Our hope is not built in the outcome of any hot mess. Where is our hope then? What does Ephesians 4:17-24 has to do with the 2020 election?
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*This is not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
PART THREE: THE GOOD NEWS
Over the next month, I am going to be sharing the same quote with you, along with some words from Paul. The quote credited to a pastor named Kevin Myers, with him saying, “I’m your pastor not your politician.” If come here expecting me to tell you who to vote for, or how to vote, then I am sorry, but I am not the pastor for you.
With that being said, I am concerned with the attitude you have exercising your right to vote. Paul tells the Philippians, “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.” And that is my concern over me, you, and our church, not only through the election season, but every day.
However, there are things you and I as Christians should be thinking about as we prayerfully prepare our hearts to choose our leaders. Today, we will be in Ephesians 4:17-24 trying to figure out what this passage has do with the 2020 election.
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 ot 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, with a continual lust for more. 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him 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. (NIV)
This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.
What does this passage have to do with the 2020 election? To understand how it applies to our lives, we first need to explore what Paul is writing to the Christians in Ephesus. The apostle intended this for them, however the Holy Spirit breathes life into these words, so they apply to our lives today.
Verses 17-19 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. 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. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more. Paul writes, “I insist.” This tells the Christians at this church in Ephesus what the apostle is writing is important. He implores them that they are to behave different than the pagans around them. The world and Christians are not to behave the same.
Christians and pagans do not behave the same because they are not operating with the same hopes in mind. Pagans are operating by “in the futility of their thinking.” This means they are operating with empty thinking, built on lies with promises of false hope. The theologian, William Gardner Blaikie described their thinking as, “chasing shadows, blowing bubbles, doing anything to make time pass agreeably; not considering or knowing either what they were, or whence they came, or whither they were going.” Their minds were consumed on things and feelings that would not last.
The pagans in Ephesus chased their own selfish, greedy, and lustful desires. They had chased them to the point that their hearts and minds had become numb to them being sin. Sin brings pain and destruction, but these pagans had become used to the pain, accepted it as normal part of living. These things they were chasing, followers of Jesus had left behind.
Verses 20-24 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 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; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Following Jesus improves you in this life. Pagans chase after pleasure, power, and places, these are their hopes. Christians no longer look to the things of this world, false hopes, instead they look to their risen Savior. A hope that is steadfast and sure.
Paul writes, “…you were taught…to put off your old self…,” meaning Christians should stop living as the once did, like the pagans. “Put off” is saying to strip off the empty thinking life. The hope found in Jesus is so great that the things in this life are meaningless compared to Him. Because a believer’s hope is secure, they look at the world through the eyes of Jesus. Moved with compassion, heartbroken by sin’s destruction, and wanting to share their hope.
Following Jesus is to be made new by God in both heart and mind. Understand, this is not a work done by any person on their own. Just as God formed Adam from the dirt, His Spirit removes your old self and breathes knew life into your being. A heart forgiven from sin no longer fears punishment, carries shame, and is bound to hopelessness. Freed from guilt and shame, the mind navigates this life in confidence because of the new hope within.
What does this passage have to do with the 2020 election? No matter what the outcome, it does nothing to diminish our hope as Christians. Jesus shed his blood on the cross, a once and for all sacrifice that atoned for all sin for all time. Your sins are forgiven, no matter who wins in November. Not only that, Jesus rose again from the dead, so you are not only forgiven from sin, but freed from it! The power to be free from sin is an unchangeable reality, one that cannot be changed. This is the good news, the gospel, you and I are to conduct our lives in a manner worthy of.
Who you and I once were is gone. The things we were convinced would make our lives better are no longer our hope. Our hope is not based on the outcome of this election. This is empty thinking, that is only based on a political result which occurs every four years. Whether your candidate wins or loses, your hope must change at a minimum every eight years, but that fifth through eighth year is not a guarantee. Even if your candidate wins, your hope then is they live up to the things they have promised. Voting is an important civic duty for as believers, but the outcome does nothing to shift our hope.
In a short time now, a large portion of our world will be in mourning. One side will lose, and they will believe their world has ended. Friends, this is not to be you and me as followers of Jesus Christ. He is our hope and can never be voted off His throne.
While I have been very narrowly focused for this season, this hope applies over all our life. If your hope is money, people, and pleasure then this futile thinking. Even in achieving these hopes, they never truly satisfy. Often to gain sin’s reward requires sacrifices that seemed worth it at the time but turned out to be a path to nowhere. Through what seemed to be victory you were numb to the cost, but now you feel the pain of hopelessness. I have good new for you this morning.
This good news is not the promise of a stimulus check. It is not a better paying job. It is not a life void of difficulties. I do not have any of those things for you, but what I have for you is a man name Jesus. He was dead, but now is alive again, sitting on heaven’s throne. He is my living hope and wants to be yours too.
Season 1 Episode 33, "Most important question." The text for the message is from Mark 8:27-30, part 1 of a series called The Son of Man. The question we are trying to answer is "What is the most important question?"