Ephesians 6: 14-20 – Spiritual defence

SPIRITUAL DEFENCE!

Ephesians 6:14 – 20. (v21 – 24 – concluding remarks)

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

In verses 10 – 13 we saw that the Christian is involved in a struggle – usually with physical and/or practical implications – but ultimately the struggle is not against human forces but against spiritual ones. […not against flesh and blood .. v12]. God’s enemy is Satan and his demons and simply because we cannot see them physically does not mean that they do not exist. There is spiritual conflict going on around us – the devil is doing his utmost to disrupt and undermine the kingdom of God — and whoever is on God’s side will be a target.

 

Now as we said last time, many in the Western World, with our anti-supernatarulistic attitude, like to think that belief in devils and demons is a lot of hocus-pocus. Firstly, there is an rapid increase of interest in the occult and witchcraft in the UK – more witches than clergy. Secondly, simply because a person or group of people do not believe something does not mean that it does not exist.

 

ILLUS.: 500 years ago people believed the world was flat. Does that mean that the world was ever flat??

 

The Bible always assumes the existence of the devil and demons — and Jesus certainly spoke of the devil and demons as real spiritual being and not figments of people imaginations.

 

So then if Satan is trying to undermine our faith and cause us to give-up on following Christ how are we to defend ourselves from this attack? This is exactly what Paul is talking about in v. 13 – 18.

 

The point that Paul is emphasising in this section is that the Christian must stand firm – here he uses military language – in other places we are told not to be tossed about by every new teaching that comes along. In Psalm 1 the description is of a tree with deep roots. It is easy to be stable when everything around us is calm and peaceful and we are free from trouble BUT Paul here is urging us to stand firm when in the midst of conflict.

 

How does your faith in Christ stand up under pressure? When things are difficulty – do you begin to doubt God’s goodness and trustworthiness and love – do you question his sovereignty – do you doubt that he knows what he is doing??

Instead of turning to God do you begin to turn away from him? Turn your back? I am not talking about a fleeting doubt or questioning BUT a deliberate turning away from God!! THAT is exactly what Satan wants — that is what happened in the Garden of Eden – Adam and Eve doubted God!!

 

So then how do we stand?? When Paul wrote this letter he was in prison in Rome, probably chained to a Roman soldier – he would have had a constant reminder of the soldier’s equipment and uses this as an illustration of the Christians spiritual equipment – Roman soldiers were seen in everyday live throughout the Roman Empire so his readers would immediately be able to picture what he was talking about.

 

He uses the word ‘panoplia’ referring to the full armour of a heavy-armed soldier – the point being that Paul is emphasising the completeness of God’s armour – armour that is designed and furnished by God.

 

He focuses on 6 pieces of the soldiers equipment – the belt, breastplate, boots, shield, helmet and sword.

 

  1. The Belt of Truth.

 

The belt was a leather and was more part of the under garments than the armour, however it was an essential piece of equipment. The tunic was a long garment, square, with holes cut in for the head and arms. It hung loosely over the body and it is easy to see how such a garment could be a hindrance in the heat of battle which was usually hand-to-hand combat.

 

It was not only soldier who do this – everyone wore long flowing robes and if you needed to run of do manual work the robes had to be tuck out of the way in order for them to have freedom of movement.

 

Peter uses the term figuratively 1 Peter 1:13

13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action [gird up the loins of your mind]; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. (NIV)

 

The NIV translation is right – ‘ .. prepare .. action ..’   NOW spiritually speaking the thing that prepares us is TRUTH.

 

Two possibilities:

1] objective doctrinal truth – the content of God’s truth is essential for every believer – we have already seen this in Ephesians 4:14

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. (NIV)

 

One of the factor that is always present in an unstable Christian is that s/he is not sure of what s/he believes. Satan will do all he can to undermine the truth of God – not always by opposing it but by sowing doubt in our minds and trying to destabilise us. It is vitally important that Christians study and know the truth.

 

2] subjective practical truth – it is never enough to only know God’s truth academically – we need to have an attitude of truthfulness. David , the psalmist –

Psalm 51:6 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. (NIV)

 

The Christian needs to be honest and truthful at all costs. When we slid into hypocrisy and scheming, when we are underhand and deceptive then we are playing the devil’s game – and that is exactly what he wants us to do – he knows and we should know that we will never beat him at his own game.

 

Being truthful is not always easy – “Honesty is that best policy!” – Well it depends what you mean by best. Sometimes it is not the best or most advantageous to yourself to be honest – if you are totally honest you may not get the job; you might not be shown up in a good light – sometimes you will suffer for being truthful. So honesty might not be the best policy in terms of self interest but it is the right policy before God and that is what counts in the final analysis!

 

  1. THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.

 

The breastplates that the Roman soldiers wore were either made of metal or leather with slices of animal hooves or horns sewn in. The purpose of course was to protect the torso – not just the front but going around the back to protect all the vital organs.

 

Paul describes the Christian breastplate as righteousness. He is not talking about self righteousness – the kind that thinks that by legalistic behaviour can earn us Brownie points with God. Far from being a protective covering, self-righteousness gives Satan a ready made weapon to smother and stifle our spiritual life and service to God.

Isaiah [64:6] describes our righteousness as filthy rags and not as protective armour.

 

Righteousness in Paul’s letter usually means ‘justification’ – by which he means that we can be right before God – accepted and forgiven by him – not because we have gained enough merit points BUT on the basis that Jesus Christ died on the cross to save sinner from God’s punishment. It on that basis and that basis alone that we can be justified before God. Thus Paul can Write in Romans 8:1

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (NIV)

 

This is the assurance that Christians are righteous – in a right with God – This is the protection against Satan’s attacks and accusations. So when you are tempted to think “I God can’t accept me , I am not good enough!” On the one hand you are right you are not good enough, no-one is – but on the other hand Jesus Christ died to save sinners and he accepts us as we are when we come to him and he never turns away any sincere person. And when he has accepted us there is nothing Satan can do to change that – this is our protective breastplate of righteousness.

 

However, as with truth, it is not simply objective righteousness, but also practical. From our position of justified righteousness before God there needs to be an outworking of that in practical living – in character and conduct.

 

MacArthur puts it this way “To put on the breastplate of righteousness is to live in daily, moment-by-moment obedience to our heavenly Father. This part of God’s armour is holy living, for which God supplies the standard and the power but for which we must supply the willingness. God Himself puts on our imputed righteousness -[that is the righteousness he gives us] – but we must put on our practical righteousness.”

 

  1. THE BOOTS OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE.

 

Paul has in mind the half-boots worn by the Roman Legionnaires – heavy studded leather soles and supports around the ankle. They were designed to protect the feet, not to hinder mobility and to stop the foot from slipping.

 

Ephesians 6:15 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness [preparation or firmness] that comes from the gospel of peace. (NIV)

 

As with the previous two point there can be a double meaning in this verse and it is unnecessary to choose between the two – we can accept both as valid and maybe that is how Paul mean us to read it.

 

1] We can take it to mean the steadfastness and certainty that the gospel gives to those who accept it. Just as hiking boot give you firmness on your feet when you walk the countryside.

 

There is a steadiness and an assurance for those you know that they are at peace with God. This has already been dealt with in 2v14ff where Paul explains that Christ is our peace and that knowing him bring peace between us and God. No matter how fierce the spiritual battle may be or how aggressive Satan’s attack there can be peace of heart and mind because we are at peace with God.

 

Do you know that peace? That in spite of adverse circumstances and pressure you can say in your heart “I am at peace with God!” That kind of confidence in God give a firmness and a steadiness to life that no insurance policy can ever offer.

 

2] Preparedness – a readiness to carry the gospel of peace wherever we go.

ILLUS.: When I was in the army – if we were on standby for action we had to sleep with our boots on so that the instant we were called we were ready.

 

There is no doubt that as Christians we should always be ready to bear witness to Christ as the one who gives peace.

When Paul write to the Romans in Romans 10:15 [quoting Isa.52:7]…, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (NIV)

 

The task of bringing the message of peace with God to the World has been given to the Church and we must be ready to do that wherever and whenever we are able otherwise we cannot claim to have our feet shod with the readiness of the gospel of peace.

 

When we relax – take our boots off and put our feet up Satan is delighted. What the devil fears most is the advance of the gospel when people turn away from him and turn toward God.

 

  1. THE SHIELD OF FAITH.

 

Ephesians 6:16 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (NIV)

 

The shield mentioned here was 41 foot long and 21 foot wide – used for individual protection and if standing shoulder to shoulder could form a barrier to enemy missiles.

 

The faith to which Paul refers is the basic trust that accepts God’s gift of salvation and the daily faith that trust God for each day – for his provision and his help.

 

Every person alive has faith – you have faith in those chairs – in the roof that it won’t fall on you – you have faith in the Bank that the will be able to give you your money when you want it. Christian faith is far greater than this kind of faith NOT because Christians are better people of strong in their belief but because of the object of their faith -viz. God Himself.

 

You faith is only as strong as the object in which you place it. If you place your faith in an Insurance company that goes bust then your faith was ill-founded.

 

ILLUS.: John Paton that great missionary to the South Sea Islands was translating the Bible and cold not find a word for ‘faith’ when one day a man ran into his hut flopped down in a chair and exclaimed “It is good to rest my whole weight on this chair” “That’s it” said Paton “ I’ll translate faith as ‘resting one’s whole weight on God”.

 

Resting your faith on God is the most sensible and well-founded thing that we can ever do.

 

Such well-founded faith is the thing that protects us from Satan’s stinging-fiery darts. Satan’s fiery darts are always aimed at our trust and confidence and faith in God.

 

When Satan tempted Jesus after his 40 day fast in the desert he tried to get him to distrust –          God’s provision – turn these stones into bread.

– God’s protection – throw yourself off the Temple tower

– God’s plan – I will give you all the kingdoms of the earth when God                                     had planned to give all to His Son.

 

The only way to withstand Satan’s fiery missiles is to TRUST God, taking the shield of Faith. Rest all your weigh on HIM>

 

  1. THE HELMET OF SALVATION.

 

The purpose of the helmet is obvious – it is to protect the head.

 

In ourselves and in our own strength there is nothing we can do to withstand Satan’s attack – our only defence, our only protection is God’s saving power. This salvation is a gift.

Ephesians 2:8 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — (NIV) This is God’s gift in the here and now!

 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. (NIV)

 

While we are the recipients of God’s salvation that does not imply that we are to be passive – we are not spectators. We are part of the action. runners – soldiers – doers of good deeds etc…

 

It is not only the present gift that keeps us going but also the future hope of salvation as mentioned in 1 Thess…. hope of salvation as a helmet.. .

 

It is knowing that the struggle is only temporary, only for this life [which is but a blink of the eye in terms of eternity] and then at the end is the prize, the glorious fulfillment of our salvation when we will be in heaven with Christ forever.

 

ILLUS.: when I was younger – a runner – 100m, 200, 400m – 400m was the killer – a struggle of mind and body in the home straight – but it was the finishing tape that kept me going. The prize was to break the tape.

 

In the midst of the struggles of life and the difficulties that we often face – the temptation to just ‘go with the flo’ – why bother with all the Christian stuff – wouldn’t it be easier to just life and let live –   LOOK UP! look at the end – the hope – live in the light of eternity!!

 

  1. THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT = THE WORD OF GOD.

 

Notice that it is referred to as the sword of the Spirit – it is not a physical weapon designed by human minds or manufactured by human hands.

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (NIV)

 

We are involved in a Spiritual struggle and without the Spirit of God we are powerless.

 

The sword of the Spirit is not the physical book of the Bible with which we beat people over the head – it is only as the Word of God internalised in our hearts and minds that it becomes an effective weapon – it must become part of you – it most mould your thinking and direct your life if it is going to be any protection at all.

 

ILLUS.: In the army we were given rifles – modern day sword – we were told – “While you are in the army this is your wife!” It went everywhere with you – even to bed and to the toilet!!

 

The enemy will often attack when you least expect it and so you can never drop your guard – always be alert!!

 

Jesus used the Word of God to defend himself against Satan attack! It is also an offence weapon – it pricks people’s hearts and consciences and causes them to repent and turn to God.

 

It is not without importance that Paul say the Sword of the Spirit = the Word of God – because the word and the Spirit always work together. When the Word of God is proclaimed the Spirit of God is at work in the hearts and minds of the hearers.

 

ILLUS.: Last week I told you that we had to shout slogans in the army – one such was ‘Know your weapon’

 

How well do you know yours??!

 

This is the armour that God provides for us – it is his armour – and he provides it for our protection and our use in his service – TRUTH – RIGHTEOUSNESS – PEACE – FAITH – SALVATION – THE WORD OF GOD.

 

  1. PRAYER.

 

Pray is not another weapon – but is should be something that pervades our whole life.

 

By praying we are expressing that we are dependent upon God for everything – all the time.

 

“ ..in the Spirit ..” – tell us that we need to be prompted and guided by the Spirit These are the two most power weapons at our disposal – “the sword of the Spirit“ [The word of God] and “Prayer in the Spirit”

 

ALL occasions – God wants us to come to Him in pray for everything – in good times and in bad times – when we feel like and when we don’t – there is nothing that we can’t talk to God about.

 

ALL types of praying [prayer and supplication] – many and varied forms of prayer – short, long, private, public, walking, sitting, standing, kneeling, ….

 

ALL the time – does not mean that you spend your life on your knees BUT that we consciously live our lives in God’s presence – living in fellowship with God – that our relationship with God influences every aspect of our lives.

 

ALL the saints – Paul has just been describing the Spiritual conflict that all Christians are in – we are all in it and therefore we all need to pray for each other.

 

“.. Be alert and keep on praying ..” [v.18]

Reminds us of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane – “Watch and pray” – During his ministry Jesus warned us his disciples to be alert both in view of his unexpected return and the onset of temptation.

“Be alert” – because the devil goes around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour and because Jesus may return at any time BUT esp. because we have a tendency to sleep when we should be praying – {remember the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane – Jesus was in his hour of greatest need – he needed his disciples to pray for him but they were sleeping}

 

“Without prayer we are too feeble and too flabby to stand against the forces of evil” [Stott]

 

Paul knew the value of pray and that is why he asks the Ephesian Christians to pray for him     Ephesians 6:19-20

19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (NIV)

 

This is not a selfish prayer – notice he does not ask to be released from prison – his first priority is the good news of the gospel.

 

CONCLUSION.

Ephesians 6:23-24

23 Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. (NIV)

4 key words – the two that stand out in the letter are ‘peace’ and ‘grace’ – peace with God and with one another.

Grace – we are able to know peace with God because he is gracious and loving and forgiving.

 

In view of all that God has done for us and given us “in Christ” may we stand firm for him seeking, with the help of the Spirit, to apply the lesson we have learn from this letter of Ephesians.

Grace to all [of you] who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

 

 

 

 

“PUT ON THE ARMOUR OF GOD!”

Ephesians 6:14 – 20.

 

  1. The Belt of Truth.

      ³ doctrinal truth

       ³ practical truth

 

  1. The Breastplate of Righteousness.

      ³ righteous by justification

       ³ righteous in practice

 

  1. The Boots of the Gospel of Peace.

       ³ assured peace with God

       ³ readiness to promote God’s peace

 

  1. The Shield of Faith.

       ³ “.. rest all your weight on God ..”

 

  1. The Helmet of Salvation.

       ³ present experience

       ³ future hope

 

  1. The Sword of the Spirit = The Word of God.

       ³ for defence

       ³ for attack

 

PRAYER (in the Spirit)      ³ on ALL occasions

                                                ³ ALL types of praying

                                                ³ ALL the time

                                                ³ for ALL saints

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Ephesians 6:10-13 – Spiritual warfare

SPIRITUAL WARFARE!

 

Ephesians 6:10-13.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

Throughout this letter to the Ephesians Paul has talked about the wonderful blessings that belongs to those who are “in Christ”. He has given us broad sweeps of God’s unfolding purposes for the world and especially for the Church. He has taught us about the creation of a new society under the Lordship of Christ, viz. the Church. A society were there should be no racism, sexism, ageism or any other discrimination. Paul has then gone on to appeal to his readers and to us to pursue harmony and unity and fellowship and righteousness – thus expressing in everyday life the practical out working of this Christian Faith – the home and the workplace is were the spirit-filled life is to be lived out.

 

In case we are tempted to think that the only reason we are not fulfilling this ideal is that we are not trying hard enough or are not committed enough – Paul reminds us that it is it not simply us and God BUT there is another factor to consider and that is the Devil and his cohorts.

 

Paul has already mentioned the devil in 2v2 and 4v27 – he does not try to give an account of where Satan and his forces came from – he simply assumes their existence as common ground between himself and his readers.

 

In these verses Paul is warning the Ephesian Church of the fierce opposition they will face. He is urging us to follow Christ and thus we need to remember that Jesus was attacked and tempted by Satan – at the beginning of his ministry for 40 days in the desert and again no doubt in the Garden of Gethsemane Satan was active in trying to prevent Jesus from going to the cross.

 

Whenever Christians are passionately following Christ and seeking to obey him and serve him faithfully you can be sure Satan will be active in opposition. Yes the Lord give us victory but Satan wants to destroy the work of God. As Christians, when we begin to do something significant for God, we can expect there to be opposition. A Christian who never has conflict and struggle in some form or other is a Christian who has either fallen into sin or complacency.

 

Paul and the Christians in Ephesus knew this to be a reality – when Paul first when to Ephesus; he was run out of the synagogue by the Jewish leaders, he was mimicked by the apostate Jewish exorcists, and he was threatened by Demetrimus and the others silversmiths because their idol making business suffered because of his ministry. This was opposition from outside the church. BUT later in Acts 20:29-30 Paul warns the Ephesian Elders of the dangers within the flock.

 

Acts 20:29-30 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. (NIV)

 

Satan has always had a double strategy persecution and opposition from within and corruption and division within – It happened in Paul’s day and it happens today.

 

Today I believe the Western Church has fallen headlong into Satan’s trap – the Church in general is more concerned about her own comfort than she is about God’s mission of taking the gospel to all nations. And as individual Christians we too often live to ourselves rather than for the kingdom and as a consequence the Church is weak!

 

The NT leaves us in no doubt that Satan will attack Christians and the Church from without and from within, by whatever means – we are involved in a spiritual war, we are not on peace-time manoeuvres and this war will continue until we die or Christ returns! Paul doesn’t want his readers or us to ever forget this fact!

 

I want to outline these verses under 4 key directives.

 

  1. BE WELL PREPARED BY GOD’S STRENGTH. v10.

 

Ephesians 6:10

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (NIV)

 

If we are going to engage in spiritual battle then our own strength is totally useless. The “be strong” can be slightly misleading in that we might be tempted to think that we are to find this strength within ourselves. This phrase would be better translated “Be strengthened in the Lord” – it is in the passive tense – this strength does not and can not come from us – we must receive it from the Lord.

 

One of the primary truths that Paul teaching in the Book of Ephesians is that we are ‘in Christ’ “his life is our life, his power is our power, his truth is our truth, his way is our way and his strength is our strength.” [Mac Arthur]

There are 4 words in Gk. for power or strength and Paul uses 3 in this verse – Strong Dumnamos – dynamite

might kratos – strength in relation to domination exercised over something/one. Christ has already defeated Satan on the Cross – he has dominated – our final victory of the worse that Satan can throw at us is certain – the ultimate worst that the Devil can do to us is ‘cause’ [then only if God allows] our death BUT ‘in Christ’ we have overcome death.

power iscus – latent power or power in possession. The Lord doesn’t have to be strengthened himself – power is only power because it comes from him.

 

Our own strength is never strong enough to oppose Satan but we can say with Paul Philippians 4:13 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (NIV)

This is not boastful arrogance but rather humble assured confidence that Christ has overcome the Evil One.

 

  1. BE WELL PROTECTED BY GOD’S ARMOUR. v.11a

 

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armour of so that you can take your stand……(NIV)

 

If we are going to be strong in the Lord then we need to use the equipment that God provides for us.

 

ILLUS. Army in RSA – conscript – on arrival we were stripped of all our civilian things and supplied by the army – everything we need to be soldiers was supplied.

You can’t fight a war without the proper equipment.

 

In God’s army we come with nothing – He supplies everything we need. The ‘put on ..’ of this verse is a permanent putting on – we do not join God’s army and then suddenly decide to become civilians again for a while – this is not like Dad’s army which we are involved in for a few hours a week – although judging by the lives of some Christians one is left wondering.

 

We will look at the armour next week!!

 

But we can be sure of this! – God has given us all we need to stand against the enemy. Stand your ground – hold on to what you believe – don’t crumble under pressure – don’t allow the enemy to force you to retreat or compromise your faith.

 

 

  1. BE WELL AWARE OF GOD’S ENEMY. v.11b-12.

 

Ephesians 6:11-12 ….against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (NIV)

 

Who is this enemy that we are talking about?

 

It is not ‘flesh and blood’ – these refers to humans beings in their present mortal human nature – cf. 1 Corinthians 15:50

50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (NIV)

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. (NIV)

 

Who then is this enemy? It is the devil and all his demons.

The Devil – it is not fashionable today to believe in the Devil – just this past week there has been much discussion in the media about hell and consequently about Satan. And for many, even Clergy, maybe esp. clergy, there is a light hearted dismissal of the devil as a figment of superstitious imaginations. But if we take the Bible at its word then the devil is a personal being. We see him active in the garden of Eden – in the temptation of Jesus – and referred to many times as the enemy of God. He is described as the ruler of demons [Luke 11:15], the ruler of this world [John 16:11], the god of this world [2 Cor.4:4], the prince of the power of the air [Eph.2:2].

 

Numerous times he is called Satan, the devil.

We know from this verse and other Scriptures that he is not alone – there are many demons.

 

For most of us living in the Western world we are not aware of the spirit world – if however you lived in Africa, South America, India and such places you would be very aware of the spirit world. For many in these places if you get sick it is not because you have a virus but because the spirits are angry with you or someone has placed a spell on you and so you go first to the Witch doctor {sangoma} before you go to the medical doctor.

 

ILLUS. The Zulu people will put their bed on brick to make it higher so that the Tokalosh – evil spirit – will not be able to hide under it – he like small dark spaces.

 

It is interesting however that in our Western world where the existence of a personal God and a personal devil is questioned more and more there is an increase in demonic and occultic practices. Even in England there are more and more people going back to the old Celtic religions – there are millions who are obsessed with horoscopes.

 

It is clear that Jesus treated demons as a reality – he cast them out of people on many occasions. They are real and that is why it is so dangerous to play around with Ouija boards, glassy-glassy, Dungeons and dragons and many of the modern video games that can easily get children involved in the occult. These things are to be avoided. Many will argue that these things are harmless fun – that is exactly what Satan would have us believe and by the time we realise that they are not harmless it is too late.

 

There are 3 things we need to learn about the devil and demons from this verse:

They are powerful – These principalities and powers are possibly different ranks of evil spirits within the hierarchy of hell – Whatever they are we know that they are cosmic powers – there power must not be underestimated – True they have been defeated on the cross but they have not conceded defeat nor have they yet been destroyed.

They are wicked – they are powerful but the use their power destructively and not constructively – they seek to destroy. They are totally unscrupulous in the way the wage war on God’s kingdom – they honour no Geneva Convention on the rule of engagement.

They are cunning – the schemes of the devil – sometimes he is a roaring lion, sometimes a wolf in sheep’s clothes, sometimes and angel of light.

Seldom is there a frontal attack on the Church – open persecution – in the first three centuries that made the Church strong – no he tries to seduce us into compromise and deceive us into error.

 

ILLUS.: Think of the Western Church – comfortable in its affluent cocoon – Satan is quite happy for you to come to Church as long as you don’t take it too seriously – as long as there is little real difference between Christians and the rest of Society he is quite content – a good dose of religion he would prescribe himself.

 

But when you are serious about your relationship with Jesus Christ and obeying him and fulfilling his command to take the gospel to the whole world then be aware – Satan will try everything to stop you! Remember that we are involved in a war – and we are not arm-chair generals sitting behind the lines drinking coffee while the troops fight – we are the troops — ‘our struggle …’ the word means hand-to-hand combat.

 

If you want to get a good insight into how subtle and scheming the devil is I encourage you to read C S Lewis’s “Screwtape letters

 

In our day the deceptions are many – undermining of family values [alternative family] — sexual perversion — proliferation of cults and isms [New Age] — the undermining of the gospel – the deity of Christ, this miracle, the resurrection, substitutionary sacrifice — pluralism …

 

How are we to live in the face of this evil onslaught??

 

  1. BE WELL GROUNDED IN GOD’S VICTORY. v.13.

 

Ephesians 6:13 13 Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (NIV)

 

There are too extremes that Christians can go to:

1) under-estimating the power of the devil.

2) crediting him with more power than he has.

 

  1. Lloyd-Jones wrote the following about under-estimating the devil – “ I am certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the church today is the fact that the devil is being forgotten. All is attributed to us; we have all become so psychological in our attitude and thinking. We are ignorant of this great objective fact, the being, the existence of the devil, the adversary, the accuser, and his fiery darts.”

 

The other extreme is that we credit him with too much power – he has been defeated and while we are no match for him on our own we need to remember that :

1 John 4:4

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (NIV)

 

Territorial spirits – this has been a subject for debate in recent times. What is meant by this term is that some Christians believe that each geographical area is under the control of an evil spirit and before the church can engage in evangelism the area must be prayed over usually by prayer-walk. This is partly the reason for the ‘March for Jesus’ which sings triumphalist songs and claims areas for Christ.

 

This is a difficult area – Undoubtedly we need to pray for the people of the area we live in – we know that demons can inhabit people and animals so why not geographical areas. In my work among the Asian community in SA I saw demonic activity.

 

ILLUS.: I know of case where people have moved into a new house and there have been noises and they have seen shadows etc. but when investigating there is no one there — the house has been prayed over and these strange occurrences have ceased.

 

However I have questions about the extent of these so called territorial spirits – Besides tow possible reference in Daniel – which are not clear to say the least the Bible is silent about such matters. And I fear that this kind of activity can be and often is a cop-out from the hard work of evangelism – of preaching the gospel and living a godly life in the society in which God has placed us. It is easy to walk down the road praying or singing triumphalist songs but it is hard work doing evangelism. If we had as many people involved in evangelism as we see in the ‘March for Jesus’ I believe we would make more of an impact for the gospel.

 

Don’t misunderstand me – I sometime walk the streets praying – I have taken part in ‘Marches’ – but what I am saying is that we need to be careful that these things do not detract for the discipline of Bible Study, personal evangelism, prayer, …. we live is a world that wants instant results but God tells us that his work is strenuous and disciplined like that of a good soldier’s.

 

It is all to easy for us to be complacent and even oblivious to the battle that is raging around us. The Western church is generally prosperous and respectable and often rejoices in victories that involved no battles and a kind of peace that is merely the absence of conflict. This is the victory and peace of the draft-dodger or defector who refuses to fight. These are not interested in “Armour” because they are not engaged in war.[MacArthur]

 

In God’s army every Christian is a soldier – and the enemy is not flesh and blood – we are not out to attack people but to win them over to God’s side – the enemy is the devil and his cohorts – BUT God has promised that we will have all the necessary armour and equipment we need to fight.

 

Our responsibility is to resist and to stand firm.

 

ILLUS.: During the Reformation Martin Luther stood before the Diet of Worms accused of heresy – he was condemned because he declared that people were saved by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone. The Devil had hood-winked the Church into distorting the gospel – but Luther was convicted of God’s truth and declaredMy conscience is captive to the Word of God … Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise!”

 

How are you standing today? – are you a good soldier of Christ? Are you engaged in the affairs of the King or have you become entangled in the affairs of this life and now you loyalties are divided.

 

Maybe you started well – but the song is true, you see “It’s not how you start but how you finish” — You may have had wonderful experiences in the past but how about now — it is those who stand firm to the end who will be saved.

 

There are many who have serve God in the past but have grown weary – they have turned their backs – they have take the armour off — they have lost the courage and the power and the desire to stand firm.

 

BUT as we are strengthened by God we are able to stand firm and to resist the devil and his scheming – James 4:7

7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (NIV)

 

1 Peter 5:8-9

8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith… (NIV)

 

Finally remember that the victory is already won!

Romans 8:31-39     31 …If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 … 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? ……. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 … 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

“more than conquerors!!”


SPIRITUAL WARFARE

 

Ephesians 6:10 – 13.

 

  1. BE WELL PREPARED BY GOD’S STRENGTH

                                                                  [v 10]

       strength       dynamite

       might           dominant/ruling power

       power           inherent power

 

  1. BE WELL PROTECTED BY GOD’S ARMOUR

                                                                  [v 11a]

       all we need God provides

 

  1. BE WELL AWARE OF GOD’S ENEMY

                                                            [v 11b-12]

      Ä the devil            ð chief personal evil being

      Ä the demons     ð lesser evil spirits

                 

                  Ä they are powerful

                  Ä they are wicked

                  Ä they are cunning

 

  1. BE WELL GROUNDED IN GOD’S VICTORY

                                                                  [v 13]

       know your enemy

       know your ‘equipment’

       know your fellow-soldiers

       know your LORD (He has won the victory)

Ephesians 6:5-9 – Who’s the boss?

WHO’S THE BOSS?

Ephesians 6:5-9.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

It is estimated that during the NT times there were about 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire. They constituted the labour force of the Empire BUT it is a mistake to think that they were simply unskilled labourers – some were well educated people like doctors, teachers and administrators.

 

Slaves were tools to be used to fulfil a function – if they failed to be useful they were dispensable. The only difference between a slave and an animal was that a slave could talk. The power to punish including execution, was in the hands of the master. Some would be viciously beaten or killed for the most trivial offences.

 

However we not think that all slaves were treated this way – many slave-owners treated their slaves well either because of their own sense of responsibility or because of public opinion or because of self-interest [an injured slave could not work as well as a fit one].

A good healthy slave was worth a lot of money and so an owner would look after a slaves as he would a valuable piece of equipment.

 

It was inevitable that as the Church grew in the 1st Century that both masters and slaves ended up in the same congregation- What was to be the influence of their new-found faith on their master-servant relationship.

 

By addressing slaves in his letter, Paul is not condoning slavery but is simply addressing a situation that is – it is clear from other things that he says, even in this letter, that Paul see all people as having equal worth.   —- we do not have slave in our society because based on these Biblical principles of equality and human dignity and worth people like William Wilberforce campaigned until the trade in slaves was abolished.

 

While we may not have slaves in our society – but don’t forget their are slaves still today in many places in the world, if not legal slaves then economic slaves – but the same principles that Paul spells out here in Ephesians still apply today in the realm of industrial relations.

 

Before we look at the text and deal with the relationship between employees/ employers and workers /management let’s look first at the issue of work and employment.

 

  1. WORK AND/OR EMPLOYMENT.

 

Work plays a major role in most peoples lives and therefore it is something that Christians must talk about – work occupies 2 of our life and 1 of our waking hours. Now you might wonder what a Pastor has to say about work when the old saying goes “The minister is 6 days invisible and 1 day incomprehensible!”

 

I want to deal in this section with three basic areas:

Modern attitudes to work

The purposes of work.

The unemployed.

 

1.1. Modern attitudes to work.

 

For many people work is something that is to be avoided if at all possible —

 

ILLUS.: Cartoon -OHP- “Whenever I feel like work, I lie here until the feeling goes away!”

 

Even employers understand this attitude only too well which is demonstrated by a notice put up in a New York office – “Some time between starting and quitting time, without infringing on lunch periods, coffee breaks, rest periods, story-telling, holiday planning, and the rehashing of yesterday’s television programmes, we ask that each employee try to find some time for a work break. This may seem radical , but it might aid steady employment and assure regular pay cheques!” [ From STOTT “Issues facing Christians Today”]

 

For many people work is simply something that we have to put up with!

 

For others work is just a means to an end – it is a way of financing leisure pursuits. Even for some Christians work is seen as a place to fish for “souls” – of course a Christian must be a witness at work as in every other sphere of life BUT it is not true to say that work in itself has no Christians significance. On the contrary, work is not a punishment for sin,– work was instituted by God before sin entered the world.

 

 

There are others who never stop to think about work it is just something that they do – as someone has said “I go on working for the same reason that a hen goes on laying eggs!” i.e. people are compulsive workers as hens are compulsive egg-layers.

 

From a Christian perspective work is part and parcel of the creation order. In Genesis God is presented as a worker – creating the universe and we as people are made in God’s image. God put Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and they were instructed to work it and care for it. [Gen 2:8, 15]. When Jesus came he did not despise work — he was a skilled carpenter demonstrating the dignity of manual labour. Work was not as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve – but sin affect work like it did every other area of creation – and so it is because of sin that work can become a drudgery.

 

1.2. The purposes of work.

 

Self-fulfilment is one of the main purposes of work. God has given everyone gifts and skills — we are to be creative because we are made in the image of the Creator. God wants us to be fulfilled, not frustrated.

 

This is why unemployment is so devastating for many people because it takes away the opportunity to use their God-given abilities. Unfortunately with the coming to the industrial revolution many people were reduced to doing mindless robotic jobs with no self-fulfilment possible. Some modern companies have recognised this and have a system of changing tasks, offering incentive, and physically brighten up the work environment with plants etc…..

 

For the benefit of the community — it is not only for self. People were not designed to be isolated individuals but part of communities and work should contribute to that end. In the past in the small village type communities it was easier to appreciate this role of the worker than it is now in a world of marco-economics.

 

All work need to be seen, at least to some degree, as being service to the community. Companies need to strike a balance between making a profit and serving its workers and the public. When profits are more important than people then something is drastically wrong. Sadly this seems to be true more often than it should be.

 

 

 

Service to God – more important than service to the community is service to God. From a Biblical perspective the highest function of Work is the glory of God. God has deliberately arranged his creation in such a way that the co-operation of human beings is needed to fulfil his purposes for creation. It is the function of human beings to subdue and develop this planet. God makes things grow but the gardener or farmer cultivates the soil.

 

At harvest we usually emphasis God’s part:

We plough the fields and scatter

the good seed on the ground

But it is fed and watered

by God almighty hand.

 

It is equally true to sing:

God plants the lovely garden

and gives the fertile soil

But it is kept and nurtured

By our resourceful toil.

 

John Stott defines work as follows: “Work is the expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfilment to the worker, benefit to the community, and glory to God.”

 

1.3. What about the unemployed?

 

When we understand the importance work plays in God’s scheme of things, we begin to see how serious an attack it is on our humanness to be unemployed. It is not just facing financial difficulty but also lack of fulfilment and not only being made redundant but a feeling of being redundant.

 

There was a time [10-20 years ago] when you could have a job secure for life – that is now a thing of the past — few, if any, people have that kind of job security.

 

Those who are made redundant go through – shock – disbelief – humiliation – depression – pessimism – and fatalism – and then if they can’t find another job eventually become demoralised and some feel dehumanised [of no worth].

 

What is the answer?? – I don’t have them all!!   We must not take the attitude that some do – “The unemployed are losers in the struggle to survive!”

 

  • There are a few people who are spongers and don’t want to work BUT the vast majority of unemployed do want to work but can’t find any. AT LEAST within the Christian community there should be no stigma attached to unemployment!
  • The church has a responsibility to do all it can to support those who are unemployed – financially, if possible, although usually people can get sate help – but not always enough – we must be aware. — BUT also emotionally and spiritually. { no time now to deal with in depth – suggestions welcomed!}
  • distinction between employment and work —-employment is work [we are not paid to do nothing] — not all work is employment [we can work without being paid for it – e.g. housewives] There are many things that volunteers can do in and for the community.

 

As Christians we have a responsibility to be workers all our lives – when you retired you do not cease to be a workers – you cease to be employed. We don’t always have control over our employment but we do have control over whether or not we work — UNLESS we are ill or unable to work for some reason!

 

NOW to the relationship between workers and bosses!!

 

  1. RESPONSIBILITIES OF SERVANTS/ EMPLOYEES/ WORKERS.

 

In addressing the servants, or in our context the workers, Paul is dealing primarily with the attitude of the worker to his/her boss.

 

Paul has six things to say to servants/ workers:

 

2.1. Right conduct –   obey your earthly masters   being a Christian should make a person a better, more productive, more agreeable person. If you want to be a witness for Christ in the work place, you will never achieve that if your work is shoddy and careless and you are always whinging!! It is an indictment against the Christian and the Lord to be slack at work.   —-This must be the Christian attitude irrespective of whether or not their boss is nice or fair or mean.

 

1 Peter 2:18-20    18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (NIV)

 

Even if your boss is a fellow believer that does not mean that you should have special privileges –

 

2.2. Right outlook – your earthly masters the right perspective is they are only your earthly bosses – they authority is only temporal and not eternal, and it is limited not absolute. No boss has moral or spiritual responsibility or authority over you.

 

2.3. Right attitude – with respect and fear, when Paul says here respect and fear he does not mean a kind of cowering terror but due honour and respect – an attitude of wanting to please your boss. Maybe you work for a boss you can’t honour and respect – maybe s/he is lazy, incompetent or simply unpleasant – then you should submit for the Lord’s sake. God is the one who has instituted human authority structures – yes, people abuse their positions and treat their subordinates badly but if you are in such a situation God knows – he knows your boss and he knows you. Sometimes he will remove you or your boss BUT if he doesn’t you are still to treat your boss with honour and respect for the Lord’s sake.

When a Christian works carefully and respectfully even in difficult circumstances it is a witness to unbelievers and an encouragement to believers.

 

ILLUS.: Len Wigston [60]- ran a clothing factory – take over – young “yuppie” executive was appointed over him – key were taken away and most responsibility – for 3 years he smarted under this youngster but he did not allow the situation to make him work badly nor did he undermine his boss – eventually he was vindicated by his big bosses at head office!

 

2.4. Right commitment – with sincerity of heart, – be conscienctious. This submission to your boss says Paul is not to be a pretence but must be sincere – not a hypocritical superficiality but a genuine desire to do your best – the idea is to get on with your work without complaining, bragging, being disruptive or criticising the work of others.

 

What about industrial action? – what about speaking out against injustice in the work place? I am not saying that Christians should be doormats – if their is wrong and unfairness and exploitation then we have a responsibility to our fellow-workers and to God to do all we can to rectify the situation BUT it must be done with the right motives and attitude.

 

 

2.5. Right Motive – just as you would obey Christ. – remember that Paul is still speaking under the banner of “being filled with the Spirit” [5v21] – and reliable and productive work is one of the practical outworkings of that. It is not in God’s plan to call every Christian to be in ‘full-time’ church work [I don’t like the term ‘Full-time’ – maybe pay Christian work is better] Every Christian is full-time irrespective of your employment. We are all called to serve Christ whatever our work may be –

Whether you are a secretary, carpenter, salesperson, nurse, teacher, volunteer worker etc … you have the responsibility to be the best you can be in the job. That is your Christian duty and out of that comes your witness.

 

William Barclay wrote this “ The conviction of the Christian worker is that every single piece of work produced must be good enough to show God!”

 

2.6. Right devotion – 6 Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. –

 

In these verses Paul is expanding what he has said in v.5. He is emphasising that our ultimate service is to the Lord and our aim is to please him and not people.

God knows our situation and he sees our heart – and he knows whether or not we are doing our best –

 

You may be unjustly treated – not rewarded by your boss for good work – you may be passed over for promotion – BUT ultimately you are servicing God and he will reward you in good time. I am not saying it is easy, it is not!

BUT the Christian slaves of Paul’s day did not have Industrial Tribunals and Trade Unions to protect them and these were the instruction that they were given.

 

ILLUS.: Missionary Couple on Ship back to New York after many years in Africa – on same ship a celebrity – crowds to meet the star and no one to meet the missionaries! Husband – ”It is not Fair! We come home and their is no-one to meet us” – Wife “We are not home yet!”

 

Colossians 3:23 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, (NIV)

 

 

 

 

WHAT IF …..

*        … your boss wants you to do shady deals? — your bass’s authority is limited – you and your boss are ultimately under God and like Peter and John before the Jewish council you would have to say Acts 5:29

…..”We must obey God rather than men! (NIV)

 

*        … your work is destroying your family life. If you have a job that is so demanding that your family is suffering because of it you may need to consider changing. I know that will not always be possible – esp. in today’s climate where jobs are so difficult to come by. If you have no time for your family or your Christian fellowship then something is not right – it should be a matter of urgent prayer that God will help you sort it out.

 

ILLUS. Bill and Ann Seiberhagen – OM – was Bank Manager headed for the top – bailed out and moved to a small town so he could be with his boys – came down in lifestyle. BUT today all their sons [4] are committed Christians.

 

What model are you setting for your children??!

 

*        … you are treated unfairly??

ILLUS.: Daniel – see ohp – Daniel appealed to God!

 

  1. RESPONSIBILITIES OF MASTERS/ EMPLOYERS/ MANAGEMENT.

 

Ephesians 6:9

9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him. (NIV)

 

The responsibilities of slaves are spelled out in detail but Christian slave-owner were given only three principles.

 

3.1. The same attitude and conduct as subordinates.

 

All the principles that Paul has spelled out to the workers apply equally to the bosses. If a boss expects respect, conscientious work, honesty etc… them s/he must give it. It is an application of the golden rule “ Do to others as you would have them do to you!”

 

If you are a boss – anyone who is in a supervisory capacity, not just the owner of the business – if you want respect, give it! ..want good work, give it! .. want a happy working environment, don’t walk around grouching! etc…

 

Don’t abuse or take advantage of those under you – remember they are people – encourage when it is due. A “well done!” can do wonders for morale.

 

3.2. No threatening.

 

Power is easily abuse – we have seen how the masters of Paul’s day abused it – I suggest that the modern equivalent of punishment threats is “If you don’t — work longer hours — work on Sunday — do this work at home — become more productive — then your job is on the line!”

 

Christianity has place for punishment in certain circumstances BUT threaten is a weapon used by the powerful over the powerless!

 

The biggest threat today is the threat of unemployment and we see examples of this often! Companies abusing their employees by expecting more work for no extra pay – restructuring and down-grading salaries because they know that there are no jobs out there. All in the name of profit and economic progress BUT while employees get small increases the fat cats line their pockets!

 

It is not all bad of course – there are companies who do look after there employees – and I would guess they are happier places to work in and that their workers are more faithful and productive! Besides it being right, it makes good economic sense to care for the work force!

 

What if those under you are difficult, lazy, incompetent etc — well you can get rid of them – and sometimes that is necessary – do the Daniel principle applies here too in a slightly different way.

ILLUS.: OHP – speak to God about the matter first – he can change them!

 

3.3. No favouritism with God.

 

A Christian boss should realise that his/her authority is strictly functional and only temporary. Ultimately both worker and boss are under God’s authority and God is not impressed by social position. He will judge all people equally and fairly – and bosses will be judged on how they treated those under their authority and care.

 

Jesus was the supreme Master and yet the example he set was washing the smelly dusty feet of his followers. [John 13:13]

 

 

 

CONCLUSION.

 

The over-riding principle that comes out of this passage – whether you are a boss or a paid-worker or a voluntary worker or unemployed – in the final analysis we are all under God and we are all accountable to him.

 

As a Christian therefore I have to live by the principle of Ecclesiastes 9:10 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, …(NIV)

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Whenever I feel like work,

I lie here until the feeling goes away!”

 


WHO’S THE BOSS?

 

Ephesians 6:5 – 9.

 

 

  1. WORK AND/OR EMPLOYMENT.

 

       Attitudes to Work

       Purposes of Work

       What about the unemployed?

 

 

  1. SERVANTS/ EMPLOYEES/ WORKERS.

     

       Right Conduct

       Right Outlook

        Right Attitude

       Right Commitment

       Right Motive

       Right Devotion

 

 

  1. MASTERS/ EMPLOYERS/ MANAGEMENT.

     

       Same attitude & conduct as Workers

       No Threatening

       No Favouritism with God

 

GOD

 

NEBUCHADNEZZER

 

DANIEL

 

GOD

 

BOSS

 

WORKER

Ephesians 6:1-4 – Parents and children

PARENTS AND CHILDREN

Ephesians 6:1-4.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

As we come to this passage on the relationship between parents and children I need to make the point that our own family has not arrived – I do not have all the answers. We face the same problems and difficulties in our family as any other and like many of you are working at it and we make mistakes.

 

The relationships within our families are the most important human relationships we can have. When families fail society begins to fail – Where there are weak families there will be a weak church.

 

I don’t think that it is without significance that Paul places these three illustrations of husbands/wives, parents/children and masters/servants in the order that he does. The relationship between husband and wife is the foundation on which to build the relationship between parents and children. The relationship between Mum and Dad has a profound effect on the children either for good or ill.

 

It is equally true that when people have problems at home it affects their ability to work. When children have problems at home it affects their performance at school.

 

Good relationships in the home are foundational to having a stable society.

 

In this passage before us Paul addresses children and parents and he does so under the banner of submitting to one another. There is a mutual submission that is expected of all Christian people – this submission to each other is not because the other is superior BUT it is out of reverence for Christ.

 

Ephesians 5:21

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NIV)

 

There is to be a mutual submission of parents and children – submitting to someone is recognising each others’ God-given position. It is also putting the other person first. Does this mean that children and parents have equal say in the home? This will be answered as we go through this passage.

 

 

 

  1. CHILDREN’S RESPONSIBILITIES.

 

I want you to notice something very significant in this passage. Paul is writing to the Church in Ephesus and in this letter he addresses children – I have often heard it said that Childern are the church of the future. NO! NO! Any child or teenager who is a Christian and has a personal faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour is part of the Church NOW – and not tomorrow only!

 

In the Roman world unwanted babies were abandoned and ill or disabled babies were killed – children were often abused. Children were often seen as a nuisance.

The Bible is clear that children are a gift from God – Jesus treated them with love and consideration.

 

Mark 10:14 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (NIV)

 

Matthew 18:5

5 “And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. (NIV)

 

The Bible is clear in holding up the rights of children so that they receive the care and diginity that all humans should have.

There are those however, who would endeavour to push the rights of children beyonds the bounds of commonsense and indeed of scripture.

There is constant pressure from certain quarters to challenge parental authority, physical punishment [smacking], — there are some who want childern to have the right to sue their parents if, for example, they are told to attend church — they want children to be paid a minimum wage for doing household chores, and even to be allowed to choose their own families.

 

1.1 Obey because this reflects obedience to Christ.

 

Ephesians 6:1

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (NIV)

 

Parents have authority over children not because they are superior human beings or are more valuable as people BUT because this is God’s plan for families. As children grow they often become better at some things than their parents.

 

ILLUS.: All my children can play the piano – I can’t. In some areas their knowledge is superior to mine – they have learnt things at school that I don’t know.

 

However children are to obey their parents! This was something that God impressed upon Israel in the OT.

 

Leviticus 19:1-3

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.

3 ” ‘Each of you must respect his mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God. (NIV)

 

We tend to think of a holy person as a monk wearing a halo – with or without his mobile phone!! But in Leviticus the first thing that God mentions after “be holy” is respect for one’s parents.

 

Why should children obey their parents? Because psychological case studies of 5000 families show that such children are more successful and well-adjusted. Or because human behaviourists tell us that this leads to a more stable society? These may be good reason but it is not the reason the Bible gives.

 

1.2. Obey because it is right.

 

Ephesians 6:1

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. (NIV)

 

We live in a society which, for the most part, acts on its feelings. Many people make decisions based on the pleasure it will bring now and neglect to think of the long term consequences. Many people – including teenagers – get involved in sexual relationships because it brings pleasure for the moment. It is unpopular to speak of right and wrong! the philosophy of many is “If is feels good do it!”

 

BUT the Bible tells children to obey their parents, — not because it will make you feel good – although it probably will, esp. in the long-term. – not because it is always easy [sometimes it is very difficult esp. when you are denied something you really want] — BUT because it is RIGHT!

 

What Paul has in mind is not simply a relunctant, grudging obedience – remember that this is under the banner of being filled with the spirit [5:18] and a Spirit filled person is one who longs to please God and is happy doing so. It is willing obedience –

It will mean doing those things that Mum and Dad have asked you to do and ALSO doing those things they haven’t asked you to do but which know will please them.

 

1.3. Obey because it honours your parents and God.

 

Ephesians 6:2 2 “Honour your father and mother” — which is the first commandment with a promise — 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (NIV)

 

Here Paul is quoting the 5th of the 10 commandments — it is not the first commandment with a promise; the 2nd commandment has a promise also — there are a number of possible answers to the problem, none of which change the meaning of this passage one bit so we will not spend anytime on it.

 

Children must not just obey mechanically – behind the obedience must be honour – honour of mother and father –

 

Listen, you young people, if you are going to obey your parents IN THE LORD then it is not just by acts but also in attitude.

 

ILLUS.: Little boy told to sit down 3x – did so relunctantly muttering under his breath “I may be sitting down on the outside but I am standing up on the inside.”

 

What is this long-life that is promised??

 

In the original command in Exodus 20 it was “…in the land that God will give you” – Here “ … on the earth ..” because in NT times the people of God was widened from the nation of Israel to include all the people of the earth.

 

Does this pasage mean that if you obey your parents you will live to be 102 years old?? NO! We need to see this collectively and not individually!! When a society follows the principles of God’s word it becomes a stable and healthy society — a strong society is inconcievable without a strong family life where children honour their parents. We see it in our own country – it starts with contempt for parental authority and spreads to contempts for all authoritty – teachers, police, government …..

 

SOME PRACTICAL WHAT IF QUESTIONS?

 

WHAT IF you are a Christians and your parents are not? If they forbid you follow you Christian faith what are you to do?? As a general rule obedience to parents should be the norm and disobedience the exception.

 

  • If parents forbid you to attend church or youth group – I would say obey them. If on the other hand they forbid you to follow Jesus and worship him in your heart this you could not obey because Jesus clearly says you must love him and obey him before everyone, even your parents.

 

  • What if my parents are wrong? Parents are not always right! Try discussing it with them — not shouting, or whinging — and esp. not in front of other adults. Children often try to embarrass their parents in front of friends hoping that they will get their own way. Sometimes you think your parents are wrong but they are not because they see a bigger picture and have more experience of life. BUT if they are wrong you are still to obey as long as it doesn’t compromise your faith in Jesus!

 

  • What if [or rather WHEN] I disobey … One of the hardest things to do is say SORRY but when you do I know few parents who are not willing to forgive and help and love their children in any way they can. Most parents love their children even when they are being disobedient.

 

Try to understand your parents’ position – as you grow and change they are also learning – they have never had a teenager before – and if you have an older brother/sister – you are different!                 As you are changing from childhood to adulthood your parents are changing from young couples to middle-age and that is not always easy – suddenly your body won’t allow you to do what you used to do – your children are bigger than you etc…

 

If you as a teenager you have commited your life to the Christ then you must learn to obey your parents with gladness ‘for this pleases Lord’ [Col.3:20] Remember the loving submission that Jesus gave to his parents when he was a boy.

 

  1. PARENTS’ RESPONSIBILITIES.

 

Ephesians 6:4

4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)

 

Fathers is a generic term as is brothers – it is entirely legitimate for it to refer to both parents.

 

 

Paul instructs children to obey their parents and this presupposes parental authority BUT when we come to v.4 Paul does not instruct parents to excercise their parental authority as we might expect. The ideal he holds up for fathers to aspire to is gentle, self-controlled guides and carers.

 

The fathers of Paul’s day were absolute tyrants – the had complete authority over all that they owned and that included their wives and children. According to Roman law a father had life and death power over everyone in his household – slvaes, wife and chidren. A new born baby was placed at its father’s feet to determine its fate – if he picked it up it was allowed to stay if he walked away it was desposed of.

 

ILLUS.: A 1st C letter from a man called Hilarion to his wife, Alis, reads, “Heartiest greetings. Note that we are still now in Alexandria. Do not worry if when all others return I remain in Alexandria. I beg and beseech you to take care of the little child, and as soon as we receive wages I will send them to you. If – good luck to you – you have another child, if it is a boy, let it live, if it is a girl, expose it!” [MacArthur p.316]

 

Sounds terrible but the main reason why children are in foster homes today is not divorce, financial destitution or the death of the parents BUT simply that the parents are disinterested.

 

Harvard University commissioned a study to determine whether 5-6 year olds would become delinquent – they discovered that the 4 primary factors to prevent delinquency are:-    *The parent’s[esp. fathers]firm, fair and consistent discipline.

*The parent’s [esp. mothers] supervision and companionship                               during the day

*The parents demonstrated affection for each other and the                         children

*the family sending time together in activities where ALL                            participated.           {MacArthur p.316}

 

2.1. Negatively: Parents don’t provoke or exasparate your children.

 

There are many ways in which parents can and do not only exasparate but also harm their children. We are not here talking about slip ups and genuine mistakes that we all make – and which we need to be aware of — but we are looking and ongoing patterns of behaviour and treatment of children.

 

 

John MacArthur list 8 which are very helpful [the list could be endless]:-

 

  1. Well meaning over-protection – smothered, never trusted to do things on their own — children need guidance and certain restrictions but they are individuals in their own right and need to learn to make decisions on their own in keeping with their age and maturity. [not allowing 5 years old alone on the street is sensible – holding your 14 years old’s hand when crossing the street is not cool]
  1. Favouritism – is a common cause of resentment in families. Don’t compare your children to each other esp. in the presence of the children. this can be devastating to a child who is less talented or favoured. ILLUS.: My Grandmother – Pidge – 11 grandchildren “Who is the favour? “I don’t have one and if I did I would never tell anyone!”
  • Pushing acheivement beyond reasonable bounds – we all want our children to do well BUT never relive your life through your child – we have all seen it – ILLUS.: A club our children were in – a parent would tell the child “If you win this race tonight I’ll buy you this or that …”   Many a child resents his/her parents because s/he has been pushed to hard. Children are not things to be push and stretched BUT to be cared for, loved and encouraged to do the best they can – Because the Bible tells us to always give our best.
  1. Children are provked by discouragement – a child who is always criticised, put-down and never encouraged and complimented for good work of behaviour will ended up having no reason to even try. We all need encouragement and approval for the things we do well – as children also need the same.
  1. Parents who fail to sacrifice for their children and make them feel unwanted. If children are told or given the inpression that they are unwanted or an intrusion the parents lives tey will become resentful. ILLUS.: “If you hadn’t been born I could have finished my study – Look what I’ve lost out on because of you!” However children also need to learn the their parents need space too – you are not helping your children if you always put them before your spouse – tgat will teach them to be selfish.
  • Failing to allowing children to grow up at the normal pace – don’t criticise them for being childish when they are behaving normally and harmlessly. On the other hand don’t baby them and prevent them from maturing.
  • Don’t use love as a tool of reward of punishment. Don’t give love when a child is good and withdraw it when it is bad. [Does not mean that you should not get angry when they are bad – but don’t let your anger get out of control – they need to see you angry so they can learn how to handle anger themselves] Children need unconditional love.                                               : A friend who went off the rails – against the advice of his parents – came home and was accepted “I appreciated my parents accepting me without sayingI told you so’
  • Physical and verbal abuse – battered child are a growing tragedy of our society – verbal abuse can be just as harmful as physical abuse. It is amazing what we will say to our children but would never dream of saying to anyone else. “You are so stupid!” “Why don’t you grow-up and stop being pathetic.”

 

For the record I do believe in physical punsihment – [spanking] esp. for smaller children.

 

Remember that parental authority is not unlimited – it is under God – although children are to obey their parents in the Lord, parents need to remember that children have a life and personality of their own and as such are to be respected and not manipulated, or exploted for the benefit of the parents.

 

Sir Fred Catherwood “ The dominant father of the Victorian novels who used his own authority for his own ends is no more entitled to claim Christian authority than the rebellious son. One is abusing authority, the other is flouting it. Both are wrong.”

 

2.2 Positively: Parents discipline and teach their children.

 

The reponsibility of bringing up children belongs to the parents and they should never shurk that privilege and pass it over to school or to Church.

 

Most of what children learn about how to live life they will learn in the home – primarily by watching their parents.

 

Parents are to teach their children discipline – positively by verbal instruction and by example – if parents are lazy they can’t expect their children to be diligent.

 

The word discipline here is the same one used in Heb.12 of earthly fathers and our heavenly Father —

 

Hebrews 12:5-11

5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (NIV)

 

What of physical discipline

Proverbs 22:15 15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him. (NIV)

Proverbs 23:13-14 13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. 14 Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death. (NIV)

Proverbs 29:15 15 The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother. (NIV)

 

POINTERS ABOUT PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT

– it should be a last resort not a first

– it should never be excessive [fit the offense — all punishment]

– never because you are embarrassed or put out BUT always for the                            good of the child

– with an instrument that could not possibly inflict permanent                                      damage {a wooden spoon not a baseball bat}

– avoid doing it in public or in front of their friends or yours

– never if you are out of control – don’t lash out

– always express love and affection after the punishment

– then forget about it – don’t resurrect the incedent

 

“The opposite of wrong discipline is not the absence of disciple but right discipline – The opposite of no discipline is not cruelty, it is balanced discipline, it is controlled discipline.” [ M. Lloyd-Jones]

 

What do I respond to those who say that smacking should be banned because it leads to abuse. Should we ban sex because some people commit sexual abuse??

 

Note the words after discipline and instruction – of the Lord – We are not raising our children for ourselves – they are gifts from God and we should be raising them for him – our goal as Christian parents is not primarily to have clever, successful, gifted children {all good things} but our main goal should be to lead them to Christ so that ultimately our children will submit to and obey not us BUT the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Right back in the OT when Israel was beginning it life as the people of God he gave these instructions.

 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates. (NIV)

 

In other words their faith was to be an integral part of every aspect of their lives.

 

CONCLUSION.

Neither children nor parents are perfect – but the principles that apply in the family of God apply as much , if not more so, in the nuclear family —

  • Love one another [John 13:34-35]
  • Accept one another [Romans12:16]
  • Serve one another [Galatians 5:13]
  • Bear one another’s burdens [Galatians 6:2]
  • Pray for one another [James 5:16]
  • Encourage one another [1 Thessalonians 4:18]

 

God help us to be the best children and best parents that we can possibly be!!

 

 

CHILDREN AND PARENTS

Ephesians 6:1 – 4.

 

  1. CHILDREN’S RESPONSIBILITY TO PARENTS

       ¦ obey because this reflects obedience to Christ

       ¦ obey because it is right to do so

       ¦ obey because it honours parents and God

               but primary obedience should be to God

 

  1. PARENTS’ RESPONSIBILITY TO CHILDREN

       ¦ Negatively: don’t exasperate your children

       For example  over-protection

                           ‚ favouritism

                           ƒ achievement obsession

                           „ constant criticism

                           … blaming

                           † hindering/pushing pace of maturity

                           ‡ manipulative love

                           ˆ abuse – verbal or physical

       – Parental authority is limited and delegated

 

       ¦ Positively:                                                    

              Discipline                                   ½

                     training and correction       ½   of

                     freedoms and boundaries   ½   the

              Teaching                                    ½   Lord

                     attitudes and skills                     ½

                     by word and example          ½

 

 

*Love – accept – serve – encourage – pray for – ONE ANOTHER*

Ephesians 5:21-33 – Husbands and wives

Husbands and Wives.

 

Ephesians 5:21 – 33.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

I could begin this sermon with many statistics about marriage breakdown, co-habitation, teenage pregnancies and so on. We all know that these things are facts of the society in which we live. We know that the traditional roles of men and women , husbands and wives have changed radically in the last 50 years and are still changing as we have more and more single parent families and also as more women work and many men are house-husbands.

 

What are we as Christians to make of all this and how should the Church respond – is it right for the Church to re-define “living in sin” – was that a good term in the first place or does it make co-habitation a worse sin than other sins like lying, stealing or gossiping. What of alternative marriage – those of the same sex? Is the traditional marriage becoming a thing of the past?

And in the context of the Church what role do singles and divorced people have – or those whose spouses are not believers?

 

Now I don’t intend to try and answer all these questions this morning but these are all issues that affect our view of the roles of husbands and wives.

 

While we will be concentrating of husbands and wives in this message I want to encourage those who are not married NOT to switch off.

Paul is using the role of husband and wife – [followed by parents/children and servants and masters] as illustrations of a principles that is stated in v.21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. – and what is more, this issue of submission is one of the evidences for “being filled with the Holy Spirit”

 

In the past, and sometimes today too, there has been and is a lot of teaching on Holiness – holiness is good and necessary – but the emphasis is on a personal relationship with Jesus while often ignoring the outworking of holiness in relationships with the people we live and work with.

 

As we come to the this passage, remember from last time that the verb “Submit” does not appear in v. 22 – thus “Submit to one another …. wives to your husbands…”

 

Whenever we begin to speak about submission or subjection (as some translations have it) you can almost hear the feminine hackles rise. So what is submission? What does the Bible mean?

 

  1. WHAT IS SUBMISSION?

 

In a world where liberty, freedom and rights are sought and demanded and the idea of submission and discipline is outdated, what does the Bible mean when it speaks of submission?

 

What Paul is saying here about wives must be put into the context of the letter of Ephesians and indeed the whole of scripture. Ephesians has been emphasising the complete oneness in Christ of all people from all cultures [ Jews and Gentiles] – in the companion letter of Colossians we read the following Colossians 3:11 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (NIV)

And in Galatians 3:28 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

 

It was Jesus who treated the women of his day with honour and dignity and courtesy at a time when they were considered to be things – Paul is not dumb enough to undo his teaching on oneness and unity and equality by meaning here that women are inferior!

 

In the of light scripture all people are equal irrespective of class, colour, culture, sex or age. There is a deep unity and equality that exist between all believers and we need to keep this in the front of our minds as we come to study this passage.

 

We need to acknowledge however that not all in the liberation movements is wrong – a lot of good has come – for women , for workers and for children – the way women were treated in the past and still are in many cases is despicable and we need to welcome many of the changes – some haven’t even gone far enough – the way women are exploited as playthings in the sex industry is disgraceful.

 

The word submission is not simply another word for inferiority. God has given different roles to men and women – to husbands and wives. ‘Equality of worth is not identity of role’ J H Yoder.

If you haven’t noticed before – have a good look – men and women are not the same there are a few difference, not least physically.

 

 

  1. SUBMISSION TO WHAT?

 

God is a God of order and he has set certain authority or leadership roles within human society. And so submission is the humble recognition of God’s divine ordering of society. That is why he says that wives are to be submissive to their Husbands as to the Lord.

 

There is a mutual submission that is expected of all Christian people – this submission to each other is not because the other is superior BUT it is out of reverence for Christ. Jesus is the one who has the authority yet he is also the one who humbled himself.

 

When we speak about the authority of husbands, parents or employees we must be careful not to over-state it – this authority is not unlimited. And what is more we need to realise that it is not an inherent authority but a delegated authority.

 

ILLUS. When you pop into Godalming and park in the High Street to nip into the Bank and a Traffic Warden tells you to move on – you do it – Why? not because the officer is superior to you but because there is an authority behind her/him to whom you must submit.

 

Now I am not suggesting that husbands should treat their wives as Traffic Wardens treat motorists BUT do you see the point about delegated authority.

 

Husbands do not have unlimited authority and nor are wives required to give unconditional obedience. NO! the submission that is required is to God’s authority that is delegated to human beings – in this case husbands, but the same principle applies to parents, employers, governments etc.

 

Those who abuse their authority God will hold to account – they cannot require what God forbids or forbid what God requires. The principle is clear – we are to submit up to the point where it would involve disobedience to God. When submission to human authority would violate God’s authority we are obliged to refuse.

Thus Peter before the Jewish leaders says Acts 5:29

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! (NIV)

 

So the authority is from God BUT how is this authority to be used?

In none of the illustrations that Paul uses – husbands, parents, masters – does he tell them to exercise their authority. Rather he forbids them to exploit their position – he warns against misuse of their position.

He challenges husbands to remember their responsibilities and to protect the rights of their wives. This authority of the husband is never, never to be used selfishly.

Being a husband is a God-given responsibility NOT a selfish tyranny.

 

Before we look at the wife’s and husband’s distinctive roles note that Paul never tells the husband to make his wife submit nor does he tell the wife to demand that her husband love her.

 

  1. THE ROLE OF THE WIFE.

 

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

 

Throughout the passage Paul is using the relationship of Christ and the Church to describe the marriage relationship AND the marriage relationship to describe the Church and Christ.

 

I don’t think that as modern Westerners we fully appreciate how radical the teaching to Jesus and Paul was – Paul is often accused of being a Chauvinist; nothing could be further from the truth! In his day Paul was a radical feminist!!

 

JEWISH women had no rights at all – she was the possession of her husband to do with exactly as he willed. Jewish men would pray every morning thanking God that he had not made them a gentile, a slave or a women

 

For the GREEK women it was worse – there was no companionship between husband and wife – she was there to run the house, bear children and leave her husband free to be with his friends and lovers.

 

For the ROMAN women things were not much better – a girl was under her father’s control and wife under her husband’s control – she was a chattel.

 

This submission is a voluntary response to God’s will – note that wives are not commanded to obey their husbands as children are commanded to obey parents and servants masters. A husband is not to treat his wife as a servant or as a child but as an equal for whom God has given him care and responsibility. She is not his to be ordered about.

There should be mutual possessiveness and submissiveness – they belong to each other and are to serve each other – putting each other first. The headship that a husband has does not make him superior.

 

ILLUS.: just as with in the church the are distinct gifts and responsibilities – those of us with responsibility for leadership are not more important – leadership in the church is defined by serving.

 

SO too, in the home the leadership in the home is defined by serving.

 

What is this headship to which a wife must submit? Paul goes back to creation.

Ephesians 5:31 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” (NIV)

 

This was instituted before sin entered the world. It is sin that distorts the proper role of husband and wife – it is sin the causes men to abuse their position of headship and become demanding and authoritarian – it is sin that causes wives to try and usurp that authority and “wear the trousers in the house”

 

In 1 Cor.11 and 1 Tim.2 Paul also goes back to Creation to show that women was made after man and that man is born of women. We are dependent on each other, equal to one another yet distinct in our masculinity and femininity.

The husband headship is define by creation not chauvinism. This was the distortion that Paul was all to aware of and is here endeavouring to rectify.

 

The role of the modern western wife is very different to what it was a few decades ago – certainly a century ago. Traditionally it was the wife who did all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and caring for the kids. She was expected to be pregnant, wearing an apron and in the kitchen. Now some of these conventions have changed and are changing – and rightly so in my view – Many couples are learning to share household chores. Some wives work out of the house and some don’t – I don’t see why a wife should not have a career as well – but if they have children then decisions need to be made for the best of the children – I can’t prescribe how each family should work it out. BUT ultimately in a home where there is a husband and a wife, the husband is responsible to God to be head and the wife responsible to acknowledge that headship under God even if she does not always agree with her husband.

 

Many problems could be avoided in home if the wife gave the husband room to be head – too many wives are too quick to usurp the husband’s position and that is a receipt for conflict.

ILLUS.: In our home Janet is the one who is more incline to make snap decisions – I am more cautious and often slow – we have had to work at it – I have learned to take the lead more – and Janet has been gracious and learned to let me be responsible in my role.

 

Most conflict in the home – between husbands and wives – revolves around children, money, in-laws and sex. Most of the problems could be avoided if husbands and wives talked to each other more and discussed these issues.

 

  1. THE ROLE OF THE HUSBAND.

 

Ephesians 5:25-30

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — 30 for we are members of his body. (NIV)

 

We tend to think of headship as control and dominance but in fact it has far more to do with responsibility and care. The husbands role is to be characterised by love – and the word is not eros, sexual love nor is it the weak word phileo, friendship love BUT the strong sacrificial agape-love.

 

This is the same word that is used throughout the NT to refer to God’s love – it is the self-sacrificing, self-giving love that is exemplified in Christ’s death on the cross.

This kind of love is an act of the will as well as of the heart.

Husbands are to love their wives NOT for what she is or is not BUT because it is God’s will for him to love her. It is certainly intended for husbands to be attracted to their wives and to admire them BUT IF every appealing characteristic and virtue of your wife disappears a husband is still under obligation to love her.

 

This is how Christ loved the Church – there was nothing in us that made us pleasant and appealing to Jesus – we were sinful and enemies of God YET Christ died for us. It is this same kind of love that Paul says husbands are to have for their wives!!

 

A husband who loves his wife as Christ loved the Church is willing to give everything for even his life.

If he is willing to give his life then surely he is willing to make lesser sacrifices.

 

NOTE that this is how all Christians should love each other!!

 

The true spirituality of a man is not measured by how well he preaches or leads meeting or does his work BUT how he treats his wife and family. Nowhere is our relationship with God tested more than in the relationships of the family.

 

Christ is the head of the Church and he is also the Church’s bridegroom – it is his purpose to make his bride as beautiful as possible. He doesn’t do this by crushing her but by winning her – sacrificing himself to serve her so that she might become everything that he longs for her to be, that the Church might become everything that she is intended to be in the fullness of her glory.

 

So too the husband’s role is not to crush his wife, to manipulate her to serve his needs and desires – he not to stifle or frustrate her. Rather he is to give himself for her so that she may develop her full potential under God and become completely what God intended her to be.

 

In God’s economy of marriage 1+1=1. Again Paul uses the example of Christ and the Church – we are in Christ and he is in us – we are one with him. So husband and wife are one not only one in the sexual act but also there is a union of personalities. There is a deep oneness as there is between Christ and his Church and thus Paul can say 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it,

 

I can’t begin give directive as to how each husband should express his love for his wife – most men want to express their love sexually – but that is just a very small part and if that is the focus then your sexually relationship will probably not be very satisfying.

 

It is considering your wife – possibly helping with the dishes, putting the kids down, helping with homework – flowers, dinner out, a show – a card, a phone call in the day just to say “I love you” – listening!!

 

ILLUS.: If I have a problem I tend to mull over it and only talk about it when I think I have a solution. Janet likes to talk things through with me, in great detail, when we were first married it used to irritate me. I have come to realize that she needs that and I need to listen. It usually happens when we are just about to go to sleep – then she rolls over and goes to sleep and I am left wide awake trying to solve the problems..

 

Christ sees the Church with all her weaknesses and failures, yet loves her as his body and seeks her highest good. Even so husbands are to loves their wives as their own bodies!!

 

WHAT IF ….

  • … my spouse is not a believer – the same principles apply. You might not be able to enjoy spiritual oneness in Christ but you can still have a good marriage> By being the best husband or wife that God intends you to be you could win your spouse for Jesus.

 

  • .. I had a partner and it all broke up and now I am on my own “I have failed and now my life is ruined” The break up of a home is always painful – but it is not the unforgivable sin. It doesn’t mean that you are doomed to be a second class Christian and can never live a fulfilled life. God is gracious – he is a God of new beginnings. He says we can be washed clean. Don’t allow Satan to trick you into thinking that you have blown it forever – True confession brings complete forgiveness and a new start.

 

  • .. I am single. Yes you may not have a spouse BUT these same principle apply in all relationship – esp. in the family of God. Love one another and submit to one another applies to all believers whatever their marital status. If God in his wisdom has called you to remain single that is not second best and don’t ever allow anyone to tell you differently!! When it come to serving Christ there are many advantages to being single as Paul clearly points out in 1 Cor.

 

  • .. a husband is cruel and abusive to his wife and children – Paul is portraying an ideal – life is not always like that – and there are situation where it is necessary and right to break up a relationship when the life of the children or the spouse is threatened.

 

  1. A SUMMARY OF PRINCIPLES.

 

  • Wifely submissiveness is part of Christian submissiveness. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. If it is the wife’s duty to submit to her husband then it is part of the husband’s Christian duty to submit to his wife. Submissiveness is a universal Christian obligation.               The wife’s submissiveness must be freely given, not coerced. It is not the Husband’s responsibility to make his wife submit!!!

 

  • Wifely submission is given to a lover, not a tyrant!     There are and always have been cruel and tyrannical husbands and sometimes a wife is forced to resist her husband’s authority. BUT there are few women who would not submit to the Biblical concept of headship. STOTT – “If headship means ‘power’ in any sense. then it is power to care not to crush, power to serve not to dominated, power to facilitate self-fulfilment. not to frustrate or destroy it. And in all this the standard of the husband’s love is to be the cross of Christ, on which he surrendered himself even to death in his selfless love for his bride.”

 

  • Husbandly love should resemble Christ’s love.   Three times in this passage Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church – no higher standard is conceivable. If every Christian husband even partly fulfilled this ideal people would see the gospel. {see why it is important for Christian homes to be open to people – so the gospel can be seen in action}

 

  • Husbandly love sacrifices to serve. Christ gave himself to the Church to make her pure and holy and free from all that mars her beauty. A Christian husband longs to see his wife free to be everything that God intended her to be. To this end he is to give himself in love.
  • Submission and love – two sides of the same coin. Wives submit — husbands love.         Submit means to gives yourself up to someone!!       Love means to give yourself up for someone, as Jesus ‘gave himself up’ for the Church.

 

Selfless self-giving is the essence of the gospel of Christ – mutual submission and love which should characterise Christian relationships and not least in the home!!

 

 

WIVES AND HUSBANDS

Ephesians 5:21 – 33

 

  1. What is submission?

      ¦ it is not inferiority

      ¦ it is not mindless obedience

      ¦ it is not being a ‘doormat’

 

  1. Submission to what?

      ¦ not to tyranny

      ¦ not to selfish demanding

      ¦ not to superiority

 

  1. Wife’s role                     4. Husband’s role
love one anothersubmit to one another

        

 

 

² willing acceptance of God’s creation order² Christlike devotion ² willing acceptance of ‘headship’ as a position of serving² Christlike love

 

Partnership recognising 

                   equality of worth

                   mutual belonging

                   mutual submitting

                   mutual loving

Ephesians 5:19-21 – The ingredients of a spirit-filled life

THE INGREDIENTS OF A SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE.

EPHESIANS 5:19-21 [Part 2 of v15-21]

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

This message is really part 2 of what we were dealing with last time. A wise and spirit-filled life. There were 4 things we said about a Spirit-filled life that arise out of verse 18:

 

Four things to note about this phrase “Be filled with the Spirit”

  • – it is a command this is not an optional extra we can add to our faith if we choose – it is a command to be obeyed.
  • – it is for all Christians – It is not for the spiritual elite – [the words are in the 2nd person pl.] you (pl).
  • – it is to be received we can not fill ourselves with the Spirit only God can do that so how then can it be a command if we can’t do it. : there are many things I can’t do but I have to co-operative in order for them to be done to me. Having an operation in hospital.                     We must co-operative with God so that his work in us can be effected.
  • it is ongoing – the tense is present and continuous – it is a day by day ongoing filling.

 

We also made a distinction between Baptism of the Spirit and the Filling of the Spirit – I will not go over that again! [Chat to me afterwards or listen to the tape!!]

 

When we speak of spiritual life it is easy to think in terms of a mystical and private experience but I am afraid that Paul does not allow us to fall into that way of thinking. As we have already see in chapters 4-5 when Paul expounds a theological principle he usually follows it with practical directives.

 

For example, in 4v24 he says that having put on the new self in the likeness of God THEREFORE do not steal, lie, harbour anger and bitterness, do not indulge in immoral sexual acts, words or thoughts …

 

In a similar way Paul here in v.19-21 having talked about a spirit-filled life now continues by spelling out some of the ingredients of such a life.

These include       – fellowship

– worship

– thankfulness

– submission

  1. A SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE INCLUDES FELLOWSHIP.

 

Speak to one another

 

The God we say we worship is a God who speaks – God spoke and the universe came into being – the first recorded experience of man and woman was that of God speaking to them. It is God’s nature to communicate – the heavens declare the glory of God – he spoke through the prophets, he has spoken through his son Jesus Christ, he speaks now through the Bible, through his people by His Spirit – God is a communicator.

 

A spirit-filled life is one that is becoming more and more like God. In 5v1 Paul urges us to be imitators of God – if we are going to become like God then we must speak to one another – how can we have this conversation with one another unless we are having meaningful fellowship. What kind of speaking?? Not speaking about the weather or the latest fashion or football match!!!

If we are going to have meaningful conversation with each other then we must spend time in each other’s company – you can’t talk to someone who is not there!

We talk about fellowship and we say we believe in fellowship BUT how much do we practice it.

If we don’t practice what we say we believe then in the end we stop believing it – Because we can’t be bothered to spend time with our fellow Christians we end up not believing in Fellowship or we change the definition of fellowship to fit our behaviour.

 

The Church is a community that is gathered around the person of Jesus Christ. The first disciples formed a community around Jesus – it was through these early disciples that the Church took shape in the HOMES of believers. It was structures around normal family life – fellowship took place in homes where they met together for prayer, for worship, for communion and to pass on the teaching of Jesus by word of mouth [speaking to one another]. [Acts 2]

 

The problem with the modern Western Church is that we focus on the building – it cost many £££ to put up and maintain then in order to justify its existence we plan most activities at the building – however the when we do meet in the building it is seldom for fellowship BUT rather a monologue sermon.

 

We speak of the Church as a community but unless that theory is put into practice it will have little meaning. But it is not simply being together that constitutes Christian fellowship and Christian community – there can be a sense of community and belonging at the local football club –

When we talk about the church we are not speaking about a building but about the community of Jesus and his Kingdom. Human community is only Christian community when it is formed around Jesus and lives by the Spirit of God for the sake of the Kingdom!!

 

You see why it is so vitally important that we are filled with the Spirit – because without the Spirit of God active in our lives and in the community of the Church there can be no fellowship.

 

There needs to be a coming together in meaningful fellowship = this can only happen in small groups = meaningful communication cannot take place between 100+ people on a Sunday morning. Do you have any meaningful Christian conversation, prayer, sharing over and above what happens here on a Sunday?? If you don’t then your Spiritual life will be deficient.

As with any family and any relationship you have to work at it, it does not simply happen. There is a commitment involved – so you write into your diary this is home group night – this is prayer night – so that these things become priority otherwise we are fooling ourselves!!

 

We very easily say that Jesus must come first in our lives – I challenge you to evaluate your life in the light of that statement. A mark of being filled with the Spirit is speaking to one another – this is a conversation between believer that is mediated by the Word of God – it is a speaking about the things of Christ in the presence of Christ.

 

I believe we need this kind of commitment so that we can grow, be accountable and be more effective in our witness.

 

Part of speaking to one another and an ingredient of being Spirit-filled is WORSHIP.

 

  1. A SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE INCLUDES WORSHIP.

 

Ephesians 5:19 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, (NIV)

 

Some commentators try to make distinctions between psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and their is some justification for this.

 

The use of music in worship is a wonderful gift – one of the things I am really pleased about is the mix there is available to us To be able to draw on the wonderful old hymns of the past. We have sung some this morning.

 

Crown Him with many crowns

the Lamb upon the Throne

–a 19th century hymn

 

God is our strength and refuge

our present help in trouble

— a good example of a psalms [46]

 

Reign in Me, Sovereign Lord, reign in me….

— an example of a spiritual song.

 

All of these are good and enhance our worship – in order for Christian music to be good Christian music — the music itself must be good — good rhythm, melody and harmony BUT equally importantly or probably more importantly the words must be good – good theology.

 

There are some modern choruses that are very shallow theologically and even singing scripture IF it is out of context can be misleading or meaningless. A choruses we sang years ago had this line … is Mt. Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King …. What on earth does that mean!!

Some hymns have words that most people today would not understand .. here I raise my Ebernezer … few will know what that means — and there are many more examples.

 

Singing and making melody probably indicates vocal and instrumental music. We see through scripture, esp. the Psalms, that both are used in the praise of God.

 

BUT it is not just singing that constitutes worship – There are many wonderful songs and beautiful pieces of music – whether you like classical, jazz, country and western, folk, modern …. in all classes of music there are some wonderful pieces BUT these do not in and of themselves produce worship. Even Church music is not always worship.

 

There are two requirements in order for music to constitute worship –it must be to the Lord and it must be with all your heart.

 

I am so grateful that a requirement for worship was not having a good voice and singing in tune – I would not qualify. What is important is what is from the heart. BUT if you don’t have a song in your heart then you cannot sing from the heart. Only God can put that song there and even as Christians we will not have that song in our hearts unless we are under the control of the Holy Spirit.

 

God will not accept our worship when our hearts are out of tune with him. If you are bitter towards God or harbouring anger for one of your family or friends then God will not accept your worship. Hypocrisy can never praise God.

 

When the people of Israel came to worship God at the Temple in the days of Amos the prophet and their lives were in ruins and far from God, listen to what God says, Amos 5:21-24 21 “I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (NIV)

 

When we are right before God he hears and accepts our worship – Sometimes we come to Church and the singing seems lifeless – let me suggest that maybe it is not the singing that is lifeless but our own hearts that are dull and far from God. BUT how wonderful it is when we are caught up in worship and our hearts are almost bursting with praise to God.

 

JBP translation has this “making music in your hearts for the ears of the Lord”

 

  1. A SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE INCLUDES THANKFULNESS.

 

Ephesians 5:20 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (NIV)

 

The Psalms are full of invitations to thank God — Psalm 100:4 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. (NIV)

 

It is so much easier to whinge than it is to give thanks – we so easily slip into moaning and groaning. One of the besetting sins of the nation of Israel was that they were always grumbling.

We are the same – When the sun shines it is too hot — when it does not shine it is too cold — when it rains it is too wet ——

 

BUT a spirit-filled believer is not one who is always complaining but one who is full of thanksgiving. It is so easy to complain about what we haven’t got but how much better to give thanks for what we have got.

 

I complained when I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet

 

ALWAYS for EVERYTHING ?? Must we take this literally. Can we thank God for absolutely everything including blatant evil?? There is a strange notion popularised by Merlin Caruthers that the secret to Christian freedom and happiness is unconditional praise for everything, including evil.

 

ILLUS.: So a husband must praise God for his wife drunkenness and a wife must praise God for her husband’s adultery and parents must praise God for their children drug addiction or the break-up of their marriage.

At best such teaching is half-truth and at worse it is blasphemous.

The Bible tells us that God abhors evil and that we are to resist the devil — how then are we to give thanks for the devil’s work and for the evil that is in the world and which affects all of our lives.

To teach Christians to give thanks for evil is very insensitive – are we to give thanks for other people’s pain when the scriptures tell us to weep with those who weep..

 

Of course we need to learn not to argue with God in our suffering, but to trust him — it is something that I am having to learn as you know — it is in the midst of suffering and pain that God wants us to trust him and thank him for his loving providence by which he can turn evil to good purposes.

 

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

 

Giving thanks for everything is not walking around with a big grin on your face when you are suffering but it is learning to be like Jesus Luke 22:42 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (NIV)

 

This is something that we all have to learn because we will all go through difficulties and suffering. Jesus said to his followers. John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (NIV)

 

How are we to give thanks to God? in the name of Jesus Christ!

Do you see again how the Trinity is involved and works together is us and for us.

When we are filled with the Spirit we can give thanks to the Father through Jesus Christ.

 

  1. THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE INCLUDES SUBMISSION.

 

Ephesians 5:21

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NIV)

 

There is a debate as to whether or not this verse belongs to this section we have been looking at or to the next section dealing with husbands and wives, parents and children, salves and masters.

 

Grammatically it belongs to this section in that it is a dependent clause which is linked to the command to be filled with the Spirit. It is another present participle the same as speaking … singing …. and thanking …..

 

It is also clearly linked to the next section as we will see next week. It is a link verse that ends one sections and begins another.

 

Sometimes people who claim to be filled with the Spirit become very assertive, arrogant and brash. BUT the Holy Spirit is a humble Spirit and those who are being filled with the Spirit will exhibit those qualities.

 

This issue of being in submission or subjection to someone else is something that is not very popular in our modern age of freedom and liberation.

 

As we come in the next few week to deal with wives’, children’s and servants’ submission we will define this term more clearly. It is a very provocative term and the discussion of it often produces more heat than light.

 

However submission does not mean being ‘doormat’ but it does mean considering others and putting others first.

Naturally we want to promote self – and very often when people are in positions of authority they tend to abuse that position and use it for their own ends. Sadly we often see that attitude in the church. “You must do this or that because I say so and I am the pastor.” NO!

 

I find it interesting that before Paul launches into teaching on the submission of wives to husbands, children to parents and servants to masters, he first says submit to one another.

 

And notice the phrase that follows out of reverence for Christ –

Paul has spent the whole letter so far showing that we are “in Christ” and that what we are and how we live must be governed by this fact. We are to submit to one another NOT because the other person is superior to us BUT Jesus teaches us to put others before ourselves – we are to love each other – bear each others burdens – These are the qualities that are marks of being spirit-filled.

 

This is why Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (NIV)

 

CONCLUSION.

 

God commands us all to be filled with the Holy Spirit. You will not know this filling sitting in solitude contemplating your navel.

Yes we need to spend time in private prayer, study and meditation BUT if we want the filling of the Spirit we will need to be in meaningful fellowship with other Christians, we will need to worship together with other Christians, we will need to give thanks to God for all his good gifts and his providential care in difficult times and we will need to continue to learn to put others first.

 

Being Spirit-filled is to do with relationships – our relationship to God [worshipping him with thanksgiving] – and our relationship to each other [speaking and submitting to one another].

 

 

A SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE.

 

Ephesians 5:18 – 21

 

  1. A Spirit-filled life includes Fellowship.

       speak to one another

 

  1. A Spirit-filled life includes Worship.

       psalms, hymns, spiritual songs

            [vocal and instrumental music]

       in your heart

       to the Lord

 

  1. A Spirit-filled life includes Thankfulness.

       always

       for everything

       to God the Father

       in Jesus’ name

 

  1. A Spirit-filled life includes Submission.

       to each other

       for Christ’s sake

Ephesians 4:25-32 – The principles of new life in Christ

Ephesians 4:25-32.

THE PRINCIPLES OF NEW LIFE IN CHRIST.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

The passage we looked at last time was contrasting the old life before faith in Christ with the new life of faith in Christ. Paul talked about having put off the old self and put on the new self.

 

Very often the kinds of clothes a person wears gives an indication of the kind of person they are. Often people with special functions wear special clothes. Soldiers, nurses, police officers and fire-fighters wear uniform – judges and other legal people wear robes and wigs – When I left the army I took off my uniform and I put on my civvies. My new role required new clothing.

 

In a similar way it is the same for Christians – we are a new creation in Christ – and because of our new life in Christ there needs to be a new lifestyle. That change that has taken place on the inside needs to have an out working in our behaviour and attitudes. This is why Paul begins v.25 with the word ‘Therefore…’ He is doing what he so often does, moving from elevated theological thoughts down to the everyday outworking of that theology in our relationships with people.

 

Holiness and purity is not some mystical other worldly experience that we often associate with canonised saints. Theology and practice, belief and behaviour are two sides of the same coin and should never be separated. Godliness and purity are to have their outworking in every day practical situations. Showing kindness, love and concern; being honest, hard-working and generous. These are the things by which to judge Christlikeness.

 

In the following passage Paul is going to give us some concrete examples of how this new life we have received must be lived out day by day. In all of them he gives the negatives that need to be avoided and the positives that need to be pursued.

 

Let’s have a look at the examples Paul gives under the following 6 headings:

 

  1. NOT LYING BUT TRUTH-TELLING.

 

Ephesians 4:25

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body. (NIV)

Ever since the fall of mankind and sin entered the world, lying has been part of human behaviour.

 

ILLUS.: Cain and Abel – after Cain had killed Abel God asks him where Abel is. “I don’t know.. “he replies. He knew exactly where Abel was.

 

The purpose of lying is to deceive and Satan is the archetypal liar – He is the one who lied to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. And thus for a Christian to continue a life characterised by lies is to follow the Devil pattern. A person who continually follows a pattern of lies and deception shows himself to be a child of the Devil and not a child of God.

 

John 8:44 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (NIV)

 

Lying covers a whole host of things – it is not simply direct falsehood but includes things like exaggeration, flattery, betraying a confidence, making false promises.

 

Maybe one of the most common forms that Christians fall into, often without thinking – and I know that I have been guilty of this – We say to someone in need, “I will pray for you.” – and then promptly forget or most often were not really interested enough in the person’s problem to pray anyway. In which case don’t promise to pray for the person!!

 

Lying and deception is so much part of life that we accept it as the norm. If everyone was truthful there would be no need for legal contracts – Imagine what life would be like if politicians always told the truth!!

 

Jesus said, “I am the Truth!” and as Christians we are “in Christ” and therefore need to reflect the character of Christ – truthfulness is a Christians characteristic. Paul is not simply suggesting that we avoid lies but that we actively pursue truth-telling.

 

The Christian community should be known as honest and reliable and a people who can be trusted. Sadly this is not always the case – we have all hear stories of people who trade under the Christian banner and whose practices are sometimes anything but Christian. Such things should not be.

 

The reason Paul gives is that we are not only neighbours in a general sense but we are related to each other as family. He brings us back to the fact that the church is the body of Christ. If we are going to have true fellowship there needs to be trust and there can be no trust unless it is based on truth. Lies destroy fellowship BUT truth strengthens it.

 

Does this mean that we are required to tell everything we know?!! Not at all! Truth-telling is not in opposition to keeping a confidence or a legitimate secret. We should never withhold information with the purpose of misleading.

 

ILLUS.: Like the ship’s Captain who entered into the Log every third or forth day that the 1st mate was NOT drunk today. The first mate was dismissed. The Captain failed to enter that the 1st Mate was sober every day.

 

  1. NOT SINFUL BUT RIGHTEOUS ANGER.

 

Ephesians 4:26-27 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. (NIV)

 

It is quite clear from the Bible that there are two kinds of anger – one that is sinful and one that is not.

 

ILLUS.: Jesus was very angry when the people used the Temple of God in Jerusalem as a market place. [Matthew 21:12]

 

Clearly there is good anger – maybe in the world in which we live Christians need to be more angry and not so complacent and apathetic. If evil aroused Christ’s anger surely it should arouse ours. Should we not be angry when we see children being abused or neglected – when the poor are exploited by the rich – — God hates sin and his people should too. Yes, God is loving and kind but he is also angry with sinners – maybe if we had a better view of God’s holiness and sin’s awfulness we would feel more of the kind of anger that God feels instead of being indifferent to so much.

 

God’s anger is always righteous but human anger is not always righteous therefore Paul gives three qualifiers:-

  • do not sin – anger that is sin is that which is self-defensive and self-serving. A kind of selfish anger that is vindictive, spiteful and held in a spirit of revenge.

 

  • do not let the sun go down on your anger – even if we are justifiably angry it is all too easy for our anger to sour and to degenerate into resentment. Paul does not, of course, mean that if you live in the Arctic Circle where the sun does not set in the summer that you can be angry until the summer ends! NO! The meaning is clear – do not go to bed angry – do not allow your anger to fester and become a barrier to fellowship. ILLUS.: If this is true anywhere then it is true in marriage – You get into bed and turn your back on your spouse and pretend to be asleep – sort it out – it is usually pride that hinders us from saying “I am sorry”.

 

  • do not give opportunity to the devil – the devil knows that there is a fine line between righteous and unrighteous anger – if he can move us over the line and provoke in us hatred and resentment and thus disrupt and destroy fellowship then he will. He says “Go on, you are in the right, you can be angry – that person should not have done that – don’t go and sort it out . Just remember what they did and don’t get too close to them so you can’t get hurt again…..” Don’t allow Satan to use you for his own ungodly purposes.

 

  1. NOT STEALING BUT SHARING.

 

Ephesians 4:28 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. (NIV)

 

Stealing has become endemic in our society – shoplifting is very high – pilfering by staff is a great cause of loss to companies

ILLUS.: When I worked and Sotherbys the workers used to leave the workshop in the evenings with an amazing array of stuff – wood – paint – fittings etc…

This was in response to the bosses making huge amount on share options.

 

Stealing happens on a grand scale between companies – inflating prices – hiding costs .. there are many ways. Employers are guilty when they exploit their workers – low pay and long hours for the vulnerable.   It happens with employees – over claiming on expenses – using the work telephone etc.. more than is allowable – using work time for personal things ……

 

ILLUS.: the father who complained to the school that his child pencils etc. had been stolen “It is the principle of the matter, not the cost of the pencils etc., I get those from work!!”

 

For many today stealing is simply a game in which getting caught is the only cause for regret or shame.

 

The situation is Paul’s day was similar – slave and servants stealing from their masters and masters exploiting their servants thus he urges them to stop stealing and to share.

 

It is God’s plan that those who are able to work should do so. Now we know that there are times when some can not work – maybe they are ill, maybe there is not work, maybe they are too old …. Those who are able to work should do so in order to help those who are in need.

 

We are fortunate in this country to have a social security system but I fear that it has made the Church somewhat complacent in her social responsibilities.

For many in our society and also in the Church the purpose for working harder and harder is to get more. BUT Paul’s injunction is to work hard in order to share with those who are in need.

 

In our selfish materialistic society Christians should be setting an example – May God help us to do so!!

 

  1. NOT HURTFUL BUT HELPFUL SPEECH.

 

Ephesians 4:29

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

 

The ability to communicate is a gift from God – we are made in the image of God and because God speaks we can speak. Speech is one of the things that distinguishes us from the animals – cows moo – dogs bark – birds sing but it is only people who speak!

 

The word used for “Unwholesome” is sapros that means corrupt, foul – it was used to describe rotten food. It refers to all those things like profanity, dirty stories, vulgarity etc. It also includes gossip, negative criticism, speech that breaks down rather than builds up. These things should not be part of the Christian’s speech.

 

Of course none of us are perfect and God is working with all of us – and we must not expect a young Christian to behaviour like a mature one. We come to Christ as we are and then he begins to change us – God understands where we are coming from.

ILLUS.: My college Prof. when working on a shop floor led a rough character to the Lord who prayed for the first time “God thank you for what you have done for me you are a bloody good guy!”

 

God understands that and I am sure that such a prayer pleases him far more than some pious platitudes utter by a sanctimonious do-gooder!

 

Jesus taught the speech was of great significance because the words we speak reveal what is inside of us.

Matthew 12:33-36

33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognised by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

 

We need to be careful how we speak because God will hold us to account on the day of judgement.

36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. (NIV)

 

James warns of the power of the tongue – it has power to do immense good and immense evil. Words can cut you down – I have seen children wither when a parent has said “You stupid child

 

What a delight when people use words to encourage and edify. “Well done!” “I am praying for you”

 

The wisdom of the proverbs is very perceptive Proverbs 12:18 18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (NIV)

 

A helpful test before we speak – especially about other people – “Is it true, kind and necessary!”

 

  1. NOT GRIEVING BUT PLEASING THE SPIRIT.

 

Ephesians 4:30 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (NIV)

 

This is one of many verses in the scriptures that indicate to us that the Holy Spirit is a person – the HS is HE and not IT. He has a will, intellect, feelings, he can teach and guide and give new life. He can also be lied to, insulted, tested and blasphemed as well as being grieved.

 

Paul is constantly aware that behind the actions of people there are invisible forces at work. That does not mean that we are not responsible for our actions – we are! We can never say “It is not my fault, the devil made me do it!” Paul has already warned about giving no opportunity to the devil [v.27] and now he urges us not to cause the HS pain and distress by attitudes and action that are incompatible with the life of a Christian.

 

By pointing out that we are sealed for the day of redemption, Paul is touching the beginning and end of the Christian life. Our whole Christian life is the product of the HS’s work. He convicts and convinces of sin and the need of salvation and brings us to God. Then he is the one who keeps us “sealed” until the work he began at our salvation is culminated in our safe arrival into eternity – when our redemption of both body and soul will be complete. There will be no more aches and pains – no more sorrow – Paul will have a new body and will be able to run and jump and raise his arms in praise to God!!

 

Until that time we are to the HS is working to make us like Jesus – therefore he hates disharmony and lies and impurity. Thus Paul urges us not to grieve the Holy Spirit.

 

Paul now continues with more guidelines on how NOT to grieve the HS.

 

  1. NOT HARMFUL BUT HOLY ATTITUDES.

 

Ephesians 4:31-32 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)

 

Paul is in many ways summarising what he has just said above. Let me simply describe these attitudes that he lists.

 

  • Bitterness – The intent of this word is a brooding resentment – A person who has always got a chip on their shoulder about something. This is sometime true of elderly people – that is why it is so refreshing to greet someone who in spite of life’s pains is not bitter.

 

  • Wrath – wild outbursts of passionate rage.

 

  • Anger – similar to wrath but instead of wild outburst a smouldering internal hostility.

 

  • Brawling – describes the kind of people who are easily excited and start shouting and screaming and raise their voices in quarrel. If that is how a Christian family behaves then their neighbours are not going to be drawn to their faith.

 

  • Slander – [from the word blasphëmia] it means speaking evil about other people – usually behind their backs. ILLUS.: Ethel Barret has a lovely cartoon in her book on James – Two people on the telephone and the one says to the other “Mary isn’t home right now, would you like to leave a rumour!”

 

  • Malice – is an attitude that wishes and maybe even plots evil against other people.

 

It is bad enough when these attitudes are manifest in society at large but when they are evident in the Church God’s heart is grieved and his name is dishonoured in the community. God never condones in the believer what he condemns in the non-believer!!

 

Do you have attitudes towards others that you know are not right? Has someone irritated you to the point where you now avoid them? Has someone hurt you and now you hold a grudge against them? If there is someone in the fellowship that you have fallen out with – sort it out because if you continue to harbour these harmful attitudes it is not only yourself you are harming BUT also the fellowship and you are hindering the Spirit’s work in your own life and in the life of the church.

 

In place of these harmful attitudes we need holy ones that are characteristic of Christ himself. They way we treat others should be a reflection of the way God has treated us in Christ. He has been kind and compassionate and forgiving towards us – he has not treated us as we deserve to be treated.

He expects us to treat each other in the same way. Just as children copy their parents so we, as God’s children, are to copy our heavenly Father thus demonstrating that we are his children.

 

Of course we can’t be perfect BUT that does not mean that we can’t improve and become more and more Christlike – we can, and that is the work of the Holy Spirit in us as we co-operate with him and seek by his enabling power to follow Christ and be like him.

 

PRINCIPLES OF NEW LIFE IN CHRIST

 

Ephesians 4:25 – 32

 

Christian life characterised by Ê

 

  1. Not lying but truth-telling [v 25]

 

  1. Not sinful but righteous anger [v 26-27]

      Ä   do not sin

      Ä   do not harbour anger

      Ä   do not let the devil in

 

  1. Not stealing but sharing [v 28]

 

  1. Not hurtful but helpful speech [v29]

 

  1. Not grieving but pleasing the Spirit [v30]

 

  1. Not harmful but holy attitudes [v31-32]

         bitterness  |

         wrath         |   instead 

         anger         |                  kindness

         brawling    |                   compassion

         slander            |                  forgiveness

         malice       |                 Christlikeness

Ephesians 4:17-24 – The old pagan life contrasted with the new Christian life

Ephesians 4:17-24.

THE OLD PAGAN LIFE CONTRASTED WITH THE NEW CHRISTIAN LIFE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

INTRODUCTION.

 

In the first half of ch.4 which we looked at over three Sundays we focused on the unity of the church – that fact that we must be united to Christ and to each other. We are called to be ‘one people’ and Paul argues that we must cultivate unity. However, Christians are not only called to be united but are also called to be holy.

 

In these following verses Paul is going to deal with the purity of the church. He does this by contrasting the old pagan life with the new Christian life. He is going to make the point that a changed spiritual nature demands a changed behaviour. Christians have become different people therefore they must behaviour differently.

 

Paul is concerned that the Ephesians grasp what they were as Pagans and what they are now as Christians and he does this by describing first the old life and then the new.

 

  1. OLD LIFE.

 

As Paul describes the pagan life he is doing so in general terms – not all the gentiles [as he calls them] were / or are / as bad as he describes.

 

We need to remember the circumstances of the Church to whom Paul is writing. Ephesus was a leading commercial and cultural centre of the Roman Empire. It was the location of the great pagan Temple of Artimus [Diana], one of the seven wonders of the world. It was a city renown for sexual immorality. Some historians described it as the most bedauched city in Asia Minor. All kinds of sexual perversion were common place. Artimus herself was a sex goddess – she was served by thousands of temple prostitutes, eunuchs, singers, dancers, priests and priestesses. The Greek philosopher, Herculitus, [5thC BC.], himself a pagan, describes Ephesus as the darkness of vileness. The morals were lower than animals and the inhabitants of Ephesus were fit only to be drowned.

 

It was out of this society that many of the Ephesian Christians had come – they had at one time been participants in the Temple worship etc.

 

It is no wonder that Paul says to them :

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,

 

In our Western society, in spite of the turn away from the Church, we are still heavily influenced by the Christian faith. Many of our laws were originally based on Christian foundations. Sadly we are moving away from these foundation in too many instances.

 

Paul now goes on to describe the characteristics of this old pagan life. Bear in mind that he is generalising and describing the extremes of this condition.

 

  1. a) Being without God affects the mind.

 

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

 

futile thinking – We tend to think of the effects of sin in terms of morality – and of course sin has affected our behaviour – but sin has also affected the mind – it has affected our abilities to think spiritually.

We are not for one minute saying that a person who in an unbeliever is stupid and unintelligent. That is clearly not true. There are many non-Christians who are brilliant academics.

 

There is an inherent inability to think spiritually until a person has been born again by the Spirit of God. The first step in spiritual thinking is agreeing with God about our sinfulness and repenting and asking his forgiveness.

The unbeliever plans and resolves everything on the basis of his or her own thinking or based on the thinking of another person.

 

This is futile in terms of spiritual life and eternity. Solomon, the richest and wisest man of the ancient world [and probably of the modern world] – he experienced every worldly advantage and pleasure and yet concluded that in the final analysis it was futile.

Ecclesiastes 1:7-9 7 All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. 8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 3:9

9 What does the worker gain from his toil? (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 2:11 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. (NIV)

 

Darkened understanding – Mankind in his fallen sinful state has an inability to know and comprehend the things of God.

Paul says to Timothy regarding the ungodly: 2 Timothy 3:7 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. (NIV)

 

Houlden [in Stott p.177] ‘Pagan immorality is seen as wilful and culpable …, the result of their deliberate refusal of the moral light available to them in their own thought and conscience.’

 

In a parallel passage to this one, Romans 1, Paul points out that through creation and conscience people have opportunity to know God but wilfully surpress the truth.

 

Paul explains that the reason for this lack of understanding and ignorance is the hardness of people’s hearts.

 

  1. b) Attitudes – stubborn, hard hearts.

 

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.

 

The hardening that is referred to is a calcification, often used to refer to the hardness that forms around bones and become harder than the bones themselves. Sin has a petrifying [hardening] effect – a person who continually chooses to sin and to ignore God becomes continually hardened and paralysed to spiritual truth and insensitive to the things of God.

 

The Bible makes it clear that it is possible to dull the conscience .. 1 Timothy 4:2 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. (NIV)

 

Every one has a conscience – a sense of right and wrong – a sense of guilt and shame. The more we ignore our consciences and ignore the restraints of society the more depraved we will become.

 

ILLUS.: If we had asked most Yugoslavs 10 years ago if they could kill, rape and torture most would have said NO , yet we know that it has happened.

WHY? Consciences have been dulled and legal restraints removed. As a consequence many have become debased in their behaviour.

 

  1. c) Behaviour – degenerate acts.

 

This is what Paul describes in v.19 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.

 

The word ‘sensuality’ carries with it the idea of total licentiousness, the absence of all moral restraint, especially in the area of sexual sins.

Certain practices and behaviours which were once hidden are now excused and openly indulged in. Indecency runs wild and society is desensitised to the shamefulness of sin.

 

ILLUS.: HOW MANY STARS – RICH AND FAMOUS – have , with the new found wealth and the element of freedom that brings, indulged their desired to the point where their desires have ruined their lives or even been the cause of their death.

 

But we need to look to ourselves – we too have become desensitised to how far our society has slipped down the moral ladder. Under the cloak of personal freedom and tolerance we see increased selfishness – on a large scale companies restructuring for the selfish greed of the shareholders and bosses and to the detriment of the workers – it might be prudent in some cases but has it not gone too far. Society is becoming less and less caring.

 

In the area of morality, under the guise of freedom of expression, there has been a huge increase in the sex industry – pornographic material in books , magazines and movies is now considered normal and to object to such things is frowned upon as an infringement of anthers rights.

 

BUT were does it lead to – the majority of 16 years old are sexuality active; 17 school girls become pregnant in England every day; 400 abortions each day in the UK; the number of marriages has halved in the last 10 years and of those that do marry 5/10 end in divorce. And as a consequence we are ending up with a nation of psychologically and emotionally damaged people.

 

When a person determines to think his own way, do his own thing, and pursue his own destiny, he cuts himself off from God.

 

Hardness of heart lead first to darkness of mind, them to deadness of soul under the judgement of God and finally to recklessness of life. Having lost all sensitivity people lose all self-control.

 

When people continually reject God’s offer of salvation and his love he ultimately rejects them.

 

Romans 1:22-30 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is for ever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; (NIV)

 

Let me remind you again that Paul is describing the extremes of moral decadence. That some have not reached these extremes is due to the protective shield of God’s common grace that he gives to the righteous and the unrighteous and the preserving influence of His Spirit and His Church.

  1. NEW LIFE.

 

Paul now moves on to remind the Ephesians Christians of the new life that they have in Christ.

 

  1. a) Renewed mind.

 

Whereas before their minds were dark, now their minds have been renewed – they know Christ. They know Christ because they have heard the Truth.

 

Hearing the Truth.

21 Surely you heard [of] him – the ‘of’ would be better left out. Paul is making the point that they didn’t simply hear about Christ – rather they hear his voice and responded to him. He is talking about their salvation – when Christ called them they responded and committed their lives to him. This is the first step to new life.

 

Learning the Truth.

There need to be the new life received but there also need to be on going learning. The problem with some Christians is that they are not learning and consequently the are not growing.

 

What about you? Are you growing as a Christian? Is this Sunday service the only spiritual input you have for the week? If it is then you will not be growing!! We read in Acts that the early church met together daily in the Temple and in their homes. If you are not having fellowship and study with other Christians during the week then you are not growing!!

 

For the Church to be learning it not only needs good teachers it also needs good learners – disciples!

 

Knowing the Truth.

 

As Christians we have come to know Christ but we must continue to know him. It is a relationship and like a marriage relationship it needs to grow if it is to be healthy.

 

Ultimately Jesus himself is the teacher – people are the agents through whom he teachers – he is the teacher and he is the subject of the teaching – we are learning to know him [ not just an academic knowing but a personal knowing] – he is also the environment in which we are taught – Paul’s favourite phrase ‘in Christ’.

 

  1. b) Renewed Character.

 

Ephesians 4:22-24 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. (NIV)

In these verses the NIV is telling us that we need to get rid of the old and put on the new BUT the parallel passage in Col. 3 read as follows.

 

Colossians 3:9-10 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (NIV)

 

This would be supported by the whole context of Ephesians – in ch. 1-3 Paul has explained that they have been brought from the old life to the new. They have received salvation. They are now to live in the light of the new life they have already received.

 

Because our minds have been renewed – we have been given a new attitude – made new in the attitude of your minds – we have been made new.

 

Paul gives us a picture of the old and the new – the old was corrupt, in the process of degenerating, on its way to ruin and distruction; The new has been freshly created after the likeness of God.

 

Christians have become and are still becoming. If it is true that heathen degradation is due to the futility of their minds THEN Christian righteousness depends on the constant renewing of our minds.

Paul is not suggesting that we can bring about our own righteousness – that is as ridiculous as suggesting the a person can give birth to himself – conversion is God’s work, our part is repentance (which is what we do by his grace).

 

God is in the process of renewing us – on the inside in the attitude of our minds and also on the outside – our actions and behaviour.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. c) Renewed Behaviour.

 

The reason for putting off the old and putting on the new is so that we can be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

 

A difficult area to reconcile is why do some so-called pagans who openly reject God and Jesus and anything to do with religion often live more honest, better lives than some who claim to be Christian. They have higher moral standards; they do more good works and are often simply nicer people to be with than some Christians.

 

Let’s look at a diagram which I hope will go some way to explaining the situation.

 

Our relationship with God is not dependent on our moral good works. All who are Christians have been transplanted there from the pagan world – by nature we are all in the pagan world. When we are transplanted we are on different levels of human morality.

Those on the pagan side – even high up the moral scale are still cut off from God and their basic direction of life is away from God.

The Christian’s direction – even low down on the moral scale – is still basically towards God.

 

What Paul is commanding us to do in this passage is to grow in righteousness and holiness so that our claim to be Christian is matched by our behaviour.

 

Sadly some Christians appear to be more pagan than the pagans {pagan – not a savage in the jungle – but someone who rejects God} – There is a view that there are three classes of people in relation to God [1] non-Christians [2] carnal Christians [3] Christians — NO! you are either a Christian or you are not, there is no in between category. BUT there are some Christians who live in a carnal way.

 

ILLUS.: Restaurant – steak is leathery [leather like] it is not leather but it is like leather.     My shoes are leather or leather.

 

In a similar way with Christians – Paul is saying ‘You are not a pagan so therefore don’t do the things that pagans do!

 

 

 

 

CONCLUSION.

 

we need to grasp in terms of Christian holiness.

I can’t put it better than John Stott :-

_[These two doctrines] are like two roots from which holiness sprouts and grows. First we have experienced a new creation, and secondly, in consequence, we have received a new mind which is constantly being renewed. Moreover, the tow are organically related to one another. It is our new creation that has given us a new mind; and it is our new mind which understands our new creation and its implication. [Stott p.183]

 

We need a new mind to understand our new creation but in order to have a new mind we need to be recreated.

 

God has give Christians a new life and a new mind to understand spiritual things – our responsibility, with his help, it to live holy and godly lives in this present age.

A new life demands a new lifestyle – godly actions and godly behaviour.

 

Next time we will look at the implications of this new life – v.25 begins therefore and continues to expand on some of the practical out workings of the new life in Christ.

 

 

 

 


 

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SIN’S DEGRADATION

 

EPHESIANS 4:17 – 24.

 

THE OLD AND NEW LIFE CONTRASTED.

 

 

  1. OLD LIFE

                        being without God affects:

            Mind       – futile thinking

                        – darkened understanding

                        – inward ignorance

 

            Attitudes      – stubborn, hard hearts

 

            Behaviour – degraded acts 

 

 

  1. NEW LIFE

                        knowing Christ should lead to:

 

            Renewed mind – hearing the Truth

                                          – learning the Truth

                                          – knowing the Truth

 

            Renewed character  – having put off…

                                                – having put on …

 

            Renewed behaviour – to be like God

                                                – to be righteous

                                                – to be holy

Ephesians 4:7-12 – Christ’s grace gifts to his church

CHRIST’S GRACE GIFTS TO HIS CHURCH.

Ephesians 4:7-12.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

In the previous section [v.1-6] which we looked at last week Paul was emphasising the fact that there is only one Church of Jesus Christ. The fact that there are different congregations and denominations doesn’t alter the fact that there is still only one true church made up of those you have come to person faith in Jesus Christ.

The requirements for being a member of the body of Christ, the church, are not fulfilling certain human institutional rules but rather having declared repentance towards God and faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour one is born again into God’s family.

Without this personal salvation a person remains outside the Kingdom of God and therefore having one’s name on a congregational membership list is of no value in terms of one’s acceptance with God.

 

Thus true unity is based upon having a relationship with the one Triune God.

 

Paul’s emphasis in v.1-6 is that we are all one and that we need to work hard at maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

  1. CHRIST’S GIFTS ARE FOR EVERY BELIEVER. [v.7.]

 

Ephesians 4:7

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. (NIV)

  1. 7 begins with the word ‘BUT’ – this word indicates contrast or a qualification of what has just been said. Paul is contrating the “ALL” of v.6 with the “EACH” of v.7.

 

Having stressed the unity of the church he now moves on to emphasise the diversity within it. Unity does not imply uniformity. God is not in the business of mass producing believers in some kind of ecclesiastical assembly-line. As we saw in ch. 2, we are all uniquely created by God …

Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)

 

  1. no one is left out.

 

It would be very dull and boring if we were all alike – rather there is a rich diversity of gifts which God brings together into one body. What Paul is talking about here is not simply different temperaments and personalities – you get that in evey body of people irrespective of their spiritual state – he is taliking about spiritual giftedness.

 

“GRACE” to each one of us grace has been given –

The word ‘grace’ is widely used and can have a very broad meaning – God’s grace is shown in the fact that he does not punish individuals or the world as a whole for disobeying him. His grace is seen in that he sends rain and sunshine that fall on the righteous and the unrighteous. This is common grace.

 

Then there is the ‘grace that saves’ – Ephesians 2:8 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — (NIV)

– This saving grace is given to all believers – without this salvation is not possible.

 

There is another aspect of grace that is given to all believers – and that is the grace to serve and this is given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

The word grace is ‘charis’ from which comes the word Charismatic. While Paul does not actually use the word ‘charismata’ in this passage as he does in Rom.12 and 1 Corinth.12., it seems evident from the context that that is what he is referring to.

 

We popularly refer to some churches as “Charismatic” – meaning those where the more spectacular spiritual gifts are evident – while some elements of the Charismatic Movement have been extreme it has been used by God to bring spiritual renewal to many. However, it is incorrect to refer to one section of the Church as Charismatic because the whole church is the recipient of God gifts of grace and therefore the whole church is charismatic.

 

Every believer has been given at least one gift from Christ to be used in his service and therefore in the service of the Church.

The lists of gift given in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12 and here in Eph.4 are not a restricted list but rather examples of the kinds of gifts.

FOR EXAMPLE even within one type of gift – teaching – some teaching is in public, some in small groups, some on a one-to-one basis, some to adults, some to children, some to teenagers ….

As diverse as people are, so diverse are the gifts God gives to individuals.

 

  1. The giver chooses the gift.

 

It is God who decides what gifts we are given – he is sovereign –

1 Corinthians 12:11 11 All these [GIFTS] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (NIV)

It is therefore wrong to be jealous of the gifts of others – it is wrong to demand that God give us this or that gift. We have no right – God in his wisdom knows what gifts we should have and what gifts his church need in a particular place.

 

What is clear is that while we have no choice in what gifts we have , we do have a responsibility to use the gifts that he has given us.

 

ILLUS.: Many of us have from time to time been given gifts we can’t use. They end up in a drawer or a box in the loft until we eventually throw them out or with great ‘sacrifice’ give them to someone else.

 

Sadly there are some Christians who do the same thing with the gifts that God has given them – when that happens God’s work suffers. You see no one else is like you or gifted in exactly the same way so by not using your gifts you are being a bad steward of God’s grace.

1 Peter 4:10 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. (NIV)

Not to use what God has given is an insult to him and a loss to his church. We are all called and gifted individually and Jesus doesn’t want us to be spectators sitting on the sidelines, he wants us to be involved on the team fulfilling the function for which we were designed.

 

  1. CHRIST SECURED THE RIGHT TO GIVE GIFTS [v.7-10]

 

Ephesians 4:7-10

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” 9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) (NIV)

Paul is quoting from Psalm 68:18 18 When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious — that you, O Lord God, might dwell there. (NIV)

Ps.68 is a psalm of victory which David composed – it recalled how God had rescued and vindicated his people. It is a picture of the Lord returning in triumph leading captives in his train.

It is the imagery of an ancient oriental king returning after a victorious battle bringing with him his captives and the spoils of conquest that he then distributes to his soldiers.

 

Paul uses this imagery to describe what Christ has done. Christ has ascended as conqueror to the right-hand of God having defeated his enemies by his death and resurrection.

 

Colossians 2:15 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (NIV)

In Ps. 68v18 it says ‘ he received gifts’ and here in v.8 he ‘gave gifts’ – Has Paul misquoted the verse or is there another explanation?

Without going into all the various theories put forward by commentators let’s look at two that I think best explain the verse and which are complimentary.

1] the Hebrew word in Ps. 68. can be translated ‘received’ or ‘ brought’ – thus the Jehovah in the Psalm could have received gifts from men or brought gifts for men.

2] the whole context of a conquering king is that he brings back the spoils with the express purpose of distributing them to he soldiers. Thus it is not inconsistent to speak of receiving gifts and giving gifts as part of one victory celebration.

 

This is clearly illustrated when on the day of Pentecost Peter says in Acts 2:33 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he [Jesus] has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. (NIV)

Christ has given to the Church what he received from the Father. It is noteworthy that Psalm 68 was used by the Jews in their celebration of Pentecost.

 

Verses 9-10 have been the subject of some interesting interpretation and, dare I say, speculation. Many have linked it to the reference in 1 Peter 3:19 19 through whom [that is ‘Jesus’] also he went and preached to the spirits in prison (NIV)

 

There is no direct link between that passage and this.

 

Paul has talked about Christ ascending to the Father – being exalted and seated in the place of honour at God’s right hand. Talking about ascension, exaltation and honour on the one hand he then contrasts that with Christ descension, humiliation and death on the cross.

Surely the link would best be made with Philippians 2:5-9

5 …Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place …. (NIV)

It seems that Paul is not thinking in spatial term of heaven up there and earth down here but rather in terms of Christ’s glory which he left behind when came to earth in humility and his position now – a position of cosmic authority and power from where he now gives gifts to his church.

 

It is because of who Jesus is and because of what he did and also because he now has full authority and fills the whole universe – that he can give gifts to his people.

 

In this passage it is clear that it is Christ who gives gifts.

In Romans 12 it is God the Father who gives gifts.

In 1 Corinthians 12 it is the Holy Spirit who gives gifts.

God is a Trinity and it is always dangerous to over-emphasize one aspect of God’s personhood to the detriment of another.

 

  1. CHRIST’S GIFTS TO THE CHURCH [.v11-12]

 

Ephesians 4:11-12 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (NIV)

Paul stresses again that ‘It was he who gave… ‘ – Christ is sovereign and he decides.

 

  1. Gifts

 

While Paul is here writing about people as gifts we must bear in mind that these people are gifts to the church because they have been gifted by God for the work they have been called to do.

God never calls us to do a job without equipping us to accomplish the task.

 

We must confine ourselves to the gifts that Paul mentions in this passage before us. Let’s deal with each in turn.

 

 

 

 

– Apostles.

 

The word ‘apostle’ lit. means ‘one who is sent’ and in that usage it refers to all believers as we are all commissioned by Christ to be his witnesses.

It is plain from the NT that the word is used of a specific group of men – the 11 disciples [Judas Iscariot excluded] – Matthias who replaced Judas, Paul, James the brother of the Lord and possibly one or two others . This was a small group who were chosen by Jesus and who had been eyewitnesses. It was this group who was the authority within the Church in the early days before the NT was written. In this specific sense we must say that there are no apostles today. Apostolic authority is now contained within the NT and not with a person.

 

If there is apostolic ministry today it is in a very much lesser sense and would apply to pioneer missionaries, church planters, etc… Their authority is never within themselves but always based on the scriptures.

 

– Prophets.

 

Closely associated with the ministry of the apostles, were the prophets. These were the mouth-piece or spokesman of God to the people. It was through them that God revealed his message. Their function was no so much foretelling future events – though that sometimes happened – but they main function was declaring the word of God.

Prophets, like the Apostles, are no longer within the church. They were the foundation upon which the Church was built.

 

Ephesians 2:20 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. (NIV)

 

The foundation of the Church was laid long ago and that cannot be changed. If there are prophets today, then like the apostles, they exist only is a much lesser sense and their gift is not in receiving a new word from God – e.g. “Thus saith the Lord ….” – but in a communicating a fresh understanding of the word of God to a particular situation.

I believe that there are people who have a prophetic gift in that they have a deep understanding of the Word of God as well as insight into contemporary society and they have a unique God-given ability to speak to the issues of the day.

 

I have grave reservations about so called ‘prophetic utterances’ – if these are to be then they must be tried and tested against the scriptures and the character of the person concerned must also be tried and tested.

 

There have been occasions when someone under the guise of being a prophet has said something to another that was not from God and in so doing has ruined a life. The purpose of these gifts is for the up building of the body.

We dare not go beyond the boundaries of the Bible.

 

– Evangelists.

 

The term ‘evangelist’ occurs only 3 times in the NT – here and in Acts 21 :8 and 2 Timothy 4:5. It comes from the root word euangalizo that means ‘to proclaim good news’. The task of the evangelist is to preach an explain the good news of salvation to those who have not yet heard. Timothy was a leader of a local Church and was exhorted by Paul to ‘do the work of an evangelist’ – it was linked to a teaching role.

 

There is a great need today for evangelists – those gifted to communicate the gospel in fresh and relevant ways. In a country like the UK where only 3-5% of people actually go to Church there is a desperate need for a re-evangelisation of this land. Britain can no longer claim to be a Christian country. Europe is no longer Christian – it is pagan. It lives with no reference to God and unless there is a turning to God it will decay and fall apart.

 

We must not think of ‘evangelist’ exclusively in term of people like Billy Graham. Evangelists can do their work speaking to large groups or small groups or to individuals. [Philip and the Ethiopian].

 

– Pastors / teachers.

 

There is a long standing debate about whether or not Paul is talking about one gift – Pastor/teacher – or two gifts – pastors and teachers. The word pastor means ‘shepherd’ and the task of a shepherd is to feed the flock. How else must a shepherd feed the flock of God except by teaching them the Word of God?

 

While the debate about which interpretation is correct may be interesting, I think it is unnecessary. A pastor must be able to teach.

 

However, it would appear that there may be those who have the gift of teaching who may not necessarily have the gift of pastor.

 

The fact that a pastor should be a teacher is borne out by the requirement for eldership in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. A careful study of church leadership will reveal that the terms elder, pastor [shepherd] and overseers are used interchangeably.

1 Peter 5:1-2

1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow-elder, ……….. 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; (NIV)

If the church of God is going to be built up and be strong and mature then there must be an ample supply of God-gifted teachers.

 

ILLUS.: Where there is no solid teaching the church of God remains weak and immature. In Africa today thousands of people are turning to Christ each day but there are no teachers to disciple and train. The leaders of the African Church are saying that unless this situation is addressed many of these converts will simply be christo-pagans. Mixing the gospel in with their animistic beliefs.

 

Paul was aware of this danger and so wrote to Timothy 2 Timothy 4:2-4 2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine [teaching]. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (NIV)

The antidote for false teaching is true teaching. Pastoral teaching is not just a passing on of academic facts but a teaching by word and by example. [Sometimes the task frightens me!!]

 

I want you to notice that this is a team ministry – God has given all these to the church [ bearing in mind that apostles and prophets no longer exist in the primary sense] this is not a one man task. It is an impossible task for one person. It is also dangerous for it to be the task of one person.

 

  1. Purpose.

 

No one person has all the gifts necessary to equip the Church for service. And that is the purpose for which these gifts are given — look at v.12: to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up …

 

Gifts are not given for selfish use. They are given for the benefit of the body of Christ and for the glory of Christ.

 

Spiritual gifts are not toys with which to play; they are tools with which to do the Lord’s work effectively.” G Raymond Carlson

 

We ARE one in Christ – united to each other because we are united to him. Nevertheless we are all different – different gifts and different roles which Christ in his wisdom has given to each of us. It is our responsibility to determine what our gifts and functions are and to fulfill our role within the church of Christ so that the body of believers may be edified and Jesus Christ glorified.

 

 

EPHESIANS 4:6-12.

 

  1. CHRIST’S GIFTS ARE FOR EVERY BELIEVER

      

       no one is left out

       the giver chooses the gift

 

 

  1. CHRIST SECURED THE RIGHT TO GIVE GIFTS

      

       through his coming

       through his victory

       through his exaltation

 

 

  1. CHRIST’S GIFTS TO THE CHURCH

      

       the gifts   apostles

                           prophets

                           evangelists

                           pastors / and / – teachers

 

       the purpose

Ephesians 4:1-6 – Standing united

STANDING UNITED!

Ephesians 4:1-6

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

The word “Church” means different things to different people. To many it is a building, to some it is the institution, to others it is the pomp and ceremony with all the bells and smells. Foe some the word ‘church’ has positive connotation and for others negative.

 

In the Bible the word ‘church’ is used in two different ways. It is used to speak about the universal body of believers from every race, tribe, language and nation both in heaven and on earth. Paul has deal with this concept of the church in chapters 2 – 3 — There is not division on racial or ethnic grounds and God is ‘the Father from whom his whole family in heaven and earth derives its name’

In other places it is used to speak about the local congregation – Thus Paul can begin his letters to the Corinthians   1&2 Corinthians 1:1 …To the church of God in Corinth,… The local church is part of, and an expression of the universal apostolic church. In one sense the church is fully represented in the local body of believers because Jesus Christ is there. But the local community of believers also participates in the people of God scattered throughout the world.

 

To emphasis either of these to views of the church to the detriment of the other is to distort the biblical teaching on the church. It is not good enough for someone to say “I am a member of the universal church and therefore I don’t need to be part of a local congregation.” If there is no local church – as for example in Saudi Arabia – that is a different matter. If you are a believer you must be united to a body of Christians for fellowship, teaching, encouragement, worship etc…. On the other hand we cannot say as a local body the we will have nothing to do with other Christians and other congregations.

 

Just as within this local body at Binscombe we are different with varying gifts and views but still one body. So as a congregation we differ from Godalming Baptist Church, from the parish churches from the Salvation army and the King’s Church nevertheless we are united to each other if we are united to Christ by faith.

 

It is this issue of unity in Christ that Paul is addressing in this passage.

Is he not addressing the Church in Ephesus only? It is very possible, in fact probable, that this letter was actually a circular letter to a number of churches in the area of Asia Minor and not only to Ephesus. Even if this were not the case Paul argument shows this is what he had in mind – both universal and local unity.

 

There are some churches that are so exclusive that they will have nothing to do with any other body – they will find no comfort in Paul’s words here.

However their are those who would be so ecumenical as to eradicate all differences and have a united super-church at the expense of truth – they too, will find no comfort here.

 

In the first 3 chapters Paul has been unfolding the eternal purposes of God – how Jesus came and died and that through him sinner can be forgiven and enter into God’s new humanity, It is a wonderful picture of what God has done and is doing.

Now in chapters 4 – 6 Paul is putting feet to these great truths. He is exhorting the new standards from this new community.

 

In the KJV v.1 begins “I therefore …” — in view of what you are ‘in Christ’ behave in a way that is in keeping with that position. In other words, BECOME WHAT YOU ARE!!

 

  1. THE SUMMONS TO UNITY. V.1.

 

a] a prisoner.

Paul was not a person who did not practice what he preached – as far as it depended on him, Paul lived what he preached. As he writes he is a prisoner in Rome but he knows that he is ‘in the Lord’ He knows that his situation is under the control of the Lord. In fact, it is because of his life in Christ that he is in prison in the first place. He may be physically restricted but his life is nevertheless under control – under God’s control.

 

None of us here today are physically in prison but maybe you feel trapped in some way or other – maybe trapped by domestic circumstances, or your situation at work, or some illness that plagues you. Can you say with Paul I know my life is under God’s control and therefore I will not fret but live a life worthy of the Lord who has called me.   Paul had a view of his life from God’s perspective

 

b] a passion

Ephesians 4:1

…. I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (NIV)

 

Paul never lost his desire for Christ nor his passion for others to be Christ like. He longed to “present every person perfect in Christ” [Col. 1:28] and his desire of the Ephesian Christians was no different. There was an urgency and a passion about Paul’s life.

A passion for Christ that I feel is lacking in my own life and I sense is lacking in the lives of other believers. There is a lack of enthusiasm for the things of God. Can you and I honestly say with Paul, Philippians 3:8 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (NIV)

 

c] a purpose.

…. I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.[v.1]

 

Paul has spelt out the great call that the Christian has received and now he is urging us to walk in a direction that corresponds to that call.

The Gk. word for ‘worthy’ is acios and in it root form mean ‘balancing the scales’ The meaning is obvious, if you claim to be a Christian then ensure that your life balances with your claim.

 

We cannot claim to be Christians and then deliberately go against the things that God called us to be and do.

 

ILLUS.: When we were in France on holiday we were talking to a single lady friend who has been a Christian for about 2 years. She was finding it difficult to accept that she could not marry a non-Christian.

 

For a Christian to marry an unbeliever is clearly contrary to the will of God and to do so would be blatantly disobedient. It is not the unforgivable sin but it is clearly not walking in the direction that God has set.

If we accept that we have been called by God to be his people then we must live as his people according to the standards that he has set.

 

Being a Christian is often likened to being a soldier – in the army the soldier doesn’t make the rule he just obeys then if he knows what is good for him. Christ is the Captain of our salvation – he gives the orders but unlike an Army Captain whose orders are sometimes foolish and selfish, Christ’s order are always wise and good and in the best interests of the Christian.

 

‘If you are a believer, and you wish to known as a believer, then live like a believer!’

In other words, BE WHAT YOU ARE!!

 

  1. THE INGREDIENTS OF UNITY. v.2.

 

Having said that we are to live a life worthy of our calling Paul now goes o to describe some of the qualities of that calling.

 

Ephesians 4:2 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (NIV)

This is not a comprehensive list of every quality but a sample as can be seen by comparing Gal.5:22 of the fruit of the Spirit.

 

a] humble

Humbleness or lowliness was not a word used much by the Greeks and when it was used it always had a negative meaning — slavish, ignoble — it was derogatory term. Jesus gave the word new meaning by humbling himself, even to the point of death on a cross [Phil.2].

 

Humility is a quality that is essential to unity. Pride is our instinctive attitude. We find it easy to get along with those people who respect us but we instinctively dislike those who treat us badly. When we are constantly manoeuvring to get the respect of others – that is pride.

Humility is giving up our rights for the sake of others – as Christ did!

Humility is something that we should all desire but something that we can never claim – when we claim to be humble we forfeit it because we have become proud of our humility.

 

When we put others first we are going a long way down the road to humility.

 

ILLUS.: There is a story told about a group of Moravian Christians, who during the days of slavery in the West Indies found it impossible to witness to the salves – many of the ruling class felt it impossible even to speak to a slave. Two young Moravians were determined to reach these oppressed people at any cost so the went and worked an lived beside the slaves. They shared their overwork, their beatings and their abuse – it is not surprising that they won the hearts of the slaves and many accepted Christ.

 

Luke 18:14

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (NIV)

 

b] Gentleness

Humility always produces gentleness /or meekness. You cannot have meekness without humility. Meekness /or gentleness is not synonymous with ‘weakness’

It is the same word that is used of wild animals that have been tamed, esp. horses. The horse still has all its strength and spirit but it is under the control of its master. One of the marks of meekness is self-control King David displayed this quality when he refused to kill Saul or two occasions – it was within his power to do so but his power was under control .

Meekness is the quality that doesn’t insist on ‘my rights’ – either in the presence of God or in the presence of men.

 

If there is to be unity in a church there needs to be gentleness and meekness.

 

c] patience

Long-suffering better describes the meaning of this attitude. A person who not only patience and calm in good and pleasant circumstances. But one who endures negative circumstances and doesn’t give in to them.

This is an attitude that God has shown towards us – God is long suffering with sinful humans when he should have destroyed us long ago.

1 Timothy 1:15-16

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. (NIV)

 

Paul himself is an example of God’s long-suffering towards sinners – if God has been patient with us we ought also to be patience with each other. And with the situation in which God has placed us.

 

ILLUS.: For a woman or man to have an unbelieving spouse can present great heartache – but it is in these and other inter-personal relationships that God calls us to be long-suffering.

 

d] forbearance in love

This final characteristic that Paul mentions is very closely linked to patience. It is a kind of mutual tolerance without which no groups of human beings could live together in peace.

No marriage can survive without this quality – there has to be give and take. Unfortunately for many it is a case of “YOU GIVE AND I TAKE” and consequently the divorce rate rocked. This tolerance that Paul is talking about is not a New Age “love and let live” tolerance. I find it interesting that at a time when the virtue of tolerance is so highly prized, the divorce rate is at an all time high.

 

The Bible talks about “bearing with one another in love” – secular tolerance is a selfish tolerance – it is you be tolerant of me and leave me to do my own thing. BUT Christian tolerance is to be motivated by Christ like love – it is actively to seek the welfare of others and the good of the community of the saints. I can’t simply do what I want to do but must do what is best for the body of Christ [the Church] and for the glory of God. It is doing for others what is right in God’s sight, constantly remembering God’s patient love towards me!

It is loving our friends and neighbours even if their if their faults and weaknesses offend or displease us.

 

  1. THE RETENTION OF UNITY. v.3.

 

Ephesians 4:3 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (NIV)

 

This is really the centre of the passage – unity of the Spirit –

 

a] by strenuous effort

It is true that we are united to each other by virtue of the fact the we are united to Christ – nothing can change that. This unity exists in God – but in tandem with this fact we are called upon to give all our energy and strength to maintain this unity.

 

The word translated “make every effort” is one compound Gk. word with a numbers of facets of meaning – diligence; exertion; zeal; urgency; and to be done in haste.

This is a pressing need that require immediate and strenuous effort.

 

b] by the Spirit’s power

The unity that Paul has in mind is not a kind of warm cosy togetherness. It is a unity that is brought about by the Spirit of God at work in the lives of the people of God.

 

ILLUS.: There are many people who have a kind of togetherness because of a common interest – fishing clubs – golf clubs, bingo …..

 

True Christian unity is a unity brought about by the Spirit of God. Only those who have be truly born again by God’s Spirit can enjoy spiritual unity.

This is what Jesus prayed for just before he was crucified >>

John 17:11 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name — the name you gave me — so that they may be one as we are one. (NIV)

 

We know that we are united in Christ – how then are we to understand the plea for unity here. It can only refer to visible unity –

 

How are we to maintain this unity ….

 

c] by the “glue” of peace.

In order to be united we need to be at peace with each other – where there is strife there can be no unity. This unity is so important that every effort must be made to keep the peace.

 

Stott gives a good illustration: The Smith have three sons – Tom, Dick and Harry – marriage and parenthood unite them. In time the parents quarrel, split up and get divorced. The boys quarrel first with their parents and then with each other. Tom goes to Canada, Dick to South Africa and Harry to Australia. They never meet write or telephone. They even go so far as to change their names.

They are still a family – nothing can change that – but their is no unity and no peace.

 

Sometimes this is true of the Christian Church – sometimes it is true of members within Churches. Paul says we are to make every effort to be a peacemaker. Spare no effort.

 

We are related to each other you and me;

We’re the body of Jesus Christ the Son;

We are joined by his covenant we walk in unity;

We are family eternally as one.

 

That truth needs to be visible.

 

  1. THE GROUNDS OF UNITY v.4 – 6.

Ephesians 4:4-6 4 There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (NIV)

 

The essential ground of our unity is the fact that there is but ONE God.

Deuteronomy 6:4

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. (NIV)

The true Church is not a man-made institution by a product of the Spirit’s work.

 

a] one Spirit

There is one body and one Spirit –

Paul expands on this truth in 1 Corinthians 12:13 13 For we were all baptised by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (NIV)

The same Spirit that creates one body also gives hope – the Spirit is the deposit we have now of a guaranteed future glory.

 

b] one Lord.

Not only is there unity in the Spirit , there is unity in the Son – one Lord. In order to know Christ as Lord you need to come to faith in him and be baptised by him in the Spirit. That is the experience of all true believers.

 

c] one Father.

He is the Father of ALL – who is this ALL? It is all those who have come to God by faith in the one Lord Jesus Christ by the Power of the one Spirit. He is the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

 

This God who has brought about the unity of his people is himself a unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As Father he is over all as he exercise control over everything. He is through all because he blesses us through he Son , our mediator and he is in all for he draws us to himself in the Spirit.

 

The Father creates the one family.

The Lord Jesus creates the one faith, hope and baptism.

The Holy Spirit creates the one body.

 

There is only one God – one christian family and one Christian faith!!

How is then you ask that we have been so successful and spliting the Chruch into fragments.

Well there is a difference between the Invisible spiritual Chruch and the visible institutional, human organisation. Paul recognised this distinction and the possibly of splits and division and thus he urge ue to spare no effort in maintaining the unity of the Spirit.

 

I believe that Paul’s emphasis in this passage in on the local fellowship and we need to guard against factions and rivalries. Satan is very clever at attacking the Church – if he can;t do it from witthou then he will do it from within.

 

But what about felowship with other churches and denomiantions? There is a strong move today for ecumenical co-operation. This is good when it expresses genuine Chrustian unity and spiritual oneness. And we should be eager for some visible expression of the Christian Faith.

There is a proviso – this desire for unity must never sacrfice essential Christian Truth. Christian Unity centres around having One Father, One Saviour and One indwelling Spirit.

 

The Can be know unity with those who deny the Trinity or the deity of Christ. Ther can be no unity with those who have not come to personal faith in Christ by faith alone.

 

Any kind of outward structural unity must be an expression of genuine Spirtual unity otherwise it is not unity of the Spirit.

 

True unity is found in God and is worked out in our everyday lives as we give ourselves to seeking after humility, meekness, patience and forebearance in love.

 

 

EPHESIANS 4:1 – 6

 

  1. THE SUMMONS TO UNITY.   [v.1]

        by a prisoner

        with a passion

        for a purpose

 

  1. THE INGREDIENTS OF UNITY.   [v.2.]

        humility

        gentleness / meekness

        patience / long-suffering

        forbearance in love

 

  1. THE RETENTION OF UNITY.   [v.3.]

        by strenuous, urgent effort

        by the Spirit’s power

        by the ‘glue’ of peace

 

  1. THE GROUNDS OF UNITY.   [v.4 – 6]

O     }

N     }      One Spirit         one body / one hope

E     }

       }      One Lord          one faith / one baptism

G     }

O     }      One Father       of all

D     }                                     over all

                                                through all

                                                in all