Ephesians overview – 3:14-19, part 36: Inner man; the good heart.
Tuesday May 19, 2020
Jesus leads us to the truth, Luk 6:45, that only the good heart can produce good fruit.
But don’t miss what this good fruit is. It is not a nicer version of the old man, it is heaven itself. No one ever spoke like this. No one would have taken any of it seriously, as only coming from the mouth of a madman, but no one accuses Jesus of being insane. He speaks as one from another world living in our own and telling us about this other world, and then commanding us to live in this world as if we did live in His. It’s either a trick or a joke or a myth, or it is true that that other world exists and He comes from there, and it is also true that He is a man just like us, and He bids us to follow Him. It is also true that He died so that He could make us just like Him, fit for that other world. This is why it is imperative that we live as those who are just what He said we are.
Any person starting a religion is interested in gaining followers. He knows that his religion is going nowhere if he cannot convince enough people to be disciples. We never see Jesus doing this. In fact, He does just the opposite. And, of course, it is not reverse psychology, pretending to not want anyone in the hope that everyone will want you. Jesus spoke and lived as God. No other religious leader ever made that claim. He was who He was, the God/Man, and with divine love He sought to save the lost.
We are to be of the same mind. Do not seek to convince people that you are what you are. Live as what you are and let God do whatever window dressings He sees fit.
“For in that [tomb] the whole of that great and glorious humanity which we call antiquity was gathered up and covered over; and in that place it was buried. It was the end of a very great thing called human history; the history that was merely human. The mythologies and the philosophies were buried there, the gods and the heroes and the sages. In the great Roman phrase, they had lived. But as they could only live, so they could only die; and they were dead. On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.” [G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man]
Christ said during the Sermon on the Mount that His disciple is a person of a certain type – extraordinary like He is.
It demands a love of Him, of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore a love of His life, which only the born-again can have. The Law and the promise of judgment and curse upon all law-breakers did not change men’s hearts. Even the OT saints were saved by faith in a redemption from God to come.
We have been darting around in Luk 6. Let’s now notice this passage in its entire context.
And turning His gaze on His disciples, He began to say, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. 23 "Be glad in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. 24 "But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. 25 "Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets.
At first glance it seems that Jesus is teaching us to be ascetics – making ourselves miserable just for the sake of it. That is not the Christian life. He is telling us to be like Him.
Being as He is, we put all our possessions in the hands of the Father, submitting their use to His will.
We also love the people of the world as He did, which will in turn cause us to mourn. There is a real and terrible judgment for every unbeliever in this world, plus, before they face that judgment, they are blind to the love and joy and peace of Christ, which they could have; and that is tragic.
We are also sacrificially gracious and refuse to compromise the truth in order to attain material blessings from the world. At some level this will lead to poverty and hunger.
God defines fasting in Isa 58.
"Cry loudly, do not hold back;
Raise your voice like a trumpet,
And declare to My people their transgression,
And to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 "Yet they seek Me day by day, and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness,
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of God.
3 'Why have we fasted and Thou dost not see?
Why have we humbled ourselves and Thou dost not notice?'
Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire,
And drive hard all your workers.
4 "Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.
You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.
5 "Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one's head like a reed,
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 "Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free,
And break every yoke?
7 "Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry,
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 "Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 "Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.'
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 And if you give yourself to the hungry,
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness,
And your gloom will become like midday.
11 "And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
All things we possess belong to God. All good things that we possess are gifts from God. When we think they are our own, that in some way we have earned them or deserve them, they are truly not our own.
There is great reward in doing this, and it is vital that we know what that reward is.
The ownership of all good things belongs to God. Therefore, their only real purpose must be His purpose.
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth,
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
11 So shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.
When we in thanksgiving give our possessions back to God, which is a way of asking God, “Lord, how would You have me use them?” then and only then do they become your possession.
Luk 6:38 "Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
It is easy to mistake this for some kind of financial transaction with God. That conclusion imagines that the things I possess don’t belong to God, even my own body. In financial markets, ownership changes hands, and so money is truly neutral, a conduit that no one owns, but possesses for a short time and then transfers it on condition of exchange of goods or services.
When you and I use all our possessions as a part of our entire life for His purpose, we take part in their possession. Give and it will be given to you. I give material, time, blessing, comfort, service, love, forgiveness, truth, the gospel, and what is given to me?
What if it’s like the prosperity message of so many churches. You give money and you get more money – you didn’t give anything.
"And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive back the same amount. 35 "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
The reward is that you will be sons of the Most High, meaning that you live like sons, see and experience what sons of God do, which is what the Son of God did.