Ephesians 4:17-19 ESV
“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.”
Even though the Scriptures teach this, not many people who call themselves pastors and Bible teachers are teaching this. They are not teaching the people that God requires that they must no longer live in sin like they did before they believed in Jesus, if indeed they did believe in him. They must no longer give themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity, for that is contrary to the righteous life that God requires of us.
But they won’t accept this because they want to see themselves as saved from their sins and on their way to heaven, and so they refuse to accept and to acknowledge that if they continue in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord, like in giving themselves up to sensuality, etc., that they are among those who make it their practice to conceive and to carry out evil in destructive ways which are hard to contain or to eradicate.
It is a lot like someone being told that he has cancer but he won’t accept that he has cancer. He won’t believe it. So he just pretends as though the cancer does not exist. It doesn’t make the cancer not be there. It doesn’t make it go away. In fact, usually the longer it is left untreated it will grow. And that is true of sin, too. If you just pretend the sin does not exist, it does not eradicate the sin from your life. Usually it just makes it grow.
But it isn’t that they don’t know the truth about their sin, but that they harden their hearts to the truth and so they willfully forget what they look like. And it is because they want to continue in their sin. They want to continue in giving themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. And so they pretend that the “cancer” does not exist, i.e. that their lives are not being eaten up with addictive and destructive sin.
Ephesians 4:20-24 ESV
“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.”
If we have been taught the truth that is in Christ Jesus we have been taught that faith in Jesus Christ requires that we die with Christ to sin and that we live to God and to his righteousness. It requires that we now walk in obedience to our Lord’s commands (New Covenant) and that we now walk (in practice, in conduct) no longer according to our sinful flesh. And it requires daily putting the deeds of the flesh to death, by the Spirit.
But this is not something we can do in our own flesh. For one, flesh can’t drive out flesh, for the flesh is against the Spirit and the Spirit is against the flesh. The only way that we can be delivered from our slavery (addiction) to sin and walk in holiness and righteousness is by the grace of God, and because of what Jesus did for us on that cross. But we have to cooperate with that work of grace and we have to participate in our salvation from sin.
Yet not many people are teaching the truth that is in Christ Jesus but they are altering and diluting the Scriptures, and they are teaching them out of context, and they are twisting them to say what they want them to say. And so they are giving their adherents the impression that a mere profession of faith in Jesus is enough to secure them salvation from sin and eternal life with God, regardless of how they live their lives on this earth.
So, not only are many pastors liars and deceivers who are manipulating the people into believing their lies, but people by the masses are following after these charlatans and these wolves in sheep’s clothing who are there mainly to entertain the people rather than to bring them the truth of the gospel. And so we have many people professing faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in deliberate and habitual sin against the Lord Jesus.
And so the counsel here is that we are to put off (remove from our lives) our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. Now, again, we do this in cooperation and in participation with God’s work of grace in our lives in putting sin to death in our lives and in delivering us out of slavery (addiction) to sin to now walk in holiness and righteousness in obedience and in submission to Christ as Lord.
And then we cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives in the renewing of our minds away from craving the desires of the flesh to now longing for Christ and for his righteousness. This is called repentance, and it involves us turning away from the direction we were headed and turning to now walk in the ways of God, under his direction and guidance, and in his power and strength, and for the glory and praise of God.
And then, by the Spirit of God, we put on the new self in Christ. For when we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, we are not only crucified with Christ in death to sin, but we are raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Thus we have been delivered from our slavery to sin and now we are empowered of God’s Spirit to follow Christ in obedience in walks of righteousness.
And this is the reason why Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. But if we choose to continue living in sin, in direct defiance to God and to his commands, then we will die in our sins no matter what we profess with our lips or think we believe in our hearts. For not everyone saying to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only those DOING God’s will.
[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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