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
Father, thank you for an opportunity that we have to study your Word and then to worship some more together. Thank you for the joy in gathering with other believers and with people who we dearly love who we hope one day will enjoy the truth of what we just celebrated. We come to you now.
We thank you that you have not left us here to struggle looking for the best opinions of men through which we might navigate through life, but you have given us your Word. You have pulled back the veil and spoken truth to us. May we be wise enough to receive it. We look there now. In Christ's name, amen.
Ephesians, chapter 4. We're going to take a quick look there as we work our way to where we are in chapter 5. If you remember, I said that what happens in verse 1 of chapter 4 is a pivot. You have a change going on in the book. You'll find that it's common with most Pauline Epistles. Paul always lays out the doctrine before he expects you to perform the duty.
We are in a section now in Ephesians which talks about how then we ought to live. How we then ought to live all comes off what we celebrated here in the aspect of Communion. God hasn't said to us that what we're doing in the Christian life is a response to his loving relationship which he has extended to us.
The thing which makes Christianity unique is it is not us performing that God might one day look at us and go, "Okay, you made it. You passed the test. Your good outweighs your bad. Therefore, you passed the scales of judgment. You might come in." That is the world's systems. That's what we've invented. That's what we try and entrap people with. We call it religion.
We keep them in bondage, telling them they must perform like we tell them to perform and give like we tell them to give lest they find themselves outside the church, outside the means by which they might find salvation. That, my friends, flies directly in the face of what we just celebrated here. This is the bread of forgiveness. Performance is not. This is the wine of release.
Your tithing and your holiness is not. It is his holiness. It is his righteousness. Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Ephesians; chapters 1 and 2 of Colossians; and chapters 1 through 11 of Romans all say the same thing. It is his righteousness. It is because of his righteousness that we have responded to that we are then motivated to love back.
So if you understand the truth of Ephesians 1 through 3, if you understand the truth of the Communion table, then "Therefore I…implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…" (Ephesians 4:1) He goes through and he describes for the next two chapters what that walking looks like.
Let me just remind you of this. That word walking, we're going to come to it next week when we get to a very specific place in our New Testament. Next to the command to lost people to repent of their sins, to cleave to the cross of Jesus Christ, to find their forgiveness in his broken body, and to find their release in his shed blood, it is probably the most significant command of the New Testament.
It is the command through which you will be able to do everything else that he has commanded to you. The Great Commandment truly can be found in Matthew, chapter 28, but the means through which you might fulfill the Great Commandment once you have listened to the exhortation of the Lord to come to the Table and receive the bread of forgiveness and the wine of release, there is something that you must do in order to be able to do everything else.
You might expect that a God who knows that we cannot be saved according to our own efforts, knows that we cannot respond appropriately according to our own efforts. So even as God initiated our relationship through grace, you're going to find that he gives you the means through which you might then live faithfully by grace.
I know you're curious. It is in chapter 5, verse 18. Don't turn there. It simply says this. It says, "…be filled with the Spirit…" Man, I want to tell you what. If there is a verse, and you can imagine if it's that significant… If there's a verse that has been perverted, distorted, and twisted in entrapping people instead of freeing people, that's a verse.
What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? How do you walk in the Spirit? How do you live a successful Christian life? I'll see you next Sunday and 6:30, and then I'm going to tell you. Tonight we have to get there. To get there, I have to tell you this. We have to go over and remind ourselves what it means to walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called.
What is the significance of it? Why is God so zealous that we do it? Let me just tell you. We were told to walk worthy of the calling. We have been told in these last two chapters up through verse 14 to walk differently than the world that doesn't know the truth that we have received from God walks.
We walk worthy of the calling. We walk differently than the uncalled. We walk in the light as opposed to in the darkness. They're walking away from things which expose. We walk dead in the middle of it. We are not concerned. The guy who uses this illustration. He says, "You know what? I live my life righteously according to the FAA.
Whenever I go to the airports and I put my luggage on their little x-ray machine, I am not ever concerned what will turn up as it goes through and as it's exposed to that man who can see what the rest of the world cannot. Because I am walking in the light as far as the FAA is concerned. I'm never concerned what they might find. It's a freeing thing."
There are others who operate very differently. They fear x-ray machines. As you can imagine, those are people who don't want light. They love darkness. They love that which is concealed. In fact, the light reveals to them the horror of what they're about. We're to walk worthy of the calling that we've been called.
We're to walk differently. We're to walk in the light. We're to walk in wisdom as opposed to being trapped to the best opinions of men, as we've said numerous times. We walk wisely. We're going to see that again tonight. In fact, that command really picks up here. In wisdom, and that wisdom is truth. Then also we are to walk in love. That gets us to Ephesians, chapter 5. Let's just take a look at verse 1. We've been there, so we're going to go quickly.
It says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children…" Let me remind you of simply this. Satan is not a creator. There is only one Creator. Satan is an imposter. He has taken what God has introduced and he has misplaced it. He has distorted it. He has twisted it. He has gotten people to believe in effect that the system that the Bible and Jesus Christ have introduced is not a system through which you can find freedom.
He is going to tell you that is a system through which you'll find bondage. He is going to tell you that real love doesn't look the way the Scriptures tell you, the way that the Christian will tell. He'll say real love looks like this. In fact, there are two kinds of love that you're going to find in this world. There is divine love and there is deceitful love.
Every single one of us here is living underneath one of those systems. It's either divine love or deceitful love. By the way, I'll just tell you this before I go too far. We talked two weeks ago when we were together about how God views sex, how we ought to view sex. We ought to not be scared of it. We ought to not be defensive of it as Christians.
There is a system of replacing what God intended to be light with darkness and calling it light. God says that this is what love is. It is commitment. It is service. It is sacrifice. That's how he defines love. Satan doesn't say that. Do you want to know what love is? It's not being committed. It is not being a man who gives himself for another. It is not being sacrificial.
It is to be free. It is to be happy. It is to be indulgent. It is to be God. In other words, there is no accountability. Satan's love is this. Doesn't this sound really good at first? He says, "Don't be constrained for the sake of others. Be free for the sake of self. Don't be committed. Be pragmatic. If it works, it's good. If it doesn't work, get rid of it." That sounds like a system that most of us would get excited about.
I was just visiting with a friend moments before I came in here. He was doing a devotional. It was one of the most creative devotionals I've ever heard anybody do with their kids. He is trying to teach his kids the truth of Romans, chapter 6. He is not a really bright guy, but he is going to go for it anyway. That's one of the most difficult parts of the Bible.
I love that he told me he was going to teach his kids the truth of Romans, chapter 6. Romans 6, is the part of the Scriptures which start to begin what we call sanctification. It's a big word. Why do they use those words in church? I never use that word when I'm out there walking in the street. Sanctification means it's the process through which we should begin to look like the God who saved us.
Romans 6 talks about the honest struggle that those of us who have been called have. We sometimes don't look so called. Paul, in that chapter, talks about how we have an Enemy who seeks to hook us up to him, one who we've been freed from, but he wants to shackle us to him again in chains.
This is what he did. He put a little sign on him. That sign was, "King of Sin." He tied himself to his three little girls. Then he ran through the house. He started to say, "Hey, let's break some things. Let's be destructive. If your sister gets in the way on the way to get to see who breaks it first, let's throw an elbow at her and push her down! Let's be angry! If Mom tells us this is crazy, let's call Mom some names."
He had his three little girls tied to him, ages 9, 7, and 5. Dragging them through the house! The wife was not thrilled about the family devotional. "What's going on in here?" At first the kids go, "This is unbelievable! Rules are out the window! If it doesn't work for me, I don't need to do it. I can do what I want." They got to run, tied to the King of Sin, destroying whatever it is they ran up to.
Then he stopped. He took the ropes off himself that he had and he put on King Jesus. He began to counsel them a different direction. He began to tell them, "It's really not nice to throw your 5‑year-old sister down just because you're bigger. You know that crystal thing we just broke? Your daddy is going to have to work a long time before Mom ever forgives him. This is a problem."
The kids all of a sudden started to listen to him and they realized how easy it was to get excited about doing what you wanted to do when you wanted to do it. He was telling them about how that would destroy their house, how it would destroy their relationship with sisters, how what seemed to be freeing at first wouldn't be freeing at all. In fact, it would be that which would bring the end to what they knew their home to be.
Boy, didn't it sound good at first? Not just to a 5-, 7-, and 9-year-old. I tell you what. I would've thrown them another rope and said, "Tie me on! Let's run around a bit and go after it." Because it seems so life-giving, but it's not divine love. It's deceitful love. Deceitful love tastes good for a moment, but boy it sits in your gut like some bad chili.
Though it tasted good here, there are some bad ingredients. They're going to catch up to you. It is no curiosity to me that as he goes through and tells you to imitate God, he goes through and says, "Let me tell you something, though. There are other people who are going to use the same words, the same vernacular, the same semantics, but they're going to mean different things. So make sure that you act according to divine love and not self-love."
Do you remember what happens? Look at what he says in verse 2. "…and walk in love…" See, I told you that was there. "…just as Christ also loved you…" There's our model. You wonder what it looks like? It's the way Christ loved. "…and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma." He just defined for you divine love.
Now verse 3 says this. Do not be into deceitful love. That is not the manner that you should walk as one who has been called by a divine lover. If you are indeed his son, you ought to grow to look like your daddy. That's Romans 6. He says here in verse 3, make sure that you're not into deceitful love, but you're in divine love.
Here is deceitful love. "But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints…" Let me just go back and show you something really quick. Genesis, chapter 3. Do you remember what I told you Satan said real love is? Real love has no rules.
Real love says, "Hey, I know you can eat of any tree in the garden that you want, but he said you couldn't eat of that one. The reason you can't eat of that one is that he is afraid that when you eat of that tree that you will no longer have to serve him in any way. You'll no longer need his relationship.
In fact, you're going to run for mayor of Eden and you'll probably vote Eve for Adam. Adam you'll probably vote for Adam. You can misplace God. You guys can have run of the place. So eat." He distorts the truth. Do you remember what he says? "…you will be like God…" Boy, that sounded so good, didn't it?
What did Pandora's Box, as they say, that was opened when they bought the deceitful love, that lie that freedom with no rules and no boundaries, get you? There was all kind of havoc that came out as a result of that in their relationship and in relationships that the world has suffered through ever since.
If you remember, he used three things to get Adam and Eve to buy that first lie. His plans have not changed. He appealed to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life. He lists right here some sins. We've mentioned them already so we're not going to spend a lot of time. Immorality, impurity, or even greed.
The word is covetousness. "…as is proper among the saints." He says, "This one sin, covetousness, looking for things and wanting them and rationalizing about why you deserve them expressed in the sexual realm is just impurity and immorality." They're all classified in this one sin of covetousness.
I'll tell you why. Because all three vices are played upon. When you look at something that you don't have and you believe you should get it, if you are into deceitful love, your eyes say this. Your eyes say, "You know what? I see that. It looks good to me. I demand it. Therefore, I'm going to get it."
The flesh comes behind that and says, "You know what? I look at that and I feel it and it feels good to me. So I demand to be satisfied in my senses. Therefore, I'm going to experience it." The pride of life will come behind and say, "You know what? If I see it and it looks good, if I feel it and it's soft and it feels good and experientially I enjoy it, therefore, I deserve it." Off they go.
All three of the ways Satan comes after us with our eyes, with our flesh, and with our own consciousness choosing after things are satisfied there in that covetousness. Do you remember we talked again very briefly about the act of immorality and impurity, specifically the act of sex? Have you ever heard anybody say this? Let me think. In Hollywood, have they used these words?
Make love to me. Make love to me. Have you ever heard those words used to you? When somebody you found out didn't mean, "Make love to me." What they really meant is, "Make deceitful love." Not divine love, because divine love doesn't leave you with a bad aftertaste. It's deceitful love that leaves you a nasty aftertaste that he never intended for you to have.
They take that which is good (sex) and the word which you guys find comfort in (love) and they tie the two of them together and they misrepresent what love is and they misuse the great gift. You have a bad feeling in your stomach all of a sudden. Do you want to know what Jesus Christ meant when he said, "Make love to me?" We celebrated it right here.
"In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the [sacrifice] for our sins." When God said, "Let's make love to humanity," he didn't say, "Let's go and exploit them and enjoy them for us." He said, "Let's go and do and show what divine love really is. It is not what seems good to the eyes. The fact that I would suffer on a cross doesn't look really appealing to me. It's not what feels good to the flesh. It's not what will exalt me the most, because I'm going to hang where criminals hang. It is what love really is."
Do you know what he means when he says, "Make love to me?" The next time somebody wants to throw that line at you, "Make love to me," say, "Do you mean make patience with me, kindness to me, not jealousy, not arrogance, or boasting? Do you mean to not act in an unbecoming way to each other? Is what you're asking me to do is not to seek our own best interests?
Do you mean what we should do is not act because we're provoked and to not take into account wrong suffered? Do you mean that we shouldn't rejoice in unrighteousness but rejoice always with the truth? Do you mean that we should bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things? Do you mean we should love each other in a way that should never fail? All right. Let's go." Because that's what it means!
He goes through and he is saying, "Make sure, Christian, you now know what love is." See gang, the world is selling love. It's okay. It's a good thing to sell. Doesn't it tick you off when you buy something and you just got the shell and the innards were missing? It should tick you off.
I had a talk one time on sin. I did it before about 600 kids. It was when Amy Grant was first big. It was when MTV was first really big. I was in a place that a lot of the Christian singers would come through. I had an opportunity. I was supposed to speak on sin. I stood up there. I got permission of the guy who ran the camp I was at.
I said, "Hey, gang, I have a real privilege. I can't believe they're letting me tell you this because you'd think that I mentioned that the guy who owns the camp would want to tell you this but there's a young lady who has been doing fairly well. She's about to make a new video trying to cross over. She's been just in the Christian world for a while and she's about to go over and release some of her stuff in a mainline way.
We think this video will probably make it on MTV. She has the goods, the promoters, and the money behind her. She needs about 400 kids to help her with this video. We thought, 'Where would she get 400 kids?' Her producer called us. Next Thursday, Amy Grant is going to be here to film her first video for MTV." They erupted. They went nuts.
These are 13- to 18-year-olds. They love Amy Grant. It's about as big-time as you can get. "MTV! I'm going to be on MTV!" So we got them all settled down. I started giving my talk. I was to talk about sin. They weren't listening. They were buzzing. "Amy Grant! Who cares about sin? Amy Grant!" We talked for a while.
We talked about how awful it is to be lied to and how sometimes the lies are kind of fun because they make you feel so good for a moment, but have you really thought about what a lie is? Eventually, you're not going to be so pleased that you were lied to even though you got incredible joy for just a moment. I said, "Let me just give you an illustration." They understood anger. They understood how awful it was to be deceived.
I said this to them. I said, "You know what? Gang, as angry as you are that next Thursday Amy Grant isn't coming here to film a video, you have some friends who have been buying into a lie and have been defining a word that is not the way that word should be defined, who have been buying into hope and life that is not what hope and life are about.
There is going to be a day when they stand before the judger of all creation. He is going to go, 'You're not going where you think you're going. In fact, you're not even going to be extinguished. You're not going to be abolished. You're not going to be annihilated. No, no, no. There is serious consequence to being deceived.
When you're a person who has gained truth, when you're a person who finally understands how love ought to be defined. What Paul is saying is, 'Walk like you ought to walk because you are the light. You are now God's instrument through which other people can see the truth.'" That's what Ephesians 5:3-13 is about.
Then now look here. Look at verse 14. Because we've covered this. It comes here and it defines the condition of those who are being deceived with two words: asleep and dead. He really tells us that not only are we to walk in the truth, but we're to go ahead and explain to people why the truth makes sense.
We're to use loving confrontation. Faithful rebuke is what really 3 through 13 are about. Walk faithfully and rebuke those who are not. He says because of this reason, because there is both a need and a positive effect if you faithfully rebuke. Here comes that need. The need is that they are asleep and they need some light to be pouring into their room that they might arise.
They are dead. They need something which will come in there and revive them. That's what verse 14 means. It says, "For this reason it says, 'Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and [the light of] Christ will shine on you.'" He is saying that you are the means through which he is going to rouse a sleeping and dead world out of their catatonic state.
So if you're going to be the one who God uses to keep them from being deceived and to help them know what they cannot know because you're going to speak to them not in your own system but God's revelation, then make sure that you speak it. Then don't just speak it, but live it. Because sometimes when you're not living it, your actions are speaking so loud that frankly they cannot hear your words.
That's what's going on. We get to verse 15. Look what it says. "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise…" Why? Because if you are truly given the truth, then you should be wise individuals, not unwise individuals. He wants to use you. Let me just say it right here in verse 15 where it says, "Therefore be careful how you walk…" it basically means this.
Be constantly taking heed, patiently examining, closely regarding how you live. Because the results and the consequences of you aimlessly living as a Christian are enormous. It is much more than the fact that people are going to miss out on a music video. They are eternal. If you will, it's kind of like… I think I was laughing because I was thinking to myself, "How can we help each other with this?"
I thought about those bumper stickers that are on the back of a car that say, "How's my driving? Call 1-800…" Some of them are more encouraging than others according to the things that follow there. The one that says, "1-800-EAT-TIRES" if you follow me? Sometimes there are those of us in this body who, frankly, don't want to closely examine the way that we live.
We are people who really have come to know truth but we're like, "Hey, I don't want anybody to ruffle my system. I have been saved and that's enough. I have gone to the table. I have let God make love to me the right way and now, frankly, I just want to get on with my life and enjoy the grace of God which is mine by right."
They're not heeding verse 15, and the consequences of that are enormous, both in their lives and in the lives of others. You want to go up to them and go, "I need to do…" Every single one of us, gang, when we become Christians whether we like it or not, our boss tattoos that on the back, "How's my living?" It ought to say, "1-800-I-REPENT. Call me if it's not right."
We owe it to each other to not be moral policemen, troublesome meddlers, but to walk up around one another and say, "Let's talk about it." It is a serious deal. If you're not careful how you drive, if you get lazy, if you get sleepy when you should be the one who was awoken from your sleep, it doesn't just mean peril for your life, but it means peril for all those who are on that same road of life with you. Does it not?
Just watch 20/20. Just watch 60 Minutes when they do an exposé of those who drive while they're sleeping. I will just tell you that this is one of my greater problems in life. I happen to have a problem. I like to doze off behind the wheel. If you ever see me on a talk show, it will be, "Narcoleptic Men and the Women who Love Them," and Alex and I will be on there.
Because I just get on there and I'm telling you what. I don't know what it is, but I just start to nod off. I've had friends who, I kid you not, we laugh about some of the stories, and how we've been protected despite the foolishness of the one who needed to be awake, O driver. I have not been careful. I have not been considering what I'm doing. I have not thought about the consequences to my life, to those who are in the car with me, and to those who are traveling the other way.
He says that you need to really pay attention when you're behind the wheel of this life that you're living. Because what you do doesn't just affect you. It affects others. You ought to write down next to verse 15, "1-800-HOW'S-MY-LIVING?" and you ought to have somebody say, "Hey, will you love me enough to call me and tell me when I'm not living the way I ought to live? Because I need somebody to help me live the way that I can be used by God to awake others from their sleep and to pull them out of their dead."
Not as unwise men, but as wise. Gang, if you don't do it, if you're not careful, you might kill somebody. You might be the reason (and this is completely biblical) that somebody didn't get the truth that God intended them to get through you. Right now, there are individuals in this body who are living in such a way that I could go and share with them all day long about the gospel.
They can hide behind the excuse of, "Oh yeah? I know some Christians. Don't give me that stuff. God isn't who he claims to be because God says that he'll come in and take residence and he'll help people learn to love. I know some folks who are Christians and the last thing they are is loving. The last thing they are is caring. The last thing they are is full of discipline." Off they go. They have that right.
John 17 says that. In fact, John 17 goes a step further to say not only is that person an abomination and an embarrassment, but your Jesus is not God, your Jesus is not Messiah. Kind of a serious thing. So he says "…be careful…" Look at verse 16. "…making the most of your time, because the days are evil."
In other words, it says, "Be active in your pursuit of doing what is right because the days are evil." The word it uses there for evil. There are two words in the Greek. One is kakos, which means a general kind of evil, that which is generally not good. Then there is another word which means know that it's evil and that it's proactive in its attack on good. That's the word that is here.
It says, "You have to make the most of your day because the day is making the most of attacking that which is true and right and good." In other words, there is an active campaign. Culture and society is not neutral. It is taking people down a road which leads to destruction. A lot of folks studied that this morning. They were looking at Matthew 7 with a group of us.
"…wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it." The days are evil. Let me just show you a few cross references because people ask this all the time. What does that mean the days are evil? I'll explain it to you. Look at Ephesians 6, verse 13. "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day…"
Gang, that's now. That is not a verse. I'm going to get ahead of myself when we get to Ephesians 6. That is not what you need to read and memorize before you walk into a darkened room with Linda Blair there and her head is spinning around spitting vomit. That's not the evil day. The evil day is today. The evil day is now.
The evil day is when there is a marketer, when there is a deceiving one, when there is a roaring lion who seeks to devour, who is going around and redefining truth. We're substituting for divine love deceitful love. That is the evil day: when truth is mocked and people are being destroyed as a result.
Look at Galatians, chapter 1. Turn there with me. I think we find the same words. There it is. Look at verse 3. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ…" Verse 4. "…who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen."
This evil day and this evil age are now. It's not neutral. It is on a campaign to keep people from the narrow road which leads to life. He is saying that you know the way. You know the road. So be diligent to walk down that road. Don't give credence by walking down that broad road which leads to destruction.
I believe if you have come to the table and had the bread of forgiveness and the wine of release that if you're walking on that road which leads to destruction, that God will pluck you off it and he will put you back on that road to life. I also believe if you are one who has come to the table and received the bread of forgiveness and the wine of release, that you will not long be comfortable on that road.
Somebody is going to come up and say, "You know what? You asked me to tell you, 'How is my living?'" Or the Holy Spirit will knock on your heart and say, "I'll tell you how your living is. It stinks. Because you're giving credence to the evil way and the evil age. You're helping people define love in a way that is full of exploitation and enjoyment and not sacrifice and service and commitment. That's what love is. You need to get out of that road and get over here."
I love that shirt that has all the fish, and they're swimming one way. You know that little ichthus, which, by the way, a little bar… People always ask, "What does that little fish mean? That ichthus that's in there?" Inside that ichthus is basically the word Christos, which has a reference to Jesus Christ. Early in the day when the church was first beginning, there was a lot of persecution, which was happening to Christians.
When two Christians would meet, they would walk up to each other. As you know, Christ told us to be fishers of men. They would walk up to each other and make a little half moon as they were talking. If the other person knew the truth and knew who Christ was, they'd draw their side, pick up that thing and come back the other way and make the sign of a fish.
Many people believe that early on in the Christian faith, that was the way they communicated to each other that we're brothers. We know what divine love is and we're no longer sucked into deceitful love, performing and being good enough long enough. I love that shirt that has that little ichthus. We'll call it that. It has all these fish. It's a very colorful shirt.
All these fish are swimming this way. Then there's that little ichthus fish right there in the middle of that aquarium. It's the only one pointing that direction. That's exactly what verse 16 is saying. It's saying, "Make the most of your day," because people ought to look at you and go, "Why are you going that way when the rest of us are going this way?"
You're to say, "I have to tell you why. Because I have found that I was defining love incorrectly. Because I have found that I was defining what life meant incorrectly. If you want to swim with me for a while, if it would help you, we will pull off to the side and we won't swim either direction. Let me just talk to you."
What he says not to do is get caught going downstream because people won't look at you and think that what you're doing is ministering to that fish that you're swimming with. They'll think that you're heading where they're heading. That you're endorsing that movement. You watch Jesus Christ. Did he swim with sinners? Careful. He loved sinners.
He mingled with sinners, but he never mingled with their sin. I'll say it again. He mingled with sinners, but he never mingled with their sin. His fellowship was with other believers, other disciplers. Even if they weren't true believers, they were seeking truth. They were together talking about truth. Jesus Christ was telling them about the way which was narrow, not the way which was broad which leads to destruction.
I'll tell you what. We have to… We spent all last week talking about swimming with some fish that aren't naturally going our direction. Don't get so caught up in their stream and their way of swimming that you're down there and people don't know what's going on and that you have encouraged the evil day, that you, "Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes."
Love them, but don't endorse their lifestyle. Don't jump in there with them and in the middle of a passionate embrace try and share the gospel with them. All right? Verse 16 says, "…making the most of your time…" Galatians 6 says, "So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…" Same idea.
"So then do not be foolish…" In other words, don't be stupid is what it clearly means. "…but understand what the will of the Lord is." Don't drift along. Know what God's will is. Very quickly, I want to give you this. Do you want to know what God's will is? I'll throw out a few things for you. God's will for you first of all is that you give thanks in everything.
That thanks basically is rooted in the fact that you know what truth is and you know that there is a loving God behind it. So even when you don't see God's divine fingerprints on the situation, you can say with Spurgeon that you know "God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart."
So even in the midst of this despair, I can give God thanks. It says in 1 Thessalonians 5, it is God's will for you that you give thanks in everything. It says in 1 Thessalonians 4, verse 3, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification…" In other words, that you begin to look like Jesus. That you begin to look like truth.
John 17 says, "Your word is truth." It says, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…" Look like Jesus. Look like truth. "…walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…" Truth that is not deceitful love; it is divine love. What else is God's will for your life? God's will for your life is that you would know, Paul prayed, "...so that you will know what is the hope of His calling…" The fullness of the hope.
That you would know not just the "…hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory…" which God intends for you to hold on to. You would know its surpassing power toward those who believe. That you can resource. We're going to get to it next week where it says, "…be filled with the Spirit…" Certainly it's God's will, it says in Matthew 28, that you "Go therefore and make disciples…
I will tell you this. You can't do that unless you've done everything I've said up to this point. That you sanctify yourself. That you begin to look like Christ. That you give thanks in everything specifically and foremost for that which he has shown you. Therefore, you can swim through this very difficult current. He never promises a rose garden. He just said, "I'm going to get you swimming in the right direction."
It says this then in verse 18. "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation…" Let me just tell you this really quick. Dissipation right there is a word which comes from the same root as the word dissolve. It is the idea that there'll be so much going on that eventually that which is solid will become random and broken and there will be nothing left.
He says, "Don't be…" You're going to get a little clue as to where we're headed next week in verse 18 when he says this. He says, "Don't be controlled by that which is going to bring you ruin." He uses wine as an illustration for that. I want to build a bridge off that and we'll wrap it up right here.
Where it says, "Don't be controlled by that which will eventually end in your ruin," let me just make a few little parallels here. Because when you talk about a drunk, you're going to think about a few things. When you're around a drunk, they often make a fool of themselves. Let's be honest. Drunks are funny. Sometimes it's hilarious to be around a drunk.
Because they are now controlled by something that is not normal for them. Some of their inhibitions are broken down and they become humorous to be around. That's one of the reasons why people like to see other folks drink. Drunks do funny things. Foster Brooks made his living acting like a drunk. Drunks make fools of themselves.
What else do drunks do? Drunks also make ridiculous claims. They're 10 feet tall and bulletproof. "I can take anybody in the entire room together!" You know? They'll throw it out there. What else will a drunk do? A drunk draws attention to himself for the sake of self. They just love the fact… Some people drink because they say, "When I drink, I lose some of my inhibitions. When I lose some inhibitions, I can be freer with other folks. People like me when I drink, at least initially."
Think about this. Now watch this. When you are controlled by alcohol… This is an illustration here. You make a fool out of yourself. Sometimes it's funny. I'll be honest about that. Secondly, you're a person who makes ridiculous claims. Thirdly, you draw attention to yourself for self's sake. Watch this. What would happen if you were controlled by something other than alcohol?
Let's just say the Spirit of God. Will you make a fool of yourself? I'll tell you what. Read 1 Corinthians 4:10. We won't turn there, but Paul said, "We are fools for Christ's sake…" When you are controlled by the Holy Spirit, the world is going to look at you and go, "Man, you're a fool." Paul says, "I'm not just a fool because I'm being controlled by something that tears down my inhibitions. I am acting in a way that is swimming contrary to the world. I'm a fool for Christ's sake."
Here's the second thing. You're going to make some ridiculous claims. You're going to tell people that you know truth, that you know how to define love, that you know the way (singular). You know where there is life. You know how they can have real joy. You know there is a God that will exist. You know what's going to happen on the other side of the grave.
You're going to make some ridiculous claims. I remember. I've shared this with you before. I was in Jamaica sharing the gospel with a bunch of folks who were… Some of them were smoking some dope. You could smell it all around. Some of them were just sitting there. I sat there and I told them that God loved them.
He loved them enough to humble himself to come on this earth and to take on the flesh of a man, I said. I told them this. I said that God walked and lived just like you did, faced the struggles that you and I face. He never sinned, never made a mistake. I thought to myself as I was telling them this, "Can you imagine a man a man who never made a mistake in things that he should've done that he didn't do or things that he did do that he shouldn't have done, he never even thought an inappropriate thought, and he never withheld anything that was good?"
I told them I knew about a guy like that. I told them that guy was indeed God and had access to the power of the universe at his fingertips. He never really pulled on them at all unless God the Father worked through him to do it because he wanted to identify with you perfectly so he could pay the penalty for your sins.
I kid you not. I thought to myself when I sat down, "Those guys have got to be wondering what in the world that brother is smoking." Christians are going to make some ridiculous claims. Here's the last thing. You're going to draw attention to yourself just like a drunk will, but not for the sake of self. God will let folks be attracted to you.
When they're attracted to you, you don't let them just be curious about you; you tell them about your Father who is in heaven. When they look at you and they say, as the Bible says they should, "Let me ask you a question. Why in the world do you have joy in the face of this despair? Why in the world do you have hope in the face of this hopelessness? Why in the world do you think you know truth when the rest of the world is searching for the best opinions of men?" that you'd tell them. You'd give them an account.
You'd make a defense for the hope that is within you. You do what it says with gentleness and reverence. You hear me say that a lot. The Indians have a proverb for this. "Do not cut off the nose of a man and then ask him to smell a rose." Christians, when somebody comes up to you and they go, "You're swimming the other way. Can you tell me why?" Don't go, "I'll tell you why. Because you're a fool and you're going to hell!" and keep on swimming. That is cutting off his nose and asking him to smell a rose. You do it with gentleness and respect.
He is going to tell you here, "Look, you're going to be controlled by something." He uses the illustration of wine, but he says, "Let me tell you what. You're going to be a fool; you may as well be a fool for Christ's sake, for God's sake because there's going to be a day when people will know that you weren't a fool. You weren't being deluded."
By the way, I'll tell you one of the things that happen with alcohol. It's a depressant. It forces you to submit that which you know is right. It's just the opposite. The Holy Spirit is not a depressant. It enlightens you. It shows you what you could not formerly see. It's just the opposite. You're going to make some ridiculous claims, but they're not your claims. They're God's claims.
People are going to want to know about them. You can say, "Let me tell you what. The reason you're curious is not for the sake of self, but now that you've asked me and you've seen my good works that I may glorify my Father who is in heaven." In closing, I want to show you this. That if you walk according to the manner with which you've been called, if you walk differently, if you walk in truth, if you walk in life, if you walk in love, people are going to look at us, and they're going to go, "I'm curious about you."
I was having lunch, I can tell you exactly when because I have my journal right here. It was September 20, 1995. I was sitting next to a group of folks who obviously had just gotten done with an AA meeting. I have always been curious as I watched alcoholics with the way that they love each other. Specifically alcoholics who have admitted their brokenness, who have been reduced to nothing, and who realize that alcohol, which leads only to dissipation, ruin, and nothing because they have passionately pursued their lust unto the point that they have nothing left.
Can you see Scripture show you that it's true in the lives of men and women who we know who have been reduced to nothing by alcohol? When they're reduced to nothing, they come together, and they say, "I can't let thing control me anymore because I've made a fool of myself. I've made ridiculous claims that have cost my family, my job, my fortune, my happiness, even my health. I've drawn attention to myself in a way now that people look at me and go, 'There's a broken man.' I'm sick and tired of it."
Let me just read to you right out of my journal. It was September 20. I happened to be reading Proverbs 20 that day. Proverbs 20, verse 1 says, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise." That's what I had just got through reading. Then I look up and I say this. "Next to me is a table that recently came from an AA meeting. I could tell by the way they were talking.
There are all types of people here. Very pretty people and obviously beaten up people. People in their 20s and some in their 60s or at least some who live life in such a way that they appear to be 60. Yet their conversation is sharp. It is quick-paced. It's full of life and it is routinely shared. There are many participants in their sharing, each breaking new ground in vulnerability, passion, and disappointment. Occasionally, their time is broken with laughter. Often it is coursed with understanding nods, gentle touches, and compassionate tears…
Oh, if the people of God could be so caring, honest, real, and appreciative of their higher power in one another. Oh, if we could be the light that he intends." I have to tell you. I'm saying that I was attracted to a bunch of drunks. Because they were loving each other the way God says we ought to love each other because they had a common bond, they were broken and they knew it, and they had a "higher power" that was helping them get through.
I wrote before I left, "It's an hour later and they continue as others walk up and they laugh at the question, 'Are you still meeting?' Yes, they're still meeting after the meeting and after the meeting that followed the meeting because they loved each other." I thought to myself, "Will I ever be a part of a body that will be that attractive?
Will I ever be around some people who walk worthy of the calling with which they have been called because they are filled with the Spirit of God?" People will stop and they will go, "Excuse me, who are you? Why in the world are you guys linger together and love each other the way that you do? Why do you care? Why do you weep? Why do you nod understandingly when someone shares a struggle?"
You can tell them, "It's because we have a God who we have found common refuge in and come on board. Even though some of us are tigers and some of us are lambs, we have all found shelter in a common Noah whose name means rest. We are on this ark together. We do not devour one another because we have been delivered from the judgment of the world as we find shelter in the same man.
We're here to encourage one another. We're here to help each other get through this evil day that we might not be reduced to nothing, but that instead of finding deceitful life, we would find true life. Won't you join us?" I have to tell you. It really encouraged me on Saturday night. I sat here with a guy. We had just got through praying for this body.
He said, "Let me just tell you an encouraging story. Friday we came up here to meet to pray for some different things and to encourage one another. The church was shut down because it was so cold. We went down to Lucky's on Oak Lawn. Eight men. A place that is notorious for homosexuals hanging out. We walked in there and we sat.
For an hour and a half, we laughed and we shared and we even prayed quietly with our eyes open. We noticed that men were watching us. When we got up to leave, as we were walking out, an individual stopped us and he said, 'Who are you guys? Are you gay?' Because they've never seen men from a church love that way, but they'd seen gay men laugh and love and understand that way.
They said, 'No, we're not gay. We're Christians.'" They basically said, "You are powerful testimony of what you represent," and out those eight men walked. There was a group of folks who were up at Possum Kingdom Lake not too long ago. They went from a dry county to a wet county. They went to a place called Possum Hollow Bar and Grill.
People go there outside of little Graham, Texas, to go and drink because it's now a wet area. They went in there and they loved each other. They were gracious to their waitresses. They were kind to the host. They were patient with the manager. On their way out, the guy goes, "Who are you guys?" They had an opportunity to stop and explain to him why they treated their waitresses differently.
A couple of Sundays back, a group of folks left here and went and heard a band play. Eighty of them poured into a coffee house late at night. There was one guy working. Eighty people poured into his coffee house! He picked up the phone and he told his employer, "Get the [expletive] in here right now!" and slammed it down.
When his employer came, he said, "This is the most unbelievable group of people I have ever seen. There has not been a single person who has been frustrated with me because their coffee came out or didn't come out or came out cold. This is an unbelievable group of people." It's all he kept saying.
Gang, I want to tell you what. The world is attracted to divine love. They're dying to see it. They're dying to see it in us, because we're the only ones who can truly live it. Oh yes, the world can use it deceitfully as a bait to which they might bite that hook of homosexuality and will set it and will lead to dissipation.
There are times that when a brother and a sister knocking a beer together seem to be fun and jovial. If you watch… In fact there was an illustration during national tavern week. There was an ad that ran in the paper and said this, "Your local tavern: the friendliest place in town." The guy went and watched the newspaper.
Warren Wiersbe watched the newspaper for the next couple of months to see what happened to the happiest place in town. He said, "Everything that was in the paper relating to a tavern had to do with murder, rape, addiction, and fighting. That's the happiest place in town?" You know what? There was a time when they our mark, when they were in there and it seemed to be a good time.
If you follow it out and watch it, it leads to dissipation. I have to tell you something. You follow this out and watch it, it leads to divine love. You know how people love to get together and enjoy a refreshing drink? That's how we ought to get together and enjoy our time. That's what the church is about.
We are a people who have found common rest and a common Savior. We ought to love each other in such a way that the world goes, "I want part of that." We can say, "Come swim with us." Will you swim with me? God is awesome in this place. We're going to worship him for about five extra minutes tonight. Let's sing.
Father, thank you for the privilege of acknowledging your greatness. Thank you for the privilege of living faithfully for Jesus Christ and of being people who you will use to draw folks unto yourself. We will make ridiculous claims that we know God, that we know the name of the higher power, that we can personally introduce you to him.
Father, we are going to seem foolish to the world, but we are fools as Paul was for the sake of Christ. Father, you tell us men will be attracted to us if we walk according to the calling with which we have been called. When they do, may we tell them with gentleness and reverence of our Father who is in heaven.
God, you are awesome in this place. Only as we walk the way that we ought to walk, only as we are obedient to what you tell us we must do, we pray Father that we would learn how we then can live that way. We know now how we can live, but how do you do it? Teach us now as we study your Word how to be filled with Spirit.
We anticipate that opportunity next week. For now we encourage each other, as we don't raise a mug full of beer to toast that we might lose our senses, but we raise our voices to the heavens and toast you because you are an awesome God who has taken us from deceit and shown us that which is divine. You are awesome in this place.
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.