Rooted in Victory Over Life Dominating Sins Preached by: Matthew S. Black Text: Ephesians 5:1-3 Series: Rooted in Christ Date: July 1, 2012, 10:30am Living Hope Bible Church of Roselle, IL Introduction: Open your Bibles to Ephesians 5. We are continuing our series: “Rooted in Christ”. The title of the message is: “Rooted in Victory Over Life Dominating Sins”. Last week we talked about how we could have godly communication. Today we are talking specifically about how we can have victory over sexual sin, and live godly, wholesome and pure lives. This kind of living is the exact opposite of the sinful, selfish, rebellious, greedy, and sensual culture that we live in. How can we avoid the temptation to sexual sin and other life dominating sins? R. Kent Hughes gives a fantastic illustration in his commentary on the book of Ephesians. Cookie Jar Illustration: A little boy’s mother had just baked a fresh batch of cookies and placed them in the cookie jar, giving instructions that no one touch them until after dinner. But it was not long until she heard the lid of the jar move, and she called out, ‘Son, what are you doing?’ To which a meek voice called back ‘My hand is in the cookie jar resisting temptation!’ Brothers, the fact of the matter is, no one can resist temptation with his hand in the cookie jar. Hughes goes on to say this about the proverbial cookie jar: “There are open cookie jars all around us. The ever-present cookie jar of our culture is the television, dwelling in the heart of nearly every home in America. Turn it off, and the goodies are present on the Internet on your computer or even on your phone. There are cookie jars in an open magazine or a billboard. There are living cookie jars everywhere, inviting passersby to taste their wares. It would be so easy … But when these wares are removed from the jar, their sweetness soon turns to rot, and the decay is shared by the hand that plucked them, resulting in gangrene of the soul. Keeping one’s hand out of the cookie jar is a challenge for all of God’s children, and Paul addresses this problem in verses 3 through 7 of our text. Bear in mind that these verses were addressed to Christians who had come to Christ while living in the notoriously sinful port city of Ephesus. In that wicked metropolis the dominant religion was the worship of the multibreasted goddess Diana, and ritual prostitution was a way of life. Moreover, there was cultural acceptance of sexual perversion as a valid, and even exalted, way of life. Ephesus is a paradigm of any of the great cities of today’s world — San Francisco, Berlin, Hong Kong, Moscow, Chicago…” Hughes, R. K. (1990). Ephesians: The mystery of the body of Christ. Preaching the Word (156). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. Paul calls us to transformed living by realizing four very important things that matter: · Priorities · People · Purity · Partnerships Ephesians 5:1–7 (ESV), “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no 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 become partners with them”. Sex is a big deal in our culture. God says we are to live transformed lives. We are to have nothing to do with it and it’s not to be “once named among us”. It seems that one of the greatest traps of the wicked one is sexual sin. I’ve seen so many Christians fall time and time again in the area of sexual sin because they did not take the precautions that Paul gives in Ephesians 5:1-7. And really this passage is not just about sexual sin. It’s about any life dominating sin. There are some frightening things that Paul tells about those who will not deal with life dominating sins. Paul mentions four things that really matter in a transformed life: · Priorities matter · People matter · Purity matters · Partnerships matter I. Priorities Matter: Be Imitators of God (vs. 1). Ephesians 5:1 (ESV), “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Jesus says it this way in Matthew 6:33 (ESV), “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Is God first in your life? Are you following hard after Him? Are you mimicking the beauty of His holiness? They say the highest form of flattery is imitation. Paul gives us what has been considered the loftiest command in the Bible. Imitate God! Jewish Discipleship A Jewish boy in Paul’s day had a decision to make before the age of 15. What would he do in life? He had two choices – choose a trade, like being a fisherman or a carpenter, or a seller of wares. Or he could choose to be a rabbi. If he did this he would choose a rabbi, and from the ages of 15 through 30 he became the rabbi’s shadow. He did everything the rabbi did all day long. He followed the rabbi around and for 15 years he studied what the rabbi studied, he listened to all that the rabbi taught. That rabbi became a father to the jewish boy, and the boy imitated all that the rabbi did. After 15 years, the boy became a Rabbi himself. I Want to be Just Like You Dad! The highest compliments I have ever received have been from my children. They’ll say, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” They want to mirror our tenderness and devotion to God. Or my daughters will say, “I want to marry someone just like you Daddy!” Wow! Are there any words that are more powerful (and scary) that a father can hear? Communicable and Non-communicable attributes We are called to be imitators of God as dear children. Obviously there are some ways the child is not to be like their father – he doesn’t have the authority or position of the parent, but he is to desire to be just like his or her father. There are some ways we can never be like God. We call these incommunicable attributes. They are what make God to be God. God has no beginning – he is eternal. He’s all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present at once. In these ways we cannot imitate God, but only submit to Him. But God calls us to “be holy as I the LORD am holy”. He calls us to walk and live in the fruit of the Spirit. To walk in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). In fact, 1 Peter tells us that if we are growing in these things, we can “make” our “calling and election sure”. We can know we are children of God by the priorities of our life. If we are truly in the faith, we are to be growing and changing in holiness. We demonstrate that we are truly God’s children by being more and more conformed into the image of Jesus Christ and being imitators of God. Listen to the words of Spurgeon: If your life is unholy, then your heart is unchanged, and you are an unsaved person. The Savior will sanctify His people, renew them, give them a hatred of sin, and a love of holiness. The grace that does not make a man better than others is a worthless counterfeit. Christ saves His people, not in their sins, but from their sins. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. Charles Spurgeon. Evening by Evening (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1984), 41. He said, “those whom free grace chooses, free grace cleanses. We are not chosen because we are holy, but chosen to be holy: and being chosen, the purpose is no dead letter, but we are made to seek after holiness”. Charles Spurgeon. Exploring the Mind and Heart of the Prince of Preachers (Oswego, IL: Fox River Press, 2005), 228. O how the child of God seeks after holiness, to be just like God! God is the priority of His life. Nothing competes or compares to our devotion to our loving heavenly Father! Priorities matter! But Paul says something else. People matter. Not only are we to pattern ourselves after God as dear children, but we are to pattern our lives after the love of Christ. Christ showed us something else. II. People Matter: walk in love (vs. 2). Ephesians 5:2 (ESV), “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Christ laid down His life in love for the human race. Romans 5:8 (ESV), “God shows [demonstrates] his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We need to trust God by trusting people. We need to think the best of people. Paul gave us an entire chapter about how to “walk in love” in 1 Corinthians 13. Love is the fulfillment of the law. We ought to truly do all we can to encourage one another. We ought to be others focused as Christ was. By Giving Ourselves to Others, We Give Ourselves to God Ephesians 5:2 (ESV), “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” So now Paul is going to tell us how to lay down our lives for others. You see what Paul is going to tell us is that the way you live affects the whole body. You are to be pure and have no partnership with the world. When you sin, you are defiling the whole Body. You are defiling the Body of Christ. Walk in love – lay your life down for others – as “a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” The Old Testament Sacrificial System The OT sacrificial system is quite fascinating. A man who had peace with God would bring his best cow or his best lamb and offer it to God for the community. The whole community would smell the savory bar-b-que, and they would come and dine. They would “taste and see” that the Lord is good! They could smell the sacrifice. It was like being invited to a $100 plate dinner for free. That’s what Christ did for us. We should make people feel that way. Love is inviting. Love is attractive. When you believe in someone and care for them, it make such a difference. Compassion and tenderness are so important. Don’t be rude, be gentle. Think the best, hope the best. Paul says that’s what love is. If you don’t have love, you are like a “resounding gong” or a “noisy cymbal”. People don’t care that you know all about God until they know that you care about them. · Priorities matter · People matter III. Purity Matters: avoid pornea (verse 3-4). Ephesians 5:3-4 (ESV), “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” A. Resist Sexual Temptation. Explanation Here’s another way that you can have a transformed life. Avoid sexual sin! The word translated “sexual immorality” is pornea. It means “fornication and any kind of sexual sin whether in thought or deed.” Paul in demonstrating how Christians are to imitate the love of God and the love of Christ says very simply: avoid sexual sin. Sexual sin is very different from the love of God. Sexual sin is selfish. Sexual sin is the worlds kind of love where people become objects to be used and abused. Such Were Some of You The Apostle Paul says there's no place for sexual sin in our life, none at all. Such were, some of you he said, you used to be like this, this is in the past, but since you've come to Jesus Christ that's all gone, that's all done away with, that's all in the past, there's no place for that. · 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral [pornea, pornon], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” But the Corinthians were saying, “Well sexual activity is just a biological thing. It’s no offence against the Lord!” Look at this in 1 Cor. 6:12, Paul says, “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” It’s not just a biological thing. Your body was not meant for sexual immorality. Your mind was not made to view porn. Your body was made for the Lord. A sexually immoral person will be judged. Hebrews 13:4 (ESV), “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed [KOITUS] be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral [whoremongerers] and adulterous.” Not Even a Hint! Paul says in Eph. 5:5 that this kind of sin should not be once named among us. In other words: there should not even be a hint of sexual sin among any of us. The opposite of pornea is self-control. Sexual sin is Impurity, Rottenness. Paul says in Ephesians 5:3 (ESV), “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” Akatharsia (impurity) is a more general term than porneia, referring to anything that is unclean and filthy. Jesus used the word to describe the rottenness of decaying bodies in a tomb (Matt. 23:27). The other ten times the word is used in the New Testament it is associated with sexual sin. It refers to immoral thoughts, passions, ideas, fantasies, and every other form of sexual corruption. MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians. MacArthur New Testament Commentary (200). Chicago: Moody Press. Impurity, or uncleanness has the idea of the rottenness or filthiness of the maggots that eat the corpses. It is used eleven times in the New Testament. Jesus uses it to describe a rotting, stinking corpse. The other ten times, it is used to describe sexual sin. It is to take that which is good and holy, and to rob it and abuse it, and turn it into a rotten thing. Why Sexual Sin is Called Rottenness… Sexual sin is called rottenness because it takes what is good and pure and turns it into rot. Marital intimacy is so precious that those who partake in the sin of pornea turn sexual intimacy into rot! It destroys lives. When you are tempted men by a lady’s body, think about that woman standing before God. Think about the father and mother of that one. Think about what you are destroying. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 (ESV), “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother [or sister!] in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity [akatharsia], but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” Sexual sin is called Greediness Paul says in Ephesians 5:3 (ESV), “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” Paul also speaks of sexual sin as covetousness – it is this greediness and lack of self control that is associated with sexual immorality. Let it not be once named among you. There ought not be a hint of the greediness and lack of self control associated with sexual sins. 1 Corinthians 7:9 (ESV) says that if a godly man and a woman “cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” In other words, the only legitimate use of intimacy is in marriage. Self Control, egkrateia The opposite of sexual sin is self-control, εγκρατεια egkrateia, and in the Greek mind, it is the ability to say no to self, especially in the area of sexual sin. It is actually found ten times in the New Testament – and it is one of the ninefold fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. The first place we find it in the NT is in Acts 24:25 (ESV) where Paul is confronting the Roman proconsul Felix with the Gospel. We read, “And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” Do you know what he was doing? Felix married Drusilla in an adulterous relationship, and here is Paul in front of Felix, this powerful man, and he says to him, I'd like to give you a sermon Felix, it has to do with righteousness as opposed to lack of self-control, sexual self-control which leads to the judgment of God. Listen what he was doing was nailing Felix to the wall on his own relationship to his wife. (from MacArthur) B. Resist Sexual Innuendo and Talk. Ephesians 5:4 goes even further – you not only not to act on sexual temptation, you are not even to talk about it! Eph 5:4, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” I. Paul also says don’t be “foolish” in your words. He says there should be no “foolish talk [MOROLOGIA, or MORONIC, SILLY TALK]”. This word refers to buffoonery. We are often guilty of this silly talk. I probably struggle with this more than any other sin, especially in the age of comedy that we live in. As Christians we should be sensible, serious, and sincere remembering the words of our Lord in Matthew 12:36, "that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment". Every person who has experienced the new birth needs to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit who has impressed holiness on your soul: God takes your words seriously. So should you. 2. Then Paul forbids one last thing: flippant talk. He forbids “crude joking” which is defined as flippant talk or innuendo. The word literally means “to turn something with a quick wit”. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'JESTING'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". (http://www.studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T5008), 1915. Be very careful with humor. Our words are not to be flippant but serious! Even our humor ought to have an edifying purpose. Let us be clear that humor is a divine gift that can be used to open and refresh the soul, but it ought not be flippant. Be careful of flippant words. Jesus said, “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). The word “idle” means careless or thoughtless. It does not mean there is no thinking at all. It means that there is little or no thought for eternity. The goal of flippant humor is simply a good laugh, not the glory of God. It is hard to go from clowning around to the Gospel. We ought to use our humor for the glory of God, not simply for laughter. This is an area that we all struggle in greatly, especially in the lightness of our day and age. 3. Be thankful! Conversations should be filled with talk of all that God has done for us. We have a lot to be thankful for!! · Priorities matter · People matter · Purity matters IV. Partnerships Matters (vs. 5-7). Ephesians 5:5-7 (ESV), “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no 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 become partners with them”. V. Partnerships Matters (vs. 5-7). Ephesians 5:5-7 (ESV), “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no 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 become partners with them”. Are you partnered in your life with sexual sin? Do you partner with TV shows whose focus is of a sexual nature? That’s pretty much 95% of sitcoms and network and cable TV. A true child of God may struggle with lust, but you will be able with the application of God’s Word and the working of the Holy Spirit, to conquer not only sexual sin, but all kinds of sins in your life. I want to ask you this morning to take sexual sin seriously. Sexual Sin Can Be Conquered Let me give you some hope this morning. Sexual sin can be conquered! But you must take it seriously. Those who don’t do anything about sexual sin die and go to hell. The word here is πόρνος pórnos; or those who live in sexual sin for gain. Sexual sin is their life. The Christian says, “for me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). If you live for sexual pleasure, you cannot have assurance that you have eternal life. How Sexual Sin is Conquered The key to conquering sexual sin is found in this passage. Ephesians 5:5-7 (ESV), “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no 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 become partners with them”. 1. Fear God who will judge (Radical Reorientation) 2. Forsake Lying (Radical Restructuring) – don’t be deceived by empty words. 3. Flee Every Form of Temptation – (Radical Amputation) – take action! - Have no Partnership with them. Ephesians 4:22, “be renewed in the spirit of your minds…” Conclusion: There are three types of people here today. 1. Those who love their sin – you are lost 2. Those who are saved, are miserable about your sin and want to change. 3. Those who are saved and are living in victory over sin and temptation There is hope in Christ! If you have Christ you have hope!