While thinking of the Christian life, it is imperative for us, as followers of Christ, that we view this life as a process. While the Scripture teaches us that salvation is an instantaneous act performed by God on an individual who expresses faith in Christ while turning from sin, we are also taught that at this point of new birth, a new process begins. This process is referred to as sanctification.
For some this process can move quite rapidly at times. For others, it may take a longer period of time to cover the same ground. Regardless of the time spent, the intended result for all of us is to be the same; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13).
Today we will take a look at this thing we call sanctification in order to understand the starting point, the process, the characteristics, and the intended result. This will, in turn, help us to assess where we ourselves are at, and what may be next in terms of our walk with Jesus Christ. The key word in todays lesson is the word walk. The apostle Paul understands this word to mean, to conduct ones self, to make progress, to take advantage of opportunities that arise. This is the word that denotes the process that we are in as we follow Christ. It speaks of a journey, a pilgrimage, a movement that begins at the inception of our salvation and continues throughout our life on this earth. So, as we look through this passage, lets see how the apostle uses it and allow it to speak to us as we each continue our own personal walk with Christ and one another.
1. THE STARTING POINT (Ephesians 4:17-19)
a) Note the progressive walk
ii. Filled with Darkness
iii. Not participating in the life of God
iv. Hardness of Heart
b) The outcome of this walk is that they surrender themselves to:
i. Sensuality (unbridled lust)
ii. Impurity (the walking out of that lust)
c) Note: This is where everyone begins. Eph. 2:1-2
i. This the point of salvation
1. We have a change of allegiance
2. We experience a change in direction
3. We begin a new process
2. THE PROCESS (The Walk)
a) Lay aside falsehood (Eph. 4:25)
i. Take down the facades
ii. Forget pretense
iii. Look for truth, be genuine.
1. Dont fall prey to devilish lies.
b) Beware of Anger (Eph 4:26)
i. It is possible to be angry and not sin, but
ii. If we sin because of anger, we must try to make it right as soon as we can.
iii. Forgiveness is crucial in dealing with anger (see v 32).
c) Dont give the devil a chance. (Eph 4:27)
i. Opportunity = a place, a portion, an occasion
ii. The enemy is an opportunist. (1Pe 5:8).
d) Stop taking and start giving (Eph 4:28)
i. Give and it shall be given to you
ii. Dont be a drain, be a fountain.
e) Watch what we say and how we say it. (Eph 4:29)
i. Proverbs 18:21 Life and Death are in the power of the tongue
ii. Proverbs 15:4 A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.
iii. Proverbs 12:18-19; 21:23; 26:28
f) Dont grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30-31)
i. What grieves the Holy Spirit?
1. Things like bitterness, wrath, anger, etc.
g) Show a little kindness (Eph 4:32)
i. Tender hearted = compassion
3. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PROCESS (Eph 4:2-6)
a) Humility a new view of ourselves
b) Gentleness a change in how we behave towards others
c) Patience longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs
d) Tolerance putting up with stuff, to endure, to stand up straight under the pressure.
e) TOGETHER, TOGETHER, TOGETHER!!
i. We are in this together
ii. We endeavor to leave no one behind
iii. The idea here is withness
4. THE INTENDED RESULT (Eph 4:13-16)
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil (Eph 5:15-16).
1. Where do I see myself on the sanctification continuum? (Dont be too hard on yourself.)
2. What issues do I need to confront now in my life?
3. When it comes to giving and taking am I a drain or a fountain?
4. Who are the people God has given me to walk with me in this process?
5. Am I allowing them access?