Friday, June 23, 2017, 7:51 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “To My Beloved.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 4:17-24 (NASB).
No Longer (vv. 17-19)
So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
Our walk is how we live our lives day in and day out. It is what we think, do, say and believe, as well as it entails our attitudes, perceptions, philosophies, values and morals. It is also our habits – rituals, traditions and practices. Our walk is not to be like that of the ungodly. We are not supposed to think like this sinful world, nor adopt their attitudes, values and practices. When we were blinded by sin’s deceitfulness, we walked in that way. We were under the power and influence of the evil one. But, now that we have been saved from our sins, that old way of living should no longer be a part of our lives.
It is futile (useless, fruitless) to live like the ungodly. When we were in slavery to sin, we were free from the control of righteousness. The outcome of those things is death (See: Ro. 6:1-23). We can’t serve two masters. “Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24). We can’t live in the world of sin and follow Jesus Christ with our lives, too. These are in opposition to each other. In other words, you can’t walk left and walk right at the same time. They don’t parallel each other. Evil does not coexist with righteousness.
We also can’t walk in darkness and in the light at the same time. And, if we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), yet claim to have fellowship with God, we are liars (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk in darkness (in the flesh), we will die in our sins, i.e. we will lose our lives for eternity (Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25). And, if we make a practice of sinning, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God (Gal. 5:19-21). We can’t be open to hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, in doing what he says, and in following his lead, if we are steeped in sinful rebellion against God, have our ears closed, and if we refuse to listen to what is truth, just because it doesn’t fit our lifestyles.
When we close our ears to the truth, and we choose to go our own way, instead, because we want to hold on to our sin, then we harden our hearts against the Spirit’s voice, and his promptings, and we end up becoming unfeeling and insensitive to the Word of God speaking to our hearts. We do this through a continual practice of resisting the Spirit’s voice, and giving in to willful sin time and time again. The more of this sinful world that we adopt into our lives and put into practice, the greater we become desensitized (numb) both to evil, and to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and urgings.
When an individual gets to the point of hardening his heart, via resisting the Holy Spirit, and choosing sin over God, as a regular practice of his life, it naturally flows that such individuals would then give themselves over to sensuality and the practice of every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. And, then, to top it off, they alter the gospel of Jesus Christ to fit their lustful and impure lifestyles so that they don’t feel guilty for their lifestyles of sin. And, this is why so many people today are preaching and teaching a half-truth diluted gospel message, so that they can continue in their sin, and still claim heaven as their eternal destiny.
So, what are some of these impure and sensual practices? They are not limited to just what is sexual in nature, but they include whatever is fleshly (worldly, unspiritual, ungodly). They include gossip, overeating (gluttony), self-indulgence in worldly pleasure, and being engrossed in the culture of our societies; lying, cheating, stealing, filthy language, and idolatry, as well as the viewing of pornography, watching sexually charged TV shows or movies, and extra-marital affairs (romantic or sexual), etc. And, it is not just the personal involvement with these sins which is wrong, but it is allowing ourselves to be entertained by them, and/or to give approval to these sinful practices in other people’s lives, which is what we do when we watch them.
Be Renewed (vv. 20-24)
But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
So, what is the crux of the whole matter here? It is that, if we have been taught the truth that is in Christ Jesus, we did not learn Christ in the way of free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, while claiming heaven as our eternal destiny. That is a false grace gospel.
The truth that is in Christ Jesus, which Jesus and his NT apostles taught, is that, with regard to our former way of living for sin and self, we are to lay it aside, reject it, and put it off. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with him to newness of life, to be lived to Christ and to his righteousness. Daily we take up our cross and follow (obey) Christ. Daily we, by the Spirit, are putting to death the deeds of the flesh so that we might walk in the Spirit and no longer gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Jn. 6:35-66).
Our old self, which is corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, should no longer be in control over our lives. We should no longer be enslaved (addicted) to our sinful passions and desires. Jesus Christ set us free from all that through his death on a cross, and via his resurrection from the dead. He delivered us out of slavery to sin so that we could become bond-slaves of his righteousness. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. His grace is not a free license to continue in sin. His grace, which brings salvation, instructs us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we await Christ’s return (Ro. 6:1-23; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Tit. 2:11-14).
Instead of still groveling around in the mud (filth, lewdness, immorality), we should be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. This is the working of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives, but we have to cooperate with that work via submission and obedience to our Lord, and to His Word. We must choose to leave our old lives of sin behind us to follow (obey) Jesus Christ with our lives (Acts 26:16-18; Jn. 10:27-30; 1 Pet. 1:13-16). And, we must willingly put out of our lives what is corrupting our minds and our lifestyles, and put on what is wholesome, pure and righteous.
When we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord (owner-master) of our lives, and we are born again (born spiritually) of the Spirit of God, our old lives are put to death with Christ so that we might live our new lives, which are created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Our new lives are not supposed to be like our old lives, only maybe just slightly cleaned up. They are to be radically different! It is as if we were traveling west, and then we decided to travel east, instead. So, we do a U-turn, and we go the opposite direction. This is what takes place when we repent of our sins and when we choose to walk in obedience to our Lord. Our new lives are to be like Jesus.
We are not only made righteous through faith in Jesus Christ, but we must live righteously. He not only purifies us and makes us holy, but we must walk in holiness. And, holiness means we live our lives separate (unlike, different) from the world of sin, because we are being made into the likeness of Christ. Too many people who call themselves Christians reject this teaching by their lifestyles, because they are still practicing sin and they are entertaining sin in their minds and by the things they choose daily to take into their minds, and many are convinced that Satan still has power over their lives, and that they can’t say “No” to sin, but that is a lie! Jesus set us free! We just need to live like we are truly free, if truly we are in Christ Jesus by faith in him. And, we do this in the power of God’s Spirit living within us.
To My Beloved / An Original Work / November 14, 2011
Based off I Pet. 5:6-9; Eph. 6:10-20; Jms. 4:4-10
Be strong in the grace of Christ, and
Put on His full armor in your fight
Against the enemy of your souls,
And resist him with all your might.
Take up the shield of your faith within you.
Salvation’s helmet – you put it on.
Put on the belt of truth,
And walk in the Spirit,
And you’ll not be ashamed.
Love your Lord Jesus; call His Name.
Call on your Lord and Savior, Jesus, and
Make Him Lord and King of your hearts.
Obey all of His teachings He has given
To you to follow in all His ways.
Repent of your sins. Return to your God.
Follow Him where’er He leads you now.
Humble yourselves in full
Surrender to His will
For your lives today.
Bow before Him, and humbly pray.
Be strong in the grace of Christ, and
Obey your Lord in ev’rything, always
Keeping His teachings in your hearts near you.
Walk with Christ in ev’ry way.
Resist the devil. He will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and He’ll be near you.
Wash your hands you sinners
And double minded.
Weep and wail o’er sin.
With Christ, your new lives begin.