By Luke & Rachel Watts.
How well do you know your best friend? Do you finish each others s….andwiches?
We like to think we are connected to someone else, or that one day there will be. Someone we truly know, and who really knows us.
How well do you know Christ?
Paul gives instructions about how believers should walk in Ephesians, he also gives examples of how they shouldn’t walk.
What’s so wrong with how unbelievers walk?
they are vain/empty/futile in their mind
their understanding is darkened
this ignorance leads to blindness, with leads them to be alienated from God, and hard hearted
this hardness makes them callous, totally given to any and every sensual thing, greedy for impure things
Paul has a warning to the Ephesians – don’t be like this!
There is a clear emphasis on the mind, you can see the parallel between 4:18 and 4:23. Why is the mind so important? Proverbs 23:7 gives us the principle that as a man thinks in his heart, that’s who he is. “You are what you think”.
When we let impure thoughts take control of our mind, impurity will eventually control our behaviour. When impure passions reign you set yourself up as sovereign over your own kingdom. Ignoring the needs of others, and most certainly ignoring the plan of God for your life. Paul is saying, ‘If you know Jesus, you should know better’.
What have your learned about Christ?
He has made you new
you are meant to put off your old self
you are meant to be renewed in your mind
you are meant to put on the new self
this new self is Who God meant for you to be, reflecting His holiness and righteousness
The Ephesians had been established in Who Jesus was, and the power He has to change lives.
To move from a callous, hard heart to one that is compliant with God’s Will takes the miracle of conversion, where God takes hearts of stone from us and gives us hearts of flesh.
This doesn’t happen by external tweaks to our behaviour, it needs a change of heart, a change of mind, a change of affections, and that’s what repentance is.
When we make the Gospel the central thing in our lives, we will soon see that it works inside-out, not outside-in.
Growing up my ( Rachel’s) first impression of what it was like to be Christian was to be perfect. I was surrounded by ‘Christians’ who supposedly never made any mistakes.
The church that I grew up in taught me that mans teaching was Gods teaching. I was taught to have a relationship with God through the church not through Jesus.I was still taught the Gospel but because it was not practiced around me I didn’t have a good understanding of what it meant to know Jesus for who He really was and what He could do for me.
As a result of legalistic teaching the God I thought I knew, I obeyed out of fear and I didn’t ever want to get to close to Him as I believed He would punish me for not living up to the imposed standards.
Because of the environment I grew up in I actually thought I was a good Christian girl. I lived up to, well at least tried to, the standards I had to, but when people weren’t watching I lived what was a reflection of my heart, one that was damaged and angry at God.
I was sexually abused as a young child and the damage that caused combined with what I thought was Christianity set me on a path that was far from the truth.
I gave my heart to God at around the age of 13 but that was out of fear of Hell, not really having an understanding of Gods love or grace. The abuse had made me fearful, I was terrified that if people found out (including God) I would get into trouble.
So I kept my distance, built up walls around myself and didn’t allow myself to get too close to people, or God. This sent me down a path of destruction and if it wasn’t for Gods hand over my life, I don’t think I would be here tonight.
Through the rest of my teenage years I would struggle with my assurance of salvation, asking God into my heart every Sunday night, hoping that would make up for my sins during the week. I also developed an unhealthy appetite for exercise and struggled with bulimia for some time.
It was in my early 20s when God started drawing me closer to Himself. This came about as a result of reading Gods Word, and I had a desire to change I just didn’t how.
With much difficulty I finally gave my battle to God in the best way I knew back then and by His grace, I was able to break the mental struggle I had with self-destructive obsession with sex and my negative body image.
I then felt somewhat closer to God, but I still had some walls up which I wasn’t fully aware of, but a change to a healthier church environment saw God working in my heart even further. He was preparing me for the next step in my life that would bring me to more fully understand what was accomplished on the cross for me.
At age 26 I meant an amazing young man called Luke, and we developed a strong friendship – getting to know each other coming down Mt. Lofty. About 6 months after we had been friends, Luke asked me out and that triggered another chain of events.
I had never been in a relationship before and had many fears about it. I was very insecure. It was through my relationship with Luke that I realised I needed to get help and it was then that I sought out a Christian counsellor to help me deal with my past. Through some very tough and much needed counselling sessions I was able to find forgiveness for my anger to God and stop blaming Him for what I had been through and done and find healing at the cross of Jesus.
Ephesians 4:20 – 21 “But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus”
We are never too far gone. If we are believers, God says we can choose not to sin, but if we sin we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ. Because of the cross you can be forgiven and if you do not believe in Jesus – if He is not real to you, don’t be afraid to come to Him. He will forgive you if you ask Him to.
The truth is the Jesus’ death on the Cross and His resurrection has dealt with all those lies we believed or still believe about ourselves. It says in Isaiah 53:6 ‘by His stripes we are healed’. His sacrifice brings healing to our lives, giving us grace in facing the consequences of our sin and healing the wounds that have come from other people sinning against us.
All you need to do is come to Jesus and He will do the rest, He will give you new life
My heart’s desire is that He would continue to make me more like Him, not to be perfect, so I get the glory, but to Glorify God,my Saviour and healer.
As a teenager, I ( Luke) went to a special youth event and I remember after that meeting we were encouraged to write our name on a banner, pledging to God publicly that we would save sex for marriage. I signed without a second thought. It was a great thing to do, I believed sex truly was for marriage, and I had no intention of violating that command.
Signing a banner is easy easier compared to what you really have to do to remain pure.
My sexuality purity wasn’t compromised because I broke my promise I made as a teenager, it was compromised because my heart was hardened by selfish desires.
I bought into lies:
-“it’s just sex”
-“we love each other”
-“it just happened”
-“we’re going to get married anyway”
Sex is a sacred thing, and when we abuse it’s boundaries, all that is left is shame.
God’s love for me before I was born was the determining factor in my finding forgiveness and healing. ( Psalm 139:16) The Cross of Christ also brings redemption. He paid a price for me, flawed as I was, and He longs to use me for His glory. He also cleared my impure past and gave me His purity.I still bear scars from former poor life choices, but my Saviour bears scars also, and His cover mine.
God’s grace brings blessing, not only the righteousness of Christ, but in this life, there can be blessing found in new life, and God has blessed me with many things I don’t deserve. He gives Rachels.
Purity doesn’t begin and end with your sexuality. There are many other factors to purity than just that area of your life. Purity begins or ends with what you give your heart to.
Giving your heart to Jesus is not a cliche. It’s what you need to do in order to avoid an empty life with knowing God’s love.
Learn Who Christ really is. He the Saviour who was the pure lamb, who bore all our sins on Himself.