1Ephesians is a book about how to grow as a Christian, how to increase your intimacy with God. It’s not how high you jump when you get saved; it’s how straight you walk when you come down. This book is a guide book for growth.
2What was it about salvation that made the apostle Paul break out into spontaneous, exuberant praise? He began to understand what had happened to him. If you could catch a glimpse, if your spiritual eyes could be opened to who you are in Jesus and what has happened to you in Jesus, you would also break out in spontaneous praise and adoration.
3Today we are looking at the Holy Spirit. The first thing to notice is a sinner’s path to salvation. How can a sinner like you and like me enjoy or experience true salvation? There’s not much for us to do, because God has already done it all. Before the foundation of the world, God chose you. He selected you and said, “You are going to be one of mine.” In other words, before the world was even created, you were in God’s mind and heart.
4Paul said there’s a kind of Christian that caused him to thank God when he thought about them. This is what I call a healthy Christian. There are two marks of a healthy Christian according to the apostle, Paul. Number one is faith in Jesus. You cannot be a Christian unless you put your faith in Jesus. But it is not your faith that saves you. It’s your faith in JESUS that saves you. It’s the object of your faith. You can have a ton of faith but if it is in the wrong thing, it won’t help you a bit.
5Sometimes we look at a 50- or 60-year-old man who has never darkened the doors of a church in his life and is an awful scoundrel. We look at him and we say now it’s easy for the child to have life, but it’s so hard for this older man to receive life No, it’s not. It takes exactly the same amount of grace to save a child as it does a 60-year-old scoundrel and it is just as much of a miracle when a child accepts Christ as when an old man accepts Christ.
6As I stand looking out at the shoreline of the mercy of God into the ocean of the grace of God, looking at the skyline of the love of God, I think, “It is so wonderful to find something that there is enough of.” Of all the sinners in the world, of all who have ever lived, there is more than enough grace, more than enough love, more than enough mercy for all of God’s creatures.
7I don’t claim to understand how Jesus’ blood can cleanse me of my sins and I don’t have to understand it, I just have to accept it. Sometimes we have a hard time even picturing how blood can cleanse. We know blood stains, but how can blood cleanse?
8To be reconciled with God means you agree with God about your sinfulness and about how only God can save you.
9I’m afraid so many Christians are going to stand before God on Judgment Day and are going to be disqualified because they did not understand that simple little truth that the Christian life is Christ in you.
10If I were to give you a choice between suffering a little bit or being free from suffering, you would say, “I choose to be free from suffering. I don’t want to suffer.” I don’t know anybody who has this attitude: “Man, I can’t wait to suffer some more. I am looking forward so much to suffering this next week, I can hardly wait!” No. The mystery is that even though we suffer, it can bring glory to God and it can work out for good to us.
11You will never understand God’s love so, don’t try to figure it out—just receive it. You don’t have to figure something out before you use it and enjoy it. I don’t understand electricity, but I’m not going to stumble around in the dark until I have it figured out! I’m just going to flip that switch and use it. And so it is with the love of God. This is what Paul prays for, that you will be strengthened, that Jesus will be your Lord, and you will understand how much Jesus loves you.
12We all have seen that beautiful sight of a child taking his first steps. They have that stiff-legged Frankenstein-kind-of-walk as they toddle and maybe fall, but they get back up and try it again. Then, they learn how to walk better as their balance and their equilibrium improves. There is a progression to walking. First, you crawl, then you stand then you begin to walk. That’s a picture of the Christian life.
13I know some people who believe the truth right down the line. They are so orthodox, but they are like a gun barrel: They are as straight theologically as they can be, but they are just as cold and empty. You can believe correctly and still be mean as a snake. That’s wrong. On the other hand if you are totally Christian in your activities and in your behavior if you love people and you are kind and forgiving, but you believe the wrong thing, then you will be spiritually handicapped as well.
14“Charismatic” is a good Bible word, but because some people have used it for something else, we have lost the true Bible meaning of the word. It is a word Paul uses most often for a spiritual gift.
15We do not create unity; it is something the Holy Spirit creates. We ought to protect it and strive toward it. Does that mean unity in a church is that a sign nobody ever disagrees? That nobody has their own opinion? No, that’s part of the diversity. You can disagree with me sometimes. Many times, and that’s okay, as long as you love me and I love you and Jesus is our Lord, there can still be unity. I think churches have unity sometimes and unity is not even demonstrated until you get threatened from the outside.
16Christians still have to deal with sin. When I was just beginning my ministry, an old preacher came to me and said, “David, remember this: Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go. Sin will keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and sin will cost you more than you ever wanted to pay!” It is so true. Deal with sin. Learn how to conquer sin. The first thing to do is recognize that old man, that old sinful nature, still with you.
17When a Christian lives the wrong way, we grieve the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. There is the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the unforgivable sin, and there is a lot of confusion about what the unforgivable sin is. The unpardonable sin is finally and ultimately saying, “No” to Jesus, rejecting faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the unpardonable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. If you are a born-again Christian, you have not committed that sin and you can never commit the unpardonable sin, so just put your mind at rest.
18Is it always a sin to be angry? No. That’s why the Bible commands us to be angry. Jesus never sinned, yet Jesus got angry—but he was good and angry! I want to show you how you can be good and angry; how to use the right kind of approach to righteous anger.
19The words you speak can either be raindrops or they can be hail. When they are cold and hard they are like hailstones that destroy, but when they are kind and liquid they are like raindrops they give nourishment. The Bible says slander should not be a part of the lifestyle of a Christian.
20Wherever God has something genuine, the devil has his cheap imitation. Satan takes God’s pure agape love and offers a cheap imitation to the world. A lot of people think that they are in love or they think they know what love is and it’s just a cheap imitation of the real thing. Agape love is never demanding, but perverted love is always dominating and demanding and controlling.
21If you want to have the fruit of goodness, righteousness and truth in your life, the way to do it is get close to the light. Getting involved in discipleship exposes you to the light and the only way that you and I can shine out there in the darkness is if we stay close to the light who is Jesus.
22We are living in evil days, even secular columnists point that out. I was reading an editorial from the New York Times awhile ago and the editor was talking about how our American culture reads like a modern day soap opera. He said, “If someone had written down in a book the things that would happen in America, nobody would have believed it.” The truth is somebody has written all of it down in a book and it is called the Bible. The sad thing is, many people do not read it.
23What would you do if every night at midnight someone deposited $1,440 into your bank account with the stipulation that you had to spend it all in 24 hours or it would be gone? Wouldn’t you enjoy that? Sure! I imagine you would make sure that every day you spent all $1,440. The truth is better and it is this: Every day God deposits 1,440 minutes into your life and you have to spend them wisely or you will lose them.
24The will of God for every child of God is to be in the will of God. It is the will of God for every child of God to be in the will of God and there is a line is drawn down everybody listening to me today–either you are on one side of the line or the other. You are either in God’s will right now or you are out of God’s will one or the other.
25The Bible does not expressly forbid the use of alcohol or wine, because they didn’t have alcohol as we know it today. But I think total abstinence is the wisest choice for a mature Christian.
26The filling of the Holy Spirit is God receiving more of your surrender, not you receiving more of the Spirit. When you come to Jesus Christ, you receive all of God that you will ever receive. He doesn’t give the Holy Spirit like a down payment here and then an installment here and there. All you ever receive of God you receive at the point of salvation. You may grow into more surrender.
27How can you tell if you are filled with the Holy Spirit? According to Ephesians 5:19-21, there will be a spirit of adoration in your life. You’ll be singing praises. The fullness of the Spirit leads to a heart and a mouth and a life full of praise.
28In the end Jesus Christ is victorious and no matter how you get from where you are to where you are going, know in the end that Jesus Christ wins. Because of that you can say, “God I thank you that you are good and whatever is happening to me is going to work out for your glory and for my good.”
29Jesus is our model for submission, because He was the greatest submitter who ever lived. Without submission to authority, there is chaos, anarchy and heartache.
30Men and women are different and if you don’t try to understand some of those differences, you’ll have trouble in marriage, or in the workplace, or in relating to people of the opposite sex. Some guys just don’t want to learn; some women don’t want to learn. They think ignorance is bliss. No. In marriage ignorance is absolute misery if you don’t understand the special, unique differences between you and your spouse.
31For every seven couples who get on board the good ship Matrimony, one of those couples will jump overboard, but two of those couples will stay tied to the mast, lashed to the deck. They are not happy, not enjoying the ride, but because of religious or social reasons they stay in that marriage. Only about four out of seven couples say they are enjoying the cruise, so two out of seven marriages are at extreme risk in America today.
32Your wife is not a possession. She is a part of you. That’s what the word “partner” means. The Bible says you are to treat her the way you treat your own body. Instead of thinking of your wife as a new automobile, think of her as your hand or as your arm. She’s an extension of who you are. She’s a part of you. For you to get rid of her and trade her in on a new model would be like you saying, “I’m going to cut off my arm and go to the hospital and get another arm.”
33I know it is tough being a teenager and it’s tough to be the PARENT of a teenager. It is part of the sense of humor of God that he has arranged it that parents would be going through middle age at just the time when they have teens in their home.
34Does the time ever come when a parent begins to take a deep breath and breathe a little easier feeling like now their kids are doing okay? I have discovered that as a parent, no matter how old your children are, you still feel a sense of responsibility for them. The difficult thing about being a parent is that suddenly you become a parent and you don’t have any previous training. It’s different from other skills.
35Your boss may not be a Christian or your workplace may not even be a Christian-based company but your attitude can be, “I want to serve the Lord in my situation.” That will make a tremendous difference.
36The devil accuses us to ourselves and although accusing us before God has no power because of our Advocate, some of you are still listening to the devil’s lies. He tries to make you feel unworthy and rotten. He slips up to you and he whispers in your ear and tries to make you feel unworthy. Don’t argue with him. It takes two people to argue. Whenever he accuses you of being unworthy, just agree with him. Say, “Devil you’re right. I am unworthy. I don’t deserve the love and forgiveness and grace that I received. I’m not worthy of it, but I have accepted it by faith.”
37When Paul wrote this letter to the church at Ephesus, he was in prison and there was a Roman soldier right beside him, guarding him. So as he is dictating this letter he looks at the Roman soldier and he looks at the pieces of equipment he is wearing and he says, “You know, that’s a picture of how we ought to be equipped and armored as believers.” So he takes a physical truth of literal armor and he relates spiritual truth
38Has this ever happened to you? When you read a passage of scripture that you have read time and time again and suddenly, it just reaches out and grabs you by the lapels and slaps you in the face like one of those Aqua Velva commercials and you just get a wake up call and you say, “Whoa!” When that happens, it is a sword you can use to dispel fear, anxiety, depression and anything the devil is shooting at you.
39The problem with so many of us is we treat prayer like a fast food drive through. We pull up, roll down our spiritual window and say, “I’ll take the Full Meal Deal, number one, and supersize it, dear Lord if you would.” That’s not the kind of prayer the Bible talks about. The Bible talks about spending much time in prayer persistence in prayer praying over and over and over. One reason some of our prayers are not being answered is we just stop too soon.