Ephesians overview – 3:14-19, part 33: Inner man; the good heart.
Wednesday May 13, 2020
The good heart has chosen by faith to let die his personal life, meaning any desire that isn’t God’s desire. Our selves are not our starting point, or foundation. Our selves were crucified with Christ.
The many who think that self is their foundation, temporarily set self aside to do what they ought to do under society’s moral structure but always with the hope that there is enough time left over to get back to self. This thinking isolates every man in a high tower of self, surrounded by thick walls and a deep moat.
In Christianity, self is not the starting point or foundation, Christ is. Our whole person must be given over to Him, and when we do, He will change our hearts.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner? 19 Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.
The judgment upon the household of God is a reference to the attacks against it by Satan and his world. This same attack on the truth has great collateral damage upon those who don’t obey the gospel. The story of human history has been Satan’s attack upon the truth from God to mankind. That is what is attacked. We look at foolish rulers and leaders, filled with personal desire for wealth and power, and we are tempted to loathe them and judge them, but the reality is that they are just the result of Satan’s attack on the church, on the truth. When that attack is successful, the church weakens to the point of ineffectiveness and society suffers greatly.
The health of any society is a direct result of the health of the church.
"Moreover, I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master, And a mighty king will rule over them," declares the Lord God of hosts.
Isa 19 is but one of many passages where God states that He gives us our rulers. A nation that has forgotten God deserves its rulers. All Christians in our nation must understand how important it is that they are lights to the world. Our shinning forth of Christ’s life, which is the light of the world, will affect the lives of many.
“Indeed the church from its beginnings, was not so much a principality as a revolution against the prince of this world. This sense that the world had been conquered by the great usurper, and was in his possession, has been much deplored or derided by those optimists who identify enlightenment with ease. … Olympus still occupied the sky like a motionless cloud molded into many mighty forms; philosophy still sat in the high places and even on the thrones of kings, when Christ was born in the cave and Christianity in the catacombs. In both cases we may remark the same paradox of revolution; the sense of something despised and of something feared. The cave in one aspect is the hole or corner into which the outcasts are swept like rubbish; yet in the other aspect it is a hiding place of something valuable which the tyrants are seeking like treasure. … It was important solely because it was intolerable; and in that sense it is true to say that it was intolerable because it was intolerant. It was resented, because, in its own still and almost secret way, it had declared war. It had risen out of the ground to wreck the heaven and earth of heathenism. It did not try to destroy all that creation of gold and marble; but it contemplated a world without it.” [G.K. Chesterton]
Nero accused Christians of burning down Rome. This was a lie. But it is nearer the truth than what some moderns claim that Christians were persecuted and martyred in a languid fashion because their society was ethical, ands that they told men that they had a duty to their neighbors, and were mildly disliked because they were somewhat meek and mild. The proclaimed that the world of men would end in judgment and in fire and that salvation was only found in one Man, God the Son who was born an infant in a cave in Bethlehem; God the Son who died and rose again, and now sits at the right hand of power; God the Son who was to soon return and take His rightful spot on the throne of David. Christianity is nothing less than a revolution against the established world, but not with the weapons of flesh, but the weapons of heaven – the gospel, the truth, the love of God for the world.
Suffering will come upon all who live godly. If we are obedient in that suffering God will change our hearts.
We noted that suffering will come upon all who live godly. Jesus told us that He was giving us His joy and His peace, and in both of those instances He said that we had to lay down our lives and suffer tribulation in the world. It is getting to the heart; we can’t have it two ways. We can’t have our personal desire of avoiding sacrifice and suffering and also have Christ’s joy and peace.
I think it is a common problem that a Christian goes so far with God and then turns back. They desired for God to help them with a few things and when God started to work on other things they became uncomfortable and fearful and turned back to the self-life. Whatever showing these types put forth, they didn’t allow God to change their hearts and they never really saw the joy and peace of Christ. They knew of it, but never experienced it.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation [deliverance] of your souls. 10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, 11 seeking to know what person or time [not “person” but what manner and manner of season] the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things into which angels long to look.
If we can imagine Jesus choosing to avoid any particular suffering that came His way, then we don’t know Him. He received it while He focused solely on the life that was the Father’s will.
Peter then entreats us not to turn back from having God transform our entire lives into holiness.
Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.
Each of us are new creatures in Christ, given a brand new heart, and at the start we cannot know what the life of Christ looks like. We can only know what we have already seen, and no matter where we are in reference to completeness, there is more yet that we haven’t seen and still don’t know. This is why we’re called to be perfect and only in the journey to perfection, and not our compromise with it, will the Holy Spirit empower and guide us.
God certainly desires to rid us of the things that we know are hurting our lives, but He will not be content with just them.
God did not come into the world to make better versions of the old self. He came to kill it. God wants to pull the bad teeth, and He wants to pull out all the teeth, even the ones we think are good enough to keep. We are to be like Christ, every one of us, and that is all new and as high as the heavens. No half-measures, the heart is new and all personal desire associated with the old has to go.