Jack Graham - The Much More Life
Today’s message is called "The Much More Life". We called it MUCH MORE because God has so much more planned for us than we could possibly dream or imagine. Look, beginning at Ephesians 4: "Now this I say and testify in the Lord". In other words, this comes from God. This is not only Paul speaking, but Paul is saying, "I testify in the Lord". When you read the scriptures, you’re reading the very word of God. Human authors, yes, but a divine source, infallible and inerrant.
So he says this is from the Lord: "...that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus". All truth is in Jesus! All the praise, all the truth goes to Jesus. And verse 22, key verse: which belongs to your former, "to put off your old self, (way of life or) manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires".
"To put off" as though you were taking off old, filthy, dirty clothes. He says put off your old self, your humanness, and circle verse 23: "Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore", because you no longer live the way you used to live, because you now have a brand-new life in Jesus, "having put away all falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. 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 mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear".
Verse 30, key verse, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption". We have the Holy Spirit; we have been marked by the Spirit, now we are to mature in the Spirit. "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you".
Now listen up! This extraordinary life, this much more life that we've been talking about, this elevated life in Christ is an exchanged life! The very heart of the Gospel is the great exchange that takes place when we who were dead in our trespasses and sins are made alive in Christ! And we receive the righteousness of Christ for our sins. The exchange was made at the cross when Jesus died and paid in full for all of our sins, past, present and future, and we exchange our filthy unrighteousness, even the best that we can do is filthy rags. We exchange our unrighteousness for His righteousness. We exchange hell for heaven; we exchange sin for godliness in our life. It is an exchanged life.
Galatians 2:20 says: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless, I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me". That is the exchanged life! We are in Christ, we identify in Christ, and therefore, we receive from Him all that He is; all of Jesus is in all of me! His deity is in your humanity if, indeed, you know the Lord. And the mind is the place. The way we think is how the great exchange is made. And when you read this passage as we just did, you discover that words like understanding and mind and thought and thinking show up again and again. And that key verse that we paused a moment ago says that we are renewed with our mind. No longer living with a reprobate mind, but now we live with a repentant mind and a renewed mind in Christ.
Christians do not live like the world! We’re called up higher! We are called to godliness and righteousness and holiness. Why? Because we don’t think like the unsaved world thinks! Therefore, we do not live the way the world lives. What does the Bible say? "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he". As the mind goes, the man goes. And therefore, because we have repented of our sins, we have changed our minds, God has changed our lives. The word repentance actually means to change your mind: to change your mind about self; to change your mind about sin; to change your mind about the Savior Himself and trust in Him. And so when you read this passage of Scripture, it's all about our mindset, the way we view the world, the way we think, the way we focus, the way we look at life.
There's this contrast for the unsaved world which is all about selfish desires and sinful behavior, selfish desires and sinful behavior. He tells us at the very top that we no longer think with the vanity and the futility of our minds, vain, empty, futile thinking or thoughts. It means, the word futile means pointless. The world thinks in a pointless way, though there is education and sophistication, yet, at the heart, at the root of everything we see going on in our culture today, all that's going on around us, it's all pointless, empty, no purpose thinking.
He also speaks of the darkness of foolish thinking; that those who do not know Christ are foolish and darkened in the way that they think; that they don't have the ability, it's not that their not as smart as Christians but they don't have a faculty that believers and followers of Jesus have, which is the faith quality and their minds are darkened; therefore, they live in moral darkness, they live in mental darkness, and with the darkness comes this fatal thinking, this futile thinking, it is foolish thinking and it is fatal thinking, because with this decay and darkness comes death. Beware of the futile, vain, foolish, empty, thoughtless thinking of the world! Our brains are bombarded with what the world says! But as Christians, we are to saturate our minds with what God says!
The truth of God in Jesus Christ! Because everything else is empty. No wonder people are so emotionally spent and broken. Because ultimately the problems that people have today are not psychological problems but spiritual problems that have a psychological impact, that destroy the soul. And it is incredible the way people think. It's all about their minds, it's all about their mouth, what they say, and it's all about their mentality, all about their morals ultimately. This vain, futile thinking results in moral and spiritual collapse, because where there is no God, there is no light, and where there is no light there is no life. The unsaved person thinks that they are enlightened because they have rejected God, but the Scripture says, "professing themselves wise, they have become fools"! So what you see here is a look, a lurid look really, at the way the world thinks and therefore, the way the world lives. Why are we seeing this chaos in our streets? The stealing and the rioting and the malice and the mayhem? Why are we seeing such sinful behavior?
Turn to Romans, chapter 1, Verse 21, Romans 1, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking foolish hearts were darkened. (there it is again), and their Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. And therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie", and what we're seeing in our Satan is the father of lies, world today, including America today, our country today, is the exchange of truth for a lie! And the lies of the enemy! "And worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen".
Paul just had to get that in there, praise God! He had to take a breath and praise God in the midst of this. And so should we. Verse 26: "For this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations (which speaks, of course, of sexual relations) with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error". In other words, there is judgment in this sin, in and of itself. Verse 28: "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up", in other words, God judged them guilty, gave them up to a debased mind God gave them over, "God to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God... inventors, insolent (rather), haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents".
Why not? Throw down all authority! If you throw down the authority of God in your life, you ultimately dismiss, dishonor all authority in your life! "Foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them". In other words, shameless, sinful, sinuous, seditious lies! This is the world! It is depraved; it is distorted; it is defiled; it is dirty! And the Scripture is saying, "You who are Christians, you have learned of Christ! You no longer live this way". You can't if you're a Christian, because you have a new life! You have exchanged this old way of living, your old sinful way of behaving, you have exchange this now for a renewed mind in Christ!
Look at Romans 3:10. This is actually quotes from the Old Testament. Paul is picking up on these. "None is righteous", no, not one, "no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together that they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood". Sixty million aborted babies in America, and counting! "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known", and here it is, "There is no fear of God in their eyes". No fear of God. This is life without Christ.
You say, "Well, does that mean me"? That means you if you are outside of Christ or are capable of all of this and more. You say, "Not me. I'm pretty righteous. I live a pretty good life; I don't do any of those things". "Even our righteousness (the Scripture says) is as filthy rags" in the sight of a Holy God. Someone said the worst form of badness is human goodness when it becomes a substitute for Christ and the Gospel. So, yes, this is your life! And there is no sin that you or I would not commit given enough time, circumstance or place if we are outside of Christ! So Paul paints this very lurid dark picture to remind us as Christians we cannot live like this. We can’t think like this; we cannot live like this. Jesus did not die on the cross, bearing the penalty and the power of sin, the weight of sin. Jesus did not die on the cross for us to go to heaven but live like hell! He’s called us to a brand-new life!
Second Corinthians 5:17, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, and everything has become brand-new"! We change a disgusting lifestyle to a lifestyle of purity and faith. Your past is passed. You are no longer enslaved if you are in Christ. You are free from the power of the enemy. You’re no longer held captive by Satan and living like a child of darkness. You’re now living in Christ, and therefore in the fullness of his love and in the beauty of His light. There's a vivid illustration of this in the New Testament Gospel when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been in the tomb for three days. He was wrapped in grave clothes like a mummy. And when Christ spoke his name, He said, "Lazarus, come out"! And they rolled away the stone and Lazarus came hopping out in those grave clothes.
The stench must have been something to behold or to experience. Decay, death. Those grave clothes bore the stench of death and decay. So what did Jesus say to do? He told some servants standing by, "Loose him and let him go". In other words, take off those old the grave clothes of death and the past, take those off! And they did, and the next scene is Lazarus alive and sitting at the table with Jesus with a brand-new life! What Paul is saying to us here is in Christ we take off those grave clothes, and the stench and the shame and the filth of our past. We are stripped of that! We are cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Made brand-new! And now we put off the grave clothes and put on the grace clothes because we have been saved by grace.
This is not because we’re better than others, we’ve done something that others would not or could not do. We are dependent upon Christ and what Christ has done for us. That’s the exchange. There's a list here and one by one, we're going to take a look at the list. I like lists and, what he says is we are to exchange lies for truth (that's verse 25). You're never more like the devil than when you're telling a lie. We live in a world filled with lies! The word here, falsehood actually means fraudulent, fake. "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another". The Bible says, "we go forth from the womb speaking lies".
So we exchange lies for simply telling the truth. Like Jesus said, "Let your yes be YES, and your no be NO". There are all kinds of lies. White lies, black lies, technicolor lies. Phoniness, fraudulent behavior. That’s all in the category of lies. A lot of talk about wearing mask these days. I'll tell you when to not wear a mask. You know what the word hypocrite means? It means to wear a mask. And hypocrisy is lies! He says, "Don't lie"! And then he says, exchange your anger for forgiveness. Do not sin; be angry and do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger, that you give opportunity to the devil. And then he says, "Let the thief no longer steal", exchange stealing for sharing, "but rather let him labor doing honest work with his own hands".
Why? So that you can put more and more money in the bank? Invest more and more in your investment account so you'll have more stuff? No! So that you may certainly take care of your family, there's that in the Scripture, but also so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. So we exchange stealing, that would include robbing God of tithes and offerings for generosity. And then he says exchange corrupt talk for edifying speech. "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up". verse 30 which says: "Do not And all of this settles in at grieve the Holy Spirit".
The Holy Spirit is a Person and only a person can be grieved. I don't grieve this pulpit if I do something to it. If I hit this pulpit that hand but it doesn't grieve the doesn't grieve, it hurts my pulpit, an inanimate object. The Holy Spirit is not a force or impersonal; the Holy Spirit is a Person, the third Person of the Trinity, and we hurt the Holy Spirit, we grieve the Holy Spirit when we do not tell the truth, when we steal, when we do not work hard, when we're not generous. These are all very practical things because back to the beginning, and we'll close. The first part of Ephesians is about who we are in Christ. The next three chapters, so rich; it's all about how we live in Christ.