Faithlife Sermons

18-2-18, Eph. 4:17-25, Speaking True Words, Words of Life

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Having been transformed by the gospel, our words will be truthful.

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HOOK
INTRODUCTION
Words are immensely powerful and they are a two-edged sword.
They can cut to the heart or build people up. There are life-giving words and life-stealing words.
If you are a Christian, you will have in internal desire to speak life-giving words more than life-stealing words.
This is because the Spirit of God resides within us. He is conforming us to the image of Christ ().
This process of renewing us includes our words.
He is preparing us for life in the kingdom of God, where there will be only life-giving words- ones of truth, love, and justice.
Therefore, today we have an opportunity to change the world around us with our words.
Think, what would happen in your family, in your school, in your office, in your church, if you changed your words?
Last week, we learned from Jesus that words are the fruit of our hearts. We speak out of the abundance of the heart.
Life-giving words come out of a heart that is alive in Christ.
Since the Spirit lives inside of us and empowers us to speak life-giving words, we have an opportunity to change the world around us with our words. Think, what would happen in your family if you grew out of using cutting words and you said only words of truth, love, and justice? How would that change your workplace? How would it change our church?
Last week, we saw how Jesus taught that we speak out of the abundance of the heart. So if we want our words to be full of grace and loving, then these characteristics must describe the condition of our heart. This can only occur with hearts redeemed by Christ and cleansed by the spirit.
TRUE WORDS
HONEST WORDS
Today, we are going to look at an expression of life-giving words- true words.
As Christians, our words reflect the truth of God which has transformed our hearts.
Remember, our hearts and our words are made of the same substance. If the truth of Christ has changed us, then our words will become honest as well.
Hopefully, you’ll be challenged to change your words to reflect the dramatic change God has worked in your hearts in Christ.
This makes sense. Honesty is among the earliest lessons a person learns. Innately, we know that honesty is of God. If we are of God then we tell the truth.
Yet even this basic moral principle us under attack in the world. There are all sorts of rationalizations which exist as to why we should lie a little in our day-to-day lives.
Real popular today is the skepticism that we can’t even know the truth. People today echo Pilates words to Jesus,
John 18:37–38 ESV
37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.
I hope today that we will see that words of truth are words of life.
We are going to understand why there is such a critical link between God’s truthfulness and our honesty.
Hopefully, you’ll be challenged to search out and eliminate life-stealing and dishonest words from your life.
BOOK
CONTEXT
Paul wrote Ephesians from house arrest in Rome around 62 AD. He spend three years with the Ephesians and knew many of them well.
The letter revisits the glory of the gospel and then teaches Christians that such grace should result in a worthy lifestyle.
In our passage today, Paul emphasizes that we have gone from lives founded in deception to lives based in the truth of God. This change will show up in our words.
PASSAGE
TRUTH
Before we get started with the text, let’s agree on some definitions.
Let’s pause and talk about truth.
Truth is what actually is. It is physical and spiritual reality. It is objective and independent of you or me. Truth is fact.
Let’s pause and talk about truth. Truth is what is. It is reality in physical and spiritual terms. Truth is fact. Scripture teaches that God is the author of truth. It is of Him. Do you remember the name God gave to Moses to give to Pharaoh? He says His name is “I AM THAT I AM” (). In this name God makes known His existence and the authenticity of His character. God is truth.
Scripture teaches that God is true.
John 3:33 ESV
33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.
It is his characteristic. Truth is of Him.
Do you remember the name God gave to Moses to give to Pharaoh? He says His name is “I AM THAT I AM” (). In this name God makes known that He is. Truth emanates from Him.
Truth
Deception, on the other hand, can be defined as what is not. It is not reality. Yet, it is portrayed as reality.
Truth is associated with God and deception is the characteristic of His enemy, the devil. Jesus calls him the father of lies ().
The classic example of the devil’s work is in the Garden of Eden, when God stated what is fact when He said,
Genesis 2:16–17 ESV
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
The devil tempted Eve by saying,
Genesis 3:4–5 ESV
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The devil framed a mis-truth as the truth. They would die, but he said they would not.
When Adam and Eve took the fruit, they believed the devil instead of God. In effect, they determined God to be a liar.
This blasphemy is at the heart of human depravity. Maybe we can start to understand why our sin is the object of God’s wrath more clearly after explaining it this way.
By default, every human being comes to call God a liar when we choose not to believe what God has said is true, and then we act according to our backward beliefs.
BOOK
BOOK
PASSAGE
PASSAGE
The letter revisits the glory of the gospel (that God brought us from so low and lifted us up so high through Jesus Christ) and then teaches Christians that such grace should result in a worthy lifestyle since we have been transformed.
In our passage today, Paul emphasizes that we have gone from lives founded in deception to lives based in the truth of God. This change will show up in our words.
PASSAGE
Ephesians 17
Ephesians 4:17 ESV
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.
These words of Paul carry inspired authority.
He speaks of two groups, 1) the Ephesian Christians and 2) the Gentiles.
The term Gentiles refers generally to non-Jews, in this passage Paul uses it to refers to unsaved pagans. Given how Paul describes the heart of Gentiles, we can understand this description to apply to the heart of all people who are lost and outside of a saving relationship with Jesus Christ the Savior.
As Paul sets up a dichotomy between the saved and the lost, he gives the instruction Christians must live complete different must live in a totally different way than non-Christians, because they come from a completely opposite worldview.
These words of Paul carry inspired authority. What he is getting ready to say here must be followed for them to live the Christian life.
Christians approach life from a platform of truth.
TRUTH
TRUTH
Truth is what actually is. It is physical and spiritual reality. It is objective and independent of you or me. Truth is fact.
Truth is what actually is. It is physical and spiritual reality. It is objective and independent of you or me. Truth is fact.
Scripture teaches that God is true.
John 3:33 ESV
33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.
It is his characteristic (as much as power, holiness, and love). All truth in the universe is of Him. It emanates from Him. All truth is God’s truth.
Do you remember the name God gave to Moses to give to Pharaoh? He says His name is “I AM THAT I AM” (). In this name God expresses that He is at the heart of reality. He is real and He is the Lord of all things and ideas that are real.
Deception, on the other hand, can be defined as what is not, yet, it is portrayed as reality.
Truth is of God and deception is of His enemy, the devil. Jesus calls Satan the father of lies (). The devil loves to fool people.
The classic example of the devil’s work is in the Garden of Eden, when God stated what is fact when He said,
Genesis 2:16–17 ESV
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
The devil tempted Eve by saying,
Genesis 3:4–5 ESV
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The devil dismissed what was real (God’s word) and invented something that was not real (God’s self-serving motivation) and then convinced Adam and Eve that his story was reality. It was a lie. They really would die, but he said they would not.
When Adam and Eve took the fruit, they believed the devil instead of God. In effect, they declared God, the author of truth, to be a liar. They could not have gotten it more wrong!
This blasphemy took root in the human heart.
The natural man operates from a platform of deception. His wires are crossed. He calls good evil and evil good. He sees God as the liar and the devil as the truth-teller. All of us begin with this worldview.
This worldview manifests itself in that we do what God tells us not to do because our flesh, or the world, or the devil tells us He is wrong. This is sin.
Maybe we can start to understand why our sin results in God’s wrath.
So going back to our passage...
So going back to our passage,
The non-Jews had come to live out such vulgar and idolatrous lifestyles, that Paul often summed up human depravity by referring to them. This reference to the Gentiles can be applied to lost people in general.
Ephesians 4:17 ESV
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.
So going back to our passage,
Paul tells these Christians, “Now that you are saved by Christ, you must not any longer live like the pagans do.”
Paul tells these Christians, “Now that you are saved by Christ, you must not any longer live like the pagans do.”
Paul describes the thinking of lost people as futile- pointless, incapable of producing anything pleasing to God. The reason is that from their core, they do not believe God.
Remember Jesus explained that actions and words flow out of the heart.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
From the start, Paul calls their thinking futile- pointless, incapable of producing anything pleasing to God.
Paul continues to describe the lost...
Futility- incapable of producing results, purposeless- Ineffective in bearing fruit pleasing to God
They do not have living faith in the living Christ.
They do not believe God.
Ephesians 4:18 ESV
18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
Paul describes how they think-
Darkened- they cannot see what reality is because things are so dim. They are not partakers in God’s light, so they cannot see what really is.
Have you ever tried to read instructions on setting up your tent when twilight takes hold. It’s really frustrating isn’t it.
Specifically, they cannot see the truth of God that would lead them to eternal life.
Therefore, they are alienated from the life of God.
Life is another characteristic which emanates from God. He is the author of physical and spiritual life. Because they do not believe God, they do not have life whereby God lives in His own people.
They cannot see that they have sin and that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that salvation comes only through Christ. Therefore, they are alienated from the life of God.
Thus, absent of eyes seeing the light of Christ, their souls remain in a state of death, destined for eternal punishment in hell. They will live out their life here on earth which is a gift of common grace, but then death will come for them and imprison them.
Since the lost cannot see God and spiritual realities through their dim eyes, life is foreign to them. Eternal life is beyond their grasp.
Since the lost cannot see God and spiritual realities through their dim eyes, life is foreign to them. Eternal life is beyond their grasp.
Thus, absent of eyes seeing the light of Christ, their souls remain in a state of death, destined for eternal punishment in hell. They will live out their life here on earth which is a gift of common grace, but then death will come for them and imprison them.
Then, Paul calls them ignorant of the truth of Christ that could save them if they would only see and believe.
Paul calls them ignorant of the truth of Christ that could save them if they would only see and believe.
Darkened- unable or unwilling to see the light of God. The idea light bulb will not turn on when it comes to Christ and the gospel.
You might be thinking, “Someone shine a light and help them!” but Paul shares disturbing fact about lost people,
Paul says they have hardness of heart- This means they are willfully ignorant (- they suppress the truth);
unable or unwilling to see the light of God.
They know God is the truth, but they don’t want to believe it because they prefer what the world portrays as true instead, even though they probably know deep in their hearts that it is an empty lie.
Ignorance- without knowledge
Paul says they have hardness of heart- They are willfully ignorant (- they suppress the truth); They know God is the truth, but they don’t want to believe it because they prefer what the world portrays as true instead, even though they probably know deep in their hearts that it is an empty lie.
Like some people and technology.
Like some people and technology.
There’s a note of self-destructiveness in them.
Ephesians 4:19 ESV
19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
Paul says lost people are calloused- desensitized to sin and shame.
Given themselves up- handed themselves over to their desires, reckless abandon, “I don’t care, I just want!”
In this verse, Paul specifies that they succumb willfully to licentiousness or extreme immorality (usually of a sexual nature; treating sexuality like a farm animal- not in the respectful and sacred way which God ordains).
Paul says they hard at work seeking impure things
Impurity- filthiness (again of a sexual connotation)
They do it with a selfish hunger for it
Yet, this is the standard condition of the human being outside of Jesus Christ.
Yet, this is the standard condition of the human being outside of Jesus Christ.
Just name and type of sin changes. Even more deceptive, some can look moral.
Ephesians 4:20 ESV
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
This mindset operates from a platform of deception. Do you believe deception invades the speech of such people? You can argue that their speech is rooted in deception. At the heart they do not have faith in God.
Ephesians 4:20–21 ESV
20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
Now Paul says that such a worldview and approach to life is contrary to those who are saved.
Paul says that such a worldview and approach to life is contrary to those who are saved.
Christians operate from a platform of truth.
First, Christians have learned of Christ. He has been illuminated to them and they have seen the things which are true.
Therefore, in contrast to the lost, Christians have a productive way of thinking- leading to thoughts and actions which please God.
Their thinking is illuminated. They have believed in Christ and have been brought near to the God of life ()
Their hearts have softened and they have repented of sin
Ephesians 4:21 ESV
21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
Paul frames how a person comes to gain saving knowledge of Christ.
They heard- The gospel reached their ears and then reached into their hearts; they accepted it
Romans 10:17 ESV
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Heard-
They were taught or informed
Hearing and learning require
1. The Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 2:12 ESV
12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
2. The Word
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
3. The Christian ()
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19 ESV
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
TRUTH MANIFESTED IN CHRIST
They have come to know that the truth is centered in Jesus. He has become the representation, the tip of the iceberg of all that us true.
Deception, on the other hand, can be defined as what is not. It is not reality. However, it is a non-reality that is presented as a reality.
Deception, on the other hand, can be defined as what is not. It is not reality. However, it is a non-reality that is presented as a reality.
The devil is known as the father of lies (). The classic example of his work is in the Garden of Eve, when God stated what is fact when He said,
Genesis 2:16–17 ESV
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
John 8:44 ESV
44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
The devil tempted Eve by saying,
Genesis 3:4–5 ESV
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis
The devil framed a mis-truth as the truth. When Adam and Eve took the fruit, they believed the devil instead of God. In effect, they determined God to be a liar.
This blasphemy is at the heart of human depravity. By default, every human being comes to call God a liar because we choose to believe things opposite to what He says is true and we do act according to these backward beliefs.
This verse tells us that God counters our belief in the lies by sending Jesus Christ the Savior.
Yet, in Christ is the fulfillment of the truth of God. For Christ is the manifestation of God’s word () and the proof that God fulfills His promise redeem us. The overarching concept of truth in the universe is personified in the person Jesus Christ.
This means Jesus’ identity, and His nature, and what He said and did both physically and spiritually, are reality. God testifies that His Son is fact.
Everything the lost person believes is founded in the lie that God is wrong (Just think of the Garden of Eden and how the serpent tempted Eve “Surely you will not die!”).
When this passage explains the truth is in Jesus, this means Jesus’ identity, and His nature, and what He said and did both physically and spiritually, are reality. God testifies that His Son is fact.
Yet, in Christ is the fulfillment of the truth of God. For Christ is the manifestation of God’s word () and the proof that God fulfills His promise redeem us. The overarching concept of truth in the universe is personified in the person Jesus Christ.
John 14:6 ESV
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 ESV
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
We’re saved by Christ as we come to understand that He is the truth and the thought patterns of the world, of the flesh, are lies. A radical worldview change is at the heart of our conversion...
1 Corinthians 1:12 ESV
12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:24 ESV
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:27 ESV
27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
These are very heavy facts.
Ephesians 4:22 ESV
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
We put off our old self (man), which operates from a platform that what God says is not true and what the world says is true. It was a platform of lies.
We put off our old self (man), which operates from a platform that what God says is not true and what the world says is true. It was a platform of lies.
Even though we have the right platform, the truth of God, made known to us, there are those times that we feel like we should use they old platform to approach life.
Even thought we have the write platform, the word of God, made known to us, there are times that we feel like we should use they old worldview to approach life.
Paul says to stop this. “Don’t dust that old self off.”
Epbe
Ephesians 4:23 ESV
23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
Paul’s encouragement is to discipline your minds to act like God speaks the truth. Believe Him.
Our minds return to this proper and original orientation through the work of the Spirit of God.
We have a gift in the Word to be a standard to keep us in bounds with the truth.
We have the free will to chose to refine our spirit of thinking (lower case “spirit”.)
Ephesians 4:24 ESV
24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Put on- dress, clothe yourself in this new way of thinking
This is called the new self or the new man.
Return to the original truth-based foundation of believing God
Return to the original truth-based foundation of believing God
The one that was present in the beginning.
Then, we make it full circle back to our speech.
These are going to receive judgment from the world.
Ephesians 4:25 ESV
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
The first result we get from this change in operating platform is the ability to bear fruit that is true. No where else will you see this except in our words.
LOOK
Put away all falsehoods.
Put away all falsehoods.
1. Lies for personal gain- because we believe God will provide for us and bless us beyond what we can imagine.
2. Lies to avoid pain- because pain will deepen our faith in the Lord and we will be rewarded for the suffering we endure for His sake.
Therefore- let the fruit of that tree, speech reflect the truth.
3. Lies of malice toward others- because we trust that the Lord will judge and make all things right in the end. We need only to love everyone, even our enemies.
Speak what actually is, physically and spiritually to other human beings, Especially to other Christians, who belong to one another.
Speak what actually is, physically and spiritually to other human beings, especially to other Christians, who belong to one another.
4. Speak what actually is, physically and spiritually to other human beings, especially to other Christians, who belong to one another.
5. Speak like God
Ephesians 5:1 ESV
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Numbers 23:19 ESV
19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
6. This even means having crucial and honest conversations with one another rather than staying silent. We speak for the best interests of those who listen
This even means having crucial and honest conversations with one another rather than staying silent. We speak for the best interests of those who listen
Ephesians 4:29 ESV
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
7. One of the reasons we do this is because we are one with God and one with one another. Truth binds us together, lies separate us apart.
There is no place for lies between Christians
Truth and trust go together. If we are going to bind to one another in Christ, it occurs in the reality of what is.
LOOK
Colossians 3:9 ESV
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
When you do this, you end up gaining credibility
Ethos of the speaker
People are trying to trust you when it comes to speaking
It removes the layer of relationship where the person has to discern whether or not you are telling the truth.
TOOK
Lies for personal gain, lies to hide our flaws and sins
Ephesians 5:1 ESV
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Numbers 23:19 ESV
19 God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Lies for personal gain, lies to hide our flaws and sins
Lies of malice
Lies to avoid pain, confrontations, hurting other persons’ feelings
TOOK
Colossians 3:9 ESV
9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices
Proverbs 11:1 ESV
1 A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.
When you do this, you end up gaining credibility
Ethos of the speaker
People are trying to trust you when it comes to speaking
It removes the layer of relationship where the person has to discern whether or not you are telling the truth.
TOOK
Set up a lie monitor, listen to your words and ask do they convey what is or what is not? If not why not?
Come clean of deceit. Speak what is true because we are of God who is true.
Forgive one another’s lies.
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