Big Idea: Christians are to walk in Jesus’ love and Jesus Light
Intro: Well morning friends and visitors. My name is Matt Johnson and today as we continue in Ephesians I want you to think about your worldview. In the past few weeks Paul has explained that true CHURCH UNITY (and fellowship) is based on having shared beliefs and shared ethics. What is meant to unite Christians is that we have a shared biblical worldview. But do we ALL have a biblical worldview?
Well GEORGE BARNA is an American statistician who for many years has tracked the ebb and flow of Christianity in the United States. If you want to know any statistics about Christianity in America – George has the answer. The last few years George has been working on what is called the American Worldview Inventory which tracks how the Christian worldview is changing in America. Last week the 2021 results came out and they were disturbing.
Barna explains that only 6% of the U.S would still have what you would call a Christian worldview. Although much of the US still identifies as Christian, only 6% hold a historic, biblical worldview. But even more disturbing Barna worked out that among Christians who regularly attend evangelical, biblical Churches (like ours) – only 21% of evangelical Christians actually have what you would call a biblical worldview. Among Pentecostal churches it was even lower at 16% and among mainline Protestants and Catholic churches – it didn’t even reach double digits. Most American Christians are no longer really Christian in a sense that Jesus or the apostles would recognize.
Let me show you some of the lies that many “Christians” now accept and believe are true; (Slide 2; ENTER; ENTER). Now sadly not one of those things is true according to the Bible. They are all false. Most of them are coming from 1) the secular worldview and 2) some from eastern religions. So how should we treat people who call themself Christian – and yet believe and do things that the Bible says are untrue or immoral?
Well ever since Jesus walked on earth Christian’s have believed that our faith and conduct must be based on the Bible. The Bible itself claims that we can trust the Bible because it was inspired by the Holy Spirit. So Christianity and the Bible have always gone together. Most born-again Christians realise that our faith stands or falls on the trustworthiness of the Bible. If you start saying this bit of the Bible is untrue or that part is wrong our whole faith starts to fall apart. If some parts of the Bible are untrue, why believe any of it is true? Why believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins? (PAUSE) If the Bible has mistakes – then even the bits about salvation may be wrong.
The point is our Christian unity is based on having SHARED BELIEFS and SHARED ETHICS based on the Bible. And as we follow the Bible it gives us not only our oneness with God, but also our oneness with other Christians. And it is in this vein that Paul continues to speak today. I’m just going to look at verses 1-7.
Point 1: Christians are meant to walk in Love, not Lust
Show: Eph.5:1-3 (READ)
Explain: Well as you can see Paul tells us in verse 2 to walk in the way of love. Specifically, we are to love one another, just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us – when he died on the cross.
Now how did Christ love us? (GOSPEL) Well, according to the Bible we are all sinners and we deserve to be punished by God for the wrong things we have done. That’s what we deserve. But Gods Son, loved us so much that he left heaven, came to earth and became the man Jesus Christ. As a good King Jesus accepted responsibility for his people’s sin. So, in his great love for us Jesus willingly went to the cross and died to take the punishment for His people’s sin. Jesus died for you. And the great message of Christianity is that if you BELIEVE in Jesus, REPENT of your sin and ASK God to forgive you – he will forgive you. This is how Christians are saved. THE QUESTION IS – did Jesus die for you and have you agreed to repent and follow him? If you have done this you are saved. You are going to heaven.
But following Jesus as King means doing what he (and his apostles) teach us in the Bible. Let me remind you what Paul said in EPHESIANS 2; (Slide 3 – Eph.2:8-10). As you can see, we are not saved by good works. But we are saved for good works. And the SECOND HALF of Ephesians keeps saying make sure you walk the walk and talk the talk of true Christians. Let me show you again where we’ve been and where we are heading. (ENTER; Slide 4).
Now we’re looking at the MIDDLE ONE today. We are looking at the importance of walking in love. But this is still part of the taking off of unChristian behaviour and putting on of new Christian beahviour that we looked at last week. You will recall from last week Paul told us to take off the old self and put on the new self. And what we are meant to take off today is lust and put on love. LUST OFF, LOVE ON.
Illustrate: Now I don’t know whether you ever saw the original Karate Kid. I think it came out when I was a teenager. (So again, before some of you were born. I’m sorry) But MR MIYAGI the Karate Expert is teaching the young DANIEL LARUSSO how to do Karate. And in one of the scenes he gets Daniel to polish all his cars – saying you must do wax on (like this) and wax off (like this). Now Daniel thinks Mr Miyagi is just being mean making him wax all his cars. But Mr Miyagi is actually teaching Daniel basic Karate blocks – wax on, (block) wax off (block). Mr Miyagi is teaching Daniel how to block punches…
Apply: Well in similar fashion, the Apostle Paul is teaching us basic Christian moves – to block the punches of Satan. So what we need to do is to put off lust and put on Jesus like love. Look again, at Ephesians 5-1-3 (READ). As you can see we are meant to put on Jesus like love. Like Jesus we are meant to put others, before self. This is the model of true Christian love. It’s what the Bible calls agape love. Its learning to sacrifice self – for the sake of others. And when Christians truly love one another like Jesus loved us – it is great for Church unity.
So we’re to put on Jesus like love and we’re to put off (verse 3 – look at it) – sexual immorality, impurity and greed. SEXUAL IMMORALITY is all forms of sex that the Bible calls sin. The second word IMPURITY – often also has to do with sex. But as you can see Paul adds the words “any kind of impurity”. So while it includes sexual impurity, it alos includes things like drunkeness, or gluttony or brawling. Impurity means anything we do with our bodies that is contrary to Jesus like love. And finally, Paul talks about GREED. But this word would be better translated covetousness. The tenth commandment; “Do not covet your neighbors house, or your neighbor’s wife or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” When we think of greed we tend to think only of money. But coveting is more than money. Whenever we are coveting – we are lusting to have what belongs to someone else. So what Paul is saying is that Christians need to get rid of all the different selfish lusts of the flesh and put on true Christian love.
Apply: Now given the world we live in – I need to say a few worlds about sexual immorality. THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION has actually done great harm to Christianity (and dare I say – society). The Bible says all sex that takes place outside of HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE is sexual immorality. This includes heterosexual sex before marriage, adultery, homosexuality, prostitution and paedophilia. Whenever sex takes place outside of heterosexual marriage – it is called sexual immorality. Now I know that THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION has claimed all sorts of things 1) about sex and 2) our need for sex and 3) the purpose of sex that is very confusing. (Much of it is actually untrue. (Slide 8) For instance (geneticists now know) there is NO GAY GENE and there is no straight gene. So no one is born gay or born straight. The study found most of our sexual choices come from environmental factors, not genetics. But I also know that many people are now still very confused AND they don’t know which LETTER OF THE ALPHABET aligns best with their own sexuality. This is sad and Christians need to show compassion to those who are confused. WE MUST NOT HATE the adulterer, or the prostitute or the man or woman who identifies gay. But neither are we to condone or approve of what the Bible calls sin.
The Bible says; (Slide 6; 1 Cor.6:18). Friends, we often hear people say sin is sin, or all sin is equal. But that is not entirely true. Some sin is actually more damaging (here and now). Paul says that sexual sin (in all it’s different forms) actually does damage to us in a unique way. When we sin sexually, we actually sin against our own person and identity. Now to some extent we know this. WHEN SEX GOES WRONG – it cuts us deep and often leaves great scars. So God in his love for us (and knowing what is best for us) says “sex is only meant to be expressed in heterosexual marriage.” And if you are not married to someone of the opposite sex – your better off being celibate.
Now its up to you. You can believe what the Bible says or you can believe what the sexual revolution says. Its still the NORMAL CHOICE of Christianity. Nothing has changed. Do you believe Jesus loves you enough to surrender every part of your life to him, including your sex-life? We all have things to surrender and that’s hard…
Of course, (like all sins) there is FORGIVENESS for those who have sinned sexually. If you go to God and ask for forgiveness – he will forgive you. But there is NO PROTECTION for those who sin sexually (even if you use protection). If you are a Christian and you choose to sin sexually, it will eventually bite in some way. You can’t go against God’s Word and expect God’s blessing. So every person who sins sexually – will ultimately hurt themselves and hurt the person they having sex with. And that is not true Christian love. If you are hurting yourself and hurting your partner in sexual immorality then that is not Jesus like love (even if both parties are consenting). Sexual sin always leaves scars.
Now you may think – I can’t surrender this part of my life to Jesus. It’s too hard. But I assure you in the history of the church – some Christians have been asked to surrender much more. The question is how important is eternity to you? The Bible clearly says sexual immorality is wrong and those who teach otherwise are not actually true churches or true Christians.
Point 2: Christians should not PARTNER with Deceivers
Show: Eph.5:4-7 (READ)
Explain: NOTICE, Paul tells us NOT TO PARTNER with people who twist the Bible. Now B) the obscenity, the foolish talk and coarse joking of verse 4 is still actually related to the A) sexual immorality, the impurity and the covetousness of verse 3. What Paul is saying is we shouldn’t talk or joke around about sexual immorality, secular impurity and worldly covetousness. We shouldn’t make LIGHT and JOVIAL comments about such sinful conduct. Rather, we should be THANKFUL to God that he has saved us from such foolishness.
Now look again at verse 5. (READ; Eph.5:5-6). The reason we shouldn’t joke and muck around with these things is because it is deadly serious. It is not a joking matter. People are going to miss out on heaven and go to hell if they do not repent..
Now let me be clear – this is talking about persistent indulgence in such behaviour – without faith and repentance. There are going to be lots of people in heaven – who were for a time sexually immoral and impure. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. (GOSPEL) If you put your trust in Jesus death for you and ask God to forgive you – you will be forgiven. BUT IF WE REACH A POINT where we begin to say “I know about Jesus. But I don’t care what the Bible says. I’m just going to do what I want, whenever I want” – well all assurance of salvation is off the table. Those who reject God’s Word and persist in immoral, impure and covetous behaviour will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Now that is terrible. We shouldn’t be laughing about such matters. We should be crying and trying to convince people that trusting Jesus is 100% better than anything the sexual revolution has to offer.
Apply: So let me make a couple of COMMENTS. As Christians we often treat those 1) who are sexually immoral like they are worse than 2) those who are greedy and covetous. But there are probably more Christians in the world today perishing from affleunza, than HIV or Covid-19.
“AFFLUENZA has been defined as: extreme materialism and consumerism associated with the pursuit of wealth and success that results in a life of chronic dissatisfaction, debt, overwork, stress, and impaired relationships.”
Friends, affluenza is affecting heaps of Christians today. It is lust, not love. It is the covetousness Paul is warning us about. There are heaps of so-called Christians today – 1) who sacrifice their families for wealth, 2) who sell dodgy products for wealth and 3) tear up businesses and resell them for wealth – without any real concern for the lives of those they may be hurt. This is also unloving. But the Protestant work ethic of many churches accepts this sort of behaviour, but we don’t accept sexual immorality. We need to be consistent. Paul says those who persist in covetousness will not inherit the kingdom of God either. (While most of us are patting ourselves on the back for not being sexually immoral, how many of us can truly say we are free from affluenza). If we are going to expect A) people to repent of sexual immorality, we need to also expect B) people to repent of greedy, covetous behaviour.
Second, Paul says in verse 6 – “Let no one deceive you with empty words”. When people say “Love is love” OR “greed is good” don’t believe it. The Bible says we all have a choice. We can continue in sin or we can repent and follow Jesus. Yet, today many churches, including the Uniting Church and some Anglican churches are blessing same sex marriage and saying it doesn’t matter. But the Bible says “it does matter and don’t let anyone decieve you.”
Meanwhile many Pentecostal mega churches are blessing covetousness and saying greed is good. (Slide 7). Big name pastors are telling people God wants to give you everything you’ve ever coveted. And they’ve said it so much that TIME magazine is now asking the question (ENTER). Does God want you to be rich? These churches are blessing covetousness in the same way the Uniting church is blessing sexual immorality and it is just as evil.
Of course, some of these MEGA PASTORS are the best snake-oil salesmen to ever walk the earth. But Paul says “Don’t let anyone deceive you”. Those who bless greedy, covetous behaviour are just as wicked as those who bless sexually immoral behaviour. Friends the church is rotting at the moment from the inside out. Who cares about what is going on in the world? We should care about what is going on in the church.
Look at what Paul says in verse 7 (READ; Eph.5:7). This is huge. The word “PARTNER” is only used twice in the New Testament and both times in Ephesians. In Ephesians 3:6 Paul wrote that Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians are partners together in the promise that is in Christ Jesus. It’s the same word. So the word PARTNER means to recognize another person as a true Christian. Paul was explaining that – Jewish Christians are a bit different to Gentile Christians etc etc. But God has brought us ALL together as partners in the church. And then in chapter 4 Paul said we must do everything we can to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit.
But Paul is now saying there comes a point where people are twisting the Bible so much that you can no longer consider them partners in the gospel – no matter how much they say “JESUS, JESUS.” If people are calling A) SEXUAL IMMORALITY good and B) GREED/COVETOUSNESS good – (and they are twisting the Bible to support their teaching) we can no longer partner with them in the church. Of course, we all struggle with sin. But when people who claim to be Christians start blessing what the Bible calls sin – they are no longer a true church.
Sadly, this is the case in many parts of the Anglican church right now. Some Anglican churches are conducting same-sex marriages and approving of abortions. So the Anglican church is very close to splitting Australia-wide because some Anglicans are no-longer Christians in the true sense of the word.
Now of course, the Bible tells us we should do everything we can to maintain the unity of the church. But I want you to also remember this passage today is saying there comes a point – when people are twisting the Bible so badly – that unity is no longer possible.
Jesus warned us that in the last days the love of most would grow cold (Matt.24:12) This lust for sexual immorality in the church and this lust for money in the church – makes me think the love of many Christians has already grown cold. Perhaps we are already in the last days. Perhaps it is time to make a decision. Will you stand on Gods Word or not? In Revelation 2 (SLIDE 13) – Jesus tells the church in Ephesus – “you have forsaken your first love… Repent and do the things you did at first, because if you do not repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place.” If Jesus was here today – how many churches would he say that to in the C21st? Let us remember that when the Bible is lost there is NO LAMP and there is NO LAMPSTAND and there is NO INHERITANCE in the kingdom of God. Our unity with God and each other is founded upon love, not lust. And we learn to love as Jesus loved us – only by listening to the Bible and obeying the Bible – even when its hard. Let me pray…