Monday, March 5, 2012

Sermon Notes: Ephesians 4:25-28

            Coming down from the mountain can be painful. Remember Moses. He spent forty days in the glory cloud, surround by the Shekinah glory of Yahweh.  had to come down from the mountain. He had been up there with God, getting the Ten Commandments. God’s glory shone all around him. But then he had to come down.

Paul moves from the lofty and abstract, putting off and putting on, to the “nitty gritty specifics of the Christian life.” (J. Stott)

Paul does not just tell what we shouldn’t do, but also what we should do.  We must put off and put on. The absence of weeds does not make it a garden. If you do not put on what is right, while also working putting off the sin, you will not win the battle.
a.     Illustration: Catechism questions
As a church we want to be connected with one another. One aim and goal at Christ Church is that there is deep fellowship with one another. It is the explicit vision of the leaders of Christ Church that you are involved in one another’s lives. We want to hear about you eating with one another. Playing games with each other. Working over at one another’s houses. Why? Because this is the vision of the Scriptures.  This entire section assumes close contact with other believers. It assumes an interconnectedness with one another.  But his interconnectedness does not mean less problems it actually means more.
      Think about when you got married or maybe when you became close friends with someone. From afar people are often a lot more lovable than they are close up.  It is not until we close to someone that we see the warts.

     Do not lie, but instead speak the truth. (Zech 8:16)
a.       Reason: We are members of each other

Lying is any way we shade the truth. We can tell a direct lie. But we also lie when we slander someone’s reputation. When we speak ill or make someone sound worse than they are. When we pretend like we have done something, but we did not. We lie when we make excuses for our sins instead of owning them. We lie when we flatter someone. We lie when we speak the truth, but do it to destroy instead of build up. Speak the best of everyone as far as we can. When we rebuke it must be because we are on their side. Love must precede a rebuke. The intention has got to match the language.

Examples of lying in our culture: Politicians, advertising, coaches.  We live in a culture of liars. Men who shade the truth. Men who refuse to acknowledge they were wrong. Men who make excuses. Classrooms are filled with teachers who lie and students who lie. Why? Because Satan is the father of lies and Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Advertising is built on lying.  My wife commented the other night that most commercials give the impression that you are young forever. You drink this water every day. You should not assume that you do not lie. You should not assume that you do not shade the truth.
Illustration: Todd Graham, coach at Pitt

Why do we lie? We lie because we have sinned and do not want someone else to know. We lie because we want to look better than we actually or to make someone else look worse. We lie to get what we want.  We lie because we are selfish. Lying is almost always a way of protecting ourselves or elevating ourselves or getting what we want. It is initially helpful. We lied on our resume to get a job. We lied to our wife so she wouldn’t get mad. But really we have shoved the rotting food further back in the fridge. Eventually it will begin to stink.  Also lying is usually expedient. We lie because at first it is the easiest way out. At first, it provides us with an escape.

What does lying to do us? First, it puts a wall between you and spiritual growth. Second, lying is like stabbing your own body.  We are members of one another. When you lie you do not lie by yourself in a room somewhere. You lie with all of us attached to you. Imagine your eye lying for just one moment. Imagine your eye saying the light was green when it was red.

So what are some things you can do to combat lying. First, love God’s people. A deep love for the people of God and knowing that you belong to them will eliminate a lot of sins.

Second, examine your motivation for saying what you are saying. Why are you saying what you are saying? Is it pride? Is it because you are trying to get your way? Is it because you are trying to tear someone down?  Examine your motives. Too often we look at what we do and not why we do what we do.

            Third, take any breach of the truth with the utmost seriousness. We like to make excuses for what we view as small sins, little lies that really do not matter. But they do.  The first step towards a life characterized by truth is refusing to lie about anything, no matter how small. So be completely honest about who you are and what you are doing.
  Do not sin in your anger instead deal with it immediately. (c.f. Psalm 4:4, James 1:19-20)
a.        Reason: If you don’t you will give the Devil a foothold.
The second thing we must put off is unrighteous anger.
What is righteous anger? Anger that has God’s glory at the center of it. Anger that is because we love God and we love the person in front of us. Anger that does not aim to destroy, but aims to restore. That is righteous anger. Anger can often arise because of legitimate reasons. We have at least two examples of Christ becoming angry. These are instructive for us. What did he become upset at?  In Mark 3 Jesus become angry because the Pharisees were upset that he was healing a man on the Sabbath.
Sinful anger is selfish and uncontrolled.  Sinful anger is not out of love for God and love for my neighbor it is out of love for self.

Excuses we make for anger. We like to believe we are the exception to the rule. That we have legitimate reasons, but others do not.  Here are some common excuses we make for getting angry.
1.       Someone has offended us or sinned against us. .
2.       We are embarrassed.
3.       We are tired.
4.       We feel threatened.
5.       Bruce the “subtle temptation to regard my anger as righteous indignation and other people’s anger as sheer bad temper.”

By the way anger does not have to mean big blow up. Anger can be a slow smoldering flame that comes out in subtle, but biting ways. The sharp word spoken very quietly but meant to cut deep. That payback you get to fellow workers when

1.       Anger itself is not a sin, but it is filled with temptation. Your anger is rarely justified.
2.       Deal with your anger quickly. Anger must not be nursed and fed. This will probably mean repenting of it. It is a poison that will rot our souls if we do not eradicate it. For many of us anger is like a smoldering coal that we keep secretly burning so might burn someone. Strive for quick and complete reconciliation.  Remember anger is not always visible. It can simmer below the surface, hidden like a rotting apple.
a.       Illustration: Pear that rots from inside out.
3.       The Devil hangs around angry people. Being angry is like putting a welcome mat out for the Devil.  The Devil is always looking for an opportunity to destroy the unity of the body. Remember he is not so concerned about you, as he is about the name of Christ and his body. When you are angry you become a tool for the Devil to tear apart the body of Christ.
a.       Illustration: Weak part of a defensive line in football.
4.       Unrighteous anger is functional denial of God’s sovereignty. We are saying that God is not in control and I must do something.
The psalmist urges his listeners to not sin in their anger because God is in control and has set them apart for himself.
            So how do we deal with anger? What are we to do when we are angry?  First, we need to trust in God more. Almost all of our anger is a functional denial of God’s sovereignty. We must become God because he has dropped the ball. The lady at the checkout is taking too long. Why? Because God ordained it. Even when someone sins against us we need to be patient. In Romans 12 Paul tell us to

            Second, assume your anger is wrong.

            Third, be very slow to anger.  Proverbs 14:19, 19:11 and James 1:19-20.

            Fourth, deal with any anger quickly and completely

            Fifth, get angry at the things that anger God.

Christ has called us to salt and light. We are the redeemed, the elect of God. We have been called to unity. We have been called to live separate from the world. We cannot do this if our lives are characterized by lying and anger.  Let us fall down before Almighty God, asking him to forgive us for our hardness of heart and stubbornness of will. Let us pray that he will help us to mortify the deeds  of the flesh and put on the fruit of the Spirit. Let us pray this not just for ourselves, but for all his people.

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8