08 April 2018

THE DIVINE ESCAPE FROM FUTILITY PART 1



Eph 4:17-24

We live in a world that is always looking for a “New and improved you” What do I mean by that?  We have all seen the ads, commercials; you tube videos or the billboards showing us how we can become a new you. It usually starts off with this plain, unhappy-looking individual who lacks confidence and seems the world is coming to an end. So what do they do the get hooked by the bait of advertisement and then applying these “so-called” easy steps to a better you! 

For a women/young woman 
A hair cut/new style or colour at a salon.
Having your eye brows done.
Nails and pedicure at a spa for the afternoon.
Go on a diet or join the Fitness Club.
A new dress or casual outfit to show off the new you.
A new purse or devise to fit in with the trends of today. 
And by doing this you feel like a new person and you are instantly happy, confident and vibrant to face this world yet again.

For the man/young man 
It could be a new haircut and shave.
Growing a beard/ soul patch to feel manlier.
Join a Fitness Club to tone up and beef up a little.
A new suit or casual wear to show off the new you.
Get something new for the outdoorsman in you. 
And “abracadabra” you are now successful, confident, happy and vibrant.

But the promises from these things are what we call “objective regeneration” Items of clothing, doing new thing/buying new things, don’t make you “new at all” because “objective things are neutral and unbiased” But advertising sells everything as if they do so we buy into this thinking that this is going to make my life better from this day forward. The problem is that clothing and things do not make the man or woman, all it does is cover up the real you. As Kent Hughes said “Clothing can polish the image but not the soul.” We have been divinely chosen by a holy God to live and walk in such a way that nothing in this world comes close to the new life we now live in Christ Jesus, through the gospel confession. (Chapter 1 of Ephesians) When a person believes and confesses the Jesus as Lord a transformation takes place at the point of our confession. When a believer dies he or she has already been fitted for Heaven and already been made a citizen of the Kingdom. We have already become a child of God. From our gospel confession the new birth has freed us for the unredeemed flesh and the future of receiving a perfect body.

We know this to be true by what Paul penned “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, "THE FIRST MAN ADAM BECAME A LIVING BEING." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.
…And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Mystery and Victory. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY." 1 Cor 15:42-54

See! Salvation is not a matter of improvements or accessories to make you better. It’s a total transformation of……a new mind, new will, new heart, new inheritance, new understanding, new righteousness, new love, new desires, new citizenship. Paul said this in 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” It’s not that we have received something new; we have become someone new through the saving grace of God in the gospel. The new nature hasn’t been added to the old nature but has replaced it. According to the scripture we are “new” and there is no reason to seek outside this grace to find a new you! The only thing we should be seeking is the final redemption of our bodies. “For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Rom 8:22-23. Why should this be our focus? There are dangers to not being satisfied in this grace that has been given to us by a holy God. Paul warns of this in this passage…again please understand he is talking to Christiansnot addressing the unsaved masses who are still buying into the lies of Satan and his fallen angels and the schemes of this present world system.

First thing Paul says to believers is this! “You (Christian, new man or woman) must no longer (past tense) walk as the Gentiles do (meaning present time)(v17) What is Paul saying? We cannot accomplish the glorious walk that God has but us on if we continue to live the way the world lives. We are to walk differently! “Walk” refers to daily conduct its lies in the same category as breathing. We are to live holy lives, not just because morality is good in itself, or because it promotes a happier life and successful life…. But because of what God has done, because of what we believe about God and His goodness through His gospel. Because of what His Son paid on our behalf, is why we walk in holiness and desire to pursue this every day and desire the things God desires and want for our lives. 

Martyn Lloyd Jones said this “Our conduct should always be to us something which is expected in view of what we believe….If my Christian living is not quite inevitable to me, if I am always fighting against it struggling and trying to get out of it, and wandering why it is so hard and narrow, if I find myself rather envying the people who are still back in the world, there is something radically wrong with my Christian life.” What Martyn Lloyd Jones is saying is, “If I’m failing in my Christine life what should trouble in me is not that I’m failing or I have a problem, but that I have failed God and his important purposes for me.”

Knowing what we now doctrinally in first three chapters need to be exemplified in our lives as we daily walk in the new man or woman. The danger of not submitting to this truth is…..we will be no different than the pagans. The word “Gentile” here in this text is used in a general sense, referring to “a multitude of people” not culture background of certain people group. This is strong language that Paul is using here! It’s refereeing to the path of pagans who are a people without the covenant promises. It’s a lost people who are spiritually in despair, lost and hopeless. Paul penned these words “not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” 1 Thess 4:5. We read in Roman 1:21 “because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” This pagan world we live in, lives with empty vain lives and without purpose or hope beyond this life. They live a life that is futile! The pagans are intellectually unproductive, their rational thought are distorted when it comes to spiritual and moral issues. We also read this from Paul “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,” Col 3:5-6. The pagans walk paths the opposite of Christ and they think that give them fulfillment, but it only leads to dead ends.

What kind of dead ends?
  
Darkened Minds (v18) ”darkened in their understanding” 

This relates to spiritual ignorance and the consequences it has for those who deny or ignore the gospel confession. It’s an absence of spiritual understanding. As Paul penned “Claiming to wise, they became fools.” Rom 1:22. Sadly the implications of the darkened mind have eternal implications and judgement. It’s a separation from a holy God who made it possible to be reconciled back into His family through His Son. This is the echo of what Paul previously said in this letter. “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Eph 2:11-12. It’s also the same as we read in Col 1:21 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled” Those of darkened minds are those we would call the walking dead, functioning like you and me but ignorant and blinded to the truth of the gospel.

Hardened Hearts (v18) “due to the hardness of heart”

A darkened understanding and spiritual ignorance deprives the soul of hope and make it become callous to the things of God. See Paul doesn’t say “Hard heart” ….He says “Hardened heart” In the Greek this describes a certain stubbornness and unwillingness to listen or respond with reasoning to the wisdom that is before them. This hardened heart in the originally meant “a stone harder than marble” in today’s contemporary language we would say “a heart of stone” We read and understand why in Matt 13:10-17 “And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'HEARING YOU WILL HEAR AND SHALL NOT UNDERSTAND, AND SEEING YOU WILL SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE; FOR THE HEARTS OF THIS PEOPLE HAVE GROWN DULL. THEIR EARS ARE HARD OF HEARING, AND THEIR EYES THEY HAVE CLOSED, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, LEST THEY SHOULD UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEARTS AND TURN, SO THAT I SHOULD HEAL THEM.' But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. It’s the idea of repeatedly making bad and wrong choices; because the heart is calloused over it feels nothing. This is a person who is insensitive to the things of God and the will of God.

A pastor was having lunch with one of closest elders, and as they were having lunch; the elder said “I’ve decided to leave my wife in order to take up a relationship with a younger woman.”  The pastor was stunned and speechless. So when the pastor collected his thoughts after such a bombing statement he cautioned him not to pursue this any further…But sadly the response of his elder was “I have never felt more alive.” The choices that this elder made were numerous in order to get the point of leaving his wife. but the reality is that these numerous choices lead up the end result hardening his heart. With a hardened heart no longer pumping life-giving blood, the mind itself grows dull and dark to things of God. And these are the consequences of a hardened heart and numbed mind.

Callous And Unquenchable Senses (v19) ”callous…given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

A darkened and harden heart leads to a callous and unappeasable senses. This is to loss all your “sensitivity or beyond feelings” As one theologian explains this callousness “It’s having gone beyond the pain” It’s the idea that since they are beyond the pain it’s almost like there is no turning back. Why? Because the conscience is so callous their reasoning and motor skills are hindered or gone completely. When a person’s senses are not Heavenward they are focused on what is on this earth and that leads to a insensitivity to the will of God in their lives. When this happens it opens the door to reckless behavior as we see here in the text of (v19) According to Paul in this text this insensitivity turns into wickedness, debauchery, and a sensual lifestyle. As it says in the text sensuality doesn’t satisfy, it only creates a greater appetite for other forms of wickedness. Our culture is Hell- bent in its cavalier, reckless pursuit of sin and sadly our culture makes transgenderism, gender neutral, drag queens and psychopaths its model.

Again what did Paul right to the church of Rome “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” Romans 1:22-32

See! Sensuality, greed and other forms of impure practices promise to satisfy but they only destroy the heart, darken the mind and deaden the senses. This is a warning for all of us that we do not entertain this sort of behavior because it’s not the path of God that He has laid out for each and every one of us. Remember Paul is speaking to believers! 

Why do Christians need these kinds of warnings? The simple answer can be the alluring effects that we have with the internet, the programing on TV, the best-selling books & magazines and so on. The temptation of allurement is powerful and we are easy targets to fall to sinful and lustful desires and behaviors of the past. And if we entertain such things don’t be surprised that it begins to foster a hardened heart that darkens the mind and leaves you feeling unsatisfied. The renewal of the mind in salvation…. brings not simply a renovation of character but transforming by His grace and we are to live the “NEW YOU” as new creations through the gospel transformation.

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