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New Year New Life

Sermon Series:

Logan Bailey
Logan Bailey

Discipleship Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Ephesians 4:17-24


Good morning. How are we doing? I've said it before, I'll say it again, the front row is where the fire is at, but there are four front rows this morning and they are not all equal. So I will try my best, but we'll all leave here a little disappointed in my performance of how good I can spin and talk. So this is my best attempt right here. We'll see how I can continue to do that. Good morning, Peace Church. Good morning to those online as well. If we have not met yet, my name is Logan Bailey. I lead high school ministry here at Peace and young adult ministry here at Peace. My wife, Rachel, also works here. She's the community life director. So if you are new to Peace, she will be in the lobby after service ready to answer all of your questions. So don't forget that.

Today, we are looking at Ephesians 4, 17 through 24, and we will see that we have new life in Christ, new life for the new year, may we walk in it. So I want to start with a story this morning.

Many of you may recognize this story. It's the story of a good king, his page boy, and a winter storm. I had no idea what a page boy was a month ago now I do I'm going to tell you what it is so then we all know in the Middle Ages everyone wanted to be a knight and before you could be a knight you'd have to be a squire and before you could be a squire. You'd have to be Page boy it started around the age of seven a page was between the ages of seven and fourteen and the first step to becoming a knight started at age seven and pages would help run errands, they'd gather clothing and hold equipment and they would learn good manners as they watched the knights and kings that they aspired to be. So now we all know what a page is and we can get back to the story. So the story is a story about a page boy and a good king. And this king looked at the large feast that he was eating and he thought of all the people outside of his castle that were going hungry and He was warm in his castle and he was looking outside of the bitter winter storm And he was thinking of all the people that were cold outside of his castle and the story goes That this good king and his little page boy gathered gifts and supplies for the winter and they went out into the storm and handed it out to those in need. Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together through the rude winds, wild lament and the bitter weather. Raise your hand if you have any idea what I'm talking about right now.

All right, amen. All right, cool. So as they walked through this winter weather, the young boy began to grow very tired. The snow was heavy. It kept getting heavier and heavier as they walked. The gifts he was carrying got more and more difficult to carry, and he got his king's attention and begged him to stop, to turn around, to go back to the castle. He did not know how much further he could go, and the good king looked at him, knelt down close and said, wasn't not much more difficult for our good king to journey from heaven to earth for us? He said, my child, use my footprints, walk where I walk, step where I step and the snow will be less of a burden to you. And so they walked, carrying the gifts, and that young boy found warmth and guidance in his king's footsteps. Life sometimes feels like that winter storm, and how often do we feel like a child just being tossed by the wind? But we are not alone. We are not left to figure it out on our own. We are given guidance. And Jesus tells us that if we abide in His Word, we are truly His disciples and we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. So my goal in the time that I have this morning is to point out the footprints in front of us. God has given us guidance in His Word. So let's go to His Word and receive instruction of life.

Let's read Ephesians 4 together, 17 through 24, and we will be reminded that we have new life in Christ. May we walk in it. So please follow along, starting in verse 17. Now this I say and testify in the Lord that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to their hardness of heart They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality greedy to practice every kind of impurity But that is not the way you learned Christ Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him as the truth is in Jesus to put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds and to put on the new self created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Let's pray.

Father Almighty we pray that you guide us this morning as we worship you. Jesus thank you for being our good shepherd who guides us. And Holy Spirit, we pray that you speak through your word this morning. May you be glorified in everything we do and in our hearts. In your name we pray, amen.

So the book of Ephesians, if you've studied it before, you'd know this, that the first six chapters, the first half, the first three chapters are doctrinal and the second half is practical. Meaning, chapters one through three, they are stating true things about God. They're saying true things about God and about life. And then 4 through 6, the second half of Ephesians, are encouraging a way of life in light of those truths. What kind of things does Ephesians say in the first three chapters? It says that we have eternal purpose in God, that we have been given grace through faith, and that there is unity and peace in Christ. And then starting in chapter four it says, in light of those truths, therefore, live differently. In light of those truths, therefore, live differently. Christ has won for us new life, therefore, walk in it. And so knowing that background of our passage, let's go, I just want to go through these verses a chunk at a time to get a bit deeper. So starting in verse 17 it says, Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do in the futility of their minds. And so right off the bat this passage has a biblical command. It's telling us to do something. No longer walk as the Gentiles do. And if you know chapter 4, if you have your Bibles there you can see verse 1 of chapter 4. It's the same command. Walk according to the calling to which you have been called. The same command, just the other side of the coin. Walk according to the calling to which you have been called, and no longer walk as the Gentiles do. My paraphrase of this is, of this biblical command, stop living like you once did before you knew Jesus. The word Gentile is a biblical word for non-Christian. In this passage we could say pre-Christian.

The way of life of someone who does not know Jesus and what follows in verses 18 and 19 is a description of the non-Christian, a description of who a Christian used to be before they met Jesus. And it is not easy to read. It's brutal to read. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous, have given themselves greedy to practice every kind of impurity. Futility of their minds. What does that mean? Well based on this passage, whatever it means, this passage is showing us that the non-Christian's mind and understanding alienates him from God. So that is the description of a non-christian The mind is hard-hearted and distant from God. And so now the word futility makes a bit more sense because futility means weak or Unable meaning those who do not have Jesus are without hope Because without Jesus we are unable to find what we're looking for. Because without Jesus we are unable to be who we are meant to be. The Bible is very clear that we are meant, we are created to find contentment in Him. That we were made to be who He has designed us to be. And if we are made to be who He has designed us to be, how could we ever imagine doing that without Jesus? How could we ever imagine being who God has made us to be without Jesus? Unable! Without Jesus, we are unable to live the life that we are meant to. So stop living like you used to before you knew Jesus. heart that causes you to distance yourself from your Savior, settling for things of flesh rather than eternal joys, settling for temporary joys rather than the ways of God. Walk as you ought, not as you used to.

I want to reflect a bit more on the idea of futility, the inability that we see in the non-Christian. An old Christian mathematician once said something that I think is very important for us this morning. His name is Blaise Pascal and he said this, all men seek happiness. All men seek happiness. This is without exception. The cause of some going to war and of others avoiding it, it is the same desire in both. This is the motive of every action, of every man, even those who hang themselves. All men seek happiness. I think this helps us better understand what the Bible is saying. That the ones who are alienated from God are actually attempting to do so. People aren't non-christians because they are being blinded. People are non-christians because we blind ourselves, covering our eyes to the glories of God, thinking it will help us find what we're all looking looking for which is happiness but it is in vain if we don't have Jesus we are all after happiness joy and contentment but the Bible isn't simply being poetic when it addresses these things in our hearts when it says that God gives us the desires of our hearts or when it says that the Christian is like a flourishing tree planted by the water, the Bible is always directly addressing the needs of our hearts because it knows that we long for joy, we long for contentment, we long for flourishing. Even Jesus himself came to us and went to the cross for the joy set before him. The non-Christian too is seeking to find joy and contentment, but the effects of sin are disastrous across all of life, most tragically on the mind. Sin's greatest deception of all is the deception of the mind, and it is as true today as it was then. The man who thinks the beginning of wisdom is the rejection of God is a fool. But the needs of humanity remain the same. We are still in need of the guidance of our Creator God whether we think we are lost or not. We are still in need of our Savior, whether we think we need to be saved or not, we are still in need of a renewed mind, whether we recognize the deception of sin or not. In my own story, my own testimony, I see the deception of sin pretty clearly. I just didn't see my sin until the Holy Spirit peeled my hands away from my eyes.

When I was 16, I saw as if an audience member to the event, the Holy Spirit changed my heart. The Holy Spirit renewed my mind and to free me from this deception of sin that was over me. And not soon after that, I saw the deception of sin on the mind on display in someone that I brought to church as a high schooler. We sat there listening to the preacher preach the gospel, the holiness of God, the goodness of God, our sin and how it alienates us from Him and the repentance and forgiveness available in Jesus on the cross and resurrection and my heart was on fire as I heard the gospel message and in that moment the man I brought leaned over and whispered in my ear, hey where's the bathroom at? We heard the same message but with his hand over his eyes he just refused to see it and scripture is saying that we are all this way, but for those of us in Christ, we are sticks and twigs snatched from the fire, rescued, redeemed, bought back, our hearts and mind regenerated and given new life. And so if you are sitting here this morning and you don't see the deep joy in that then perhaps I'm doing a poor job of preaching but please consider perhaps your heart is darkened by sin and you're suppressing the truth consider it as an Yes, the Bible has harsh words to say against the godless lifestyle because the Bible knows the state of our hearts and doesn't hold anything back. The godless life looks a lot like, from the Bible's perspective, destructive rebellion to God and that shouldn't be surprising because whenever you wing it without the instruction manual it's not going to be pretty imagine if we were all the gun range and I decided I'm just gonna throw a blindfold on and spin around a few times and then then I'm gonna try to shoot the target get out of there, that won't go well. The Bible is going to be honest, it's going to be precise about the state of our hearts, especially when it's not going well. Just like how it would be completely unloving for God to hide a fatal diagnosis from you.

Verses 20 and 21 bring out the gospel to the forefront and it says, but that is not the way that you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him as the truth is in Jesus. So the non-Christian has alienated himself from his Savior, but not you, not anymore. You know Christ, you've learned Christ. You've been taught the truth by Jesus. And so this command and encouragement of the text is if you know Jesus, then live according to the new life you have been given. If you know Jesus, then live according to the new life you have been given it is no surprise it should not be a surprise at all that the Bible has an opinion on the right way to live we live in a world that is offended by exclusive claims and we are so saturated in that world that many of us cringe when we read a passage like this but it is right that the Bible has a stance on the right way to live. It isn't just a warning against destruction, it is an invitation to life. No longer walk the way you used to. You are different now because you've learned a new way of life. The Bible says, behold, the old is gone, the new has come. You are a new creation. This is the message of the gospel. The good news that Jesus came, took our sins, died on the cross, and then he rose to new life so that we too could walk in new life. Jesus rose from new life so that we too could walk in new life. We have new life in Christ. May we walk in a new life for the new year. So using the illustration that we opened with, the king and his page, I just think it's a powerful illustration because we know that life is constantly pulling at us, life is constantly nagging us, life is constantly beating us down. It is the winter storm and whether that is the suffering of life, the temptation of Satan or just the destructive sinful habits in our own hearts, this winter storm is brutal. And God describes it as brutal because it is and it's destructive.

But we have been invited to a better way. We have a guided path. We have a better way through the storm. We have the footprints of our King. We have the guidance of our King. So stop trying to make your own path in this snow. Get on the path that God gives us in scripture for the joy set before us. May we see our good king as he kneels down to us and whisper, my child, hear my voice, see my guidance, use my footprints. And he says, this winter storm won't be worth comparing to the eternal joy I have for you. So how can we take this and apply it to our lives? New life, new year. Thankfully the Bible does it for us.

So the Bible gives us a picture of what this looks like in our lives. It says to put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and be renewed in the spirit of your minds and to put on the new self created after the likeness of God and true righteousness and holiness. The Bible says put off. That's good news that we can we can remove our hard hearts because we have a savior who can take it from us and give us something eternally better, of renewed mind, eternal joy, truth that sets us free. So take it off. Jesus has brought you into a warm house, put you by the fire, take the jacket off. Take off the shame, take off the guilt. Jesus took it to the cross. Put off your old self, start walking in new life looks like is seen at the end of A Christmas Carol in the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge. If you know A Christmas Carol, the light bulb comes on for Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of the story, but not because of guilt and not because of fear of death, but because God Graciously shows him the way of life that gives true lasting joy That is the path that God wants for all of us to follow him into new life towards joy So So, your homework is to go home and watch the 1984 edition of Christmas Carol with George C. Scott.

Second option would be the Muppets. So, consider what this all means for your 2023, to put off your old self, lifestyle, former desires, former dreams, the pre-Christ life that is dominated by hardness of heart towards the things of God and embrace the life that God has won for you. Follow your Savior. The Bible is saying if you know Jesus, if you know Christ, if you have heard His truth, then you have been renewed by your Savior. You aren't lost, you aren't blind, you aren't alone, but you are saved. You can see the truth and you can be confident that eternal joy is yours because He who began a good work in you is faithful to bring it to completion. You can be confident that eternal joy is yours because He who began a good work in you the odds lean towards God getting what he wants which is his glory and your joy so this new year I think our encouragement is to do some course correction to get back to the guidance guidance that God has for us. Yes, it would be a good thing to call Max effort tomorrow and get the gym membership to start the new year. It'd be good. But much more importantly, thinking of New Year's resolutions, infinitely more importantly, we need to be thinking about how we can better walk in his footprints. How we can better follow the guidance of our King. So here's a question for all of us. How often in a week do you read your Bible?

Or listen to your Bible?

Or listen to someone's thoughts about the Bible? Or think about the Bible at all? How will you submit to the word of God in 2023? How will we better submit to the Word of God in 2023? Read it before work, read it before bed, every day. Talk about it weekly with a friend or two. Join a Bible study or two. Don't try to do all of it, but please do something. When God found Adam and Eve after they sinned in the Garden of Eden, he was blunt about their sins. He didn't pull any punches. He didn't hold anything back about But God also saw the clothes that they made for themselves, the ragged clothes, and God made new clothes for them. So imagine this moment where Adam and Eve have to take off the clothes they made for themselves, set it aside, and put on the new clothes that God made for them. To do anything else would have been foolishness when a prisoner is released It would be unthinkable for him to keep wearing his prison clothes in other words Jesus doesn't save us merely to add to our life But to kill our old life and give us a new one the Bible says the old is gone He took it to the cross and the new has come so let's live like it So when Satan says, remember how ragged your clothes are, the gospel enables us to say, how ragged my clothes were. They aren't ragged anymore.

So let's live like it.

Let's read the word of God and think and believe that it really is true, that there really is a heavenly father who made a way for sinners. That is what it looks like to have a renewed mind and spirit, to let the word of God be your guiding light every week, every day, every morning, every evening. So in 2023, the greatest resolution we have to make is how will I better submit to the word of God? We have new life in Christ. May we walk in it. May we cling to the guidance of God's Word as if it were the footprints in front of us, guiding us in new life. Let's pray.

Father, you are gracious, you are good. Father, you know each and every one of us in this room. You know where we're at, you know the storm that we're walking through and you go before us so Father, I just thank you for the beauty of your word the truthfulness of your word and I pray God that we are Joyfully willing to submit to it because we know that you have our joy in mind for your glory and our joy father I just pray for everyone in this room every family in this room father that we all can leave and see you clearer and have a conviction to read your word more and submit to it, be read by it and follow you. God, you are so good. and follow you. God, you are so good. We love you. In your name, we pray, Amen.

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