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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day '011 at Odell: Ephs. 6:4


Two little boys were standing around after church had let out one Sunday morning talking about the Sunday School lesson. It seems that their teacher had mentioned the devil and that got one of the little boys to thinking. He asked his friend, “do you believe that the devil is real like Mrs. Gray said?” The friend answered, “No, I believe he's like Santa Claus, he's your father.”


Being a father or mother has never been easy. We're sinful imperfect people living in a dark and fallen world. Because of our sinful natures, we don't always have our childrens' best interest in mind when we discipline them even when we think we do. Sometimes we discipline our children out of embarrassment rather than wanting what is best and right for them. That is always a bad reason.

*1 Cor. 6:9-11 Here we are, dad, mom, before by the grace of God we trusted in Jesus Christ.
*Gals. 5:19-21 and here, but by the grace of God.
*Eph. 4:17-24 and here is where we want to be, dad, mom.

ILLUS: Have you ever seen a child in the store raising cain because his mom or dad told him or her he couldn't have something he saw on the shelf? Sometimes kids will fall to the floor screaming and pitching a hissy fit because he has been told “No, you can't have that.” James Dobson suggested one time that parents should just leave their little one on the floor screaming and go out of sight into the next aisle. He reasoned that when other customers walked by they would look down at the brat on the floor and embarrass him into straightening up.
Too often the discipline that is actually applied is more like a quick act of violence against the child.
I was shopping in Bloom near my home this past week and there was a toddler screaming his lungs out while riding in the grocery cart being pushed by a woman I assumed to be his mom. He never quit screaming the whole time they were in the store. That may have been the best way to respond to that child.
When my girls did this at the grocery store, and each of them did it, I took them out to the car in the parking lot and spanked them soundly. From then on all I had to do was say “do you want to go out to the car?”
But that sinful nature that is born into every child can't figure out why they can't have everything they want. And it is up to us, moms and dads, to inform them.

But most parents will give in to the tantrum thinking that it would be better to just go ahead and buy junior what he wants rather than have him acting up in public. That decision is strongly influenced by our fallen nature, not good parenting skills.

There have never been perfect parents and there never will be.

We're born spiritually dead, separated from our Creator no less and no more than Adam and Eve were after they disobeyed God in the garden. And look at how their kids turned out. If only Eve had listened to God and not the serpent, the devil. Sometimes its hard for parents to know to whom they're listening when it comes to parenting. I'm amazed that any of our kids grow up to be even close to being normal.

But being a child these days is no walk in the park either. The violence and crime our children are often exposed to first hand at school or in the neighborhood coupled with the garbage they are bombarded with through video games and tv and movies is mind-blowing. Our children need all the guidance they can get from us parents. And until our little ones by the grace of God come to faith in Jesus Christ and receive the Holy Spirit, we have our work cut out for us. And really, after that is when our responsibilities really take on a deeper significance.

And, by the way, *television, videos games, and movies are the worst baby sitters in the world.

There has been an increase in the number of hours our children are spending on the internet, tv, videos games and cell phones. It is estimated that they spend 8 hrs. a day on these so-called “multi-media devices.”

And, dads, this is where we come in.

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

Fathers can be jerks when it comes to their children. I guess that's why we find the little joke at the beginning of my sermon this morning so funny; humor has a lot of truth in it.
That may or may not have anything to do with why Paul singles out the Christian father in this passage. But there is one reason we can be sure Paul had in mind,

In giving instructions on the qualifications for an elder or deacon, Paul says that that man should “rule his house well.” And earlier in Ephesians he says clearly that the man is the head of his wife. There's no room for argument or option, unless, of course, one wants to take it up with God.
The primary responsibility for discipline fell to the father in Paul's day; it still falls to the Christian father in our day. We parents may relegate it to others such as day care teachers or school teachers, but it is ours. Christian dads may not like it, but it is God's plan and not ours; we are not given an option. Did your mom ever say, “Wait till your daddy gets home.”?

ILLUS: Beginning in the 1960's, the American male came under attack by radical feminists who made many men feel that they needed to “get in touch with their feminine side.” And the result of that has been that the role model of the masculine, strong male morphed into wimpy spineless “girlie men,” as Schwarzenegger called them. And stemming from the new man, if you will, we have witnessed a drastic change in several areas of American life. Divorce rates have shot up; law enforcement officers were forced to be emotionally aware of the criminal's environment (that notion is what gave birth to the “Dirty Harry” movies and why the radical feminists hated them so much); Hollywood and Wall Street began promoting deviant lifestyles where men were encouraged to be homosexual or to be a wimp when it comes to managing their households; and children as a result of the feminization of the American male, have to a great extent gotten out of control at home, at school, and in public because they have little to no respect for their dads. Feminists are at this moment in our history trying to convince us that men just aren't needed.
It's time for the men of the church to take this advice, “man up.” Reclaim any territory this topsy turvy world has taken from us. We are instructed to imitate Christ, the manliest man ever to walk the face of this earth.

Without strong Christian dads lovingly and Biblically guiding their children and taking their right place as head of the home, we can be sure that discipline will not be the only aspect of our children's lives that will go south, we can be sure that the gospel will as well.

Now, lets examine this word *“provoke,” “to anger, to provoke to anger. This involves avoiding attitudes, words, and actions which would drive a child to angry exasperation or resentment and thus rules out excessively severe discipline, unreasonably harsh demands, abuse of authority, arbitrariness, unfairness, constant nagging and condemnation, subjecting a child to humiliation, and all forms of gross insensitivity to a child's needs and sensibilities. The words “do not” in the original text address the above behaviors as habitual.

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, BUT bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
The conjunction “but” is emphatic and tells us that raising a child up in the nurture, training and admonition of the Lord” is not only a better way to raise our children but will also will bring about the opposite result of wrath. And how are father's to raise their children? I'll close with this.

“in the training and admonition OF THE LORD.”
As unpopular as spanking is these days, it is a great tool of discipline when administered in love and not out of selfish anger. That idea is included in this word “training,” or “nurture.”
Did anyone see the news yesterday, Sat., June 18, where a mother in Texas was arrested for spanking her child? She received 5 years probation. The only sign of the spanking was red marks on the child's bottom. The grandmother turned the mom in.

The second word, “admonition,” comes from a word that points the parent toward the child's forming mind.
I don't like to use the word “precious,” but that seems to be a good term for describing the mind of a little child. Fragile also comes to mind. Our children are precious and fragile.

“Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” They're raising is to be an “of-the-Lord-kind-of-raising.” In the nurture, training and admonition of the Lord. And if you want a picture of that, turn back to ch. 5, beginning with 25-33. This is talking about the relationship between husband and wife, but going deeper than that it addresses the Lord's love for us. Listen.

Christian fathers, I challenge you to “man up” and raise up your children according to the word of God and not the world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Brief Lesson On the LIfe of Our Inner Man


INTRO: What would you do if you suddenly realized that Jesus has left you in charge of a small part of His kingdom? Would you love the idea that you are in charge? Or, would you panic?
And furthermore, what would you do if you suddenly realized that along with leaving you in charge of this small part of His kingdom, He has empowered you for the task?
And to go a step farther, how would you respond to this empowerment if you were told by the Lord Himself that He has blessed you with everything you could possibly need to properly run His kingdom? Would you conclude that the Lord has made a big mistake leaving you in charge of anything? Would you conclude that He doesn't really know you if He has given you such a tremendous responsibility? Or would you conclude that through His gifts and blessings you are in fact up to the task and the Lord knows exactly what He's doing?

TRANS: This morning, hopefully, prayerfully, we're going to see that Jesus has indeed left us in charge. He hasn't left us in charge by ourselves or for our own glory and purposes. And he hasn't left all of you, as an individual, in charge. But He has left that part of you the word of God calls the “inner man” in charge, in charge of that part of you the word of God calls the “outer man.”


TEXT: Our text this morning is one we have briefly visited before, Eph. 5:15-21. This morning we will hopefully expand and internalize the truths we find here.
CONTEXT: Ephesians is to me a teacher's letter. After Romans and Galatians it is my favorite Pauline epistle. This letter begins with the reader being informed that he or she has been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Jesus Christ,” the wonderfully assuring good news that God Himself called each of us by name “before the foundation of the world,” adopted us “as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself,” “made us accepted in the Beloved,” redeemed us “through His blood,” forgave us all our trespasses, revealed “the mystery of His will” to us, sealed us with the Spirit, blessed us with spiritual powers that He wants us to employ, powers that we haven't even begun to touch, made us alive together with Christ and made us to sit with Jesus in the heavenlies. And I believe every word of it, don't you?

ARGU: There is a problem, however. And that problem has to do with our inability to discern where these blessings are applied at this present time. Are they applied to our mortal bodies otherwise known as our “outer man?” Or, are they strictly applied to our “inner man?” So, briefly, I want to take us on a study of these two men, if you will, and hopefully open the door to our experiencing what Charles Stanley called “The Wonderful Spirit-filled Life.” *I have taken nothing from his book for this sermon other than the title.

As I begin I want to call your attention to something. The outer man and the inner man are addressed in the word of God as two distinct men.
One is redeemed and justified; the other isn't it.
One is born again; the other isn't.
One is being renewed day by day; the other is perishing.
One will inherit the kingdom of God; the other will not.
One is alive; the other is dead.

FIRST, lets trace one of the primary sources of our daily woes, the outer man or, the mortal flesh.
*He goes by various names in the New Testament:
    1. In Romans he is called “the flesh,” “man,” “the ungodly,” “sinner,” “carnal,” “mortal,” “the body,” and the “creation,” or, the creature.
    2. In First Corinthians, he is called “carnal,” a “natural body,” and “immortal,” or, “corrupt.”
    3. In Second Corinthians he is called an “earthen” vessel, the “outer man,” or, the “outward man who is perishing.”
    4. In Galatians Paul describes himself as well as all believers as having a life “in the flesh” which is to be lived by faith.
    5. In Ephesians and Colossians this outer man is called “the old man.”

And to put it all together that we might get a simpler picture of the believer's outer man, he is called,
*the flesh
the ungodly
the body
the creature
the natural body
immortal or corrupt
the outer man
the old man.
That should open our eyes as to why we have such a difficult time being filled with the Spirit and living the Spirit-filled life; does it help? And, yes, all of these terms are applied to the believer. Listen to how Paul addresses the Corinthians who were well-schooled in all these terms. *First Corinthians, 3 and vv. 21-23, “Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come – all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.”
And lest we forget, next to each of the terms the Bible uses to describe believers, please write,

*“justified by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.”


APPL: Is it any wonder that we see so few true believers living the Spirit-filled life? We have so much just within ourselves let alone those obstacles we encounter in our day to day living, including the devil himself, that we must and can learn to overcome. And please note that I said “can.” Can is the language of faith. We can learn to practice being filled with the Spirit. We can learn to live consistently victorious lives through the means that our Father has already given to us.

SECOND, now lets look in the other direction, or, we might say, in the “inner” direction. Lets briefly trace the Biblical concept of “the inner man.” And it is here, in the inner man, that man that is “born again,” where we will find the solution to our spiritual dilemmas. When the apostle Paul tells every believer, “do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts,” he is telling us that we can do it; it can be done. When we're told to “take heed to ourselves” and to “put to death what is earthly in us,” Paul is telling us that we can do it; it can be done.

“Why did the chicken cross the road? To show the possum it can be done.”

*In a very true sense, Jesus has left the inner man in charge of the outer man. We are not left without responsibility or capability. Nor are we left on our own.

So we can see that it can be done.

The first occurrence of the term “the inner man” is in Paul's letter to the Romans, ch.7, v.22, where Paul says he delights in the law of God in the “inward man.”

The second occurrence is in 2 Corinthians 4, v.16, where Paul tells us that the “outward man is perishing” while the “inward man” is being renewed day by day.

The third and final occurrence is in Ephesians, chapter 3 and v.16, where we find Paul praying for the strengthening of the Christians in Ephesus by the Holy Spirit, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”

Another description for this inner man of the believer is “the new man.” Paul uses this description in Eph. 4:24 and Col. 3:10. Listen to these two verses, Eph. 4:24, “And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” And Col. 3:10, lets begin in v.9, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

And one final term that I will mention is found in 2 Cor. 5:17, everyone in Christ is a “new creation.”

For the sake of brevity, for the rest of this sermon I will refer to the new man, the new creation by this one phrase “the inner man.”

*What is the “inner man?” The inner man is you, the “true you,” the “new you,” the part of you that is renewed in accordance with the image of God, your soul or your “spirit” that is “born again,” it is the part of you that is God's new creation, it involves your mind, your thoughts, your heart, your conscience, your desires, your spiritual gifts, your calling and your right standing before the Father, it is that inner man that is created according to God in true righteousness and holiness, it is the part of you that cannot sin, it is the part of you that can obey God and please God, it is the part of you that will inherit the kingdom of God, and it is the part of you that is “seated in the heavenlies with Jesus Christ.”

THIRD, from the above description of our “old man,” our “outer man,” we have a pretty good idea of what the old man does, do we not? We know from personal experience what the old outer man can do, do we not? So lets turn our attention for the rest of this hour to what the inner man does and the potential that our new man has at his fingertips. I believe and pray that once we get a better grasp on our inner man we'll see an ever increasing hunger for practicing being filled with the Holy Spirit.

If anyone should wonder what the Christian's inner man looks like and acts like, simply turn to the book of the Acts of the Apostles and you will see. Or, read the New Testament epistles. In the lives of Peter and John and Paul and Barnabas and Apollos and Prisca and Acquila and Stephen and Philip, we have living historical accounts of the acts of the inner man.

Too dramatic? Then look at yourself. The inner man walks by faith, not by sight. Does that truth describe you? The inner man loves the law of God; does that describe you? The inner man seeks to glorify the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ; is that you? The inner man seeks God in prayer daily; does that describe you? The inner man loves the brethren, he loves the word of God, forgives those who trespass against him, gives aid to the enemy, confesses his sins, prays for the brethren, and strives to walk consistently in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit.

FOURTH, in closing I'm going to present a short list of what is involved in our being filled with the Spirit.
    1. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves the inner man with a transforming effect on the outer man.
    2. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves the worship of the Lord through songs and hymns of praise when we're alone and gathered as the body of Christ.
    3. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves one's personal prayers as well as the prayers of others on our behalf, those intercessory prayers being made known to the one for whom we are praying.
    4. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves the will of the Spirit filling us as He chooses for the glory of God and the good or judgment of others.
    5. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves our being used by God in life-situations where we are privileged to share the gospel.
    6. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves our putting on the whole armor of God.
    7. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves our personal edification as well as the edification of others in the body of Christ.
    8. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves the manifestation of spiritual gifts as the Spirit sees fit and necessary at any given moment.

*What is the “inner man?” Lets look at this as we close:

The inner man is you, the “true you,” the “new you,” the part of you that is renewed in accordance with the image of God, your soul or your “spirit” that is “born again,” it is the part of you that is God's new creation, it involves your mind, your thoughts, your heart, your conscience, your desires, your spiritual gifts, your calling and your right standing before the Father, it is that inner man that is created according to God in true righteousness and holiness, it is the part of you that cannot sin, it is the part of you that can obey God and please God, it is the part of you that will inherit the kingdom of God, and it is the part of you that is “seated in the heavenlies with Jesus Christ.”

Remember, “the Christian life is nothing if it is not life-in-the-Spirit.”