EPHESIANS 4 - UNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST
Ever notice how God so often talks about “team”, “no man is an island” stuff. He teaches us about the Body of Christ, the Church, the believers (plural), etc. But just a word of caution here…your salvation is not a team sport; you don’t get into the Kingdom of God on the team’s coat tails. Nope, your salvation is your personal and intimate relationship with Jesus. Make sure you are on His team first.
As I speak today on the unity in the body of Christ, it so reminds me of many of the principles in the military. Any of you who have been in the military will know what I mean.
Military leadership means that you:
• Inspire others
• Don’t just bark out commands
• Ensure that justice prevails
• Establish and promote programs that promote health and happiness (the military now calls it Resiliency Training)
• Pursue absolute integrity and honesty in thought, word and deed for yourself and those you lead
• Know your people
• Meet with them frequently and regularly
• Focus on areas that need to be improved
• Are accountable, thoroughly and accurately communicate and live by the Core Values
• Are not a know it all; are open to ideas, corrections and knowledge
• Are decisive and not wishy-washy
• Are consistent, not driven by good and bad hair days
• Are visible, with the people and don’t micromanage them
• Have high expectations and lead by example
• Take responsibility for things that fail and praise others when success prevails
Many of us have lived that, or at least tried our best; very difficult to do with only a broken Adam nature. These higher goals can only be reached by a higher nature inside. So, ask Jesus inside and go from there!
Let’s take a look at God’s Army:
Ephesians 4:1-16: Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.
• With all humility, gentleness, patience. Showing forbearance with one another in love (you are NOT the boss, bully or king!)
• Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, for there is one body and one Spirit (inspire others, ensure justice)
• Just as you were called in one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all
• But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift, He gave gifts to men
• He gave some as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers
For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ (like Basic Training!)
FOR HOW LONG?
• Until we all attain to the unify of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to the mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ (AIT, Air Staff and Command College, Air War College!)
TO WHAT RESULT?
• That we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming (be decisive and not wishy washy)
• But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ
• Jesus, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies (each and every one of us)
• According to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love
LEADERSHIP MESSAGE … YES, GO TEAM!
God bless you all.
NOW GO LIVE IT!
[Live recording of sermon.]
Your “robe of righteousness” was custom made for YOU…a gift of God. Don’t throw it off and put on the garments of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Isaiah 61:10: “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation; He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness.”
• You may get out of trouble by lying
• You may get more money back on your income tax by cheating
• You may feel more loved in an adulterous relationship
• You may feel vindicated and relieved in anger
• You may feel victorious in revenge
But you’re still nowhere! Sort of like “the one who dies with the most toys…is still DEAD!
You may have all those things, but you’re still dead in unrighteousness.
What can you do? Break free and change clothes! Get on your face before God and ask for that “new life” and “new creature” existence with a “new robe of righteousness” that God tells us about.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21: “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
• NEW command
• NEW Covenant
• NEW and living way
• NEW heart
• NEW way of thinking, feeling and wanting
But what does that kind of change mean? Well, just a physical change – behavior modification, so to speak, is not what God is talking about. It is not about rules and religion – it’s about relationship with God. THAT is the change so many need to make.
Many people have grown up dutifully performing and participating in the religious ceremonies, celebrations and traditions of a “denomination” rather than as a “disciple” of the Lord. A church, a belief system or religious leaders often have had more of a direct influence on people than God Himself!
Romans, Chapters 6-8 – make sure you read those chapters sometime soon. They are RICH in telling us of:
• The deliverance from sin
• Leading a balanced life
• The victory we have in the Spirit of God
But I will emphasize Romans 6:6 and 11-14: “…knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”
In Ephesians 4:22-24, we read, “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
And the “new man” must be put on, like a new set of clothes.
Now, that takes a SPIRITUAL DECISIVENESS ON YOUR PART!
In finishing, this message of the new nature is not a dark and dire message…it is a message of supreme hope! The Spirit of God can accomplish a life-changing transformation for anyone who comes to Jesus and remains bound to Him.
Ephesians 1:13-14: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
Don’t go out with the old robe of unrighteousness with which you were born…but put on the robe of righteousness that God made for you and stand tall in His beauty. God bless!
NOW GO LIVE IT!
[Live recording of sermon.]
God is putting the pieces together. Paul wrote to the church in Rome, "...do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2)
The Greek word for transform is metamorphoo (meta, meaning change and morphe, form). In biology class, we learned that through metamorphosis a caterpillar changes into a butterfly, and a tadpole transforms into a frog. Likewise, when we come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we begin a lifelong journey requiring us to submit daily to the Holy Spirit who teaches us, enables us, and empowers us to be conformed and transformed into the image of Christ. Our mind is actually renewed to prove and know the good, acceptable,and perfect will of God.
Yes, it is a battle, a spiritual warfare to die to self and old habits and to live for Christ in the refreshing newness of the Holy Spirit. Paul's own words cry out in this struggle to put off the old man - "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" He answers his own question, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24, 25) You are like a complex puzzle - are you willing to let go and let God put the perfectly fashioned pieces together to transform you in 2018 and beyond?
NOW GO LIVE IT!
The next time you think God doesn’t love you or can’t use you, think on these things:
• Abraham was too old
• Isaac was a daydreamer
• Jacob was a liar
• Joseph was abused
• Rahab was a prostitute
• David had an affair and was a murderer
• Jonah ran from God
• Peter denied Christ
• The disciples fell asleep while praying
• The Samaritan woman was divorced more than once
• Paul was too religious
• And Lazarus was DEAD!!
You see, God IS love.
• 1 Peter 4:8—love covers a multitude of sin
• Galatians 5:13—through love, serve one another
• Hebrews 13:1—let the love of the brethren continue
• 1 John 4:7—love is from God
• Jude 21—keep yourselves in the love of God
But what is this “love” God talks about. It’s not the squishy, emotional feelings we have from the broken Adam nature. No way. The love God talks about is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
God’s kind of love:
• Is patient
• Is kind
• Is not jealous
• Does not brag
• Is not arrogant
• Does not act unbecomingly
• Does not seek its own
• Is not provoked
• Does not take into account a wrong suffered
• Rejoices with the truth
• Bears all things
• Hopes all things
• Endures all things
• Never fails
Broken humans can’t love like that. Only by inviting Jesus into your heart and letting HIS love come out through you, can we ever meet that measure. So, go on now…live an awesome life with an awesome God who loves YOU!
NOW GO LIVE IT!