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Our Adversary, Our Armor, Our Obligations
New Relationships with Each Other Because of Our Relationship with Him
God's Will and Way for His Glory and Your Good in Marriage
The Ruling Principle for All Relationships
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 2
Be Filled - Not Fooled, part 1
How Do You Define Love? The Divine Way or the Deceiver's Way?
Walking in the Light: What it Looks Like and Why We Do It
A New Life Resolution for a New Year
Lord, we thank you that you love us the way you do, and you have modeled for us what we ought to look like, and you even enable us then to look like you, which is also amazing. I pray, Father, that we would be encouraged tonight as we study your Word, that we would go out of here differently because of the fact that we came in here humbly before your Word. Change us, God. Create in us a clean heart. Take this hard, selfish heart and create a new one. In Jesus' name, amen.
We are working our way through Ephesians. Turn to Ephesians 5. Let me give you a little review of what we've done. Ephesians 1 basically says this. You are a chosen son of the great, holy, and loving God of all creation. There is only one God. He makes that evident, and he says, "I have chosen you to be my son."
Ephesians 2 basically says this. You were a condemned son of the deceiving one who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. You're a chosen son, and what you are chosen out of is a condemned race, a condemned family, and you have now been brought out of that family which is destined for destruction, and you've been brought into a family which is destined to forever reign. Ephesians 3 says you have been chosen for a purpose.
Reviewing now, chapter 1, you were a chosen son. Chapter 2, you were a chosen son from a condemned race. Chapter 3, you were chosen for a purpose. Ephesians 4, walk according to that purpose for which you were chosen. In other words, if you are now God's son, act like it. As a son, grow up to act like your new daddy. Stop acting like your old daddy, that condemned daddy. It trains you to work in a selfish way and live in a way that was stealing, killing, and destroying. If not literally, in all your subtle efforts.
So chapter 4 was saying, "That's not who you are anymore. Act like you should act. Act like the purpose for which you were chosen to act." Ephesians 5 is basically this. It's a continuation of chapter 4, but it's this. Grow up and then do exactly as your daddy has done. Chapter 4, as I said, says, "Act like God's child," and chapter 5 is where it starts to say, "Grow up. Here are some really tough areas that you ought to begin now as you grow up to act like God acts. Not as a child in the faith anymore and certainly not as a child of the deceiving one."
Let me set something up in contrast for you here. Look at the very end of chapter 4 of Ephesians. If you remember, from verses 25 through 32, there is a set of five different things that he says, Don't do this. Do this because of this." We'll take verse 25 as an example. "Don't lie. Do speak truth and the reason is, you are all members of one another, and don't cause division."
He comes out of that, and he says, "You ought to be angry in an appropriate way, but don't be so angry that it causes you to act in a sinful way." Why? He says, "Because you'll give the Devil an opportunity." He doesn't want to see that happen. He goes through and sets all that out, and he ends with one thing. Look down in verse 31. It's a summary of them.
"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." Here comes the positive. "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other…" Why? "…just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
Chapter 5 says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children…" That word imitators is the word which we get mimic from. Mimic God. You ought to treat people the way God has treated you. Now, watch this. "…and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
Here's what he says. You ought to love the way that God loves. Do not love the way your other daddy used to love. He loved in a counterfeit way. He loved in a false way. He used false things to make people think he cared. Don't you do that. So he states in the positive, as we start chapter 5, the way you ought to act. Then he comes back, and he's going to now go, in verse 3, what you should not do. This is the counterfeit love.
What I'm going to do next week is simply this. I'm going to talk to you about two things: God and sex. Some people, frankly, don't think those two things go together. I want to tell you next week why God cares so much about sex. I want to hopefully give you not a theology on sex but a proper view on sex and what sex can really be. Sex is a very powerful thing. I think it speaks of some of the majesty of God like nothing else he's given us. So next week we're going talk about God and sex, and we're going to start with verse 3.
He's going to show you right there that a lot of people use sex in an inappropriate way. What they do is they take one of God's greatest gifts, and they use it in one of the most abusive ways. Instead of sharing what God intended for us that we should share through sex, we end up sharing what our deceiving father, our old father, and our old master would have us do with sex.
Instead of bringing about closeness and nearness, expressing commitment and care and love as the way it's described in the Bible, the world uses sex not to bring about closeness but separation, not to bring about intimacy but all kinds of fears, not to bring about commitment but just pleasure. So what I want to do next week is talk about God and sex.
Next week is the week to bring your friends if you have those who are always saying, "What's the Christian's hang-up with sex?" We're going to tell them that we're not hung up on sex. We're going to share with them and you, from Ephesians and other places, God's perspective on sex, and why it is such a big deal, and why we can't act like it's not there. I'll give you a little bit of that tonight, but we'll focus a whole week on it next week.
Look what it says. "But do not let…" We're just following that pattern of do not do this; do this because of this. See if you can catch it. "But do not let immorality or any impurity…" Those two words together cover pretty much every kind of sexual fantasy, perversion, and participation that is not God's intended use of it you could possibly create. The word for impurity picks up everything that the word for immorality (which is porneia) doesn't quite cover; he covers it with the second word.
So don't ever use sex in an inappropriate way. Don't ever take this great gift and use it in a way that's going to hurt people. Why? Because you're God's people. God wants to love people, and you're supposed to mimic God. So don't use this gift to hurt. I'll say this now. You'll hear me say it next week. Sex is one of God's greatest gifts to man. It's like a chainsaw to a lumberjack.
A chainsaw to a lumberjack is a tremendous thing as long as he uses it for what it should be used for. If you try and floss your teeth with a chainsaw, you have a major problem. If you give a chainsaw to a child who wants to be a lumberjack, you have major problems. Basically, what verse 3 is saying is this.
Don't take this great thing which God gave you as an instrument to use to express godly love to another person and use it for destruction. Why? You are no longer a son of the one who says he came to kill, steal, and destroy. You are now a son of one who came not to kill but to save, not to steal but to give, and not to destroy but give everlasting life. So use the things God gave you for giving everlasting significance and love to a person and to save them from the pain that misuse of this gift can give them.
Now watch this. He says not only immorality or impurity, but then he goes and takes those two which are one class, and he says, "…or greed…" Don't do this or greed. "…or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints…" That's going to be his whole argument. You're a chosen son. You were chosen from a condemned family. You were chosen for a purpose. Begin to act like your dad (chapter 4). Now in chapter 5, look exactly like your daddy. Mimic him. Your daddy is not a covetous daddy. He is not a greedy daddy. He is a giving daddy.
I'll tell you this. If you'll remember, immorality and impurity represent a class of every kind of sexual impropriety we could mention. All they are is an expression of greed in the sexual realm. What you're doing when you use sex the way you want to use it is you're saying, "I see something that I want."
The word for greed is the same word for covet. Some of your Bibles probably say, "…or covetousness be named among you, as is proper for a child of God." Don't be a covetous person. God doesn't covet, and you're supposed to be like God. You're supposed to love the way God loves. Not in the way that leaves wounds and scars, in a way that heals scars.
He says, "Don't let these things be named among you." Greed as the overall class, and then he picks out one specifically. We're going to spend a whole week on it. Sex,which is a way that a lot of people covet and reach out and take things that aren't theirs and use it for their own, and they destroy people in the process. He's saying, "You are not of a race of destroyers. You are God's sons, not Godzillas."
There's a lot of God's children who are still walking around destroying cities. I'll repeat a lot of this next week, maybe. Girls, I need to tell you. There are still men in this room who are desperately seeking what it looks like to be God's son, who are desperately looking to live in a way that would make you believe they are God's son, but they're not acting like God's son when they're alone with women. They're acting like Godzillas, and they're destroying women left and right in this congregation.
When we find out about it, we try and help you. We find out right away if they really are one of God's sons who are out of control and doesn't know what they're doing and needs some help, or if they're really a Godzilla. You know they're a Godzilla when they don't turn for help. But when they turn and leave your little domain… I'll leave Japan, and I'll go over here and destroy another nation.
That's one of the problems we have with the way churches are set up in Dallas. Guys, I'm using you as an example, but be smart enough to know there are girls who struggle in the same arena. Married folks, know this. You're not separate from this struggle in your own life. There are married guys in this church who I've been around. I've watched the way they've treated other men's wives. It's totally inappropriate. I've had conversations with a few them about it. "It's not right to touch my wife that way. I'd appreciate if you didn't do it again. That's mine to touch, not yours."
You see a guy who turns and who runs and often who will leave the body and not come back and pop their little head up over there at Prestonwood or at Park Cities Baptist or Park Cities Presbyterian or Fellowship Bible or Fellowship Los Colinas until somebody there finds out they're a Godzilla. Then they'll go somewhere else. By the time they make the rounds again, it's three years, the singles pastor is gone and so is half the singles class, and they can make their way through it again. Godzillas can forever be Godzillas.
So be wise. Just because somebody is wearing a sheep exterior, it doesn't mean they have a sheep's heart. Wolves have been known to disguise themselves in sheep's clothing. Smart ones do. My question tonight is…Are you God's son, or are you a Godzilla? What he's saying is, "Don't be a greedy person. That's a Godzilla. Be God's son."
So look at verse 4. This can be such a misunderstood verse. "… and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks." This verse scared me the first time I read it as a Christian. I thought, "That is exactly my problem with Christians. They are boring and can't have any fun." Let's be honest.
I struggled when I first read this. I thought, "Uh oh. I read it. Dagnabbit. I'm accountable to it." Does that mean that I can never laugh again when it says silly talk? Let's take them one at a time. By the way, be encouraged it says coarse jesting, not court jesting. If it did, I could not be your pastor. A lot of people think it does. They think it says, "No court jesting." It doesn't say no court jesting. Christians ought to laugh. We ought to have some fun. We ought to be the first people who laugh, because we have something to be really happy about.
Let's take them one a time though. "…and there must be no filthiness and silly talk…" That filthiness goes with the word talk as well. The idea is there should be no obscene language that should come from our mouth. That seems kind of obvious. We don't really have a hard time with that. God doesn't want us to talk in a shameless way. You would never have heard Christ hanging out with Peter, James and John saying, "Hey did you catch the new issue of Penthouse that came out? Did you read that Forum? Let me tell you about it." To even think it is blasphemous, isn't it?
You would've never heard Christ tell some of the jokes that are told nowadays on Saturday Night Live. You never would've heard him say some of the things that are said week in and week out on Seinfeld or on Friends. I'm not saying you can't watch those things. I'm just telling you there are certain things which, as a Christian, are inappropriate for your mouth. You have a mouth that is supposed to give life. You do not have a mouth that is supposed to speak error and speak about filthy things.
If you have a question as to whether or not something is filthy, check it out with a few of your friends. Go, "What do you think? Is this filthy?" Spend some time in God's Word. Figure it out. I'll give you a way to do that, in fact, a little bit later. He tells you how to do it. We're not to have anything that's unclean or shameful or obscene that comes from our mouth. So we can live with that one. I can go, "I can work towards that."
It doesn't mean that I'll never do it, but it should mean that that ought to be what we're working towards. As we grow up and mimic God, God never expresses an obscene word, not once. Do you know one of the most amazing things about Jesus to me? He never had to say two words. I think they're my middle name, by the way. He never had to say, "I'm sorry."
I introduce myself a lot. I go, "Hi. I'm Todd 'I'm sorry' Wagner. This is my wife, Alex 'That's okay' Wagner." But Christ never ever had to say, "I'm sorry," for something he said that was offensive, unclean, or obscene. Wouldn't that be nice to have on your resume? It's something that we ought to have to begin to have true of us as we meditate on God's Word.
Do you know what's interesting? When you look at the words of Christ, one out of every 10 times he spoke in this New Testament, he quoted the Old Testament. One of the things that was happening to him… It says in Joshua 1:8, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it…"
See, if you're meditating on God's Word, that's what's going to come out of your mouth. The reason a lot of times you hear us say things that are inappropriate is because it's our heart. God's not concerned, by the way, with your mouth. That is not his issue. He's not even concerned with your hands (what you do). He knows, though, what the hands do are an indication of the heart. It is a window to the soul.
The mouth is certainly that. The reason you want to watch your mouth is because when you start to say obscene things, people go, "You've got an obscene heart." You go, "Uh oh, I was supposed to get a new heart when I trusted Christ." People will begin to think one of two things. You're either not his disciple, or he doesn't make disciples. One of the reasons your mouth is to be cleansed is so that people know you're different. It isn't normal to not have a filthy mouth. You don't believe me? Go to a business meeting.
Look at the next thing. Silly talk. Silly talk can easily be understood as saying something that's funny. This is not idle chatter, and this is not a talk that is just kind of funny. I think God wants us to laugh. I also believe if you hung out with Peter, James, John, and Jesus, you'd have heard Jesus cut it up every now and then. I think he had a tremendous wit.
There's a book by Elton Trueblood called The Humor of Christ. What he does is he finds humor in things that I personally didn't think were that funny when I read them. The point is it's just neat. How many times do you see a picture of Jesus, and it looks like he just ate some really bad cooking over at Peter's mom's house? He looks tepid, like he didn't get much sleep. When he did sleep, it was on something that was hard and uncomfortable. I'd love to see a picture, and I have a couple of them, of Jesus smiling. I believe our Christ was a happy God. I believe our God is a happy God, a joyful God.
I'll give you the Greek word for silly talk. It's mōrologia.It's made up of two words. The first one is mōros. Can you think of a word in our English language that sounds like mōros? "You bunch of mōroses. You moron." You ever heard that one? Mōros is the word in the Greek for fool. Legō is a verb for talk or speak. This word here, silly talk, is a compound of those two words: fool and word or fool and speech. It is fool's talk.
How does a fool talk? When you look at what the Bible says about a fool… In fact, there was a family that I knew who could say any filthy thing they wanted in their house, but they could not say "fool." If they called one of their brothers or sisters a fool, you would've thought judgment day had come. It was the day of the Lord. Mom came racing out of the kitchen. I don't know how she even heard. We'd sometimes test her. Go down in the basement and whisper "fool." She'd hear it and come racing down.
But seriously, they couldn't say, "fool," because their mom believed (she read her Scriptures) that a fool was the most awful thing you could be biblically, and she's right. It says, "Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him." That's the only thing in the Scripture that ever says there might be somebody worse off than a fool. A fool is somebody who rejects the wisdom of God.
Foolish talk, which is a better translation than silly talk, is simply this. You're not to talk like a fool would talk; one who has rejected the wisdom of God. You don't lack wisdom in your speech. You don't reject truth when you talk. Why? You have a personal relationship with truth. You have an inside loop with truth. When you speak, jewels ought to drip from your mouth. It ought to be apples of God on settings of silver.
What you have are not just your own thoughts but the thoughts of the Almighty. You're not, like Plato said, stuck to the best opinions of men, hopelessly set adrift in the sea until a more sure word from God comes along. You have the more sure word of God. So no fool's talk and no crass, rebellious, anti-God speech. That's what it means when it says silly talk.
It's a little bit of a relief. You can tell jokes. I think we ought to tell more of them. I think you ought to know a few of them. I think you ought to share them with people and lighten their burden sometimes. It goes on from there.
Now it says ho coarse jesting. Here's another one. This is a good one. Coarse jesting means this. It's a Greek word made up of two words as well. One is eu,and the other is tropē. Eu isthe word well. Remember when we talked about, "The Lord is going to be blessed," and the word for blessed is eulogeō,which is made up of well and word.
When you see blessed in Scripture, it means to speak well of. That's why it's always so funny people say, "Will somebody bless the food?" Sure. "Those are lovely green beans. I love the way they're sprinkled with salt. Nice pepper there. I'd like to bless that food over there. That's a lovely piece of corn. Did you shuck that yourself, miss? Very nice." It's so funny. Have you ever done this? You prayed for your food, and somebody goes, "You blessed everything but the food."
Here's a sidetrack pet peeve. Let me do it. When we pray over food, you don't pray for the food. You're taking a moment to remind yourself the reason you get to go to Shoney's and eat the breakfast buffet is not because you're some genius on the stock market who's so loaded you can eat what you want, whenever you want, wherever you want. It's because you're humble enough to know if God wanted to put you in a desert and starve you to death, he could do it tomorrow, and he hasn't done it.
That food that's before you is a reminder of his goodness and love for you. Ultimately, it should point you back to his body (his bread) and his blood (his wine). Every time I have a meal, it reminds me of God's provision for me, both eternally in Christ and daily (my daily bread).
So eulogeō is to bless, but eutrapelia here is well, and then the word for tropē is to turn. Coarse jesting is a compound of those two words. It is something which turns well. Don't have speech which easily turns. Let me give you an example of this. I was watching a documentary this week on Billy Graham on A&E. I love the A&E channel when they do their biographies.
They were doing one on Billy Graham, and they were talking about his relationships with the presidents. One specifically was his relationship with Richard Nixon. It talked about how Graham was just a vehement supporter of Nixon. Even when the Watergate scandal broke, Graham never, ever left the side of his friend and always was supportive of him.
The guy said when Graham actually heard the tapes, and he heard the way Nixon spoke and the foul language he used in those tapes, they said it shook Graham to his core. To Graham's credit, he never spoke evil of Nixon. He never spoke evil of the king. He respected the office. He always stuck dear to his friend. Do you want to know why Billy Graham did that? I'll tell you why. Read Ephesians 4:31-32.
I believe he had some personal conversations with Nixon, but I also believe he offered him forgiveness and a chance to reconcile with him as a friend and certainly with his God. Graham has never, ever disavowed his love for Richard Nixon and his passionate relationship with him. But it said it shook Graham to the core when he heard the terms and the language Nixon used on those tapes. What Nixon did is he had coarse jesting. Coarse jesting is literally speech that turned well. When he was with Billy Graham, he spoke one way. When he was with Colson and G. Gordon Liddy and all the men and the boys, he spoke another way.
Do you know anybody like that? I have a very good friend who's involved at a very high level with sports. When I'm with this friend, we have great conversations. I mean heart-to-heart talks about deeply spiritual things. There have been a handful of times when I've been with this friend in locker rooms and professional arenas. I've listened to this friend, and his language was so different, it was unbelievable.
We were driving home later after the game, and I was encouraging him for the way he performed and all that stuff. I said, "Can I ask you a question? When you were having a conversation with those guys, and you said some of those things, how do you think it matches up with the times you're really sharing your heart with them about spiritual things?" He goes, "What are you talking about?"
I said, "Well, boy, when you said this, and you used those words…" He said, "I didn't say that." I go, "Oh yeah, you did. In fact, you didn't say it once. You said it about six or seven times." A lot of times, we don't even know it when our language is one way here, and it turns quickly somewhere else. Do you know anybody like that?
I'll give you another example. It doesn't have to just be cuss words or filthy talk that you would never use in church, but you'd use somewhere else. The Scriptures tell you to be consistent. It could also be like Eddie Haskell. Eddie Haskell is a guy who turned well. You never heard him cuss when he was with Beaver and Wally, but he was a slanderous, conniving, deceitful little monger. When he was around Ward and June, that brother spoke love and peace and kindness.
The Scripture says, "Whether your cussing or not, don't be an Eddie Haskell." You ought to be alone what you are when you're in public. You ought to be with your family what you are when you're down at Lower Greenville. It doesn't matter. Is your speech always the same, or does it turn quickly?
The Scripture is saying, "Don't be vulgar. Don't speak like a fool and reject God's wisdom and say things that are not true biblically. Third, don't say one thing one place and say something else another way." Let me tell you something else that you can do with this idea here, this eutrapelia. It also has to do with the idea of wit.
The witty person really has a challenge because they can take everything that somebody says and turn it quickly into an opportunity to jab them. Or they can take everything that somebody says and turn it into an opportunity to get a laugh with a sexual innuendo. Do you know anybody like that? That no matter what somebody says, they can go, "Well, hey, hey," and they turn every conversation in a perverted way? That's what this verse is saying you shouldn't do.
Some of you guys are extremely quick-witted. Some of you girls are brilliant with your mind. Make sure you don't use your wit as an opportunity to tear people down or to take their mind and channel it back towards their old father that is a deceitful killer and destroyer. Be encouraged. This doesn't mean Christians cannot have fun. It doesn't mean we shouldn't laugh and tell good stories. It doesn't mean we can't have a light-hearted laugh with each other.
It means you do not speak lies. It means you do not contradict God's Word. It means you have to know it, so you don't contradict it. It means you're not going to take advantage of your wit to turn a conversation in a way that would damage another person, or you'll act one way in one place and another way in another.
So it says this then. "For this you know with certainty…" Apparently, Paul spent a lot of time talking about this with his people. "…that no immoral or impure person or covetous man…" Do you ever see those three words together anywhere else in Scripture? Impure, immoral, and greed, which also can be discussed as covetous. How about back there in verse 3? The other reason he's saying this is right here. "… who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."
We have to talk about this. Every single person in this room at some point has expressed their life in greed or has probably done some acts that could be classified as immoral or certainly impure. So what's it mean? Who isn't going to be a part of the kingdom of God? The key phrase in this little deal right here is that little section where it says, "…who is an idolater…"
What is an idolater? An idolater is somebody who chooses to love something more than he chooses to love God. An idolater is somebody who chooses to worship something instead of choosing to worship Jesus Christ or to worship God.
A person who is immoral, impure, and greedy, who, as a standard for the way they operate, is someone who says, "I don't really care what I'm going to do. I'm going to go out, and I'm going to please me. I'm going to enthrone myself. I will do whatever immoral act I have to do for myself. I will do it consistently and often, and it will be the pattern of my life. I will be greedy. If I see something, and I want it, I'll lie, I'll steal, I'll cheat. I'll do whatever I need to do and not end up in jail to get what I want."
The person who lives that way, who elevates the desires of self over the desire of God has an idol in their life, is a person who has his or herself on the throne and not Jesus Christ. There is not a Christian in this room who is sinless. So what Ephesians is saying is you ought to have a bunch of people in this room who sin less.
Let me say that again. There is not a single person in this room who is sinless. God sees us that way in Christ. But the way we live now because we have a new dad who's given us a new heart that motivates our new hands, we ought to then sin less. If you're not sinning less, it might be because you don't have a new heart because you never got a new God who could change your old heart. You might still be exactly who you pretend to not be.
Turn with me 1 John. I'll show you another place this same idea is expressed. It is the person who consistently chooses to worship self or anything else more than Christ, who is not a child of God. Let me show you. Look at 1 John 3. Jump down there to verse 7. It says, "Little children, let no one deceive you." You'll find those same words are going to appear here in a minute in Ephesians 5. "The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous." In other words, the one who acts this way is acting this way because it's who he is.
Verse 8, "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning." That's all he can do. He knows nothing else. He sometimes looks like a sheep when he's doing it, but he is a wolf. "The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil." If the Son of God has appeared in your life, he should've destroyed what Satan put there, which is a fallen heart.
It says this in 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." There's a new heart there because there's a new God reigning. You are a new son, part of a new family. That new family acts like this. So look at verse 9. "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
Now, wait a minute. You go, "He cannot sin?" Read it in context. He just got through saying, "Practices. Practices. Practices." It's completely appropriate to say he cannot continually practice sin. The greatest assurance I have that I'm a Christian is that when I sin, I hate it. I sin. It happens. You don't believe me? Come stay with my family for 24 hours. You'll see it.
I didn't use to hate it. I used to hate somebody who was bothered when I did it, and I'd hate them because they made my life uncomfortable because they didn't like the way I acted. I liked the way I acted. If they didn't like it, stick it. That's what I hated about sin. It made people around me not do what I wanted them to do. So I'd just leave them, one after another.
On Tuesday night, I was with some friends. This is the truth. We were talking about transparency, and we were talking about things that people can do that will help other people be more transparent. We just got through saying, "You can listen. You can hear them out. You cannot cut them short." I think I shared it. And then, a friend of mine's wife starts to share something that wasn't right. I don't know where she was going with it, but it was taking a place that I think could've gotten us off the path.
Five to ten seconds later, I cut her off. I go, "I really disagree with that. I have to cut you short." Boy, you saw that little heart go shut. I explained what she'd just said and what was wrong with it. I started to share, and everybody's head was nodding and going, "Todd, you're exactly right." Meanwhile, I have tears in the eyes of a good friend.
I thought to myself, "What an idiot." I stopped, and I said to her specifically, "You have to forgive me. What I just did was dead wrong. It was exactly what I just said we shouldn't do if we're going to be transparent. Forgive me." We all laughed about it, but I felt like a heel. I didn't use to feel like a heel. I used to hate people that it bothered them that I'd act like I wanted to act whenever I wanted to act that way.
I can't continually practice sin anymore. My heart has been changed. Am I capable of sin? Absolutely. I really don't think I'm capable of getting in a spiral I'll never come out of. The Scriptures tell me I am if God's hand of grace comes off me. I do believe there is a sin that leads unto death, but it's not been the pattern of my life for the last 15 years. When I sin, if somebody confronts me with it, I'll get strong at first, but eventually, shortly, my heart with soften. That is the greatest assurance I have that I'm a believer.
If you have somebody who when you confront them when they're acting like a Godzilla they say, "Stick it. That's your problem. Build stronger buildings. I'm coming through. I'm not a Godzilla, I'm God's son," I don't believe the Scriptures gives you the confidence that you can give them assurance.
You can say, "Oh, yes. The Scripture says all that call upon the name of the Lord will indeed be saved, but the Scriptures also say anybody who practices like a Godzilla has a hard time convincing everybody that they're God's son." It doesn't mean God's going to call you up when they die and say, "Hey, listen. So-and-so just came to heaven. Was he a Godzilla or God's son?" He's not going to consult me. God knows who his sons are.
There is a great difference between your eternal security and the assurance God grants me the privilege as a believer to grant you. Does that make sense? You are eternally secure if indeed you truly have trusted in Jesus Christ and his blood for the salvation of your sins. But I will tell you this. I have no confidence, personally, that you've done that unless your life begins to conform itself to Christ.
He will not check in with me. He tells me to not even try and figure out who is saved and who is not. He says, "Todd, don't separate the wheat from the tares because you're lug-headed enough to pull up some wheat with the tares. You just love people and call them to righteousness." That's all I'm doing right here.
You cannot find a person who is more sold out on grace than I am. You also can't avoid what the Scriptures say, which is if you continually practice in an area and have no problem with being a Godzilla, it ought to make you wonder if you're not Godzilla's boy. That's what verse 5 says. Turn back to Ephesians.
Verse 6: "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience." This is a verse worth spending some time on. It simply says this. Don't let somebody deceive you with a facade (an empty word). It's something that looks real, but it's not. It looks like it has substance. In fact, it can fool the best of men.
About a month and a half ago, I was down in Florida at MGM Studios. They have what's called a facade. A facade is a front they use for movie scenes that they can make you think you're looking a New York City, but it's not New York City; it's a facade. When you get up there, you find out it's made of paint and Styrofoam, and that is it. From the perspective of a camera or even from the perspective of a city block, it looks like New York City, but when you get up there, it's empty. It can fool the brightest of men. But it's emptiness. God is saying, "I'm never fooled."
My wife buys these plastic fruits you put on the table. Most plastic fruits look so stinking plastic that I don't know how people think they're anything but plastic fruit, but these are pretty good pieces of plastic fruit. I've been in the same house for four years, and I still come home sometimes, and I literally find myself in my mind going, "I think I'll have that apple." It's empty. My little girls do it all the time. My Ally cannot figure out why that banana will not peel.
There are some conversations, and there are some arguments, and there are some fronts that men put up that fly in the face of Scripture which are very difficult for us to deal with. Have you ever heard one of these? "It's not wrong to be immoral. What's this deal about no premarital sex? We are in love." What do you say to that, "We're in love"? You can go on a long argument about, "We're caring. This is a way we express our love for each other."
Ultimately there's a response. There's a way you can respond to that scripturally. They can say, "Okay, just leave Scripture out of it. Common sense-wise, we're going to get married anyway. We're in love. How do you know for sure that God's Word is God's Word? Let's just you and I talk and take that out of the picture. Can you tell me why? We are in love."
How about this one? "We're consenting adults. It's not like anybody is in there doing something to somebody that they don't want to do. We're both for it. We both are adults. We're both big people. We know the consequence. We're consenting adults. We can take the rap." How about this one. This is a tough one. You're going to hear this a lot. "God made me this way. I didn't choose to do this, to be this, become this, want this, think this way, feel this, have that need or desire." That is a persuasive, scary argument, isn't it?
What do you do with that? Whenever somebody brings in God as their reference, it's called argument by intimidation. They reference something you cannot trump. When they say, "God made me this way," that ends the argument. "God wants me to do this." How do you respond to that? That might be one that you as a layperson will never be able to refute.
By the way, 150 years ago, when Darwin said God evolved us from slime, you as a layperson couldn't refute that either. But you can now, can't you? You can say, "You know what, Mr. Darwin? That is not scientific fact. That is a theory. In fact, it's a theory that has been scientifically disproven." Now, we can say something 150 years later that we couldn't used to say. There was a while that there was a persuasive argument, and they used that to make Christians hide for a long while.
God was never intimidated by the theory of evolution. Not once. There was never an argument. There was never an address given at a scholastic meeting where God went, "Doggone it. What am I going to say to that?" He takes the best philosophical arguments of men, and he goes, "Hogwash, empty words, false lie, and not true." He knows it's not true because he's truth.
I have more. I won't spend time with it. Look what it says. "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience." This is what it's saying. Eventually, God's wrath will fall on man because man will never take the rap for what he's done. There is nobody as creative as a person who is in the midst of self-justification. That is especially true in regard to our sexual desires and drives.
We can go, "I'm 36 and never been married. Who wouldn't? It's just something I'm doing. It's not hurting anybody else." I think God goes, "Those are arguments that maybe Todd Wagner can't refute. Maybe they can't pull a book off the shelf down at DTS and tell you for sure God didn't make you this way, but I can tell you I didn't make you that way, because I made you." That's what Ephesians 5:6 is saying.
He says that wrath eventually will befall men because men are never going to come to knowledge of the truth. That is that God did not make them that way. Man chose to reject him. In that rejection, they never chose to see the consequence of that rejection. They never chose to throw themselves at the mercy of a God who loves them despite the fact that they've rejected him. So he'll give them the weight of his wrath because they chose to not have that wrath fall on another (Jesus Christ).
Look at verse 7. "Therefore do not be partakers with them…" Another way of saying this is do not participate with them like you didn't know any better. Don't relax. He's coming back to you Christian. He's saying, "Don't do what they're doing. You're not them. You're not a Godzilla. You're God's son."
Verse 8. "For you were formerly Godzilla's son, but now you are God's son. Now you are light in the Lord. Walk, therefore, as children of the light." Let me ask you a question. When you walk, what are you doing? You're taking just one step at a time. It's a continual act. It's something you're doing all the time. He doesn't say, "Fly." He doesn't say, "Beam yourself up to a glorified state." He says, "Walk."
If you are discouraged in your Christian life, I think probably it's because you're not walking. You look at somebody who has been walking for 15 years, and you go, "I'll never be where they're at." Well, you might in 15 years. Just start walking. The reason most men fail to do great things is because they try and do a great thing all at once. God never asked you to do a great thing all at once. He wants you to do a small thing today, so he can do a small thing the next day, and so all of sudden you look back and go, "That's pretty good."
If you ask an alcoholic how he beats it, he doesn't beat it by holding his breath for a year and getting a one-year sobriety pin. He does it day by day, hour by hour, and moment by moment if he needs to. He'll chain himself to a sponsor if he has to and if he's serious. So what he's saying is, "Don't relapse. Don't do what they do. You're not them anymore. You've been changed. You're a child of the light."
Let me tell you what happens. If you're a child of the light, things grow in the light. Things don't grow in a cave. So if you're in the light, there ought to be things growing in your life. Verse 9 says, "For the fruit of light [things that grow in the light] are these things: goodness and righteousness and truth."
He says this in verse 10. " …trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord." A better way to say that instead of, "…trying to learn…" is this. "Prove then to yourself what is pleasing to the Lord." Let's read that verses 8 through 10 together."…for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."
So you can walk like you're supposed to walk. Before you do something, prove to yourself that's what you ought to do. I'll tell you one of the ways to do this. When you think about whether something is okay for you to do or say, write down Philippians 4:8. Philippians 4:8 is a good filter God gives Christians to run things through. If you want to turn there with me, go ahead. It's a good verse to memorize. You can do it by remembering, "Thrpl grape." That's the way I memorized it.
"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable [T-H], whatever is right [R], whatever is pure [P], what is lovely [L], let your mind dwell on these things. If there is anything of any excellence, if there are any good things, let your mind dwell on these things." So if you want to know what it is that you should do when you're trying to prove to yourself whether or not you should do it, as you're trying to learn whether or not it's something you should participate in, then run it through that.
Is this true? Is this honorable? Is this right? Is this pure? Is this lovely? Is there any excellence in this? Is there any good repute? If I say no to any one of those things, then it should not be something I, as God's son, should do. That's what verse 10 is saying when he says, "…trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord."
Verse 11 in Ephesians 5. "And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them…" Light grows things. I'll tell you what else light does. Light shines, and light exposes. Silence is not an option. You're not given the right as a Christian to remain silent. Do you understand that? That is really a difficult thing for some of you to understand.
You are not just supposed to live in a way that is reflecting who your Father is. You are not told to just not have fools talk, but that you are to have God's talk. Don't do this as with a club. You do it, it says, with gentleness and reverence. You are not given permission to remain silent. Biblically he says, "What you have to do as you live this way, is God's going to use you to do a couple of things. He's going to use you to manifest his love in this world as evidence that he cares for people still."
Christians ought to be caring for people like nobody else is caring for people. We ought to make the government look bad in the way we take care of our single moms and our unwed mothers and our drug-addicted people and our AIDS patients. Christians ought to be leading the charge in that. We used to.
Do you ever wonder why there's a Methodist hospital, a Presbyterian hospital, and a St. Paul's hospital? We used to do what the church should do. Somewhere along the line, the church decided to participate with the world because we were losing too many people. A lot of those mainline denominations began to distort what God's said was truth. We no longer acted like God's children, and we started to talk like fools.
Instead of exposing sin, we let it into our doors. The next thing you know, you can't tell a difference from us and from them. They're preaching in our pulpits. You see it happen in mainline denominations all across this country. But we used to do this. We used to be people who were lights in the world. The other thing we were doing is we were speaking out against things when they were wrong. God tells us in a loving way, "You're to expose them." Silence for us is not an option.
Verse 12. "…for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret." One of the things light is going to do is cause them to face the reality of their actions. They'd love to stay in a cave. They'd love to go ahead and say, "It's something that really doesn't bother you. It's something I just do in the privacy of my bedroom." You go, "But let's talk about it. What is it you're really doing in the privacy of the bedroom?"
If we really logically follow that philosophy of life to its end, where would it lead us? I mean, really. Where would it take us if we became a homosexual world? Let's talk about it. Let's think about logically. Where would kids come from? They might say, "We'd compromise for that one specific area, so we could continue to populate and have people who we might entertain ourselves with." Go ahead and talk and shine light, shine truth, on it.
One of the great things about truth is that if it's true, no amount of scrutiny can affect it. If God's Word is true, it will stand. If it won't stand, it's not God's truth. So Christians, you ought to fall in love with this book and really find out what it says, not what you think it says. Learn intelligent arguments. Learn intelligent conversations you can have with people that just say…have you ever heard anybody say this? I did two weeks ago…"My religion is a religion of kindness. What's wrong with that?" What do you say to that?
"Why can't you just help people love each other and be kind to each other? Why do you always have to tell folks they're going to go hell? What an unpleasant thought." Finally, some common ground that is an unpleasant thought. Let's just deal with this for a second. If it's true, is it kind to ignore it? And off we went.
Verse 13. "But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light." This is why the world is going to hate you. People who are enjoying their sin, who are hiding behind vanity, behind facades of reasons that allow them to continue in their sin and not deal with it, resent you. They don't like the fact that you confront them. When you don't do what they do, it means there might be a problem with what they're doing.
They're not just satisfied that you let them do it. They want you to do it because if you don't do it, you're judging them by the fact that you're not doing it. Have you ever had somebody do that? They say, "Quit judging me."
"I'm not judging you."
"Yeah, you are. You never want to go see the movies I see. You never want to do what I want to do on a date."
Or in college, I'd get this all the time. You'd go to a party, and you'd be drinking water or a coke, and somebody could come up and go, "Why aren't you drinking a beer?" I'd always ask, "Do you really want to know? Because when I respond, it'll probably change your evening." They'll say, "Sure, sure."
So I told them. I said, "Well, it's not because if I feel like I'd drank a beer that my God wouldn't love me, but it's because I love my God that I'm not drinking a beer. Do you want me to continue? If you saw me drinking a beer, you wouldn't know that I just drank one beer. What I'd probably do in moderation others would do in excess. I've seen alcohol do so much damage in our culture and hurt people so much.
People in this room are going to make decisions tonight that aren't good for them and good for others because they're drinking. So I choose not to be a part of something that could confuse people. More than that, I just really want you to know that you can have a lot of fun. My life is different. Not because I had a beer and feel comfortable around you. I'm different because God has changed my heart, and you can change yours." "Thanks, man. It was good talking to you."
People get angry. There are guys who absolutely hated me in college for one reason: I didn't do what they did. That is the truth. They hated me. They thought I was cocky and arrogant, conceded, and pious. I never said a bad word about them or what they did. They just hated me because I wouldn't do it. They thought I was some little righteous, cockeyed person. I'll tell you what. There were times I probably acted like that somewhat. But by and large, there were people who really did hate me just because I was not participating in the deeds of darkness.
Darkness hates the light because light exposes the darkness. God was using me in a merciful way in their life to go, "You're running down a road, and the way you're treating those women is not the way Wagner is treating those women. The way you're treating those women is wrong, and there is a consequence to it. You ought to be living the way Wagner is living. You ought to treat women the way Wagner treats women. You ought not cheat on your test the way Wagner doesn't cheat on his test."
God used me as light in their life to penetrate through their facade that it was okay so they might begin to deal with truth. They hated me in the process, but they hated the light (Jesus Christ) when he was here on this earth. He promised me that would be my lot if I chose to follow him. No one promised you a rose garden. He wants to use you the way he used his first Son, his firstborn among creation, Jesus Christ. There were people who absolutely hated him because it exposed their self-righteousness.
So this is what it says. "But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper…'" He uses the motif of sleep and death, which are used similarly in Scripture. He's saying that the light of truth is shining on you. God wants to use you, the light of truth, to say to Dallas, "Awake, sleeping Dallas."
Look at the people who love Jesus Christ genuinely and who are God's son. Look at the light in their life. Awake, it's morning. The light of truth is in your face. Get up out of your sleeping sin and walk in the light. Get up out of your tomb of death and live a life like the people who love Jesus Christ are living a life. He wants to use you in that way. Look what will happen if you'll awake from your sleep. Look what'll happen if you'll arise from the dead. Christ will shine on you, and you can begin to grow in truth, in righteousness, and in peace.
Can God use you that way this week? Is he going to be able to say this to somebody else? "Awake, sleeper. Look at the way Dave acts in his office. See how much better his life is? Live like that. Awake, sleeper. Look at Jim and the way he teaches his classes at SMU. Awake, sleeper. Look at Jim Wimberly and the way he conducts himself. Awake, sleeper. Look at Alex and the way she is vibrant and alive in her marriage. Awake.
It's not burdensome. It's not a pain to submit. It's the joy of your life. Come from the dead and let the light of God's truth shine on you and have freedom." That's Ephesians 5. So he says, "Please people, be like your dad. Be a light, so God can expose sin and grow things that give life." Please people, be a light so men will see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Will you be a light this week? Let's pray.
Father, I pray that we would (me first among us) let your words take root. I pray we would be a light; that we would be a people who have peace not because our team won but because our God lives. I pray, Father, we would be used by you as an instrument through which people could no longer hide behind their wrecked and devastated lives of sin, that they couldn't justify what they're doing anymore because truth lives with them. Truth is in their office. Truth is riding in their carpool. Truth is their friend. Truth is watching the Super Bowl with them, and it's so attractive that you'll bring them from the dead to seek it.
Most people are desperately looking for answers to such age-old human dilemmas as violence, greed and racism; not to mention personal pain and disappointment with our own duplicity and lack of fulfillment. In this series on the book of Ephesians, Todd Wagner challenges us to open our eyes to the truth that Christ has called us to be part of a completely new society called the Church. Our highest calling then is to be men and women whose lives have been regenerated and empowered through faith in Christ. Our 21st century challenges are not unlike those faced by followers of Christ in first century Ephesus. The Apostle Paul, author of this letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that the problem with the Church then and today is not that God hasn't given it everything necessary to be successful in its mission. Rather, our problem is like that of a wealthy miser who dies of starvation rather than dip into the abundance of resources at his disposal. Allow yourself to be challenged and encouraged by this ancient letter that adroitly analyzes the plight of Christ's bride, the Church, and then paints a vivid portrait of what we can - and indeed do - look like as His redeemed people. This volume covers Ephesians 5 and 6.