Summary: authentic, true Christianity, maturity, maturation, growth, character, put off

Living the Truth

Ephesians 4:11 – 32

A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science fair. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment.

In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical “dihydrogen monoxide.” And for plenty of good reasons:

1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting

2. It is a major component of acid rain

3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state

4. Accidental inhalation can kill you

5. It contributes to erosion

6. It decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes

7. It has been found in tumors of terminal cancer

He asked fifty people if they supported a ban of the chemical.

Forty-three said yes and six were undecided. Only one knew that the chemical, “dihydrogen monoxide” was water. The title of his prize winning project was, “How Gullible are We?” He feels the conclusion is obvious.

If we are not careful we can be pretty gullible in our own lives. We can fool ourselves into believing that we are living the life that Christ has called us without learning God’s expectations for those who are to be called by His name. This morning’s message is entitled, “Living the truth”.

Ephesians 4:11 – 32

11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. 17So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26“In your anger do not sin” : Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold. 28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 29Do 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. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

I’m always amazed at deer hunters. It is my understanding that deer are color blind, right? If that is true, then why do you wear the camouflage clothes along with a large orange vest? I’ve asked many hunters this question and have been told that the camouflage enables you to blend in with your surroundings. If that logic is true, then as “hunters” of men, should we blend in with our surroundings when we are stalking our prey? What’s the difference? If we are to reach men for Christ, shouldn’t we be like them? Paul said, “I’ve become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” Is this what Paul had in mind? I don’t think so. If our behavior is to match our belief, then we must be different, so different that the world notices. How are we to be different?

In order for us to live the truth,

1. We must be prepared

a. The Pastor is to prepare God’s people for works of service.

i. God has given Pastors this gift.

ii. The word for pastor here in the original Greek is the word shepherd.

iii. Shepherds are entrusted with the nurture, protection, and supervision of the flock.

b. Nurturing is a role that requires the pastor / shepherd to nourish and facilitate development.

i. Prepare spiritual meals from God’s word.

1. I hope you came this morning with a hunger for the things of God.

2. Jesus said, blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.

3. Have you come this morning prepared to receive what God has for you!

ii. Nurturing requires helping babes in Christ to mature in their relationship with Christ.

1. However, the pastor can minister at this capacity and believers not reach maturity.

2. Because babes in Christ must be willing to feed upon the word, receive instruction, and develop a spirit of cooperation in the nurturing process.

a. In a very real sense, nurturing is best seen in the role of a parent to enable a child to become all that they can be.

b. All of us who are parents know that there are times when our children do not want to hear what is being said, or do not want to change certain behaviors, do not want to go where we are taking them and at times act in rebellion.

Have you ever tried to feed a baby with a shut mouth – because they don’t want to eat what you are giving them?

Have you ever taken a baby somewhere they don’t want to go? - Sure you can coerce them to go, but they will yell, scream, and throw tantrums along the way. Why do they do this because a babe is focused on what they want, not necessarily on what they need or what is best.

3. Nurturing is one of the primary means of building up the church – its spiritual growth.

c. The shepherd / pastor serves in a ministry that requires him or her to protect the body of Christ.

i. In the same way that a shepherd protects there sheep, the pastor is responsible for the well being of God’s church.

1. We are to protect believers from false teaching and heresy.

2. We are to protect believers from false teachers and the influence they may have over God’s church.

ii. We are to protect believers from those who would cause division and strife within the church.

The apostle Paul a Pastor to Pastor’s wrote in Romans 16:17 & 18

17I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

iii. Most of Paul’s letters address issues within the church, because it is the role of the Pastor to protect the church.

1. Therefore it is the pastor’s responsibility to confront issues and problems.

2. Because these types of problems and issues can be a detriment to the life and ministry of God’s church.

d. The pastor / shepherd is responsible for leading in the direction that God is leading them.

i. We are to keep the church focused on the great commission.

ii. We are to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as we seek to discern God’s will and direction for the church.

iii. A good pastor / shepherd will be a good follower of Jesus Christ in every sense.

e. Prepared believers are nurtured, protected, and led so that they can do the works that God has called them to as a part of the body of Christ.

In order for us to live the truth,

2. We must grow up

a. Growing up is a matter of allowing ourselves to be nurtured.

i. We mature as believers in Jesus Christ as we hear the word of God and apply its truth’s.

ii. Application of God’s truth to life is the means for maturing, the more we know and apply the further away from being infants in the faith we become.

b. As we mature we able to discern truth from error.

i. Mature believers are able to stand firm upon the truth of God’s word.

ii. They are not tossed around by the waves of false teachings and the deceitful schemes of others.

c. We correct false teachings by speaking the truth in love, seeking to see those in error return to God and His will for their life.

i. This fundamental concern for the truth is the secret of maturity in the church.

ii. It is into Christ as the Head that the body grows up.

d. As we mature as believers we are joined together by the supporting ligaments of God’s truth to form the whole body – God’s church.

i. God’s church grows and builds itself up in love.

1. Love that sacrifices our own wants and wishes to the will of the Father.

2. Love that sacrifices for the greater good of the body / church.

ii. As each of us does the work or ministry that God has called us to

1. Loving sacrificially so we can come together under the leadership of Christ to minister as God has called us too as one body – or in unity.

2. A unified church is comprised of believers who are willing to lose their own identity so that the life of Christ might be exhibited in all that it does.

3. A unified church is comprised of believers who are willing to work in harmony with other believers to accomplish God’s will for the church.

In order for us to live the truth,

3. We must leave the old life behind

a. In order for us to live the Christian life that God has called us to we must leave the old life of sin behind.

i. God has saved us from sin.

ii. His desire in doing so is for us to turn our back to sin.

iii. To commit to living a life that abstains from doing the sinful behaviors we once engaged in.

1. Sinful actions, behaviors, and attitudes ought to be past tense in the life of the believer.

2. We are new creations in Christ, meaning we are no longer what we used to be.

b. In order for us to live the new life that Christ has called us to we must put off the old life.

i. We have to move away from our former life and the corruption of its evil desires.

ii. Taking off the old self and putting on the new self is a metaphor of changing clothes.

1. If we do it properly we take off all the old dirty clothes (representing sinful actions, behaviors, and attitudes).

2. And we put on the new clean clothes (that is to submit to the Lordship of Christ and allow Him to transform us into new creations).

a. However, there are believers who try to wear some of both.

b. They have only taken off the parts they want while leaving on some of the old sinful behaviors and attitudes.

c. These folks have failed to relinquish all of who they are to Christ, and there are areas in their life that stink like socks that have been left on too long.

iii. So how are we to be clothed as new creations in Christ?

Colossians 3:12 – 14

12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

1. We are to be clothed in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

2. We are to bear with one another, and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.

3. We are to put on the love of Christ which will bind us in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

4. Are you wearing the garments of a new creation this morning?

In order for us to live the truth,

4. We must develop Christian behavior patterns

a. Put off falsehood and speak truthfully.

i. We must do this lovingly.

ii. We must do so, no matter how it makes the other feel.

1. Remember we spoke last week about itching ears, people seek to hear what makes them feel good.

2. However, in speaking the truth in love, there will be times that what has to be said will confront a person’s actions, attitudes, or character.

iii. We must speak the truth because it is consistent with who Christ is and who He has called us to be as believers.

1. He is the truth.

2. And He has called us to live from His truth thereby living as reflections of the truth that comes from Him.

b. In your anger do not sin.

i. I’m not saying that Christians will not get angry.

1. Anger is a common response to injustice and being mistreated.

2. Jesus got angry when He saw how folks were treating the temple and He cleared the money changers out.

ii. Yet in our anger, we are not to return to the old pattern of sin and how we acted as sinners.

1. We are not to exact revenge or judgment.

Romans 12:17 – 19

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

a. Repaying evil for evil is the way of our sinful world.

b. We are to do what is right in the sight of the Lord and everybody.

2. There are two qualifying statements here in relating to one another.

a. If it is possible,

b. as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

i. If it is possible, tells us there are times when peace is not possible, that no matter what we do or how we live we will have disharmony with others.

ii. Peace is not always possible because not everyone is willing to work towards peace.

c. As far as it depends on you, live at peace.

i. In other words, if disharmony and conflict should come, let not the responsibility be laid at your feet.

ii. The believer may not be able to persuade the other party, but he can at least refuse to be the instigator of trouble.

iii. As believers it is our role to allow God to be God and allow Him to deal with injustice and mistreatment

c. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

i. If we fail to deal with anger it easily becomes bitterness.

ii. As we are treated unfairly, mistreated, or taken advantage of we are to be forgiving.

1. I’m not suggesting this is easy, yet consider how forgiving God has been towards us, and how we treated Him?

2. If we are going to become more and more like Christ forgiveness is essential.

iii. Our role as believers is to be peacemakers who seek reconciliation, rather than retribution.

d. Paul goes back to the idea of getting rid of the old behavior patterns of the sinful man by saying if you were a thief, don’t steal, rather do something productive with your hands.

e. Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth

i. Unwholesome is unhealthy for those who are called to be like Christ.

1. It is speech full of slander, gossip, and is malicious.

2. It is speech that seeks to injure another.

3. It is speech that causes division and discord and runs contrary to the will of God for His church and our lives.

4. Unwholesome talk grieves the Holy Spirit that we have returned to behavior that is inconsistent with what the Spirit has done in our life.

ii. As believers we should only say what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.

1. They are words of encouragement.

2. They are words that inspire others to do and be more.

In order for us to live the truth,

5. We need to get rid of some stuff

a. As we mature in Christ we need to get rid of old attitudes and actions that are inconsistent with the Christian life.

i. Bitterness is a matter of keeping score of every wrong

ii. Rage is an outburst of frustration stemming from bitterness.

1. It is anger expressed as a means of vengeance towards another.

2. Anger expressed in this way is sin.

iii. Brawling and slander

1. Brawling is described as noisy assertiveness it is a matter of demanding my way.

2. Slander is a matter of blaspheming or speaking evil against another as a means of abuse.

iv. These are all characteristics of the old lifestyle before Christ.

b. As believers who are being transformed to be like Christ, there are some attitudes and actions that we should posses.

i. Be kind and compassionate – is to show a sweet and generous disposition.

ii. We are to forgive one another as in Christ God has forgiven us.

iii. It must stem from a love that keeps no record of wrongs.

In closing this morning, the question for each of us to consider is this: Are you living the truth?

• Have you made a commitment to Christ to be prepared for the life and ministry that He has called you? - Do you need to make that commitment today?

• Have you grown up in your walk in the Lord? Or are you still acting like an infant in Christ? - do you need to commit today to allowing God to bring you to that place of maturity?

• Have you left the old life of sin behind? Or are there still sinful behaviors, actions, or attitudes still present in how you are living? Do you need to come this morning and make things right?

• Can you see the life of Christ being produced in your life? Are you speaking the truth in love? Are you able to get angry without sinning? Have you allowed the sun to go down on your anger? Is there someone you need to forgive and reconcile with? Are you allowing unwholesome talk to come from you? We cannot say that we are living from the truth and allow these sinful actions and attitudes to permeate our lives – do you need to pray?

• Are there things in your life that you need to get rid of? Paul has listed some of those things that need to be gotten rid of, but there is so much more. Do you need to pray that God would empower you to get rid of sinful actions and attitudes in your life this morning? Won’t you come