Gracious Renovation | Ephesians 2:4-10
Topic: Gospel Passage: Ephesians 2:4–2:10
Introduction | Rewind
Good Morning! We regularly preach straight through books of the Bible. We have taken a break for five weeks to do a topical series on particular doctrines of God’s Grace. Specifically, how people are saved by God the Father’s planned grace, through the work of Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is called GRACE, before the beginning to after the end. We are preaching these doctrines out of Ephesians Ch1-2 with the churches in our 3 Strand Network. We have seen the difference in how we typically experience God’s grace from our perspective; and compared it to how we see God talking about His planned grace laid out in scripture with a hope we are moving the target from a man/us-centered view of grace/salvation to an explicitly God-centered view. Jonah 2:9 Salvation is of the Lord.
We have covered: Election - God’s choice of people to be saved based on no foreseen merit of their own, but solely on His gracious good pleasure as sovereign king of the universe.
Effective Gospel Call - Proclaiming and someone hearing the attractive message of the Gospel. Regeneration - Being born again as we move from being spiritually dead to alive.
Conversion – repentance, seeing your sin turning from it and placing your faith in Jesus.
Justification- Where we move from being guilty sinners before God, to right legal standing.
Adoption – No longer alienated by our sin we are brought into full membership in God’s family.
Two weeks ago when we closed service Pastor Nate read out of Romans 8:15,reminding us we no longer have to be slaves, but get to be sons and daughters in the Kingdom. 2 verses later it says we will suffer with Christ to be glorified with Him. Up to this point we have talked about what is involved in becoming a Christian. Today we transition from becoming to being and growing as we live out our new lives.
Sanctification - Both being clean and being made clean; living lives which look more like Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-10 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Who are we in Christ? We are adopted children who are now living out our adoption. We are accepted in our sin, whole file taken and nailed to the cross. When we talk about our new life regeneration is where we are born again, sanctification is how we grow. Being a baby is great for a baby, but we are called to more than infancy. Eph 1 says we are adopted for a purpose. The purpose of our adoption and election is so we will be Holy and blameless. We once walked in sin following the course of the world that opposed God now it’s time to walk another way following our new Father. This way of walking is part of His grace.
Westminster Shorter Catechism – “The work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.” The Bible talks about sanctification in two ways. While appearing different they are not in contradiction, but they are distinct. It is important we do not confuse the two or apply one without the other.
Positional Sanctification | We ARE clean
Positional means we are no longer defined by our sin before God. When God sees us he doesn’t see us as and reject us as filthy sinners. He sees us covered by the blood of His sinless Son Jesus shed on the cross.
Hebrews 10:10 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Our positional sanctification is not dissimilar to justification in that it is a one-time forever change of identity of who we are before God. Positional Sanctification is both our starting point as a Christian and where we will always be in the Father’s eyes. While that is who we are in the eyes of God, with our record of sin paid, we also know it doesn’t mean all our sin has been has been completely removed or extinguished yet either. We start from our new position of clean, and in this sense sanctification does indeed have clear beginning in our lives where we are given new desires we did not previously have and our affection for sin is diminished as we go from seeing it as desirable in our eyes to detestable through God’s eyes.
1 Cor 6:9-11 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
There is immediate hope and encouragement here because this is a list of what we were, not what we are. We are clean before God. Who we are dictates how we live. We are no longer children of wrath or sons of disobedience, it is time to stop living in sin and begin to live out our family values and follow our father’s commands. If we “were” those things (past-tense) then we should no longer be those things in the present knowing we both are and will be holy and blameless before God. Positionally, we are no longer slaves to sin and we now live in new state of freedom as sons and daughters. But we cannot have worldly libertarian view of what that freedom is or isn’t; Freedom is no lawlessness.
Romans 6:1-4 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Yes we are clean, yes we are a new creation, and we are also being made new and being made clean. God begins a work in us, continues a work in us, and He will finish a work in us. Yes we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit and then we follow the Holy Spirits guidance and walk out the steps prescribed in God’s word and the Spirits prompting. If we stop merely with our positional sanctification we have an incomplete picture that is ineffective in helping us grow as a child of God. We are called actively walk in our new life.
Progressive Sanctification | We are being MADE clean
Regeneration, Justification are a one-time momentary/instant exclusive works of God to move someone from spiritual dead, guilty, alienated sinner to born again, forgiven, child of God. Progressive sanctification is an inclusive, ongoing process, completely dependent on God’s working in the life of the new believer AND the child of God continually struggling against sin and towards righteousness. Salvation is of the Lord, positional sanctification is of the Lord, Progressive Sanctification is of the Lord, through us, with us. Put simply. We have a role. Progressive sanctification involves cooperation, us working with God. We are not talking about an equal 50-50 partnership. Our working with God does not look the same God works with us. It is also means we are working for the same purpose. We submit to and yield to God for a cooperative purpose. Think “witnesses are cooperating with authorities.” Authority is there and active, witness cooperates for the shared purpose of justice. In our case the shared purpose is for us to be holy and blameless. Reformation Study Bible says it this way “God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but human effort dependent on God.” We see this clearly in Verse 10. Who is doing the work? Jesus. Who is walking? We are. See the cooperation has each party working differently but walking and being carried are totally different things. We are called to walk.
Sanctification is not…..
Retreat from difficulty…. Or refusal to walking in the way God has proscribed. “I am so accepted nothing I can do can make me loved more by God and nothing I do or don’t do can separate me from the love of God. His mercies are new every morning, I fail every day but… thank goodness God saves spiritual failures like me. Even my good works are filthy rags… so I don’t need to strive or try, God will simply do the work of sanctification. If I try or strive it will only lead to legalism, If you attempt to tell me, encourage me, instruct me you are simply judging me I can’t possible perform for God so why would I put in effort. My part is trusting, His part is accomplishing the results.” It’s sounds really great, it is also not biblical and is a recipe for spiritual laziness, continuing to walk in disobedience, and failing to walk in the good works we’ve been called to that “he prepared beforehand.” Another word for it is simply disobedience to God.
Arrival- I am sin free! Jesus has already sanctified me. Yes, positionally, but there is clear work to be done and battles left to fight. Be wary if some tells you they’ve been sanctified and only talks about the effects of sin in the past tense and all battle as ancient history. We are going to have struggles and difficulty fighting sin as Christians. We are not completely sanctified in this life if you think you are it’s pride.
1 Cor 10:12 13 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Restraining Sin- It is more than just responding to sin hoping to restrain it contain it, it is actively seeking sin to be dealt with and destroyed. It’s not appearing to change it is actual change. That is a hard one, because we naturally attempt to “fake it till you make it”. The only problem is when we white knuckle it on our own power it will not lead “to making it” we don’t make it so it becomes “fake it till you break it.” We do not appease sin, we are to put in to death, not lock it up and hide it, feed it appease it and hope it doesn’t get out or no one looks in the attic/basement. Be killing sin or sin will be killing you. John Owen
A one-time deal - Hey I remember that year, that camp that period of life was really one of sanctification. So glad I am through that! No, it’s just one thing to the next to the next. I had a dangerous prayer I shared with guys back in Texas, “God would find more and more areas of sin my life for years and years so that I would grow more and more.” Dangerous because it’s like praying for patience (God is going to try it….) it’s not seasonal thing, “I am in a season of sanctification.” No you are in a life of one.
Apathy or inaction - “I’ve found something in me that is life taking but I’m just going to wait for God to take it away.” Cool what are you going to do about it?” Nothing, just hope it goes away “by God’s grace”. If you are seeing something, and others are seeing something, that is HOW God is telling you it needs to go away. Cruise control- “Hey, I am doing just great, I don’t really have any big issues, I’m cruising.” We called to walk down a road not sit in cruise control/auto pilot. We are on a journey but we’re not passengers. Alternative to sanctification is stagnation. Perpetual infanthood is no goal. Maturity in Christ is the goal. Alternative is walking in death. What area of your life are you fighting in, what thoughts are you warring against? If you are not striving in some way you are being apathetic.
Every day is better- I heard a pastor once say “Since becoming a Christian I haven’t had one day of back sliding” Really?! This year for me I can easily see at least two periods of regression on a specific sin in my life. One of those periods is in just the past two weeks. This whole year hasn’t been one long downward spiral but it’s not some never slowing escalator to contentment and holiness either. We all like the neat and tidy stories of sanctification, this person had some specific sin, it was difficult as it came to light the worked on it (by God’s grace and power) and now it’s not an issue any more. Pastors and teachers love to use those ones because then people might think “they’ve got it all covered” we don’t like sharing the “this is what I’m fighting right now because then it allows people to see chinks in the armor or question how it’s going to play out. Listen we have hope knowing the outcome of the battle is victory, because Jesus already secured the victory, but we’re also called to step out on the battle field, get our hands dirty and fight. Sometimes we’ll gain ground and sometimes we’ll have to renew a fight to take ground recently lost.
Inconvenient, uncomfortable,– People rarely say, hey Let’s schedule some sanctification time. It interrupts our plan, our path, our schedule as we are moved to follow His. I was asked last week if I knew this path was going to be this hard would I have chosen it? We don’t usually choose sanctification, but we do need to press into it and not run away from it…. Part of how God does this is with more responsibility.
Increasingly Walking in obedience- Perfection is impossible but obedience and good works are not.
1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
There is s tension because while our flesh wars against us. We are also called to “walk out” our calling in doing so over a period of time obedience will lead to greater and greater peace. Love of Jesus leads to obedience. John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. Jesus didn’t say I’ll love you if you keep my commandments, he say if you love me you will be compelled to follow me, but it’s not easy.
Hard work- Striving, urging, trying, effort, calling, good works, admonishing, are not bad words they are not judgment /condemnation they should not be life taking they should be life giving. IF they are coming from a place of reminding, recalling your identity and position. Struggle, tension is not a sign of death, it’s a sign of life, that something new means killing something old. Are you fighting for your sin? Or are you fighting against it? Are you holding on or letting go? Are you keeping on are you putting off? We never get a promise in scripture things are going to be easy. “That we should share in His sufferings.” I thought Jesus suffered so we didn’t have to? Jesus suffered so our suffering wouldn’t be in vain. We don’t easily want to sign up for suffering, difficulty, effort, or striving. Yet that is often what produces the most growth. 1 Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
We don’t like hard, we don’t like slow, we don’t like unending. We like fast, we like easy, we like finished. That just aint going to be that way. We want your “best life now” not “long obedience in the same direction…” “Works don’t save. Don’t tell me to fight sin! You’re a legalist!” Good works are not what saves us but because we’re saved we can walk out good works! Urging is called for Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, We don’t like the process, we like results. We like short cuts or results without effort. We see results in other people and think “man I wish I had some of what they have, or am able to function, achieve, endure the way they have, yet we seldom ask ourselves what it looked like getting there. There is pain in the process, but there is purpose in the process.
2 Peter 1:5-10 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
Discipline- As sons and daughters we are not left without correction. Where there is trail when there is discipline when there is sanctification we don’t cease to be children of God it reminds us that we are one.
Hebrews 12:5-7 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Confession in community - We ask for help and we receive help. Faith growing and faith filled… I am going to ask for help with this not knowing where it is going to lead but confident that God is going to point me in the right direction Is Risky – you might find other things that you didn’t see before. You share your life with other and as you do they begin to see what it looks like apart from how you see yourself.
Focus on Fundamentals – There is a very simple play book for Christian growth. Reading and using God’s Word. Praying seeking God’s presence and guidance, fellowshipping and serving with God’s people, getting involved with God’s Mission. Told over and over to delight in the Law of God . Eph 5 washing with the water of the word. We use it and hold it up to ourselves, or others hold it up to us. Mission- We will never grow or change if we are only and exclusively focused on ourselves. Teach them to observe all I’ve commanded. I we’re going to teach other what it means to observe (actually practice) all Jesus commanded we better be walking those out ourselves.
Forgetting what is behind and moving forward. This is a journey that will continue, we can’t go back.
Phil 3:12-14 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Sanctification is worth it! Because we get to more like God intends for us to be. Because we are moving closer to the prize, which means joy is the destination and there can be joy in the journey. Next week is perseverance, and glorification. We know sanctification will be completed. Trust Jesus!