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About this series
Overcoming the Pain of Your Past
Pain. It is part of the human experience, and one of the things that helps us grow to maturity. But for some of us the pain we have experienced feels crippling. Broken promises, dysfunctional families, damaged relationships and rejection keep us from experiencing the abundant life Jesus promised. Sometimes it's a challenge just to get through the day, let alone to extend love and strength to those around us. The Bible, however, offers great hope for pressing on. From the book of Ephesians, learn who you really are and why the pain of your past doesn't have to obscure God's plan for your future.More from this series
So, let’s talk about what it looks like to be in Christ. God’s solution for our rejection, no matter how rejected you have been. And as we go through this, I want to, I want to suggest that there are some lies that we believe and I’m going to identify the lie and then I want to show you in each section how Jesus is the answer to overcoming your rejection and mine.
Lie number one is, “I don’t measure up because of what I’ve done in the past.” And Jesus says, “I will put your past behind you. I will put your past behind you.” Notice, “In Him,” there is that phrase. This is the wood connected to the bolt. Or this is Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and victory, connected to you.
In Him, we have redemption. How? Through His blood. What exactly is redemption? The forgiveness of our trespasses. Where do you get it, how do you get it? It’s according to the riches of His grace, not your performance, which He lavished on you.
We have redemption. How? Through His blood. And the picture He gives us is redemption. He’s taking this picture out of the New Testament time. If you would go into a city there was called the agora, and there was a slave market in the agora. It was sort of a market place. And they would have a little platform and you could buy a slave. You could buy a man, a woman, buy a couple, buy a daughter, whatever you want.
And so, the people would be there in chains and they would be here and you could redeem them. The word that Paul uses, you could redeem them out of slavery, and make them your own.
And that’s the word he uses here. He says, “You and I were in the slave market of sin and we were bound.” And he says, “Jesus came and He paid the purchase price for your sin, that forgave you.” And the word means literally “to release you.” It was a financial term that if someone owed a lot of money, a debt was canceled.
And so, He says, “I’m going to put your past behind you. I’m going to forgive you.” It’s the riches of His grace. The debt is canceled.” And here’s the deal: You have value.
Can I tell you what you’re worth? You’re worth the blood of the Son of God. You say, “Oh, I don’t feel like God loves me.” Well, I don’t know what you feel but let me tell you this: You have been redeemed.
You know how much it cost to get you and me out of the slave market of sin? It cost: the fully-man, fully-God, in space-time history, leaving the glory of heaven, living a perfect life, dying a death for doing nothing wrong but loving people, and when He died and stretched out His arms (and no one killed him) He gave His life. “It is finished.” And through the portal of time and history and eternity, He said, “You were worth that blood,” so He could have relationship with you. And when He did that He released your debt of sin.
So, I don’t know where you’ve been, what you’ve been through, who has abused you, who has hurt you, what rejection but I will tell you: The God of the universe says, “I’ll put your past behind you and you’re valuable and you are free.”
You can let those messages sink into your head, you can be a victim of them the rest of your life but you are free. And you’ve been redeemed and that’s the message.
And see, you know what happens when you start renewing your mind, and you start believing that you’re free and that you’re that valuable? You start living like you’re loved. And when you start living like you’re loved this weird thing happens. You start loving other people. And some of those issues you have of pleasing people and perfectionism, when you really feel loved then you don’t have to earn it and perform it.
The second thing he says is, not only the lie that I don’t measure up because of what I’ve done, but many people think, “I don’t measure up because I don’t have anything to offer.
You know, I’m just, I’m a nobody. There are smart people, I was never first in my class, I was always told I was dumb. I was told I didn’t measure up, I feel like I don’t measure up. I don’t feel like I’m a very good wife, I don’t feel like I’m a very good husband. I wasn’t all that good of a student. I’m not super gifted at… I’m a Christian but I guess there are C-minus Christians. That’s what I think I am. I try hard but…”
And here’s what he says: Jesus has a purpose for your life today. He has a purpose for your life today. He says, “In all wisdom and insight.” The word “wisdom” here is knowledge that sees into the heart of how things really work and “insight” is the practical application of what to do.
In all wisdom and insight after redeeming you He has made known to us the mystery of His will. Literally, the secret of His will. Well, what is the secret of His will? Was it according to His kind intention, which He purposed again, what? In Him with a view to an administration. Literally, it’s just a household economy suitable to the fullness of times. That is the summing up of all things in Christ, things in heaven and things upon the earth.
And you just want to say, “Paul, could you just simplify that for me just a little bit? I mean, there are some, literally, when you diagram this one, here’s, very simply it is: “We,” is the subject, “have obtained,” is the verb, or “We, He made known His will to us,” I put it in bold. And everything else is how He did it, why He did it, and what for. But what he wants you to know: He has a purpose for your life.
And he says that in God’s divine wisdom - the classical definition of wisdom is God brings about the best possible results, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time, for the greatest possible good: that’s God’s wisdom… and He orchestrates everything in a fallen world, in your life and my life, he says so in God’s wisdom to bring about the best and with insight, knowing who you are, and what His purposes are in history and all eternity - here’s what He did. He made known to you - and the word “mystery” here doesn’t mean mysterious, it just means it was a secret before, it wasn’t known before, and now it’s known - the secret of His will. He’s made known His will to you, he’s saying to these Ephesian Christians.
And then he says that His will was made known according to the kind intention, which He purposed in Him. That’s a nice way of saying: His will was made known through what Jesus came to do, and what He accomplished.
And then he says it’s with a view of administration, it’s this idea of a dispensation, or an administration, suitable to the fullness. In other words, times were pregnant. In Galatians it talks about, in the fullness of time when the world was pregnant, when there were Roman roads, and one language, and there was this dispersion of all these Jews everywhere – Jesus came at just the right time, in order to bring the truth of the gospel to the known world.
And the truth that he’s talking about, is this new thing called the Church, this new thing of Jew and Gentile coming together in one body, and this message of this glorious secret, the gospel of Jesus Christ where people can be forgiven, where people will have a new covenant, where the Spirit of God will take up residence in our mortal body, and I will teach My people, and everyone will be taught of the Lord.
And what he’s talking about is the summing up of all things in Christ and all of time and eternity and history.
But the basic message… those were all the things that Paul gets excited about. As He says the basic message is: He made known His will to you, and His will has to do with this thing called the Church, of which Jesus is over, and this program of what God’s going to do in the Church, and here’s the message: The message, put simply, is that you are needed. You are needed.
A lot of us feel like, “I don’t have much of a purpose.” He’s going to talk later in this book and throughout the New Testament about what? The body of Christ. You have certain gifts, you have a certain personality, in a certain time of history and he’s saying, “You’re like a piece of the puzzle.”
And you can say, “Well I’ve blown it,” or, “I don’t have much to offer.” Why do you think Jesus chose the people that He chose?
Rahab: prostitute. Moses: murderer. David: adulterer. James and John: anger management issues. Peter: a big mouth. Matthew: crook. I mean you talk, this is a great book! I mean it was like, whoa! These are my kind of people. Peter: betrayer!
You know what? You’re needed! You’re needed! God’s got a plan! It’s an eternal plan. You’re a piece of His divine puzzle. Don’t you believe that stuff that you’re not needed. You don’t have to be famous, you don’t have to have a public role.
But you need to discover what God made you to do, where He wants you to do it, what gifts that you have, and say, “You know what? According to Jesus, it’s the working of each individual part that causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
I don’t know about you but that gives me hope. That gives me direction. It gives me purpose.
The third thing that Jesus said, not only will He put your past behind you, not only does He have a purpose for your life today, Jesus promises you a positive future. Because some of us you know what rejection has done? “What’s the use?” “My future is going to be like my past. You know what? I was a loser as a kid, the first marriage didn’t work, I tried this, I tried that, I’ve been through a couple jobs or I got to the pinnacle of my career and people I trusted betrayed me. What’s the use?”
And so you know what? You play it safe, you play it passive, you don’t take risk. You just plan out your time and, it’s sort of the twenty-six-year-old version of playing video games.
Jesus promises a positive future. Notice we’re back to, “In Him,” this is the piece of wood, Jesus, and the bolt that’s you. And the rubber band of your new identity in Christ wrapping you, “in Him,” … also, we have obtained an inheritance. This is a real simple one.
“In Him we,” is the subject, “have obtained,” is the verb, “an inheritance.” Well, how did we get that inheritance? Was it just a last-minute thought? No.
“Having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will to the end or the purpose that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”
So, this was God’s plan. He wanted to give you an inheritance. He wanted you to know that there is a future, there is something that you receive now that is bought or purchased by someone else that has blessing and impact. And the message here is that you’re worthy. You’re worthy. You get an inheritance based on relationship.
I’m worthy because of my relationship. I’m not worthy because of my performance. You are worthy because of your relationship. You are not worthy because of your performance.
Now, what I can tell you is when you understand that you are worthy, you may find yourself reading the Bible more, praying longer, enjoying it. You may also find the alarm doesn’t go off and you don’t have time to read your Bible and you might find yourself saying, “Oh God, thank You that You love me. I missed a wonderful time with You but I don’t think I’m going to have a flat tire, I don’t think I’m going to have a bad day, I don’t think the thing is going to go bad because I didn’t have my quiet time. I’m related to my heavenly Father who loves me, who understands all, and I’m going to walk with You in the power of Your Spirit today.”
And I’m not going to try and figure out, “Okay, I guess I have to read four chapters tomorrow because I missed my two this morning.” That’s legalism.
And God’s heart, more than anything else, when you read the Bible He wants you to hear His voice. He wants you to hear His love. He wants you to hear His reproof. He would far more you read three verses and apply them because when you respond to the truth you get more light.
And if you don’t respond to the truth even the light you have gets taken away. It’s not a performance orientation and, boy, this is, you are looking at one performance oriented, driven, former workaholic, blech.
I know of what I speak, unfortunately. I’m making progress, one of the most glorious things that happens in your life is when you begin to believe that you’re free, that you’re needed, and you’re worthy apart from your performance. You know what it does? It frees you to receive love but it frees you to love people.
Paul was enamored with God’s grace. He was overwhelmed. In fact, if you really want to be humble, you catch glimpses of the overwhelming, unconditional, unmerited grace and favor of God. What you say is, “I am worthy but I feel so unworthy but You declared that I am, therefore I receive it.”
His final word to us, to overcome our rejection, is a word to those who feel like, “You know, I hear what you’re saying,” but here’s the lie. “I don’t want to get hurt again, I don’t want to risk again, I don’t want to step out like you’re saying.”
And so, Jesus makes this promise: “I will never, ever reject you.” Jesus makes a promise to you. He says, “I will never, ever reject you.”
Notice how this section opens. He’s still in this one, long sentence. Are you ready for it? “In Him you also,” here’s our part, there was a part, “after listening to the message of truth,” right?
You heard the gospel taught. “…the gospel of your salvation,” and then here’s something you did, “having also believed,” it’s in the perfect tense. That means that something happened in the past with ongoing implications into the future.
So, he’s speaking to this group of Christians in Ephesus and he says to them, “In Him after you heard the message, the gospel of salvation, having believed,” in the past, “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
And then he describes, in verse 14, what was this Holy Spirit of promise and why? “Who was given as a pledge,” literally, we get our idea for a deposit or earnest money, “who was given as a pledge of our inheritance with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of His glory.”
The subject here is “you,” the verb is “having believed,” and then there is this phrase that you’re sealed. It’s what was accomplished. The word “sealed” here in the Roman world meant to finish a transaction, it was a sign of ownership, a sign of security, a document would be placed, and they would close the document, and then they would use some wax and then the seal, often in a ring, and it couldn’t be opened by anyone else. The seal is the authority, it’s finished, it’s done.
And what God is saying is that, “I will never, ever reject you because you are secure.” That’s the message. You are secure.
The Spirit of God came into your mortal body and you were sealed, and that’s the down payment. That’s the down payment, the earnest money that all the inheritance, all of heaven, all the promises, all the things that God’s going to do in all eternity for you. He says, “I’m going to give you a taste of it now. You’re sealed. You’re My child.”
With a view toward what? What’s it say? “With a view toward redemption.” You have been redeemed but we will be fully redeemed. And the earth will be redeemed. And there will be a new heaven, and a new earth, and Jesus, and no sun, and no moon. And there will be no need, because He will be the light and we will be with Him. And no sorrow, and no tears, and no rejection.
He lives inside of you. He lives inside of you. You’re a New Testament believer. The very person and presence and power of Jesus in the person of the Holy Spirit who, like the Son and the Father, is fully-God dwells in you. You talk about precious. You are His temple. You matter. You are worthy. You are free. You are needed.