Eph 4:20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. 25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. 28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
For the last few weeks we have been looking at God’s overall vision for the church and the structure He himself has put in place to bring that vision to pass.
We have learned that God’s house in not a place where everyone is perfect, but is a place where everyone is being perfected!
We are all under construction, and Go is not finished with us yet!
- God’s house is a spiritual hospital where spiritually sick people can be made well
- God’s house is a place of training and equipping where God’s people can be made strong to be able to take a stand for Him in the times we are living in.
We have learned that there is a role and responsibility that leadership has in the process of God’s vision for the church to come to pass, but not only is their a responsibility on leadership but there is also a need for good followship.
Tony Cooke the author of the book in search of Timothy uses an analogy to paint this picture.
“Would you follow a leader that lost 1/3 of his congregation and then lost his whole church but through time managed to win a portion of them back?”
“Would you follow a leader that had a team that was constantly fighting for position, and many times lacked faith in the vision of the leader and for a period of time walked away because they couldn’t full understand the direction that the leader was going in?”
Those leaders are God the Father who lost a third of the angels in heaven and lost His whole congregation for a period of time at the fall of man.
The second leader is Jesus Himself, where he had a team of disciples that were often trying to get the best position and many times lacked the faith and couldn’t see clearly where He was trying to take them.
We can all agree that God the Father and Jesus Himself were perfect leaders, but even they had challenges with the group that they were leading.
The building of God’s house is a 2 way street, for sure the leadership has a responsibility to grow in their gift and calling but we as a congregation also have a responsibility in the process.
“Our response is our responsibility”
Paul after sharing the gifts of the 5 fold ministry now brings the focus to us as God’s people and our responsibility in the process.
Eph 4:17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.
Paul is telling the Ephesian church now that you have given your life to Christ it is time to truly transition from the old way of living to the new way of living unto the Lord.
2 things that I believe will help us to effectively make this transition continually is our response to God’s word and our response to God’s spirit.
God’s word speaking to our lives and God’s Holy Spirit renewing our lives on a daily basis.
Our response to God’s word
- God’s word is truth
The first thing when it comes to God’s word we must acknowledge and accept that God’s word is truth and God’s word is final.
II Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
This is a decision that all of us must make when it comes to God’s word. This means when our opinion or our feelings tell us something that is contrary to what God’s word teaches we are willing to deny ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to embrace God’s word.
This happens when we sit under the preaching of God’s word or engage in the study of God’s word.
God’s word will confront our lives.
There are 2 responses that I see in scripture.
- The response of the Berean church
Acts 17:11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
- The response of governor Festus
Acts 26:24 Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!” 25 But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth.
Different from the people of Berea, Governor Festus just wrote off what Paul was preaching as insanity.
Some people are like this when it comes to the truth, when the word doesn’t line up with their opinion or their world view they write it off as insanity.
Thomas Jefferson one of the American presidents toward the end of his time in the office began to work on the New Testament, cutting our sections of the New Testament that he didn’t agree with and made a new bible called the Jefferson bible a version he felt more comfortable with.
We cannot pick and choose what sections of the bible or what scripture we agree with and other parts we don’t agree with, we must embrace the whole council of God that is found in his word, even when our opinion is different.
- God’s word is alive
The second thing when it comes to God’s word that we must know is that God’s word is alive and active.
Heb 4:1212 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
When the word of God is preached to or studied from an open and expectant heart it is able to cut away at things that have the potential to negatively affect a believers journey in the Lord.
Jesus paints this picture in the parable of the different types of soil.
Luke 8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest
There is nothing wrong with the seed, it is the condition of the soil that makes the difference in the breakthrough and harvest God desires for us to experience within our lives.
The word is not only alive when we receive it, but it is also alive when we use it to fight off the lies of the enemy.
In Matthew 4 Jesus used the word to fight off the enemy when He was being tempted.
Paul says in Eph 6 that the word of God is our sword when experiencing times of warfare.
The living word not only produces fruit and breakthrough within our lives, but the living word empowers us to fight the enemy when he comes in like a flood.
The United states has a missile system that has been empowered by satellites that have been positioned on the outer orbit of the earth. Called the “Hypersonic Missile defense system. This system picks up any attacks coming from enemy territory. When a missile or foreign object comes into dangerous position with in American territory, the system will send a signal to the Hypersonic Missile Defense system that will send a missile to destroy the threat from the enemy before it ever has a chance to impact American territory.
That’s what the word of God does for the believer. The Holy Spirit detects attacks from the enemy and releases the word of God with in our lives to tear down the lies that the enemy wishes to establish to tear us down.
We need to be a people that submit our lives to God’s word!