By Having the Right Process

Dr. Rob Green February 24, 2019 Ephesians 4:17-24
Outline

4 truths that help us grow by having the right process

I. The Process Involves the Motivation to Live Out Our New Condition in Christ (vv. 17-21)

A. Description of us without Christ (vv. 17-19)

1. Futile in thought and blind to the truth (vv. 17-18)

2. Without a relationship with God (v. 18)

3. Having a hard heart (v. 18)

4. Result: Given themselves to sinful behavior (v. 19)

B. Description of us with Christ (vv. 20-21)

1. Adopted as children

Ephesians 1:5 - He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…

2. Given an inheritance

Ephesians 1:11 - …also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will…

3. Made alive

Ephesians 2:4-5 - But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

4. Called to good works

Ephesians 2:10 - For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

5. In a peaceful relationship with one another

Ephesians 2:14 - For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall…

II. The Process Involves Purposeful Elimination of Your Sin (Put Off) (v. 22)

A. Identify thoughts and actions that need to change (v. 22)

B. Recognize your old patterns continue to corrupt (v. 22)

C. Place whatever safeguards are necessary to make it hard to sin (v. 22)

III. The Process Involves Purposeful Addition of a Godly Replacement (v. 24)

A. Identifying thoughts and actions that would please Christ

B. Placing whatever structures are necessary to make it easy to live righteously

IV. The Process Requires A Change Of Mind In Two Directions (v. 23)

A. Changes how you think about your sin

B. Changes how you think about righteousness

Growth Chart Example

Put Off

Renew Mind

Put On

Sinful anger and sinful responses in the midst of righteous anger:

 

(1) I am sinfully angry and I am not confronting myself;

 

(2) I hold onto my anger for long periods of time rather than deal with the appropriate person(s);

 

(3) I experience righteous anger but respond sinfully by speaking in mean and condescending ways;

 

(4) I make visible expressions of my anger that do not lead to solutions (slam a door, flop on the couch, roll my eyes);

 

(5) I discipline without thinking clearly about the offenses before God rather than something that was inconvenient or embarrassing to me.

 

I believe that each expression of sinful anger is wrong.

 

I believe that making excuses and blaming others is wrong.

 

I believe that God wants me to change those expressions.

 

I must repent and ask forgiveness.

 

I believe that my speech should be kind, gracious, and encouraging.

 

I believe that my body language should communicate my love and care.

 

I believe that Godly discipline flows from a right understanding and a right attitude.

Righteous speaking, discipline, and body language:

 

(1) When I am sinfully angry, I will confront myself;

 

(2) I will seek to deal with the problem as quickly as possible;

 

(3) I experience righteous anger and will speak in tones that are accurate without being mean or condescending;

 

(4) I will use my body language consistent with my words and I will seek to smile when appropriate;

 

(5) I will discipline after I have thought and prayed, and I will be sure that my discipline is based on Scripture.

 

 

 

 

We want to honor the Lord by being good stewards of what he has entrusted to us.

  • We have talked about the 5 ministry platforms around the Greater Lafayette area: Faith East, Faith West, Northend CC, Hartford Hub, and Bethany Farms.
  • Each of those platforms [fishing lodges as Pastor Viars calls them] has associated ministries with them.
    • When you put all that together it is easy to realize that the Lord has given us a lot. If you have been given much … then … much will be required.
  • In order for us to be growing what God has given at a ministry level, we have to be people who are growing individually.
  • Thus, two weeks ago we started a series called How People Grow.

That is why our annual theme in 2019 is Growing What God Has Given.

Since we are absolutely confident that God will do his part, we want to be sure we are doing ours.

With that in mind, please turn to Ephesians 4:17-24. That is on page 152 of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you.

As you are turning to Ephesians 4 please remember that this is the third part of the series.

  • Pastor Viars started the series instructing us to adopt the correct goal. We have to live in order to please and glorify the Lord.
    • Any other goal will result in idolatry.
  • Pastor Wetterlin then explained that once we have the right goal we have to listen to the right person – Christ -- in order to attain that goal. He is our authority.
    • Not only do we evaluate whether we are in the Faith (is he our savior?)
    • When our thoughts or desires are different than Christ’s then Christ gets to tell us what to do. We live under his authority.
  • Everything seems fine until that moment when you realize that you did something out of order and now you have to take the thing apart in order to put it together.
  • Been there? Done that? Me too.
  • Do not walk in v. 17 contrasts to walk in a manner worthy of your calling in v. 1.
  • We would always see what is in front of us, but we would miss the full beauty and splendor of all that God made.
  • Unbelievers have a worldview, but without God, without Christ, without sin, and without heaven it is not complete. That impacts their interpretation of the world and their experiences within that world.
  • Instead of experiencing forgiveness they live with guilt.
  • Instead of having a present God to help them in suffering, they suffer alone.
  • Instead of having a reliable source of truth, they have competing voices vying for their allegiance.
  • The unbeliever has no long-term satisfying answers to the hard questions of life.
  • You are living like this … with a worldview that has not properly included Christ, without a relationship with God, with a hard heart, with the result that you have lived sinfully.
  • Friends, I want you to know that it does not have to be this way. Today could be the day everything changes. Today could be the day when you place your faith in Christ alone for your salvation. I want to exhort you to do that.
  • Thieves cannot take it and moths cannot destroy it. It is reserved in heaven for you.
  • You know what I mean … I know I need to eat right and lose weight. But what do we do about it? Not much.
  • My assumption is this … either God has already convicted you of an area you need to change, or he is about ready to do … the first step in the process --- Motivation --- believing I need to change.
  • If I believe, for example, that you make me angry … then it is your fault when you feel my wrath.
  • If I believe that what you did deserves my response … then you are simply getting what you deserve.
  • If I believe that I have a right to respond however I want … then maybe that will teach you the lesson you need to learn.
  • Or better yet … if the doctor is heavier than I am I might be tempted to think that when they deal with their problem then they can tell me to deal with mine.
  • I am not talking about the kind of accountability where we just all encourage one another and tell each other it is all okay.
  • I am talking about the kind that costs us something.
  • Visible reminders that something is at stake.
  • Get rid of your phone … people lived without them for a long time.
  • Have a password on your computer that only someone else knows.
  • Sell your PS4 or your XBOX whatever and end your TV subscription.
  • If you pay $50 to have an enjoyable time on the golf course and you are finding yourself sinfully angry when something does not go your way … save the $50 give up golf and find a way to serve Christ with those 5 hours.
  • If you find that your anger tends to occur at home with your children between 7 and 8 pm, then ensure your spouse is with you during that time as a constant reminder of your anger problem … or put a Bible on your lap to remind yourself that Jesus is with you.
  • Those are two big steps. Being motivated for change and identifying the action steps to take to avoid are part of the process.
  • The specific area of change will be different, but the process we are following remains the same.
  • We are commanded to be angry. But anger is also qualified carefully. We are to put on the new self which is characterized by righteousness and holiness of the truth.
  • Anger that will honor the Lord must be accompanies by righteousness and holiness of the truth.
  • Read passages of Scripture that specifically talk about the area of our struggle [talk about the availability of searches and Bibles]
  • Make it a regular part of your prayer to ask the Lord for grace as you seek to change in a particular area
  • Read a book (Good and Angry by David Powlison … Uprooting Anger by Robert Jones)
  • Use your time more effectively (work, read, pray, study your Bible, serve, exercise, get an appropriate amount of sleep … there is not a lot of time for other things).
  • Put off knowing that the desires of our old man continue to pull us away from Christ
  • Want the Lord to continue to renew your mind so you think differently about both your sin and righteousness
  • Put on the new man which is characterized by righteousness and holiness of the truth
  • This chart can be used about anything. It can relate to attitudes, anger, communication, bitterness, finances, work ethic, sexual sin, and so much more.

Our task this morning is to grow what God has given By Having the Right Process.

Have you ever purchased something that had about 3 billion parts? Maybe you bought a house from Ikea or maybe you bought a special toy for someone in your life. At first, it seems easy. Organize all the pieces and start putting it together. In fact, it seems so easy that why would you bother with directions, right?

Please follow along as I read. This is the Word of the Lord. Read Ephesians 4:17-24

Let’s consider 4 truths that help us grow by having the right process.

Truth #1: The process involves the motivation to live out our new condition in Christ (vv. 17-21)

The command given in v. 17 is “do not live like an unbeliever.” We expect certain behaviors from those who do not know Christ. But believers are supposed to be different. Do you believe that?

If the idea was not enough, God gives us two very important descriptions to explain why we ought to live like believers (that is worthy of our calling) and not like unbelievers.

1.      Description of us without Christ (vv. 17-19)

The picture is really sad. It does not tell us that unbelievers are as bad as they could be. It does not tell us that every unbeliever will be mean to you or unfriendly to you. It describes a hopeless place to be.

    1. Futile in thought and blind to the truth (vv. 17-18)

This does not mean that unbelievers cannot think. It means that their worldview is smaller than the actual world. Imagine if we were forced to live our lives with the blinders they use for horses.

    1. Without a relationship with God (v. 18)

Unbelievers also lack the experience of a saving relationship with God.

    1. Having a hard heart (v. 18)

Their condition also includes having a heart that is not sensitive to the real spiritual needs of others around them. It is nice to comfort a person who is suffering or even dying. But it is not all that person needs.

    1. Result: Given themselves to sinful behavior (v. 19)

Since the worldview is limited, there is no relationship with the Lord, and there remains a heart that is not sensitive to the right spiritual needs, there are few constraints on behavior.

Eat, drink, and be merry is about all there is left. You might be here in that condition this morning. Maybe God has stirred your heart to see that you have a problem with him.

Notice the contrast …

2.      Description of us with Christ (vv. 20-21)

The statement is very simple … you did not learn Christ in this way. I only have time to unpack a small amount of what the Lord has said about this …. But here are 5 truths from Ephesians that demonstrate the identity of believers.

    1. Adopted as children (1:5)

Ephesians 1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will

We love physical adoption. We celebrate with those around us who adopt. If that is worth celebrating, then so is spiritual adoption. We are a child of God. Yes, I am my parents’ son, but even more I am a child of the king.

    1. Given an inheritance (1:11)

Ephesians 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will

Earthly inheritance … if we receive one … is still open to moths and thieves. The one eats it the other steals it. Either way, it is gone. But the inheritance from the Lord is different.

    1. Made alive (2:4-5)

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)

It does not get much better than being made alive --- since you were once dead in your sin. You are now alive to God.

    1. Called to good works (2:10)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

As my friend Randy Patten says it, you were not designed to sit, soak, and sour … but to sit, soak, and serve! We were called to good works … very different from the works of the unbeliever (review v. 19).

 

    1. In a peaceful relationship with one another (2:14)

Ephesians 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall

Because God brought us in peace with him; we are also brought into peace with one another. The dividing barriers have been broken down. We are built into one spiritual house.

Please listen to this … here is the shocking part of vv. 17-21… believers were living like unbelievers. That was true when these words were penned, and it is true today.

This is not a truth for the person next to you. It is true for all of us to one degree or another.

  • Instead of living out good works (like Serve 19) … we live like we do not understand why things like that would be important.
  • Instead of living with reckless abandon because our inheritance is secure; we live cautious because we are protecting things we cannot take with us.
  • Instead of living with a soft heart thankful for all the reconciliation work of Christ we live hard hearted about the needs around us.

Friends we all need these words landing on our ears differently than our physician telling us to eat right and lose weight.

If we are not properly motivated, then we will not see the need for the process.

Truth #2: The process involves purposeful elimination of your sin (Put Off) (v. 22)

Once I am motivated … Yes, Lord I get it. You want me to change. You want me to stop throwing pity parties, stop making excuses, stop blaming others, and to deal with the issues in my life. Got it.

For the sake of an illustration I am going to work this process through with anger (vv. 26-27). I want this sermon to connect as many dots as possible regarding the change process. But what we are talking about today relates to every area of struggle.

1.      Identify thoughts and actions that need to change (v. 22)

How I think about things impacts my willingness to do them.

It is like the doctor weight thing. If I do not believe there is anything to change, then I simply will not change.

In all these cases, I will not change. It is just that simple. In order to change … I have to think differently.

I have to acknowledge that my anger can be sinful when (1) I am sinfully angry and I am not confronting myself; (2) I hold onto my anger for long periods of time rather than deal with the appropriate person(s); (3) I experience righteous anger but respond sinfully by speaking in mean and condescending ways; (4) I make visible expressions of my anger that do not lead to solutions (slam a door, flop on the couch, roll my eyes); (5) I discipline without thinking clearly about the offenses before God rather than something that was inconvenient or embarrassing to me.

 

Then I ask God and the appropriate people for forgiveness. Without repentance there is no change.

I gave that as a sample, but the point is that we are thinking honestly and deeply about our sin. We are specific and clear and not trying to hide behind various excuses. I am calling out what is wrong without qualification.

2.      Recognize your old patterns continue to corrupt (v. 22)

If the sin was not bad enough, we also understand the influence that sin can have on our life. It is corrupting … making it worse. Think of it this way, the more I choose to sin in my anger the more likely I will continue to sin in my anger. The corrupting influence of one response makes it easier to continue the pattern.

I want to fight it. I want to say that enough is enough. I want to move in a different direction. I do not want sin to continue to have the upper hand.

3.      Place whatever safeguards are necessary to make it hard to sin (v. 22)

We have all heard Pastor Viars describe the difference between a person who says they want accountability and those who do. As soon as the accountability is meaningful you will find out really fast.

Please hear me. You want real, genuine, and meaningful accountability.

Sometimes the accountability is obvious. If we decided to speak about pornography, we would say remove every piece of access you have.

But with anger the safeguards might be more subtle. The reason is that anger does not occur over the same things. One day sinful anger erupts when you had a tough day at work. Another day it occurs when your children act sinfully. Another day it happens when you do not feel well.

So look for potential patterns.

What you are looking for is a constant reminder that there is real accountability.

My point is that you are putting safeguards in place and that violation of those safeguards results in a loss that means something to you.

Truth #1: You are motivated because you want to live like a Christian. You want to walk worthy of your calling rather than walk like unbelievers. Truth #2: You have purposeful elimination of your sin.

Truth #3: The process involves purposeful addition of a godly replacement (v. 24)

Voids are not good. They are filled with something. Thankfully the Lord was kind enough to remind us that stopping something is not sufficient. It must also be replaced.

1.      Identifying thoughts and actions that would please Christ

God tells us that the process of change not only involves removing something from our lives, but adding the correct thing in its place. This passage invites all of us to evaluate our lives and see if there are opportunities for growth in our lives.

Let’s return to our example … anger. The passage reminds us that there is such a thing as righteous anger.

If we are going to get to a better place, then we must put just as much thought into the positive as we did into the negative.

(1) When I am sinfully angry, I will confront myself; (2) I will seek to deal with the problem as quickly as possible; (3) I experience righteous anger and will speak in tones that are accurate without being mean or condescending; (4) I will use my body language consistent with my words and I will seek to smile when appropriate; (5) I will discipline after I have thought and prayed and I will be sure that my discipline is based on Scripture.

I am working out each expression of righteous anger in my life.

2.      Placing whatever structures are necessary to make it easy to live righteously

I realize that the spiritual disciplines can seem a bit boring or mundane. Some may even think that they lead to self-righteousness. But that is not the only lens through which one can see the spiritual disciplines.

It is also possible to see them as safeguards against the areas of our sin.

Now, one more truth in the process …

Truth #4: The process requires a change of mind in two directions (v. 23)

Some of you are asking … wait a second. I am no grammarian, but isn’t this passive? I am not changing my mind as much as something else is changing my mind. That would be a good observation. Yes, indeed it is God who works in us to renew our minds.

However, this text is loaded with things you and I are to do. We are to walk worthy, we are to maintain unity, we are to do our part so the body grows, we are to put off and we are to put on. Thus, the implication is that I want God to renew my mind. I happily yield to his influence.

Rather than say to the Lord that I want to do my own thing, I am happily submitting to his work in my life. A work described in v. 23 as an ongoing and continual work.

Practically, this renewal

1.      Changes how you think about your sin

Instead of viewing sinful anger as par for the course you see it as an offense against a holy God. In v. 27 you even see it as you providing an opportunity to do what the devil wants to do in your life anyway … devour you.

You see your sin destroying relationships, turning you bitter, compounding the suffering you experience in your life, and moving you away from an enjoyable worship of God.

2.      Changes how you think about righteousness

Instead of thinking it is something nice to have … you think about its necessity for your life. You know that righteousness will lead to joy, to having a meaningful worship of the Lord, to limiting the suffering you experience, to building relationships with those who also love Jesus.

Friends, the process of Christian growth is not difficult to understand. God’s Word lays it out for us as clear as day.

I know all of you want to see a chart, where all of this comes together. This chart is for anger, but you can do this with any area of struggle.

Growth Chart Example

 

Put Off

Renew Mind

Put On

Sinful anger and sinful responses in the midst of righteous anger:

(1) I am sinfully angry and I am not confronting myself;

(2) I hold onto my anger for long periods of time rather than deal with the appropriate person(s);

(3) I experience righteous anger but respond sinfully by speaking in mean and condescending ways;

(4) I make visible expressions of my anger that do not lead to solutions (slam a door, flop on the couch, roll my eyes);

(5) I discipline without thinking clearly about the offenses before God rather than something that was inconvenient or embarrassing to me.

 

I believe that each expression of sinful anger is wrong.

I believe that making excuses and blaming others is wrong.

I believe that God wants me to change those expressions.

I must repent and ask forgiveness.

I believe that my speech should be kind, gracious, and encouraging.

I believe that my body language should communicate my love and care.

I believe that Godly discipline flows from a right understanding and a right attitude.

Righteous speaking, discipline, and body language:

(1) When I am sinfully angry, I will confront myself;

(2) I will seek to deal with the problem as quickly as possible;

(3) I experience righteous anger and will speak in tones that are accurate without being mean or condescending;

(4) I will use my body language consistent with my words and I will seek to smile when appropriate;

(5) I will discipline after I have thought and prayed, and I will be sure that my discipline is based on Scripture.

 

 

I heard Pastor Viars say a long time ago that “people do not change in fuzzy land.” His point is that if there is no plan for growth, then we are not doing our part in how people grow.

The process itself is not complicated, but we need to ask the Lord to help us see our next area of growth, to help us change our thinking about both what needs to be put off and what needs to be put on. Then, we need an action plan for the put off and the put on. By the grace of God this will result in growth --- one step at a time.

What was the motivation? We learned Christ. God said he did not want us living like unbelievers because we learned Christ.

This morning we have the privilege of being reminded of that motivation in the visible ordinance of communion.

Men, please come and serve us. As they are coming I have a couple of instructions.

Move to communion table … 8:00 Trey / 9:30 Dustin / 11:00 Greg are my helpers.

We practice what we call open communion. For us that means that a person does not have to be a member of Faith to participate. However, you have to meet a couple of criteria.

  1. Be a genuine believer in Christ. By taking the bread and juice we are proclaiming that Jesus died for our sin. Therefore, there has to be a time in your life where you acknowledged your sin and trusted in the finished work of Jesus. If this is not something you have done, then please let the elements go by.
  2. That you have dealt with known sin. Maybe you are living in rebellion against the Lord. The Lord knows it and you know it. Maybe you are living in heated conflict with your brother or sister in Christ. You know your heart. You know that the Lord told us before we sacrifice go reconcile with your brother. It may be that you have some reconciliation work to do with the Lord or others. It would not be right to take communion (read 1 Cor 11:27-31).

If you have met these then we invite you to participate.

Read 1 Corinthians 11:23 … ask deacon on my right to give thanks for the body of our Lord

[Pass the bread]

Read v. 24  … [after deacons return take the bread]

Read v. 25a … ask deacon on my left to give thanks for the blood of the new covenant 

[Pass the cup] … [deacons will not return]

Read v. 25 …

Closing

  • Why should we live worthy of our calling? Because of this right here.
  • Why change? Because of this right here.
  • Why look for the next area of growth? Because of this right here.
  • Why would we never be fully satisfied with our Christian maturity? Because of this right here.
  • How do we know that God will renew our mind? Because of the sacrifice that has already been made.
  • How do we know that change is really possible? Because of this right here.

Let’s commit to walking worthy by growing one step at a time.

 

Dr. Rob Green

Roles

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Church

Pastor of Counseling and Seminary Ministries - Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries

MABC Department Chair, Instructor - Faith Bible Seminary

Bio

B.S. - Engineering Physics, Ohio State University
M.Div. - Baptist Bible Seminary
Ph.D. - New Testament, Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Rob Green and his wife, Stephanie, joined the Faith staff in August, 2005.  Rob’s responsibilities include oversight of the Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry, Chair of the MABC program, and teaching New Testament at the Faith Bible Seminary. He serves on the council board of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as a fellow at the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

Read Rob Green's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Green to Faith Church.