Sunday 20 September
Reading: - Ephesians chapter 4 verses 17-32 17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. 26 ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Message - Resisting the devil and being who we are called to be
Having spoken about owning our faith, Paul is encouraging us to live in a way that the devil can have no hold on us. He wants us to shed our Earthly nature and become our Heavenly nature. Our new selves. That new self can help us develop a more positive attitude. Rather that seeing problems and catastrophising, we can see the same difficulties and look for solutions so we might think "I see the danger of too many people. Then I think something like, if I wear a mask and keep my distance I can shop safely".
We need to be pretty slippery if the devil is to be prevented from getting a grip on us. You see one of the devil’s ploys is, to encourage us to engage with a truth, such as, you call yourself a Christian and we think, yes I am. He then catches us with the twist – and you do such and such! Our response would probably be – oh, I never thought of it that way, leaving us thinking I am not that much of a Christian after all. God wants us to be a bit more like Jesus so the same conversation becomes: - 'you call yourself a Christian and we say by the Grace of God yes, he then tries the twist, and you do such and such'. Our response becomes by God’s Grace, 'He is changing me to be more like himself. That was why Jesus Died for me!'
I call these “such and such” things, handles, things that the devil can get a grip of. Our unrepented sins being an example. And the devil uses these handles to pull us away from the plan God has for our lives.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus tended not to argue with those who would accuse him? He would turn around the accusation, then quote scripture against his accusers who either had to defend themselves or flee. Listen how easily he did it with the devil himself in Matthew chapter 4 verses 1-4.
After this, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. After fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, he finally became hungry. Then the tempter came. “Since[a] you are the Son of God,” he said, “tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
Do you see the truth the devil uses “Since you are the Son of God” and the twist “Tell these stones etc”. Jesus isn’t distracted, he isn’t pulled into justifying himself to the devil, so neither should we! Instead, listen to Jesus’ answer in verse 4, But he answered, “It is written, ‘One must not live on bread alone, but on every word coming
out of the mouth of God.’”
Jesus quotes scripture, a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3
Paul gives good advice in verse 25 – 27
Let us be quick to say sorry and slow to be angry. Let us practice being the new creations God wants us to be.
Please remember, sorry isn’t always an admission of guilt. Saying I am sorry when someone is upset shows empathy and is plainly different to saying I am sorry I upset you by what I said which centres on cause and effect, it shows an acceptance of liability for the upset.
Then lastly as I was reading just the other day, we do not know the heart and head of the person we are thinking of, speaking to, praying for, or whatever reason they are in our mind. Let us not judge, but rather choose to love them enough to hold them up before God who knows everything. That way we can be slow to anger and as we turn to God in prayer, remembering to listen as well as speak, we can become more Christ like and experience the grace of God.
Please pray with me: - Father there must be many handles in our pasts that the devil can get a grip on. Help us Father to listen to your call on our lives and to respond as best we can, to become more like Christ. Help us develop lives that are handle free so that we can love everyone we come into contact with. May we become more fit to respond to your call on our lives, for your glory, now and forever more, Amen.