Ephesians 5 Series #1

 

"WISDOM AND GOD'S WILL!

 

TEXT:         Eph. 5:15-17;  Gal. 6:10;  Col. 4:5; 1 Tim. 3:7;  Philip. 4:9

 

INTRO:       There is one thing that nearly all famous (good or bad!) people have in common, no matter what it was they became famous or successful in they had a set of fixed principles that they passionately built their lives on.  Some built no doubt on wrong principles ... some built on the right ones, but both groups tenaciously adhered to those principles with a passion.

 

i.e.  Famous:

a.   athletes

b.   authors

c.   statesmen

d.   preachers

e.   businessmen

f.    inventors etc.

 

This was no less true of the early church and the apostles, they had great success because of their tenacious adherence to Godly principles with a passion, a quality sometimes lacking today ... a passion for following through on right principles in our lifestyle no matter the culture we live in!

 

PROP. SENT:   Great events and great men and women in history were made during ages of GREAT CONVICTIONS followed with GREAT ACTION!  Today we live more in the age of GREAT OPINIONS with LITTLE ACTION!  God's Word teaches us to KNOW and DO His will, to take opportunities and accomplish His Will!

 

I.   WISDOM'S GIFTS    Eph. 5:15-17a;   Col. 4:5; 1 Tim. 3:7;   Gal. 6:10

 

A.   Minutes!    Eph.  5:15

1.   The first couple of sentences in the text suggest 2 things:

a.   "Be very careful" idea is be WISE.

b.   "How you live" idea is be DISCIPLINED.

c.   Some people are disciplined, but unwise ... no good!  (Rigid but unfocused life!)

d.   Some people are wise, but not disciplined ... no good! (Opinionated without action!)

e.   The idea is to be BOTH "wise" and "disciplined!"

2.   We are to be good stewards of "opportunities!"  "...making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."  Eph. 5:16

3.   Wisdom involves 3 things always:

a.   Right use of TIME!

b.   Right use of OPPORTUNITIES!

c.   Right use of VALUES!

 

ILLUS:       A waitress, a fine Christian woman, works in a restaurant.  The tax law states that tips received from customers should be declared as "taxable revenue."  But the Christian waitress begins to rationalize: "The others do not declare them; why should I?  If I do, I shall get them in trouble."  The element of benevolence enters this situation and a sinful action is justified as one of protection of fellow workers.  In reality, however, the non-declaration of tips, altogether or in part, is due to the fact that so much tax has to be paid.  What, then, does this Christian waitress think of doing?  Do not count the tips but declare a flat sum for each working day.  Her will hinders her from reporting her actual earnings.  The human will is the hardest horse to tame; it is the hardest part of our personality to subject to the will of God.  Sometimes we even want the will of God to appear as our own will. -- Source Unknown

 

4.   Time is something we waste or misuse a great deal ... we have more free time on our hand than any other generation that has ever lived!

a.   Yet those who lived many years ago sometimes did more for God than we do!

b.   We have the time and technology to do more than they did ... we need the passion they had, and the principles they had!

5.   God is real fair with everyone ... NO ONE has ever had more than 24 hours in a day, our priorities in life should reflect wisdom in how those hours are used.

 

B.   Moments!    Eph. 5:16;   Col. 4:5;   Gal. 6:10

1.   "Making the most of every opportunity"...

a.   We should be on guard for those creative moments of ministry!

b.   Too many times we miss a great opportunity because we just didn't feel up to it ... I'm sure the Apostle Paul in prison wasn't up to singing hymns at midnight after being scourged, but he discovered this was an opportunity to witness to a captive audience!

c.   Jesus on the cross bleeding and in great pain still utilized His opportunities to minister, time was of short duration here but He would not die until He had fulfilled all things.  He forgives sinners who don't know what they are doing, He puts his mother Mary in the care of John; He promises a thief paradise that same day ... He is thinking of others in His greatest moment of suffering.

d.   I wonder if we have developed so many excuses to ignore opportunities that we have become soft ... I wonder what Jesus and the Apostles would do if they lived in our days of freedom, technology, and travel?

2.   The idea in this verse suggests that God will create the opportunities for us, all we need to do is be ready to take advantage of them!

 

ILLUS:       You don't have vision just because you have an idea.  If you don't have risk, you probably just have an idea. -- Max De Pree, Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 3.

 

3.   The present and the future hold the promise of many opportunities ... let us be ready to respond!

 

C.   Morality    Eph. 5:17a;   1 Tim. 3:7

1.   "Therefore, do not be foolish" in the original Greek this word implies a "MORAL" FOOLISHNESS ... in other words; don't be unwise in the moral area of life,

a.   This is a real up-to-date verse!

b.   If there was ever a day in which God's people ought to be passionate over godly principles of morality it is today!

c.   While we need to compassionately minister to those living immoral lifestyles, we must not become politically correct just to become "accepted."

2.   Paul's use of the word "FOOLISH" here is NOT the one used normally for intellectual wisdom or knowledge; it implies "MORAL" ignorance.

a.   This implies more than just the area of sexual morality!

b.   It also means MORAL INTEGRITY!

 

ILLUS:       The late Dr. Wernher Von Braun once was asked what it would take for man to reach the moon, and he replied, "The will to do it."  This answer holds good in nearly every field of human endeavor.  In medicine, determination and persistence have paid off in spectacular breakthroughs in conquering diseases.  In transportation the dream of traveling around the world in a matter of hours has become a reality because the will to do so was strong.  "The will to do it!"  How vitally important this attitude is in Christianity!  If you really want to do God's will, you can, but you must will to do it.  This is true in so many areas of our lives. -- Source Unknown

 

c.   Honesty, ethical

d.   Consistent character

e.   By the way, this is really what the "belt of truth" means in Eph. 6:14 ... this was NOT the scriptures (that is the "sword of the Spirit").  The "belt of truth" meant our inner integrity, our moral compass. This was the inner garment worn by a soldier that was hidden as an undergarment ... all the pieces of armor were attached to it to hold them in place and allow the soldier to move freely.  Without the "belt of truth" we cannot support the other armor of God, nor move freely ... all the armor falls off without this "belt of truth" to attach to it.

f.    David meant the same thing when he said "truth in the inward parts" (KJV) in Psalm 51:6

g.   Our integrity is essential to be a real Christian!

3.   "Biblical morality" involves the entire area of character, not just the sexual.

a.   God's call on believers then is to be wise in the area of moral character!

b.   Too much disrespect for Christianity has already been created due to moral failures; both sexual and character wise, we need to be wise as believers in these areas of our lives!

c.   The world will not positively respond to frauds; to those who say one thing but live another.  Nor should they!

 

II.  WILL OF GOD    Eph. 5:17b;   Philip. 4:9

 

A.   Mental     Eph.  5:17b;    Philip.   4:9a

1.   The first part of God's will is simply educational, learning what His principles are!

a.   These are found in His Word ... the reason He gave us the written Word!

b.   This is what makes Bible study so important!  "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."  Rom. 10:17

c.   It is actually impossible to increase your faith without the Word of God!

(1.   Personal studies.

(2.   Corporate studies the church.

d.   We cannot afford to be Biblically illiterate in this day and age!

 

ILLUS:        You can learn more about human nature by reading the Bible than by living in New York. -- William Lyon Phelps, Christian Reader, Vol. 33, no. 2.

 

2.   The will of God is not without knowledge, it is not just a mystical thing!  It is not about walking around mystically waiting for Him to reveal it ... much of God's will is recorded in the pages of Scriptures, such lines in the Word like, "and this is the will of God concerning you" is found many times over! (or similar language)

a.   And such phrases usually talk about qualities, not mystical things!

b.   Such as 1 Th 5:18 "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  Being thankful in every situation is God's will ... you don't have to pray and ask God if it is His will to be thankful in difficult circumstances, in all circumstances we are to be thankful; and develop a thankful quality to life!  THIS IS GOD'S WILL!

c.   Paul told Timothy to "STUDY to show himself approved unto God!" 2 Tim. 2:15 (KJV)

d.   We are to use our brains in God's will as well as our spirit and body!

e.   We thus don't have to guess at much of God's will ... much of it is spelled out in the Bible; and most of these statements have to do with our character and values!

 

B.   Message    Philip.  4:9b

1.   Information however without understanding the message is useless!

a.   how many times did Jesus say to his disciples, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Matt. 17:17 and Mark 8:18 "Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don't you remember?"

 

ILLUS:       Never try to explain God until you have obeyed Him.  The only bit of God we understand is the bit we have obeyed. -- Oswald Chambers in Run Today's Race. Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 11.

 

b.   It is an old problem ... knowing without really understanding!  It can be a dangerous combination!

(1.   One can know how to make an atom bomb and if they don't under­stand its destructive capability it can be extremely dangerous to all!

(2.   You can know about germs in terms of information, but if you don't understand how to use that knowledge it may not help you much!

2.   Jesus taught in parables for this reason, some wanted information but weren't interested in understanding God's will -- so they didn't get far, those who understood however grasped great truths about the kingdom!

3.   Notice Paul encouraged the saints at Philippi to not only accept what they heard from him ... information, but what they also saw in him!

a.   Phil 4:9 "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me -- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Underlined for emphasis)  They could look at how he used it so they would understand what the information meant.

b.   Jesus made a similar statement to His disciples: Luke 8:21 "He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."

c.   These 3 stages are important:

(1.   Information

(2.   Understanding

(3.   Application

d.   We are not Biblical until we do all 3!

4.   Understanding vital principles as information is the second stage and opens the doors for action ... wise action!

5.   This is part of God's will, information -- and understanding it!

 

C.   Manifestation!     Philip. 4:9c

1.   The 3rd stage must also be applied ... APPLICATION!

a.   We are not ACCOMPLISHING God's will if we are not APPLYING the Biblical principles for believers.

b.   We can be smart in our knowledge of the Word, and be poor in application which really leaves us foolish!

2.   Notice in the verse to the Philippians Paul puts the finishing touches on this process when he says to them: "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, OR seen in me,  PUT IT INTO PRACTICE!" in other words: DO!

3.   The will of God is not being done if we only know the Word!

 

ILLUS:        Sir Astley Cooper, on visiting Paris, was asked by the chief surgeon how many times he had performed a certain wonderful feat of surgery.  He replied that he had performed the operation thirteen times.  "Ah, but, monsieur, I have done it one hundred and sixty times.  How many times did you save the life?" continued the curious Frenchman, after he had looked into the blank amazement of Sir Astley's face.  "I," said the Englishman, "saved eleven out of the thirteen.  How many did you save out of one hundred and sixty?"  "Ah, monsieur, I lost them all, but the operation was very brilliant!"  Of how many popular ministries might the same verdict be given! Souls are not saved, but the preaching is very brilliant.  Thousands are attracted and operated on by the rhetorician's art, but what if he should have to say of his admirers, "I lost them all, but the sermons were very brilliant!" -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)

 

4.   Notice then the connection between WISDOM AND THE WILL OF GOD?

a.   The go together!

b.   They cannot be separated!

c.   We need to be wise, which means doing the will of God as we study, understand, and apply it ... looking all the time for opportunities and taking them!

d.   NOTE: the word for "MAKING THE MOST" in Ephesians 5:16 was a merchant term meaning literally to "BUY UP THE OPPORTUNITY," in other words, MAKE AN INVESTMENT OF YOUR OWN RESOURCES AND TIME!

5.   Get behind wise principles and passionately adhere to them ... this is what makes productive and successful (by God's standards) Christians!

6.   Let this year be the best year in your Christian walk!

 

CONCLUSION:    Wisdom and the Will of God go together!  The wisdom to know His will, and the passion to DO it!  Every new day has new possibilities to it, there are always opportunities!  So, don't ignore them or you may miss God's will today!  Be wise ... and DO God's will!