Bible Passage: Ephesians 5: 8 – 21
Big Idea: The Christian Life is to be filled with Light, that we may walk in Wisdom
Intro: Well morning friends and visitors. My name is Matt Johnson and today we continue our study of Ephesians thinking about AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY. You know walking the walk and talking the talk. As I explained last week – how we live is usually shaped by our worldview. But sadly, many people today who call theselves Christians – do not have a Christian worldview – and as a result they are not really living the authentic Christian life…
Well last week I introduced you to GEORGE BARNA who is an American statistician. George knows every statistic there is to know about church and Christianity in America. Now back in 1990 George wrote a book called (Slide 2) The Frog in the Kettle. Looking at various Christian statistics Barna recognized that America was going through some sort of cultural or intellectual revolution. The Christian worldview was disappearing and the church seemed blissfully unaware. So Barna wrote this book to tell churches that many Christian statistics were headed in the wrong direction. Barna was concerned the church would only recognize the problems when it was perhaps too late.
In 2003 he released the next edition called (ENTER) Boiling point. The book is ALMOST PROPHETIC – as Barna shares where the statistics are headed. Sadly, much of what Barna foretold in this book has now actually come true in the American church. But in the midst of studying all these statistics – what really concerned Barna was not 1) the drop in ATTENDANCE or 2) the number of CHURCHES CLOSING or even the number PASTORS DROPPING OUT of ministry. What concerned him most was that American Christianity was turning into something not really Christian. Biblical beliefs and biblical ethics were quickly disappearing. And American Christianity was beginning to blend all sorts of secular, post-modern and eastern beliefs into their accepted worldview.
But where was it all headed? Well thanks to the American Worldview Inventory Barna can now tell you what the church believes. (Slide 2) Although 83% of the BUILDER GENERATION in America and (ENTER) 57% of the MILLENIAL GENERATION still identify as Christian – only 6% have a biblical worldview. What most Christians now believe has been called (Slide 3) – MORALISTIC THERAPEUTIC DEISM. This term was first coined in a study of teenagers in 2005. Sociologists suggested the worldview of American teenagers should be called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” But 16 years later Barna says this is now the main worldview of people who go to church in America. The main hallmarks of this belief include; (ENTER; ENTER) Now this is hard to believe. But Barna says even if you go to the most evangelical bible teaching churches in America – 75% of people in the seats will believe these things, which are NOT Christian. So Christians in America (and I reckon probably also Australia) are no longer walking the walk and talking the talk of true Christianity…
And yet, in Ephesians Paul is telling us to make sure we walk the walk and talk the talk of true Christianity. So how do we do it?
Point 1: Christians are meant to Walk in the Light of God’s Truth
Show: Eph.5:8-11 (READ)
Explain: Well as you can see the apostle Paul tells us to live as children of the light, instead of children of darkness. He says in verse 8 – we are now light in the Lord. (NOT that we are the light ourselves. But we have received the light from the Lord, Jesus Christ). So as Christians we have 1) the light of the Lord Jesus Christ and 2) we are told live as children of the light…
Now as I’ve shared previously, thre word “live” is actually walk. Although many Bible translation says “live as children of the light”, the real word is WALK. Seven times in Ephesians Paul tells us to walk as true and authentic Christians. Let me again show you again (Slide 5 – Explain). Paul wants us to be AUTHENTIC Christians. We need to WALK THE WALK of true Christianity and to do that we need to walk in the light.
Now in the Bible LIGHT and DARKNESS occasionally mean literal light and literal darkness. But most of the time light and darkness are METAPHORS for God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom. For instance, the Bible says; God is light and in him is no darkness at all (1Jn.1:5). Jesus called himself the light of the world (Jn.8:12; 9:5). And Psalm 119 says God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Ps.119:105). Paul is using light in this metaphorical sense. Walking in the light means walking in a way that takes God, Jesus and the Bible, seriously.
If you look again at verse 10 you see that it says; “find out what pleases the Lord.” Now how do you find out what pleases the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you sit on a high mountain and go ummmm? Is everything you feel strongly in your heart (special light) coming from Jesus? No. Jeremiah says the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer.17:9). The heart is more deceitful than everything else. So all those “Christians” out there who say just follow your heart or be true to your heart – are idiots.
According to Jeremiah your heart is one of the most deceitful things in all the world. It is sinful. So where do you need to go to find God’s light? (PAUSE) Friends, you need to go to Jesus. Jesus himself is the light of the world (Jn.8:12). Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s being (Heb.1:3) (GOSPEL) And the reason Christians really trust Jesus – was he died for our sins. If someone loves you enough to die for you (on a cross) – you know they have your best interests at heart. Jesus died for everything we have done wrong. But Jesus also rose from the dead. As Christians we recognize that Jesus really is God in the flesh, that he cares about us and he has power to help us. And so as Christians we agree A) to follow Jesus AND in return Jesus agrees B) to give us eternal life. But the only way to know how to follow Jesus is to accept what is recorded in the Bible.
The apostles, guided by the Holy Spirit, wrote down in the Bible what Jesus wants us to know and how Jesus wants us to live. (Now yes, that is a step of faith. I accept the Bible is God’s Word in faith. But it is not blind faith. As I look at the Bible I see that it has the marks of a divine hand. Written over 1500 years – it has one consistent message. It includes things like prophecy and fulfillment and it is also without historical error. Whats more, when I accept the Bible is God’s Word I discover it works experimentally. For 2000 years Christians (and indeed the whole western world) have discovered that trusting the Bible – actually works. It brings blessing to individuals, families and societies. When we accept the Bible is light, and we begin to walk in that light we discover it really is light. So accepting the Bible is God’s Word is a step of faith that becomes self-confirming…
Now look at verse 11 (READ). Paul is clear that Christians should have nothing to do with THE FRUITLESS deeds of darkness. Not only is darkness bad. It is fruitless. Darkness produces nothing good. Now darkness is Satan’s kingdom and particularly that which is contrary to the Bible. Paul is adamant that Christians should have nothing to do with the deeds of darkness, rather we should EXPOSE them.
So on that note let me do some exposing. TAROT CARDS and following ASTROLOGY is darkness. The SEXUAL-REVOLUTION is full of darkness. PORNOGRAPHY is darkness. GAMBLING is a type of darkness. FREEMASONRY is darkness. And the Anglican church of Sydney will not allow YOGA CLASSES to be conducted on any of their church premises because its origins are eastern religion – which is darkness.
Now you may say, but yoga is just exercise and stretching. Well go and do exercise and stretching then. The principles of yoga come from a completely different Lord and a completely different philosophy to life. Christianity is about being filled with the Holy Spirit. Yoga is about emptying yourself. Christianity is about listening to God’s Word, yoga is about listening to the inner self. It’s based on a different worldview. Sure, you’ll find many “Christians” saying it’s just exercise. But many Christians these days also say greed is good and sexual immorality is fine. But God says “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness.” EASTERN RELIGION is darkness. The Anglican Church of Sydney will not allow yoga on their premises. The Southern Baptist convention warns against it. And in 2003, even the Catholic Church released a 90-page paper telling Catholics they were dabbling in darkness if they went down this path. And I agree.
In verse 14; Paul writes; “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you – again.” What Paul is saying is that if you are a Christian who has let go of God’s Word and your now stumbling around in the darkness – then “WAKE UP”. In the words of the Wiggles; We need to be saying to each other; “Wake Up – Jeff. Wake up Sue. Wake up Tim. We need to be saying to the church; “Wake Up – Church.” Jesus says in Revelation 3:3 “if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief in the night and you will not be ready when I come.” If Jesus came right now – would he find “Christians” in America – ready? More importantly, if Jesus came right now – would he find you ready?
Apply: Barna’s stats on U.S. Christianity suggests many people who call themselves Christians are not ready for Jesus’ return. We mix a little bit of light with a little bit of darkness and everything still feels ok. So, we then add a little bit more darkness and hey it still not too bad. Then we add some more and a bit more and then all of a sudden we find ourselves banging into the walls because have so dimmed the light of God’s Word. Like the proverbial frog in the kettle – you so gradually add the darkness that you don’t recognize it’s killing you – until it’s too late.
Now what happened to Israel (in the Old Testament) whenever they were synchretistic and mixed light with darkness? Did that ever end well for them? Well, wake up. Right now, everyone is acknowledging the world has changed, perhaps forever. We have lost so many freedoms that 18 months ago we took for granted. Now perhaps it is just coincidence. A spot of bad luck. But, knowing the God of the Bible, I personally doubt it. I think God is perhaps giving our world a really big wake up call. A wake-up call that has gone into every corner of the globe. ‘Man cannot live on bread alone, but only on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Deut.8:3, Matt.4:4). Well wake up. Let us stop dabbling in darkness and let us walk again in the light, that really is light.
Point 2: Christians are meant to Walk in God’s Wisdom (in the Spirit)
Show: Eph.5:15-17 (READ)
Explain: Well when Paul says be very careful how you “LIVE” it is again “WALK.” This is the last “walk” in Ephesians. We are to take off foolishness and we are to put on wisdom. Now this walking in wisdom that Paul exhorts us to do actually extends throughout the rest of CHAPTER 5 and the first half of CHAPTER 6. All the instructions given to 1) husbands and wives, 2) parents and children and even 3)slaves and masters – is still part of this walking in wisdom.
WISDOM itself is profoundly practical. It is more than just biblical knowledge. A few years ago when we studied THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – I spoke to you about the DEED-DESTINY NEXUS. God has created the world in such a way that 1) certain deeds always have 2) certain destinies attached to them – either good or bad. So if you live in a way that respects how God has created the world – you will generally fare better (than bucking against God’s good order). THIS IS WISDOM. Whenever we choose as individuals (or as a society) to go against God’s plan – then we will generally reap negative results. THIS IS FOOLISHNESS.
Now Paul gives us the example of drunkeness. You may think there is no absolute truth. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that drunkeness never ends well. Drunkeness always ends up in stupidity, debauchery and a hangover. (Even if you are Russian and it’s pure vodka). It doesn’t matter what truth you choose to believe. There is no version of reality where drunkeness ends well. That’s because God has created the world in such a way that foolish deeds, end with bad consequences. Now there are lots of things in life like this. When we try to use things like sex, or alcohol, or money in ways that are contrary to God’s plan – things tend to break. THIS IS THE DEED-DESTINY NEXUS. Use things properly, things to work. Use things foolishly, things tend to break. We know this…
Illustrate: If you try to use a Tesla car as an aeroplane it will always end badly. If you try to smoke a stick of dynamite as a cigerette – your face is going to get seriously messed up. There is simply no world and no truth where smoking a stick of dynamite ends well. The point is TRUTH is not relative. WISDOM is not relative. There is a way the world works and there is a way the world doesn’t work. And wisdom is choosing the way God says the world works.
Now the western world (and many “Christians”) have recently given up on God’s revelation in the Bible and have instead adopted sceintific rationalism. We have replaced Revelation, for rationalism. So, (no longer trusting God) the world is now conducting a giant experiment trying to work out what works and what doesn’t work. Lets try legalizing marijuana and see what happens. Let’s try changing the definition of marriage and see what happens. Let’s try changing little boys into little girls and little girls into little boys and see what happens. Adopting the scientific method as the only basis for ABSOLUTE TRUTH – we are now conducting a giant experiment to see what works and what doesn’t work in this world. We have ditched God’s revelation that tells us what is good and we have now replaced it with scientific rationalism which is trying to determine what is good.
Illustrate: And welcome right now to the world’s biggest year 9 science experiment. Let’s get a test tube, half fill it with water, then push a stopper into the top as hard as we can and walk away while it boils over a bunsen burner – in a classroom full of kids. (PAUSE) Well, I don’t need to conduct that experiment to know how it ends. Kids in that classroom get burnt and blinded as the test-tube explodes and boiling water and bits of glass fly in every direction.
Apply: In love – God gave us His REVELATION of what is good and wise to protect us from such stupid experiments. So Paul says “don’t get drunk on wine which always leads to debauchery”. In other words, as Christians don’t go against the deed-destiny nexus of wisdom. Rather be filled with the Holy Spirit who is the author of wisdom. We all receive the Holy Spirit when we become Christians. (And really there is nothing you can do to be more full of the Holy Spirit or less full of the Holy Spirit). So what does this mean? WELL THE COMMENTARY I was reading in preparation for this sermon put it this way (Slide 7; READ)… So to be wise (and not foolish) we need our lives to be controlled and governed more and more by the Holy Spirit.
And Paul lists FOUR things that begin to show whether a person is filled with God’s Spirit or not (ENTER-READ). We know these four things are all linked because they are PARTICIPLES – that all link back to the MAIN VERB which is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So Paul says you know you are filled with the Holy Spirit; if you are speaking to one another with Psalms, hymns and songs (from the Spirit). This is most probably talking about speaking of God in ways that constantly GLORIFY AND HONOR God, as God. That’s what the Psalms do. That’s what a good hymn does. They glorify and honor God as God. This is the wisest way to live – glorifying and honoring God as God.
The singing from your heart is most probably speaking of true worship. We are meant to just honor God, we are meant to worship God. This too is wisdom. This too is walking the walk.
Then, we have giving thanks to God for everything in Jesus. This is a sure sign that God’s Spirit is starting to work within you. When you truly realise that everything you have is a gift from God and you learn to be thankful – then you are walking the walk of true wisdom. A life of gratitude is actually better than a life of discontent. So cultivating gratitude is wisdom.
Finally, submitting to those in authority is also a sign that God’s Spirit is beginning to control you. THE REASON we don’t want to submit to anyone is because we want to be in control of everything. So a sure sign that we are relinquishing control to the Holy Spirit is a willingness to submit to those in authority. It is also a wise way to live. Refusing to submit to authority in this world – usually ends badly. Just ask those who refused to wear face masks this week.
Now over the NEXT TWO WEEKS Paul’s main focus – will be on submission. What does SUBMISSION and AUTHORITY really look like – when governed by God’s Spirit and God’s wisdom.
But before we jump to submission – we need to PAUSE at this point and consider whether we really are WALKING THE WALK and talking the talk of authentic Christianity. What parts of your life are you still refusing to surrender to God’s Word and God’s Spirit? Which parts of your life are you still experiementing with, rather than simply trusting the Bible? Perhaps it is yoga or freemasonry. Perhaps, it is still money or alcohol. Perhaps it is relationships. Well ask God to forgive you and ask God to help you to to trust His word which is both light and wisdom. AS WE FINISH THIS SECTION of Ephesians focussed on really talking the talk and walking the walk of authentic Christianity – I want to remind you of the very unsettling words of Jesus. (Slide 7; Matt.7:21-23). Friends, every one who calls themselves a Christian should pause over these words. Only those who do the will of the Father are going to enter heaven. The church needs to “WAKE UP” and remember that the will of the Father has been revealed in Jesus and recorded in the Bible – and following that is the only way to walk the walk, and talk the talk.