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Time To Act, Reflecting On A Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Sermon

Time To Act

Reflecting On A Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones Sermon

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!-
21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:20-24
When preaching through this text, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones made a few wise, simple, and yet profound observations. As the Apostle Paul is teaching through the application of Ephesians 4, he arrives to the imperative point that the believer must now act. Christianity is not theoretical. It is not hypothetical. Instead, the Christian faith demands that the disciple of Jesus Christ would take the necessary steps forward in being confirmed into the image of Christ.

Lloyd-Jones observes the necessity of “putting off” the old man and “putting on” the new man here in this text. He goes on to explain that these are individual elements which are undoubtedly tied together. One cannot simply “put off” the old man and just leave it at that. Not can one “put on” the new man to seemingly cover up the old man’s sinfulness. There must be an element of both “putting off” and “putting on.”

God’s Grace
We first see that God’s Grace abounds in the life of the believer. We did nothing to deserve the gift of grace. We had no merit to earn the reality that “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We are only able to “put off” the old and “put on” the new because of the Grace of God.

God’s Mercy
We then understand that God’s Mercy abounds in the life of a disciple of Christ. Where “Grace” is receiving something you do not deserve, “Mercy” is not receiving something that we do deserve. And because of our sin, we deserve to be eternally damned. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

God’s Power
Thirdly, we can view God’s Power in Justification and Sanctification. We have no power within us to produce an ounce of righteousness without the Holy Spirit illuminating our minds to understand Scripture. We are only Justified because God is powerful enough to save a wretched sinner. We are only being Sanctified to one day be Glorified because God is Powerful enough to conform us into the image of His Son. In other words, we bring nothing to the table except our penitent heart, acknowledging the Supremacy of Christ, while submitting to His divine will.

God’s Salvation
Ultimately, all of salvation belongs to God. He foreordained, planned, prepared, elected, called, chose, adopted, saved, justified and is now actively sanctifying the believer. All of this belongs to God. There is no part of the process of salvation that we can bring to the table outside of the fact that we are the sinner in need of being reconciled to the one true Holy God. Salvation belongs to God alone.

“Put Off” & “Put On”
Understanding God’s Grace, Mercy, Power and Purpose leads the believer to the inevitable plan of Sanctification. As a follower of Christ, I must be continuously “putting off” what is old and “putting on Christ.” These two elements act independently and yet are perfectly adjoined. The believer cannot remain with “the old” and actively pursues “the new.” There is no part of the Christian life that desires to go back to putting on the filthy garments that we once wore. Scripture clearly teaches that the true followers of Christ will “drop their nets immediately and follow Him” (Matthew 4:20). The command from the Apostle Paul is that we must "put off the old and put on the new." This should be natural to the believer because "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Time To Act
There is a reason that Paul starts the second part of his letter to the Ephesian church with "Walk in a manner that is worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1). After three chapters of theological exegesis, giving a deep understanding of the transformative Gospel, Paul changes tones and basically says, "Now, it is time to act." Once the disciple of Jesus Christ grasps the power of the Gospel, the natural response is that he no longer wants anything to do with the ways of the world. The true Christian lives in the light of the Grace of God, that was bestowed undeservedly. The authentic follower of Jesus counts the cost and runs after his Lord and Savior.

Since the Corinthian church's misunderstanding of spiritual liberty (exhibiting a life of antinomianism), believers have fallen into this false idea of the Christian life. It is the idea that the Christian can look like the world, act like the world, talk like the world and think like the world, and it will all be forgiven because of the promise of the Perseverance of the Saints (aka "once saved always saved"). But this deliberate defamation of the teaching of Scripture is contrary to anything the Bible says about "walking in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel." Throughout all of history, the people of God are to look differently than the world and the culture around them. God mandates that His people look like His people. This is the reason that God told His people multiple times, "I will be your God, and you will be my people."

As Christians, we must take the truth of the Gospel and apply it to our lives. We do not do this by simply "applying basic Scriptural principles to my decision-making process on a daily basis." the Bible is not a self-help book. The only way that we can truly apply Scripture to our lives -- that is, the only way that we can truly be conformed to the image of the Son of God -- is to "put off the old and put on the new." This is a daily commitment that we must make, but please understand that it was ultimately already decided at your Justification. When you "put down your nets to follow Jesus," you counted the cost. When you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you "died to yourself" and you denounced any worldly ways in your life. "Putting on Christ" was a decision that was already made at your Justification. Although we must daily commit ourselves to this, we need to understand the power of the Transformative Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For more of an understanding of how the Gospel transforms the life of a believer, you can read this 4-part exegesis of Romans 10:9 here:
Part 1 
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4