BETHESDA CHURCH
THE POWER TO CHANGE
August 25, 2021
Main Scripture Reference(s)
Philippians 4:7-10

THE POWER TO CHANGE

August 25, 2021 / Philippians 4:7-10

The Power to Change – Ephesians 4: 7-10

(By Lloyd S.)

“7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift.

8 For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people.

9 But what does “He ascended” mean except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth?

10 The One who descended is the same as the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.”

Introduction

Every year, around 45 percent of us in America seize upon the desire for a fresh start at New Year’s and make one or more resolutions. Now we all know what a resolution is. It is a commitment that we make to ourselves regarding a project or a habit that usually calls for some kind of lifestyle change. We want to lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking or drinking, get out of debt. These make the top 10 resolves annually. We feel determined. We join a fitness center or a 12-step program or buy a book. We create a plan for change

Yet every year, 97 percent of us with firm resolve fail. Early efforts prove to be a flash in the pan, and in the end, we don’t lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking or drinking, or get out of debt. Usually by June, it’s over and we are left unchanged. Why is that?

Even more significant, there are scores of people who claim Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, but whose lifestyle shows little difference from those who make no such claim. It’s so common, we no longer think it all that strange that someone who says they are Christians routinely gets drunk like the world, talks like the world, engages in unmarried sex like the world, struggles with rage like the world, and does business like the world, yet all the while saying and believing that Jesus has delivered them from this world and that the sins they are persisting in are forgiven and they are heaven-bound

Let’s establish some principles for lasting change from this passage.

Principle 1: Every Christian can change (v. 7)

Verse 7 reads, “Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift.” To every true believer, Jesus gives the capacity, the enabling, the supernatural ability to pass on grace to others.

And here it is again in Scripture: every Christian can change. A caterpillar doesn’t get a vote of whether it will become a butterfly. It doesn’t try on cocoon to see if it likes the idea before moving in. God has built this transformation into its very essence.

Principle 2: Life change was secured by Jesus (vv. 8-10)

Verse 8 takes us to an Old Testament quotation from Psalm 68: “For (based on God’s eternal intention to give the gift of grace to each believer through Christ) it says, “When He ascended on high, He led the captives; He gave gifts to people.”

In ancient times when a nation conquered its enemy, the victorious king would lead a great processional through the streets of his home city. Behind him marched all of his troops in shining battle array. Along with the soldiers there were the prisoners of war who had been captured by the enemy, but were now freed by their victorious king.

Now, take into Ephesians 4. Verse 8 describes a processional led by Jesus: “When He ascended on high, He led the captives, and He gave gifts to men.” A tremendous battle has been won by our Lord. He took on the full force of a world’s sin, allied as it was with death, and contended with the one behind both: Satan himself and his armies.

Principle 3: It’s time to act on the truth

The ability to change is a gift Jesus obtained at the cross. It is our turn to act and pursuit that change.

Conclusion

You say, “My head hurts nowr! Can you cut to the bottom line on this? How does all this enable me to change, to become more like Christ?” Just this way: You are totally linked to Christ in what He has won. Eph. 4:7-10 describe the moment in objective history when your spiritual freedom and transformation was accomplished. It’s a done deal.

“Well, if that’s so, why do I still lose more than I win?” One of two reasons: you either aren’t a true Christian or you have not believed that the victory Jesus gained was also your victory. The question either way is, “Do you believe?” The fight against sin is called the fight of faith. You win by trusting that Jesus has already beaten your worst enemy! Do you believe?”

 

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