I want to remind us of something that I think
is very, very important. We are in some very difficult Scripture and it is
going to show us how we are living as compared to how we ought to be
living. That is no fun sometimes. Why are we in it? What is God doing in
our lives? I want to remind us what all Scripture is for. Look in II
Timothy 3. It starts off with people who love themselves, but in verse 10
it takes a turn and begins to talk about people who love God.
In the context of people who love God, we find these two verses,
16 and 17: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for
teaching." God wants us to be informed. We want our minds to be
renewed so that our behavior can be transformed. Therefore, the Word of
God is to inform us for teaching. Secondly it is to reform us. Now to
reform somebody, you first of all have to reprove them and then you must
correct them. That is what the Word of God is for. It exposes us for what
we are, then it corrects us.
The Spirit of God wants to do a work in us through the book of
Ephesians. I think He has been whetting our appetite on who we are in
Jesus in the three chapters. It is wonderful to know what we have in the
Lord Jesus Christ, who we are, whose we are. But in chapter 4 Paul changes
directions. He is going to start saying, "Okay, folks, if you say you
have Him, then you are to walk in a manner worthy of who you say you are
and whose you say you are. You live in a manner worthy. Look, you have
every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. Now live up to it and walk like
you are supposed to walk."
Now letís turn back to Ephesians and outline the rest of the
book to show you how it fits together. Chapter 4, verses 1-16 show the
overview of what the church ought to be, worldwide, locally, wherever you
are. People are to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
and be strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God. That is in his
prayer in the last few verses of chapter 3. When I am being strengthened
in the inner man, I am being given the ability beyond what I can do apart
from God. In other words, I am living differently. There is something
totally unique and different about my life. When I am doing that, it is
going to reflect in the body of Christ. We are going to be seen for how we
behave toward one another. We are going to be seen for how we believe,
verses 4-6 of chapter 4. We are going to be seen for how we cooperate in
being built together in the body of Christ, verses 7-16.
So we see a picture of what the church ought to be. It begins to
show us how we are to walk. It begins to show us individually how we are
to live a brand new way. This is when it really goes home with us. Verses
17-19 say, "Donít live as the Gentiles live." The Gentiles are
darkened in their mentality. They are depraved in their morality. Their
inclinations are based on their darkened understanding. They donít know
how to live morally. Their relationships are fragmented. They donít know
how to build up. They only tear down as they live together. We are not to
live like that anymore.
Verses 20-24 say we are to put on a new life, a new garment.
That garment is Jesus Christ. We have already worked through all of that.
We are to take off the old and put on the new. The new garment is a
lifestyle, a lifestyle that all the world can see. What I say I possess is
one thing, but the way I live is another thing. You donít tell a man
about your faith, you live it out. He sees it by the way you live, by the
way you speak and by your actions.
In verse 25 Paul starts qualifying what that garment is. He
starts showing us what that fabric is really like. He says in verse 25
that when you put on the new garment you are going to have a transformed
tongue. It is amazing what comes out of the mouth. Jesus said it is not
what goes inside a man that defiles him, it is what comes out because it
reflects his heart. He says first of all, you are not going to lie. That
is the new garment. That is the Lord Jesus in your life. You see, when you
tell a lie or when I tell a lie, and it is always easy to do that, what we
are doing is protecting ourselves. We are never to protect our flesh. We
are to confess our flesh. We are to be open and honest before God. We are
never to live deceitful before others because the Lord Jesus is a truthful
being. He is truth, and He lives in us. Therefore, we cannot lie.
Secondly, you have a controlled temper. It is amazing. You are
angry at the right things for the first time. Now it is not wrong to be
angry. He says, "Be angry but do not sin when you are angry."
Now, the anger of man, James tells us, never accomplishes the
righteousness of God. So this is a different kind of anger. This is
Godís righteous indignation rising up in us. We are not mad at the
sinner. We are mad at the sin. We are angry at the right thing and we know
where to focus all of our anger. We donít let the sun go down on our
anger. We are making sure consistently that we are quiet in our spirit. It
is incredible the disposition of a person who puts on the new garment.
Then in verse 27 Paul says we have a frustrated tempter. In the
context what Paul is saying is, if you want to frustrate the devil put on
the new garment. When you put on Christ you have frustrated the tempter in
your life. As a matter of fact, the word for "devil" is even
very important to the context. The word "devil" is the word diabolos.
It means to cast in between and to separate, to divide, to disunify.
Now what was verses 1-16 talking about? Preserving the unity of
the Spirit in the bond of peace. How do we continue to do that? We donít
give the devil an opportunity. How does the devil take opportunity? Only
when he can tempt us into putting on the old garment and taking off the
new. Donít let him have that opportunity. You continue to walk in the
new garment and you will continue to preserve the unity in the bond of
Paul gives two threads and a warning or a principle about the
garment. We donít lie and we control our temper and we frustrate the
devil. Letís look at verse 28. I become one who is a giver and not a
taker. That is the new disposition. This is the new garment. I donít
lie. My temper is under control. I am frustrating the tempter. Now I am a
giver instead of a taker. Iíll explain that in a second. Do you know
there are two kinds of people in this world? There are replenishers and
depleters. A depleter is somebody you are around that absolutely sucks
everything out of you. You have no energy left to do anything with this
person. He is a taker, never giving anything back. That individual has
never put on the new garment.
But when you find a person who is a replenisher, he has put on
the new garment. He is a person who doesnít take. He gives and
replenishes and replenishes. The difference in wearing the new garment and
the old garment is, the old garment wants to be ministered to. The new
garment wants to minister. It wants to give. It doesnít want to take. It
wants to give. The new garment changes everything about your disposition
towards all relationships whether at home, church or wherever you are.
Let me show you what I am talking about. Verse 28 says,
"Let him who steals steal no longer." What does it mean to
steal? "That is pretty obvious. You break into a store and you steal
something." Now wait a minute. The word is klepto. Now what
word do you think we might have in the English language that comes from
that? Kleptomaniac. That is a person who habitually takes what is not his.
He canít help it. Wherever he is, he is always an opportunist and he
grabs for himself whatever he wants to take.
Well, the present tense and the active voice is used. It is a
participle. Here is a person who consistently, by his own lifestyle,
depletes. He takes. What he takes is not his to take. Interestingly, in
checking this word out, I found out how it is associated. It is
intermingled with some other things that are very helpful to understand.
Look in Leviticus 19. When you talk about the old garment,
somebody who is a taker has all of his relationships messed up. Leviticus
19:11 deals with three things here and ties them together. It says,
"You shall not steal, nor deal falsely." What he is talking
about here is living deceitfully with folks. In other words, it is living
a lie as much as telling a lie. It is living a deceitful, false life. It
is letting people think you care about them when you really donít. As a
matter of fact, you are going to take what is theirs the moment you get an
The next thing it says here is, "nor lie to one
another." We have already seen that we are not to lie to one another
anymore. Somehow this is all fixed in together. It is in relationships.
When a person doesnít have the new garment on, he is going to be a
deceitful person, a taker, a depleter. He is going to lie to protect. So
you see relationships on a wrong level.
Do you realize how this affects our families? Do you realize
when Iíve got the old garment on in my family, I will manipulate my wife
and others to get what I want out of them? Every one of us are that way.
When I have the old garment on all I have are false relationships with
anybody. I donít care who it is. People may think I am their friend. Oh,
no. I am a user and Iíll use that person for my own benefit. Iíll step
on whoever I need to step on to get what I want out of them. That is what
the old garment is. That is why three out of every four marriages are
ending in divorce. Why? Because people are takers. They are depleters and
theyíve got the old garment on. A marriage cannot work unless you have
two people wearing the new garment.
So, it affects my relationships, the way I deal with somebody
else. As a matter of fact, if you will go back in the text, I think he
gives us another definition right in the very verse that we are looking at
in Ephesians 4:28. Letís just look and see what he says. He gives two
characteristics of a person having the wrong garment on, who is a thief.
You see, I want to get out of your mind that a thief is somebody who
sneaks into somebodyís house and steals something or somebody who breaks
into a store to rob them. That is a thief, yes. But there are other ways
to steal. Youíve got to go deeper than that.
Look in verse 28. After he tells him not to steal any longer He
says, "but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what
is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who
has need." There are two things Paul tells us here about a thief.
Number one, he is too lazy to work. He will not go after it on his own
energy. He wants to take it. He wants people to give it to him. He thinks
the world owes him something. Secondly, he will not share what he has. He
is not a giver. He wonít work and he wonít give. "You mean to
tell me if I am wearing the old garment, even though Iím not going out
and robbing a store somewhere, I am still a thief." Yes, you are. To
some extent you are stealing from other people what could have been
replenished in their life. What you are doing is you are depleting them,
As a matter of fact, Malachi made the statement, "What are
you doing robbing God? You are stealing from God." What was he
talking about? Your tithes and offerings, when you donít give.
So we find then that there is an area here where we rob from
others and we rob from God. It is the attitude that I am going to take. We
find that he wonít work and he wonít share. Look over in II
Thessalonians 3. Paul, being the writer of both of these epistles, says
almost the exact same thing in II Thessalonians 3. It gives us a little
bit more of an idea of a person who is a thief, a person who steals.
Youíve got to realize we can be thieves in relationships by being takers
and not givers. In verse 6 of II Thessalonians 3 he says, "Now we
command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep
aloof [stay away] from every brother who leads an unruly life."
That word "unruly" means undisciplined. Undisciplined
here means that he is not willing to submit to the standard of Godís
Word. If you are going to discipline yourself, youíve got to discipline
yourself according to a standard. The idea of being unruly or
undisciplined in the Christian life means that you donít give the time
of day to the Word of God. You are not willing to line your life up with
what Godís Word has to say. You are an undisciplined, unruly individual.
Drop down to verse 11: "For we hear that some among you are
leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like
busybodies." Youíve got your nose in everybody elseís business
because you are a taker, and you are stealing from them what is rightfully
theirs. This is the person who divides and gives the devil an opportunity.
That is the very instrument that the devil is using to divide the church
of Jesus Christ worldwide. He wonít put on that new garment. He would
rather steal, deplete and take rather than give and replenish.
Well, Paul gives an antidote to that. He tells you what the new
garment is. It is very clear. He says, "Let him steal no longer; but
rather let him labor." The word "labor" means to be willing
to work with your hands and not be ashamed of it. In other words, to go to
work, to do whatever you have to do.
Secondly in verse 29, we become a person who builds up rather
than tears down. This is so explicit I donít even have to say a lot
about it. Let me just read it. "Let no unwholesome word proceed from
your mouth." That is interesting. He has talked about what we say
twice. Once not lying, but now this is any general speech that comes out
of our mouth. It changes gear a little bit. The word
"unwholesome" there is the word sapros. It means rotten,
something that is rotten, something that decays.
A principle comes to my mind real quickly. If you take a barrel
of good apples and put one bad apple in that barrel, do you think the good
apples are going to crowd out the bad apple and therefore all the apples
are going to become good? No, it works exactly the opposite. One rotten,
putrid apple will begin to contaminate every single good apple that is in
that barrel. That is the way our speech is. The word "rotten" is
that which decays, that which putrefies. You know folks, the way you talk
to people is incredibly different when you have the new garment on as to
when you have the old garment on.
It goes on to explain itself. It says, "but only such a
word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment,
that it may give grace to those who hear." In other words, this is so
relative that you canít really apply it in an adequate way. It fits
whatever situation you are in. The Holy Spirit will give you words that
can build up. That doesnít mean that you donít confront. That
doesnít mean you donít deal with things, but it means that whatever
you do, you do it with an attitude of building up and not tearing down.
Then Paul says in verse 30, "And do not grieve the Holy
Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." I
want to show you something here. When he says, "Do not grieve,"
the word "grieve," lupeo, is a love word. In other words,
there are several things you can do with the Holy Spirit. I want you to
know that the Holy Spirit is not an "it." He is not the force as
Star Wars tells us. He is a person who lives within us. He is the person,
the Spirit of Christ who lives within us, the third person of the trinity.
Number one, He can be resisted. Acts 7:51 talks about the
religious Jew where it says "you are constantly resisting the Holy
Spirit of God." He can be resisted by the lost, or He can be quenched
by the church. Over in I Thessalonians 5:19 he says, "Donít quench
the Holy Spirit." He puts it in the plural. He is talking to the
whole church. You can put the fire out. You can quench the Holy Spirit.
Here in Ephesians 4.30 the individual believer can grieve Him. He can be
resisted, quenched and grieved. He says, "Donít grieve the Holy
Well, what does it mean? Well, in context, it means donít
become a taker or you have just grieved the Spirit of God who is a giver.
Donít let any unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, or you have
just grieved the Spirit of God who is the builder of the church. Donít
grieve the Spirit of God.
Do you ever grieve somebody you love? There have been times that
I have said things that have pierced my wifeís heart, not really knowing
how much damage it could actually do. This was true especially years ago
when I was just learning how to walk and live the Christian life. Itís
not as much often now, thank God, as it was then. But when you grieve
somebody you love and you canít take back what you have said and you
know now how they feel, that is exactly what happens to the Holy Spirit
every time we refuse to put on the new garment of Jesus Christ. It grieves
Him. It distresses Him. The word means to distress someone.
Paul says, "do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom
you were sealed for the day of redemption." That refers to the day
Jesus comes for the church. He is there in your life for a reason and He
wants to control your life.
I think verse 27 and verse 30 parallel each other. In other
words, I think he brings both spirits into play, the Spirit and the unholy
spirit who is just an angel, certainly not equal to God. He brings them
both into play. Which one are you going to please? If I grieve the Holy
Spirit, I have just given the unholy spirit an opportunity. If I bless and
please the Holy Spirit, then I have just frustrated the unholy spirit.
Iíve got a choice to make. The devil is not somebody we reckon with,
folks. He can only be in one place at a time. He is not omnipresent. His
system is in this world. He is wherever God is working in such a way that
he had to get his attention to stop it. I pray that some day we will be
the kind of church that would attract that kind of attention. Folks, let
me tell you something. His spirit is in this world. The mark he left on
humanity is our flesh. When he gets us to put on the old garment, he
doesnít have to get in us. That old garment does the damage. We have
given him an opportunity, and he takes it from there in the downward
spiral of self.
Well, maybe you feel convicted. I already have. Do you know what
you do when you realize youíve sinned? Let me tell you what to do. There
is such grace in this. Come right back to where you departed. You confess,
which means you agree with God, "God, I have missed the mark. I am
doing more damage to the body of Christ than I am building it up and God,
I want to stop it." Secondly, you repent. Now the forgiveness will be
there when you confess. You can appropriate that at that point. Now you
If youíve done wrong, if you have been wearing the wrong
garment this past week, if youíve offended other people and you know by
what you have said that you have hurt them, first of all confess it and
make sure you make it right with them and then repent of it.
A young fellow was in the house with his dad and his family. It
was warm inside. Outside it was below zero, the wind blowing, snow
stacking up. It was awful outside. Inside it was a warm house, insulated,
fire in the fireplace. You can just get the picture. A ball game on
television. Carpet on the floor. You could smell the bread cooking in the
kitchen. Supper was about ready. It was just where you want to be. The boy
was sitting there enjoying it, and the father looked over at him and said,
"Hey listen, son, put another log on the fire." The son jumped
up and said, "I am 18 years old and Iím sick and tired of being
told what to do when I am in this house. I am leaving, and you can have
it. You do it yourself. If you want a log on the fire, put it on
He went upstairs, got a duffle bag, put his clothes in it and
walked out of that house. He walked about a block. The wind was picking
up. The chill factor now below zero. The wind was burning his face it was
blowing so hard. He was cold and thinking to himself, "You know, I
was just inside that house and it was warm. I was about ready to eat, and
it was wonderful fellowship. This is sort of stupid." He finally
decides to go back. So he walks back to the house kind of sheepishly and
knocked on the door. The father opened the door and said, "Hey, son.
Good to see you. Been gone 30 minutes. I thought you were leaving for a
while. Good to see you. Come on in. Take your stuff upstairs, unpack and
come on down and watch the ball game with me." He went downstairs and
sat in the chair. Boy, he was glad to be home! This is where he belongs.
While he was sitting there, the father looked over at him and said,
"Oh, by the way, put another log on the fire."
Folks, you can confess until you fall over in the floor and you
will never have that new garment on until you put another log on the fire
and go back and repent of what you didnít do before. If you are not
going to obey, forget what youíve heard. You are going to wear that old
garment and you are going to be miserable. We will have to put a tag on
you because Paul says mark those who cause division. The people who cause
division are people who wonít wear the new garment. People who wear the
new garment preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.