15th Jul 2018

Living As Children Of Light

By Steve Bones


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(Ephesians 4:17-32)

Question: Are you FAT?

Asked at Billy Graham's funeral on Friday by his youngest son - meaning are you Faithful, Available and Teachable, like his dad was to God.

Have you changed your doctrine over the years of following Jesus i.e. what you believe is the truth? I seem to be changing mine more recently than in the past!

I suddenly realised two weeks ago when Andy was sharing on Ephesians 1:1-14 why Paul started his letter with doctrine before he went on to describe how we should live our lives, as in this chapter - what we believe determines what we do! Hence if our doctrine is wrong, then what we do (or don't do) could also be wrong. For example, if we don't believe in healing today, we will not pray for anyone to be healed. If we don't believe in the gifts of the Spirit (e.g. prophecy, tongues), we will not move in them.

I want today to teach about a fundamental truth of our salvation.

Watchman Nee has written a book on Ephesians entitled 'Sit, Walk, Stand', and believes that unless we know how to sit with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) i.e. believe and understand chapters 1 to 3, we cannot walk worthy of Him here on earth (as described in Chapters 4 and 5) or stand against the spiritual enemy (chapter 6).

Does Paul agree? I believe so, hence the order of this letter!

Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Notice the tense of this verse - He HAS blessed us, not will, and with EVERY SPRIRTUAL BLESSING. After his statement of salvation, he then prays:

Eph 1:17-19 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

We need a revelation of our salvation, as to 'know him' means experientially, not just a head knowledge.

But what aspect of our salvation do I want to teach today?

Ephesians 4: 21-24 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;
  • to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and
  • to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

What does this mean? How do we apply this to our lives? We need the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation!

Romans 6:11 states a similar theme: ' In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus '.

'Count' or 'Reckon' is an accounting term - it has happened, God has done it; we just need to believe it and live in it! We reckon ourselves dead because we are!

For God to have fellowship with us He had to deal with our sins. This He did by the blood of Jesus, which washes us white as snow, as Jesus stated when He instigated communion:

Matt 26:27-28 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

This cleanses us from our past sins, so we are justified. However, what about my sin nature? We sin because we were born in Adam, our Father, who sinned. How can we be set free from this sin nature which caused us to sin. Indeed, the Bible says we are slaves to sin.

For us to be set free from this sin nature (or old self as referred to in Ephesians 4:21), Jesus had to die on the cross. Hence the other part of communion:

1 Corinthians 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."

It was the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross that has set us free from our sin nature, not by us trying to overcome (e.g. asking the Lord for strength), but believing the following as we were 'in Christ' at the time of His crucifixion (John 1:3):

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (See also Romans 6:6)

Let's explore this thought further in Romans 6:

Romans 6:1-11 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin- because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

(See also Galations 2:20 to 3:3 and Colossians 2:20 to 3:3)

What do you do with dead bodies? Bury them! God has set us free from our old nature by death - by us being 'in Jesus' when He was crucified - hence we bury this old self when we get baptised in water. How does this happen - by faith, just like when we believe Jesus' blood washes us clean of past sins! This is a legal transaction.

As a result, we come up out of the water a 'new creation', as stated in:

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

READ THE PASSAGE FROM THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE by WATCHMAN NEE, pages 49-50, concerning the revelation to Hudson Taylor, a missionary at the time!

Now let us return to our passage in Ephesians 4 and see if we understand it better:

Eph 4: 17-32 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 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. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 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;
  • to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and
  • to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you .

Only by having the revelation our old self is dead and we are a new creation in Christ can we live as we should. Otherwise very hard work - I know!

IF HAVE TIME AND FEEL RIGHT…….

If anyone wants to discuss further after the meeting (or anytime!), I am happy to chat and pray. Let us ask God for the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so we may know the riches of our inheritance!