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Sunday, November 1, 2015

"Know Your Role" by Sergio Arguello

Know Your Role

Ephesians was written 4 years after Paul’s farewell with the Ephesian elders in Acts 20, around 61AD while Paul was under house arrest in Rome
·     The letter was encyclical, which means that it was meant to be circulated, and was not written only for the church in Ephesus.  The letter was meant to be circulated around all the churches of Asia Minor.
·     The purpose of the letter was to help strengthen young converts by explaining the nature and purpose of the church.  Paul was concerned for the Christians and wanted to help them mature their faith to protect them against false teachings (Gnosticism) and teachers that promoted themselves above Christ.
·     Paul wanted his readers to see God’s eternal purpose for the church and how everyone has an important role to play, not just to “show up”, but to “be”.  It is easy to show up and do, but to “be” is a whole different thing.  He wanted to teach them the importance of embracing and living the Kingdom life, “on earth as it is in heaven”.
·     When one merely shows up and is not an active part of living out the purpose of the body of Christ, criticism and a mere “consumer” attitude will dominate the believer or participant.  This leads to critical attitudes towards church leadership, the worship service, other disciples and the direction of the church.  You can tell who feels this way because they have a self-centered way of looking at things , what am I getting out of church attitude instead of seeing themselves as part of the worship and service team that is the church.
·     Paul not only wanted to teach the recipients the behavior that they were to adopt, but the heart, if they were in fact going to “be” like Christ.  Like spiritual babies and infants though, they needed to learn the basics of Christian behavior that lead to maturity.


1.  Walk In The Way Of Love

Ephesians 5:1-2
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Do You Give Off A Funky or Pleasing Aroma?
Baby Smell vs pre-teen smell

God calls us to follow His example of love as witnessed through Jesus.
He wants us to be a fragrant offering—something that smells pleasing to Him, not a stench in his nostrils.
·     We are called (as His dearly loved children) to follow God’s example and walk in the way of love—with no limits. God gave His best and only, completely, He did not hold back at all but gave fully to us.  Paul is calling the Christians to imitate not just this quality, but the heart of God.
·     When we hold back from God in any way our offering becomes not a fragrant one, but one that is a stench to His nostrils.
·     My dad almost dying this week, my siblings are having a hard time, so are my dad’s grandkids, my mom.
·     I struggled with a lot of anger and bitterness towards my father.  I struggled to even go see him.  Had to get a lot of help from others to work through some feelings.  Bad past.  I still chose to love him.  My mom, a disciple, chose to love him (they’ve been divorced since 1972), my siblings have loved him despite all his faults.
·     The reality is that he may not make it through this week.
·     We don’t get to choose our fathers, our mothers or our families, we do however get to choose whether we will love or not.
·     Love does not mean accepting bad behavior / sin.

2.   Be Holy

Ephesians 5:3-7
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them. --(This is a command from scripture)

·     There are many areas in which we could easily end up not fully offering ourselves to God, areas that the world sees as acceptable, but are inappropriate for God’s people:  immorality, sexual purity, finances, greed, our speech (controlling our tongue)
·     Paul tells us, “there must not be even a hint”—these are improper for God’s Holy people.  He reminds us that we have been set apart (Holy) for His purposes, heavenly purposes, not for worldly purposes.  We have been bought at a price.
·     He reminds us and warns us that we cannot be instruments of use to God if we are “impure” (unholy) in the life we live.  Paul commands that if anyone tries to tell you or teach you any different that we should not have anything to do with them, even if they call themselves brothers or sisters.
·     Not only will these people not have a place in God’s kingdom, they will face God’s wrath, along with those who allowed themselves to be led astray by them and not holding to true doctrine.
·     There are many false teachers that claim to be Godly, we see them on TV or hear them on the radio or internet, it is easy to be fooled by them or buy into their teachings by justifying that not all that they teach is false doctrine, it is easy for our hearts to little by little stray from true doctrine.  There are also brothers and sisters who are caught up in immorality, impurity, greed, or gossip and slander who we embrace with all their “faults” and don’t draw a line of unacceptable behavior towards God and warn them as Paul did.  We must love people, but to embrace them as part of God’s family is not wise (it could prove destructive), nor will we help them come to conviction or salvation by doing so.
1 Corinthians 5:11
11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[a] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

3. Exposing The Darkness

(In the World, But Not of the World)
Ephesians 5:8-17
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
·     In the past we lived in darkness
·     Now we are children of the light.  Just like children reflect qualities of their parents, God’s qualities should shine through in our lives.  This means we walk in the light and no longer in the darkness we walked in prior to our adoption as children of God.  Who would want to go back after being adopted by a loving father into a filthy dark orphanage?
·     Light and darkness cannot coexist, just as anyone becoming an American citizen must give up his previous citizenship, a citizen of God’s kingdom must give up his citizenship in the world and no longer abide by it’s rules.  We cannot live with one foot in the world of darkness and one foot in the kingdom of light.  We are in the world, but not of the world.
·     Understanding what the Lord’s will is requires us to be awake spiritually.  We have to be aware of the spiritual war going on all around us, we have to be careful!  Being a Christian is not about living a carefree life, it is about being free from the penalty of sin that once hung over our heads and helping others be free also.  If we are to remain free, we must continually walk in the light and help each other to expose areas of darkness in our lives that may be blind spots for us.  We must do this for Christians and non-Christians alike,
·     This type of exposing darkness only happens through deep involvement in each other’s lives (discipleship).  It doesn’t happen by being shallow or allowing fear of past failures in relationships to master you.
·     Humility must reign in our fellowship if we are to grow to maturity. Paul grew in his humility, from calling himself least of the apostles to least of God’s people to worst of sinners.   Humility to God’s word is a tell-tale sign of openness to growth in Christians and non-Christians alike. How do you see yourself compared to others?  Do you trust spiritual people’s opinions over your own?  Expose the darkness!

4.  Who’s In Charge?

In this world, we are typically either going to be controlled by the world, religiosity or by the Holy Spirit of God.  Paul calls the church to be filled with the Spirit.  He also tells us what being filled with the Spirit looks like.

Ephesians 5:18-20
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
·     Although Ephesians 5:18 is often quoted in support of anti-drinking efforts, the underlying issue goes deeper than whether or not to drink alcohol. The more important concern is, what or who is going to be in control of your life?  Either the Holy Spirit is or something else is.  And whatever else it may be, it’s a poor substitute.
·     Being filled with the Holy Spirit gives you self-control, peace, purpose and helps you worship God and serve others.
·     “Be filled” literally means a continual filling, describing that if we live in accordance with or in submission to the Spirit, then we will overflow with the things of the spirit (intoxication by the Spirit)—i
·     Being filled (or intoxicated) with the Holy Spirit will make you a spiritual being, filling yourself with worldly things or any other cheap substitute will only create a religious or worldly person.
·     Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  What comes out of your mouth?
·     Who or what is in charge in your life?
Ephesians 5:21-33
If we are filled with the Spirit then we will:
Instructions for Christian Households
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
·     There was huge tension that grew during this time in Asia Minor’s society and this required Christians to have high standards in their behavior not only towards non-Christians but also with others in the church and in their homes.
·     We have been set a great example by Christ submitting himself to God and Paul calls us, though equals as disciples, to submit to one another by choice (whether slave or free, young or old, rich or poor.  This kind of mutual submission preserves order and harmony.
·     Our motive for submitting should be reverence for Christ, not just because it is expected or because we will be thought of as spiritual, but because we must give account to Christ of how we have lived while on earth.
·     Submission provides evidence that we have Spirit-controlled relationships, and it requires the Holy Spirit’s guidance and restraint.
·     In the church we should be willing to learn from, serve, give to, or be corrected by others in the fellowship.  Such submission allows for growth personally and as a church.  Submission is not a 4 letter word, but many people, even older Christians see it as a bad thing.
·     Submission in the church should follow from submission in the home
·     Husband and wife are called to peaceful and voluntary submission to each other
·     The home is a microcosm of the church.  When we have people in our homes we are giving them a glimpse of Christ’s church.  What image are you portraying to those that visit your home?  Does it look like Christ calls the church to look?  Does it feel the way that Christ intended it to?
·     Wives are to submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ (out of love and respect).  Christ loves the church and the church submits to Christ.  It implies a deep relationship that exists between them.
·     If that does not exist in your home, it is probably due to a lack of a spiritual relationship stemming from a lack of obedience to God’s Holy Spirit and being filled with a willful spirit of “self” on the part of both parties.  “As far as it depends on you, live in peace with each other.”  A lot depends on us.
·     Husbands, loving your wives means taking care of her as your own body, as Jesus takes care of and loves the church.  He is understanding and patient.  He washes her with the word—your study and obedience of the scriptures will inspire her to follow your lead, don’t be hard to follow by being a worldly and spiritually lazy husband.  Jesus was a tireless spiritual giver, don’t leave it up to your wife to lead spiritually.
·     Love means that you don’t abuse your power, but help create an environment where you value your wife’s opinion and point of view.  Her submission to you also does not mean that she sins by following you when you are leading her into sin.  Wives in this scenario, gently confront your husbands, having discipleship partners and mentors is key in these situations.
·     Being the leader in the home expresses care rather than control for a Christian.  It’s about responsibility rather than rule.  Spirit-led relationships are not concerned with power over another, they are concerned with Christlikeness, with honoring God in their relationships.
·     The union of husband and wife, although sometimes imperfect, provides the best picture to describe the union of Christ with His church.
·     The words “this is a profound mystery”, might be better translated as “there is a profound truth hidden here”.
·     Self-sacrifice should describe every marriage
·     Paul saw in these a picture of Christ and the church.

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