Listen to this study with Real Audio TH2147
Please turn in your Bibles this evening to Ephesians chapter 4 as we continue our study through the Word of God and we finish up this chapter we began last week. Keep in mind that Paul has spent the first 3 chapters of Ephesians telling us all we have in Christ, the rich blessings. He gives to us doctrine or the right information regarding our spiritual lives. And then, in the last 3 chapters of Ephesians Paul tells us to walk according to the high calling with which we have been called, in light of all the blessings we have received, walk accordingly! He opens up chapter 4 by saying, I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called. Ephesians 4:1.
These last 3 chapters, as I said last week, can be broken down as follows:
- WALK IN UNITY EPHESIANS 4:1-16
- WALK IN PURITY EPHESIANS 4:17-5:18
- WALK IN HARMONY EPHESIANS 5:19-6:9
- WALK IN VICTORY EPHESIANS 6:10-24
As we concluded last week Paul spoke of the unity we have in Christ and how that God placed certain men in leadership positions to help the saints grow and mature in the Lord. You see, children can be swayed easily but as we grow we become wise, or at least we should be. In the Christian faith many remain babes in Christ and they are tossed to and fro by all kinds of bizarre doctrine, bizarre ideas. But Paul wants us . . . to grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ. Ephesians 4:15.
With that said, lets begin reading in Ephesians chapter 4, starting in verse 17 as we begin a section that deals with walking in purity, and lets see what the Lord has for us this evening.
Because of all the blessings we have in Christ, because of the unity we walk in Christ, our walk or conduct should be far different than that of the unsaved world. Paul, in II Corinthians 5:17 tells us, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Thus, we are brand new in Christ; dont go back walking in the old ways, the old life, but walk in purity!
How does the unsaved walk? Paul lists several characteristics for us.
A. THEY WALK IN THE FUTILITY OF THEIR MIND: In other words, their focus is on empty things and they truly believe that they will find satisfaction in sin. Maybe for a time, but sin will never give you lasting satisfaction, it will not bring to you abundant life, but bondage!
B. THEIR UNDERSTANDING IS DARKENED: The reason this is true is because they reject the light of Jesus Christ and thus, God gives them over to a debased mind, a wicked mind and darkness is what then flows from their lives.
C. ALIENATED FROM THE LIFE OF GOD: The reason this is true is because sin has separated them from God and they refuse to receive the free gift of God in Jesus. They are ignorant because they refuse to see. They are insensitive to the things of God because they have hardened their hearts to the things of God. The word hardening is the Greek word POROSIS (po-ro-sis) and it started out meaning a stone that is harder than marble but finally came to mean the loss of all sensation. They are unable to feel because they have made themselves hard to the things of God and when God speaks, it bounces off of them, it does not penetrate into their hearts!
Thus, by rejecting God they have given themselves over to lewdness or ASELGEIA (as-elg-i-a) in the Greek and it speaks of a person who no longer hides his sin but displays it as long as he can gratify his own desires. They are unclean or impure in their thoughts and actions. We also see greediness or PLEONEXIA (pleh-on-ex-ee-ah) in the Greek and it speaks of an irresistible desire to have what we have no right to possess.
Folks, if you can live in sin without conviction upon your life, something is very wrong. Let me illustrate this for you with this story. We are told:
After Dr. Donald Barnhouse, the classic preacher from a generation ago, shared a message about the repercussions of sin, a young man approached him and said, I sin, but it doesnt seem to matter at all. Im not haunted by it. I dont get depressed about it. It doesnt bother me a bit.
Dr. Barnhouse looked at him and said, Tell me, son, what would happen if I dropped an eight-hundred-pound weight on the body of a dead man? Would he feel it? Would he be in pain? Would it bother him?
Of course not, said the young man.
Thats the point, said Dr. Barnhouse. If you dont feel the weight of sin, if its not heavy upon you, if its not having an impact on you, its because you are spiritually dead.
We as Christians have this struggle between the old life and the new life, and regarding this John MacArthur tells us:
Biblical terminology, then, does not say that a Christian has two different natures. He has but one nature, the new nature in Christ. The old self dies and the new self lives; they do not coexist. It is not a remaining old nature but the remaining garment of sinful flesh that causes Christians to sin. The Christian is a single new person, a totally new creation, not a spiritual schizophrenic. It is the filthy coat of remaining humanness in which the new creation dwells that continues to hinder and contaminate his living. The believer as a total person is transformed but not yet wholly perfect. He has residing sin but no longer reigning sin (cf. Rom 6:14). He is no longer the old man corrupted but is now the new man created in righteousness and holiness, awaiting full salvation (cf. Rom 13:11).
Pauls point is simple, when you first where saved this is not what you learned of Christ and yet some have walked backward into the old ways, not walking in purity! You see, we dont just add Jesus to our old life, the old life is dead, crucified with Christ and we are a new creation in Christ. Folks, there must be a break with the past!
Too often, for some Christians, the Christian life is all about knowing facts regarding the Scriptures. Now dont get me wrong, having the correct doctrine is important for us but unless you apply that doctrine to your life, it is worthless, it is empty. And it is a choice on our part, a choice we must make and as we surrender our lives to Him, walking in His ways, our mind will be transformed. With our minds being transformed our actions will flow from this new nature we have in Christ as Paul shows us in Romans 12:1-2, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. The Amplified Bible puts these verses like this, I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
You see, to learn Christ is more than just knowledge about Him; it is an intimate relationship with Him. It is a communion with our Lord and Savior. Thus, as you read Gods Word, as you hear Gods Word being taught, He will convict you of sin, encourage you as needed, He will bless you and-so-on. Learning Christ is not just learning about Him, but making Him part of your life!
Thus, we are told to put off the old man and his wicked ways, because, if you dont, you will continue to become more and more corrupt. The old man, that sin nature is like an ugly monster, the more you feed it the more it grows and the more it grows the more it wants to be fed! Put it off, put it away, discard it from your life or it will control your life! Put on Christ instead!
Beginning in the late 70s and continuing through today, people are very health conscious. All you have to do is look at a television commercial and you will see them promoting their products from a healthy standpoint. Low Carbs! Fat-Free! No Cholesterol! It use to be that food only needed to taste good, but now it must contain this and not that to sell! The public is aware that what you put into your body will have a direct affect on the bodies overall health. Think about it, over Christmas the average weight gain is 7 to 10 pounds. What you put into your body will affect your body!
I remember that after my grandfather was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer they put him on a very strict diet. Now this is some 35 years ago or so but the doctor put him on this diet that consisted of buttermilk and eggs for his ulcer. Of course he ate other foods but when his stomach bothered him he went back to what the doctor ordered, buttermilk! After years of living on that kind of diet he had a massive heart attack and died. Why? Because now we know that those foods have a high fat content and cause coronary artery disease. There is a direct relationship to what we put into our body and how our body responds.
So, from a physical standpoint we see that what we put into our bodies affects the health of the body. But what about our spiritual health, how is that affected? We are told in Proverbs 23:7, For as he thinks in his heart, so is he . . . And Jesus said in Matthew 12:34, . . . For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Yes, physically you are what you eat, but spiritually you are what you think!
So Paul told us to put off the old man and put on the new man, put on Christ and he is going to begin with the transformation of our mind. Instead of focusing on the things of this world, we are to be focused on the things of God.
When we give our lives to Jesus Christ we received a new mind. We received a completely new spiritual and moral capability. But this is a process also, that we continually renew our minds daily that we may gain the mind of Christ, (Philippians 2:5), and be more like Him. Pauls statement in I Corinthians chapter 2 explains this for us for in those passages Paul is simply saying that the reason we have godly wisdom and understanding is because the Holy Spirit has revealed them to us. The natural man has a spirit, that is the worldly spirit that is in him and thus, he has worldly wisdom. And you can see how that plays out in the world today; it is empty for the most part!
But the Christian has the Holy Spirit indwelling him, which teaches us the deep things of God. Our wisdom comes from God. Paul ends that section, (I Corinthians 2:9-16), by saying, . . . But we have the mind of Christ. So in principle we have the mind of Christ for we have been transformed into a new creation in Christ. But in practice, it is a continual process of renewing our minds to the likeness of Christ, putting in good things so good comes out!
And in verse 24 Paul is telling us to put on an entirely new man. Not the old man cleaned up but a new man on the inside, which will overflow to the outside. Now Paul says that this . . . new man which was created according to God . . . is better translated from the Greek, according to what God is.
When we are born again into the family of God we are not transformed into the image of man but into what God is. Our actions and attitudes should reflect those of God. We should hate sin and love that which is good. Now you may be thinking that you fall far short of those standards and that is very true, we all do. But it is what we are working towards. We are new in Christ and our actions should reflect the attitudes of our heart.
Paul speaks of our actions and attitudes being righteous before God and before our fellow man. We are to have our actions reflect that of true holiness which speaks of a sacred observance of all the duties to God. The life of a believer is one who is totally given over to God and because of that relationship with God the love of God will be manifested in their lives and touch those around them, their fellow man. You see, if you love the Lord with your entire life then the way you treat your fellow man will be right!
Now here is the thing, if we refuse to obey God then we are not part of His family, the fruit in our lives shows that fact. John said in I John 2:3-6, Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. You see, you cant say that you love God and not obey what He is saying to you, it is that simple. Not that we never stumble, but if it is the pattern of our life, if what we do doesnt bother us, we need to be concerned, we need to do a heart check!
Now as Paul concludes this chapter, he speaks on the conduct of the new man, how he is to walk, and, as we will see, he walks in purity!
Paul starts out by saying that our lives should be reflective of truth. Think about it, how can you have unity in a body of believers if you cant trust each other? You cant! Deception, lying causes division, turmoil. It fractures the body of Christ and weakens it. Paul has said back in Ephesians 4:3 that we need to strive to keep the unity of the body of Christ and thus, it does take work. We are told in Zechariah 8:16-17, These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace; Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate, Says the LORD.
The new man does not let his emotions deteriorate into sin, giving room for the Devil to work. It needs to be dealt with before it reaches that point! The word that Paul did not use for angry in the Greek is PARORGISMOS, which is far more than just a momentary outburst of emotion. These are deep-seated emotions that are like a cancer and spread very quickly. This type of anger is like a shotgun, it may explode just once but the damage that is done is incredible. Horace wrote, Anger is momentary insanity. I think he is right!
Let me give you an example of this type of anger from the Chicago Tribune, dated February 4, 1991 and it is titled, Cheerleading goes a bit too far. We are told:
A Texas mother was so intent on making sure her daughter made the cheerleading squad that she was willing to hire a hit man to kill a competitors mother, police said Friday. They said Wanda Webb Holloway, 36, of Channelview, Texas, plotted the murder so her daughters 13-year-old rival might be so overwhelmed with grief that she would drop out of the competition for a spot on the Johnson Junior High School cheerleading squad . . . He said that at first Holloway wanted to hire a hit man to kill both the daughter and her mother but decided the double murder was to expensive. They said she then opted to kill the mother, Verna Heath, 38, for $2,500. Harris County prosecutor Chuck Noll said Holloway gave an undercover police officer posing as a contract killer a pair of diamond earrings worth about $1,500 as a down payment.
I know, it is hard to believe and yet, anger that is kindled will grow out of control and it will destroy everything it touches. Paul says not to let the sun go down on your wrath. Settle your anger before it gets out of control. It doesnt matter if you are right or not, deal with it because if you dont you will give the Devil a chance to cause division and fractures in the body of Christ. If there is someone you are angry with, deal with it before you leave tonight or when you get home, but just deal with it!
Paul put it this way in Romans 12:7-21, Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. What a good principle to live by! And Solomon puts it this way in Proverbs 15:1-2, A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
Dont let your anger grow and grow until you blow. Deal with it, settle it in your own heart, let it go before your wrath is seen and you sin. You see, anger that is a sin is self-centered, self-focused and it does need to be dealt with! If not, you are giving the Devil room to operate in your life and it will be ugly!
Paul used the Greek word for angry here that is ORGIZO (or-gid-zo) and it speaks of becoming exasperated, to provoke, aggravated. I think Pauls main point is more of a righteous indignation, anger towards evil, something that goes against God or His people. In Psalm 69:9 we are told, Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. It is the words that Jesus also spoke as He saw the moneychangers ripping the people off who came to worship God. But this anger too needs to be dealt with or it can lead to sin. God will deal with things, we are to love people and not destroy them, or be angry with them that then leads to sin. When Jesus turned over the tables of the moneychangers it was righteous indignation, not because what was done to Him, but to His Father in Heaven. For the most part, our anger is never like that, it is mostly self-centered! Be careful.
Paul now tells us that the new man is to walk in purity and they are not to steal. Paul uses the Greek word KLEPTO (klep-to). From this word we get our English word kleptomaniac from. Sadly to say, I have seen over the years far too many Christians that are just plain lazy and dont want to work. The thing is, if you can work and you dont work, then you are, in a sense, stealing from those that are working. Paul said in
II Thessalonians 3:10, For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. Here in Ephesians Paul turns the tables and tells the Ephesians that they should labor which speaks of, literally, to exert himself to the point of exhaustion. The idea here is not only so we can provide for ourselves, our own families but that we can also help those who are in need; build up the kingdom of God. Paul said in I Timothy 5:8, But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. You see, you are a new creation in Christ, live that way, dont steal but labor for the Lord! Be an example to others.
Paul says that the new man is not to have any corrupt words proceed from his mouth and he uses the Greek word SAPROS (sap-ros) which is worthless, rotten foul. God does not want that kind of garbage flowing from our mouths. Our speech should build up not tear down! In speaking of the Lord, Isaiah tells us, The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned. Isaiah 50:4. Now, as His representative, we too should speak forth with words that comfort and not destroy those around us. Paul in Colossians 4:6 tells us, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Paul is saying that we can grieve the Holy Spirit by our unloving, impure conduct towards others. You see, we can grieve God by our conduct, the things we do. That does not mean God loves us less, but it does mean He is not pleased with our actions.
Paul now concludes this chapter by comparing what should be removed from our lives and what it should be replaced with.
A. BITTERNESS: Paul starts out with bitterness and he uses the Greek word PIKRIA (pik-ree-ah) and it speaks of a smoldering resentment. The kind that just keeps building and building inside of you making you sour and unloving.
B. WRATH: Next Paul speaks of wrath or THUMOS (thoo-mos) in the Greek and it is like a wild rage. A good illustration of this is straw that catches on fire, it burns very quickly and before you know it its out, but in its path there is much destruction. I am sure you have seen this before in people.
C. ANGER: Paul then speaks of anger or ORGE (or-gay) in the Greek and this is more of an internal feeling and reflects a long standing continual anger, something you just cant let go and it builds inside of you.
D. CLAMOR: Clamor is a loss of control that results in a public outburst of emotions. The word in the Greek is KRAUGE (krow-gay) and gives us the idea of letting everyone know how or what you grievance is.
E. BLASPHEMY OR EVIL SPEAKING: BLASPHEMIA (blas-fay-me-ah), which we translate blasphemy or evil speaking is an ongoing bitterness that rises in the heart and has defamed another person.
F. MALICE: Paul ends with malice or KAKIA (kak-ee-ah) in the Greek and it speaks of evil, all kinds. It is just a vicious character that is produced from the above fruits.
Each of these, Paul tells us, must be put away or removed from our lives. We must decide to do it for if we refuse we can and will grieve the Holy Spirit. A child of God should not have these as fruits in his life. And did you notice how they are all linked together. You start with a resentful spirit (bitterness) which leads to a quick burst of emotion (wrath) which leads to a long standing continual feeling of anger that grows inside of you (anger) that results in a public outburst of what you feel (clamor) then into the tearing down of another person (evil speaking) and ends with a continual hateful disposition (malice). Dont hold onto this garbage, but let it go!
Instead of having a life that is characterized by being unkind, hardhearted, unforgiving and unloving, we should be the exact opposite. We should be kind to each other and this is not a passive sort of response. It is love in action; it is reflected in what we do to each other. It is not a show we put on for people to make them think we love them, we really do! We are to be tenderhearted, have compassion on each other. To try to understand where the other person is coming from and meets his or her needs. And Paul links this all to forgiveness. Why? Because of what God did for us, in that He forgave us so why cant we forgive others? We can if we want. And if we treat others as God treats us, we will fulfill everything that Paul tells us to do in this chapter!
Now, take a close look at how you lived your life before you were saved and try to understand that God forgave you of all those sins. Why should we try to play God and be unforgiving towards people? The new life is tough but as God said, . . . Be holy, for I am holy. I Peter 1:16.
As I close this evening I would like to end with the words of Paul as he spoke to the Philippians. He said, Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9. May we walk in PURITY as God has called us to do!