Ephesians 5:1-20; “Know Who You Are in Christ: Children of Light

9-20-15 by the Rev. Bob Gochenour

 

“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.”

Paul reminds us of who you are in Christ: Children of Light!

In Ephesians 4, Paul makes a stark contrast between two worlds.

WORLD OF DARKNESS (Ephesians 4:17-19):

       “darkened in their understanding;”

       “alienated from the life of God;”

       “hardened hearts of ignorance;”

       “lost all sensitivity;”

       “greedy to practice every kind of impurity;”

WORLD OF LIGHT (Ephesians 4:20-23, 30)

       “truth is in Jesus;”

       “renewed is the spirit of your minds;”

       “clothe yourselves with the new self;”

       “created according to the likeness of God;”

       “in true righteousness and holiness;”

       “sealed with the Holy Spirit.”

Paul tells us that these two realms have been fighting over us.

From your birth to this very day—there is a conflict for your soul.

John Wesley provides us an understanding of this battle between light and dark.

His theology has been summarized by Dr. Bob Tuttle.

Look at the bottom of your insert:

Your Left: Is the Realm of Evil—represents the world of darkness.

“That which separates us from God and those around us.”

Paul encourages us to avoid the ways of darkness:

3But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. 4Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. 5Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:3-5)

 

Your Right: is the realm of Good—represents the word of light.

“That which God intends for us to be.”

Paul encourages us to walk in the ways of light:

9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.” (Ephesians 5:9)

(Stage demonstration)

Center of the diagram represents your physical birth.

Locate the words in the middle of the page/ vertical line=birth

Once you were born—which way did you start heading?

Was your desire for the light or the darkness?

The Bible is very clear: EVERYONE WALKS TOWARD DARKNESS!

Paul says: “For once you were darkness…” (Ephesians 5:8)

By this he means: the effects of original sin reigns over us—we are born with the natural desire to want evil.

God in his love does not leave us to our own evil desires.

God makes a way for us to come back to him: prevenient grace.

Prevenient grace restrains us from evil.

Prevenient grace is the light of God breaking into your life.

God sends the Holy Spirit to us until we have a chance to respond in faith.

Some have called this the “hounds of heaven.”

God chases us with His love: inviting us to the light.

The line to the left: represents this battle between darkness/light.

       Original sin leads you away from God;

       Holy Spirit invites you back to God.

What happens when we first hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Most of us say “NO!” and keep on walking towards the dark.

Most of us get pretty good at saying “NO” to God.

Most of us like doing our own thing—going our own way.

We continue along the road to darkness at break neck speed.

We ignore the “still small voice of God” calling us back to light.

Somewhere along our journey: we discover our need for God.

We discover our emptiness and despair.

We start seeking for reality and purpose beyond ourselves.

We hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit.

We hear the Good News of Jesus Christ and desire to live in the light.

We understand that: “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5:2)

With a simple faith we dare to say “YES” to God.

God saves us by His grace.

Paul describes this conversion experience:

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

‘Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” (Ephesians 5:13-14)

This is the beginning of Justifying grace.

Paul says: “For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.” (Ephesians 5:8)

God transforms you from the world of darkness to the world of light.

God changes you into a new creation: “You are light.”

This change is indicated by the line pointing up on the diagram.

This vertical line points up: we are lifted up to a new reality.

We are born from above: we enter into a spiritual birth.

Wesley describes the spiritual transformation with two words.

Justification (bottom of page)

What God does FOR us through faith in Christ.

God gives you “Imputed righteousness.”

This is a relative change: you are turned around.

You are no longer walking towards darkness.

You are now facing the world of light—walking towards God.

New Birth (top of page)

What God does IN us by his Holy Spirit.

This is the beginning of “imparted righteousness.”

This is a real change: having been turned around, you now start walking closer to the light.

Aided by the Holy Spirit you begin the journey of sanctification.

Paul says: “Live as children of light—for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10)

Sanctifying Grace (the line pointing to your right/top of page)

This line represents the work of the Holy Spirit as He works in our daily lives.

The Holy Spirit gives us the power to walk towards the light.

The Holy Spirit gives us the power to become Holy.

This is a gradual growth—lasts the rest of our lives.

Sin may remain—we may slip from time to time.

Sin no longer reigns over us—God’s grace rules our hearts.

We are truly changed until we no longer desire the sins of our youth.

Wesley believed that there is also a fourth stage of Grace: Christian Perfection. (far right hand side of the diagram)

Wesley believed that this is the goal of the Christian life.

The goal of Sanctification is Christian Perfection.

By this, Wesley defined Christian perfection as:

              LOVE DEVOID OF SELF-INTEREST.

He believed that it is possible in this life: goal for all Christians. y.

We will talk more about this next week.

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Paul’s message: Know Who You are In Christ Jesus.

“Now in the Lord you are Light, Live as children of light!” (Ephesians 5:8)

This is Amazing Grace: the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Amazing grace = prevenient grace!

Holy Spirit was wooing you—whispering the Good News to you.

Holy Spirit prevented you from going too far into the world of darkness.

Amazing grace= justifying grace!

Holy Spirit gave you the powerful work of Jesus Christ.

Holy Spirit applied God’s forgiveness and mercy to your account.

Holy Spirit gave you imputed righteousness—relative change.

Holy Spirit gave you a new birth—a new life as a spiritual person.

Holy Spirit gave you imparted righteousness—a real change.

Amazing grace= sanctifying grace!

The same Holy Spirit that saved you by grace, now sanctifies you by grace. You are saved by grace through faith—but you are not required to become holy through your own good works.

God continues to help you!

Paul calls us to be children of light by being filled with the Holy Spirit. John Wesley tells us how to be filled by the Holy Spirit: means of grace.

Means of grace= put yourself in the position to receive from the Holy Spirit.

       Prayer: listening to the voice of God;

    developing a relationship with God.

Searching the scriptures:

listening to the Word of God found in the Old and New Testaments;

reading scripture on a regular basis—private & public;

meditation on the Word;

applying the scripture to your life.

Worship:

Practicing praise and adoration both private & corporate;

Celebrating the sacraments: baptism; constant communion;

Confession: dealing with our sins; seeking reconciliation;

Fasting:

Reminding ourselves we are on God’s journey to light;

Rejecting the physical world: food, conveniences, luxuries;

Focus on God: walking towards the light.

Group Fellowship:

Develop Christian community;

Teach one another practical spirituality;

Practice mutual accountability;

Share one another’s burdens;

Practice Holiness—Wesley’s Three rules

1.  Do no harm—avoiding sin and temptations.

2.  Doing all the good you can—serving others, becoming ministers of light.

3.  Attending private and public worship

Paul exhorts us to continue the life of sanctification:

“Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Ephesians 5:18-20)