Yesterday, we continued our series in the book of Ephesians at Revolution Church called Image is Everything. I preached from Ephesians 4:17 – 24 on one of the biggest struggles followers of Jesus have: finding freedom from sin and temptation in their life. If you missed it, you can listen here.
Scripture says that when we begin following Jesus, we are made new, but what does that look like? How do you know?
I believe, we sin because of 2 reasons:
- We believe we are lacking something.
- We believe that doing something (in this case, sinning) will make us happy.
Paul points out 3 things that those who don’t follow Jesus have true about them when they sin:
- They are callous. Meaning, they are apathetic to the things of God. This happens when we read Scripture, sees what it says and say, “I don’t care what the Bible says, I’m going to do the opposite.”
- They give themselves to sensuality. This word means they lack moral restraint with their bodies and sexuality. This could be looking at porn, fantasizing about someone you aren’t married to, getting lost in romance novels or magic mike, getting your emotional needs met by someone you aren’t married to, living with someone you aren’t married to, having sex with someone you aren’t married to, or homosexuality.
- They are greedy. Hoarding money for security, not being generous. One author asked, “Which question brings more anxiety to your mind: There is no God or there is no money in the bank?” The answer to that question says a lot about your heart.
The interesting thing about all of these sins is that they are hard to pin down in our lives. These things are easy for us to get away with because none of us thinks we’re callous, sensual or greedy. We all know someone we would consider is more callous, sensual or greedy. Paul then writes in vs. 19 they practice any kind of impurity. Almost like he was tired of making a list or he wanted to say, “Any other sin” just in case you wanted to find a way out.
The bottom line in vs. 20 is that a follower of Jesus doesn’t live this way. Why? They’re mind has been changed (vs. 17, 21). It’s interesting that Paul talks about the mind, but when you think about it, whatever we believe about anything, we act out those beliefs. If we believe we are lonely, we act on that. If we believe we are hurt, we act on that. If we believe we must work 80 hours a week, we act on that.
For Paul in this passage, being made new comes from our mind.
In his new book Who do you think you are Mark Driscoll lays out 11 things that happen when you begin to follow Jesus:
- New Birth. The Bible says that when someone begins following Jesus they are born again, meaning they have a new heart, new nature, new identity, new passions. One of the ways followers of Jesus illustrate this is through baptism.
- New Lord. Satan and sin no longer dominate followers of Jesus. Followers of Jesus are tempted, we fall and sin. But we’ve been given a new Lord, Jesus now rules their lives. The book of Hebrews in the NT tells us that right now, Jesus is sitting by God the Father, ruling and reigning over all of planet earth, that he loves, forgives us, serves us, indwells us, empowers us, intercedes on our behalf. Jesus will never fail, leave or forsake you. Jesus defeated Satan on the cross and by rising from the dead so that you have don’t to believe Satan’s lies, succumb to his temptations or serve his mission.
- New Heart. In Scripture, heart is the symbolic seat and center of our identity. It is expressed outwardly through our actions. Jesus said that words, lusts, how we spend our money, evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, envy, slander, arrogance, sinful grief, anxiety, worry and drunkenness all come from our hearts. We’re told in Scripture that when we follow Jesus, we are given a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26).
- New Creation. This means change in us comes before change in our actions. We simply focus on our actions and think about how to stop sinning or living differently. Change comes from who we are. God doesn’t want to improve the old you, he wants to make an entirely new you.
- New Mind. As followers of Jesus, we are given new minds to think like Jesus thinks and love what Jesus loves. This doesn’t mean followers of Jesus are smarter than those who don’t follow Jesus, it does mean that without a new mind, the things of Jesus are not perceived and embraced. The Holy Spirit, now living in you as a follower of Jesus enlightens you to what Scripture says, gives you understanding past what you normally have, giving you the right words to say at the right moment as you share the truth of the gospel.
- New Love. As a follower of Jesus, you love as Jesus loved. This means we walk in obedience by loving God, our spouse, our children, friends, neighbors, and our enemies.We love the brokenhearted and hurt, the disenfranchised.
- New Desires. A new person has new desires. Followers of Jesus desire God’s will for their lives, to live by what Scripture calls them to. We still wrestle with sinful desires and temptations, but when we give in and sin, we are miserable until we repent and live in obedience to God, instead of not caring that we sin.
- New Community. Followers of Jesus desire and pursue community. They don’t sit on the sideline and avoid relationships with other Christians.
- New Power. As followers of Jesus, God gives us new, supernatural power to live new lives. This new power is the indwelling power of God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is called the helper and our teacher by Jesus. And Jesus told us he would send the Holy Spirit to us. The power of the Holy spirit enables us to live holy lives, to obey Jesus.
- New freedom. This new power from God the Holy Spirit is seen in our freedom, the ability to say no to sin and yes to God. We either have our faces toward sin and our backs toward God or our faces toward God and our back towards sin. We have the freedom to repent of our sin to God and turn from our sin. Being a follower of Jesus means you don’t have to hide from your sin, excuse your sin, blame others for your sin, or deny that you sin. Instead, a follower of Jesus is able to put their sin to death because Jesus died for it.
- New Life. Followers of Jesus have a vastly different life than they did before Jesus came into their lives and changed them.
Quick hits from twitter:
- We live out what we believe, whether in sinning or in freedom from sin (Ephesians 4).
- We sin because we think we’re lacking something or think we’re unhappy and sin will make us happy.
- “When we sin, we are believing that thing, that sin, that emotion will be better than Jesus.” -Tim Keller