This is the library of Ephesus, empty of books now but at one time this was concerned one of the world's greatest deposit of human wisdom but all the information once contained here does not compare with what can be discovered from our flight over the powerful peaks of godly wisdom that we will find in the New Testament books of Ephesians.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: I want to hold something up because -- you have got to see this. This is a cigarette box. No, I don't smoke. I picked this up off the street in England and in one side it says, I am going to hold it up right here, it says, 'Smoking seriously harms you and others around you.' Okay so that's -- okay, there you go. Look at it that way and look on the other side. 'Smokers die younger.' Look how big that is. It's unmistakable as a warning. Smokers die younger and yet I look inside this box and it's empty.
So, whoever bought this box of cigarettes when full, I presume could read and I presume read that smokers die younger, yet they ignored the message. They could read it, they heard it or they saw it but they ignored the message, something that I notice as I travel in airports that smokers are sometimes like family. They will congregate together and they will like gather in rooms and these are designated rooms for smoking, but they will get in these rooms, I have seen them at airports and it's like a chimney in there. It's like the worst smoggy day in Los Angeles history and they are in there, puffing away, talking and just having a great old time of fellowship in the smoke. And yet here is the warning, 'Smokers die younger.' Okay, where am I going with this? It's a good question actually.
The theme of Ephesians is how God builds a family, a new society. New values, new relationships, a new standards, new operation, but it's all based on truth that must be heeded. We can't just read it, we have to heed it. We can't just see it, we have to do it. So the family that we congregate together, the new society of everything brand new is based upon truth that must be listened to and obeyed.
Now, something about Paul, in most of his letters, it's a standard Pauline way of organizing his writing, is he begins with doctrine and ends with application. There are six chapters in Ephesians and you can slice it right down the middle. The first three chapters are doctrinal. This is the truth that I want you to know. And then verse or chapter 4, 5, and 6 of the second half is, now that you know that doctrine, here is the duty based upon the doctrine.
So, this is what you know, now this is how you ought to live or what you ought to do in the light of it. So chapters 1 through 3 are doctrinal chapters, 4, 5, and 6 are applicational chapters. So I am going to divide it up for you. I am going to give you an outline and I think this is the best outline of the book.
Ephesians will tell you about number one, The Wealth of the Believer, number two, The Walk of the Believer and number three, The Warfare of the Believer. You can divide the book up with those three categories, the wealth, the walk and the warfare of the Christian. Or you might say doctrine, duty, and difficulty. Those are the three camps.
So, we are going to learn how to grow as Christians. We are going to learn how to walk as believers and we are going to learn how to fight as believers. Those are the three main categories of this book. It's God's new society, the new family based on truth and he tells us about the wealth, the walk and the warfare of the believer.
There is another way you can outline it because there are a few different words that are used. He talks in chapter 1 that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ, and then in chapter 4 he will talk about walk worthy of the Lord, walk based upon these things. And then in chapter 6, stand therefore in the fight against the viles of the devil.
So sit, walk, stand firm, the same idea. I prefer the wealth, the walk, and the warfare of the believer. Now just a few words about Ephesus before we dive in; Ephesus was the capital city of Asia Minor at that time. About a half a million people strong in the days of Paul, it was on the east-west trade routes and it housed a lot of the wealth of the Roman Empire, because people would travel through this area and sell their wares. So it became a very, very important and prominent place.
Paul, came to Ephesus on his first missionary journey, didn't really spend a whole lot of time there. He left after his first trip but he came back in the second missionary journey and he spent about three years teaching them, I would say expositionally. He gave them the whole counsel of God and a great church was established there.
Then on his third missionary journey, he visited Ephesus for the last time, not going all the way to Ephesus but meeting on the shores of Miletus, not very far away with the elders of the church of Ephesus and that's where he warned them and he said, I know that after my departure, Acts chapter 20, "Grievous or savage wolves will come in among you not sparing the flock," and he warned them to stand fast in the truth and give God's people the truth.
Also Ephesus was a place and a church that Jesus had a few words to say to, didn't he, in Revelation chapter 2. The famous seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor and the first on the list in Revelation chapter 2 is, "To the messenger or the angel at the church of Ephesus: These things says he who has the seven stars in his right hand and walks through the midst of the golden lamp-stands, I know your works, I know your patience, I know your labor, I know that you can't bear those who say they are apostles and are not, but I have something against you, you have left your first love. Repent therefore." And you know the rest of that little letter, little postcard that Jesus sends warning the church of Ephesus of their tendency towards spiritual decay and that seems to be their legacy.
Here is a great work that was started, Paul spent three years there, far more than any other city he had ever visited and established a church in and yet Eusebius, an early church historian tells us that during the last part of John, the Apostle's life, he lived in Ephesus and did nothing but combat false doctrine. We were told that by the third century AD, Ephesus lost its influence and its power in the world.
Now, if you go to Ephesus today and some of you have been on our journeys of Paul, about 25 percent of the ancient city is uncovered. It's been excavated and that's quite a lot for an ancient city because it was a large city. So 25 percent leaves you with some pretty spectacular sites as you enter Ephesus on one side, you see the Odeon, the great theater from the time of Paul, the Apostle. You walk down the street to the marketplace called the Agora and the same tile that Paul walked on, the same mosaics are still there today, you see them.
You all go all the way down the street and you are face to face with an impressive pillared library, two tiered library called the Library of Celsus and then you turn right and you go toward the ancient harbor and on the right hand side is this mega amphitheater that seated 25,000 people at the time of Paul, the Apostle. And it was in that theater still visible today where they cried out for a couple of hours "Great is Diana of the Ephesians, Great is Diana of the Ephesians." Now Diana was the principal deity in that area. In fact, her temple was called one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Diana is one name, the other name she is given is Artemis, that's the Greek. Diana is the Roman name but it's the same goddess that they worshiped in that area.
Now when Paul wrote this letter, he was in jail. He was in a Roman jail. That's where really he would come close to the end of his career when he was arrested and taken to Caesarea, remember the story in Acts and he stood before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, spent two years there, three trials. He was eventually put on a boat and he ended up in Rome. And he was under house arrest. It says the Paul lived in his own rented house for two years. While he was there chained to a guard, day and night. Can you imagine being chained to Paul the apostle? He would have to hear his conversations to local church leaders. He would have to hear as he dictates letters like Ephesians to this church. I mean literally he had a captive audience, no pun intended. They were chained to him. No wonder Paul when he writes another letter from this place.
Says that, "Many in Caesar's household, the elite Praetorian Guard were coming to know Christ." How could you help it? Being chained to Paul the Apostle. Well, one of those visitors was an Ephesian named Tychicus and he has mentioned in chapter 6 of this letter verse 21. He is the bearer of this letter as Paul would dictate that letter flanked by roman guards, the letter would be written out, Paul would sign it and Tychicus took the letter from that roman jail all the way to Ephesus in Asia Minor and that's the letter to the Ephesians.
Now, it was mentioned at the beginning that this is the crown jewel of New Testament letters. I would agree with that. It's has been called the Grand Canyon of scripture. It gives to you the depth and the breadth and the length and the height of God's plan and love and mercy and salvation. Or look at it as the Alps because from Ephesians you get the best view of God's plan to redeem people. That's a breathtaking view as you are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.
So, let's go back to our outline. Let's go through these chapters and just pick out a few verses and show how they all relate and then we'll get their overview done with Ephesians. So, now first is chapter 1 through 3 and this is the wealth of the believer. This is what we have and who we are and there is a phrase that is repeated over and over and over again in this section. It's the little phrase "in Christ." You are in Christ. You have come to Christ but once you come to Christ, God sees you as in His son, in Christ, and that's a very pregnant phrase. It comes with a lot of great theological truths.
So, 27 times in this section it says you are in Christ. And this is going to tell us about what we have. Now I mentioned if you were listening and I trust that you always are that there is a lot of wealth in Ephesus because of the trade routes. Ephesus was considered the bank of Asia. It was a financial center of the Roman Empire and that's interesting because Paul has chosen to use a lot of financial language in the letter. In the Greek language there are financial terms and they are translated in English as the word inheritance that's one term. Another term fullness and the other term filled.
Now what he is doing is giving the knowledge to these believers in Ephesus, just the amount of spiritual wealth they have as Christians, or the wealth in their spiritual bank account. I don't know if you ever have this problem where you go to an ATM and you punch in your little code and it says we are sorry, insufficient funds or funds not available or you write a check or you give a card and you get that embarrassing look of the waiter, I am sorry it's not accepting your card it must be our machine but do you have another card? You know how that goes. It's kind of embarrassing when you don't have the money; you thought you had, at that moment in the account.
Well, it's actually even worse if you have a large amount of money but you live your whole life unaware of how much you have. Therefore you live like a pauper when actually you are a prince. You have got the wealth but you never appropriated, because that is so common.
Paul wants the Ephesian believers to know about their wealth, who they are, what it means to be a believer, what they have in Christ? So verse 3 of chapter 1 "Blessed or blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." And what are those spiritual blessings? Verse 4 "Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." So we are rich because of our Father. There is an inheritance. We are related to our Father in heaven, our Heavenly Father and he is so limitless and we are part of that inheritance. So, we are rich because of our father. He chose us.
Verse 5 "Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which he has made us accepted in the beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."
So what is the wealth? What is in our bank account? First of all God chose you. That bothers some people. It bothers some people for them to realize that God actually has the capacity to choose. They get really angry that God has chosen certain people. For some reason -- here we are as human beings made in the image of God, we have the capacity of choice, but somehow we figure well God can't do that. But because He is God and we are made in His image and He is a person with personalty, He can choose.
And I don't look at it as a real drag or a bummer. I look at it as a blessing, because God chose me, and God chose you. Now you might be an unbeliever, "Well, how do I know God chose me?" Well receive Christ and you'll discover He has chosen you. I don't want to receive Christ. Well maybe He didn't choose you then. Well it's not fair. We'll receive Christ and you'll discover He has chosen you. I don't think I want to do that. Well maybe He hasn't chosen you then.
See the fact that God can choose doesn't cancel out His also other attribute that He has foreknowledge First Peter chapter 1 and can predestined based upon what He knows in advance. It's an attribute of God that you and I can't enter into. It makes a perfect sense from a divine point of view. So, God chose us.
Now I love what Charles Spurgeon said about this verse. He said "Well, it's a good thing that God chose me before I was born. He never would have chosen me afterwards." Well that's funny to think of but it's not quite true, because don't you think Jesus Christ knew that Peter would do what he did and deny him. Don't you think Jesus knew what Judas would do, that he would betray Him? Don't you think that Jesus knew that Thomas would doubt Him? He even predicted that Peter would do that and the Judas would do that.
So, He knew that in advance and yet He said to them, you didn't choose me but I chose you. So God chose us, that's part of the wealth. That's part of the wealth we have, God chose us. Something else notice in these verses, he adopted us, now we think of adoption as adopting a young baby. In ancient times the idea of adoption was to give somebody the right as an adult child. So you and I can enjoy the inheritance right now. We don't have to just wait till we get to heaven. You say life's really a drag this is horrible, one day I will get to heaven. Yeah it'll be a lot better then it is now. But there is so much in your spiritual bank account that you and can enjoy right here right now.
He chose you, He adopted you, number 3 He redeemed you, it says; talks about the redemption through His blood. Now this is slave language. In those days the slavery of the Roman Empire was far worse than the slavery of the United States, before and during our Civil War.
Half of the entire roman world were slaves. And the idea of redemption was to buy and pay the price at a slave block, at a slave market, buy somebody to yourself and then give that person his or her freedom. That's the idea of redemption. Now how did he do that? He redeemed us by laying our debt, our guilt, our sins on the innocent one.
You might want to just write in the margin of your bible Second Corinthians 5:21 "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God in him." So we are rich because of our Father, Paul is saying. That's our wealth. We are rich because of our Father. Number two, we are rich because of forgiveness. Chapter 2 verses 1 through 10 highlight that. And these verses of chapter 2 go from let's call it the graveyard to glory, from death to life. You were dead and now you have spiritual life.
Verse 1 of chapter 2 "And you He made alive," Now watch this, "Who were dead in trespasses and sins. In which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, just as others."
You were born into this world dead, spiritually, alive physically granted but even as a baby, you were DOA, dead on arrival just like some people when they rush them to the hospital and they don't get there in time and they are pronounced dead on arrival. The moment you rushed into this world and born though you were alive physically you were dead spiritually, separated from God. That means you and I are sinners not just by choice but by nature; our very nature, dead.
So notice that unbelievers aren't just sick, they are dead. Now if you were sick you could get better, dead people can't get better. They need a resurrection, they need life breathed into them; they need some spiritual act. That's why Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Nicodemus, unless a man is born again he can never see the kingdom of God". Because Nicodemus was dead; he needed a brand new birth; a birth from above the new birth. So we were dead and trespasses in sins. It's important that you know that because a lot of people believe that everybody has a spark of God within them and now you have to do is fan the flame of goodness and they get better. You can't make dead people better.
Again, we are not just sick we are dead. You can send a sinner to the best schools in the world and they will become nothing more then an educated sinner and you can send people to a college and make them successful and wealthy and powerful and you have wealthy, powerful sinners. You need something more then externals in this world to change a person's soul and destiny and that takes a new birth. So I am going to give you a thumbnail sketch. This is how it works. I am going to interface this with something we leaned in Romans chapter 5. When Adam and Eve sinned they initiated a chain of events, let's call it death; okay, they brought death.
Adam acted as what theologians called the federal head of the human race. What he did, brought death to all people and this is how it works in Romans chapters 5. It says, "Therefore by one man, sin entered the world and death through sin. So that death spread to all because all have sin." Therefore he says death reigned. So sin entered number 1, death entered. Death spread and then death reigned, all because of what Adam did. It's the chain of events that Adam inaugurated as the federal head .Thank you very much, Adam and that's why we are born dead and that's why we need spiritual birth.
And put all of that together and this what it means. As soon as the person is born, by nature they are sinners and they are what we call depraved. I know that's a bad sounding word but happens to be very correct. It's the depravity of man. Depravity, have you heard that term before depravity. Okay, let me tell you what it means. It doesn't mean that a person is as bad as they can be. It means they are as bad off as they can be before God. That matter how they act, how they smiled, how they comb their hair, how they dress, everybody is depraved. The depravity of man is true for all human beings even that sweet cuddly little baby who looks so innocent in that pink little blanket. Just wait that baby will grow up and prove what I just said is true. Ask any parent who is the thinking person. It's true and thus all need salvation and that helps us because that answers a very deep question the people have.
Here is the question. You hear it on a daily basis in different forms. Why are we so bad as a human race. Why is it that we are the way we are? Why is that after thousands of years of history it seems that we haven't really gotten any better? And I listen to people blame it on the liberal media, or the Republicans or the Democrats or the United Nations. It goes deeper then that. It's because of what Adam brought to the human race and every single person is under the death sentence, dead and must be given life by Jesus Christ. That's why I said what I said at the very beginning; you can give a person the best political agenda and send them straight to hell without a relationship with Jesus Christ.
So our mandate will never change. Verse 4, it's the best part, "But God", these are two great words when you speaking about death and no hope, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, (by grace, unmerited favor, undeserved goodness), you have been saved".
When did God love you, think about this? When did God love you personally? When you were good, did He love you only the moment you have said, "I think I want to be a better person? I think I need to get spiritual. I think I need to go to church or I am going to live for Christ". Did God say, "Okay, you know what now I love you?" I see that little spark of hope in you. Now God loved us while we were sinners, even verse 5 when we were dead and trespasses, He made us alive together in Christ. Now this is so fundamental. It's tragic that so many Christians live in a perpetual state of turmoil as if God still holds things against them and sins against them and their past against them. They live deep down lives.
No reason for it. No reason for it. You have been redeemed. You were a slave. He set you free. He has adopted you as a son and gives you the right to enjoy your inheritance in Christ. He sees you in Christ now. Again, if you like to write in your Bible and you ought to have the freedom to do that, write; Romans on the corner and on the side, Romans chapter 8, Romans 8:32 which says, "He who did not spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
In other words, there are no believers who are second class citizens all believers are rich in the spiritual assets given by God. So we are rich because of our Father, rich because of forgiveness. We are rich in another way. We are rich because of our family, our spiritual family, the believers who are around us. Chapter 2 verses 11 through chapter 3 gives us that truth. Now what Paul does in the rest of chapter 2 and all the chapter 2, that's chapter 3 speak about this truth, believers, the household of faith, the church of Jesus Christ, the new society, new relationships all based upon truth. That's the theme of this section and it's important because He is telling us about our wealth.
Look in your bank account you are so rich because the family of God that he has placed you in. Now I've got to tell you I have learned to really enjoy my spiritual family. I mean I love the fact that I am placed into the body of Christ and have brothers and sisters who love me and pray for me and stand with me and encourage me and show me accountability. It's wonderful. Now the imagery that Paul uses would be familiar to both Jew and Gentile and it was an imagery of an ancient temple. Chapter 2 verse 14, "For He Himself is our peace (in Greek that's an emphatic, He is our peace, emphasize the peace) who has made us both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation".
Remember the temple in Jerusalem, remember that? Remember hearing about the temple in Jerusalem? There wasn't a court, there were several different courts and there were even walls that would separate one group from another group. And especially if you are a foreigner, foreigners wouldn't be able to come close because they were foreigners and not Jewish, so the wall kept them out. Verse 19, "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."
Now with this imagery, the Jewish audience in listening to this letter would think automatically of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem. That's what they were familiar with these Jewish people; while the Gentiles who lived in Ephesus would think of the Temple of Artemis or Diana. But there were certain things about temples over the same and that was how they were built.
See, whenever you would build the temple and you can see it today in the remains of Herod's Temple. They would lay a cornerstone, a foundation stone and the whole layout of the walls was based upon that one chief cornerstone and they were usually large stones. If you went today to the south-east portion of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, you will see solid single stones, the size of railroad cars in some cases. Massive, some say, 400 tons for one stone, rolled into place so that all of the other stones would take their queues from that chief cornerstone. That's the foundation and everything else would be built based upon that, it would decide the unity; it would decide the symmetry and the layout of the walls. Everything had to be adjusted to that. So that's the imagery he is using.
Jesus Christ is that massive chief cornerstone, built on top of that are the little smaller stones and the first foundation stones are the doctrines and the teaching laid by the prophets of the Old Testament and New Testament and the apostles of the New Testament. And then after that all of the living stones Peter calls us in the church are added to that structure. So it's an image of a building, that the body of Christ, the temple of God, same idea were the stones build one upon another, built upon the teaching of the apostles but build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. So it's sort of like saying, Jesus is the cement slab, I am using now modern building techniques, and the apostles and the prophets are the two by six kicker plates that are hammered on to that slab and then everything is build on that structure.
Well he expands on that in chapter 3. Showing how we fit together as a family. God gives us gifts and we share them with one another and sharing them with each other in chapter 3 we build up the body of Christ and in that Paul says, it's a mystery. It was kept secret in the Old Testament but revealed and unfolded in the New Testament.
So chapter 3 verse 5, "Which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to his holy apostles and prophets. That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ through the gospel." This would be foreign especially to the Jews who thought God is only going to build his house with Jewish people, for getting the God's whole intention from the beginning was that the Jewish people be a light to the Gentiles, a light to the world and bring in the whole world, which could only happen through the gospel, so that's the wealth, okay, that's the first few chapters; the wealth of the believer. You are rich because of your father, you are rich because of forgiveness, you are rich because of your family in Christ.
The second section of the book is the walk of the believer. This is what we should live life, like based upon the truths of the first few chapters. Truth should be life changing. Remember this little illustration. It says, smokers die younger in mega letters on the box. Okay, that's truth. There is nothing false about that statement. Smokers do die younger. Well if that's truth, then it must also mean that if you refrain from smoking and I am not trying to give a smoking pitch or anti-smoking pitch, it just happens to be a good illustration.
If smokers die younger must also means that, you will have a life that is better without smoking okay, but you got to heed the truth that is written on there. So how is life better spiritually based upon the wealth that he reveals in the first few chapters? Well let's look at it; verse 1, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called." Live like you are, spiritually rich, live like you know about the wealth that you have been given. Live with the principle of being elevated in Christ Jesus in heavenly places. What do you mean exactly, Paul?
So what he tells us in the next couple of chapters is how to walk before the world, before other Christians and at home. Okay, first of all before other Christians. Look at verse 2 of chapter 4, and verses 1 through 16 highlight walking before other Christians, "With all lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." In verse 7 down is a list of gifts that are given. Verse 13, "Until we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
So follow me here; verses 1 through 16 of chapter 4 is how to walk within the group. Okay, understand this, you know how you hear about, I have a personal relationship with Christ, you know how most Christians interpret that? I have my own little private walk with the Lord; my own private relationship. Go away, hands off, don't give me any truth, or make me change. That's good for you but this is good for me. And the whole emphasis here is how to walk with others who walk with Christ. It's the together walk. It's the walk in the church, walk with the body of Christ.
Now one thing that I learned to love when I was in Japan several years ago was Japanese culture and somebody explained it to me and then there are so many people on this culture, and you can understand why they have to emphasize the group over the individual and they always do. It's all about the group. It's all about us together, not me individually. I don't individuate in that culture like I do in America. It's all about the emphasis of what's best for the group. It's sort of like and forgive me for going here but my mind goes back to 1982 Star Trek episode "The Wrath of Khan." Okay, some of you are laughing. How many honestly, show up hands, remember that episode. Okay, because there is a great line in it.
Remember Spock, he is in that chamber and he is dying and he gives himself for his friend, James T. Kirk. You are my friend, you are always been my friend and he says this, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one?" Okay, that is the emphasis here. Sorry to go there but that's really a good biblical truth. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the need of the one. That's what Paul is emphasizing here is how to walk before other Christians and if there is one place where the group ought to be considered above the individual, it's in the church. So rather than a person said, why can't I have my baby in church? Because everybody in church is going to look at your baby when your baby cries. Well so what? In other words, it's all about me not about everybody else and you could translate that in a number of examples. That was an easy one, so I chose that one.
But it's about the group not about the one. That's verse 1 through 16. Chapter 4 verses 17 through chapter 5 verse 17 is our walk before this evil world. Verse 17 chapter 4, "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind." Verse 22, "That you put off concerning the former conduct the old man, which grows, (that's not your dad by the way, that's the old you) which grows corrupt according to its deceitful lusts and be renewed in the spirit of our mind; and that you put on the new man, that was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness." It's a very simple truth. You are not pagans anymore Ephesians, live like it, walk that way before the world. Put off the old man. That means all that you were in Adam. The unregenerate person before you came to Christ put that off.
So it's more than just leaving the crowd that you were once with. Leave the ways of the crowd. Leave the ways of the crowd, the value system of the crowd, leave that. Not just add Christ to your life, it's a life of repentance, I turn from that, those ways. I put them away. I put off the old man; I put on the new man. That's all that you are in Christ. Okay, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things become new." You put that on and you put on the new man, who you are in Jesus Christ. So here's some examples, verse 25, "Therefore putting away lying." Verse 26, "Be angry, and do not sin." Verse 28, "Let him who stole steal no longer." Verse 29, "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth."
Chapter 5 verse 7, "Therefore do not be partakers with them." See this is how we walk before the world. And verse 8, "For you were once darkness." It's interesting. He didn't say you once walked in darkness or associated with dark ways. He says you were darkness. Isn't it interesting when we look at the evil in the world and we comment on it, we are angry at it and we want to legislate against it? We once were part to that problem, think about that. All that we say, it's horrible, it's evil. That was you at one time, right? Aren't you glad God cut you slack and was merciful and had someone to preach the Gospel to bring you out of darkness, you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of the light.
So when you come to Jesus Christ, you leave the world of darkness, you can now see clearly. You are in the light. I love that song that Nick chose tonight to sing. Great song from John Newton, "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see." That's leaving darkness and coming into the light. So what Paul is saying, is when it comes to walking before unbelievers be different, be different, don't be afraid to be different than they are. Don't be afraid to stick out for the right reasons. I love what Will Rogers used to say, he said, "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip."
Verse 15, "See then that you walk circumspectly" verse 15, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Now circumspectly comes from two Latin words that means to look around, to as you walk look around. You might say, step carefully, walk carefully, live precisely with precision, think about where you are walking. Think about what you do and say what it's going to mean. What the ramifications of that are going to be? Accurate, precise living; work, walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming or buying back the time, okay you've last time.
Let's say you are saved, and you 40 years old when you saved, you said God I have lived my whole life away from Christ and darkness, okay now buy it back, redeem the time, the time that you have, make it count. Okay, so that's the walk before other Christians, before the world and now in chapter 5, verse 22 through chapter 6, verses 9; it's walking at home. So he is going to address husbands, wives, parents, children and servants and slaves. Howard Hendrick once says, if your Christianity doesn't work at home, it doesn't work. So don't export it. I think that's wise. If it doesn't work at home it doesn't work. That's the nitty gritty of relationship. It's the nitty gritty of forgiveness. That's the nitty gritty of solving problems. So he speaks about your Christianity at home.
Now most people see this as beginning in verse 22. Linguistically and contextually it does not begin in verse 22. Okay hear me out. Paul is teaching on walking at home in the family begins in verse 21. Linguistically, the construction of the sentence in Greek begins in verse 21 and this is very important. "Submitting to one another in the fear of God." I will tell you why I am sort of belaboring this. Most of the teachings I have ever heard on the family based on Ephesians start in verse 22, where it says, "wives, submit to your own husbands, as on to the Lord." And I notice that I met some men that's the only verse that they ever memorized in the Bible. They know nothing else, but they know that one and I heard them quote it. This is a very interesting dynamic whenever I hear that and it says, if they neglect what comes right before that, submitting to one another. It's mutual submission. It's a principle for everyone in the home, not just the wives.
And verse 21 is transitional. That is the principle stated in verse 21, submitting to one another in the fear of God, that's the principle and then following as a paragraph where you have several examples of how submission works. Now did you know that though the word submit in verse 22 is written in English, it's not written in Greek. It's doesn't say wives submit to your own husbands. It says, wives, to your own husbands. It's implied therefore many translations write it, but it's not there in the Greek text.
This is how it reads. "Submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord, wives, to your own husbands. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church." The rest of the paragraph after verse 21 are all examples of how wives are to submit, how husbands are to submit, I am getting some attention here, I like that, how parents are to submit, how children are to submit and how servants or slaves are to submit.
In other words, submission, Paul's point here isn't just for wives, but for husbands, for children, for parents etcetera. Now some men are going Skip, are you saying that I need to submit to my wife? Exactly, now you got it. You say but it doesn't say that. Okay but follow me. Look what he says in verse 25. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her." Can you think of a greater act of submission than dying for someone?
Jesus was so submitted to the Father and in love with you and me that He died on the cross. The greatest act of submission is being willing to give your life for someone. Wives aren't even called to do that for their husbands. The husband's act of submission is shown in the willingness to love to the point of giving their lives; so all of these are simply examples in their own God given roles of how to submit to one another; that's a principle in verse 21. You submit to one another; wives, to your husbands, just like you would to the Lord. That is a response of submissive obedience as the head of the home. But husbands your role of submission is to love like Jesus loved. Well that's a lot harder to love people like Jesus love them sacrificially, unconditionally, and then parents etcetera.
So wives, to your own husbands, verse 22. Husbands love your wives, chapter 6, verse 1, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Verse 4, "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath," verse 5, "Bond servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh." So that's the wealth and that's the walk. We're wealthy because we are rich. We are rich because of our Father, we are rich because of forgiveness, we are rich because of the family of God. Then where to walk? We're to walk before believers, we're to walk before the world and we are to walk at home by mutual submission and this is what I have discovered whether it's a husband or wife, or children or parent, employee or employer, if each approaches with a humility, a humility of willing to fulfill their God given role in that relationship in the home, that submission becomes the oil that oils the gears that make the family run smoothly. If you don't have the oil of submission you know how the family sounds, the gears don't really turn easily. They grind and life becomes a grind at home instead of a joy.
So submission is the oil that makes the gears of the family run smoothly. So that's the wealth, that's the walk and finally the last few verses are the warfare of the believer and this takes us to the end of the book. What Paul does is take us to the battlefield. In these verses we smell the smoke of war. He wants to tell us that Christianity is not a playground. It is a battle ground and let me just tell you, whether you are a pacifist or an activist or what you believe politically makes no difference but you cannot be a spiritual pacifist because if you are you will die. You will fall. You have to fight as a believer and Paul tells you how to do that. You have got weaponry here.
Verse 10, chapter 6, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, (that's your enemy, identified), For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but principalities, against powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
Now wouldn't you agree that in warfare, the first most important truth and rule is to know who you are fighting, to know who your enemy is and the commanding officer will identify for his troupes who they are up against, who the enemy is, how they are armed and what the strategy is, and so here our commanding officer God through His General Paul identifies who our enemy is. It's the devil and a bunch of his buddies, where devil means accuser. The devil is your enemy that should make you happy.
You know why? Charles Spurgeon put it this way. There is something comforting in the thought of Satan as my advisory. I much sooner have him for my advisory than for my friend. See, at one time, you were on his team, it is not good. Now, that you are not on his team, that is where you get hassled so much by him. So, when you get hassled by the devil, get happy. It means you are his enemy. Wouldn't you rather be his enemy than his friend? You were on his side, you defected, that is why he is at you. That is why he is in your face. That is why the battles come and the temptation comes.
So, there is a list of our spiritual weapons, our arsenal is listed in verses 14 through 18, "Stand there for having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breast plate of righteousness, having shod your feet with a preparation of the Gospel of peace, please look at that and let that verse settle in during these times, be able to walk, get prepared with the gospel, that is where we want to get out. Above all taking the shield of faith with which you are able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one and take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit which is the word of God praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end, with all perseverance and supplication, for all the saints."
Now, here is the bad news. A third of heaven's angels at one time fell with Satan, the devil, the accuser and are against you. A third of all of heaven is now against you. That is the bad news. The good news is two-thirds didn't fall. So, two-thirds are for you. Please get that math. Okay, because we would love to camp on the one-third, the devil and the demons and yeah, but you got two-thirds for you. They are outnumbered. They are out-gunned, the two-thirds to one-third. So, that is the good news.
Besides the fact that greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world; you have God living in you and you have all these holy angels who are at your disposal, the Bible says, to watch out for you, to protect you, to help those who inherit salvation, Hebrews, chapter 1. They are outnumbered. I love that text and Second Kings when Elijah goes to the city of Dothan, remember that and Gehazi, his servant sees the enemies surrounding the city, they are outnumbered on a human level and so Elijah says, Lord, open his eyes and he tells Gehazi, there is more that are with us than are with them. God opens the eyes of the servant and he sees the angel of the Lord and the armies of the Lord camped around the physical army that was against them.
See in the physical realm, he saw that he was outnumbered and he thought, poor me, poor we, poor us but then he saw into the spiritual realm, all of God's angels around the physical army and now he thinks, oh, that poor army. My poor enemy, they are going to get really wiped out and they were. They were outnumbered.
I want to close with this. This is a letter to a pastor. It was written from a man who was struggling, dealing with spiritual warfare and temptation and he was simply writing the pastor for further help, resources to help him grow as a Christian, but listen to how he writes this letter.
Please send me some ammunition. The battle lines are drawn, the trenches are being dug and I am not one of those to be caught shame faced when our commanding officer returns. When the record is being reviewed, I want it written that the soldier in question, namely me after repeatedly disobeying orders and going AWOL during wartime alert, finally donned his armor, reported back to his commanding officer, fought courageously and fearlessly, without retreating or batting an eye, hitting the enemy with everything he could get his hands on and inflicted heavy damage in strategic areas to the credit of his patient and forgiving commanding officer.
Isn't that beautiful? There is a key phrase in that little letter. With everything he could get his hands on. He donned his armor and fought with everything he could get his hands on. Well, if you have a bank account, filled with spiritual resources and wealth, if you don't know what is in your bank account, you don't have your hands on much but if you realize what is yours and who you are and where you are seated and with what power is at your disposal, you are not going to walk around like this very long. You are going to walk around like this. I am a Christian. Let's go for it. Let's fight the good fight. With everything you can get your hands on.
Let's pray, "Heavenly Father, You have shown us our bank book that we as believers aren't just in church or in Albuquerque or in America, we are in Christ Jesus. We are citizens of heaven and we are wealthy because of what our Father has done in choosing us, in adopting us, in redeeming us. We are rich because of our forgiveness, we were dead, helpless, powerless, You made us alive. You were merciful.
We are saved by grace and we are rich because of our spiritual family which encourages us and helps us by giving us further resources in this world. I pray that we realize that, that that doctrine, would translate then into duty and we would sit but then walk, walking in love and humility before brothers and sisters, walking in integrity before the world, not being like them, but being different and walking submissively at home, husbands and wives and parents and children, even employers and employees and then Father, we would realize it doesn't end there.
We are in a constant spiritual battle. We have defected. We have left the kingdom of darkness, we are now in the kingdom of light. It makes our enemy really mad and that is why there are so many attacks against us and so many battles that are leveled toward us and I pray Lord that we would realize that Satan, though angry is outnumbered and we don't really fight for victory. We fight from victory. We are victorious because we are in Christ. I pray, Lord that we would go from glory to glory in Jesus name, Amen."
Let's all stand. Now, officially we are done with the Ephesians, but there is a thought that keeps going around my mind and I just want to throw it out to you. I don't know that everybody here tonight is in Christ. Most people on Wednesday nights that come are believers. Most of them that come are but I find that not everybody who comes and is in church is necessarily in Christ. I am glad that you have come to church, don't get me wrong, but I really want you to come to Christ if you haven't come to Him yet.
And it could be that in church, you realize you are still feeling empty and sort of purposeless and you want more than you have already experienced and you wonder if there is and some of you have that sneaking suspicion that you are not right with God and some of you know outright that you are not right with God. Some of you want to come back to God because you haven't been following Him or obeying Him.
Well, I just want to throw out the net before we close and give you that opportunity and as we sing this final song that Nick is going to share, if you want to rededicate your life to Christ or if you want to come to Him for the first time and ask Him to be your Savior, I encourage you to do it. In fact, we are going to give you that opportunity as we sing this song, you get up right now and just come forward and let me pray with you really quickly before we leave tonight and you are saying yes to Christ, you are saying, yes, forgive me. I want to come home to you or back to you.
Just come right up here and let me lead you up here to receive Christ or to come back to him in obedience. Don't wait any longer, don't put this off another moment, don't wait for another week, come now to Christ as we sing this song. Get up and stand right here and we'll meet you right down here some of our counselors.
Be willing to leave darkness and step out into the light. Watch what happens when you say yes to Him and give Jesus Christ your all. Don't be afraid don't wait for another person do to it, just do it, just get right out in the aisle and walk straight forward and let's do it. Give your life to Jesus Christ, surrender to Him, become His.
We're about to close this service but I don't want to pass up anybody that the Lord is really touching. Now it could be, come right on up here, it could be you have questions. You think well there's still a lot of questions I have that aren't answered. Great, come up, pray, receive Christ, ask all the questions you want but He has the answer and the answer that you need more than any other question being answered is that deep cry that's in your heart; your crying for forgiveness. You are and you know it. I encourage you; I challenge you to give your life to Christ and see if He won't meet you here and change you. Anybody else? We're about to close this service, it is an opportunity where God is giving you that chance don't pass it up. Well, alright. God bless you.
Those of you who have come forward, I am stoked. I am so excited that you have made all the steps to come up here and pray to give your life to Christ and you are going to discover that you were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world but I want you at this point to co-operate with God's grace and just pray for Jesus to come in and be your personal Savior and Lord.
So, I am going to pray out loud, I would like you to pray out loud after me, okay. Lord I give you my life. I admit I am a sinner. Please forgive me. Be my Savior. I turn from my sin and I turn to you. I believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead for me. Fill me with Your Spirit and help me to live or You. In Jesus name, Amen!