*Click the sound bar below for the message audio…
EPHESIANS 4:17-24 ESV
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
We conclude our CONSTRUCTION ZONE series today. We’ve learned that God has a blueprint for our lives, making us into a soul-saving holy community; that we have a solid foundation in Jesus Christ that our life and faith are built upon; and we understand that the strong frames and walls that make up the house of our spiritual life are the work of God, that it is His might and power that build us up. Today we are talking about the FINISHINGS in the house. There are lots of personal touches that God wants to put into this spiritual house He’s created.
With the finishings going up, the house now has personality, unique to its builder. It’s not like other houses that have been built, because it now has a fingerprint that sets it apart from other structures. Paul’s language in our text this morning makes this point boldly, when he says, “…you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” Paul’s point is that to live apart from God is futile, empty, fruitless. But through the redeeming work of God, we can be built up, strong and fruitful.
We can have distinguishing marks, like the beautiful finishings in an soon-to-be-completed home. There’s crown molding that brings an elegance to the room; subtle variations of paint and furnishings that tie the space together; and accents of light that maintain a certain feel throughout the house regardless of the time of day. The Holy Spirit does things like this as our hearts are re-constructed, as our souls are sculpted by God’s mighty hand.
The spiritual finishings in our lives are important for two reasons. 1) They are the proof of our being redeemed, of the activity of God in our lives. And 2) they are the identifiable characteristics of God that speak and witness to the world.
On the first, the proof of our redemption is the driving force behind our spiritual growth. As we see and experience change, we are being assured of God’s activity in our lives. That assurance pushes us on, into each new step of discipleship. We can know that God is setting us aside by the fruit that we bear. And we have measurables that show us our progress. Galatians 5:22-25 calls them the fruit of the spirit. Paul says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
These marks, these holy characteristics are finishings in the spiritual house that God is building with you. Pray for these things; look for the evidence of them in your life. If we see these things in our lives, we can know that the Holy Spirit is working. These are finishing marks of God’s handiwork in our lives.
On the second reason, the finishings of God in our lives are important because they are a witness to the world. Through our relationships with others, they see the handiwork, providing us a chance to introduce them to the architect and builder. Think of it like this: there are works of art that have distinctive marks, characteristic to the artist alone. You know a Monet when you see one because of his impressionist style. A Rembrandt, whether a portrait or a landscape, has subtleties that send the mind racing. I found myself saying, “Is that a Rembrandt? That has to be a Rembrandt!” After a while, you get to know the true work of the artist, if you’ve spent enough time with them.
All of this glorifies God because God’s desire is to draw all people unto Himself. He’s drawing you in by shaping your life after Jesus’; He’s drawing in the world through His work in you. The finishings are what will set you apart for this purpose. Therefore, let the marks of God be impressed upon your heart, soul, faith, and life, so that you and the world will know that God is the Architect and Builder, the one who is saving you, building you up for glory. Amen.