Chosen to Rethink
Net Questions:

1. What are some of the differences between the way the world thinks and the way a Christ follower thinks?

2. Sometimes we're tempted to fall back into our old way of thinking. What are some of the circumstances that might tempt us to do so? Why is this not a good idea?

Gal 6:7  Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Gal 6:8  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Gal 6:9  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

3. How does our purpose and our motivation in life change once we meet Jesus? Discuss your thoughts on this.

Phil 2:3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Phil 2:4  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Phil 2:5  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

4. When we allow God to help us rethink our past and our purpose, we will also rethink our practice! The way we live our lives will change. What are some of the practices and behaviors that will change?

Rom 6:1  What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
Rom 6:2  By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Rom 6:3  Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Rom 6:5  If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
Rom 6:6  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--
Rom 6:7  because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Rom 6:8  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.


Sermon Notes

Church Defined
Chosen to Rethink

Ephesians 4:17-32

In this series we've talked about the definition of the church. Since the church is not a building, but a people, we've been talking about topics that have to do with the individual and how that effects the church as a whole.

Let me remind you of the things we've talked about. As a part of the Body of Christ, we've been...

Chosen to Choose
Chosen to Know
Chosen to Live
Chosen to Unite
Chosen to Serve
Chosen to Love
Chosen for a Team
Chosen to Rethink

Let's pray and ask our Lord to teach us important lessons of life this morning!

PRAY!!

Back when we talked about chosen to know, we discussed how God had chosen us to know Him and His power for our lives. That God has chosen us to know Him and His power for our lives is important to remember as we discuss the fact God has also chosen us to rethink.

We have to have God's power if we're going to rethink!
Rethink what? Everything!!
Our past, our purpose, our plans, our behavior, our attitude, our goals, our speech, our motives, our everything.

Reminds me of an old Star Wars scene...

The Jedi night goes into a night club looking for one of the bad guys. He walks up to the bar and a young man says to him, "Would you like to buy some death sticks?" The Jedi night replies, "You don't want to sell me death sticks." The young man says, "I don't want to sell you death sticks!"

The Jedi night says: "You should go home and rethink your life!" The young man says, "I should go hame and rethink my life!" He gets up and walks out of the bar.

Now that's not the way it works in the real world. I can't walk up to you and magically control your mind or what you do with your life. If I could I would go club to club and tell people to go home and rethink their lives.

But I can tell you this morning that God's Word would have each and every one of us rethink our lives.


 We must rethink our Past, our Purpose and our Practice!

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Ephesians chapter four beginning with verse seventeen.  

Rethink your Past!

17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
Ephesians 4:17 (NIV)

Even though Paul has gone to great lengths to let the church know Gentiles had been invited to be a part of the family of God, a part of the Church, the Body of Christ, he did not want them to mistake that as an acceptance of the Gentile way of thinking.


Their former way of thinking was fatally flawed and would have to be abandoned! The old ways of thinking were futile, useless and even destructive.
I love the definition of the word futile...

futile |ˈfyo͞otl, -ˌtil|
adjective
incapable of producing any useful result; pointless

For those of you who have accepted Christ as your Savior and turned away from your old ways, I have a question for you…have you ever really thought about how pointless much of what you did in your old life really was? And how it was incapable of producing any useful results?

For those of you still living according to the standards and ways of the world, I would simply ask you to examine your life as well. Has living for the pleasures of this  world made you a better person? Has it made you a better friend, parent, spouse?
Has it produced any useful results?


You may or may not be able to answer those questions honestly. Why not?
Listen to Paul's next few words...

18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
Ephesians 4:18 (NIV)

Darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of ignorance and hardening of their hearts! Listen to what Paul told the Church at Corinth...

4The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (NIV)

I've met people who think they've got it all together and yet their life is falling apart. They think they are in control of everything, but drugs, alcohol, anger, temptation, materialism, desire for success, you name it, these things are actually in control of their lives and they are in reality no more than puppets of their own evil desires.

Paul reminds his readers this kind of life actually separates a person from the life of God, and is caused by a hardening of the heart. A heart that has closed itself off from God and said no to God. A heart full of self pride.

Paul gives a deeper description of this spiritually fatal disease in our text...

19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
Ephesians 4:19 (NIV)

 Their lifestyle choices are killing them, but they don't realize it and they continue to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more.



Paul wants the church at Ephesus to remember their past for what it really was. Don't glamorize it or forget how destructive it was.

 Sometimes people get tempted to go back to the old ways. They forget the misery and emptiness they once lived in. Why in the world would someone want to go back to that? Especially after coming to Christ, being forgiven for all their sin, and experiencing the love of God.

 I think I have a possible answer to this perplexing question. Let's look at a Scripture found in Paul's letter to the Galations...

7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Galatians 6:7 (NIV)

8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:8 (NIV)

9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

 We will reap what we sow! When we sow to please our sinful nature, from that nature we will reap destruction. When we sow to please the Spirit we will reap eternal life.

The difference is in the harvest. One reaps destruction, one reaps life!

 Now stay with me and I think you will have an "ah ha" moment! Let's read that last verse again...


9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

What happens to some people is this…
God opens their eyes and they realize what a mess they're in. They realize they need a Savior. They need forgiveness. They need to begin living a new life.
They accept Jesus and are so excited to be forgiven and to finally know where they will spend eternity!

They are forgiven of their past! They now have the Spirit of Christ living in their hearts! They are promised an eternal future with Jesus!

But here's the problem, and I don't think we've done a very good job of helping new believers understand the problem...

When a person first comes to Christ they've lived in the world a long time. ...


They've sown some pretty wild seeds out there. Remember, we will reap what we sow. If we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sin, He does. He accepts us just as we are and begins His work to change us, but many times we still have harvest coming from the old seeds we have sown.

Someone accepts Christ, receives forgiveness, and begins to live a new life. They begin sowing a different kind of seed. But all of a sudden, some of that old seed they have sown, starts to blossom. Remember, they sowed that seed before accepting Christ. They sowed that seed in their past. They've been forgiven, but that seed has been planted.

Sometimes, when the consequences of those sins begin to show up, the new Christian gets discouraged. "Why am I facing all these problems when I just accepted Jesus as my Savior. I thought it was all supposed to be good now! What is going on?"

Here's the deal. If you sowed some wild seed and got into trouble with the law and you met Jesus before your case went to court, you will still have to go through your trial. Jesus has forgiven you, but you may still have to deal with some consequences. Here's the good thing. Jesus will not leave you or forsake you. He will help you get through the consequences.

What happens with a lot of folks is this. The consequences from the seed they've previously sown don't magically go away, so they give up on Jesus and turn back to their old ways and sow some more bad seed.

They go back to the bottle, the pills, the party life, the very things that got them into trouble in the first place. Then what happens. They've just added more bad harvest to their future!!

Let's read that verse one more time...

9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Don't give up! Realize there may be some bad harvest from your old way of life. But rethink your past. Learn from it! Let Jesus take care of the past and let Jesus help you get through the consequences!!

If you do this, He'll get you through the consequences no matter how bad and instead of going back to your old ways, you'll renounce them and begin to sow a new kind of seed. And in due time you will begin to reap a new harvest. A good harvest. A harvest of righteousness!!
But only if you don't give up and return to the old, futile ways!

Rethink your old ways so you don't ever go back to them. Remember the words of Paul that describes the way we used to live...

19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
Ephesians 4:19 (NIV)

But we've changed! Our hearts have changed! We've rethought our past. We've learned from our past! Our motivation is different from what it used to be so we rethink our purpose!!

Rethink your Purpose!

Our purpose is different from the world. In fact, Paul put's it this way in our text...

20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.
Ephesians 4:20 (NIV)

By the way…this verse, in the Greek, actually implies a contrast. One commentary put it this way…

"But that way of life doesn't fit in with a life in Christ!"

Ralph P. Martin
Broadman Bible Commentary

 Paul continues...

21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
Ephesians 4:21 (NIV)

22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
Ephesians 4:22 (NIV)

23to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Ephesians 4:23 (NIV)

24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:24 (NIV)

 This is so deep and yet so beautiful! It's as if we take off our filthy, stained, smelly, contaminated clothing and put on a set of new clothes! Clean, no more stains, and fresh. We take of the old nature, with it's destructive habits and we begin to let Jesus remake our minds, our thoughts, or attitudes.

 Our former way of life, our old self which was being corrupted by it's deceitful desires, is being replaced with a new self with new desires, new purpose. This is not about hating self, it is about understanding that our old self, without the power of Christ in us, will fail every time. It will always chose the futile ways because it is being corrupted by deceitful desires!!

 The old self had a purpose but it was always selfish. We are to rethink our purpose. We are to let Jesus put His purposes in us. His higher, nobler, purer, purposes! And what might these purposes be?

23to be made new in the attitude of your minds;
Ephesians 4:23 (NIV)

24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:24 (NIV)

 Next week we'll have a whole sermon on what it means to be like God in true righteousness.

The reason we can rethink our past and our purpose is because of what God has done on our behalf through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus our old hard heart was replaced with a new heart. This was prophesied in the Old Testament. Listen to one of the coolest passages of Scripture ever...

25I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.
Ezekiel 36:25 (NIV)

26I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 (NIV)

27And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Ezekiel 36:27 (NIV)

28You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36:28 (NIV)

29I will save you from all your uncleanness. Ezekiel 36:29a (NIV)

As a result of this new heart of flesh we rethink our past and learn from it! We rethink our purpose and begin to live according to God's amazing purposes.

The new attitude that comes with our new heart and the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness causes us to rethink our past, our purpose, and our practice!

Rethink your Practice!

If a person has genuinely met Jesus Christ as their Savior, it's going to change some things about the way they live. Accepting Jesus doesn't make you perfect over night, but God gives you that new heart, and begins to do a powerful work in your mind and life. Your practices will begin to change.

People will notice the change. The change is not something you will have to fabricate, or fake!!  You won't have to put on airs or prove anything.


Oh to be sure, some habits and practices have become ingrained in the way you do things, and will take some work and discipline to change, but with God's help you will rethink the practices of your life.

Have you ever thought about the meaning of the word practice?
 

practice |ˈpraktəs|
noun
1 the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use
2 repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it

God doesn't want us to just believe a bunch of spiritual theories. He wants us to put our beliefs into practice! Our faith, our beliefs, our convictions, actually have application in our daily lives!

As followers of Christ, we should rethink life's practices. Not in order to impress others or to act like we're better than others (remember, we're not better than anyone, just better off, because of God's grace)!

As followers of Christ, we rethink life's practices, because we are no longer blinded to the consequences of evil behavior. We realize the price Jesus paid for our sinful attitudes and practices. We think about what we do and its effects on others, its effect on our witness, its effects on the Body of Christ.



Okay, just what are some of those practices? Let's look at our text for the answer...

25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Ephesians 4:25 (NIV)

A person who claims to be living for Christ and yet continues to practice dishonesty and lying, has not learned from their past and has not allowed God to change their purpose in life. They are still living for self!
Let's read on...

26“In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)

27and do not give the devil a foothold.
Ephesians 4:27 (NIV)

The practice of anger, losing your temper, bitterness, grudge holding, bickering, constant arguing, these things all give the Devil a foothold in your life. And when he gets his foot in the door, he'll begin to pry it open so he can get in and reek havoc in your life!

 And I love the advice to never let the sun go down on your anger. My granddad used this verse to give me some really good marriage advice years ago. He said,
"Never go to bed angry with one another!"
If the sun goes down and your still angry, bitterness and resentment will grow during the night. Not a good thing!

28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Ephesians 4:28 (NIV)

It's interesting how your practices are tied in with your purposes. A person who practices stealing is motivated only by self and doesn't care who he or she hurts. But a person who has found Christ and rethought their past, their purpose and their practices, begins living in a way that reaches out to those who have needs!

And this change of purpose will effect other aspects and practices of your life…

29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

When a person is truly walking with Christ, their language will begin to change. And this is not just about foul language. It's about the way you use your words, good or bad. Some people may never curse, but the talk that comes out of their mouth is unwholesome.

They are always negative, cutting,   derogatory, sarcastic, and hurtful.

We should rethink the way we talk and ask ourselves whether or not we are helping and building up others or tearing them down.

Let me give you a practical application.
If you work with some folks who use foul language, how should you respond. What should you say? When they use that language, should you jump on them and give them a good holy tongue lashing, or should you quietly pray for them and just continue to be an example of God's love to them?

Well, a holy tongue lashing will not change them and they'll probably just ramp up the bad language so they can get you fired up.


 But if you handle it by quietly praying for them, loving the unlovable, and being kind to them regardless, they may begin to hold their tongue around you. Not because they're scared of a tongue lashing, but out of respect!!

30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30 (NIV)

 Never forget God's Holy Spirit is with you 24/7. He is now a resident within you! When your practices are unGodly, it grieves Him! Especially practices that divide the family of God. So Paul brings those things up again...

31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Ephesians 4:31 (NIV)

Pastor Larry, how do I get rid of those things. It's so hard. I've been hurt so bad!

Paul ends this passage with the good practices we need to do in order to stop the bad practices…

32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)

Try practicing kindness, compassion, and forgiveness and see what happens. Practice giving the same kindness, compassion and forgiveness that Christ has given to you.
It might not change everyone around you, but it will change you, and a changed you has the greatest chance of bringing change to those around you!

Let's pray!!!