Sunday, June 19, 2016, 3:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Seek the Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 4:1-24 (Select vv. ESV).
Worthy of the Calling (vv. 1-7)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
When we come to true faith in Jesus Christ as Lord (master-owner), and as Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). The old has gone. The new has come. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He died in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives according to the Spirit (See: 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15; Ro. 8:1-14). A saved life is a changed life, transformed of the Spirit of God in new birth. Our lifestyles should, thus, reflect this transformation.
If Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, then daily, in the power and working of God’s Spirit within us, we should be putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh, and we should be putting on the armor of God with which to fight off Satan’s evil attacks against us and his temptations for us to give in to the flesh. And, we should be living holy lives, pleasing to God. This does not mean we will live in sinless perfection, but that our walks should match our confession of Christ as Lord and as Savior of our lives. We should live like Jesus truly set us free from slavery to sin, and we should be slaves of his righteousness, instead. We should not be daily feeding our sinful flesh with all kinds of lusts and sinful cravings and desires, but we should be living to please our Lord in all we do.
This should be reflected in our attitudes, in our speech and in our behavior. We should not be prideful, thinking we are better than other people or that we are so deserving of God’s grace because of our own goodness. We are all born into sin. Not one of us is righteous in our own merit. We can only walk in holiness because of God’s grace to us in saving us from our sins and in empowering us with his Holy Spirit to walk in righteousness and no longer after the flesh. All glory goes to God for the good that is done in and through our lives. And, he gets all the praise when we live according to his standards for godly living, and when we no longer live to gratify our sinful flesh. We have nothing to boast about except our Savior who gave his life up for us so that we might live in victory over sin.
We Grow Up (vv. 11-16)
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
God has gifted each and every one of us, if we are truly his by genuine faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord. And, he has given us these gifts for the building up of the body of Christ in true faith and Christian practice. We don’t all have the same gifts. And, we are not to try to compete with one another, wishing we had gifts that others have. God has placed each and every one of us in his body as HE determined, not as we choose. Each one of us has a different function assigned to us by God, and different gifts given to us by the Holy Spirit. And, we are to fulfill those areas of ministry where we have been assigned, and utilize the gifts of the Spirit given to us, and to do so in the power of the Spirit at work within us.
We need one another to help encourage us to stay on track so that we don’t stray from our pure devotion to Jesus Christ and end up falling back into sin or else falling prey to deception and false doctrines. Yet, not everyone has faith. And, all those who do profess to have faith are not all walking according to the Spirit in their daily lives. Many Christians today are living just like the world, or very similarly. Many pastors and church leaders are following after humans and the flesh of man instead of following the leading of the Holy Spirit. And, so the body of Christ is not functioning as God intended, and the church is in crisis and in great need of revival and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Because this is true, that in many cases the body of Christ is not functioning as God intended, the body is not helping one another to mature in Christ as it ought. Instead, in much of today’s church, they are all joining together in worldly thoughts and actions, spending more time talking about what is worldly rather than in encouraging one another to live godly and holy lives pleasing to God. So, we need to individually seek God’s face and his counsel and we need to repent of any known sin in our lives and to now walk in the Spirit and to no longer gratify our sinful desires. Then, we can help one another to mature in Christ and we can encourage one another to watch out for false teaching, and to be discerning about what is true and what is not true.
In True Righteousness (vv. 17-24)
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
As followers of Christ Jesus we should no longer conduct our lives according to our sinful flesh. We should no longer be living to please our sinful nature, but we should be living to please God. So, we need to daily be in prayer and in the study of scripture in order to learn what pleases God and what displeases him, so that we can discontinue what we know to be wrong and we can begin to live how we ought to live as those who profess the name of Jesus. We have to first of all listen to what God says, and then we have to do it.
If we were taught the truth that is in Christ Jesus, and we were not taught a diluted and false gospel message, we should have learned that faith in Jesus Christ means death to sin and living to righteousness. We should have been taught that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means forsaking our former way of life, which is corrupt through deceitful desires, and it means putting “on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” We don’t do this in our own flesh, though. It is only in the power and working of God’s Holy Spirit that we can be transformed in heart and mind away from sin to walking in Christ’s righteousness, but we have to cooperate with the Spirit’s work. We have to yield control of our lives over to God, and allow his Spirit to change us from the inside out.
So, if today you have not yet allowed the Spirit of God to put your flesh to death and to empower you to live in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, I pray you will do so today.
Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012
Based off Isaiah 55
“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”
Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.
“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”