Redeeming the Time

Sermon notes from the sermon that was given on January 2, 2022 by our beloved Pastor, Wes Brice.

Sermon notes from the sermon that was given on January 2, 2022 by our beloved Pastor, Wes Brice.

Old Testament Reading: Psalm 90:1-12
New Testament Reading: Ephesians 5: 1-21

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not be partakers with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore, He says: "Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.—Ephesians 5:1-21

From time to time at the beginning of a New Year I like to remind us as a congregation that we are indeed creatures of time, in contrast to our Creator who is from everlasting to everlasting as we read in Psalm 90:2,

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

With God there is not time as we know it, for Him a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. Simply said, time does not affect our God as we are affected by time. Again, referencing Psalm 90, we are told that we are but like the grass that flourishes for and day and then in the evening is cut down. We change with time: our infants become little children; then in time our children become teenagers and soon they are young adults, and as time passes age takes its toll with old age setting in bringing with it aches and pains and in time death. As Scripture clearly reminds us;

“It is appointed unto man once to die.”—Hebrews 9:27

Therefore this passage before us instructs us to always be “redeeming the time.” We hear similar instruction in Psalm 90 verse 12;

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Before I get into the message, I would point out this chapter begins with “therefore” therefore we need to consider what instruction precedes this particular passage that we are looking at this morning. We are instructed to put away lying, stealing, and corrupt speaking, and in place of such evil living we are to love and forgive even as God in love has forgiven us. The question before us then is how shall we do this, what shall be the pattern for our daily walk? This is why the passage begins with these words, “Therefore be imitators of God.” Let us consider this then as good instruction for us as God’s people in directing us in godly living as we enter this New Year 2022.

First, we are commanded to be imitators of God

This is in the imperative mood in the Greek, that is, this is not merely a suggestion but a command. The Greek word translated imitators is (μιμητής) from which we get our English word, to mimic.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is indeed our example, since He became man, and as such was the express image of God (Hebrews 1:1-3). He alone is that One that has come to reveal the Father to us. And we know that Christ was and is loving, compassionate, self-sacrificing and longsuffering toward His people. These then are the attributes that we are to mimic, to imitate in our daily walk. So, it is not wrong to sing, "O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer”

Before we go any further, I want us to understand we are talking about sanctification not justification. Paul is not instructing us to do these things to insure heaven for us. Rather we are to so walk as dear children, that is, children that are loved by God. The Greek word here translated “dear” children is (agapetos, ἀγαπητός), often translated “beloved” that is, we are objects of His love; therefore, we are to walk as children who are loved by God. We are dear to God because He loved us from all eternity and has in love redeemed us from sins’dreaded curse. Therefore, we are to love one another, not because they are nice to us, but simply because we do care and are concerned for one another.

If this was a command to save ourselves or to keep ourselves saved, we must ask then; how perfect would we need to be, what kind of imitators of God would be required of us? Absolute perfection is what would be required of us. As Christ told us;

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.—Matthew 5:48

Holiness is a requirement to enter heaven.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:—Hebrews 12:14

Yes, we are to pursue holiness, we are to strive after holiness, but we know that we will never be able to perfectly obtain that goal in this life.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 3:13-14

Our only hope then is to rest in the imputed holiness of Christ alone, without which no one will see the Lord. Always keep this is mind, justification is an act of God, sanctification is a work God is doing in us, but as to our standing before God, Christ alone is our sanctification.

But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.—Hebrews 10:12-14

He has perfected, made perfect those who are being sanctified. Being sanctified speaks of a process not a completion. Our perfection is only completed in the work of Christ. Shall we sin that grace may abound? Absolutely not; but as dear children, let us desire more and more to be like Him. It is important to understand that being dear children is our standing in Christ.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:—John 1:12

I would remind you that we were dead in trespasses and sin and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others (Ephesians 2:3). The fact that we are now dear children is the result of God’s love for us.

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.—1 John 3:1-3

As dear children we purify ourselves by acknowledging our sin, confessing our sin, and trusting in Christ alone for our cleansing (c.f. 1 John 1:9).

Paul next gives us directions for imitating God, giving us things not to do and things to do.

Things not to do - immoral living is never to be named among us as saints of God. This includes a rejection of filthy and coarse jesting, and forbids immorality and covetousness. Interestingly, Paul includes covetousness right alongside immorality and calls it idolatry—worldly mindedness versus being heavenly minded.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.—Colossians 3:1-3

Note then, we have been raised in Christ and so what this is talking about is a response of love - For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. So, the things we are not to do are those things that would grieve the Holy Spirit.

Things to do – be imitators of God – Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Walk as Jesus walked, love as Jesus loved, serve as Jesus served, being mindful that Jesus was the express image of the Father
Going back to the last verse of chapter 4 we are to be kind to one another, that is, caring for one another.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.—Ephesians 4:32

Encouraging one another, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs—but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. (Eph. 5:19)

Here is where faithful attendance to the worship service comes in, for one of the important aspects of the fellowship of the church is always having the desire to build up one another in the faith. A great illustration of how we are to care for one another in a teaching our Lord gave in Matthew 25:

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'— Matthew 25:34-36

And in verse 40, Jesus Christ says,

And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’— Matthew 25:40

CONCLUSION: Redeeming the time—Make wise and sacred use of our time, thus making each moment of our life count for Jesus Christ

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Circumspectly deviating in no respect from the law of duty.

The prophet Micah asked this question: With what shall I come before the Lord? That is, how shall I be pleasing to the Lord?

He answered thus:

With what shall I come before the LORD,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?—Micah 6:6-8

How shall we mimic our Lord?—Let us walk as the family of God, as dear children, by drawing close to each other, by showing love and tenderness to one another; indeed, what a way for us as God’s family to redeem our time this coming year for the glory of God.