Transformation

IMG_20200510_191555_220Ephesians 4:17-19 ESV

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

In the verses prior to this we read about how the body of Christ needs to work together for the building up of the body to maturity in Christ, our Lord. And, we are cautioned against men in their deceitful scheming who would lead us to go after every wind of doctrine so that we live childishly, in self-indulgence, going after whatever our emotions and our flesh lead us to do.

And, then we have this reminder that our salvation from sin is not freedom to continue in sin without guilt, but it is freedom from slavery to sin, so that we no longer live like we did when we didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. We no longer walk in darkness, but now we walk in the light of Christ. And, we are no longer darkened in our understanding, following the teachings of men and the ways of our sinful flesh, apart from the life God has for us.

But many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ today are still darkened in their understanding, and they are still living separate from the life of God in Christ Jesus. For, they are following after a false god, and a false hope, and a false salvation, and a false gospel of men who are liars and deceivers, whose intention it is to get us to be tossed to a fro by every wind of doctrine.

This false gospel, and this false communion with God, has the appearance of being the real thing, though, for it is half true, but if half a lie, it is a lie. For, it comes from the darkness, not from the light of Christ, and it is under the control and the authority of the darkness, not under the authority of God. And, it is a mixture of light and darkness, of truth and deception, so it is tricking, and it is trapping many people in its lies, for it is a deceiving spirit.

So, whereas we are to be imitators of God and to become like God in his true righteousness and holiness, those who follow after this false gospel can only reflect darkness, for they are not in the light, for they haven’t come out of the darkness. They are still under the control of sin and Satan, for they have not been delivered from their slavery to sin, for they are being convinced that they can believe in Jesus and still live in sin.

For, when we believe in Jesus Christ, in truth, there is an exchange which takes place within us, which is of the Spirit of God, which is an exchange from the darkness to the light. But, this exchange of these men in their deceitful scheming is an exchange from darkness to a mixture of light and darkness, while still under the control of the darkness. But it is made to appear as though it is an exchange from darkness to light. But it is false, and so we need to test this deceptive spirit against the Word of Truth.

Ephesians 4:20-24 ESV

“But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Okay, so here we learn the truth. The truth that is in Christ Jesus is that faith in Jesus Christ involves us, by the Spirit, putting off our old self, which is full of corruption through deceitful desires. We die with Christ to sin, in other words. For, Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

We put away that former life. For, Jesus didn’t die just to forgive that former life, but he died to put it to death, so that we no longer live in it. And, the purpose of our salvation is not just to put sin to death, and it is not just to deliver us out of our bondage to sin, but it is to exchange our life in the darkness for a life in the light of Christ. It is to transform us, much like the process a caterpillar goes through when he is changed into a butterfly.

So, we put off our old life of sin, we are transformed of the Spirit of God in our minds and hearts, and now we put on Christ and his righteousness, in the power of God’s Spirit now living within us. We were in darkness. Now we are in the light. We were traveling one direction. Now we are going in the opposite direction. We become something else. We don’t remain like we were before, feeling like we are forgiven, and that heaven is our destiny.

And, this new self that we put on, which is in Christ Jesus, is patterned (created) after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So, this means we now walk in holiness, in purity, in honesty, and in obedience to our Lord Jesus, and we no longer walk according to our sinful flesh. We now live lives separate (unlike, different) from the world, not blended in with the world, which is a mixture of light and darkness.

Ephesians 4:25-29 ESV

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Okay, so now we have the practical application of the truth taught us in the Scriptures above. This is how it is to be lived out in our lives in all practicality, but still in the power of God and the working of his Holy Spirit within us, and not of our flesh. So, this is not about behavioral modification done in the flesh, of our own choosing, and in our own timing.

This is all still part of that exchange from darkness to light. So, we used to steal from others? We don’t just stop stealing, but we must become someone else. We must be ones who give to others. So, we used to be in the habit of telling lies? We don’t just stop telling lies, but now we become truth tellers as a matter of practice. And, all this is in the strength, wisdom and power of God. And, the list goes on and on and on.

Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

So, how do we grieve the Holy Spirit? We grieve him when we ignore the word of God, and when we ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and we choose to sin against God and to do what our flesh desires, instead. We grieve him when we live by our flesh and not by the Spirit, and when we decide what we are going to do and how we are going to live, rather than us living by God’s standards, in his power, and under his direction.

So, if we don’t want to grieve the Spirit of God, and if we want to live lives which are pleasing to God, which is what He requires of us, then we need to daily be putting the deeds of the flesh to death, by the Spirit, and we need to be walking in obedience to our Lord in following him in his ways, according to his truth.

For, if we don’t turn away from those sinful lifestyles, and if we don’t put on Christ and his righteousness, then we don’t have eternal life with God (Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6; Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8).

So, don’t be fooled by the lies which are telling you that salvation from sin is merely forgiveness of sin and the hope of heaven when you die. Believe the truth that is in Christ Jesus that we must die with Christ to sin and live with Christ to his righteousness if we want to have eternal life with God.

But this isn’t just about wanting to have eternal life with God, at least not just in the sense of going to heaven one day, but this is about having life in Christ Jesus free from slavery to sin, living to please God.

Footprints of Jesus

Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett

Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.

Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.

If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.

If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.

Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.

Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.

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