I wrote an article yesterday about “practicing what you preach”. It is an article from a series of sermons preached at the youth group a couple of years ago from the Bible study course “How to walk the walk that you talk” written by Kay Arthur and based on Saint Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. I would like to continue that theme while backing up a few chapters in the letter. I started with chapter 5 and not I want to take a look at chapter 2. There are several things that need to have taken place in your life if you want to “practice what you preach” on a daily basis. This article will help explain how, by following the advice that God gives in Ephesians chapter 2 verses 1-10.
And He has made you alive, who were once 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 that now works in the children of disobedience; among whom we also had our way of life in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Eph 2:1-3)
1. We must realize that either we were dead (spiritually speaking) in our trespasses and sins or we still are and need help. The proof is in our lifestyle. All people are born sinners and need God’s help for “salvation” (transformation). How does a sinner live? He walks according to the course of this world that is, he is a child of disobedience (to God). Do you still walk in direct disobedience to God or has there been a transformation in your life to where you now, walk in obedience to God on a moment by moment basis? You may ask, “what does disobedience to God look like?”. That is a good question and verse 3 explains. You live a lifestyle that is controlled by the lusts of the flesh and mind. God gives us a list of some of the things that make up the lust of the flesh. Are you controlled by any of them?
Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19-21)
The deeds of the flesh are clearly seen:
- Adultery (sexual immorality, sex outside of marriage, sex with a married person who is not your spouse)
- Fornication (any form of sexual relations outside of marriage, both physical and mental, included pornography and sexual fantasies)
- Uncleanness (in a moral sense, a result of sexual immorality)
- Lustfulness (desiring to have what is not yours, what belongs to someone else)
- Idolatry (placing anything else above your relationship with God)
- Sorcery (witchcraft, horoscope, communicating with the dead or with spirits)
- Jealousy (anger toward others because they have what you want, you either want them to lose it or you want to take it from them)
- Rivalry (I raise myself up by putting you down)
- Division (small groups that bicker and fight with other small groups)
- Heresies (not totally believing the Word of God, believing something contrary to the Word of God)
- Drunkennesses (intoxicated from any form of drug)
- Reveling (nocturnal carousing, going from party to party, living a party lifestyle)
So it is clear to see that we are either still slaves to sin and need to be set free or we were slaves to sin and have been set free. Which category are you in? There is no 3rd option.
2. God has made a way for us to be set free from the lusts of the flesh and out slavery to sin through Jesus Christ.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved), and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph 2:4-9)
God took initiative while we were still dead in our sins. He, because of His mercy and love, made us alive together with Jesus Christ. This is all by grace (free gift) because He is the One who did all of the work and we receive the benefits. The way of salvation is through faith in Christ. We cannot change ourselves and just “be” better people. A slave has no choice in the matter, he obeys his master. While slaves to sin, even if we want to change ourselves and stop sinning we cannot. We have to be transformed and set free by God through faith in Jesus Christ. When Christ died on the cross He paid the price for our sins and when He resurrected from the grave He made it possible to break the chains of slaver to sin once we believe and accept His plan. Do you live as a slave to sin or have you accepted the transforming gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ? Do you “try” to be a better person or have you become a better person by the power of God? The difference between the 2 mindsets is like night and day and also means the difference between eternal damnation and eternal paradise.
3. God saved us and transformed us so that we no longer serve sin but now we serve the living God.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10)
God wants us to be His workmanship. He is working on us and through us at the same time. As Christians, good works are a way of life for us. We do not do good works to gain salvation but instead we do good works because of salvation. In fact that is one of the proofs of a person’s salvation. Not only is he transformed from the inside out but now he wants to do good works for others and he actually does them (it does not remain a concept but becomes an action).
My dear friend, do you realize who you were and recognize the transformation that God has brought about in your life or are you just a religious person who is still a slave to sin, controlled by the lusts of the flesh? God has made a way for you to be transformed and it is not through religion. It is through a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Being religious does not mean being right with God. In fact Jesus will speak these words to very religious people who thought that they served God their entire lives.
Not everyone who says to Me, Lord! Lord! shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord! Lord! Did we not prophesy in Your name, and through Your name throw out demons, and through Your name do many wonderful works? And then I will say to them I never knew you! Depart from Me, those working lawlessness! (Mat 7:21-23)
I pray that you never hear those words my friend. Trust in Christ and allow God to transform you and you will never hear those words. The choice is yours. May God bless you.