Ephesians overview – 3:14-19, The Inner Man, the Good Heart; Review so far (2).
Tuesday June 23, 2020
We saw that the heart is always pursuing something. We must be careful that it pursues God alone, noting the example of Solomon.
Only God can build a good heart. Our part is to learn from, follow, and obey Him in everything.
God is going to transform our hearts only as far as we are willing to let Him. If we don’t resist temptation, don’t fight the good fight, don’t hold on to eternal life, don’t entrust everything to Him, then much of our heart will remain like the old self.
Jesus possessed divine joy and peace because He was completely obedient and submissive to the Father. We must enter into that relationship of son to Father in everything we do, every undertaking, in every place, in every situation, and that means that we are always sons to our Father, never leaving the house, abiding in it always, always conscious of being in the sphere of that relationship.
We must always be conscious that we are sons and daughters to our Father who is in heaven, and that relationship will change our hearts to contain good treasure.
God is not in the business of helping you to overcome some things, making those areas of your life better, and leaving the rest of your life to your own charge.
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.
Taking up our cross means death to our old self.
Keeping our Lord’s commands and abiding in His love are the keys to having His joy abide in us and our joy being made full. We are careful to note that the love Jesus spoke of was the love that lays down its life for its friends. It demands sacrifice and endurance.
We find ourselves actually afraid to commit this much, but is there any other greater reward than experiencing the fullness of divine joy?
In Christianity, self is not the starting point or foundation, Christ is.
Jesus said that His disciple was extraordinary. Certainly this is true because the disciple is like Christ in every way. He is the type of person who walks by the Holy Spirit, led by the Spirit, in full understanding that he is a child of God, having his inheritance from God, crying out “Abba, Father.”
“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]
On the road of life, in complete submission to the will of the Father, two things will alarm you. First, your sins will become apparent and alarm you, but second, and more disturbing, is you will discover the sinner you are. The first is the realization of the individual sins, the second is the realization of the person committing them. Only the believer striving to follow God with his whole heart (fully convinced heart) will come to see what his old self really is, and it is shocking and alarming.
Rom.7:9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;
Rom 7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Despite what we discover about ourselves in striving to please God, the gospel tells us who God has made us to be; those who walk according to the Spirit.
Confession or acknowledgment of sin is good for the soul because it constantly reminds you that your forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness.
No matter what happens, we must not give up our commitment to God’s way. We always go by grace. We are always cleansed. We are always forgiven. We are always sons in the house. If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. Never give up your commitment to your Father in any area of your life.
He told us, while He was on His journey to the cross, to deny ourselves daily and pick up our crosses and follow Him.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
“adequate” - artios = fitted, complete. (from artos = a limb or joint). Jesus made us “fit in” in heaven, and now on earth He teaches us how to fit in heaven and “fit out” of the flesh/world.
It is wonderful to think of it like a limb perfectly fitting in a joint. Thus we can imagine a Christian trying to do the work of God without the true knowledge of the scripture. He will not fit the work, being awkward, stumbling, ineffective. We are to fit the work, and so it is smooth, spontaneous, joyful, effective.
“Man finds it hard to get what he wants because he does not want the best. God finds it hard to give because He would give the best, and man will not take it.” [George MacDonald, Your Life in Christ]
Jesus showed us that we had it all backwards. You were not given your life to grow it into a prideful and autonomous entity of its own. In truth, your life is not your own. You were given it so that you could lay it on God’s altar, and when you do, God promises that it will then be truly yours, which again is upside-down from the world.