Sun a.m. AGCC 10/24/99


TEXT:     Eph. 4:1-5:5


There are some disturbing trends in Christianity today. A recent study found the following to be true: a. There are as many abortions inside the Church as outside the Church. b. There is only a 1% difference in gambling inside the Church as outside the Church. c. 23% of the general population divorces now, but the rate among Evangelicals is now 27% and among Fundamentalists it is 30%. Why is it that Christians are not that much different than the world? These statistics should alarm us! They suggest to us that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be a Christian. Too many people think that accepting Christ means fixing up a few areas of my life that need attention rather than seeing it as a total surrender to Christ, to completely create a new man or woman. We need a biblical understanding of salvation! ILLUS:London businessman Lindsay Clegg told the story of a warehouse property he was selling. The building had been empty for months and needed repairs. Vandals had damaged the doors, smashed the windows, and strewn trash around the interior. As he showed a prospective buyer the property, Clegg took pains to say that he would replace the broken windows, bring in a crew to correct any structural damage, and clean out the garbage. "Forget about the repairs," the buyer said. "When I buy this place, I'm going to build something completely different. I don't want the building; I want the site." Compared with the renovation God has in mind, our efforts to improve our own lives are as trivial as sweeping a warehouse slated for the wrecking ball. When we become God's, the old life is over (2 Cor. 5:17). He makes all things new. -- Ian L. Wilson, Barrie, Ontario. Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 3. To accept Christ means a total transformation, not just a partial fix up. PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that becoming a Christian means becoming a whole new person, one that reflects the very person of Christ, the old man is gone, the new man is alive. I. HIS/HER WALK      4:1-3,17-19; 5:1-3,5 A. New     4:1-3 1. Note that Paul does not call himself a "prisoner of Rome" in this first verse, but he does say he is a "prisoner FOR the Lord"! a. Paul does not see himself trapped by the world, but sees himself totally owned by Christ. b. How much freedom does a prisoner have? NONE! c. Paul's point is simple; he is not the man he was before, he is under Christ's control and not his own. 2. Paul asks the Ephesian Christians to "live a life worthy of the calling they had received." a. This means to actually live what they are! b. It is not possible to claim being a Christian and yet still live in a way that reflects the world! 3. Becoming a Christian means becoming a new person - not just fixing up a few rough edges in our old man, it is a radical transformation! ILLUS:I heard of such a miracle recently. The American Red Cross was gathering supplies, medicine, clothing, food and the like for the suffering people of Biafra. Inside one of the boxes that showed up at the collecting depot one day was a letter. It said, "We have recently been converted and because of our conversion we want to try to help. We won't ever need these again. Can you use them for something?" Inside the box were several Ku Klux Klan sheets. The sheets were cut down to strips and eventually used to bandage the wounds of black persons in Africa. It could hardly be more dramatic -- from symbols of hatred to bandages of love because of the new creation. Nothing else matters, says Paul. -- Maxie Dunnam, Commentary on Galatians -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 51. 4. Where our old nature made us hard, suspicious, proud, divisive, etc. - our new nature makes us humble, patient, kind, bearing one another's burdens, and gives us the ability to live in peace. a. The new man is nothing like the old man. b. Instead of the sinful flesh we now express the savior's fruit! B. Necessity     4:17-19; 5:1-3,5 1. To live differently than the world is NOT an OPTION! a. It is required to "die to self" when we receive Christ. b. It is no longer "my way", it is Christ's way. 2. We "crucify the flesh daily" now that we are in Christ: Gal 5:24 "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." 3. This sense of having the old man die means a new life must emerge. ILLUS: There are three marks of one who is crucified. One, he is facing in only one direction. Two, he can never turn back. And three, he no longer has any plans of his own. -- A. W. Tozer (1897-1963) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 9846. 4. Paul says in 4:17 "So I tell you this, and INSIST on it in the Lord, that you MUST no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking." a. To live a new life in Christ is not an option! b. Paul is not wishy washy about this. 5. Ironically, the world expects people to be different when they become Christians so failure to reveal a real change of life is even unacceptable to the world and not just to God. 6. A transformed life is a necessity! II. HIS/HER WORDS      4:15,29; 5:4 A. Noble     4:15 1. A new walk demands new talk! a. Our speech, our language, should change when we get saved. b. While the old patterns of our life may still exert themselves at times, they should show up less and less the more we walk with Christ. 2. We are judged by the world by what we say as well as how we walk. 3. The world really does want to hear something new besides the sinful life. ILLUS: We have too many men of science, too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. ... Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. -- Gen. Omar N. Bradley in a 1948 Armstice Day address. Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 4. 4. Christ gives us a new language. a. Interestingly enough, the disciples spoke in new tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance the Spirit used the tongue and language to express the presence of the Holy Spirit on those early disciples. b. The presence of Christ in our lives today should be reflected in our speech too! B. Negative     4:29; 5:4 1. Notice the emphasis given here by Paul about what we say as believers. a. Paul is rather practical in his directions here, the negative speech of this world which includes anything unwholesome (i.e. obscenities, foolish talk, coarse joking, etc.) is out of place for the Christian. b. The world uses this kind of speech to be negative, but the focus of the Christian life is positive. 2. Mature Christians don't use speech in these negative ways, as we mature in Christ our speech reflects the kind of things that build one another up, not tear one another down. ILLUS: I don't think God is interested in our success. He is interested in our maturity. -- Fred Smith, Leadership, Vol. 2, no. 3. 3. How would others judge your faith by how you speak? 4. Could your language alone give witness to Christ's supernaturally changing power in your life? III. HIS/HER WORKS      4:20-28,30-32 A. New     4:20-28 1. Paul's constant use of "PUT OFF THE OLD SELF PUT ON THE NEW" demonstrates a certain responsibility on our part. a. Paul gives a practical example here: b. As an example he mentions those who may have been thieves before, they must not steal any longer now that they are in Christ. 4:26 2. Our works will be very different from the works of the flesh even to the point where in Christ we could lay down our life for others. ILLUS: In A Book of Saints, Anne Gordon tells the story of Father Maximilian Kolbe, who was a prisoner at Auschwitz in August 1941. A prisoner escaped from the camp, and in reprisal, the Nazis ordered that ten prisoners had to die by starvation. Father Kolbe offered to take the place of one of the condemned men. The Nazis kept Kolbe in the starvation bunker for two weeks and then put him to death by lethal injection on August 14, 1941. Thirty years later a survivor of Auschwitz described the effect of Kolbe's action: "It was an enormous shock to the whole camp. We became aware that someone among us in this spiritual dark night of the soul was raising the standard of love on high. Someone unknown, like everyone else, tortured and bereft of name and social standing, went to a horrible death for the sake of someone not even related to him. "Therefore it is not true, we cried, that humanity is cast down and trampled in the mud, overcome by oppressors, and overwhelmed by hopelessness. Thousands of prisoners were convinced the true world continued to exist and that our torturers would not be able to destroy it. "To say that Father Kolbe died for us or for that person's family is too great a simplification. His death was the salvation of thousands. ... We were stunned by his act, which became for us a mighty explosion of light in the dark camp." -- Bill Norman, Markham, Ontario. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 2. 3. Instead of doing things that the world would expect, we do those things that the Lord would expect! a. This is often the area that will get the world's attention. b. Those sinful selfish things that are natural to the fallen nature of man do not command our lives any longer, we are new creatures in Christ and so we are free to now express our new man, our new nature! 4. It is evidence of a new life when we live in ways that deny the flesh. 5. We are to imitate the life of Christ if we are true believers. B. Necessity     4:30-32 1. A life that reflects Christ demonstrates the greatest evidence of a supernatural power in this universe. 2. The world will literally judge our union with God by the love we show others "by this shall all men know you are mine, that you love one another." Jn. 13:35 3. Anything less "grieves the Holy Spirit" because it is contrary to God's Spirit which now lives inside us as believers. 4. We are fortunately not alone in learning to live this new life, we have one another to encourage this new life to become a reality. a. This is part of the whole blessing of being a part of the body of Christ. b. We can help one another in love to grow more and more like Christ. c. What we can't do alone we can do together. ILLUS: Herman Ostry's barn floor was under 29 inches of water because of a rising creek. The Bruno, Nebraska, farmer invited a few friends to a barn raising. He needed to move his entire 17,000-pound barn to a new foundation more than 143 feet away. His son Mike devised a lattice work of steel tubing, and nailed, bolted, and welded it on the inside and the outside of the barn. Hundreds of handles were attached. After one practice lift, 344 volunteers slowly walked the barn up a slight incline, each supporting less than fifty pounds. In just three minutes, the barn was on its new foundation. The body of Christ can accomplish great things when we work together. -- Joseph F. Mlaker in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership. 5. In every possible way the new life in Christ is to be evident, both to the world and to the Church. 6. The only question left is, "does your life genuinely reflect Christ in every way?" a. Your walk b. Your words c. Your works 7. We cannot accept Christ and then remain the same person we were before we accepted Christ! CONCLUSION:    God demanded that Israel live differently from the pagan nations around them. It is not possible to be a Christian and live just like the world! The "new man" or "new woman" in Christ should no longer reflect the sinful nature but the savior's nature. Do others see the new you?