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Real Change From the Inside Out - Part 2

Tom Pennington • Ephesians 4:20-24

  • 2009-05-31 AM
  • Ephesians
  • Sermons


You know, when I was in school, like many students, I think I cared too much about the tests and making grades than I cared about really learning. One of the joys of my adult life is going back and re-reading some of those accounts and some of those things that I learned in school, but didn't really learn. This week, I had the opportunity to read several articles about a famous person in history who you've heard about in your history classes, the Spanish conquistador, Hernando Cortez. Cortez, you remember, was the explorer who conquered what is now central and southern Mexico for Spain and tragically in the process destroyed the great Aztec empire. Cortez sailed from Cuba with 11 ships and 600 Spaniards in February of 1519. He landed in near what is now the city of Veracruz on the east coast of Mexico. When Cortez arrived in what was called at that time, "The New World," he had one great concern and that concern was the potential for mutiny on the part of his troops. Because behind him in Cuba was the governor of Cuba ostensibly who had sent Cortez. Although, at the last minute, he recalled that and he told Cortez to stay and Cortez defied that order and left anyway. And so, he had ignored the orders of the governor that was behind him in Cuba. And before them, was the great Aztec empire. In the face of those obstacles, the gold that they had set out from Cuba to find suddenly began to lose some of its glitter. And they began to contemplate, the crew did, mutiny.

So to persuade his men to fight, Cortez came up with what was, it turns out in hindsight, an absolutely brilliant move. He scuttled all 11 of his ships. He destroyed all 11 ships that had brought these 600 men to Mexico. And he left his men with only two options: fight or die. That's what's called motivation. Of course, much of what they did can't be applauded. As we look back through the lens of history, we see that there were abuses, but it's still true that their conquest, those 600 Spaniards conquest of the great Aztecan Empire, remains one of the most storied events in all of human history. All they needed was the right motivation.

Often, the most important part of accomplishing the truly extraordinary is being properly motivated to do it. That is true in the secular world around us; it is equally true when it comes to spiritual pursuits as well. Often we don't accomplish the truly extraordinary because we lack the motivation to do so. We're studying Ephesians 4 and we're looking at real change from the inside out. And today we learn that for that change to happen we have to have the right motivation. We have to be pushed, compelled, driven toward that change. And Paul gives us the primary motivations that should do this to us.

Last week, you remember, we were reminded that not one person by his or her own efforts can produce real internal heart change from the inside out. Not a single person has the power to do that. But because of Jesus Christ, because of His life and death, because of His work, real change is possible. You can change. And you can change at the heart level. And that heart change will change how you think and it'll change how you speak and how you act, it'll change how you live comprehensively. That's the message we're learning in Ephesians 4. Let me read it for you again, Ephesians 4. You remember in verses 17-19, Paul described how we used to live and he says, 'Don't live like that,' and after he describes how pagans live and think, he says in verse 20, this;

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as the truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, [or deceitful lusts] and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

The basic message of these verses is that if you are a true Christian, you have been taught not to live like the person you used to be, your old self. But instead, to live like the new person you are in Christ. Verses 20-24 that I just read for you tell us what that looks like in theory and then beginning in verse 25, down through the end of the chapter, he shows us what it looks like in real life, in practice. Very important, though, that we understand the theory. This is how the Apostle Paul always works. You have to understand the doctrine before you can do. That's backwards of how we typically do, 'Don't give me the doctrine I don't need all that stuff, just tell me what I'm supposed to do.' Paul is intent on making sure we understand the truth, the theory. Now in this text that I just read for you, there are several crucial insights about this issue of real change. You want to change, Paul's telling us how and he's giving us insights here that are very important.

Last week, we studied two of those insights. The first that we covered last week was the reality of real change. Notice verse 20, 'but you did not learn Christ in this way.' After Paul describes the thinking and behavior of pagans, he begins verse 20 with a stark contrast, 'But you.' This is a contrast with how pagans think and live. Christians are different than pagans; because real change, massive life-shattering change has already happened.

By an act of divine grace, if you're a Christian, you are not what you used to be. We know that real change is possible because it's already happened to us. It happened to us at the moment of our salvation when God made us new. You're different. Something radical has happened to you. You are not the same person you used to be and the fact of that change in the past, the reality of that change reminds us that real change is possible in the future as well. So that's the reality of real change. It can happen. We know it can happen because it happened in the past.

The second insight in this passage and that we looked at last week is the cause of real change. How can real change happen in our lives? Notice verse 20. "But you did not learn Christ in this way." How is real change possible? You learned Christ. That's how these people Paul was writing to are different than they used to be. They learned Christ. That is they entered into a teacher-student relationship with Jesus Christ. Folks, that's the only way real change is possible for us as well. If you want to change, there's really only one way in the universe to really change at the heart level and that is to learn Christ; to become His student. True Christians are disciples or students or pupils of Jesus Christ. We come to know Him in that relationship and we are shaped by His teaching.

How did we learn Christ? Well, Paul further explains that general expression in two ways that we noted last week. Notice verse 21, "if indeed (or assuming) you have heard Him." We learn Christ by hearing Him. What does Paul mean? Well, Paul either means that we heard Christ speaking through the word of the gospel, through the message of the gospel, in other words, whoever presented the gospel to us, Christ was in that message speaking to us, that may be what he means. Or, we heard the message about Christ, we heard about Him. Either way Paul is talking about what happened to us at the moment of salvation, when we first heard Him. That initial exposure to the gospel. When we really heard for the first time and responded. So we learned Christ because at the very moment of conversion we really heard Him speaking through His word and we responded.

But learning Christ doesn't stop at the moment of salvation, notice Paul adds in verse 21, "you have been taught in Him." In other words, we continue to learn Christ through the ongoing process of systematic instruction. Now, this is so important because this is contrary to the spirit of the Christian community and culture in which we live. Most people will tell you that real change takes place through an experience – some kind of experience. I'm here to tell you and Paul's here to tell you that real change doesn't happen because of an experience. Experience can initiate the beginning of change but it is not change. Having an emotional experience, feeling a sense of God's presence, etc. None of those things will produce real heart change in you. Real change only comes one way and that's through learning Christ, through a teacher-student relationship with Jesus Christ. When you submit your will to His will, you become His committed student, you learn what He says and you seek to do it. That's the only way real change happens.

Now that's a brief review of where we've come so far. Today, I want us to examine the third insight that Paul gives us here into real change. The third insight and it's the motivation for real change. Every Christian has within an inherent desire to change. If you're a Christian, you don't want to be the way you are, you don't want those sins that are a part of your life now to still be there. Why is that? Well, because that's why you were saved, that's why God saved you.

You remember in Romans 8? Paul tells us there in verse 29-30. He says, 'Listen, I just want you to know that God predetermined your destiny.' He predetermined your destiny. He predetermined that you would be conformed to the image of Christ. And so when God makes us alive He implants within us a desire to change into the image of Jesus Christ, the moral likeness of Jesus Christ. If you're a true Christian, then you have a desire within you to be in the moral likeness of Jesus Christ to have the moral character that Jesus Christ has. There's within you that desire. But unfortunately, we because we are sinful can change even a good desire like that, the desire to be different, to be like Christ, we can change it and do it for the wrong reasons. We want change, but we want change for all the wrong reasons.

If I were to ask you this morning, and I want you to think with me for just a second, I want you to really give yourself a little test. If I were to ask you this morning for a list of changes, if the Lord Himself were here and He said look I want each of you on a piece of paper to write down the changes you would like to see to who you are, to the person you are. What changes would you write on that list? Think about that for a moment. What are the top two or three changes you would want the Lord to make in your life? Now, I want you to consider another question that's equally important. Why? Why do you want to change? What are the reasons you want to change those things about yourself? By the way, don't ask to see your spouse's list. I just throw that out, I see a couple of you nudging your spouse. What are the reasons you want to change those things?

The typical motivations that we have for pursuing real change goes something like this – test yourself as I go through this little list and see if your reason falls here. I want to change because: "I'll feel better about myself," "I'll get rid of the guilt associated with the sin that I want to see changed, the guilt that weighs me down and debilitates me," "You know, if I can get rid of this, it'll give me more self respect. I just can't respect myself because I know this about myself and if I could get rid of this one particular sin or pattern of sin I'd have more self-respect." "You know if these problems could be dealt with in my life, it would fix my life. My life's really not too bad, I'm okay with most of it, but these areas over here really bother me if only I could have those fixed then everything would be okay."

Put this one on for size. "I want to change because I want to look better to the people around me." Ouch. You ever wanted to look more spiritual to somebody in your life? "I want to change because it will promote my own spiritual progress." Now what's wrong with all of those reasons? They are all selfish. They're all self-focused. They're all about me. In Ephesians 4, Paul gives us the primary motivations that should lie behind our desire to change and they are not about me. Let me give you a little warning. What we're going to look at this morning is counter-intuitive. It's counter-cultural, even in the Christian culture.

Paul is going to give us here the primary motivations that should lie behind our desire to change. You want to change? Embrace these. Paul is in this passage making an appeal, a sort of implied exhortation about the need for ongoing real heart change in the life of every Christian. And so, woven throughout this passage, those five verses I read to you is a series of motivations to encourage us to continue to pursue real change in our lives. Let's look at these motivations, embrace them and they will compel you, they will drive you toward real change.

Motivation number one, the salvation we enjoy, the salvation we enjoy. To stay the way we were and to continue living like we did is utterly inconsistent with the spiritual rescue that Christ has accomplished in our lives. To drive that point home, Paul describes our salvation in a very unique way here. Notice he says we saw it last time, verse 20, 'you did not learn Christ in this way.' That's a description of salvation. When you were saved, you learned Christ. And his point is that if you keep living like you used to live, it's utterly inconsistent with what it really means to even be saved, to learn Christ. In other words, God has something bigger going on and for you to take His forgiveness and then act like you can live however you want is to deny the very purpose of God in saving you.

This is really part of the overarching message of the Bible. Over the last couple of years I've been working out in my own mind, a simple expression of the great theme of the Bible and I see a message coming probably in the fall. And I've chosen each word carefully and you won't get all of it now, but let me just give it to you in short. This is what I believe is the overarching theme of Scripture. God is redeeming a people by His Son, for His Son, to His own glory. God is redeeming a people by His Son for His Son to His own glory. Now think about that for a moment. Notice what it isn't about. It isn't about me. Yes, God does love me and love you individually. Yes, He cares for us. Yes, His love for us is perfect, but it's not all about us. God is redeeming a people. You, if you're a Christian, by His Son through the work of His Son for His Son.

Have you ever thought about this? All of us as Christians are part of God's great eternal plan. He in eternity past promised His Son and you see it in John 17 and we'll look at it maybe in the fall when we take this together. In John 17, Jesus prays and He sort of opens that plan up to us. In eternity past, the Father gave us as a love gift to the Son. He promised that He would redeem a humanity; He would redeem people who He would then make like Jesus and, who through all eternity, would reflect the character of Jesus which would bring glory and praise to Christ. You are part of a great, eternal plan and purpose of God. God saved you to be part of that plan, not to go off and do your own deal.

You see this in Ephesians; you remember in Ephesians 1. It's been a long time since we looked at Ephesians 1:4, that great verse about sovereign selection, divine election. Verse 4 says, "He chose us [God the Father chose us, those who are genuinely in Christ and those who will be] in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, [Why? Why this election? In order] that we would be holy and blameless before Him." God had a purpose in mind. It wasn't just to give you a get-out-of-jail-free card. It wasn't just to give you a get-out-of-hell card. God had a great plan. If you turn over to 2:8-10:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, [God's masterpiece] created in Christ Jesus [unto or] for [the purpose of] good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them.

So God had a plan when He saved you. It was that you would be holy. That you would be righteous, that you would do good works. Why? Go back to chapter 1.You remember verses 9-10; God's great eternal plan is all about Christ. Verse 10, God does all of this to sum up everything in Christ, to exalt Jesus Christ, to make Him everything, to make Him come to have first place. You see your salvation isn't about you primarily. It's about a great eternal plan of which you are a part and to continue living as the person you used to be is absolutely out of step with the salvation you've come to enjoy, because that salvation was all about that great plan, that you're to be a part of, where you look like Jesus Christ and give glory to Christ through all eternity. And if you fail to do that you bring into question the reality of your own faith.

Look over at 1 John 3. Maybe you've never seen this in this context before. 1 John 3, you remember the passage where he tells us in verse 2,

…we are the children of God, [and we're going to be like Christ, verse 2 says.] we will be like Him, [when He appears] everyone who has this hope. [This hope that He's going to come and make us like Himself] purifies himself just as He is pure. [Now watch this, verse 4, right in that context. Because of that, because that's the plan] Everyone who practices sin [who has a pattern of unbroken, unrepentant sin] practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that [Jesus] appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. [No one who really remains in Christ, that is who really belongs to Him, sins as an unbroken unrepentant pattern of life.] No one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.

You know where you belong folks, based on the direction of your life. Is the direction of your life sin or is the direction of your life holiness and likeness to Jesus Christ? The reason for that is, guess what? We were saved in order to be like Him. We're going to be like Him and so you can look at the direction of your life today. Not the perfection, none of us are like Him perfectly today. But look at the direction of your life and if it's toward sin, you're not in Christ. If it's toward righteousness, you're in Christ. That's what John wants us to understand. A person who has experienced salvation cannot continue to live a life of unbroken, unrepentant sin year after year after year. Why? Because it's completely out of step with the purpose God had in sending Christ to take away sin and to make us like Him.

So living like a pagan is inconsistent with the salvation we enjoy. God didn't save us, He didn't rescue us from the guilt and punishment our sins deserve only to have us to continue to live in sin. It wasn't just about us and our forgiveness. It was about making us like Jesus. It was about changing us into the moral likeness of His Son so that forever we would bring glory to Christ by being like Christ. You want to change? Think about that. Meditate on that. Let that become crucial. That will compel you like scuttling those ships compelled those soldiers. It'll drive you on because you'll realize this isn't just about me, this is so much bigger than me. The great motive is the salvation we enjoy.

There's a second motivation to real change in this passage, not only the salvation we enjoy, but secondly the new person we have become. Look in back in Ephesians 4:22, Paul mentions the old self and we're going to deal with these in context the next time we study this passage together, right now I just want you to see those expressions. The old self, you lay aside the old self and verse 24, you put on the new self. So you have this old self and you have this new self. Now what is this about? This is referring to a work of God in the human heart theologians call, "regeneration."

It's a concept that occurs often in the Scripture. I don't have time for a thorough study of it this morning. If you're interested though, when we were going through our series on systematic theology on Sunday nights the first four years I was here. On Sunday nights, we covered theology. There's a message on regeneration in that series entitled, "Twice Born, the Miracle of Regeneration," you can go online and listen, if you're interested. But let me just give you a synopsis of what the Bible teaches about regeneration just so you'll clear in your own thinking. The actual word "regeneration" occurs only twice in the New Testament. One of those times it occurs in Titus 3:5. Listen to what Paul writes to Titus there, "[God] saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration." Paul uses the word "regeneration" to refer to an internal spiritual renewal. To regenerate means "to impart life." Wayne Grudem in his excellent Systematic Theology defines regeneration as "a secret act of God in which He imparts new spiritual life to us."

Maybe the best way to understand regeneration is to consider the illustrations the New Testaments uses of it. There are three of them. You want to understand regeneration understand these pictures. Picture number one is the picture of creation. What happened to you at salvation is like an act of creation. God created you from scratch. He made you new. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul writes, "…if anyone is in Christ, he is [what?] a new creation." What happened to you at the moment of your salvation was like God creating all over again. God re-created you. A second picture that's used is a picture of resurrection. It's here in Ephesians 2, you remember we saw it. You were dead in your trespasses and sins, but God what? Verse 5. Made you alive. What God did to you at the moment of your salvation could be compared to a resurrection. You were a dead person spiritually. You had no life, you couldn't respond to God in any way, and God breathed life into your soul and you came to life. You were resurrected. But the third picture and the one that's used most often of your regeneration is the one Jesus used in His conversation with Nicodemus. It's the picture of new birth. You want to understand what happened to you at salvation or regeneration? It's best compared to a birth. A new birth.

Jesus literally says to Nicodemus you must be born from above. Born from above, that's an interesting expression. It implies that this birth is supernatural it comes from above from God. It implies that it is a second birth because it's different from our physical birth. But the main point behind this image of birth is that we have nothing to do with it; just as you had nothing to do with your physical conception and birth. It's a sovereign act of God. That's regeneration; a sovereign act of God in which He imparts spiritual life to your soul. It's like being recreated, it's like being resurrected from the dead spiritually. It's like having a new birth, being born spiritually. It's what it's like.

Now unfortunately, there's been a lot of bad teaching about this issue, so before we look at what Paul says here, let me cover one more thing to make sure you haven't been influenced by a flawed view of regeneration. A very popular flawed view of regeneration says this, at the moment of salvation we had our old nature already, and at the moment of salvation that old nature stayed just like it was before. Nothing changed, and instead God added to our old nature, a new nature. So now inside of me in my little soul, there is my old nature, just like it was before, unchanged and I have added, kind of squeezed into my soul, a new nature and now those two natures are there inside of me and they battle it out. Often it's compared to, you know, the white dog versus the black dog. The other illustration that's used is, you know, it's like you have an angel on one shoulder whispering to the new nature what he ought to do. And you have a demon on the other shoulder whispering to the old nature what he ought to do. Folks that is a biblically incorrect view of the person you are in Christ.

Let me give you the biblically correct view. I'm going to give it to you in summary and then I'll prove it to you, it's two parts. You want to know who you are in Christ? Scrape that other stuff out of your mind and listen to this. Number one; the person you used to be, the old person you used to be died. The old person you used to be died. Number two; you have become an entirely new person in Christ. The old person you used to be died, you have become an entirely new person in Christ. You see that even hint to that even here. But it's a little unclear in verses 22-24, we'll deal with that text in detail the next time we study this passage together. But you see old self and new self.

Paul makes it definitively clear what I just shared with you in Romans 6 where I want you to turn with me. Now put your thinking cap on, okay? This is not light stuff. But Paul thought both in Romans and in Ephesians that it was crucial for us to understand this in order to change. You want to change? You better understand this, alright? Romans 6:1. You remember Paul has just taught about justification by faith alone, in other words that a man is declared right with God based solely on the work of Jesus Christ received through faith. And he anticipates what some will say to that. Wait a minute, if you tell people they're declared right before God just by grace because they've received what Christ did by faith, they're going to live however they want. He anticipates that objection, verse 1;

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? [And he responds in the strongest possible terms,] May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? [Put on the brakes. What do you mean Paul, we died to sin? That doesn't seem like a reality in my life, is it in yours? We died to sin, what does that mean? Well he's going to explain it, verse 3.] Or do you not know that all of us [without exception] who have been baptized into Jesus Christ [Now there's no water in this word baptized here, think like our English word immersed, that's the idea.] all of us who have been [immersed] into Christ Jesus have been [immersed] into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, [Now verse 6 is key] knowing this, [Here it is in summary form] our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe we also shall live with Him.

What's going on here? Very simply, and I'm going to reduce it to its simplest terms, listen carefully. Some day we'll go through Romans 6 in greater detail, but here's the big picture. Paul is saying that when Jesus Christ died on the cross, if you're a Christian or you will come to Christ and receive Him, when Jesus died on the cross it's as if the old person that you used to be before Christ, died with Him. It's as if that person doesn't exist anymore. He died with Jesus, Jesus died for those sins for all that you've ever done and He was buried and you were buried with Him. The old person you used to be when you came to faith in Christ, the old person you used to be died with Jesus and was buried, and you have been raised along with Jesus, He to physical resurrection, you to a new spiritual life. That is the reality. You are a new self. You are a new person. The old self died. Think about that for a moment. I can't fully get my arms around that either. But think about it. In the mind of God, when Jesus died that Friday afternoon if you're in Christ, the old person that you used to be died with Him. The penalty was paid. He paid it and you died in Him and the old person you used to be was buried with Him and when Jesus came out of the tomb physically alive, the day would come when you would come out of your spiritual death in new life. You're a new person.

You say, "Wait a minute. That all sounds good, but if I'm a new person then where does my sin come from?" Turn over to Romans 7:18. Paul says, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh." So he corrects himself, he says, when I say nothing good dwells in me, I don't mean in the entirety of me, I'm talking about my flesh. Underline that term, my flesh. He comes back to it down in verse 24, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! [I'm going to have ultimate victory when Christ comes and makes me completely new, so then right now however, on the one hand] I myself with my mind. [The new me, my new self] am serving the law of God, but on the other with [there's that term again,] my flesh the law of sin."

So here's how it is. Instead of still having your old nature unchanged and that old nature is fighting your new nature, you have only one nature, the new nature, the new person you are in Jesus Christ. And that new nature, that new person that you are is imprisoned in what the Bible calls your flesh. That part of you that remains unredeemed. There is a part of you that's unredeemed. Where does it find its beachhead? Your body. The body is not yet redeemed. That's its beachhead and your flesh, that unredeemed part of you wars against the new person that you have become. That's where the struggle comes. It's not this old nature/new nature thing. It's your new nature, the real new you; your old self died with Christ, you're a new person incarcerated, imprisoned in that part of you that remains unredeemed, primarily your body. Your flesh wars against this new person you have become. But now, you have the power to obey, you have the power to change.

So one of the great motivations for pursuing real change is understanding this. I'm not the person I used to be. I've experienced a change of identity. Isn't that what Paul says in Ephesians 2? You were dead, this is how you lived, but God made you alive and now you live for this other reason. By the way, this is easier for somebody who was saved as an adult, lived a life of sin lived a terrible life of sin to understand. You know you're not the person you used to be. You know that old self died. It's a little harder for those who grow up in the church, come to faith at an early age to see this, but it is still true. You have experienced a complete change of identity.

It's like in the federal witness protection program, you've heard or read about that - designed to protect threatened witnesses before, during, and after a trial. Usually required in trials that involve organized crime where there's going to be some risk for witnesses to be intimidated either by the defendant or by former colleagues. And so to protect them after the trial, what happens? The witness is moved to a new location, they take this sort of circuitous route. I read a little bit about this this week. They actually purposefully put them on this convoluted set of long flights that are seem to be just sort of random all intended to make it difficult to follow them and when that person finally arrives at the location, the new location where they're going to be, where they're going to live they're given a completely new identity. A new name, a new history, a new job, a new place to live and they're not allowed to travel back to their old hometown or to make contact with their family or, that is unprotected family, or former associates in any way. To survive in the witness protection program you have to leave every vestige of the old person you were behind. That's exactly how it is with us in the Christian life. Get it in your mind that that person you used to be doesn't exist any more and stop living like he or she does. But instead of merely a change to our external identity like in the federal witness protection program, we have experienced a change in our true inner selves. We're not the person we used to be.

Now as you consider this change, there're a couple of extremes to avoid. Let me just warn you, one extreme is denying that you are a new person in Christ. And there are unfortunately many who teach poorly, who imply that that isn't true. Listen, you are a new person in Christ with new desires, new power, new direction. On the other extreme you need to avoid, is denying the ongoing reality of indwelling sin in the life of the believer. It's there. You know it's there. I know it's there. The Bible calls it the flesh, the unredeemed part of you. It is clear from Romans 6, from Ephesians 4, from Colossians 3 that the old self, the person I used to be before Christ died and I'm now a completely new person and Paul wants that reality to motivate me to change. And he wants it to motivate you to change as well. Live like the new person you are.

What are the motivations that compel us drive us to real change? Number one, the salvation we enjoy, number two the new person we've become. There's a third motivation to real change in these verses briefly; the new body to which we belong, the new body to which we belong. As we learned back in chapter 2 when we came to faith in Christ we were united to Christ and to every other Christian and one of the images Paul loves to picture that reality is the image of a body. You see it in it back in Ephesians 3:6, he talks about that the Gentiles are fellow members of the body, 4:12, he talks about the building up of the body of Christ. 4:16, the whole body builds itself up by mutual cooperation.

Listen as a Christian you cannot live in isolation. Like it or not you are part of the body of Christ and how you live affects others also in the body of Christ. So one of the real motivations for change in our lives is that how we live affects other people. I want to change, not only for myself but I want to change for others. Notice how Paul uses this. Look at Ephesians 4:25. When he gets to the practice of laying aside falsehood, for example, he says, 'speak the truth.' Why? For. Because. 'We are members of one another.' He pleads on the basis of this relationship we have in the body. Stop sinning because of how it'll hurt others. Verse 28, stop stealing so that you can give to others. Verse 32, 'be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.' You're part of a body. Start caring for the members of the body, start wanting to change for their sake.

You know it's amazing how we do that with our own physical bodies isn't it? Back in the early 90s, I ended my stellar softball career, such as it was, by breaking my foot. I was playing for Grace To You, the Grace To You team at the time and I was too busy admiring my hit into the field and slid short into second and it was one of those immovable bases and I broke my foot. And it was truly remarkable the changes that the other members of my body were willing to make to keep that one member from injury or pain during recovery. I did a lot of things that I didn't like to do. I walked on crutches in hundred degree heat up stairs. I hate being hot and there's hardly any way to get hotter than walking on crutches upstairs when it's a hundred degrees outside. Staying at home when I really wanted to go out and keeping my foot propped up. Taking shorter showers. You know there were hundreds of ways that I made sacrifices for that one member of the body.

In the same way the fact that we are members of the body of Christ and our lives affect them should compel us to change. Have you ever thought about this? Have you ever considered pursuing real change, not for your own sake, but for the sake of that person sitting next to you? For the sake of a spouse, for the sake of your children, for the sake of your parents, your Christian friends? It's exactly what Paul argues in Ephesians 4. That should be the motive. And if you're a Christian, you understand that because you have a heart of love for others.

Very quickly, there's one final motivation Paul gives us for pursuing real change. It's the glory of God we reflect. This should be our primary motivation for pursuing real change. To continue to live like we used to live is utterly inconsistent with God, with the glory of God, with the character of God, and, get used to the idea, your attitudes, your thoughts, your words, your behavior reflect on God. So look at verse 24, he says the new self has been created in the likeness of God. Why? Because it's all about exalting God. If I were to take you back to chapter 1, remember we have been saved, why, three times - to the praise of His glory, to the praise of the glory of God, to the praise of His glory. It's all about God. We live to exalt God. That's why Peter, you remember, in 1 Peter 1 quotes the Old Testament, and he says, 'You're to be holy…' Why? '…for I am holy. How you live reflects on Me and you're to live to reflect My character.' Pursue real change, not for yourself, but for God's glory.

Martin Lloyd-Jones writes, "Our concern as Christian people should not just be a desire to be good, not a desire to be better than we have been. It should not merely be a desire to get rid of certain sins and to stop at that or to have happiness or victory; all that's too self-centered. That is where teachings of holiness go wrong, they say 'are you in trouble, come to the clinic. Are you failing at any point, come we'll put you right.' The fact is," Lloyd-Jones says, "they are starting with you. You are everything. No, says Paul. That must not be your concern. Our concern should be to function fully and perfectly as members of the body of Christ. What should worry me is not so much that I fail or I have a problem in my life, but that I am failing Him. I am failing the church. We are letting God down, the church is being let down. Christ is being let down. He has died to make His people perfect and entire and whole and here we are failing." Lloyd-Jones ends by saying, "Oh, if we would look at it like that."

Have you ever thought about pursuing real change with those motives and not ones that are all about self? It's, you want to change, change from the inside out? If you're a Christian, you do. But if you want that change, you're going to have to pursue it for the right reasons. Listen, you cannot pursue likeness to Jesus Christ, moral likeness to Jesus Christ for selfish reasons. Your motivations can't be all about you and you still expect to grow into moral likeness to Jesus. Instead, ask God to start by changing and shaping your motives, your motivations - pursue real change. But pursue it because of the salvation you enjoy. Because of the new person you have become in Christ, because of the new body to which you belong, and because of the character of God that you reflect. Next time we study together we'll look at verses 22-24 in detail and we'll see the process of change. How change actually happens in our lives. Let's pray together.

Father, thank You for this incredible passage of Scripture. Lord, thank You for sorting out our motives that Your Word is alive and powerful and it discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart. It separates the true Biblical motives from those that aren't. Father, we thank You and praise You for the exposure of our hearts this morning. Forgive us, O God, for pursuing moral likeness to Jesus Christ for all the wrong reasons just because it would make us feel better. O God, help us to lift our eyes beyond ourselves and see You and see the people around us and see the great salvation plan that You've put into place and see the new person You've made us and, Father, help us to be driven, compelled to real change for those reasons, we pray in Jesus' name and for His sake and His glory. Amen.