPHESIANS 4:17-24

Big Idea: Loving the world separates us from God – loving God separates us from the world.

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you MUST no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

INTRO

Does anyone know what that piece in the middle of the washer is called? You know what I am talking about right? That part in the middle of the washer that moves back and forth and shakes the clothes back and forth? What is that called? I’m going to call it an agitator.

What is the purpose of the agitator?

As far as I can tell, its sole purpose is to wreak havoc on the dirty clothes… it’s there to shake and separate the clothes from all the dirt and grime that is in or on the clothes.

The agitator is essential for the proper cleaning of the clothes.

(Illustration Source: Rev. Glenn Newton, New Hope Church of the Nazarene)

Did you know the Scriptures teach there is a “spiritual agitator” at work in the life of the Christian and the church? As soon as we are saved, the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts. But, as Ephesians and other New Testament books teach us, He doesn’t have our heart to himself. The heart still has a lot of soiling that must be removed – a lot of stains that need to be cleansed.

In reference to this, Paul talks about “the old man” or “the old self.” He refers to yet-to-be-transformed Christians in those terms in both Ephesians 4 and in Romans 6:6. In Romans he says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”

You noticed that both Ephesians and Romans place the old self in a negative – even sinful – perspective didn’t you? That is because it is an image of the old life; the old habits that we developed before our conversion; the habits that need to be removed and replaced. You see, even though we have been saved from our past sins, there still remains some of the world that we are still fond of. They have a way of attaching themselves to us like dirt on clothes … they can stain us; they seemingly won’t come out.

That old self has a motto: “me first!” It is self-seeking- self-praising and self-satisfying. The old self has developed a life-style that caters to its every whim … there is nothing “Christian” about it.

When we are converted, born-again, the Holy Spirit comes to reside within. Well, with the Holy Spirit’s character being Holy, His nature won’t allow Him to live in a dirty environment so He begins to firmly yet lovingly … agitate. He begins to shake us; to convict us of the things that need to leave our heart. You see God wants us to be filled with His Spirit… and only when we come to a place in our lives where we are willing to remove all the dirt can we truly be filled with His Spirit. Until then, our spiritual life will feel like we are in a washing machine … like we are being agitated. A piece of cloth cannot be clean by simply adding detergent – it must remove the dirt. The Holy Spirit is constantly convicting us of the old patterns of living that need to be removed from our lives.

Those old patterns come in a lot of expressions don’t they? The Bible calls them sin. And they range from sins of the spirit like anger, self-centeredness, greed, and malice to sins of the flesh like materialism, sexual misconduct, and violence. But they all have to go.

The truth is it, is God’s will for all us to be Holy. But it’s your choice … it’s up to you. If you are willing to surrender to God and repent of (abandon) your old self then you are well on your way to being filled with God’s Spirit and experiencing the holiness that accompanies it. As the old patterns are put off there is room for the Spirit to create a new, holy and righteous self within us. But this only happens when there is surrender.

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