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Contentment Expels Corruption (Ephesians Sermon 33 of 54)

Contentment Expels Corruption (Ephesians Sermon 33 of 54)

April 03, 2016 | Andy Davis
Ephesians 5:3-7
Sanctification, Contentment, Pure in Heart

Andy Davis preaches an expository sermon on Ephesians 5:3-7. The main subject of the sermon is that our contentment is key to avoiding sin that is brought about by our dissatisfaction with what God has provided.



Well, recently, I've had the opportunity to consider the night before Jesus was crucified, as we led into Holy Week and all that, and meditating on the things that Jesus did with His apostles, with His disciples, that night, and how powerful that time was as the events are recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In John's Gospel in particular, the evening broke into different parts. Jesus washed His disciples' feet and then gave some instructions about that. And then He taught them many things about what life was going to be like after He has ascended to heaven. And then He prayed for them. And we know that also there was the Lord's supper as well in Matthew, Mark and Luke. But in John 14, Jesus said this, "I will ask the Father and He will give you another counselor to be with you forever. The Spirit of truth, the world cannot accept Him because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, but you know Him for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans." And I was meditating, I thought, "Wow!" In other words, if you ascended, Lord Jesus, and you didn't send the Spirit it'd be like we were left as orphans in this world, spiritually.   



That speaks to me of great danger, doesn't it? That we would be bereft of protection and provision. That we'd be in trouble if he left us. If the Spirit didn't come, we would be in deep trouble and then you get that actually even more intensified when Jesus prays in John 17, verses 11-12, He says, "I...," He's praying to His Father in reference to the Church, in reference to the disciples that He's leaving in the world, and He says, "I will remain in the world no longer. But they are still in the world, Father, and I'm coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave Me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe, by that name you gave me. None of them has been lost," he said, except the one doomed to destruction. There's a sense of terrifying danger behind those words. "I'm going to leave them here Father, in this world." And the scripture is, we're going to get to it later in Ephesians 6, where we're told to put on the spiritual armor, the armor of God, when we're told to fight. We're left here in a spiritual war zone that every single person here, including me, greatly underestimates. "We are like a walled fortress," John Bunyan said, in his Holy War in his book allegory, Holy War, constantly besieged from the outside by the world and the devil, and then there's this devastating enemy from within the walls are flesh that gets up in the middle of the night, and it opens our enemies and lets them in. It's a terrifyingly dangerous situation. 

In 2004, you may remember, there was a terrifying tsunami in the Indian Ocean, magnitude 9.3 on the Richter Scale that caused tidal waves over 100 feet high. And these waves struck the day after Christmas that year killing almost a quarter of a million people in 14 countries. In the year that followed, I came across a YouTube video that showed little children splashing, hit by the waves and building sand castles, moments before the waves struck. I had a hard time watching. I have a hard time even talking about it now, because they just don't know the danger, they don't know what's about to happen, and the water came and swept them away. I think Jesus had a sense, as he was praying in John 17 for us, leaving us in the world, that "They don't know what's going to come. They don't understand the kind of devastating power that the devil and the world have on them, and the devastating enemy within of indwelling sin." And so, He cried out, "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, so that they may not be lost." So the more I go on in my Christian life and the more I go on as a pastor, the greater I have a sense of the spiritual danger that we're all in in this world, and Ephesians 5:3-7, gives a plain sense of some aspects of that spiritual danger that we're in, not all of the aspects but there's some very powerful, soul-killing sins that are listed here, devastating sins. 

And as I continue to go on pastoring, and walking, just as a Christian man in this world, I realized more and more one of the hardest topics or issues that I have to address in my own life, and then as a pastor is our right relationship with the world we live in. So we have this command, this warning in 1 John 2, "Do not love the world, or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, for everything in the world, the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh and the boastful pride of life comes not from the Father but is from the world, and the world and its pleasures is passing away, but he who does the will of God, will live forever.” So that's the world, that's the way that John uses the word, "world" there. Now, in John 3:16, he says, "God so loved the world," and so there's different uses of the word, but there, that's the world system, that adulterous, a constant attack on our souls that the world is, and we are not to love it.   

But how do we live in it? Am I loving the world if I watch a ballgame? Am I loving the world if I use the internet? Am I loving the world if I read this book or pick up this magazine? The men surrounded by secularism all the time. How do I know if I'm loving the world? What do I do?  And then when we start being led into sins by some of those things, to what level am I to fight, how do I know? Am I overreacting? What do I do? So these are real questions. We have this text in verses 3-7, he says there in the NIV, "But among you, there not must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things, God's wrath comes on,” the ESV says, "the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not be partners with them.”  

So, here's my main idea in the sermon today. As we look at this list of soul-killing sins that are so devastating, and we see it more and more in church work, the main idea is this, the more thankful that we are in Christ, the more power we will have to destroy sin. So I see a picture in my mind of this raging bonfire of lust and covetousness and sins that kill our souls and out God wheels this weapon called thankfulness. And the first time I was like, "That's what you're giving us in this text? Thankfulness?" I picture this little thing, a squeaky whiff. And out comes this little hose, and there's this World War II London blitzkrieg fire, and there's this garden hose. I'm like, "That's what you give us?" And the Lord convicted me, He said, "You are clearly greatly underestimating thankfulness." As a matter of fact, that's the problem. The reason you're sinning is you're not satisfied in what I've done for you and given you. And so you are wandering, like a demon through the world, looking for something to satisfy you, and I've already given you Christ crucified and resurrected. And then a lot of lesser blessings besides that, and you're just not satisfied with all that and so off you go. So, you are actually greatly underestimating thankfulness, because you are greatly underestimating how generous I have been to you.” That's the main idea. The more thankful you are in Christ, the more power you will have to defeat soul-killing sins. 

I. Evils Never to be Named Among Us (vs. 3-5) 

So let's look at it now, in verses 3-5, we have evils never to be named among us. That's what Paul says. Now, the context overall here, just going to step back, and look. We're in a section of practical holiness in Ephesians 4-5, practical holiness on into 6, based on the finished work of Christ on the cross and we must get that right. It's not like God is saying, "Be holy, so that you can earn your way to Heaven." That is not the Gospel, that's not Christianity. And so, we have Ephesians 4:1, "As a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." That life, that calling, is ours from eternity past where God named us, the elect, chose us in Christ before the creation of the world, says in Ephesians 1, "In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons," and that means, in Romans 8, completely conformed to Christ, “conformed in every way, that we would be holy and blameless in His sight.” That's our calling, and knowing that we are so far, infinitely far from being holy and blameless in his sight in our natural state, He sent His Son, and in Him, in Jesus, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Past, Present, Future, how marvelous is that? All of our sins are forgiven and boy, do we need to hold on to that.  


As we look at Ephesians 5:3-7, I tell you, there's not one of us that hasn't sinned in these areas and we wonder, can there even be forgiveness? Can I be restored? Yes, by the blood of Christ, you can be restored. It's the only forgiveness, there will ever be. But there is this forgiveness, and this is the calling that we have and we have been saved that I think in Ephesians 2:8-9 means justified, forgiven, “for by grace you have been saved, through faith. And this is not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”  

So, we have been justified, saved in that text, forgiven for all of our sins, simply by grace, by faith in Jesus. And now, on the basis of that solid unshakable work of grace by the blood of Christ, we are now told to live a certain kind of life, a life of holiness. Now, that life of holiness must follow justification. If it doesn't, there hasn't been justification. You haven't been forgiven, you're deceiving yourself. And that's going to come up in the text today, self-deception or deception that comes from false teachers that lie to you about these things. That is not biblical. But what I'm saying is that justification inevitably leads into sanctification, which is a co-operative effort between you and the Holy Spirit, whereby, you “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” your fear and trembling is we're dealing with some deadly sins here. We're dealing with some dangerous things, and we know the wrath of God is real and we don't want to be disciplined by God for sins and this is a serious thing. So, that's Philippians 2, “we're going to work out our salvation for it is God who works in us to will and to act according to His good purpose.” So, there's a cooperation in our sanctification, Romans 8:13-14 says, "For if you, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the flesh you will live." 

The only ones that live eternally are those who are at war with the deeds of the flesh. If there's no war, if there's no fight, if there's no actual growth in holiness, you're not alive. You're deceiving yourself. That's the universal, consistent teaching of the New Testament. And so, we're in this section, and so, Paul calls on us in verse 1 of Chapter 4, "To live a life worthy of the calling you've received." And later in that chapter, he talks about Ephesians 4:24, "true holiness." Now, maybe that's a combination of words you hadn't looked at there before, but “in righteousness and true holiness.” So, the idea is not a sham holiness, we're not talking about something that just looks good on Sunday, it's a whitewash tomb kind of holiness. We're talking about true holiness.  

Now, in Ephesians 6, he's going to talk about the breastplate of righteousness. Well, you better be sure that it's real. When the arrow starts coming right for your heart. So I want that the real breastplate at that point. I don't want a sham. I want to know that I am truly fighting the good fight of faith, and that there's true holiness. So, that's Ephesians 4:24. That's what we're talking about. Now, we come to verses three and four here, in Ephesians 5, "But among you," NIV, "there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or have any kind of impurity or greed, because these are improper for God's holy people nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which you're out of place, but rather thanksgiving." So these are things the ESV says, more accurate translation says, "These things should not even be named among you." 


We shouldn't even speak of them to some degree in vivid detail, let's put it that way. It says later in the same chapter 5:12, we'll talk about it next week, "For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret." So, to talk about some of the things that I'm going to talk about in this sermon today, in great detail, would actually lead you into sin. It would be to lure our minds into dark places that actually Satan can use to cause us to sin. So Paul's going to give the names of sins which is needful. And I can give a definition of that sin which is also needful. But to talk about details of how that sin unfolds in people's lives would not be helpful.  


So, NIV gives, I think, a more picturesque sense, there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality. Get a sense of the aroma of sin, you get that sense? Like there's a slight whiff here. Think of someone with a drinking problem and they mask it with mouthwash or something like that, or breath mints, but they can't do it enough and so you just know. There's this aroma of sin. The TSA dogs, I had my luggage sniffed the last time I was walking to them, it don't happen every time, but I just ignore them for many reasons. Some of you know I'm not, anyway, I'm not going to say anything about dogs anyway. But they just come and sniff my luggage and sniff me, and we're supposed to just let them sniff. And why? Because they're trained to, they can just smell things that we can't. And that would be controlled substances, that's what they're... So the idea here is that these corrupting things that are listed here, there shouldn't be any whiff of that in the Church. The tragedy is that there's more than just a whiff of these things in the Church today, that's the problem. There seems to be in some sense, very little difference between the evangelical Church and the world on some of these sins. And that's a great grief to the Holy Spirit. It should be a great grief to us. It should call on us like we're fighting a war back in the Middle Ages before gunpowder and all that, and there's a huge breach in the wall, and the enemy is running in, and that's where we have to give our attention because that's where sin is just flooding in, it's a dangerous area.  

So the first one listed here is sexual immorality, literally ‘pornea,’ in the past, generally translated fornication. So let's just talk about fornication, sex between two unmarried persons, sex between two unmarried persons, singles. Generally accepted in popular culture today, I would say, perhaps even universally accepted. Evangelical Christians, as I said a moment ago, seem to participate in this sin in similar proportions to the world. And it's not exactly the same, but it shouldn't even be named. There shouldn't even be a whiff. And there's more than just that. But this is why the warnings in this passage are so needful for you, for all of you to hear this, especially you singles. You unmarried people, for you to hear then heed these warnings. Now, I think we can take the word pornea and extend it beyond just fornication, to all areas of sexual misconduct, sexual immorality, NIV, I think rightly translates it here. Christians should be clearly pure sexually. I was reading an article in our state magazine about Billy Graham, and some of you know the story of this was his grandson, Will, talked about his father's commitment to sexual purity, and evident, the issue is evident sexual purity. 

So that when he would travel, and he traveled all the time, he had a man with him. And his grandson, Will, said this, one of the guys that traveled with him would literally go in to his hotel room, and my granddaddy would stay outside until the man had checked the room to be sure there was no one in there, he'd look under the bed, he'd look in the closets. Because he knew all it would take would be a woman dressed inappropriately or whatever, to run out and someone snap a photograph, and he wouldn't be able to live it down, there'd be no way he could say what had happened, a percentage of people wouldn't believe him. So he just always had this evident commitment, not even a hint of sexual immorality. 

And so, now the lust behind the immorality is particularly in view. Internet pornography has been mentioned earlier this morning, is a huge problem for us today. Now, in the past, Christians would have had to go to a specific place, a specific location, wasn't just Christians, just people, anybody. You have to go to a certain place in town. You always talk about on the other side of the tracks, or something like that. You have to go somewhere. Everybody knew where that district was or that place was. Now it's just right there with a click of a finger, really, it's just that easy and therefore that much more devastating. It makes living in the world without being corrupted by it harder than ever before. William Gurnall, I was reading this morning in his 1300 page treatment of the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6. You can look forward to that, that's going to translate to what? About 50 sermons, 60 sermons in 11 verses. For him probably he got 200 sermons.  

So I was just doing some quick reading just this morning and I opened up to a random page, and he was talking about this issue of true holiness, and he had this illustration, it was so impactful, it was trout in a stream and they're all swimming together, and then there's this thing with some food on it that just gets dropped down, or something like that. And one of the trout said it looks good and then trout's gone. Now we know what happened to the trout, it ended up in a, Gurnall put it this way, in a seething pot of boiling water or a sizzling fry-pan. Hell. And yet, the hook comes down and we're still in the stream nibbling, “it's not going to happen to us,” food looks good. That's the analogy Gurnall was using for temptation. And it's like we have to not be like mindless trout having no idea what happens if we take that hook. That's what this sermon, that's what good Christian teaching is about, it's about warning you, that there's a hook in the middle of that bait. And it's a soul killing thing. That's the issue, so not even a hint. 

And he says, any kind of impurity, Paul expands it at this point to talk about any kind of uncleanness. The soul of the Christian is to be clean, is to be holy, it is to be free from all corruption. So, he's talking about anything that broadly speaking defiles your soul, that violates your conscience, that filters its way into your mind, and pulls your heart to lust and evil desire. So I mean it could be something on Netflix, it could be something you're streaming, it could be something online, it could be something you see in a mall, it could be magazines you read, or novels that you pick up and read, anything that would lead your mind to think about anything other than the Philippians 4, “whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy,” anything that corrupts your mind that's impurity, that's what he's talking about here. 

And then he mentioned greed. The general term for covetousness, desire for something that's not yours, it's not been given to you. It could be longing for another man's wife, or another woman's husband, it could be property, their house, their car. Could be any other material thing, money, greedy for more and more, relentlessly discontent, restlessly discontent with what God has given you. And a continual lust for more, then he mentions obscenity, shamefulness, indecency, filthiness. Focus here is on speech patterns. Speaking obscene things, talking about what is vile and disgusting. Like many stand-up comedians who just make their living doing that. Telling off-color stories you know innuendo, ribald jokes those kind of things. Speaking of shameful things in an alluring way, that's obscenity. And then there's foolish talk, different translations of this “chatter,” “silly speech,” you know frothy empty bubbles that just pop and pop and pop and it's like, "Well I'm going to preach this to a whole church is that like everything's got to be serious all the time and weighty.”  

Well no, but I think you need to be a serious person. Jesus was a man of sorrows, filled with joy through the Holy Spirit as people are getting saved, so there's a joy but there's sorrow, and there's a weightiness, and if you're an elder it says there's a gravity or weightiness of speech that cannot be questioned. So there's a sense of “gravitas,” of weightiness, of heaviness about life, about the glory of God, about eternity in Heaven or Hell, and that's your home base. And so if you're just known for frothy talk about things that don't matter, like the NCAA Tournament, or other things like that. Am I saying you can't watch it? No. But if this just dominates your speech, and this is like people just know what they're going to get when they come to you and they're going to get that frothy, foolish talk that doesn't line up with spiritual reality that everyone in the room is going to either be in Heaven or Hell eternally. So, there's a balance there and people have different personalities, I know that some people are just fun-loving and they love to laugh, they love to talk and all, I get all that, but then every Christian there should be a weighty center to your life. 

And it comes out in your speech generally. And this is the reason that these are improper for God's holy people for the saints, In verse 4 he says, "They're out of place", like they will be in Heaven it's just, it's not fitting, it's out of place for us. Doesn't line up. And the word “saints” is so valuable for us to meditate on, we are God's set apart people. We are set apart for His own pleasure, for his own use, and there's a beautiful analogy that's in Exodus 30:22-25, of a certain recipe for the sacred, or holy anointing oil. He's got 500 shekels of this cassia and Kane, and oil, and all of these fragrant things myrrh, and cinnamon and they're mixed in, and the recipe is given there in the text, but then the people are warned not to make it. And if anyone makes this, other than for the express purpose of anointing the levitical priests and setting them apart as holy unto God, they will be cut off from their people. So it's this sacred anointing oil that's set apart unto God, we are like that.  

We're in the double analogy here. Both the oil itself is sacred, and the priests are sacred, and so we through the Holy Spirit, we've been “sealed with the Spirit,” we're set apart for God, we're His private possession, we belong to Him. So we're set apart. So these things are not fitting for those that are set apart for God's pleasure. That's what it's saying.  

II. Contentment Expels Corruption (vs. 4) 

Now, verse 4 as I've hinted at, I already said it. Contentment expels sin. This is your weapon, this is what the text is giving you, there are other weapons. But I want to talk about contentment, I want to talk about thankfulness. Verse 4, "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." Isn't that amazing that that's the weapon of choice. And it's not a squirt gun, and it's not a garden hose, it's a water cannon if you see it properly, it'll put the fire out of lust. Thankfulness, thankfulness. By that I mean being deeply, fully, completely satisfied with what God has given you in Christ Jesus crucified, resurrected and then the lesser blessings of food and clothing and shelter and other things you're given, content with all of that, that's enough for you. So the only way to deal with sin is to drive it out by a greater expulsive desire, and I think that's what he does here, he says instead, “but rather Thanksgiving.”  


And so, this speech, instead of these putrid practices, we're to give speech that gives grace, Ephesians 4:29, "Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for edifying, building others up that it may give grace to those who listen.” “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,” it says in Colossians 4:6. 

So we're getting rid of immoral or dirty speech, we don't swear. My brother-in-law used to take a trip from Lancaster County Pennsylvania to New York City weekly, for a while there, that was his job and he said, "Wow, changing culture.” If you know anything about Lancaster County that's where Amish are, you know a lot of you Evangelical Christians, by the time he's like on the subway in New York City, he's hearing more swear bombs, or whatever they're called, in almost every sentence. And it's like, "Mmm". And then it like starts to affect your brain. We just don't do that. There's a reason why Christians don't use those four-letter words, we don't use that kind of speech. It's filthy, and we clean it up. You clean up your speech or off-color jokes or buffoonery, these things that we've been talking about, flipping lightweight worthless conversation that harms, “but rather thanksgiving” and what that is, is we're going to speak the praise of God, we're going to thank God in front of people, we're going to worship God in front of people, we're going to just be so thankful for how good God has been to us.  I love that song, "my heart is filled with thankfulness".  Man that was awesome, Jared, thank you for choosing that song because I'm thinking that's it.  


If your heart is filled with thankfulness you're not going to sin. I mean that's the sermon in a nutshell. Pastor are we done now? No, I have a little ways to go. So then that's it. If your heart is filled with thankfulness to Christ, for His blood shed for you and His mighty resurrection, victory. And what that means for you and your promise, and you're going to be welcomed into heaven, and you're going to be in the New Heaven and New Earth, in a resurrection body and you're going to spend eternity in joy and all that. Oh, there's so much to say thank you for. And you're going to be satisfied with what God's given you, and you know the paradox, one of the paradoxes is the more you meditate on what you really deserve, the happier you'll get as a Christian. It's a paradox, the more you meditate on this. I should be burning in Hell right now. It would have been just for God to have condemned me years ago but instead, here I am with these people, here I am in this circumstance, here I am eating this food or going through this experience, no matter what it is, no matter what it is. And I can be thankful.  

Now Andy Winn was talking about Philippians 4 and that has just been dominating, if anybody's gotten near me in the last week, I've been hearing about contentment. Because in men's Bible study on Thursdays, we have at noon on Thursdays, we're going through Philippians, Philippians 4:12-13. Paul says, "I've learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, living in plenty or in want, I can do everything through him who gives me strength", that's what the text says. So I was reading this book by this Puritan The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, oh I would commend it to you, Jeremiah Burroughs, and his doctrine in that book is this, the doctrine is. What is its point? He says, "To become, to be well-skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of every Christian." I thought, Wow, that's awesome.   

And then comes the definition of contentment. This is a typical Puritan thick definition. But contentment is that sweet, inward, gracious frame of spirit which freely submits to God's fatherly disposal in all things. So it's the sweet contented feeling of God is my father he loves me, He's chosen this set of circumstances for me, and I can thank Him. And I can thank him all the time. I can be content all the time, because God is so wise and so loving to me. But I said with my kids, we were having a family devotion on this. And I said, "What do you think about the phrase well-skilled, to be well-skilled in Christian contentment. So what do you think about?", and so Daphne said, "I think of a musical instrument," she plays the violin, and to get really good at an instrument you have to practice, and play a lot and Calvin said he thought about basketball and you know it's a player with skills, you know, he's got skills. What that means is he's played a lot, he's really really good at basketball. Alright, I want to get skilled at the mystery of Christian contentment. Paul talks about any and every situation, “well fed or hungry.” So then it hit me, I'd never had this thought before, this is amazing. I need to practice this skill. If I'm going to get good at it right? I need time to practice and opportunity. God said, "I'll give you time, today." The text says, "Any and every situation". Alright, When? Now? Be content now, be content right now.  

It says any and every situation. You'll find most of the situations are kind of average and mediocre. They'll be right in the middle. Can you be content on an average mediocre day? Try it out, let's work at it. Let's become well-skilled in Christian contentment, that sweet inward thankful disposition of, “I am satisfied in Christ with what He's given me.”  

Thanksgiving is linked to this, contentment is a weapon to destroy that. Each of the sins that Paul listed, sexual immorality, fornication, viewing pornography, they happen when you are discontent with what God has provided for you, and you go roaming like a devil, looking for something to satisfy. Like David wandering on the roof of his palace when he should have been out fighting with the army, remember that? And he's up there and he's on the roof, and he's bored, and he's just wandering, and suddenly there's a woman. He saw her bathing. And this is the very one who said in Psalm 16, Verse 5, "I will praise you because the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Well, he did, but he wasn't satisfied with his estate at that moment. He wasn't satisfied with the boundary lines, and so he jumped the line, he jumped the wall, and went off after another man's wife because he was discontent with what God had given him. That's why he wandered, that's why he roamed. 

And so, all sins are rooted in wandering discontent. We sin, sin is what we do when Jesus isn't enough. Sin is what we do when Jesus is not enough. So when you're sinning, you're saying to Jesus, "It's not enough." So, Thanksgiving then is the expression of the rare jewel of Christian contentment, that we realize that at one time we were wicked, we were foolish, deceived and disobedient, and slave to all kinds of passions and pleasures. But when “the grace of God appeared, He saved us, not because of deeds, righteous acts we had done, but because of His own mercy.” He saved us through faith in the blood of Christ, Titus 3, that's what happened and we have grounds for thankfulness. 

III. Faith-Filled Fear of the Coming Wrath (5-7) 

Well, the flip side of this is in Verses 5-7, faith-filled fear of the coming wrath. “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person, such a man is an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." Verse 6, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." Verse 7, "Therefore do not be partners with them." This is a serious warning. “You know this,” he says, "Of this you can be sure," in the NIV, knowing, you must know. "No immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." No inheritance. People who live like that, who Paul calls “sons of disobedience,” that's a key expression, it means they are living out the life of disobedience. They are characterized, like Barnabas was the son of encouragement, he is characterized by encouragement. Jesus said to His enemies, "You are sons of the devil." I think that's the same thing as “sons of disobedience.” They are objects of wrath, they are unregenerate, but there's a consistent pattern of disobedience here. "They have no inheritance," he says, “they're on the road to destruction.” They have nothing to look forward to. It says, "Except the fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God." 


Romans 1, it says, "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men, who suppress the truth by their wickedness." Verse 24, Romans 1:24, "Therefore God gave them over to their sins." That's the nature of it. They have been given over to a pattern of wickedness in this area, and because of that the wrath of God is coming, the wrath of God is coming. Our neighbors, our co-workers, fellow students, people around us, they underestimate, they don't believe that there is a coming wrath, but there is a coming wrath. Just because God has been silent, doesn't mean He doesn't care about these things, or that He's changed the standards and that fornication is now okay. He hasn't and the wrath of God is coming. It's pretty much the exact same teaching in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 10, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." And it says, "The Kingdom of Christ and of God." Some commentators say that's an experience of God's grace now in the kingdom and then the coming Kingdom of God later.  

I don't know if we can be that technical, but just know you have no future inheritance in Heaven, at least understand it that way. And so what that means is if they have no inheritance, they will have wrath, they will have judgment. Jesus will say to such people, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." This kind of life described in these verses leads to hearing that on Judgment Day. I'm just warning you, “flee the wrath to come.” That's what I'm saying, “flee the wrath to come.”  

Now, Christians understand that. Both in 1 Corinthians 6 and in this text, it talks about deception, let no one deceive you with empty words. Don't find teachers who will tickle your ears and tell you that you don't have to fight sexual sin to go to Heaven. I say, because of the free grace and because of full forgiveness, it doesn't really matter how you live, that is a false teaching, it does matter. Jesus said, "If your right hand causes you to sin, then cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one hand than to have two hand to be thrown in the fire of Hell," and there he's talking about lust. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown in the fire of Hell.  

So, it is wrong for me or any teacher to deceive you with empty words, and say, "That's not so." So you have to fight. We must live holy lives. Now, Paul is not speaking here of Christians who occasionally stumble into sin, I must speak this word of grace and mercy to you. It's like, “First time I click on something on the internet, I'm going to Hell, there's no hope for me, there's no forgiveness?” No, that's not the Gospel, that's not what Paul is teaching. There is mercy and forgiveness. James says, "We all stumble in many ways." Would he exclude lust and other sins that are listed here? It's like, "Well, I wasn't thinking of that, I was thinking of other things." No. When Paul says in Romans 7, "The very thing I hate, I do." I think he would include these things that we struggle with.  

“Therefore, Do Not Be Partners With Them”  But a genuine Christian does not give himself over to these sins. He's not a son or daughter of disobedience. It's not who you are. A genuine Christian hungers and thirsts for deliverance, they hunger and thirst for holiness, they yearn to be free. Oh, they look forward to the day when they will be freed at last from sinning, and they're yearning for that. Genuine Christians also see actual successes by the power of the Spirit in killing temptations, they actually see some temptations at their feet. And genuine Christians see an increasing pattern of holiness long-term in their lives as they grow in grace, in the knowledge of Christ. But genuine Christians may occasionally stumble into sin and deeply grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Question is, what do you do then?  

Do you repent and fight, or do you wallow in it? So he says, "Therefore, do not be partners with them.” Let's not settle in, and just live that life. Because honestly, if you share their lifestyle, you will share their judgment. I think that's what Paul is saying here. “If you share their lifestyle, you will share their judgment.” So if this is your lifestyle then be warned and “flee the wrath to come.”  

So how do you fight? Well, first and foremost, come to Christ and trust in Him. For the forgiveness of your sins. Put your full trust in Jesus, you can't fight alone. And then identify if you're a Christian, identify determine in your mind, you're going to be holy and identify areas of weakness, in this list or in any of the lists that we've talked about here. And be willing to cut off things that have brought you pleasure. Because they're also leading, you inevitably to sin. And you're like, "Well does that mean I never use the Internet again?", it's like, "Well. I don't know how to answer you. That's one of the hardest things. Like do I never use the telephone again, if I ever used it for slander or gossip? No.   

Well, we talked about the Amish that's where that life leads. Alright? Cut off from all electronic things, etcetera. And I think in one sense you could say you could argue for that, but I don't think that's biblical. No, you're not excused from this. You have to fight, and not sin. Be in the world but not of it, that's what you have to do, but if something that you don't need to do is inevitably causing you to sin, then cut it off. As I've said before, the key is death by starvation. The longer it's been since the last time you yield you to a particular lust, the weaker that lust will get in your life that's your hope. So put some distance between you and your sins and they'll get weaker and weaker.  

IV. Attractively Holy People in a Repulsively Evil World 

Final point I want to make. Let's be attractively holy people in a repulsively evil world. Let's make holiness appear attractive because honestly, holiness is the best possible life you can ever live, it's the life of maximum pleasure, it's the best pleasure life, you can ever live is walking with Jesus. There is no better life than the life of holiness it is the best life there is, and the more content you are with your blessings in Christ, the more the non-Christians will call you weird, but they want to know you. It's like, "What is it with you like Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail? That's weird." You guys got beaten, and your back's bleeding, didn't have anything to eat. You're in the darkness, and you're singing? That's weird, but whatever it is you have, I want." It's very attractive to be thankful in all circumstances, and to drive out sin with sweet, holy thankfulness to God, that's a powerful attractive thing. Christians should be the most attractive people in the world. So I just want you to go through the inventory of the blessings that God's given you. Start with your salvation blessings and thank God. Thank Jesus for drinking your wrath for you. Just thank Him. And then go through your lesser blessings. 

Husbands thank God for your wives. Thank God for who they are. Strengths, weaknesses, everything. Wives, thank God for your husbands, strengths, weaknesses, and everything. Thank God for your children, parents, thank God for the stage they're at. If they're toddlers, if they're teens, thank God for them. Let your kids know how thankful you are that they're in in your lives, and teens thank God for your parents.  It's like "Now you're asking too much." No. Thank God for your parents, who provide for you and protect you and love you and teach you. Just thank God for your possessions, thank God for your education, thank God for your opportunities, thank God for everything you have and you will not be so prone to be covetous and yearning for things you don't have. We should be the most attractive people in the world. We should just make the Christian life look beautiful and attractive.  

I want to close with an illustration, some time ago, I watched a very powerful movie called Babette's Feast. Maybe some of you've seen it, and it's a powerful movie. Because in the story, there's a Christian sect, that's extreme and ascetic and they just live off on the coast of Jutland in Denmark, 19th century, and this woman, Babette comes to live with them and they don't know that much about her, but she gets a job as a cook, and she just settles in there. And this is an extreme ascetic sect. That wears  very draped clothing and eats very simple food, and basically has stripped the sense side of life entirely, and in this way, they think that they're going to go to Heaven.  

Well, anyway, turns out that she wins a lottery, a ticket she had bought years ago, and she won it and it also turns out that she had been at one point one of the greatest chefs in Paris and she decided to take all of that money and make a feast for this sect, for the people in that community. 

And it is the most overwhelmingly sensuous, delicious food they could ever imagine, and they don't know what to do, they don't know if there's any sin in eating the food, but they don't know what to do and so, they decide that they'll all eat it in silence and say nothing about it. Now, you have to watch the movie to find out what happens. But I'm like, "That's not what I'm talking about here." I'm talking about taking God's delightful gifts such as marital relations within marriage, and the possessions and the good things you have and enjoying them and being thankful for them, but above all, infinitely above all the blessings of the Gospel by which you're going to go to Heaven when you die and not be condemned. Take those things and live a life of thankfulness, you'll make the Gospel you adorn it, and make it beautiful to the lost.   

Let's close in prayer: Father we thank you for the time we've had to consider your word. And God, I pray, protect us from sin, help us oh Lord, to have the expulsive power of deep thankfulness, help us to put sin to death. Oh, I pray that you would work in each one of us and I pray if there are any that are here that are in chains to sin and they know that they're not Christians, that they would find in Christ crucified and resurrected their savior. We pray these things in Jesus' name, Amen. 

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