4 Ways Believers should be Different from Unbelievers

Ephesians 4:17-19 says,

17 So 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. 18 They 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. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

  1. Different in your mind. You can live in futile thinking or purposeful thinking; darkened understanding or the mind of Christ.
  2. Different in your spirit. You’re either separate from Christ or a child of God. The difference in your spirit is seen in the new way that we relate to and understand God.
  3. Different in your heart. Before Christ, we have a hard heart but as we follow Christ we have an open heart. You can either have a hard heart that has lost sensitivity or you can have an open heart that is sensitive to the sin in your life.
  4. Different in your soul. Either you’re giving yourself over to sensuality or you’re giving yourself to Christ; either a lust for more of what the world offers or a hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God.

Adam’s Sin vs. Cain’s Sin

The sin of Adam/Eve stands in stark contrast with that of their son’s, Cain.

The serpent talks the parents into sin. God can’t talk their son out of it.

God is absent in the sin of the parents. God is the object of worship that sets off their son’s death.

There seems to be no real human victim in the sin of the parents. Cain murders his own brother.

The parents reluctantly confess their sin and accept punishment. Cain does neither.

Look how easy the cycle of sin revolves. From temptation to the flesh/world having a grasp on us. From blaming others to pure denial. From a “victimless” sin to one with grave consequences for others. From without God to even in front of God. Sin is indeed a cancer.

Mature Christians and Churches Give Control to Christ in 3 Areas

Ephesians 4:15-16,

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

  1. Communication: The way we talk to each other. “Speaking the truth in love.” False teachers don’t speak the truth in love. They tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.
  2. Direction: The way we make decisions. “…grow up in every way into him who is the head…” This means that Christ should be managing partner in our decision making.
  3. Service: The way we serve each other. “…the whole body, joined and held together with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”

3 Reasons Jesus Accepted Pain (or Jesus Did Not Heal Everyone)

To see Jesus moving in the midst of a world full of pain, clearly conscious of it and yet not healing all, is a marvel and a mystery. Jesus did not heal everyone. Many widows wept and the Son of Man did not go to them. Many lepers needed cleansing, but Christ did not heal them all. There were more sisters like Mary and Martha who wept at their brothers’ graves, but Christ had no word for them. They were lame and crippled and blind in every village through which Jesus passed, but there were lame and crippled and blind until their deaths.

We wonder why God permits so much suffering. Our heart grows cold when we recall our unanswered prayers. We cry, “My God, my God, why?” Christ also cried, “My God, my God, why?” but it’s why God had forsaken Him, not why He suffered. To Christ there was no marvel or mystery in sorrow. He quietly accepted pain.

There are 3 reasons why Jesus accepted pain:

1. Pain is inevitable in our world. It is the necessary consequence of the breaking of God’s law. This pain is a reminder that all is not well and that sin is real. God uses this pain as a hedge to guard his narrow way. But for this sharp stroke of pain, we might sink back into the slime.

2. Jesus realized how it could be used by Him for our gain. Those who never feel pain never seek Jesus.

3. Pain creates compassion in us. It keeps our hearts tender towards those in the deepest throes of it. This is where pain becomes a servant of God. It purges our hardness and callousness towards others. Christ saw this effect on human character; and He accepted pain.

Immature People and Immature Churches are Controlled by…

Ephesians 4:14,

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

Ephesians 4:14 gives us a picture of the immature church as Paul explains what we leave behind with maturity.

Immature people and immature churches are controlled by:

  1. Circumstances: “Tossed back and forth by the waves.” Every circumstance changes the attitude and direction.
  2. Popular ideas: “Every wind of teaching.” Jesus described his teaching as a rock that you could stand on. Paul describes false teaching as a wind.
  3. Selfishness: “The cunning and craftiness of people.” People use others to try to get what they want.

7 Truths that are the Foundation of Unity in the Church

Ephesians 4:4-6,

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Even with this foundation, we still have to act in unity, but without this foundation we don’t have the power to do it. Having a foundation doesn’t mean you have a house; but without a foundation you can’t begin to build a house.

Whenever you’re tempted toward disunity with a fellow believer, remember these 7 truths:

  1. We are one body. We are the body of Christ in the world. Whatever hurts others in the Body also hurts me. Whatever reflects Christ in them also reflects on me.
  2. We have one spirit. We may disagree with a fellow believer, but the Spirit who is within both of us certainly agrees with Himself. So if we look to Him for direction, we will find unity even in the midst of our disagreements.
  3. There is one hope. Let’s get along now because we’re going to spend eternity together.
  4. We follow one Lord. Following His lordship is always the path to a better relationship.
  5. We have one faith. We’ve chosen to live not by sight but by faith; not be fear but by faith; not by selfishness but by faith.
  6. There is one baptism. It is the Spirit’s baptism that Paul is talking about here. While Satan would love to take these foundations of unity and turn them into causes of disagreement, the truth stands that we are marked by God as believers through God’s Spirit.
  7. There is one God. We are all creative expressions of a loving God. It’s like we are all hand-crafted vases of God. Different shades of color, varying sizes, but we all share the same overall purpose of being filled with the beauty and love of God on display for the world to see.

Three Attitudes We Must Nurture to Keep Unity in the Church

In Ephesians 4:1-6, Paul tells us what makes a great church. it’s not the size or the buildings or the staff or the programs. What makes a great church is its UNITY. Jesus taught us that others will know we are Christians by our love for one another. So Satan loves to attack that! Our unity–our love–because that is our greatest influence.

Each of us can make choices that contribute to that unity. Those choices begin with the development of three attitudes that we see in 4:2.

  1. Be completely humble and gentle;
  2. Be patient; (allowing us to…)
  3. Bear one another with love.

Humility + gentleness + patience = love = unity = great church

First, remember the power of humility. Humility is not seeing yourself as less important; it’s seeing others as more important. Humility is not putting yourself down; it’s lifting God up. Humility has to do with how you see yourself in relationship to others and God, and then how you act based on that.

Second, gentleness is not the same as weakness. Moses (Numbers 12:3) and Jesus (Matthew 11:29) are called gentle. Gentleness is power under control.

Finally, choose to be patient. It’s about being “long-tempered” instead of short-tempered.

The Church is a family. For a family to work, we have to learn how to make allowance for each other’s faults–bearing with one another in love.