So what does this Spiritual maturity look like?
The Beatitudes give us some good examples:
- Spiritual Dependance on God.
- Sensitivity to sin it’s results.
- Humility before God & others.
- Consistent pursuit of God’s ways.
- Giving mercy to others as a lifestyle.
- An uncorrupted view of our world.
- Intentionally working for unity
- Being willing to take heat for following Christianity
- Standing up to hate and lies as one who belongs to Christ
These are standards of growth as a disciple of Christ… but how do we get there?
The Ephesian Church, like Midtown Church has people who are at various stages and places in their discipleship to Christ. So we all need guidance and help.
In this passage God gives us all SIX things to do Christ’s way NOT the World’s way. The motivation comes from recognising How God has treated us and we are to ‘Pay it Forward’ by growing spiritually as we obediently follow the biblical Christ Jesus.
Last Week V15 & 16:
Instead let us establish our lives on the truth of generous love, growing in every way according to our head; Christ; He fits his whole body together in unity, each part supporting the whole in a unique way so that the whole body develops spiritually from generous love.
- The truth of God’s generous love in Christ is our example (The Gospel)
- This Gospel unites us in oneness AND in interdependent individuality (gifts)
- We are commanded to mature together in Christ’s Ways
Because of this we have to be SET APART… In The World but not of The World
In this passage God gives us six things to do Christ’s way Not the world’s way.
17 Consequently, for this same purpose I make this declaration and solemn appeal to you in Christ’s name: Stop living like those who don’t care about God. 18 Their thinking is totally wrong about God, their entire mentality is shrouded in darkness, alienating them from the eternal life that God gives.
- This same purpose is: maturation of the body that occurs when members grow
- The way that happens is to follow Christ NOT the world (one or the other)
- You can’t do both at the same time (The Myth of the 3rd Kingdom)
- Here is where you don’t want to be: thinking wrongly about God / Christ
- When you don’t see God rightly EVERTYHING is affected (no illumination)
- That darkness keeps you estranged from ‘Real Life’ / Eternal Life
Their hardened hearts keep them willful ignorant of God. 19 They live without having to account for how they are owned by their sexual desires; habitually practicing all kinds of excessive, impure acts.
- It is a self perpetuating cycle: Hardness & pride keep you in the darkness
- When God is not your creator, and you are not accountable to Him: No Rules!
- If you are the standard of what is right or wrong you will be a slave to lust
- This speaks specifically of sexual things that are impure (God Has standards)
20 This is the opposite of discipleship in Christ! 21 If you live out what He teaches then you know He is the truth. 22 His teaching regarding your prior lifestyle is that it must be put away, with the corrupting and deluding influences of persistent lust.
- Christ’s Ways are NOT the world’s ways… no matter what you might feel
- Biblical discipleship to Christ cannot be practiced while living ‘just like everyone’
- What are the real teachings of Christ? DO YOU REALLY KNOW?
- What this Scripture says is that if you learn them and live them you will find out
- His teaching on spiritual transformation is clear: God makes you different!
- We must each address the influences that corrupt…the things that led to sin
- But it is not just behavior modification;
- God, by His Spirit and your surrender, changes your thinking and acting
23 Instead, surrender your state of mind to be renovated by God’s Spirit, 24 creating excellent character in the depths of your being that resembles His: righteousness and holiness emanating from pure truth.
- Rather than allow the world to drive how you think, let the Holy Spirit drive
- God is not meant to be your ‘Co-pilot’! Jesus take the wheel…and keep it!
- The only way to live following Christ is to have God ‘re-do’ your character
- This happens in obedience: ‘If you love me you will obey my commands’ ~ JC
- Maturity results from God doing a renovation of your mentality & character
- What does God doing a renovation of your thinking & character look like?
25 To this end, put away false spirituality, and declare divine truth together with your neighbors as part of the same body.
- Start by getting Jesus & HIS Gospel right based on the Scriptures (OT & NT)
- The only way to follow Christ is to do it His way: Scripture is the ‘Guidebook’
- Quit mixing other junk with your Christianity, let’s unify around Scripture!
- Declaring Divine Truth Together: A basic thing Jesus Christ’s Church does
- God wants us to do it together, ‘Body-Unity’ proves Christ’s Deity (JN 17)
- Francis Schaeffer called this ‘The Ultimate Apologetic’ A United Church Body
26 When you become angry do not sin and allow the day to end while you remain indignant. 27 Don’t give a place or opportunity to the devil.
- Next important thing in your doing things God: Resolve your anger now!
- I says it is OK to be angry, that is not sin. Christ was clearly described as angry
- The command is to not sin from your holding on to that anger
- We’re to keep short accounts; resolving conflict we have with other body parts
- We are to release what we are unable to resolve
- And we are to repent of where we have sinned in our anger
28 The one who steals must stop stealing, instead he should work hard with his own hands, producing something he can share with others who have need.
- Next up: Self Responsibility / Honestly doing your part, with what you have
- Stealing encompasses taking from others in all ways: emotion / time / things
- Christ followers are not to just make enough to live on but also extra to share
- The concept of a disciple is called to produce ‘Bread to Share’: spiritual food
29 Refrain from all impurity when you speak, say only what is spiritually encouraging to those who need to hear it.
- Next: Corrupt Communication
- This is about saying less (say only what is uplifting should limit our talking)
- And seeking to communicate spiritual hope, grace and love to encourage
- How do you know who needs spiritual encouragement?
30 Don’t work against the influence of God’s Spirit, who has personally sealed you as His and will one day fully redeem you.
- Don’t frustrate, vex, sidestep, work against God’s ‘Sanctification Process’
- God has placed HIS Spirit in you, eternally spiritually regenerating you!
- By His amazing grace He marks you as His possession
- He ‘Seals’ your eternity with HIM! The Indwelling H.S. is the down payment!
And when you believed in Christ, you were marked with His seal, the promised Holy Spirit. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance He promised and that He has purchased us to be His own people. Eph. 1:13b-14a
31 Intentionally remove these from your life: harshness, rage, hate, discord, and defamation which all partner with evil.
- The language speaks of persistent focus on doing somethings
- People who don’t care about God treat others with caustic disgust, & nastiness
- People who don’t care about God display extreme emotion to get their way
- People who don’t care about God hate openly, take pride in it
- People who don’t care about God intentionally seek to divide
- People who don’t care about God consistently slander those who oppose them
- All of these ‘attitudes’ or ‘lifestyles’ are entryways for the devil to come destroy
32 Instead, grow in the giving of grace to each other, practice merciful forgiveness to one another, the way God in Christ forgave you.
- The opposite of all the things listed is how God has treated YOU!
- Our motivation and example is Christ and His sacrificial death to give us life!
- Motivation, example and empowerment all come from God
If you belong to Christ you should grow up in Christ and you cannot do that without actually following the ways and words of the Biblical Christ! You must be set apart!
There is God’s way and there is the ‘World’s’ way…there is no 3rd choice! Scripture is the guidebook to God’s way.
The Biblical Jesus Christ taught that those who answer His call abandon their previous life and are ‘Born Again’; that means being transformed by God in your thinking and character to be like Christ.
6 things to do God’s way rather than the world’s way:
- Learn the Biblical Christ & His Biblical Gospel and declare it w/ other Saints
- Release, Resolve and Repent of anger daily
- Do your part to provide & share excess material & spiritual things for The Body
- Communicate based on God’s standards and use what you say to bless
- Do what you can to participate in God’s sanctification process (discipleship)
- Grow in graceful, merciful forgiveness: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness & Self Control
How much energy and intention do you put into trying to be sure you think correctly about God?
What specifically can you do to more fully cooperate with The Holy Spirit’s renovation of your mind and character?
How well do you recognize the corrupting influences of the world around you and intentionally work to rid yourself of those influences?
Which of these six things we are called to do God’s way are the biggest challenges for you? Have you specifically asked God to show you how to do things more His way?