Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thoughts on Ephesians 4

This week's sermon covered Eph. 4:17-5:2. There is so much in this section that there is no way to preach on the whole text. Actually, I have some thought that I want to put out there, though they seem a little law oriented.

I was studying Eph. 4:18-19 and thought it sounds just like the world today. "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more." (NIV) Lost in darkness, hardened in sin, the world does not see the way of Christ as the way to live. People avoid Christians because they are not able to "have fun" when a Christian is around. Life is going to be boring. When we were dating, Penny was told by one of her friends (who was trying to gain her interest) that she would not be happy marrying someone who was a pastor because it would be a boring life. She wouldn't have any fun. The thought was that as a Christian in a committed relationship, there is no hope for a full life. Then again, a "full life" means that you give yourself over to your sinful nature and indulge in every kind of sensuality, always needing more.

That is what fuels the pornography industry (and it is an industry, making billions of dollars off people's lust for more sensuality). There is money to be made by delving into the world of sex, every kind of sex imaginable and many that you would never have imagined! Women degrade themselves because they can make money posing nude and in different sex acts. People sell their bodies because they can make more in one weekend than they could in a whole month at a respectable job. And in many cases, their families and friends don't need to know what they are doing - and it gives them their jollies as well. How much better could it be? But what does it profit a man or woman to gain the world, to achieve that sexual "high" and yet lose his soul.

But I won't lose my soul just because I am involved in some sort of sexual game or business. that is the thought. A person can be lost in the sensuality of life without giving up their faith in Christ. But can they? Can you really live with your lover (male or female) and still profess faith in Christ, active, living and breathing faith?Can you truly live as the old sinful self and still claim the new Adam lives in you? Can you have this desire for sensuality outside of marriage and still follow Christ? What about the 6th Commandment? "You shall not commit adultery." But perhaps you are not married. What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in word and deed and husband and wife love and honor each other. Can you set aside the command of God for your own sinful desire and still tell God that you love and follow Him? No you can't.

My friend, the world offers you one thing. Christ offers you another. The married man cannot take a lover outside of marriage and still claim to follow God. the single person cannot pick up a good time at the bar, spend the night, take the morning after pill and still say they are following Christ. I know, there is always repentance and forgiveness. But don't abuse that. Don't fool yourself and say, "I can look at online porn, not hurt anyone, ask God to forgive me and I will be all right." You are inviting darkness into your soul at that moment. The battle is on. Darkness wants you. Light wants you. Which will you follow?

This is a tough reading. the sinful sexual self thinks it is all right. God tells us it will only hurt our lives, our minds, our emotions and our souls. The woman who lives with the guy for 8 months, thinks he is the one, only to find out that he found another woman who is "better" in bed, willing to do "other things" and leaves her high and dry. She is crushed. He was the one. She gave herself to him. Oh well, try again. Use the feminine ways to get the guy and then wonder why there is no commitment. Use the studly looks to woo the girl into bed and then wonder why there is nothing to talk about the next morning.

God is trying to spare us the emotional and spiritual agony that plays out day after day. He is encouraging us to enjoy the sensual, sexual life that He has given - but only in the course of the marriage, between a husband and wife. The world can't see it. Many Christians struggle to see it. Why? Because we are often darkened in our understanding. We are not thinking with our souls but with our old sinful self.

Turn to God. Trust in God. Follow the light. Enjoy that which God gives - in marriage.

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