../the life of a follower of jesus

19 Aug 2018

Sermon for Jericho Road Church on August 19th, 2018. Notes below:

Introduction

Last time we met, Jeff led us through Ephesians 4:11-13, where Paul paints a picture of how Jesus intends to build up his church. More than that, Paul also shows us how Jesus intends for life to look for all of his followers:

[11] And [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, [12] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, [13] until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…

In laying out this ideal, it’s implied that this way of life isn’t natural for us. We won’t drift into living this way by default. We don’t start from here. In Ephesians 4:17-24, Paul explains where we started from before meeting Christ, imploring us not to go back there:

[17] Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. [18] They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. [19] They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. [20] But that is not the way you learned Christ!-[21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, [22] to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

We must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, darkened in our understanding, alienated from the life of God, having become callous. We’re to put off the old self, be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God.

Do we rightly remember and understand what life looked like before Christ? What exactly are we putting off? What about the spirit of our minds needs to be renewed? And what exactly is this new self that we need to put on?

No longer walk as the Gentiles do

[17] Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. [18] They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. [19] They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Both then and today, those that reject Christ think of themselves as “enlightened”. Their ignorance isn’t a lack of education. Some are brilliant, but their brilliance is futile if their hearts are hard toward Christ. Jesus spoke of this, quoting Isaiah 6. Matthew 13:10-17 says:

[10] Then the disciples came and said to [Jesus], “Why do you speak to them in parables?” [11] And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. [12] For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. [13] This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. [14] Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

”‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
[15] For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

[16] But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. [17] For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

This is how we once were, and we can be tempted to go back. From a dull heart flows ears that can barely hear the truth, and eyes that have been closed. The only reason we can see and hear is because of Christ. It’s all grace. Recounting Paul in Rome, Acts 28:23-31 says similarly:

[23] When [the local leaders of the Jews in Rome] had appointed a day for [Paul], they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. [24] And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. [25] And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

[26] “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
[27] For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

[28] Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”

[30] He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, [31] proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.

Paul was dealing with the same resistance Jesus dealt with. The Jews had eyes to see and ears to hear, but the heart-the organ of thinking, willing, and deciding-failed to respond. This isn’t just a problem for the Jewish people. This is a problem for all of us.

The way you learned Christ

[20] But that is not the way you learned Christ!-[21] assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, [22] to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, [23] and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [24] and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

When Christ calls us to himself, it’s always a call to leave the world, die to self, and live for God. Before we can ever hope to do that, we need to be transformed. Romans 12:1-2 gives a deeper picture of what it means to be renewed in the spirit of our minds:

[1] I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. [2] Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

To live the life Jesus intends for us, we need to discern by testing what his will is. We need to know what is good and acceptable and perfect so that we can obey him. This is how we know what to put off and what to put on. Colossians 3:1-17 gives helpful detail:

[1] If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. [3] For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

[5] Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. [6] On account of these the wrath of God is coming. [7] In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. [8] But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. [9] Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices [10] and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. [11] Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

[12] Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, [13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. [14] And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. [15] And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. [17] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

We didn’t receive Christ to continue in the same ways of thinking. If our lives don’t look any different than the lives of unbelievers, we haven’t truly learned Christ. It’s a false gospel that says we can have Jesus as Savior without also having him as Lord. It’s either both or neither.

Jesus

How are we supposed to live as followers of Jesus? How are we supposed to put off the old self of futility, renew the spirit of our minds, and put on the new self created after the likeness of God? How do we not walk as we once did?

We learn Christ. We hear from him and of him. We let him teach us what’s true. This is what we’ve heard through the gospel. This is what we’ve been taught through the apostles. This is what we’re equipping one another for.

The Greek for “to be renewed” is present passive infinitive. This means God is the agent of the renewing, not us. We pursue the state of renewal, but God does the renewing. We yield to God so that the Holy Spirit can renew and transform our inner person.

A benediction, based on Ephesians 3:17-19, says:

[17] [May] Christ…dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, [19] and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

sermons

ephesians 4, jesus, walk