Mike Gerhardt, October 22, 2017, Live in Contrast, Ephesians 4:17-24. In 1974 PBS filmed a college play that I starred in. It was by Royall Tyler called The Contrast. This 1787 comedy of manners was revived for the Bicentennial. The action revolved around a straightforward honest American and an effeminate enlightened European. Billy Dimple criticized everything that my character Col Manly said or did (Pastor Mike cast as Col Manly?). In the 230 years since the play was written, our world is still filled with extreme contrasts: political, economic, extreme sport contrasts, contrasts in clothing styles, food tastes as well as religious contrasts. But think about a world without contrasts, without differences, without choice: one flavor of ice cream, one kind of pizza, one style of hair, one kind of automobile. Today we enjoy enormous contrasts of color and taste. But before praising your new 4K HDTV for its brilliant colors; how about thanking God for the eyes that see it all. Matt Chandler also points out before praising the TV Chef on the Food Network for that delicious recipe; how about praising God for the taste buds that pick up every nuance of flavor. Think of the variety of tropical fish, the numerous selection of fruits and vegetables, the incredible colors of the seasons. Our creator God wants us to enjoy the diversity of his creation & celebrate the contrasts. Last week we were reminded that God created us all to be different and gifted for community in His Church. We are also imperfect. Yet for living life, there is only THE one contrast: follow God's truth to Jesus as Savior that leads to heaven OR follow your own truth with your own rules that leads to hell. This makes our faith very exclusive in contrast with other religions. For embracing this Truth, with a capital T, we have been criticized.
On a side note: There was a guy wearing a tee shirt that read there is no such thing as absolute truth. I asked him: Is that absolutely true? He wanted to say yes but then realized how absurd it would be to say it is absolutely true that there is no such thing as absolute truth. It is self-contradicting.
We must no longer live as the Gentiles do, whom most believe there is no absolute truth. We must live in contrast to them, as light is in contrast to darkness, and good is in contrast to evil. Paul urges the Ephesians to live in extreme contrast. Remember light dispels the darkness, not the other way around. The word Gentiles here can be used as a euphemism for the unsaved. Let's look at the way they live (17-19). Their Minds are fogged(18a) or darkened. 2 Corinthians 4:4 – Satan has blinded them to the gospel. Their Emotions are plugged (18b) 1 Timothy 4:2 - conscience has been seared. Sensitivity is wasted (19a) being drunk or misplaced, lost. 1 Peter 4:3 pagans. Did you have a good time last weekend? Yea I got totally wasted. Appetite is insatiable (19b) gluttonous, given over, indulging, continual lust for more Romans 1:21-32. Do you know someone like that? I do. They want more. Joseph Alleine: Conversion is not a repairing of the old building, but takes it all down and erects a new structure. It is not sewing on a patch of holiness; but with the true convert, holiness is woven into all his power, principle and practice.
Transition (20-24) You did not come to Jesus that way. Not by self-reform but by Jesus (21-22). Not by the old doing better but by the new spirit (23) Colossians 3:8-10 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Not by false imitation but by new creation (24). Has this happened to you? You stop before a door to a store, step back and open the door for a lady who is following right behind. The lady looks at you and says Don't hold the door for me just because I'm a woman. I sometimes reply: I'm not, I'm holding the door because I'm a gentleman. As Christians let us act toward others based on who we are in Jesus not based on what they may or may not be. Acts 8:18-24 Simon the Sorcerer. When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter answered: “May your money perish with you because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.” It is not culture but conversion that we need. It is not education but transformation. It is not new knowledge but a new nature. We are to become new creations in Christ by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. A faith that has not changed your life has not saved your soul. Someone ask D.L. Moody: now that I am a Christian, must I give up my friends? No said Moody. If you live for Jesus in front of them and testify of God's grace often, they will quickly give you up. The way to live. Mind renewed. 2 Corinthians 5:17, a new creation the old is gone the new has come. Emotion restored. Loving God and loving others from a deep well of Jesus' love. Sensitivity regenerated. Kindness, gentleness, understanding, giving. Appetite reoriented. To thirst and hunger for righteousness. Matthew 5:6. When the kings of Siam wanted to ruin a man in their kingdom they would present him with a sacred white elephant. The unfortunate man couldn't get rid of the elephant for it was a sacred gift. The man could not work the elephant for it wasn't a beast of burden being sacred. The expense of keeping the useless animal soon put him in debtors' prison. Beware of the white elephants the world gives out freely. They may seem like pleasant gifts but they can easily trap us in sin. Accept God’s gifts- the gift of eternal life as well as your spiritual gift. Live in Christ. Some might say you're being too honest, you're being too giving, you are always acting too holy. The world will either reject you, keep you at a distance, or accept you and your Savior Jesus Christ. They won't be able to have true fellowship with you while they are living in darkness and while you're living in the light. Remember to live in contrast.