Letís just wrap it all
up and make sure we have remembered what we have learned in the book of
Ephesians. Letís read verses 23 and 24: "Peace [in all of its
aspects] be to the brethren, and love with faith [which is the richest
kind of love. Faith here means obedience, love with obedience. That is the
kind of love God wants] from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with a love
Now the ending of verse 24 doesnít quite convey what
these two verses are saying. When Paul says, "with a love
incorruptible," it is better than that. He is saying, "in
incorruptibility." Let me explain that to you. The Apostle Paul ends
his letter to the Ephesians on the same high note that he started the
letter. In 1:3 he says that we have been given every spiritual blessing in
Christ Jesus. Now he says in verses 23 and 24 that there is peace, there
is love and there is grace. All three of these are incorruptible.
Try to understand what he is saying. Our bodies are
corruptible. That is why I Corinthians 15 says we must put on immorality
or incorruptibility. Paul is saying, "Everything that God has given
us in Jesus Christ is incorruptible. Nothing can ever take away from it.
Nothing can ever happen to it. It is ours forever, especially those who
love the Lord Jesus Christ." Nobody can take away anything I have in
Jesus Christ. If I love Him and do as Ephesians has told me, I can
appropriate every spiritual blessing that is mine in Him and they will be
mine forever and ever and ever and ever. They are incorruptible. Nobody
can lay their hands on that which God has given me in Jesus Christ.
Paul is writing this from prison, so he is probably
sending another signal: "They may take my life, but they canít
touch my Jesus in whom I have been made complete and will live with
forever and ever and ever." That is the way he closes the letter. He
starts off with every spiritual blessing in Jesus. He ends by saying every
one of them can be summed up in three words: grace, peace and love. They
are incorruptible for all of eternity, and those of us who love Him can
draw from them daily and recognize them and realize them in our life.
Someone in our congregation has done a painting of their
view of what Ephesians is all about. It is a picture of Jesus putting the
garment on one who is kneeling before Him. He is standing in front of the
cross. At the bottom of the painting they put, "And put on the new
nature." Think about the new life that we have in Christ. I have had
families come up to me and say, "My kids caught on to Ephesians and
they are asking us all the time, ĎWhat garment do you have on? Do you
have the new one on or do you have the old one on? Just how are you
living?í" I think the accountability that Ephesians calls us to is
very important to keep in the forefront in the days ahead.
Turn to chapter 3 for one last look at Ephesians. When I
go place to place I try to start in 3:14. Why? Because the prayer of Paul
in 3:14-21 is the hinge of the whole book. It sums up everything in
chapters 1, 2 and 3 and it sets up everything in chapters 4, 5 and 6. If
you can grasp this prayer, everything flows into it and out of it in the
book of Ephesians. Paul says in verse 14, "For this reason, I bow my
knees before the Father." We already know how Paul starts his prayer
back in 3:1. He is a man who is overwhelmed with his salvation. People are
telling us in these days that the problem with the church is that we have
a low view of self. No, we have a low view of salvation, and because we
have a low view of salvation, we have a low view of Christ. We have a low
view of Godís Word. "It wonít work in our lives."
"Jesus canít help me in my problems."
Paul has a high view of salvation. As a matter of fact,
he has such a high view, he tries to pray. He says in 3:1: "For this
reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you
Gentiles." Then instead of starting his prayer, he takes another 12
verses to talk about the wonder of his salvation and how it was revealed
to him. Then he comes back in verse 14 and finishes his prayer.
To find out why he bows his knees before the Father you
have to go back to 2:19-22 where you discover what this converted Jew is
trying to say to converted Gentiles over in Ephesus. He says in verses
19-22: "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are
fellow citizens with the saints, and are of Godís household, having been
built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus
Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being
fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you
also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit."
Letís just milk this down. What is he saying? He is
saying, "Listen, all of you Gentile believers, you must understand
that you are a part of Godís household, a part of the Temple. You are
the dwelling of God on this earth." That is exciting, isnít it?
"Do you mean to tell me God lives in me?" He is telling the
Ephesians, "Hey, you have everything you need right now as believers
resident within you in the person of Jesus Christ whose Spirit lives in
your heart. Every single thing you could ever want or need is there in
Jesus Christ. You are the dwelling of God on this earth."
If I wore my hat inside the church and you walked up to
me and said, "Take that hat off, you are in Godís house," what
would I say back to you? I should say, "This hat is not in
Godís house, it is on Godís house." Is that right? Is that
correct? I Corinthians 6 says, "Know ye not that your body is a
Temple of the Holy Spirit of God." "Do you mean to tell me God
is in the church because we are?" Well, He is omnipresent but in the
sense of His Spirit, yes. He lives in us. Wherever we go, God goes with
us. He wants us to be conduits so that through us He can reach out and
touch the people who are around us. Paul says, "You are the dwelling
of God. You are the household of God. You have God living in you. For this
reason I bow my knees before the Father."
Now the God who lives within us wants us to experience
Him. He wants to draw us into who He is. He is always working in our life.
He is sovereign. He never slumbers. He never sleeps. He is always up to
something. We donít have to get in a meeting to decide what we can do
and ask God to bless. No. We get sensitive to Him and let Him draw us into
what He is already doing. Look in 3:16. Paul starts making his requests.
He says, "that He would grant you." First of all he wants us to
experience His power. He continues, "according to the riches of His
glory." I hope you have noted all the times it said "according
to" when we went through this earlier. It is used over 15 different
times in the book of Ephesians, and every time it is used it is
significant. It is not out of, it is according to. That automatically
determines a standard. If I were a rich man and wanted to give you some
money out of my wealth, I would give you nothing but a token. A lot of
people give that way. But if I wanted to give according to, then whatever
gift I gave you must somehow reflect what I have to give out of. So
"according to" determines a measure.
Paul says, "Listen, you need to be strengthened
according to the riches of His glory." Now what are the riches of His
glory? Back in 1:3 we see, "Blessed be the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in
the heavenly places in Christ." "You mean to tell me when
I received Jesus in my life, He is the First National Bank of God and
every spiritual blessing under heaven is resident in Him?" That is
exactly right. God wants us to know that. He wants us to know we lack
nothing on this planet for life and for godliness. Simon Peter used those
identical words. He said God has given us everything for life and for
godliness. It doesnít matter whether it was outward life or inward life.
He says, "to be strengthened with power through His
Spirit in the inner man." Therefore, we need to be strengthened,
which means to be made mighty, with power. The word "power"
means ability that you donít have. Ability that only God has within you.
"You mean the Spirit of Christ, who lives within me, possesses all
the spiritual blessings I could ever want, hope for, ask for or even think
about?" That is right. I need to be strengthened according to
everything I have that is in Jesus Christ.
Can I ask you a question? Are you living your life
according to what you have in Jesus or are you simply living out of some
of what you have in Jesus Christ? Where is the standard of your Christian
life? The Apostle Paul is concerned. You say, "Well, I think I
understand now what I have in Jesus Christ, but how do I tap into what I
have in Jesus Christ?" It is one thing to know what you have, but it
is another thing to be able to draw it out. So in verse 17 Paul tells us
how to do that. He says, "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts
through faith." "Do you mean to tell me that faith has something
to do with me drawing out what I have in Jesus Christ?" That is
right. To understand this phrase, you have to understand faith. What is
"faith"? Pistis. It means to be so persuaded by something
that you are willing to commit everything to it, to surrender to it and to
obey it. You can never separate faith and obedience. "You mean to
tell me that when I am willing to obey God, that obedience begins to
become that which draws out of Him everything that I have in Him?"
That is exactly right. If I am not willing to obey Him in any room of my
heart, then automatically I am going to shut down the power that is
already there in Jesus Christ resident within my life.
The term "dwell" is the term that means to be
at home. You know that. We have studied it. To be at home means exactly
that. I need to learn to accommodate His presence. 5:10 says I am always
seeking ways to please Him. We went through the areas of what the inner
man is all about, which is the heart. We looked at our heart as if it was
a huge house with different rooms. We saw in Luke 9:47 the room of our
thoughts. We saw in Matthew 18:35 the room of our attitudes, which is
forgiveness. We looked over at the room of our emotions in John 14:1,
"Let not your heart be troubled." We looked over in II
Corinthians and we saw the secret areas of our heart. We also saw the
hidden motives of the heart. God wants every part of us. In other words,
He didnít come into my heart to rent a room. He came in and purchased
the whole thing. His blood was shed to purchase the whole house. I have no
right to slam the door in His face.
But the Holy Spirit of God can be grieved as we saw in
chapter 4. He is a gentleman. When He comes into my life, He says,
"If you want Me here, then you accommodate Me. Make Me be at home.
Give over to Me every area of your life. As You are willing to give it and
trust Me and obey Me, then I am willing to strengthen you in the inner man
with power you never dreamed about." God wants us to experience His
power. Ephesians, you canít forgive. Paul is saying, "Ephesians,
you canít love. Ephesians, you canít do the ministry. But Ephesians,
you can receive and let God do it in you. God will strengthen you. God
will enable you to love. God will enable you to forgive. God will enable
you to do what you couldnít do before the Holy Spirit took up residence
in your life." Do you want to experience the power of God?
Accommodate the presence of God. That is the message of Ephesians.
Accommodate Him in your life.
You may say, "I have been treated so badly by some
people in my life, I will never be able to forgive." Thank God, go on
and make that confession because that confession helps you get one step
closer to the fact that is right. You canít. God never said you could.
He can and He always said He would. Be willing to admit to it. Confession
is not for His benefit, it is for our benefit. We need to say, "Lord,
I am missing the mark. Lord, I am not measuring up. God, I canít measure
up." God will say, "That is right. You canít. Now bow before
Me. Trust Me. Obey Me. I will measure up inside you, letting Jesus be
Jesus in your life." Once you begin to experience the power of God,
you begin to experience the passion of God.
There are two little Greek words that are translated
"in order that." One of them is found in verse 17 and one of
them is found in verse 19. Verse 17 says, "in order that you, being
rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love
of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to the all
the fulness of God." In other words, A comes before B. "I want
to understand the love of God. I want to know that God loves me. I want to
know that love for other people." First of all, youíve got to learn
to love Him. It is incredible. It is like a cycle. You realize He loves
you and you respond and begin to love Him. Then you begin to comprehend
with all the saints what is the length and the breadth and the depth and
the height of His love. Then you begin to experience for yourself. The
word "know" means to experience for yourself the love of Christ.
All of a sudden you begin to realize that God does love you. God is loving
you all the time. All of a sudden people start getting sweeter to you. You
go out to eat and order beans, but they give you peas and they are cold.
The Lord Jesus inside of you reaches out and loves the people who have to
deal with you and minister to you. Everywhere you go you exhibit love and
compassion. You begin to see the world that God sees. You talk about
missions and evangelism.
So many people get on my case and say, "You are not
evangelistic." I think I am as evangelistic as anybody who ever
walked. I am looking at Step One of evangelism, not just Step Two and
Three. Most of the people who accuse me of not being evangelistic are
people who think evangelism is nothing more than sowing and reaping.
Friend, before you can ever sow and before you can ever reap, you have to
learn to cultivate the soil. Youíve got to learn to plow up the ground.
Until my heart is cultivated before God, how in the world can I cultivate
somebody elseís? The quickest way to evangelism is not in the class
which teaches you how to pass out a tract. The quickest way to evangelism
is getting the right response to God, loving God and surrendering to God.
Then God in you will show you the compassion of Jesus. Then you
comprehend. Then you know for yourself what the love of God is. That is
evangelism. That is lifestyle. That is across the street. That is next
door. Evangelism is every moment of your life. It is every fiber of your
being. It is someone who loves Jesus and Jesus now is loving others
through them wherever they are. It never stops and it goes on until Jesus
Paul says you have to accommodate the presence of God.
Once you begin to know the power of God you see the way it is manifested
is in the passion of God, the love of Christ. Then the next thing you
enter into is the potential of God. That little "in order that"
comes up again in the middle of verse 19, "in order that you may be
filled up to all the fulness of God." In other words, that all of God
can fill all of you. The word "fill" there means to control. It
doesnít mean you are pouring something into something. It means to
dominate, to take over, to control your life. As a matter of fact, in 5:18
he says, "be filled with the Spirit," constantly be being filled
with the Spirit. Paul tells you how in chapter 3. You canít study
chapter 5 without coming back to chapter 3. You do it by giving Him
absolute accommodation in every room of your heart. When you do that you
start tapping into that which only God can do in you, not what you can do
If we start living that way, what will the church be
like? In 4:1-2 we see it in the way we behave towards one another. It
says, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in
a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." The
word "worthy" means live up to the standard which God says you
can live up to. In other words, give a proper estimate as to what
salvation is by the way you live. It is a set of scales. If you have this
in your life, then live that way and balance it out. Measure up. Make sure
the intrinsic value of your salvation is determining how you walk as a
Then he shows you how it will happen in a congregation.
With humility you will have a proper attitude towards yourself, and with
gentleness, you will have a proper attitude towards God. With patience you
will have a proper attitude towards others. Then he says, "showing
forbearance to one another in love." What does
"forbearance" mean? If you add humility, gentleness and patience
together, the result is forbearance. It means that you and I will be able
to stand up against each other. It is the idea of leaning up against each
other and holding each other up. In other words when things go wrong, when
you have a problem, when someone has provoked you or insulted you, thank
God that you have humility and gentleness and patience and you donít
have to react. We can pray for each other and stand up with each other and
hold each other up. We donít divide just because there is a problem. We
donít divide just because there are things going on. We have Jesus
living in us. Jesus will take us to and through whatever circumstances we
ever have to encounter.
Ephesians 4:4-6 shows us doctrinally how we believe.
There are seven doctrines. I have said over and over again there are some
people who can fool you because they are so sincere and they cry and they
talk about Jesus. You had better check out what they believe because their
devotion to God has got to directly stem and flow from their doctrine. If
a person is doctrinally wrong, his devotion is somewhere off center. It
doesnít matter how sincere he is. He can be sincerely wrong.
Verses 7-16 of chapter 4 talk about how we are being
built together into the body of Christ. It talks about each one working
out of their gift. It talks about the gifted men who God has sent. Why? So
that the whole body can grow up into the stature and fullness of Christ.
Then almost as if Paul says, "You know, I am not
sure you are getting this. Let me change gears here for a second." In
verse 22 he says, "in reference to your former manner of life, you
lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the
lusts of deceit." Then in verse 24 he says, "and put on the new
self." What he is talking about is a lifestyle. He is not talking
about the old man that is dead. He is saying, "Listen, live
differently because the old man is dead. Live differently because the
Spirit of God now lives in your life."
What is the difference in wearing the old garment and
wearing the new garment? I donít want you to forget this. What does it
look like to wear the wrong garment? When you get up some morning and you
donít want to be filled with the Spirit of God, how does God look at
you? How do you look when you come to church and argue all the way to
church and donít make it right with one another before you walk in? How
do you look when somebody provokes you and you react to them with anger
and bitterness and talk them down? Weíve got to understand how stupid it
looks for us to wear the wrong garment. Paul says when you are
strengthened in the inner man, you will have the right garment on.
Now, when you have the new garment on, you live
differently than when you wear the old garment. Remember that. Live like
you know how you can live. How is it when you wear the new garment? Verse
4:25 and following tells us to lay aside falsehood or the lie and tell the
truth: "speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for
we are members of one another." When you put the new garment on, you
canít lie. If you put the old one on you will lie in a minute and you
will always protect yourself. You will be constantly hiding behind
whatever it is that is said to you. On one side you have nothing to hide.
God already knows it. You are transparent. You can admit it and tell the
truth when you are wearing the right garment.
Verse 26 says, "Be angry, and yet do not
sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger." The second word for
"anger" there is a provocation of anger." "Anger"
is not the same word as the word used for "angry." The first
word simply means be angry. It is a sense of anger when anger is right. In
the new garment it will always be aimed at the right thing, the sin. In
the old garment it will be aimed at the wrong thing, the person. So, when
you see something in our society that is wrong and you want to take a
stand against it, you had better make sure which garment you have on
because the anger of man never accomplishes the righteousness of God. You
donít attack people. You attack the problem. You love the people. Always
love the people.
Verse 27 reads, "and do not give the devil an
opportunity." He will try to divide the body by putting on the wrong
garment. Verse 28 continues, "Let him who steals steal no longer; but
rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order
that he may have something to share with him who has need." In
other words, the new garment gives and the old garment takes. Verse 29
says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth." The
word "unwholesome" means rotten. If you have a rotten apple in a
barrel, it is going to rot the whole bunch. It goes on to say, "but
only such a word as is good for edification." The word
"edification" means to build a house. Suppose somebody calls you
on the phone and wants to be negative about a brother or a sister. The
moment they open their mouth and start becoming that way say, "Phew,
something is rotten on this phone. That smells like the old garment to me.
I canít talk to you any more." Hang it up. You donít need to be a
part of that. Wear that new garment. Make sure you are wearing the right
Paul goes on in verse 30, "And do not grieve the
Holy Spirit of God." Verse 31 is the cesspool of the old garment.
Verse 32 is the well-spring of the new garment. Then Paul comes into
chapter 5 and says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved
children." Mime it. Donít talk it, walk it. Then he says donít
become immoral. Donít even talk about immorality. Donít even let it be
named among you.
He comes on down in verse 11 and says, "And do not
participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose
them." In verse 18 he says, "but be filled with the
Spirit," as you learn to walk wise in a perverse generation. Further
on down in the chapter he says that is going to affect your family. Wives
will submit to their husbands. Husbands will love their wives as Christ
loved the church. He comes into chapter 6 and says children who are filled
with the Spirit of God and are wearing the right garment will even obey
Then in verses 5-9 Paul talks about the work place. In
verse 10 he begins to close the book. "Finally, be strong in the
Lord, and in the strength of His might." What did he mean by that? He
simply means, "I have been spending five and a half chapters trying
to tell you this. Be strong in the Lord. You are not strong in yourself.
You are strong in the Lord and the strength of His might. He tells you
very clearly that the garment of 4:24-6:9 is the armor in 6:10-18. The
garment and the armor. The armor is nothing more than the underlying
attitudes that cause you to wear that garment, that new lifestyle. That is
all it is. Your loins are girded about with truth. You wear the
breastplate of righteousness. Your feet are shod with the preparation of
the gospel of peace. You take up the shield of faith which is an intention
to obey God at all costs. He goes on and says in verse 17 that the helmet
of salvation is the hope that we base everything on and the sword of the
Spirit is the Word of God.
Standing firm is the first thing you have to do in
wearing this garment. Secondly he says in verse 18, you have to pray at
all times in the Spirit. You see, you canít pray in the Spirit until you
are filled by the Spirit. But you canít just stand, youíve got to pray
something. The two have to go together. As you stand, you will pray and
the Holy Spirit will lead you in prayer.
Then Paul finishes the book. He says, "Remember
everything you have in Jesus Christ is incorruptible. Nobody can take it
from you. You didnít get less than somebody else got. You got the same
thing they got. Now, live out of it and let your life be seen to be a life
worthy of your calling." Do you know what that says to me? There are
a lot of people, including myself some days, that are not living worthy of
their calling. We need to be held accountable to that. A wife needs to
look at her husband sometime in love and ask, "Which garment do you
have on?" A husband should ask that of his wife. We need to start
holding each other accountable for the way we live because we have been
given everything for life and for godliness. It is incorruptible and it is
there. All we have to do is learn to appropriate that in our life.
That is Ephesians in a nutshell. No pop test. No final
exam. I guess the final exam is to see how it has changed our lives. How
we live is determined on whether or not we just read it or whether or not
we have received the Word into our lives. I love the painting of the man
kneeling and Christ putting the garment on him. You donít really put the
garment on. You purpose in your heart to obey Christ, and He puts the
garment on you. It is Him and His righteousness lived out through your
life. That is the book of Ephesians. Somebody asked me, "If you could
only have one book of the Bible from now on until Jesus comes back, what
would it be?" I said, "Give me Ephesians. That is all I
need." It is salvation from Godís view down to me so that I can
understand it and appropriate it in my life.
Let me ask you a question. What garment have you been
wearing? The way you live on the outside is a picture of what is going on
on the inside. If I am being strengthened in the inner man, the outer
garment will be a witness and a testimony to others that there is a power
bigger than myself in the person who lives in my life.