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Training Our Tongues to Work God's Way

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Training Our Tongues to Work God's Way

Ephesians 4:25-32

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - March 16, 2014

*Do you ever have a problem with your tongue? Sometimes we do. You might have said:

-"It wasn't me!" "I didn't do it." "Did you hear about . . . ?" "Don't repeat this, but . . ."

-"I probably shouldn't say this, but . . ." "I'm feeling under the weather today, so I won't be in to work." "I'm going to be working late tonight." "I hate you!" "Shut up!" "Can't you do anything right?" "I can't stand them." "You idiot."

*We can have all kinds of problems with our tongues, and sometimes we do. But Christians, we can do better. By God's grace we can start new habits in our speech. We can train our tongues to work God's way. Let's look into His Word and see what God wants us to do.

1. First: Establish credibility with an honest tongue.

*God wants us to have honest tongues. We see this truth in vs. 25, where Paul said: "Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."

*Don't lie. It's one of the Ten Commandments, and it's one of the first Commandments we break: "He hit me first!" "She started it!" "I didn't break it."

*Gary Huckaby tells about the time he caught his little girl eating jelly out of the jar. Little Nikki was about four years old at the time. And Dad asked her, "Nikki, are you eating out of the jelly jar?" "No sir," she answered.

*"Are you sure you are not eating out of the jelly jar?" Church, she had jelly all over her face, on her fingers, and even in her hair! But again she said, "No sir, I'm not eating jelly out of the jar." (1)

*We learn to lie at a very young age. And it turns out that dishonesty is a very serious problem. It's serious because all relationships are built on trust, and trust is destroyed by lies. Thank God that trust can be rebuilt over time! But no wonder God made being honest one of His Ten Commandments. "Therefore, putting away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another."

*God wants us to establish credibility with an honest tongue.

2. He also wants us to eliminate the trash.

*Eliminate the trashy talk. Take out the trash. As we see in vs. 29: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." That word "corrupt" means worthless and rotten.

*Then, vs. 31 says, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice." The "evil speaking" there is where we get our word "blasphemy." But this kind of evil, abusive language can be against both people and God.

*God says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." "Let all evil speaking be put away from you." Take out the trash, -- like cussing.

*How long has it been since you said a cuss word? I almost never hear people cuss, because most people just don't cuss around the preacher. But sometimes Christians do fall into the bad habit of cussing. And that's a problem, because it disguises who we are as believers. People need to see Christ in us the hope of glory. But they probably won't, if we have a foul mouth.

*Well, you may not have cussed in 30 years, but what about gossip? -- Uh oh.

*Paul warned Timothy about some of the women who were in danger of gossiping. 1 Timothy 5:13 in the New Living Translation tells us that they were likely to "spend their time gossiping from house to house, getting into other people's business and saying things they shouldn't."

*What about murmuring and complaining all the time? Jude 1:16 warns us about corrupt teachers who complained all the time. The Living Bible says: "These men are constant gripers, never satisfied, doing whatever evil they feel like; they are loudmouthed "show-offs," and when they show respect for others, it is only to get something from them in return."

*But God says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth." "Let all evil speaking be put away from you." The idea is to pick it up and throw it away. Take out the trash. And Christian, if you need some help getting started, think back to the fact that people don't cuss around the preacher.

*Pastor Robert Morgan used that fact to help a 16-year-old stop cussing. The young man had been in a lot of trouble, but he was a new Christian. And Robert said: "Nothing has pleased me more than watching him grow in the Lord. He has been reading his Bible each day, praying, witnessing, and trying to clean up his old habits. The one he's had the most trouble with has been his profanity.

*The other day as I visited with him, he brought up his cussing. Every once in a while, he admitted, a profane word flies out of his mouth. 'Give me an example,' I told him. 'Go ahead and cuss for me.' He seemed shocked that I would suggest such a thing, but I insisted. 'Let 'er fly,' I told him.

*I can't do that,' he replied with embarrassment. 'Sure you can. Go ahead and let loose.' 'I'm not going to do it,' he said. -- 'I can't.'

*I kept pressing him, but when I saw that I couldn't get a single cuss word out of him, I asked him why he was being so stubborn about it. 'Why are you refusing to do what I ask?' -- 'Because you're my pastor,' he said. 'I can't cuss in front of you.'"

*Then Pastor Robert asked him: "If you're ashamed to cuss in my presence, why is it that you aren't ashamed to cuss in the Lord's presence? He is always with you. He's always present at your side." Robert finished by saying, "That young man hasn't cussed since." (2)

*If you want some help taking out the trash, consciously focus on the fact that Jesus Christ is right there with you. That ought to help. Whether it's cussing, gossip, complaining or something else, God wants us to eliminate the trashy talk.

3. He also wants us to start encouraging other people.

*Verse 29 says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification. . ."

*"Edification" there means "building people up." So the NIV says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." The New Living Translation says: "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."

*God wants us to use our tongues to encourage and build each other up. Are you doing that? It can make an amazing difference in people's lives.

*Tim Hansel told the story of a Christian phys-ed teacher. One day out of the blue he received a letter from a former student. The student's name was Lou, and he wanted his old teacher to know the impact he had made on Lou's life.

*Lou reminded this teacher about the first day of class. They had to run a 600 yard race and Lou didn't want to do it. After all, he always came in last no matter how hard he ran. But this class was different, even though once again he came in dead last. Lou said, "I remember you running along side of me that last hundred yards yelling: 'Good effort, Lou! Great effort! Absolutely magnificent.' I felt like I'd won the Olympic Gold Medal for the marathon"

*Lou's teacher was the first person who had ever encouraged him. Think about that. More than ten years had gone by, and Lou went on to study journalism in college, even though one professor told him he had no writing ability.

*But Lou said, "All through those four years I held your example in my mind. I looked for possibilities and wondered often how you always managed to be so positive all the time. Then, five years ago I met Jesus, and I figured you out." (3)

*Christians: God wants us to start using our tongues to encourage other people.

4. He also wants us to emphasize God's grace at work in our lives.

*Again in vs. 29, Paul said this to the Ephesian Christians: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."

*The amazing grace of Almighty God was always on Paul's heart. And it shows up in this letter he wrote to the Christians in Ephesus. In Ephesians 1:2-7, Paul wrote these words:

2. GRACE to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

4. just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

5. having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

6. to the praise of the glory of His GRACE, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

7. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His GRACE

*Then in Ephesians 2:1-9, Paul said this to those Christians:

1. And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

2. in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

3. among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

4. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,

5. even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by GRACE you have been saved),

6. and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

7. that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His GRACE in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

8. For BY GRACE you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

9. not of works, lest anyone should boast.

*Paul talked a lot about the wonderful grace of God. And one of the most important things we can add to our conversation is testimony about God's grace. Start talking about God's goodness and grace in your life. Make it a habit.

*Colossians 4:6 in the NIV says: "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

*John Bardsley shared the testimony of a 27-year-old marine named Rick. He was a mortarman in the first Gulf War. Here's a little of what Rick wrote in his journal:

*"I've been out in the world for 7 years now. I'm just now beginning to realize that God has been here with me the whole time. I was alone because I wanted to be. I'm realizing things I never did before.

*I long to live right, to be a part of God's world. I've been doing the wrong thing for so long it seems like the only thing I'm good at. I'm afraid to do what's right for fear I may slip and do it wrong. Where are the rules? I know where they are. The rules and directives are in the Bible. I have carried life's owner's manual with me for the past 7 years and just now have started to read it. -- Not only read but to understand.

*Maybe this (deployment) is a blessing. This could be very spiritual awakening. I pray for it! I love God and I love the life He's given me. I am starting to realize what matters. Money doesn't matter. A woman's physical beauty doesn't matter. Loving a woman that loves you back matters. Raising a family with your wife matters.

*I went the wrong way at the fork in the road. I'm groping back. It was hard for me to find the right road. The devil controlled my life for so long. He disguised himself as a bottle of beer or whiskey, a joint of marijuana or a pill or anything that gave me a false good feeling.

*God came to me last night, September 22, 1990. He came in a dream, and showed me my life as I've been living it. It was a nightmare I couldn't wake from. It was so real, so real only God could be the sender of the message. He showed me that I was throwing myself into a wall, destroying myself!

*I needed to wake up but couldn't. I had to want to. I broke down begging God to make it end. I woke up! I woke up! I went to church twice today and (though the Chaplain didn't know about my dream) he said God is telling me to wake up from the nightmare that has been my life. I know that life will be different from this point forward. I've been grasping for the truth. I've found it! Thanks be to God!" (4)

*Your testimony may not be that dramatic. But please know this: If you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God has given you a testimony every bit as miraculous as Sgt. Rick's! And God wants you to talk about it. On top of that, God shows His goodness and grace in our lives every day. Start talking about it. God wants us to emphasize His grace at work in our lives.

5. He also wants us to examine the source of our speech.

*It all starts in the heart. And God wants us to speak with a Christ-like heart. God wants us to speak with the kind of heart we see in vs. 32, where Paul said, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you."

*Speak with a Christ-like heart. But you can't have a Christ-like heart if you don't have Christ. What's on the inside is going to come out. Jesus made this point in Matthew 12:35. There the Lord said: "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things."

*The best way to change your tongue is to change your heart. And nobody can change our hearts like Jesus Christ. He will give you a brand-new heart, a brand-new life, if you will receive Him as Lord and Savior. That is the power of the cross!

*I had a good visit last Thursday with my friend Steve. He was having a really good day. And Steve is at peace, enjoying the simple pleasures of life. But he knows his time is short, and he wanted to talk a little about his funeral.

*Steve took me into his office and showed me a couple of his cherished mementoes. One was a cross about a foot tall. It looked like it was made out of stainless steel. And the thing that makes this cross so special for Steve is that it was made out of an old prison bar. It was given to Steve for his faithful service with the Bill Glass prison ministry.

*Steve's always had a place in his heart for hard cases, the down-and -outers, people most everybody else had given up on. These convicts were considered to be hopeless. But Steve knows they can find hope through the cross of Jesus Christ!

*I think that's why Steve chose such a hopeful passage of Scripture for his funeral. Please listen to part of what Paul tells Christians in Romans 5:

1. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

2. through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

5. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

10. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

*This is the power of the cross of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ loved you enough to take all of the punishment for your sins. He loved you enough to die on the cross for you. And Jesus rose again from the dead. Right now He offers forgiveness and eternal life to everyone who will turn to Him and put their trust in Him.

*Will you do it? It will change your life forever. And it should certainly change the way you talk. So Christians: Don't let there be a disconnect between your tongue and your heart. Train your tongue to work God's way. Make the commitment today as we go to God in prayer.

(1) SermonCentral illustration contributed by: Gary Huckaby

(2) Morgan, Robert J., Real Stories for the Soul, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers) c2000

(3) Tim Hansel. YOU GOTTA’ KEEP DANCIN’. (Carmel, NY: Guideposts, 1985), p. 135. (Found in sermon “You Can Face Your Giant” by King Duncan - 1 Sam 17:1-58)

(4) Adapted from contribution by Dr. John Bardsley (Source: sermon “When Jiggling Wires Is Not Good Enough” by King Duncan - John 4:1-26 - 2005)

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