It’s Time to Move Up!
Ephesians 4:14-4:32 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
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It’s Time to Move Up!
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:14-32
Tonight I would like to continue talking to you about the doctrine of entire sanctification and holiness. This evening specifically I would like to begin looking at just what it takes to be sanctified.
Many people teach that sanctification is a process, which it is, yet they deny the fact that God insists that His people be holy – now. To be sanctified is not just a life long process; it is to be a present experience. You can be sanctified now! Sanctification is a crisis experience. Entrance into sanctification is achieved not by a long growth process, or by physical death, but by a decisive act of faith. Samuel Logan Brengle the great Salvation Army general said, “A man may grow in his coat, but not into his coat; he must first get it on. Just so a man may ‘grow in grace,’ but not into grace. A man may swim in water but not into water. It is not by growth that you get the weeds out of your garden, but by pulling them up and vigorously using your hoe and rake. It is not by growth that you expect that dirty little darling, who has been tumbling around with the dog in the back yard, to get clean. He might grow to manhood and get dirtier every day. It is by washing and much pure water that you expect to make him at all presentable.”
This evening it is my goal in this message to show that holiness is a present day possibility, and if you are not already sanctified, God wants you to be.
I would like to examine this passage of Scripture and show you that “It’s Time to Move Up!”
I. A Previous Experience.
Our passage of Scripture began with the words of verse 14-15. These verses speak of a previous experience. Now, what I mean by a “previous experience” is that Paul was writing to a people who had been saved. These were “babes” in Christ. So, these next few verses are written specifically to instruct “saved” individuals.
In order for an individual to be sanctified, they must first have a clear knowledge of salvation.
Notice verse 21, “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus.” Again, notice that there is an “if” attached to this passage of Scripture. You can not be made holy until you have first been made His.
The sinner’s eyes are not open to see the need for a clean heart. He has been blinded to his need. He may have hatred in his heart, but as long as he is able to restrain himself and hurt the person he hates, he flatters himself as a good person. He cannot see that in the eyes of God “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer?” (1 John 3:15) He may have lust in his heart but as long as he does not commit adultery he flatters himself as being quite respectable in God’s sight, in spite of the fact that Jesus says that look of lust is adultery.
Notice what verses 17-18 say:
So, the first thing that needs done is to be saved and so the full light of God’s smile we can see our need of cleansing from inbred sin.
So, we see that in this passage of Scripture there is Previous Experience which one must first be a partaker of before they can be holy.
Next however notice there is…
II. A Present Possibility.
Again, verse 14 begins with the words, “That we henceforth be no more children…” What does this tells us? That Paul is telling the Ephesians, and by extension us, that there is something more which God wants for His people.
Now, notice that Paul tells them to put off some things. Verse 22, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts.” What does Paul say to put off? The old man. Now, what does he mean by the “old man”? He is speaking about that sin nature that we are born with. This is that nature that is the root cause of sin.
Jesus often turned the thoughts of His listeners to the fact that carnality (another word for “old man”) is the source of sin – evil acts are caused by an evil condition in man’s spirit. In Mark 7:21-23 Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Paul Rees said about this inventory of the carnal heart, “It reads like a sewer inspector’s write up.”
Dr. B.F. Neely said that carnality is that which “rises up and tried to open the door every time the devil knocks from without.” We can have clean lives only when we get rid of this evil within.
So, the Apostle Paul said that we are to “put off concerning the former conversation the old man…”
He then continues by instructing us to “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” Adam Clarke said on this verse of Scripture, “Their old mode of living was to be abandoned; a new one to be assumed. The mind is to be renovated; and not only its general complexion, but the very spirit of it; all its faculties and powers must be thoroughly, completely, and universally renewed.”
Notice also that they were to put on something. Verse 24, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Again, I point you back to what Samuel Logan Brengle said, “A man may grow in his coat, but not into his coat; he must first get it on. Just so a man may ‘grow in grace,’ but not into grace. A man may swim in water but not into water.”
Yes, one will grow in holiness and after they are sanctified, however, one will never grow into holiness. There must come a time when one is sanctified or made holy. This is the “putting on of the new man.”
This literally means to put on a new nature. This is what I want to notice next. We have seen that Paul wrote about a Previous Experience, and a Present Possibility, notice now…
III. A Purified Believer.
Again, notice verse 24, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”
Have you ever wondered what marks a holy individual? Now, as we continue to read down through the remainder of this chapter, we see that there are some marks of a holy individual. They do and don’t do some things. (Give examples)
Paul gives another list over in Galatians 5:16-26 – flip over there with me.
God wants to do a work in our hearts whereby He purifies us and makes us holy as He is holy.
In these verses of Scripture in Ephesians 4, we find the whole doctrine of Christian holiness – the need for it, the nature of it, and the consequences that we may expect in our lives. In verses 17-19, God encourages the worst sinner by showing him from what depths Christ can lift a human spirit. IN verse 25-32 we see the virtues that identify us as followers of Christ. Between these two Paul describes God’s sanctifying work in the soul.
If we want to serve God, we must put away my evil disposition. I know that I had that kind of nature because it showed itself in my manner of life before I know Christ. And if I am unsanctified, it is still displayed in strong misleading impulses. This nature is doomed to perish. It can perish now, with my consent and by the power of the Holy Spirit. If it does not perish now, it is doomed to perish with me in everlasting separation from God.
God’s way is to make me the kind of person He wants me to me is for me to get myself renewed. (Literal translation of verse 23.) I am to be clothed with a new and better self. This is a Greek phrase signifying to assume the interests of another. This new and better self that God gives to us is a self that resembles Him in righteousness and holiness.
In the new birth we get something we never had before – life. In sanctification we get rid of something we have always had – inbred sin.
Have you ever had a toothache? I had one a few months ago. It hurt so bad I didn’t know what I was going to do. So, I tried all kinds of home remedies. I got creams and so forth, but nothing helped. Finally, I decided that I had to have relief from my terrible toothache – it had to be removed. So, with confidence in the dentist’s ability to remove the tooth (after all, that’s what dentist’s do), I placed myself submissively into the hands of the dentist. Arguing about the cause or nature of the aching tooth did not give any relief – I need to have it removed! Now, the dentist has a special chair where such operations are performed. I had to place myself in the chair, throw my head back and open my mouth and tell the dentist to go ahead. He easily found the troubled tooth, and with a pair of forceps he reached in for the tooth. Now, I could have closed my mouth when I began to think about all of the pain, the cost, and the reproach that would come if I had the tooth removed. I began to rethink whether or not the tooth hurt all that bad after all…Now, I could have got up and left rather than have the tooth removed, but finally I submitted to the dentist and he took care of my condition.
In the same way, there was a time when I knelt at another Physician’s altar, the Great Physician. It was there that I said “Here I give my all to Thee, Friends and time and earthly store; Soul and body Thine to be, Holy Thine forever more.” Yes, like when I had my tooth removed, it was painful. Death to self is painful. Yet, I am so thankful for the day when I died to self and the Work is done!
Is it time for you to move up? Have you had a Previous Experience – have you been saved? If so, sanctification – holiness – is a Present Possibility for you to have in which, God wants to make a Purified Believer out of you.
Samuel Brengle, Helps to Holiness (London: Salvationist Publishing, 1896, Reprinted 1965), p.6)
Based on p. 48 Holiness and High Country by A.F. Harper