Faithlife Sermons

Living as Children of the Light

The Seven  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Clothes that don’t match…
Before I dated Erin, I thought I dressed pretty cool. My style was a Jamaican / grunge fusion. With my fashionable bright colored sweater vest and my long flow-ie hair and my Sandals with my bright flamboyant socks but nothing matched but I didn’t care because that was my style.
But when I started dating Erin, I wanted to make a good impression. I changed… I no longer dressed to make a unique fashion statement, I dressed to impress this very pretty girl.
Last week we learned about what being a mature and healthy church looks like.
In our text this morning, Ephesians 4, Paul compares and contrasts the old carnal/fleshly/ sinful way of living without Christ vs. the new way of living in Christ.
We want to be a healthy and maturing church. A church that is growing in the character that reflects Jesus… that is growing in the gifts that promote Jesus… that is growing in the knowledge of the truth, and growing in our love for one another.
We grow because we begin to take on our identity as children of God. As we do that, we reflect the light of Jesus in a world that is full of darkness.
We can be the change as we change our clothes from the old to the new.
Ephesians 4:17–5:2 NIV
17 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. 18 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. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed. 20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
PRAY
After we encounter Christ, after we put our faith in Jesus, we are in that transformation process. The old clothes come off, and the new and better clothes are on.
That is not one and done… It’s not like going to to the mall, buying new clothes, and changing your outdated wardrobe for something modern.
We must accept God’s slow and steady process of transformation.

The process begins with our Thoughts

An ancient Chinese proverb says,
“Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words.
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny”
Bruce Sweet told the youth group… Sow a Thought, you reap a behavior, Sow a Behavior, you reap a habit Sow a Habit, you reap a Destiny.
Proverbs 4:23 NLT
23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Our thoughts are connected to our speech, our attitude, our choices, our actions, our plans.
If that’s true, we should pay closer attention to what we think about. What do we rent space in our mind with?
We want what we want but the truth is that our self-centeredness alienates us from God.
It’s easy to get to a place in our minds where don’t need of God. It’s easy and natural for us to be at a place where we do not have time for God.
The devil’s most effective weapon against believers is busyness. He distracts us by making us so busy that we don’t have time for God.
We think about our pleasures, our life, our plans instead of God’s plans for us.
Ephesians 4:17 NIV
17 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.
Paul begins by saying “You must no longer as the Gentiles do…”
This could be replaced with you must no longer as the Americans do. Paul wasn’t listing a bunch of specific sins, but the root of the sin.
Sin always begins with the distortion and disorientation of the mind. “in the futility of their thinking.” (v. 17)
Ephesians 4:18–19 NLT
18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.
“Their minds are full of darkness” (v. 18) “they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds” (v. 18) “and hardened their hearts against him.” (v. 18) “They live for lustful pleasure” (v. 19)
Ephesians 4:22 NLT
22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
“corrupted by lust and deception.” (v. 22).
If left to our own devices, our natural inclination is sin. We quickly become confused about our identity, we become angry and bitter about out past, and aimless in life.
We may have goals, even good goals but our goals don’t line up with God’s greater plan for us. If the core problem is a distorted mind then the solution is to fill our minds with Jesus.
Ephesians 4:20–21 NIV
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
Romans 12:2 NIV
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
What consumes our thoughts? Work, leisure, money, bills, future plans, worries in life?
If our thoughts determine our future, then learn from Jesus. Jesus is still the one who holds our future and promises the best things in life.
Be aware of those things that distract us from knowing Christ and remove them from our life.
Read, study, memorize, the Gospels, the life of Christ.
Pray God’s Word and meditate on scripture because the God’s process always begins with our thoughts.

Our thoughts will dictate our Talk and our Tude.

The slow and steady process of changing from our old clothes to our new begins with our thoughts but the fruit of that change is shown through our talk and our attitude.
Paul gives us a strong action words.
Ephesians 4:22–24 NIV
22 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; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
3 active phrases: “to put off,” “to be made new,” and “to put on,”
Old Self… our former way of living our bad habits…
The old me… my human self without God.
That old self creeps up once in a while. When I’m tired, when I’m going through a difficult season, I’m stressed. Don’t beat your self up, just keep on taking off that old self and then keep on putting on the new self again.
Remember who you are created to be like and only God can make that happen. The end result is for us to be made in God’s righteousness and holiness.
Colossians 3:10 (NIV)
10 Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Again it beings with our thinking… knowing who God is our attitudes and our desires become renewed. That isn’t a quick change, it is a change that will last our lifetime.
God wants to change our thoughts, our tude, and then our tongue.
Ephesians 4:29 NIV
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
It’s hard to control our tongue and for many of us, that seem’s like an impossible task. We might be better off taking a vow of silence!
A man by the name of John Francis took a seventeen-year vow of silence because he wanted to stop arguing.
He realized that he had been too quick to argue, and too quick to assume he knew what other people were going to say instead of listening and letting them finish their thought.
His vow of silence helped him become a better listener and produced a changed man by the time his vow ended.
17 years is a bit much but perhaps we can start small. Maybe a whole day without complaining about anything.
Be patient with the process and don’t give up on the process. Give it time and be patient. God has given us new clothes to put on but we naturally get so attached to our old clothes. God has something so much better but we have to take off the old and put on the new clothes every day.

Put on your New Clothes

Everyone wants to be valued… everyone wants an identity that is unique, and special. Our identity determines our decisions. Paul is saying throw off the old sinful nature, throw away the old blueprint because Jesus Christ wants to rebuild your life on HIM. Jesus is that brand new blueprint that we are intended to become.
Ephesians 5:1–2 NIV
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
We don’t just make better decisions simply because we are older and wiser. We now have an identity as dearly loved children of God.
We must daily put on the new self by recognizing that we are now in Christ. It’s not about who you are but whose you are. We surrender our identity for Jesus.
Ephesians 4:30 NLT
30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
We were created in the image of God and that gives us great value. Surrender our self-centered identity and put on our Christ-defined identity.
Galatians 2:20 NIV
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Salvation involves both us surrendering ourself to God and trusting God with everything else. Following Christ is not a list of dos and don’ts but it’s changing the way we use the parts of our body. Instead of glorifying ourselves, we use our body parts to glorify God and bless others.
We change the way we use our hands…
Ephesians 4:28–29 NIV
28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
We change the way we use our mouths…
In vs. 29 is says “Don’t use foul or abusive language. INSTEAD… Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
We change the way we treat others…
Ephesians 4:31–32 NIV
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
If we want to change to become who God want’s us to become, we must walk in God’s way by getting rid of anger, forgive one another the same way God has forgiven us. Forgiveness means that we will stop talking about what they did to us and let it go!
We need forgiveness because we are all broken futile and distorted without the love of God. It’s true, we are vile, but because of God’s grace, we are invited to put on the new self and be like Jesus and forgive the way Jesus forgave us. We need a redemption that we do not deserve, but also that God thinks we are worth saving. Only when we face the painful truth about ourselves is there hope for healing.
Take away
As human beings God never intended us to live merely as individuals; we were created for relationship with God.
We are restless until we rest in God.
What we need is not self-expression and self-satisfaction, but self-surrender and self-attachment to God, with whom all things are ours to enjoy.
This is not belief about Jesus, but an involvement with him and openness to him.
We identify with his death and resurrection by dying to self and rising to new life, which here are expressed as “putting off the old being” and “putting on the new.”
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