Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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PENTECOST 12 – August 12, 2018 – Eph. 4:17-5:2 “MAN’S OPTIONS”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and  peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Epistle Lesson just read, from Eph. 4.  We begin with prayer.

 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • It seems to us that we have “options” when it comes to God, and to our relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. But did you hear what Jesus said to those who were “grumbling” about Him?  He said:  “No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him.”
  • There are seemingly inconsonant realities revealed in Holy Scripture when it comes to our “options” about God. First, we know that “God wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  Second, we know that only God can grant faith. 
  • And yet when it comes to man rejecting God, this is accounted as man’s fault, as Jesus once lamented: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!”  [Luke 13:34]  This clearly seems to imply that man has options when it comes to God.
  • In our text, Paul is writing to Christians, to the church at Ephesus. We know that Christians do have options.  We not only have our continuing struggles against our sinful nature, but we also have a “new man” within us, and the Holy Spirit.  So when the apostle lays out the two different ways of living that we can pursue, he is definitely urging us to  select the right “options.”  For it is clear in our text, and the rest of Scripture, that:

 

I.  Human Beings Can Choose To Live In Mental Futility

 

Text:  “This I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.”

 

A.  To Do So Is To Have A Darkened Understanding, Ignorance Of God

 

Text:  “They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them.”

 

B.  This Is A Consequence Of Hardness Of Heart

 

Text:  “Alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

 

C.  The Natural Outgrowth Of This Way Of Life Is Callously Indulging In Every Immorality, Sensuality, And Greed – Like Ahab And Jezebel, And Those People Who Were Grumbling About Jesus

 

Text:  “They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

 

Statement:  This is what the idolatry of Baal worship was all about – sexual sensuality and every kind of impurity.  These are the prophets referenced in our Old Testament reading who were put to death by Elijah, the prophets of Baal – and they had been supported especially by Jezebel, but also by Ahab.  Likewise, the people rejecting Jesus were compelled to view Him only in terms of what their reason dictated – and were unwilling to allow that He might be something special, Someone greater than them. So they rejected God’s gift of salvation.

 

Application:  Unbelievers cannot come to Jesus unless the Father draws them, but we who are believers can clearly see what our options are when it comes to faith versus unbelief, commitment to good versus commitment to “sensuality, greed, and impurity.”  We can also see what the outcome of a life of unbelief is going to be like.  We can observe it all around us in those who reject God’s gracious love and remain ignorant of God.

 

Transition:  It is against this backdrop that Paul urges us to “opt” for a different way of life, the one that faith in God’s love compels and dictates, for:

II.  We Also Have The Option – As Believers – To Live As Imitators Of God

A.  The First Task Is A Commitment To Putting Off The Old Self

 

Text:  “You learned Christ 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.”

 

B.  Secondly, We Are To Be Renewed In The Spirit Of Our Minds – To Put On Our New Self

 

Text:  “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.” 

 

1.  This “new self” is “created after the likeness of God!”

2.  This “new self” is centered in “true righteousness and holiness!”

 

C.  Imitators Of God Live In Truth

 

Text:  “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

 

D.  Imitators Of God Put Away Bitterness, And Put On Kindness

 

1.  There is to be no acrimony

 

Text:  “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.  . . .  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

 

2.  There is to be no concession made to our sinful nature

 

Text:  “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.  Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

 

3.  We must take care not to become impenitent and stubborn in our sins

 

Text:  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

 

4.  We are to emulate God, in forgiveness and kindness toward others, with love and sacrifice

 

Text:  “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love as Christ loved us, and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

                                                

Statement:  While it is certain that we do not have the option of becoming perfect and sinless in this life, it is equally certain that we can commit and orient ourselves to “imitation” of God.  Again, this involves two aspects:  first turning away from and putting to death what comes naturally to us, our sinful tendencies; and second, looking at God’s gracious forgiveness and mercy and love, so that we can forgive, love, serve, and sacrifice for others just as Christ loved us.

 

Application:  We have this opportunity to “choose” because God has given us the gift of faith, and a “new self.”  We have “options” that unbelievers do not have – although God continues to reach out to them with His love. 

 

But it really is not an “option” for us to return to the darkness and futility of an unbelieving way of life.  We know that “we must not walk any longer as the Gentiles do.” 

 

Conclusion:  While there may be some excuse for the unbelieving to live in “hardness of heart” and to callously engage in evil, there is no excuse for us to do the same.  When we fall, we are to repent.  When we repent, “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Then, in God’s forgiveness we also receive the encouragement to “go and sin no more,” and to imitate God.

 

While there may be some excuse for the bad lifestyle of the unbelieving, there is no excuse to reject God’s gift of life and salvation in Christ Jesus and to remain in the darkness of unbelief.  God is seeking to draw all people to Himself, through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

 

And for those who know Jesus, and the love of God, there is the blessed and joyful freedom of being “imitators of God.”  And what a great option that is!  Amen.


Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.