Ephesians 4:17-24 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.
“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.”
A False Gospel Being Taught
I don’t know how many of you, my readers, are paying attention to the demise of the gospel of Jesus Christ that has taken place here in America, but the gospel has been, not just diluted, but nearly obliterated. I am not saying the message has changed, but that people have changed the message to suit their flesh. And the lies are what are being spread.
The vast majority are teaching a gospel which requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ/God, and no submission to Christ as Lord. And, they have diluted the word “believe” to mean nothing, really, for it is a mere formality in order to get what they believe is their ticket into heaven while they ignore the God of heaven while they are on the earth.
But it isn’t just that they have bought into a cheapened version of the gospel of salvation from sin, but that they are being taught to attack the true gospel and to call it “works-based salvation” and “legalism” and “trying to earn your own salvation.” So, they are calling good evil and evil good. And the purpose is to discourage people from believing the true gospel.
So, since so many are teaching a cheap grace gospel, and they are leading people straight to hell while promising them heaven, for the cheap grace delivers no one from their sin, it is critical that we know what the true gospel teaches and that we who believe in Jesus are teaching the true gospel so that we are not also sending people to hell while promising them heaven.
The True Gospel Message
In Ephesians 4 we read that we, as believers in Jesus, are not supposed to live like unbelievers. We are not supposed to live like we did before we believed in Jesus. A transformation of our hearts and minds should have taken place whereby we forsook our lives of sin to be made new in Jesus so that we now are being conformed to the likeness of Christ in true righteousness and holiness. This is the truth in Jesus (Eph 4:17-24).
For, Jesus said that if any of us would come after him, we must deny self, and take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we don’t, and if we choose to hold on to our old lives of sin, then we are going to forfeit our lives for eternity. But if we lose our lives, for his sake, we will be saved, and we will have eternal life with God (Lu 9:23-26).
And, in Romans 8 we have a similar message. Paul said that God, by sending Jesus in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:3-4).
Notice with me that it doesn’t say, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who believe in Jesus.” And I am not contrasting belief here with walking according to the Spirit, for they are one and the same. But believing in Jesus means walking according to the Spirit, so if we are not doing that, we are not believing in Jesus.
For, it goes on to say that if we live (walk) according to the flesh we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we will live (Rom 8:12-14).
But that is not the only Scripture which talks about our walks. In John 8:12 we read that those who follow (obey) Jesus will not walk in the darkness but will have the light of life. And we read in Galatians 5 that if we walk by the Spirit that we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16).
And then in 1 John 1 we read that if we say we have fellowship with God while we walk in the darkness (sin), we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another (whose fellowship is also with Christ), and the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 Jn 1:5-9).
We read in John 10:27-30 that Jesus’ sheep listen to him and they follow (obey) him, and Jesus gives them eternal life and they can’t be snatched out of his hands. And we read in 2 Co 5:15 that Jesus died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
We also read in Romans 6:16 that we are slaves of the one whom we obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness. And we read in 1 Jn 2:3-6 that if we say that we know God, but we are not keeping (obeying) his commandments, that we are liars.
And then we have several passages of Scripture which let us know that if we walk (live in, practice) sin (of many kinds) that we will not inherit the kingdom of God. We will not have eternal life with God if we live (walk) in sin (Gal 5:16-24; Eph 5:3-6; 1 Co 6:9-10; Col 3:5-11; Heb 10:26-31).
Then we have multiple passages of Scripture which describe our salvation, not as a one-time event in our lives, but as something that is ongoing and that won’t be complete until Jesus returns for us. Thus, these Scriptures also teach that we must continue in that faith until the very end if we want to have eternal life with God (Col 1:21-23; Jn 8:31-32; 1 Co 15:2, etc.).
We also have the passage of Scripture which instructs us that the grace of God which brings salvation is training us to say “No!” to ungodliness and fleshly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit 2:11-14).
Grace is Not Freedom to Sin
So, God’s grace to us is not free license to continue living in sin, only now without guilt. We must die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness if we want to have eternal life with God. We must follow Jesus in obedience if we don’t want to be snatched out of his hands, too.
We are not saved from our sins so that we can go on living in sin. Jesus died to deliver us from our slavery to sin and to empower us to live holy and godly lives, pleasing to him. We are to be for His praise and glory, to live for him and not for ourselves. And those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24).
Whatever we sow, we are going to also reap. So, if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction (decay, death). But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. We are all going to be judged by what we do (Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10).
So, if we want to have the hope of eternal life with God, we need to repent, obey, and submit to Jesus as Lord of our lives, and follow his leading.
Jesus, Lead Me
An Original Work / July 22, 2011
Jesus, lead me all the way.
Be my hope and be my stay.
Gently lead me where I should go,
So Your Spirit, I want to know.
Open up my heart to You.
Fill me with Your love and truth.
Make my heart want to obey.
Be my Lord today. Gently lead always.
Jesus, lover of my soul,
Cleanse my heart, and make me whole;
Be transformed in my heart today,
As I turn from my sin and pray.
Make Your will known to my heart.
May I not from You depart.
How I long to hear You now,
As I humbly bow. Jesus, hear me now.