This Christian Life - Ephesians 4:25-5:2
This Chris(an Life 20210117 Ephesians 4:25-5:2 Walk in love as Christ loved Introduc)on: Who here has experienced a completely tranquil and peaceful existence in 2021? In these ﬁrst 17 days of the year, an existence where no strife has been present in your rela(onships, no doubts, no self-loathing, no fear for your health or that of someone near to you, no anxiety over the direc(on of the na(on or the economy, no anger resul(ng in sin? These ques(ons seem rather ridiculous, don’t they? Because to some extent we are feeling all of these and more. But I must push a liOle further. Who feels like they can completely trust our na(onal poli(cal leaders? Not all of them; just pick the side you prefer – do they have your complete trust? How about State poli(cians? Complete trust in our county or city leaders? The leadership of the church, your elders and deacons? What about in your spouse, if you are married, or in your kids, if you are parents, or kids – do you have complete trust in your parents? So, now I’ve probed and I’ve pushed. What is the result? Has this opening string of thoughts and ques(ons helped you feel closer to others or further apart? Have these musings given rise to a greater sense of unity? I doubt they have because you see our feelings, that which is happening internally, has a real impact on our ac(ons and behaviors, which are manifested externally. Our individual ac(ons have a cumula(ve impact on the unity or lack of unity experienced in the members of the body. Speaking now of the body of believers that makes up the local church. If nothing was done to reform our thinking to rein in our feelings, I would expect our self-preserving tendencies would serve to drive us further apart. Only causing us to come together when it would seem possible to extract a beneﬁt. And this is what happens when we look at the world we live in without considering the transcendent aspect of the Creator, without considering that he came in the ﬂesh to dwell among us, and to reconcile a people unto himself. As we go through the process of reconcilia(on as God’s people, he (es us to his transcendent nature. We receive the Holy Spirit and the transforma(ve power that comes from him. This is what Paul is driving at in the text we will be pouring over together. By being united with Christ we are responsible to yield to the transforma(on of our nature. But it happens as we go through life. We walk in love as Christ loved. And in so doing our ac(ons and speech become transformed by pu[ng oﬀ our old ways and pu[ng on Christ’s. What is needed to see this happen: love. We need more love. Necesitamos Mas Amor. MAS is our outline. Mo)va)on (v25a and 5:1-2) 1. v25a “Therefore, having put away falsehood,...” a. If our feelings and inner thoughts are misguided then our ac(ons and behaviors come out in harmful ways. In order to change we need a source that is higher than what we ﬁnd here among other sinners. The only way we can really be mo(vated to change our inner self is to be exposed to transcendent truth and then to yield to it. i. Last week, the passage Seth took us through showed this so clearly that I really have to remind you of it. Look at Eph 4:20-24 1. Our source of truth is Jesus. Our mo(va(on is to take what we think we know and compare it to our source of truth – God’s Word. Where a disconnect exists we are obligated to put away the falsehood. 2. Furthermore, we are then mo(vated to replace that which was false with truth – and embracing Christ causes our inner being, our mind to be renewed. Our new self is forced to shine through for we are strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:16). ii. This is same line of thinking is further encouraged in the ﬁrst two verses of chapter 5. 2. vv1-2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us….” a. Jesus, as we just looked at, is the source of truth, and here he is our standard for love. We are to take what we know of truth and of love and embody that in our lives in real ways. Our insides are to be changed as we consider our new life in Christ. Here Paul says be imitators of God. How? By walking in love as Christ loved us. Loving sacriﬁcially. b. Our mo(va(on in the Chris(an life is the true Christ who loved completely by giving himself up for his church. i. Now, knowing that we want our lives to be transformed, consider how our mo(va(on, Christ and his love, work themselves out. Listen and consider what C.S. Lewis wrote: 1. “Though natural likings should normally be encouraged, it would be quite wrong to think that the way to become charitable is to sit trying to manufacture aﬀec(onate feelings….The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste (me bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; acts as if you did. As soon as we do this we ﬁnd one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” ii. Chris(an, do you see this happening in your life right now? Do you see that as you walk in love as Christ loved that you are liking more people than you did at ﬁrst? This is proof of Christ’s transforma(ve work happening in your life. If however you are struggling to see such changes I would encourage you to step out in faith and do as Paul has encouraged in the text to love sacriﬁcially. I would encourage you to do as C.S. Lewis has stated, to purpose in your mind, that is internally, to act in love even towards those you would prefer not to. Then when they come across your path or you proac(vely seek them out – love them in the way you have purposed to do. 1. The eﬀect will be fourfold: a. 1st they will be blessed b. 2nd you will end up growing in apprecia(on for God’s grace towards you c. 3rd you really will grow in your love for others d. 4th over(me this expands to ever widening peoples 3. It all starts with an internal change. We are about to jump into some real speciﬁc areas of what it means to walk in love as Christ loved – sacriﬁcial love. Listen, if you don’t understand that you have been saved by the love of Christ – a love that was demonstrated on the cross – if that hasn’t penetrated into your inner being - how will you be able to give of yourself to others? a. Because if you haven’t your mo(va(on will be self-mo(va(on it will be a wrong mo(va(on and that will take you in a completely diﬀerent direc(on. b. But if you are mo(vated by the love of Christ then the prac(cal ac(on and speech which we will get into next will be done in such a manner as to bring about a blessing for others. The changes help you but also give to others and serve to build up the body. Transi)on: This is why we started here with mo(va(on but as we have been sta(ng all along working through the book of Ephesians, we have some wonderfully prac(cal teaching here in how we are to live. Now we will look into the speciﬁc ac(ons of walking in love as Christ loved. Ac)on (vv26-28, 31) 1. vv26-27 “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity….” a. Jumping right in I’ve got to say we have two impera(ves in the ﬁrst clause. i. The ﬁrst is a passive impera(ve – be angry. This means we are can expect to be angry from (me to (me. ii. The second is an ac(ve impera(ve – do not sin. This is the rub isn’t it? We all have experienced (mes of anger but how many of us have done so without allowing it to take us into sin? iii. These two impera(ves are linked together. We can expect that anger will be part of our lives, when we experience evil or witness evil, as image bearers of God we should expect a God like reac(on – anger and wrath – this is the “Be angry.” However, being sinful humans, we have to be aware that our response could, and likely will, come out in a sinful manner – hence “do not sin.” b. This isn’t where we are leh. Next is a proverb like statement. Proverbs are meant to be general statements of truth to help us remember principles about how life is to be lived. They are not necessarily meant to be commands that must be followed. Look again at what the passage says, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” i. How do we take this statement? Do you take it to mean you cannot let the sun set while you are angry? ii. This isn’t meant to be a hard and fast rule to follow it is meant to be a general principle to follow. We should not sit in our anger for long. Anger severely hampers our ability to have other emo(ons. It is a powerful, even a dominate emo(on and when we are experiencing a (me of anger, we need to treat it carefully – because remember we are not to sin in our anger – for sin leads to the damaging of rela(onships. iii. In my avia(on career I have been and con(nue to be frequently reminded of the danger of becoming hypoxic. Of ge[ng into a condi(on where my body doesn’t have enough oxygen to sustain bodily func(on. In the past I had to undergo training that put me into a state of hypoxia so that I would know my symptoms. These were then briefed prior to ﬂying as part of our emergency procedures. So, the symptoms were known, they were talked about, and ac(ons were speciﬁed in terms of what to do to avoid injury or death. iv. Don’t you think we should be similarly aware of what our anger symptoms are? We can be angry but we are not to sin and we are warned in Scripture not to stay in a state of anger for long. For this inevitably is a situa(on the devil can take advantage of. So, do you know when you are angry? Are you honest enough to say, “I’m angry” – to make the radio call to get the aOen(on and help you need to go through that (me of anger in the safest manner possible? What do you do if someone asks, “are you angry” do you deny it, does it make you angrier, or do you see it as a loving gesture meant to show that someone is paying aOen(on and is willing to stay on your wing un(l the problem is resolved? v. These are real ac(ons that are all meant to bring about a posi(ve change to not only preserve what is good and right in God’s crea(on and within the church but to enhance human ﬂourishing, to allow us to walk in love as Christ loved. 2. v28 “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he….” a. It is a near universal wrong to steal or take from someone who might be considered your neighbor. The nearer the person is to you the more inconsiderate it is thought that stealing would be. We are okay with the idea of Robin Hood stealing from the rich and giving to the poor but we are not okay with the idea of our employee stealing from the proﬁts of our business. We are not okay with our elderly loved ones being taken advantage of by scammers but don’t think much about the data breaches threatening big companies or government en((es. b. But now look at the beginning of v28 and ask has this ever been me? Have I been a thief? Or am I even caught up in taking what doesn’t belong to me right now? Well just as we looked at in the anger sec(on – we can say guilty! i. So, what must be done to bring about a posi(ve change? First, be willing to forgive as you have been forgiven. If we have someone in the church who is caught up in taking that which doesn’t belong to them, they are to be held responsible. ii. Once that aspect of their choice is behind them, we are to encourage the doing of honest work. We can grant them a place to work if we are an employer and pay a wage that allows them to have something to share. If we are the one who is laboring with our hands, we must not discount the importance of giving away what the Lord has so freely given to us. c. When we walk in love as Christ loved our lives look diﬀerent. Our ac(ons become transformed by pu[ng oﬀ our old ways and pu[ng on Christ’s. 3. v31 “Let all biBerness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with….” a. We are going to touch on the speech aspects of this verse in the next sec(on but for right now what ac(ons can be impacted by applying v31 to our lives? Much of what we see here is internal maOers of the heart that spill out in nega(ve ways. b. These internal maOers are to be dealt with. The Apostle Paul puts forth the idea that these are to be put away from us. We have to be aware of their presence, recognize that they don’t bring about a good result, and be mature enough to put them away from us. But this process isn’t that easy. i. Star(ng with biOerness, this one is ohen very subtle. It starts small and builds over(me. Chris(ans, like non-Chris(ans, are prone to facing biOerness. However, because we are ohen more willing to overlook an oﬀense, over(me this can result in resentment. It may not even be fully recognized and then all of a sudden, a torrent of emo(on rushes out and you aren’t making sense but you because of the intensity you feel you must be jus(ﬁed. 1. That doesn’t seem right from a ra(onal perspec(ve. So, don’t hear Paul say put it away from you, as meaning bury it inside of you. When we are wronged and it builds up without being addressed biOerness is burrowing in. It can lead to prolonged and intense discontent within a rela(onship can build if it remains in place. 2. The challenge with it is ohen the one oﬀending and causing injury is unaware of the pain they are inﬂic(ng – because you haven’t made them aware! But if you were to simply explain how you have been hurt – you force a dialogue. The result: they would be more likely to stop and you would no longer be in danger of developing biOerness within your heart. 3. The key is forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us (v32). ii. The second aspect from v31 that we need to explore is malice. Malice is a desire to cause pain, injury, or suﬀering. 1. Typically, I would spend most of my (me encouraging our youth not to think with malice towards their siblings or their parents or even peers. 2. Lately though, I have heard a number of adults speak nega(vely about our elected oﬃcials, and have been guilty of doing likewise, I’ve heard adults speak nega(vely about ac(vist groups, and those opposed to a certain way of life. 3. Some discussion is very much warranted, don’t get me wrong there is much in the way of misguided ac(vism currently. In men(oning these what I am trying to do is to provoke us all to think about where are hearts are right now when it comes to malice? Are we entertaining malice – a desire to cause pain, injury, or suﬀering? a. Clearly the government is concerned about malice interrup(ng the peaceful exchange of power between the outgoing execu(ve administra(on and the new administra(on. I saw yesterday that 25,000 troops were being called in to provide security at Washington D.C. 25,000 that is more military personnel than were on the largest three Marine Corps bases I served on during ac(ve duty combined (Yuma, Cherry Point, Quan(co)! 4. Someone must be concerned about some malice. Are you helping to put this away from the life of the church and the community we are in or are you provoking it? Exercise forgiveness and put malice away from you. Transi)on: If you would like a key point from this middle sec(on on ac(on as we are seeking more love, I would oﬀer you iden(ﬁca(on. If you cannot iden(fy where you are in terms of anger, or honesty, or biOerness, or malice you will never get around to the posi(ve change you are called to implement in pu[ng these things away from you. As we transi(on now to speech it will be good to remember that what goes on in the heart ohen spills right out of our mouths. Speech (vv25b, 29, 31) 1. v31 “Let all biOerness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” I know we just spent some (me in v31 with biOerness and malice in our ac(on sec(on but clamor and slander are two speech related areas that we are told to put away from us. a. First, what is clamor? It is raising a ruckus; it is being really loud and vocal about what you think – in a nega(ve manner. Paul isn’t concerned about praise and worship music but rather that kind of clamor that s(rs up dissent. i. So, let’s jump in: How are you communica(ng in the home? What sort of tone do you take in the work place? Do you ﬁnd you get louder and louder un(l the only voice that is being heard is yours? This is something to look at. Talk about it within the church. We don’t live with each other – so if you are having shou(ng matches in your home but are not doing so when others are around what is that all about? Do you need brothers and sisters to encourage you? b. Maybe your issue is more related to slander. Slander is talking poorly of someone else usually without them being present. i. This can be devasta(ng to the love that is to be expressed inside of the church. Just imagine if you are hearing slander against someone else? It is stunning and it is silencing. You are much less likely to open up about your struggles if you think someone is going to go and tell others about your struggles. ii. It is damaging too because: what do we typically like to do when we converse? To our fault at (mes, we try to go along with the conversa(on. Why? Because we think we have arrived there in order to contribute something. Therefore, slander has a way of catching others up in it as well. iii. This is to be put far away from the members of the church. Small and simple phrases can help put a stop to slander if it is being uOered in your hearing. Say, “I’d feel more comfortable if we didn’t talk about so and so without them being here.” You could also say, “I’m not willing to engage in that type of conversa(on, it just doesn’t seem like it will build up the church.” 2. v25b “…let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” a. Look at this verse. Once we have put away falsehood we are to speak truth with our neighbor. I know this sounds very familiar with a verse covered two weeks ago. i. v15 “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” b. Both of these verses are primarily concerned with the way we are talking together as members of the church. That does not mean we are to talk falsely to those outside of the church. Look at it this way. The church is our training ground. It is the place we are being encouraged and discipled. It will have a natural carry over into our places of secular engagement. So, here in the church we need to be constantly considering how it is we are pursuing truth in the way we speak and delivering that truth in love. 3. v29 “Let no corrupDng 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.” a. I wanted to cover this verse last when it comes to speech because it has had a tremendous impact on me over the past month or so. I cannot get this idea out of my head that what comes out of my mouth is to give grace to those who hear. i. It is so beau(ful to consider that we have been shown grace by our Savior Jesus Christ through his fragrant oﬀering and sacriﬁce to God on our behalf, we have been shown grace! And we are commanded to give something so wonderful that is associated with God, that is grace, to others in the way we speak. ii. This really helps put the corrup(ng talk into perspec(ve doesn’t it? Does corrup(ng and grace even go together? No – so we are to not even to let corrup(ng talk come out of our mouths. James asks, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” (James 3:11) – meaning of course they cannot. b. I would encourage you church, from personal experience this past month, take ahold of the idea presented in this verse and see how it transforms your home. Listen to me for more than about 2 minutes and you will know I’m s(ll being sanc(ﬁed in this area but it is having an impact. Give grace with your words – speak that which will build up and as ﬁts the occasion. Transi)on: We have considered what this walking in love is all about in our three sec(ons – Necesitamos Mas Amor – with Mo(via(on – what is going on in the heart, Ac(on – how do we live it out, and Speech – what comes forth from our mouth in terms of speech. Conclusion (v30) To (e the whole message together I want to look at the one verse we haven’t covered yet it is v30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redempDon.” As we have studied today’s passage in total and we have seen all of these prac(cal aspects of what it means to be walking as Christ walked in love. We have this verse stuck in the middle and it is really a vital (e in bringing everything together. You see brothers and sisters, the only reason we have a faith walk is because we have been saved by Jesus, he has started the process by sealing us with the Holy Spirit. This began the work and it con(nues through un(l our day of redemp(on, which is a work he ﬁnishes. In between those (mes of our being sealed by the Holy Spirit and the day of our redemp(on we walk as Christ walked in love – this is by faith. Our ac)ons and speech have to be transformed by puQng oﬀ our old ways and puQng on Christ’s. This is how it ought to be. However, we can take excursions from this path we can speak ill, harbor malice, allow anger to lead to sin, we can do any number of things that are not characteris(c of who we are supposed to be in Christ. This is how we grieve the Holy Spirit. This is also how we prevent full unity in the body. Two aspects of the Chris(an life that should very much have our aOen(on. To ﬁnish us up, I asked some rather obvious ques(ons in the beginning of the sermon that were meant to show that outside the church the ins(tu(ons developed to promote human ﬂourishing are struggling to provide what they have promised to provide. Our peace and tranquility are not to be found in the chaos of this sinful world but that does not mean the church goes right along with the way of the world either. Not at all we are to remain the outpost of heaven that has one foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot in the world looking forward to our day of redemp(on while being vigilant to live faithfully in the current (me bringing the message of peace and hope to the world that so desperately needs it – sharing the gospel of Jesus and making disciples as he commanded. Walking as Christ walked in love.