Good morning everyone. Aren't Friday's wonderful. I think it is simply the anticipation of the change from our weekly routine that gives Friday such a sweetness. I know I work just as hard on the weekend but it is a different type of work. Whatever the reason I pray you enjoy this Friday to its fullest. Continuing with Ephesians 4.
If we consider what we have been discussing the last couple of days we have this understanding between us that we are part of something wonderful and great. We may not understand all the mysteries of the Body yet but we at least have the knowledge that we are growing and changing into something wonderful and unique as part of the Body. It is far from a perfect place but I am not sure that the Church was ever intended to be perfect because it is full of people who are working out their salvation daily. However, it is something that is, through the Spirit, demonstrating the character of Jesus by showing mercy and compassion to its members. It is a place where forgiveness is to be practiced every day, a place of grace. The only qualifying statement to that is that people must recognize their condition.
The comparison of the old and new is what we continue with now. Paul has described what the process is to growing into the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus. Now he writes:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. vs. 17
Scripture is not using metaphors when it says that the old has gone and the new has come. Jesus referred to it as being born again. Paul refers to it as a new creation. There is a transformation that takes place at the point of salvation and that transformation continues in our training process as we grow up in the Body. Because of this transformation we can no longer do what we did before our salvation because the two do not belong together and cannot exist together. It is not us who decide that; the Holy Spirit convicts and empowers us to walk away from what is not part of Jesus. We choose whether to obey or ignore him. If we ignore him we run the risk of returning to what we once were, to the futility of our thinking.
It is important to keep in mind and in heart that a person without Jesus cannot understand and will continue to tell us that Jesus does not exists, that God is not real, that we are using a crutch, that it is a psychological thing that is happening to us. Paul writes:
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. v. 18
They excuse away the things of God because they do not have the mind of Christ and cannot see or feel the move of the Spirit. They do not hear that voice and are not overwhelmed by his love. They are mockers and take great joy, at times, in poking fun at everything that is holy. They are ignorant of the truth because their heart is hard. They cannot understand the mysteries. Do you have someone like that in your life? Recognize them by their actions and character:
Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. v. 19
The harder the heart the more self-indulging they are. They can only think of themselves and a fulfilling of their own desires. This is in complete contrast to the character of Jesus, the character we are being transformed into. These indulgences are not all self-evident. Some of them are tucked away from view but others are clearly seen. Be careful. Such character only seeks to destroy that which is holy and belongs to Jesus because it is in complete opposition to Christ:
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. vs. 20-24
You are completely different from what you were. People without Christ will not understand and will tell you it is all in your head but the changes that are taking place in you cannot be explained in psychological terms because you are being possessed by a love that is impossible for us to have. Ask yourself what kind of love you see in the person who mocks and attacks the things of God? You were like that at one time, living in complete opposition to Jesus, selfish in your desires, selfish even in your love. Maybe you did see it in such a way but you know now that it was true.
If you feel yourself being hard pressed due to your faith by things that are in opposition to your faith then rejoice; your faith is being tested to discover whether it is genuine. Do what Jesus did; use the Word of God to refute your fears, your doubts and the fiery darts of the enemy. Put on the full armour of the Spirit every day making sure that the belt of truth is securely fastened. Refresh yourself in the Father's love every day, several times in the day. Drink deep, bathe in it, rejoice in it, that you are the object of his affection. We no longer belong to the former ways. Set them aside and walk in the newness you have been given, with all its love, mercy, patience, forgiveness, humility and grace. Go on you new creation and rejoice in what Jesus has done for you. I will say it again, REJOICE!