Developing My Identity in Christ Part 2: I Want to Grow Up!

Developing My Identity in Christ Part 2: I Want to Grow Up!

Text: Eph 4:17-24

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Last week we saw the vision of who we can be together in Christ:

  • Called to a New Life in Christ Sustained and Empowered by God.
    • A Life Worthy of our Calling.
    • A Life of Unity.
    • A Life of Gifted Service.
    • A Life of Increasing Christ-like Maturity.
    • See Eph 2:8-10
  • This vision is rooted in a theological framework elaborated in Eph. 1-3.
    • Those are complex chapters that stretch our thinking!
    • We must not leave those chapters behind if we find them difficult.
    • If we do, we will substitute shallow imitations of a Christian life.
  • The Identity Question: How do I become a person who lives that kind of life with you?

Explore the Text: You Must No Longer Walk/live as the Gentiles Do

Theological Advice to Christians Who are Expected to Grow Up in Christ

  • So I tell you this and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the pagans live in the futility of their thinking.
    • An urgent call to a new way of life: You must no longer walk/live!
      • These are not theological ideas we believe in a shallow way.
    • We repent and no longer walk after the pattern of the world but live as members of God’s kingdom on God’s terms, not on our terms.
  • Our Old Identity (See Eph. 2:1-10)
    • Rooted in & shaped by a world rebelling against God’s design.
    • Romans 5 and our old man represented in Adam’s choice.
    • When we ignore the influence of the world on our thought and action, we place ourselves and the people we love in peril.
      • Small turns in the wrong direction result in losing our way.
    • Our Old Way of Thinking (See Rom. 1:18-32)
      • Notice the emphasis on the heart and mind in this section.
        • Darkened in understanding & separated from the life of God.
        • The ignorance in them due to the hardening of their hearts.
      • Having lost all sensitivity they have given themselves over to every kind of sensuality.
        • Morally insensitive—like a calloused hand that no longer feels as it once did.
        • They have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity and they are full of greed.

The Contrast of a Christ-Centered Character: That however is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him according to the truth that is in Jesus.

  • As apprentices of Jesus, we learn three aspects of the process of transformation:
    1. Put off your old self which is being corrupted by deceitful desires.
    2. Be made new in the attitude of your mind.
    3. Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
  • If my Heart & Mind are Not Changed by Jesus, I Won’t Grow Up!
    • Paul’s teaching is rooted in who Jesus was and what he taught about a life shaped by God’s will.
      • Deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
      • Sermon on the Mt. envisions a transformed righteousness.
    • Jesus and Paul taught about the reality of a new life that changes us from the inside out.
    • If I do not believe this is possible, I might pray “God Change ME!, but I will never act.
  • Problem: A Shallow Christianity Hiding Beneath a Veneer of Success
    • Something began to happen in contemporary Christianity years ago: we began to believe that thought was less important than feelings.
    • We demanded more motivational sermons and successful results:
      • Inspire me to live better this week.
      • Inspire us to be a great church.
      • Weekly we were motivated, but little inside changed.
      • We fit nicely with the American model of success.
    • How did this happen?
      • Impressed by the techniques of mass persuasion, marketing, and the promise of impressive results, we demanded preachers as motivational experts.
      • Over time, the life of the mind began to wither as we promoted one new fad after another.
      • Keep us motivated! Keep us busy!
    • Our Success Often Masked a Dark Reality: We Were Managing Appearances and Remaining Immature.
      • Like the Wizard of Oz we shouted “Pay no attention to the man (person) behind the curtain!”

Conclusion: Paul’s prayers ask for God to Open our Eyes and Empower us to Live in Pursuit of this New Life as Followers of Jesus.

  • A Knowing Commitment to the Formation of Christ-like Character:
    • Knowledge: We know that this is a possibility that Jesus invites us to experience and share with others.
    • Relationships: We form friendships and small groups of friends with those who agree on the truth of this reality and who encourage us to grow up in Christ.
    • Action—Seeking and Speaking the Truth in Love: We refuse to minimize the consequences of the reality of sin we discover in our lives and confess.
    • Persistence—Pressing On Towards the Goal: Together, we learn how to grow up in Christ by patiently doing what he asks us to do. Phil. 3:7-14

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