Faithlife Sermons

Living our days of Flesh and Blood in the midst of Spiritual Realities - Ephesians 5:15-20

Ephesians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:12:34
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Ephesians 5:15-20 Living our days of Flesh and Blood in the midst of Spiritual Realities INTRO In our approach to the passage this morning I am going to have us glance ahead to where we are going…and then glance back to see how ‘it’ where we are going has been infused within this letter since the beginning. THIS, I believe, will help us draw out then, the enriching truth awaiting for us in (verse 15-20) in Chapter 5, of which will be in consideration this morning. Glancing ahead now…not far around the bend is the final chapter,… Chapter 6,…and starting in (verse 10), PAUL says this: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” Spiritual realities we are fighting against. The word against is mentioned 6 times there. Why are we fighting against them? Because they are opposing who are flesh and blood , YES, if a Christian we are “Born of the Spirit”… the Spirit of God “we are Spiritual”…in that sense..(1 Corinthians 2:13), awakened by the Spirit to believe, to love and follow Jesus BUT we are still in this body of flesh, this tent Paul describes as a body of death (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)…this perishable body that awaits that day…“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality,…”…we are still awaiting that day and therefore are still in this body made up of flesh and blood (John 3:5-6) opposed by that which is not. In short, Christians are fighting against the spiritual forces of evil…..that exist where?…. “in the heavenly places.” Right, heavenly places. And we’ve seen Paul infuse these Spiritual Realities since the beginning of the epistle. He has instilled portion after portion of it leading up to the closing of his letter. Where is this first seen? Chapter 1 (verse 3) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the…?…heavenly places,…”. “…heavenly places”…It comes up again in chapter 1…(verses 19-21) in Paul’s prayer for wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory…to know what is the “immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the….?… heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion….”…rule, authority and power…those ring a bell to Chapter 6 at all? It does doesn’t it. Another portion, instilled by Paul is seen in chapter 2 (verses 4-6). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the…?…heavenly places in Christ Jesus,…” Paul instills a heavy portion in chapter 3 (verses 8-10) noting the gift given to him by GOD “…to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that….now get ready ….so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the…..check this out…to the rulers and authorities in the….?…yep,…you guessed it….in the heavenly places.” Very reminiscent of chapter 6 where Paul is speaking of that which we here and now wrestle against. NOW why do I draw attention to ALL this? Because,…because living our days of flesh and blood…right now…you and I, the Christian…perishable bodies of flesh and blood lived out in the in-between…you know….the already not yet. ‘Spiritual Reality’ - we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places,….our standing POSITIONALLY, being in Christ…..That is not realized yet….and while awaiting that day when it is realized…while awaiting it in the here and now we are wrestling against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places that are against us. Which is also our standing POSITIONALLY being in Christ. OPPOSED and fighting against the forces of evil in the heavenly places. AND I believe, looking at this passage before us this morning,….through that lens,…in that context, will help us draw out the spiritual richness in it to grab hold of by faith. Much like how infusing salt into meat unleashes the flavor locked in for you to enjoy and savor with each bite. I want to infuse this TRUTH about Spiritual realities into the text to draw out and help us taste the truth God has for us in the passage,…that we may partake in the goodness of it together. THAT it is sooo much more than do’s and don’t’s….crossing this off, & checking this box,…. It is not just a matter of instructions, mere instructions, but rather the Christian life is that of dynamic truths that operate on the Spiritual realm. God’s TRUTH doesn’t change but you and I, the christian, are being changed / transformed by it. My hope is that by the Holy Spirit’s help,…flavor filled truth may be released within this passage for us to enjoy and savor together as we take it in to digest and nourish our souls thereby. To be impacted by it with life long lasting effect as ones…who ourselves are to ‘be’ the salt of the earth…ourselves,…drawing out all that is right, true and good (Ephesians 5:9) in all of our goings and conversations living our days of flesh and blood in the midst of Spiritual Realities. Would you join me in prayer on that note - on Living our days of flesh and blood in the midst of Spiritual Realities. - Opening Sermon Prayer SO, what does the passage before us - provide as nourishment to our souls to do this?… …to - Living our days of flesh and blood in the midst of Spiritual Realities? How do we do this? The passage before us provides 3 morsels to take in and digest to that end. Those three morsels are: Mindful living Spirit filled living & Thankful living BODY 1) FIRST POINT - (Ephesians 5:15-17). Mindful Living Morsel #1 - Mindful living…taking our first bite into (verses 15-17) of Chapter 5. Let’s sink our teeth into God’s Word shall we and read these 3 verses. - read The meat in this bite I perceive to be (verse 16). “…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” TIME. Can a price tag be placed on time? I don't’ believe so. No currency amount can purchase more time nor make up for lost time. Every human being has an equal deposit amount of time each day to spend as they choose. And regardless of how it is used it is all spent at the end of the day…every penny…there is no saving for the next….and a same fresh full amount of it…is credited once again at the start of a new day. Mindful living in the midst of Spiritual Realities has an ongoing survey of their use of time. Mindful of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places we have been blessed with in Christ by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:3). Mindful that we are saved by grace and have been (past tense) have been raised up with Christ and seated with him in the heavenly places..…” A spiritual reality not yet fully realized as we are in the time between…. between IT being done, fully accomplished by Jesus…by His atoning death on the cross and through His resurrection from the grave….and the realization of IT at the fullness of time when the end of the age comes at Christ’s return. During this time…the time in between in which the days are indeed - evil,… we wrestle against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places…” Mindful living in the midst of these spiritual realities looks carefully on how time is stewarded…on how we walk…how we live out each day. Invested wisely… or foolishly squandered? Are we contributing to God’s work of Grace in us mindfully aware of the blessings of His glorious grace we are ben-e-fact-ors of? Are we on guard against the schemes of the devil to ensnare us, trip us up, tempt us, cause division, bring discouragement, whisper lies….ARE WE on guard against that? “…the will of God is our Sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) Understanding this….Are we actively on both the offense and the defense of striving towards that end? Offense - TIME in God’s Word, TIME in prayer, TIME in contemplation, TIME in being a doer of God’s Word and not a hearer only (Luke 8:21)..TIME in practicing repentance, TIME in confessing sin. Defense - “..taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) resisting the devil and drawing near to God, combating lies with truth, interceding in prayer on behalf of others and not just ourselves, keeping “…oneself unstained from the world…” (James 1:27). TIME in seeking help from a brother or sister in Christ when you are feeling weak. “Are we making the best use of our TIME for the days are….evil.” Spiritual warfare is a reality not many christians are mindful of. CHRIST has yet to return. The god of this world, satan, is still allowed by God to oppose the church and reek havoc on God’s creation which he will increasingly do till he is blasted away by the brightness of Christ’s return and forever cast into the lake of fire. This has yet to happen. He is constantly on the attack. Are you… ARE WE mindful of this? This is the TIME in between. Evil is still allowed to operate. Lawlessness is not going away until the lawlessness one is taken out of the way. We are in a Spiritual warfare,…though positionally seated in the heavenly places in Christ WE who are flesh and blood are doing battle against the forces of evil who are not flesh and blood. While all along —-in doing so —-God is making known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places His manifold wisdom in the preservation and sanctifying work of His covenant people - the CHURCH - by the Power of His Spirit through faith in His Son according to His Word of Truth to the praise of His glorious grace. Mindful living in the midst of these Spiritual Realities surveys each day in light of this in how time is invested. THE investment of time each day…will certainly be different from day to day… won’t it? Sometimes to great degree, sometimes to little. One day may be full throttle forward to the praise of God while another to the praise of God may be the godly need to be refreshed…to recoup and rest your mind and body. I would say also,…days lived to varying degrees,…are unpredictable and therefore one needs to be flexible. Right?….Good intent to invest a day one way may quickly go sideways when that which is more needful presents itself. We have all experienced this…. we see examples of this numerous times in the accounts of the early church in the book of Acts. JESUS himself gives testimony to this in His ministry years as well. Remember JESUS wearied from His journey to Samaria, resting at the well while his disciples go into town to get some food. While they are running that errand JESUS speaks with the women at the well. You know the story in (John 4:1-34),. Upon making himself known to her “I who am speaking to you am He…I am the Christ” she drops the bucket and immediately goes to town inviting all to come and meet Jesus. Shortly before the townspeople come,…His disciples return with food at the ready for wearied JESUS to be refreshed by. JESUS is wearied..tired and hungry. He…needed…food,…HE was going to eat…that was the plan (which is a good and important thing to do)…..what happened?….(verses 31-32) “Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” I can see the disciples faces….like “What is he talking about?” (verses 33-34) “So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” (Like, Dude..John…did you sneak him a snickers bar?). Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” It was not wrong for the intent for food to be eaten. JESUS needed it. IT, however, was TRUMPED by the more needful work the Father prepared for Jesus to do instead. We ought to likewise be mindful of the unpredictability of life. Always ready for every good work of faith prepared beforehand by God to show up at any time. (Ephesians 2:10) Seasons of life also have a play in what our days may look like. Singles, newly weds, new parents, empty nesters….their days will look… different.…….Your God given temperament and individual make up plays a role. God’s particular calling on your life also brings influences to this. Your particular God given abilities…different gifts…of His…given to His people to be used in the power of the His Spirit in service to Him…One body, many members… a lot of differences come to play but each member of the body of Christ ought to look carefully on how we walk surveying each day in being mindful of how we live our days of flesh and blood in the midst of these Spiritual Realities. Okay, while we finish chewing and savoring this morsel that it may be taken in and put into practice of….Mindful living….we come to two verses (verses 18 & 19) that have…a mystical air about them. 2) SECOND POINT (Ephesians 5:18-19) - Spirit Filled Living Let’s read them through and have them speak for themselves to that affect. (verses 18-19)- read What is Paul speaking of here? If we are living our days in flesh and blood in the midst of Spiritual realities - which we are. Standing holy and blameless in Christ before our Holy Father God in heaven and, while on this earth, engaged in a spiritual warfare against that which is not flesh and blood…. What is of vital importance? Spirit Filled Living. Our 2nd morsel to enjoy a savory bite from in (verses 18-19). Spirit Filled Living. To be filled with the Spirit of Him who already won the victory for us and therefore we can be assured to defeat our foe whom we daily wrestle against in these days that are evil. In fact, Mindful living is living in dependance upon the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your decisions, your day, your use of time, “Let your good Spirit lead me.” (Psalm 143:8-10) “Make me know the way I should go.” The Spirit that dwells within us is our guide in accordance to God’s Word who also searches our hearts…brings conviction of sin and leads us to repentance. The Spirit of God who imparts wisdom and discernment. ALL of vital importance. IS that the heart though of what Paul is speaking of here? It’s accurate and of necessity to be sure,…BUT I believe not the primary intent to what Paul is speaking of here in being filled with the Spirit. NOR is it mere instruction on how we communicate to one another though that is involved and in ways even participated in during our gatherings such as this morning. You know…joined in lifting our voices together to the Lord in song which we ourselves also hear and are instructed and built up by. This is true and is similarly mentioned in (Colossians 3:12-17). BUT is that what Paul is chiefly driving at with this morsel we are biting into? Remember also, he is speaking to who?….to Christians, right? To Christians who by definition are Born Again by the Spirit of God….who’s Spirit has taken permanent residence in their heart. The Spirit of God awakened them to the glories of Christ through the gospel, they believed,… same as you and I SAINT,….and are likewise vessels of mercy forever indwelled—by—the—Spirit—of—God. Yet PAUL is saying to them…to “be Filled with the Spirit.” EVEN if they are growing in the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5) “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control”. Even if they are growing in them…I’m having difficulty seeing how that is on point with…..addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” What is Paul speaking of here? Let’s consider this by what Paul uses as a contrast not to do. Perhaps that will help. (Verse 18) “…do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery…”. Debauchery meaning - indulgence in bodily pleasures in all it’s forms. (Psalm 104:14-15) “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart..”…..Wine in itself is not bad…the fruit of the vine which God causes to grow that gladdens the heart of man….. ‘Jesus’ enjoyed wine in proper proportions, never over indulged, never used in excess….but enjoyed wine. It was the beverage at the last supper. Used it “the fruit of the vine” as one of the elements… being that which “represented his blood that was shed”…when He instituted the sacrament of communion. Turning water into wine was his first miracle performed. His First…Remember, at the wedding feast (John 2:10). A celebratory event. Man and woman entering the covenant of marriage, becoming one flesh. A fitting occasion for the fruit of the vine to be partaken of in proper measure. JESUS provided the best wine for the occasion. Wine in itself is not bad. PAUL is drawing from what we know about wine and directs it Godward. (Psalm 4:7) “You - God - You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Great joy and delight when pantries are full and wine is plentiful…but, Spirit filled living is having, experiencing greater joy in God than what any earthly delights or pleasures could bring about. “….filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” Could this be what Peter is speaking of in (1 Peter 1:8) when he says….“Though you have not seen him (that’s Jesus), you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” This same PETER, who while he was still speaking to the Gentiles about Jesus..witnessed this taking place this rejoicing with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, he witnessed this taking place in (Acts 10:44-46)…Peter, while sharing the gospel of Jesus with Gentiles….while…in other words, he wasn’t finished speaking… “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the Word. And the believers from among the circumcised (that would be Jews, not Gentiles) Jewish believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.” Speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave utterance…(Acts 2:4)…utterance of inexpressible joy filled with glory…. “Melodies erupting from within their heart made to the Lord.” I can’t help but include one (Acts 2:1-15), when the people in Jerusalem witnessed the affects of ‘this’ happening to the believers gathered in the upper room…Remember,…The men of Judea were mockingly thinking they were what? “filled with new wine!” In other words - DRUNK. These guys are intoxicated…they were saying..…And I say yes and amen they were but not with wine,…. rather with the Spirit of God. Filled with the Spirit of God with a “joy inexpressible and full of glory.”…making melody to the Lord with their heart.” CHURCH can this be none other that the baptism of the Holy Spirit? “….filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” Filled with wine in excess is debauchery and should not be sought after. Filled with the Spirit overflowing in your heart is joy inexpressible and should be sought after. The opposite of this is dull. Is your christian life dull? Are you uninspired? If all you know of Christianity is rules of do’s and don’ts and how you ought to be and how you ought not be and know nothing of this power of the baptism of the Holy Spirit in your life….you will grow very frustrated if you have not all ready. I am not speaking of the The Spirit of God indwelling you….taking up residence permanently in your heart. I am not talking about this….this was done at conversion. I’m talking about a direct act of the Holy Spirit that happens to you…that is visibly evident. Something we read about in the early church that was the norm. Something every true revival bears witness to. Something happens to them that what outside of them like we read about in Acts. It is not conjured up, it is not manufactured, it was not their own doing. NO, they waited and God sent. The Holy Spirit filling them in this manner was powerfully evident to them as well as to others witnessing it take place. This is perhaps something you’ve read about of the saints of old who attempt to describe this touch of God that brought them as close to realizing the Spiritual Reality of being seated with Christ in the heavenly places while still here on earth in the time in between. Take for instance a statement by William Guthrie, a Scotsman from the 1600’s, a typical Scot, the extreme opposite of the effervescent, emotional, unstable type…someone like me…a polar opposite of me who was a great brain, and a theologian. William Guthrie says this about himself being baptized by the Holy Spirit. - read from book (pg 105). Do we know something of this church? Some here may say ‘yes’ to this…… Thinking…“I dare speak of it for human words are unworthy to convey the ‘Sensible Presence’ of God I was blessed with…”…..Ones who are moved within right now having their heart greatly warmed by the mere reflected memories of that blessing received…., BUT I believe for many the answer is no…we don’t. This was the norm for the early church. This is the norm for any true Holy Spirit brought about revival. This can happen today, to any believer. When William says “it is not given unto all believers”…this is not because it’s not available to them….NO…they simply don’t seek it…and that is our duty and privilege…to seek God’s face that it would be given. To not be filled with wine in excess but rather be filled with the Holy Spirit overflowing in your heart making melodies of joy inexpressible full of glory to the Lord. This, we Christians, living our days of flesh and blood in the midst of Spiritual Realities, this we ought to seek God for. WHY?…You ask….Well First off,…our Father delights to give this gift of Himself. (Luke 11:9-13, Matthew 7:7-11). Jesus speaking here..“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone, (you hear that?) For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” SAINTS….Your heavenly Father delights to give this gift of Himself to you. And Secondly, when it comes,…when it comes…great assurance of who you are floods your soul and brings about a great ‘power’ in your witness as a christian and therefore does great harm to the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places we are wrestling against. Do you see that!? I love what MLJ says on this note: Listen to this… “…there is nothing the devil is more anxious to prevent than that a Christian person should be baptized with the Holy Spirit. A formal Christian does not worry the devil. The formal Christian does not do much harm to the kingdom of the devil. But once a Christian is filled with the Spirit he becomes a menace to the devil.” That is it. That is what we are meant to be. Menaces to the devil who turn the world upside down for JESUS. A revival is nothing but this happening to individuals on a grand scale. OH….May the Lord be gracious and pleased to grant this blessing to Pillar Bible Fellowship as the epic center for a revival wave to move through our land….and may we do our part in seeking it…because that is of necessity. We must ask…We must seek…We must knock for the door to be opened. Swallowing now this morsel on Spirit Filled living I’ll offer some savory instruction about seeking it. I remind you again. IT is a gift of God as He Sovereignly determines to give in His way and in His time. It cannot be manufactured, it cannot be conjured up, insisted upon or brought about by any means outside of God’s will to graciously do so. It is a gift. A gift..We are to seek it with persistence and urgency and not be spasmodic about it. Spasmodic….Trying for a time…nothing happens…we stop seeking. And then pick it up again sometime later when re-inspired to do so only to stop again having yet to receive it. NO….NO, that is not the way. We must be like Jacob who wrestled with God ALL night saying (Genesis 32:26) “I will not let you go until you bless me.” It is with that element of urgency, of necessity to receive it that you are tenaciously unrelenting in your pursuit of God. We must be patient also, for it may come in a moment, in days time or in many years time. OR anytime in between. There is no knowing so we must be patient, we must keep on keeping on…and not become discouraged as we wait by either the duration of time nor where He takes your hand and leads you through in life preparing your heart to be fit for it. As the HYMN puts it “Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee! Even though it be a cross that raises me.”….Like…If that be the case Lord…so be it so long as it comes. As long as it brings me nearer to you. The FINAL two - “Abide in Him” (1 John 2:4-6). Meaning you are seeking God in His Word regularly and spending time in prayer to know Him and in the power of His Spirit to walk in the same way in which Jesus walked.”…and bearing fruit in keeping with repentance when you don’t. And the most important of all…you are not to seek the gift but the giver. WE ARE to seek God, to know Him and His love for us. To be strengthened with His might to be able to comprehend His love of us in Christ Jesus. IF you are seeking the gift itself,…it will not come. WE ARE to seek Him. Our Creator. Our Heavenly Father. The One and only True Living God who is blessed forever. (John 17:3; Romans 1:25). HE is faithful and trustworthy to come through on His promises. And He is so worth it. 3) THIRD POINT (Ephesians 5:20-21) - Thankful living Our last of 3 morsels as mention early on living our days in the flesh and blood in the midst of Spiritual Realities…and that is Thankful living CONCLUSION Supplied for us in (verse 20), Let’s take it in..starting off in (verse 18) again -read Being our closing point…let’s take this morsel together with the others. Like a dinner plate mixing it together to have the flavors interact with one another. I know for some your food can’t even touch the other items on your plate. TRUST me, if you haven’t ventured there, mixing food together…discoveries await. But this last morsel of thankful living, we are going to blend in the others for they work together. When we are mindful of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ we have been blessed with by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,..and that though we wrestle against the forces of evil in the heavenly places that are not flesh and blood,…JESUS our KING (Psalm 18:39) who “equips us with strength for the battle”…has done all and supplies all for us to fight in the power of His Spirit in the victory He secured for us,…who came in flesh and blood, walked among us, showed us the Father’s love through all His earthy life and then most signally by laying down His life of His own accord as a ransom for many. Triumphing over satan, sin and death. His body of flesh was broken and His blood was shed on the cross as an offering for sin to once and forever set free from sin those who call upon His name as Lord and Savior. We who are living our days of flesh and blood in the midst of these Spiritual Realities have ample reason to “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Thankful living is fitting savor upon our lips for those who have been awakened to these Spiritual Realities. Let’s live our days of flesh and blood in light of this Truth. - PRAY * Mindful living - Use of Time * Spirit Filled living - Baptism of the Holy Spirit * Thankful living - Lasting savor COMMUNION Mindful of us and still is; Know this Lord and Savior who is worthy of pursuit Benediction (Colossians 3:12-17)
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