The Book of Ephesians
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s major series of 232 sermons on Ephesians covering all 6 chapters of Paul's Epistle, plus a small collection of 5 other Ephesian sermons preached at Westminster Chapel. The major series is a …
Practice Rooted in Doctrine
Can an unbeliever apply the Scripture? Certainly there are general moral principles that someone could attempt, but in this sermon on Ephesians 4:17 titled “Practice Rooted in Doctrine,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that Christians must follow the example of Paul and never present the application of Scripture as mere morality disconnected from the salvation required to implement it. When morality that is not grounded in the doctrine and narrative of Scripture is preached, only abstract laws and regulations have been offered. This leads to legalism and self-righteousness because people reduce Christianity to a mere list of actions. This, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones, is a broad road that leads to destruction. The proper way to teach the Bible is to ground all application in the doctrine of transformation taught in the Scripture. This is to place morality in the context of who God is and what he has done in Christ Jesus on the cross for salvation. It is to see the Christian life not in terms of what is done first and foremost, but in terms of what God has done. Sanctification flows from this right understanding of the doctrine of salvation by showing the place of works in light of God’s gracious gift of salvation. For all that trust in God and in His Son Christ Jesus have been made a new people that are to seek holiness and a true knowledge of God.
The Emptiness of the Christless Life
There have been many great moral teachers and philosophies throughout the ages, but in the end, they are all insufficient to make people truly moral and transform society. In this sermon on emptiness from Ephesians 4:17–19 titled “The Emptiness of the Christless Life,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that this is because morality (as it is commonly understood) and godliness are often in conflict with one another. Morality (as found in Scripture) is not simply a list of what one should and should not do, but it is a way of living in light of who God is and who He has revealed Himself to be. It is strictly revelation and not speculative. The modern world presents morality as the path of least resistance, relying wholly on the fallen reason of humanity. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns, this is why the world is unable to provide a meaningful answer to the deepest and most important questions in life. Morality and the nature of human life are only understood in light of God’s revelation as found in His word to humanity. That is where one can see who they are and what they must do to be saved.
Darkness and Light
The greatest hindrance to belief in the gospel does not arise from human intellect, but from the heart that has been darkened by sin. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:17–19 titled “Darkness and Light,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones highlights the warning of Christ that all people in their natural state are alienated from God and unable to pursue what is good and right. This is because the effects of the fall extend to every aspect of humanity. It corrupts the mind, hardens the heart, and distorts the will. Despite this fallen state, humanity still places great worth and confidence in their ability to reason and know morality. This is evident in the many great philosophers of the ancient world who after all their learning and knowledge were still never able to come to true knowledge of God. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones teaches, this shows that what people need is not simply more knowledge, but a new heart and mind that is freed from the mastery of sin and its domination. However, freedom from sin comes only through the gospel of grace and the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit. This is why it is so important to pray that God would work in the hearts and minds of others to reveal Himself to them and give them a true understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Knowledge of the Truth
Salvation only happens by repenting of sin and believing in Jesus Christ. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:20–21 titled “Knowledge of the Truth,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones warns against those who reduce salvation to a mere intellectual assent. The gospel is not dependent on the wisdom of people and their ability to comprehend it. All are born in sin and blindness, unable to see the truth or know God. But true Christianity and faith are a result of what the Holy Spirit does in bringing dead people to life and making them new creations in the Savior Christ Jesus. Understanding true doctrine and godliness are a result of salvation, not the means of it. All who are truly saved have a growing knowledge of God, as His word is absorbed by hearts freed from the blinding nature of sin. Those who know much about the Bible and about doctrine but who have never been broken by their sin are deceived and lost. They presume intellectual understanding is an acceptable substitute for confession of sin and faith in Christ. The church must always be wary of confusing these two kinds of knowledge. Many are self-deceived and lost because they have no real relationship with God, but instead are puffed up with knowledge.
Hearing and Learning Christ
Those who try to separate the call of the gospel from the call to be holy make a great error. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:20–21 titled “Hearing and Learning Christ,” Dr Lloyd-Jones argues that the Bible presents the life of faith as a pursuit of holiness and righteousness that comes out of the new person through the Holy Spirit. Christians ought not separate belief in the gospel from living out the call of God in their lives to be imitators of Christ and to obey all that He commands. Preachers who misunderstand the connection between holiness and belief in the gospel often confuse listeners that they seek to evangelize by presenting the Christian life as compartmentalized. However, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out, even the pursuit of holiness in the life of the Christian is ultimately a result of what God has done in and through His Son Jesus Christ. Christians can easily fall into legalism when they disconnect the sovereign act of salvation from everyday Christian life. Christians must avoid dualisms knowing that Christ made them a new people by His death and resurrection. Therefore they respond in love and obedience, not as a way to gain favor with God, but because Christ has already done so for them.
Holiness and Sanctification
By the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, sinful men and women are made into new creatures. They are justified before God and made truly righteous. In this sermon on holiness and sanctification from Ephesians 4:22–24, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that the old self has been crucified with Christ and now lives according to the Spirit of God that dwells in them. However, there is a sense in which the old self is still with Christians. This old self, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out, refers to the sinful principle in the body called the flesh. This is why, though they are saved, regenerated, and justified, Christians continually struggle with sin. This struggle is something that will go on throughout the entirety of the Christian life as they battle sin and the flesh. But all believers can rest assured knowing that Christ Jesus will return and bring to completion what He has begun in His people. This should encourage all Christians struggling with sin to put off the old self and flee to Christ Jesus knowing that He cares for and loves them. Christians ought to flee all legalistic moralism, run to Christ, and pursue true holiness as they seek to glorify Him in all they do.
Corruption; Lusts; Deceits
There are many who say that people are born good, or at least indifferent to evil. They believe people come into the world innocent and able to freely do good. However, as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues in this sermon on Ephesians 4:22–24 titled “Corruption, Lusts, Deceits,” according to God’s word, this is incorrect. The Bible presents people as born guilty and wholly corrupted by sin and all its deceit. Humanity is born into a world that is under the rule of the evil one who is the great deceiver and father of lies. They are born into this miserable state and unable to do anything to save themselves. This life of the unbeliever is one given up to sin, but the life of the redeemed is another story. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains, those who have been saved out of this world by the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit and adopted into God’s family are declared righteous before His eyes. The indwelling power of the Holy Spirit gives all believers the ability to resist the deceit of sin and the devil. Yet it is because of Christ’s work on the cross in humanity’s place that they are declared righteous. This is the great division between people—there are those that know God and trust in his Son, and there are those that are outside the family of God and under the dominion of sin.
When Not to Pray; but to Act
It’s a fact of the Christian life that Christians will always fight sin and temptation. In this sermon on Ephesians 4:22–24 titled “When Not to Pray But to Act,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones highlights this spiritual battle as Christians put off the old self and all its ways. Christ commands fleeing sin and the devil and to pursue a life that is consistent with being children of God, benefactors of Christ and His work. This putting off of the old self and pursuit of Christ is not something that Christians do passively but are commanded to do actively. Simply praying about sanctification, but never acting in pursuit of holiness is not enough and does not take account of the many commands that God’s word gives. Nor do they see that Christians are able to flee temptation and sin. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones continues, all Christians are called and able to obey God, growing in sanctification. For in the power of the Spirit all Christians are to fight against the old self. They are to wage war against all ungodliness and worldliness that still dwells in them. This is done by consistently seeking to put off the flesh and put on the spirit of righteousness. God who has called His people to salvation also calls them to pursue holiness and sanctification.
Renewed in the Spirit of the Mind
What is the nature of the new life of the Christian? In this sermon on renewing your mind from Ephesians 4:23 titled “Renewed in the Spirit of the Mind,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says the renewal of the mind by the power of the Holy Spirit transforms one’s most central faculty. This is what the apostle Paul calls the renewal in the spirit of the mind. This transformation is not simply a repair of minds, but it is a Spirit-empowered supernatural recreation of what the fall and sin has corrupted and distorted. This does not mean that fallen people are not as smart as Christians or that only Christians can know truth. But this transformation allows the new self to see the fingers of God in all life. It is a new orientation towards the same world that both Christians and non-Christians live in. This does not mean that when the minds of sinful people are renewed, they immediately become more intelligent, but this spiritual renewal allows them to see the gross nature of sin and the glorious love of God. The Spirit transforms people from the inside to the outside. This new self lives in accordance with godliness having been renewed by the power of the gospel.
Be Up and Doing!
Just how does a Christian shed the sins that characterize their past? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:24 titled “Be Up and Doing!” listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains how this is done by applying the truth of God’s word throughout every area of one’s life. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for Christians to take time to study Scripture and commune with God in prayer. This is to be done in a community of believers, the church, and individually. However, there are many who claim to be Christians and putting off the old self. But as Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns, for them it is nothing more than an external action and a façade. Often, they do it every Sunday so that they will look holy and pious, but it is spiritual hypocrisy and self-deception. For true sanctification and holiness is something that comes from the heart that has been transformed in the gospel, truly knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior. True Christians do not perform good works simply so that they would appear righteous, but they desire to seek God from a new heart that has been filled with love. This spiritual seeking is genuine and true.
Putting on the New Man
What does it mean to “put on the new man”? What is the role of truth in the life of a believer? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:25, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones expounds on these points and more. Dr Lloyd-Jones emphasizes that the truth must always be applied — learning is useless if one does nothing with it. The Christian faith and teaching affect every area of life in every detail. Ultimately, the Christian walk should not be separate from the other aspects of life; they are to be interwoven. God gives his commandments to be followed, and as a good Father, he gives reasons why. First, Jesus’ sacrifice is reason enough to follow all his commands. Second, as Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, the Christian system of belief is for all people, even those the world and pagan religions regard as poor and unimportant. Third, Dr. Lloyd-Jones brings attention to the far reach that Christianity has into the lives of its followers. Going further than merely being a part of every aspect of someone’s life, Christianity addresses foundational issues rather than just outward behavior.
Putting Away Lying
In this sermon on Ephesians 4:25 titled “Putting Away Lying,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says “There is no greater motive to holiness than a proper understanding of the truth.” Yet, he states, “this truth must be applied and not merely theoretical.” Truth is what makes a contrast between Christianity and other worldviews. Dr. Lloyd-Jones asks this question: Is there anything as fundamental to the Christian life as God’s character trait of truth? Multiple verses talk about God’s incapability of lying because of His character, and without this assurance, what He has revealed in His word could easily be doubted since there would be no reason to trust Him. Yet, because He cannot lie, what he says can be believed. Lying is quite serious because it is a direct assault on God’s character. Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues that nothing is as characteristic of a life of sin as lying, especially since one is lying to themselves about their eternal future. Additionally, lying undermines the local church because it creates mistrust and demolishes the opportunity for Christian bonding and fellowship among believers. Listen as Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains why truth is so important to the life of a believer and why the pursuit of this will lead to holiness.
Sinful and Righteous Anger
Many Christians throughout the centuries have offered varying interpretations of the verse “be angry and sin not.” In this sermon on anger from Ephesians 4:20–27 titled “Sinful and Righteous Anger,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones discusses how Christians should apply this command to their lives. He contends that Paul is not saying that one can be angry as long as they don’t sin— it is not a permissive statement. Rather, Paul is saying that there are certain things where anger is acceptable as long as the Christian does not sin in their anger and give a foothold to Satan. Anger, he says, is a natural capacity given by God against the things that dishonor Him and what He declares to be good. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out, even Jesus is recorded in the gospels as becoming very angry about unrighteousness in the temple. The key to understanding this verse is that anger must be directed towards the things that God hates but ultimately, Paul is calling Christians to avoid sin and to be angry towards it. Dr. Lloyd-Jones declares that anger against sin is being increasingly explained away by the world, but Christians must be faithful to hold it for what it is— an affront against God.
Not Stealing; but Labouring
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminds that the gospel is wonderful because it is not for perfect people, but rather for sinners— for the adulterers, the liars, and the thieves. In this sermon on stealing from Ephesians 4:28 titled “Not Stealing, but Labouring,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones focuses on Paul’s exhortation for believers to labor instead of steal. Many think about stealing in terms of simply taking physical possessions. While this is accurate, there is much more that stealing encompasses, such as stealing time from an employer, stealing thoughts, or even stealing ideas. When one thinks of stealing as applicable to anything and not just material possessions, they realize that it is something that they are forced to think about and look for in their own lives. What are some things to consider concerning stealing? First, there is something inherently shameful about it since it involves secrecy and deception. Second, it involves a misuse of a gift or ability that has been given by God, such as using hands to take what doesn’t belong to them, or by using the brain to strategize how one may carry out theft. In addition, it’s lazy and shows a complete lack of respect for the other person. Instead of stealing, Christians are implored to work hard and for the glory of God, recognizing that God has created a dignity that comes along with labor.
Communicating with Others
Why is one’s speech important? What do the words used portray about who one is? In this sermon on Ephesians 4:29 titled “Communicating with Others,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones instructs on the importance of speaking in a way that brings honor and glory to God. Speech is one of the primary characteristics that sets people apart from the animals. Thus, it is no surprise that since it is one of the most precious gifts, it is also one of the most misused. Scripture is clear in teaching that people express who they are through the words they use: “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Paul’s point in this passage is this: one’s speech should be completely different from the speech of those who are not Christians. Their speech is characterized, he says, by excess, an obsession with self, worthlessness, and corruption. Yet Christians are called to proclaim a gospel that is totally opposed to these ideals and their speech should reflect that. Additionally, Paul says, what one says should be characterized by being appropriate for the situation and for those who are present— the goal is to “impart grace to the hearers.” Dr. Lloyd Jones says that the Christian must think of their words and opportunities to bless others. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “we have never met a mere mortal.” Everyone the Christian talks with will spend eternity somewhere, and it is the Christian’s responsibility to lovingly reflect people to Jesus.
Grieve Not the Holy Spirit
What does it mean to “grieve the Holy Spirit?” In this sermon on grieving the Holy Spirit from Ephesians 4:30, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones speaks of Paul’s statement that encompasses all the particulars that he had been talking about in the preceding verses. Importantly, it also serves to differentiate Christian ethics from any other ethical tradition. If a Christian’s morality is not rooted in this purpose and understanding of sinning against God, then it is not Christian at all. Paul’s point is this: any wrong living grieves the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is the seal of the Christian’s inheritance and indwells those who are saved. All sin runs counter to the character of God and grieves Him greatly. Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that when one becomes a Christian, their relationship to God becomes one of love instead of one as a lawbreaker. Thus, when one sins, they must not be grieved because they have broken His law, but rather because they have sinned against His great love for them. Understanding this, it is easy to see why it is such a serious thing to sin and grieve the Holy Spirit. How can this be countered? Dr. Lloyd-Jones says that the Christian must constantly be aware of the Lord’s presence. As people are reverent around royalty, Christians must remember that God is constantly with them and act accordingly. This will drive them to a desire to honor and please Him with their lives.