(4/26) Ephesians 4:17-24
Introduction - Many of you either grew up on a farm or have intentionally become a farmer. Right? My dad bought the farm, (which sadly, we have to sell), when I was in the 7th grade. Daddy, always had beef cattle. He would buy young steers and raise them until they were big enough to sell for beef. We had
10-20 every year, until the last few years of his life when he only bought 5. Every year around Nov. He would bring them into the barn yard and then close the gate and they would finish out their time with us in the barn and barnyard. Daddy believed in making them as comfortable as possible so we used a lot of straw. Couple that
with about 4 months of manure and every March meant it was time to clean out the barn and barn yard. Back in the 60s and 70ís, that meant, that dad and I and maybe one hired worker would grab pitchforks and for about 3 days would spend our time loading the manure spreader to help fertilize the fields. It was only after I left the
farm that dad hired a neighbor with a bobcat skid loader to do in a few hours what took me days to do.
I usually wore a light set of coveralls and boots but the smell of manure would be in our cloths and even, it seemed, in our pores of our skin. It seemed to take days to get the smell off of us. When I showered, I put on clean clothes. And, Debbie washed my work clothes and let them air dry for days. I did
not want those dirty smelly clothes on. I wanted to be free from that smell and dirt.
George had an experience like this when he went to Mexico with us back in 2008. George would you tell us that story?
Read Ephesians 4:17-24.
This portion contains one of the, therefores of Ephesians. Because we are all gifted with grace to be used to grace others and because God wants people to see Jesus in us, His bride, the Church, our thoughts and actions should be different than that of the world we are in. These verses are about thinking
differently and then as a result, to live differently. These verses need to be understood in light of all that Paul has written. This is a good Baptist sermon because it has just 3 points. Repent, Recall, and Renew.
I. Repent. (v. 17)
Your relationship with God has been a work entirely based on Godís grace and was, from beginning to end, His doing. Chapter one reminds us that He chose us before the foundation of the world, and that in love He predetermined to adopt us as His children, and that He accepted us, He redeemed us, He forgave
us because of the death of Jesus, and He gifted us with wisdom and insight into His plan, and gave us an inheritance, and came to live in us by His Holy Spirit to seal the deal.
Chapter two reminds us that before God did His thing in rescuing us, that we were dead in trespasses and sins and deserved Godís wrath, but because he is rich in mercy for His great love with which He loved us, He made us alive together with Christ. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave lives in
us and has given us new life. And all of that is a work of Godís grace.
Yet, on your part, there were two requirements, you repented and then you trusted or believed.
I believe that repentance is an absolute necessity for salvation. You will recall that repentance was John the Baptistís message (Matt. 3:2). It was also the message of Jesus (Matt. 4:17). Repentance was the application of Peterís Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:38; 3:19), and was Paulís message in Acts 17:30.
Repentance is literally a changing of the mind that leads to changing oneís actions. It often includes remorse and sorrow for thinking and acting wrong. To receive salvation, one must be willing to think differently about God, about him or herself, about Jesus, and about righteousness. One hears the message of the Gospel that
Jesus died for our sins and rose again for our justification and then upon hearing, he or she is sorry for the sinful, self-centered thinking that was opposed to God. This leads to one calling out to God for His grace and expresses belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf.
Do you understand this? Does anyone need this explained any differently?
Paul says that being a Christ-Follower is like one who has come in from the barn yard, or been rescued from the cesspool, we should not want to go back there or put those stinking dirty clothes on again. Thatís what these last 3 chapters are about. A change in thinking leads to a change in living. Notice
2:2, "in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. (the word, walk or walked. refers to how one conducts or lives his or her life.)
2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
4:1, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were calledÖ"
4:17, "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk."
5:2, "And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for usÖ"
5:8, Walk as Children of Light."
5:15, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,"
You should see that a change in thinking should result in a change in living out your life. Years ago, around 1978 Pastor John MacArthur said this, "The church in America, the church around the world today, but particularly in America, because of its affluence and because of its media inundation of evil,
constantly has a difficult time affecting the world. You know, our problem isnít getting the world to live like Christians; our problem is getting Christians to stop living like the world." Bam! He nailed it. Repentance needs to be an ongoing action.
II. Recall (verses 18-19)
Our second word, is recall. What is the life from which we have been rescued? Donít forget salvation, or being rescued, isnít just from the wrath of God that is coming, it is also from the lifestyle of unholy and aimless living. Thatís the way the world around us lives, unholy, and aimless living. Thatís
the way the rest of the world lives. The word Gentiles is the word ethnos, or ethnic. It is often used as a term for everyone who is not Jewish. But religiously speaking it refers to those who are heathen or pagan, or who do not know God. Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:4-5, "that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel
in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know GodÖ"
Their walk, (and your walk before you believed in Jesus), is in the futility of their mind. It is empty, void of any substance or purpose. Why? Because their understanding is darkened, or blinded, and they are alienated from the life of God. Remember 2:1-5, they, like you were, are dead. Here is a
definition of spiritual deadness, they are alienated from the life of God. They are without the knowledge of God-they are ignorant, they donít know God. They canít, because of the blindness their hearts. Look at verse 19." who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
The culture then was very much like the culture we live in today. Ephesus was one of the vilest cities in the world. Again, John MacArthur writes, "Ephesus was one of the most dissolute and evil of all the cities; in fact, some felt it was the most evil city of all in Asia Minor. It was really a religious
center. There were multiple temples, and idols, and all of that kind of thing, but it was particularly focused on the temple of Diana Ė Diana, and another name for Diana is Artemis (read Acts 19). And by the way, if youíre thinking of some beautiful looking thing, Ö Artemis was a big, black, ugly thing, that looked like something
between a cow and a wolf Ė horrible looking thing. It supposedly fell out of heaven, and so they worshiped this big black thing. But the temple of Diana was the 7th wonder of the worldÖ. Pilgrims, by the thousands, came to this place, and the worship that went on there was orgiastic, and so it was very popular. All you have to do
is invent a religion where sex is the key thing, and youíll have a whole bunch of people signing up right on the dotted line to get involved, and thatís exactly what they did.
It was a big business, and of course they sold these little idols. You remember about the revolt of the silversmiths Ė the terrible riots that broke out when they ruined the business there. The apostles came in and shut down all the business, people couldnít sell their little gods, had a problem. They used
to take their gods and they used to place them in their homes, these little things. And they also, interestingly enough, I read they hung them around their necks; religious jewelry around their wrists, around their ankles, and they put them on the front of their chariot. I donít know if they had a dashboard on their chariot, but
thatís the idea. So it was a big business.
The goddess of Ephesus, Diana, was worshiped as a sex goddess. The place was packed with eunuchs, who were made eunuchs in order to accommodate that kind of activity, and there were thousands of priestesses and temple prostitutes, singers, dancers, and a whole great big orgy occurred. One writer says the
worship was a kind of hysteria, where the people with shouts and music worked themselves into frenzies of shameless sexual activity, including mutilation, self-mutilation. Heraclitus said the temple was, quote, "The darkness of vileness. The morals were lower than animals, and the inhabitants of Ephesus were fit only to be
drowned," end quote. The little church in Ephesus was an island in a cesspool."
Does that sound like America? Letís go back and read Romans 1:18-32 together. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly
seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible manóand birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the
penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they
are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also
approve of those who practice them.
The culture we currently live in is demanding, not asking that we accept as normal and good the things that God says are an abomination. Anyone with a different opinion is branded as an intolerant bigot. Our movie stars and musicians, and major corporations and networks, and politicians must not say
anything of a contrary opinion and neither can you.
These are blinded by Satan, and their own evil desires. They are calloused in their consciences beyond feeling. They have given themselves completely to their sins, and to the point that God has given them up and over to their passions and they will ultimately have their wish and live forever separated from
the God who loves them and gave His Son to redeem them and revealed righteousness and grace to them in His Bible.
My friends, that is the cesspool from which we were saved and given new life. That is the world that you grew up in and like the church in Ephesus, we are an island in that world. We should be a city on a hill. That brings us to our third word.
III. Renew (verse 20-24)
As we put these 3 words together, we see that we were rescued when we repented and believed in Jesusí Deity, His Death, and His Resurrection. We began to think differently. Different thinking should lead to different living. We recall our life before Jesus came to abide in us, and the life of the world we
live in. That should cause us to not want to participate in that life any longer and so we renew our thinking and the purpose for our lives. Our lives have tremendous purpose and potential. We have a reason to get up in the morning and a reason to live and love. Most of the world is just passing time. They get up to work or play
and then to go to bed so they can start all over again tomorrow and the day after that until they die. They need, drugs, alcohol, sex, or some power, or pleasure, or addiction to dull their minds (like TV, computers and Facebook) to cope with a meaningless existence. Often we try make the emptiness go away by buying or
accumulating things. Someone once said that, "He who dies with the most toys wins." Solomon said in Ecclesiastes, it is all vanity, or its all empty. Shakespeare put it this way: "Life is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Verses 20-21, says, 20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus. Being born again, or born anew, or born from above as Jesus said in John 3 to Nicodemus means that we learn to live life all over again from a new perspective
with a new purpose for living. It begins with repentance, but ends with a renewed mind, that leads to a renewed life. We learn how Jesus lived and the purpose for which Jesus lived and the source of Jesusí life. He deemed the Word of God as more important than bread, and the worship of God as more important than having all the
stuff in the world, and honoring the Father as His purpose in life. He taught us what true righteousness is. It is keeping the Spirit of the law as much as the letter of the law. He taught us what true love is. It is seeking the best for others and not being selfish. He taught us what real joy is. It is bearing fruit for the honor
of the Father. It taught us what peace is. It is resting in the promises of God. The world cannot give you these things. This why Peter says in 1 Peter 4:2-3, that the Christ-Follower, should, no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 3 For we have spent enough of our
past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentilesówhen we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. And John says, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the worldóthe lust of the
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of lifeóis not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever." (1 John 2:15-17)
Paul says, 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Do you remember when our
Lord raised Lazarus from the dead? John 11:44 says, "And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go." Take the grave clothes off and set the man free.
Jesus, our Lord, told the story in Luke 15 of a young man that despised his father and wanted his inheritance. His father gave it to him and the young man left home, squandered away his money, and ended up keeping pigs, until he repented and went home, hoping to get a job as a servant in his fatherís home.
But the dad ordered a new robe, a ring, sandals, and a party. Do you think that young man ever wanted to put those pig smelling clothes on again? Do you think he wanted that life back again?
Paul is saying the same thing. Take off the old man like a dirty shirt, or clothes soiled by the cesspool of the world and put on a clean garment; that is the new nature that Jesus has given you. Jesus Christ has made you a new brand new creature. He has deemed you righteous because He has credited His
righteousness to your account. He has deemed you Holy because you are now a child of God.
Renew your thinking, renew your mind. Romans 12:2 says, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." The Holy Spirit is in you to help you to live like the New person that you are. And
this book has been given to you to show and tell you how to live differently. How to live like Jesus. Thatís what the next 2 ľ chapters are going to zero in on. How do we do that? How do we renew our minds? The answer is simple. WE read and meditate in this book. We think of how to apply what we read. Remember our acronym ACCEPTS?
What Attitude does God want me to see and develop?
What Challenge does God want me to accept?
What Command does God want me to obey?
What Example does God want me to follow?
What Promise does God want me to claim?
What Truth does God want be to believe?
What Sin does God want me to confess and forsake?
Then we run every decision, every thought, and every action, through the filter of Godís word because we know our father knows the best decision to make for my welfare, because He loves me like crazy.
Paul said in 1 Cor. 2 that we have the mind of Christ. Peter said, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by
which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Letís close with a few questions,
ē Have you repented of your sins and your past and have you received Jesus as your Savior and Lord?
ē Having repented of your past do you find yourself wanting to put on the stinking barnyard clothes or cesspool cloths again and do what the world or TV or social media says is good?
ē Are you taking the time each day to remember that you are a child of the one true King?
ē Are you renewing your mind with Godís Word?
ē Are you putting on Jesus Christ? Paul said this to the Romans, "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and
let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (13:11-14)
Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman