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Sermon #4143

Distinct Roles of Church and State

A Sermon on Ephesians 5:3-5

Scripture

Ephesians 5:3-5 ESV NASB KJV
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that …

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Sermon Description

The great message of Christianity is that Christians are not only saved from their sin and made right before a holy God, but they are made new creatures as the first fruits of the new creation in Christ. In this sermon on Ephesians 5:3–5 titled “Distinct Roles of Church and State,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones demonstrates how Scripture undercuts all doctrines of antinomianism, because by the power of the Holy Spirit all who are true believers are renewed and transformed daily through God’s grace. For it is the gospel that truly transforms fallen men and women; it alone can overcome the depravity of fallen human nature and make them new in Christ. This is why all attempts to make people moral without the gospel fail to address the deepest need of humanity. When the church becomes more concerned with moralism than the gospel, it loses the focus of its mission. This has often happened throughout the history of the church, and today many are repeating this error. The remedy to this is to see the distinction between the church and the state. It is the church that has been given the gospel and it is the state that is to rule and bring justice. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones powerfully proclaims, the church must never stray away from its main goal in proclaiming the gospel of God’s grace.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul contrasts the positive message of walking in love as children of God with the negative message of avoiding sinful behaviors.
  2. There is always a temptation to focus only on the positive, enjoyable aspects of Christianity, but the negative message about sin is also essential.
  3. The negative message is essential for several reasons:
    1. We constantly need to be reminded that the goal of Christianity is to make us holy.
    2. There is a danger of not applying Christian truth to ourselves and only enjoying it theoretically.
    3. There is always a danger of antinomianism, the belief that we can live however we want because we are saved by grace.
    4. We need to be reminded that Christianity impacts every area of our lives.
    5. The Christian life is a fight of faith against sin and temptation.
  4. Paul's method for addressing moral issues is to frame them in terms of Christian doctrine and theology. He appeals to the Ephesians as saints who will inherit the kingdom of God.
  5. Paul does not appeal to morality for its own sake or discuss the consequences of sin. His concern is with sin's incompatibility with the Christian life.
  6. Paul goes into detail about specific sins to show that Christianity impacts all of life.
  7. There is a temptation to stay focused on the enjoyable, theoretical aspects of Christianity, but we must follow where Scripture leads us. Christianity is practical.
  8. Paul contrasts the positive message of walking in love with the negative message about sin to show that both are essential. The negative message is not meant to be the primary focus but is necessary to emphasize the positive.
  9. The church today needs to have a clear understanding of the relationship between Christianity and moral reform movements. There is confusion on this point.
  10. Moral reform movements have limited effectiveness. Despite many efforts, moral conditions continue to decline.
  11. The church's role is not primarily as a moral agency but as an agency of conversion and regeneration. The church aims to produce new men and women in Christ, not just moral or good people.
  12. Accepting a moral agency role can lead the church to misrepresent the gospel. The gospel is about new life in Christ, not just moral reform.
  13. The church should not be concerned primarily with restraining sin but with preaching the gospel, which alone can truly change people.
  14. If the church focuses only on morality, it leaves out our relationship with God and the power of the gospel, which are the most vital parts of the Christian message.
  15. Spending time preaching about moral causes is a waste of the church's calling to preach the gospel. While the church preaches morality, it cannot preach the gospel.

The Book of Ephesians

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.