We have been in a series of messages on Spring Cleaning. In keeping with that tone, I would like to offer for your amusement this morning a letter I received to help with your spring cleaning. Do any of you have cats?
How To Clean A Cat
1. Thoroughly clean the toilet. 2. Add the required amount of shampoo to the toilet water, and have both lids lifted. 3. Obtain the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom. 4. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. You may need to stand on the lid so that he cannot escape. CAUTION: Do not get any part of your body too close to the edge, as his paws will be reaching out for any purchase they can find. 5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a ’’powerwash and rinse’’ which I have found to be quite effective. 6. Have someone to open the door to the outside and ensure that there are no people between the toilet and the outside door. 7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids. 8. The now-clean cat will rocket out of the toilet, and run outside where he will dry himself. Sincerely, the Dog
Just as we need to clean our houses, and our pets, we need to clean our lives as well. We’ve seen that it is easy to keep and store a lot of junk—and it all has to go. Lynelle is going to be grateful when this series is over so we can finally get rid of this t-shirt, but remember? We keep a lot of junk, and as we’ve seen in the first two messages, it all has to go!
I like the Message paraphrase of Ephesians 4:22—“Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything--and I do mean everything--connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it!”
But last week we saw that it isn’t enough to just get rid of something. You see, not only do we need to get rid of the junk of the old life, we’ve got to fill it with the treasure of the new life. Verse 24 tells us to “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
We can do this because of the Holy Spirit, who works in us. Romans 8: 12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. We cannot do it on our own—we need the help of the Spirit. And all of those who are sons of God have the Spirit of God in their lives.
Someone once wrote, “The children of God have the Spirit of God to help them become like the Son of God.”
How do we accomplish this—by renewing our mind. Verse 23—“Be made new in the attitude of your minds.”
You say that this seems to be impossible. You can’t do it—you don’t even know where to begin. Well, God has not given you an impossible task and then left you to do it on your own. Remember 2 Peter 1:3-4?
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Participate in the divine nature—that sounds like –“put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires—that sounds like –“put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires.” God has not left you alone—he has given you the power to accomplish His will for your life.
Paul would say in his letter to the Philippians church—“13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” In other words, I have the power to accomplish anything God wants me to, because He has given it to me.
In fact, God has not left us without blueprints—a proposed way of dealing with the old way of thinking. Today, we are going to look at Ephesians 4:25-27 and see 2 blueprints for cleaning our lives.
FIRST, WE MUST GET RID OF LYING.
25Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
Let’s think of change in this regard. Stop—Change your thinking—Start. Stop doing wrong. Change your thinking about the old way of living. Start doing right.
So here, we are to put off falsehood. Stop lying.
Proverbs 6: 16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.
God hates lying—it has to go. Even the Ten Commandments deals with it. Anyone know what the ninth commandment is? 16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Lying has to go.
But, it isn’t enough to just stop. We have to start. Start speaking truthfully to your neighbor.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The truth may set you free, but often times the truth is very ugly and painful. That’s why we avoid the truth in our lives. Truth be told, we often times like believing a lie.
James 1 gives us an interesting passage—“23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” I believe that we live like this because we cannot deal with or handle the truth. It’s like that famous line in the movies—You want the truth? Yes, I want the truth. And the general says, “You can’t handle the truth!”
That’s often the way it is in our lives. We can’t handle the truth in our own lives, and we don’t like speaking the truth to others.
The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.
Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.
29 times in Matthew. 13 times in Mark. 9 times in Luke. 32 times in John—I tell you the truth.
Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Why are we to tell the truth? Because we are all members of one body. We belong to each other in Christ. He urged us to build the body in love ( Eph. 4:16 ) and he urged us to build the body in truth. “Speaking the truth in love” ( Eph. 4:15 ). As “members one of another” we affect each other, and we cannot build each other apart from truth. Do you remember what the first sin that was judged in the early church? The first sin that was judged in the early church was the sin of lying ( Acts 5:1–11 ).
Let’s look at this through a silly illustration. This candle is lit here. Say I were to hold my hand to it. Wow—that’s hot! But what if my mind were to say to me, “No, that’s not hot, keep your hand there.” What would happen to my hand if that were to happen? It would burn, severely! We do this all the time to ourselves when we lie to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
18And he (Christ) is the head of the body (what is the body?), the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Every Sunday, Lynelle and I have a conversation that starts this way: “So, how did it go?” I expect her to critique me and the message. And I don’t expect her to lie to me—that won’t help me, and it won’t help you. You know what? Sometimes it’s good to hear, “Well, Pastor, you really stunk up the place today. You didn’t know your Bible from a hole in the wall.” Well, we need to speak the truth in love, but we need to speak the truth!
Lying has to go, because lying destroys the body.
"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.
In other words—don’t let your anger fester. Deal with your anger by the end of the day. Stop letting your anger control you. Deal with it by day’s end.
Many people are controlled by anger that has been left to grow. And maybe you are thinking this morning, “Ahah! See, I can be angry, I just can’t let the sun go down on my anger.” Don’t think that this section is giving you an excuse to be angry. I do believe in righteous anger, but all to often that becomes the excuse for unbiblical anger, which is sin.
It is difficult for us to practice a truly holy anger or righteous indignation because our emotions are tainted by sin, and we do not have the same knowledge that God has in all matters. God sees everything clearly and knows everything completely, and we do not. The New Testament principle seems to be that the believer should be angry at sin but loving toward people. “Let those who love the LORD hate evil,” ( Ps. 97:10 ).
We can’t let anger stir up in our lives, we can’t let it linger. The fire of anger, if not quenched by loving forgiveness, will spread and defile and destroy the work of God. According to Jesus, anger is the first step toward murder ( Matt. 5:21–26 ), because anger gives the devil a foothold in our lives.
Satan hates God and God’s people, and when he finds a believer with the sparks of anger in his heart, he fans those sparks, adds fuel to the fire, and does a great deal of damage to God’s people and God’s church.
Remember Genesis 4:6—“ Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
We must master it as well. If we let it crouch at our door, it will have us, and we will burn with anger. I know many people who have lived such lives, and I’m sure that many of you here this morning have well. AND I’M SURE THAT NO ONE HERE HAS EVER BEEN LIKE THIS.
It has to go, because uncontrolled and undealt anger will give the devil a foothold. Deal with your anger. 21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ’Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ’Raca, ’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ’You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
God has given us the blueprints for lying and anger. Next week we will finish by looking at the rest of the chapter. But God has not left us alone, without a clue. He is working in our lives to make us like his son. In a few moments, we will remember His work for us on the cross. Remember, stop living by the old way of living—it’s rotten through and through. Change your thinking, and live according to the new nature, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.