Sermon Manuscript . . .
Imposters: Certain Indicators of Lostness
Assurance is Shattered by Ongoing, Unrepentant, Shameful Sin
Authentic Christianity, part 1–Ephesians 5:5-7
Most people around Lakeland, Florida knew Bill Henry was a major league pitcher–at church, around the golf course and certainly at home. The 83-year-old didn’t like to boast, but he had lots of stories. The boys at the golf course had to pry it out of him, but the 6’2” left-handed Henry knew his stuff–his appearance in the 1961 World Series with the Cincinnati Reds, his 1960 All-Star selection, his 16 seasons in the majors. Though she didn’t know him during his baseball days, his wife of 20 years never doubted his big league history.
But to everyone’s surprise, when Bill suddenly died of a heart attack just a few months ago, everyone discovered old Bill had been living a lie. He was not the major league player Bill Henry, but an imposter. Once the obituary hit the papers, the real baseball player, 79-year-old Bill Henry who was alive and well and living in Texas almost had a heart attack himself when he read the papers. Another man, who looked just like him and had the same name, had stolen his identity. The facial similarities of both men were striking–same nose, same face and same squinty eyes. For forty years, the now-dead Florida man had pretended to be someone he was not–an imposter.
Imposters are all around us, and sadly many are in the church of Jesus Christ. There are people who’ve made decisions, walked aisles, and prayed prayers, but they are imposters. Some know they are faking it, but there are others who really don’t know they’re phony–you’ve met them in the Scripture. Remember Matthew 7:22, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
Are you one? Do you know an imposter, in your family, amongst your friends? How can you tell? Open your Bibles to Ephesians 5. As Paul continues talking about the genuine walk of love of the true Christian, he has been affirming some basic truths–authentic Christians will imitate the Father and sacrificially love like the Son. Real believers will not continually live in immorality or greed, nor will they constantly speak harshly or nasty. And now Paul is going to give a strong warning–if a church-goer continues in certain behavior, then it indicates they are not a real believer but a make-believer.
“Oh, so you’re judging us now.” No, Paul is not judging in the way the Bible is against–guessing motives, presumption, speculation. That has no place in true Christian relationships. No, Paul is talking about observing lived-out and witnessed behavior that is obvious.
Read with me verses 5 to 7, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.”
Ever wondered what true biblical assurance of salvation is? Ever had concerns about your churchgoing friends? Have you ever struggled with concern over a family member or friend as to whether they are authentic? God is going to begin to make authentic Christianity clear today. Who is genuine and who is an imposter–who is a real believer and who is a make believer . . . tell us Paul.
#1 Certain behavior clearly indicates a lost condition
Now what a minute, Chris—nobody’s perfect. All of us are selfish–that’s why true Christians are under grace. Get the big picture here. There are three main commands in verses 5 to 7, one per verse. That is going to make up the three points Paul is trying to emphasize. Underline in . . .
Verse 5, you know this
Verse 6, don’t be deceived
Verse 7, do not partner with them
What’s Paul saying? Verse 5, a willful continual pattern of disobedience is a demonstration of who you really are. Thus verse 6, don’t believe it’s okay as a Christian to continue in these sins, nor should you excuse a pattern of sin in your life, because hell is at stake. Verse 7, therefore, don’t continue to live the way the unsaved do, or you might actually prove to be unsaved. So Paul begins with . . .
First The obvious certainty of lostness
Paul begins verse 5 with, “For this you know with certainty.” What can you know with certainty? What are you absolutely certain of? There are two certainties we Christians enjoy. One is that God’s character will never change, and second is God’s Word is always true. What does God’s Word say here?
In verse 5, Paul uses some words that are much stronger in Greek than they appear in English. The phrase, “you know with certainty,” uses both Greek verbs for knowing and puts them together. By doing so, Paul says you know this as a fact, and certainly you know this from experience. Also, one of the knowing verbs is a command, affirming that the Ephesians were certain in the past and continue to be certain today. The other knowing is a participle, which affirms that this certainty is ongoing–you know this to the core of your being. Main point–this is not a big mystery folks, you already know this.
Sadly, this command is not certain today. The church in America is so confused over this that our churches are loaded with unbelievers. It seems like everyone in Murrieta goes to church somewhere, but way too many do not understand the Gospel, and some don’t actually know Christ. They say things like, “Amy is living with her boyfriend–wow she really needs to pray for power to resist him.” Or, “This guy will rob you blind in business and everyone at his church knows it–he goes to the church of what’s happening now.” So what is the problem with that?
Second The behavior that indicates lostness
Paul continues to hammer away at the same sins–which ones? Verse 5, “that no immoral or impure person or covetous man”–and here Paul is saying that anyone who claims to be a Christian who continues living in willful immorality or greed is raising a big question as to whether they are a real Christian. Yes there are times when a believer will fall into immorality or greed, but it will not be an ongoing characteristic of a true Christian’s life.
Now don’t misunderstand–Paul is not saying you can lose your salvation. But what he is saying is if as a so-called-Christian you live in willful immorality, greed or impurity, and you continue in that pattern, the Bible says you have no assurance of your salvation and you might be demonstrating you were never truly saved in the first place.
Jay Adams says, “People whose lifestyles are characterized by greed and by sexual sin are not Christian. If one’s life is so dominated by a sin that he can be described by it above all other descriptions of his lifestyle [for instance; a gossip, rather than a housewife] he is clearly unsaved.” True Christians can commit immorality and be greedy, but those who refuse to obey and make no progress in overcoming such difficulties need to heed this warning.
The point—take sin seriously! God loves you so much He doesn’t want you to be fooled. So He says in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith, examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” If Christ is truly in you, you will not remain in continual, defiant, unrepentant sin, because God promises in the Bible He will spank you. He loves you so much He will discipline you to bring you to a place of restored fellowship. Wasn’t that His promise in Hebrews 12:8? “But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
If God doesn’t spank you, He says He is not your Father, and you are not His child because God spanks His beloved children. So like Peter said in 2 Peter 1:10, “Brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.” Christian, take sin seriously. If you have fallen into a pattern of unrepentant, defiant sin, today is the day to get right with God. “Clarify this for me, Chris.” Okay, I will.
Third The clear indicator of unsaved behavior
Notice in verse 5 the phrase, “who is an idolater.” The verb here tells us this is ongoing idolatry–not one time, not a momentary stumble, but continual false worship. Don’t miss the obvious–idolatry is what Paul has been talking about in verses 3 and 4. All sin comes out of idolatry–it’s worship of me. The opposite of Christianity is not atheism . . . the opposite of Christianity is idolatry.
Everybody is a worshiper–don’t kid yourself. Everybody worships–the question is simply who or what? That’s it. Our time goes somewhere, our money goes somewhere, our interests go somewhere–the question is, is it going to Jesus or to us? The most likely place worship will go, if you’re an idolater, is toward yourself. I want glory, I want everyone to bow down to me, I want people to do what I say. I want people to do what I want. I want people to serve me, to like me, to validate me, to adore me.
That is why I get frustrated, because everyone else in the world is laboring under the misconception that each of them are god, when we all know that I am god–it is all about me. And they shouldn’t be doing what they want, they should be doing what I want. They shouldn’t be in it for themselves, they should be in it for me.
It is idolatry. Where do your time go and your money go? You give me your checkbook and your schedule and I will give you your god. Sometimes it’s overt in what we say, what we do and what we spend. And sometimes it is subtle–it is just an issue of motive.
Two guys can get up in the morning, go to work at the same company, sit in cubes next to each other–one can work really hard and one can perform very well because he loves God and is trying to do all things to the glory of God, and that is worship, true worship. And the guy next to him will try to perform to demonstrate his own righteousness, try to make as much money as he can to beat the other guy out of a promotion so he can get the new car he wants and attract more babes or get more attention for himself. Each guy can be performing on the job well and one is doing it for God’s glory, and the other is doing it for his own glory. One is doing it for worship and the other is doing it for idolatry.
Sometimes it is not what we are doing, it is why we are doing it? What motivates you, drives you, inspires you? Is it to say, “I belong to Jesus and I want to live my life in such a way that honors Him? Or is it, “I live to look and feel good about me?”
People who worship anything other than Jesus, other than the living God, anything else end up discouraged, depressed and frustrated. Only God is big enough for us to worship–we are not sufficient gods, we are far too small. And our focus is wrong–we have ingrown eyeballs. The sin of idolatry is always looking at self. Now we think, “I am not happy, so I have to look deeper into myself.”
No actually, I need to look to Christ, to turn from ingrown eyeballs, to upward eyeballs. I need to turn to Jesus. I need to re-orient myself toward Him. He is the author and perfecter of my faith, so I am supposed to focus on Him, turn to Him and cling to Him.
Plus, let me assure you—you are not God. You are dust mixed with water. You need to read Job when God puts him in his place in Job 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding.” You are the creature, not the Creator. You are the dependent, He is the independent. He is in control and you are out of control. It is not that God belongs to you, but that you belong to God. It is not that you exist so God can glorify you, but you exist so you can glorify God.
You say, “What’s in it for me?” Look, you are made to live with God and for God–you’ll not be satisfied nor free, until you do. And at that point it is an issue of faith, trusting that God is smarter than us, more powerful than us, wiser than us and simply trust in Him. He is not out to do us harm or be unjust, but in fact He is saving us, not just from sin and death but from ourselves because we don’t know what we are doing.
Idolatry is so subtle–it parades itself as self-help, self-love and self-fulfillment. Listen, it is not that we love ourselves too little, it is that we love ourselves more than God. The goal is not to hate ourselves, but the goal is to love God more than everything and anything, because He gave everything for us. Jesus says in Matthew 22 we are to love God and others as we already do love ourselves. The problem is not that we love ourselves–the problem is that we only love ourselves.
The clear indicator of unsaved behavior is ongoing idolatry. When it is all about me, what I want, my space, my place, my pleasure–when we say, “My spouse doesn’t please me anymore.” When we say, “I want sex when I want it, and I want more and more possessions”–greed is idolatry. Yes, there will be times when a believer falls into immorality and greed, but it will not be an ongoing chief characteristic of their life–it will not be continual idolatry. So what happens when it’s continual?
Fourth The consequence of this ongoing behavior
What do we know with certainty? Even though you go to church, made a decision or claim to be a Christian–if you continue in this kind of idolatrous, unrepentant behavior, verse 5 says you do not have, “has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
Let’s bottom line this for you–if you claim to be a Christian, but you are a Christian who has not experienced any change . . . do not deceive yourself. You are not a Christian. You can’t meet Jesus and have nothing happen. You can’t. It has nothing to do with how hard you try. You can’t meet Jesus and not be changed, transformed–it is called regeneration, being born again, you are made new. What you used to hate, you now love, and what you used to love you now hate. The stuff you used to do that didn’t bother you–now it bothers you. You don’t want to do that anymore. There is a change in your thinking, a change in your appetite, and a change in your identity. Of this you can be sure–for those who have no Christ-like change, they have no place in God’s presence. They simply are not saved, they don’t know God now and will not be with Him in heaven.
It is not that we do good things to get into God’s family–it is that when God saves us, He changes us, and our changed life is an indication we have met Christ personally. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. If you love me, you will [what?] obey me.” You can’t say, “I love God,” and do whatever you want.
I know of a guy who keeps committing adultery on his wife, and when asked, “What about Jesus?” He said, “Jesus’ job is to forgive me.” NO. There is no place for you in God’s family or under God’s rule, if you think you are God, and you think Jesus’ job is to forgive you. A real Christian will repent–you will say the behavior of verse 3 and the talk of verse 4 are wrong, and I will run from them by God’s grace. And by His grace, I will become someone more like Christ.
For those who say, “I just do this sin and it doesn’t bother me because that’s the way I do things,” Jesus says to you, “No thank you, you are not a part of my family, and you will not be a citizen in my Kingdom.” There is no place for that heart, that approach, under Christ’s rule. It is not possible for a rebel to be allowed to be a part of God’s Kingdom. No one is allowed to enter who wants to run roughshod, do as they please, declare their own war and be their own god. Satan tried that and was kicked out–do you think you’ll fare any better? There is no place in Christ’s Kingdom for those who want to follow in the ways of Satan–no place in His Kingdom and no place in His Church, now or ever.
Look at the end of verse 5–you are not going to inherit the Kingdom. You do not have “an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” A rule of the Greek language tells us that Jesus Christ here is being called God, and He is your God, your Creator–not you, not your way. God has no interest in trying to rule rebels. When you belong to His family, you live His way. He is not merely a resident in your life, He is the president of your life. If you defiantly live different than His design, to the point that you are characterized by that sinful lifestyle, you are not going to inherit His Kingdom–you are not His child, you are not saved, you are going to hell prepared for all rebels like Satan and his fallen angels.
This truth is made clear in Galatians 5:19 to 21, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” And in 1 Corinthians 6:9 to 10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
This is not a secret, friends–it is evident, it is known. We are not to be deceived, and Ephesians 5:5 says it is a certainty–those who practice such things as a way of life, shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. They are not going to heaven–they are imposters. The bottom line, Paul is warning you–all whose lives are characterized by immorality, impurity and greed, even though they claim to be Christians, are not included in God’s Kingdom. “But are you sure Chris?” Yes
#2 Don’t be deceived about the certainty of specific ongoing behavior indicating lostness
Read verse 6, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” The first thing Paul says here is:
First Beware of the deception
“Let no one deceive you with empty words,” again an ongoing, continual command given for you and I to act upon. As a way of life, do not allow anyone to deceive you on this. I know this is not popular, but our world is full of deception. You can find philosophers, religions, talk radio hosts and teachers who will justify whatever it is you want to believe. If you don’t want to obey a part of the Bible, you can find somebody that will explain that truth away. You want to commit adultery, find somebody who will explain it away. You want to divorce your spouse, there will be someone who will misinterpret the Bible so you feel justified in doing what you want a lot. You can find someone who will tell you whatever it is you want to hear, providing you pay them enough.
Don’t let anyone deceive you. Some of you have friends, books, websites, TV shows, radio teachers, magazines, blogs that you open your ears to because you intentionally want to be deceived. You just want to be told that what you want to do is okay and you find someone who is going to give you permission, even though it’s error, a misrepresentation and misinterpretation of God’s clear Word. But you are a good Christian–you wouldn’t do that . . . really?
Instead of living the truth or reaching the lost, which is hard work, do some of you merely want to debate and argue the nuances of Scripture, which is easy? Or do you want to complain about all the worldly Christians out there so you don’t have to love anyone? Or you finally embrace how important your family is biblically, but now ignore your responsibilities to your church or your lost friends. And for each one of those and others, you can find someone who will support your incomplete viewpoint.
Don’t let anyone deceive you. One pastor said. “One of the reasons I know God’s Word is true–there are many. One of them is that none of us could have made this up.” I can’t even fathom making this up. There is one God who is over everything and if you don’t repent He torments you forever. Who votes for that? Who makes that up? We would all create the sky fairy who has hell for five people–our worst enemies, the boyfriend who burned us and that jerky boss. The rest of us all go to heaven, right? God is a glorified Mr. Rogers, He wears a sweater, we go to his house, we get on the little train, go to the Land of Oz and see Frodo and His best friend, Luke Skywalker. That is what we would do–that’s what we’d create. But the real God is free, and He seems to really care about sin far more than the rest of us. And He tells us things like, “Don’t be deceived.”
Don’t play academic games with God–you won’t win. Sure, there are good arguments, good cases, good points–but they’re still wrong. Here is some perspective–the only book you can have absolute confidence in is the Bible. All others are written by human authors. Yet reading books is good as long as the Bible and sound doctrine are your filter.
There is a danger in reading certain books, listening to certain teachers, scanning certain blogs, and getting caught up in new doctrines, if you are too young or too untaught. The Bible says to every student in Luke 6:40b, “After he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” So guess what? Pick your teachers carefully–you are going to be like those you listen to. Hebrews 13 says your leaders should be those who, when you look at their life, you’d say, “I’d like to be like them–they seem to be following Christ.” So imitate their ways and the outcome of their faith. If you don’t know their life, or after looking at their life you say, “I don’t want to be like them,” don’t listen to them. You don’t have to listen to all the teachers, and you don’t have to read all the books or blogs. Be discerning.
And what is the biggest deception of all? The biggest lie is–you can be saved and live any way you like. So verse 6, “Let no one deceive you with empty words.” Don’t let anyone tell you that you can do these things, sin this way, be an idolater and also claim to be a Christian–or that you can constantly live like this and God will just forgive you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are going to be alright because you “made a decision” or “had a religious experience.” Paul says in verse 6, those are empty words, literally vain, useless, meaningless words. Beware of deception–why?
Second The seriousness of being deceived
Finish verse 6, “For because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Get it? Do you see? These are the very things that damn people to hell. The sins talked about in this context are not characteristic of children of God, but they are characteristic of the children of the devil.
Notice verse 6, “the sons of disobedience.” Disobedience is an indication you don’t love Jesus. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will obey me.” We can’t say we love God and not obey Him. In fact, the Bible says, “If you love me, you will want to obey me.” Remember Romans 6:17? When God saves you, He gives you a heart that wants to obey, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.” Disobedience is a heart issue, not just a morality issue. And Paul says, don’t let anyone deceive you because God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
And again, I know many of you don’t like this—hell is real. Hell will be full. And it will be full of some really nice church-going, moral people who don’t follow God’s Word from the heart. I am not going to lie to you–I am not selling anything. I am not going to con you into worshiping God in a way you will buy, then later on you find out who the real God is. People are being lied to today, and the result is hell. There are consequences for sin. The wages for sin is death.
And don’t think hell is where you go and get tormented by Satan. Jesus Christ rules in heaven and on earth and under the earth–He rules everywhere, even in hell. Jesus Christ is the one who is handing out punishment and judgment. Revelation 14 talks about torment being meted out in the presence of the lamb–look at verse 10, “He also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” Satan will be dealt with in hell. Sinners will be dealt with in hell. There will be judgment, and there will be consequence.
Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Then in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” And Proverbs 1:7, “And fools despise wisdom and instruction.” That is what the Bible says.
Yet people play these little games with God. I sin, so I rally around people who say it’s okay–then I pretend like everything is good. But Paul says, “Do not be deceived. Don’t kid yourself. Don’t mess with God.” This is the same God who flooded the earth, killed everyone–men, women, children, babies, everyone but Noah’s family. This is the same God who rained fire down on Sodom and Gomorrah. This is the same God in the New Testament who killed people who took communion when they had unrepentant sin in their life–like dividing up against other brothers in the church. This is the same God who, when Ananias with his wife Sapphira took credit for something they didn’t do, God caused them to die. And this is the same God who came to earth and died–God the Father killed God the Son.
If you wonder how committed God is to His glory, look at the cross and realize, if He will punish and kill Jesus, God Himself, His own Son, you are not off the hook. If God will kill His own beloved Son, don’t think He does not have the courage to deal with you. God is a God of justice and either Jesus pays for your sins, or you pay for your sins. And God is an eternal God–and either the eternal God Jesus pays for your sins, or you pay for them eternally, forever in hell.
Verse 6 says God’s wrath is coming, present tense–it is ongoing now, and His wrath is eternal in the future. Don’t kid yourself. God’s love is real, yes, that’s why He died for your sin. But God’s justice is also real, that’s why He died for sin. And we play these funny little games with God. We sort of blink and wink and think somehow, some way, we’re so cute that God just doesn’t have it in Himself to deal with us. Don’t let anyone deceive you. Not everyone is going to heaven. Not everyone knows God. Not everyone has their sins forgiven. It doesn’t go well for everyone–most don’t make it! This is serious–the consequence of believing a false gospel is eternal torment. That’s serious–so what does Paul say to us?
#3 Obey God’s command not to partner with others in this shameful lost behavior
Look at verse 7, “Therefore do not be partakers with them.” Do not partner with them. There are people you can’t hang out with–some are Christians, some are non-Christians. It is not that we are not allowed to have friends who do sinful things. Corinthians says in order to do that we would have to leave the earth, if you say I am not going to talk to anybody who is sinful. Well, you are going to be very lonely.
But what Paul is saying here is this—don’t join people in their sin. If they are gossiping, don’t gossip, don’t join in–turn away or stop it. If after work the guys are going to the bad place, don’t go with them. If everyone is getting together cause they’re going to get lit on Friday, don’t go with them. Don’t get involved–you don’t have to, and Paul commands you not to.
For some of you, there are certain people who you say, “Man, every time I am around them, I do or say things, or I take on a role that I just don’t like, and later on I regret.” You tend to be a very thankful, upbeat person, but when you get around this lady you turn into a negative critic. You seem to be able to keep your mind focused where it should be, but when you get around this guy, he brings up all kinds of things that cause you to mentally stumble with lust. Stay away from them–don’t join them, don’t partner with them. They can’t be your friend–don’t involve yourself with those things.
Again, this doesn’t mean you don’t know anybody who is in sin, but the issue is who is converting whom, right? Every relationship is evangelistic. People are trying to pull you toward what they’re doing, and you are trying to pull them toward what you are doing, and the issue is who is the better evangelist? And if they can convert you to sin and you are not being used to convert them to Christ, then don’t go out sinning with them. That doesn’t mean you lose all your non-Christian friends. It just means there are some people who really impact you negatively–some are non-Christians and some are Christians. Paul says do not join them. “But I am trying to reach them for Jesus.” Well, when you’re drunk it’s a bad argument, right?
I am not saying that having lost friends who love to sin is a sin. How many of you really want to be like Jesus? Jesus has friends who are in sin, but He is not sinning with them. He is hanging out with prostitutes, but he is not sleeping with them. He is hanging out with drunks, but he is not getting drunk with them. I am sure their blood alcohol level was so high they couldn’t drive their camel home. He is hanging out with shady business types, but not stealing with them. He has friends and He loves them, but he is not joining them in what they are doing. Write this down–mix but don’t join. Don’t put on a Nazi uniform if you are an Allied soldier. Don’t partner with USC, when you belong to UCLA. Don’t hang around Christian or non-Christian if you can’t avoid sin. Do not be partakers with them.
Let me ask you some take-home questions . . .
#1 Are you an imposter?
Are you in any continual, defiant, unrepentant sin, like the sins of behavior and sins of mouth Paul has been describing? Even if you’ve prayed a prayer once, go to church, speak Christianese, crack open a Bible now and then–if you have ongoing, idolatrous sins, it clearly speaks of a fallen unrepentant heart.
Is it time for you to cry out for true salvation? Ask God to give you a heart that wants to obey, that loves Christ and hates sin–and even though you struggle with wanting to obey and fail often, our new heart wants to please Christ so much, we slowly will become more like Him. Stop delaying, stop making excuses—admit it, own it, and turn to Christ in repentance and faith.
#2 Are you glued to Christ? Do you have the right goal?
One of our main goals is to live as close to Jesus as possible. Our goal is not to succeed or win or get rich or feel good. If you think that you are going to be really disappointed in this life because sometimes you are going to lose, fail and feel bad—“man, I am broke, I lost my job, our marriage is not going that great, my wife just had a miscarriage, I am sick, life is hard, I’m discouraged . . .”–why? Because you have the wrong goal.
But if your goal is to be close to Jesus then anything that can push you to be closer to Jesus, like hard times, trials, difficulties and strife can push you even closer to Him. For some of you the most painful experiences in your life have been the most beneficial, because they have pushed you closer to Jesus. You say, “I would not want to go through that again, but they actually end up being a beautiful thing when it was all said and done.”
If you have the right goal then you’ll be satisfied. Satisfied people tend not to pursue sin, because if you are satisfied with what God gives then it keeps you from running after other things to satisfy yourself with. You can’t pursue God and sin. Glue yourself to Christ, stay close, be satisfied in Him.
#3 Are you aware?
Paul is writing this to the Ephesian church–this false gospel which says you can have Christ and live any way you like. This type of errant thinking was going on while the apostles were still alive. Of course it is rampant today. Be aware that many of your churchgoing friends may not be saved–assume it, learn to share the truth with them. Encourage them to sit under the Word. Plead with them to listen to the true Gospel of grace–not the gospel where you pray a prayer, then live however you want, but a Gospel where Christ not only forgives your sins and justifies you, but also regenerates you into a person who wants to obey Christ and follow His Word even when we fail so often.
The last point–in the next two weeks we are going to dive into this New Testament teaching on assurance of salvation. These verses have raised some questions that need to be answered from our Bibles. What is authentic Christianity? Knowing this will not only equip you to parent your children, but help all of you, families and singles, to evangelize the lost in the Church and in the world. Be here, be ready, be prayerful, and . . .
#4 Are you receptive?