|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber notes three characteristics of those who have "donned the new garment" and are walking in the new way of life.|
When we received Christ, we got a brand new garment. Once Christ comes in, that garment is present. Christ is the very fabric of that garment. When I choose to let Jesus be Jesus in my life, when I choose against my flesh, when I choose to say “yes” to Him, strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God, then I begin to live a brand new way.
When you receive Christ, you have the garment to wear that identifies you wherever you are. It is a brand new lifestyle. But how many Christians are still trying to go back and put on those old clothes, still trying to dress the way they want to dress? What an indictment Paul gives to us. He warns them in verses 17-19 not to go back and live like they used to live. It says in verse 22: “in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” In other words, the more you choose the old flesh, the more you choose, not Jesus, but what you want in your life, the more you begin to be caught up in that downward spiral which is constantly being corrupted.
That verse talks about the lust of deceit. Did you know that all of the lusts that we have to contend with are deceitful? They make you think that you want something and pull you out of your walk with God. The moment you get it, you realize it is not what you thought it really was. Now you are caught once again in the current of that which is constantly being corrupted.
We started off by saying that we must put on the new man. Living the brand new life is like putting on a brand new garment. Point number two was, before I can put on the new, I have to take off the old. In both of these situations, I have already put on the new man and taken off the old. However, we must appropriate this now and bring positional truth down to experiential truth. The Christian life is a walk. It is moment by moment making that constant choice to make sure I am dressed properly in the garment of the Lord Jesus being Jesus in my life. It is a brand new way of living.
Point number three is in verse 23. We have to be, first of all, renewed in our minds. We are not going to put on these new clothes until we start thinking differently. Remember the lost world is darkened in its understanding. We have been enlightened in ours. We can understand what is right and what is wrong. We understand now what God requires and the more we get into His Word, the more we allow our minds to be renewed, then the more we are going to dress properly and live properly. The world looks at us and sees the witness of Jesus being real in our life.
Let’s look at verse 23: “and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” That word “renewed” caught my attention. It is not the same word as Romans 12:1 or Romans 12:2. Certainly your mind goes there. Romans says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” There are two words that are used in that little word “renewing”: ana, which means again and kainos, which means renew. In other words, it is a qualitatively brand new mind. He is telling the Romans, “You are going to have to completely change your way of thinking.”
Perhaps he is saying something else here to the Ephesians. It’s almost the same thing. The Ephesians are already changing their minds. They are already faithful servants as verse 1 of chapter 1 tells us. He uses another word in Ephesians 4:23 which comes from ana and neos. Neos, means new, not so much qualitatively new, but thinking in other ways. In other words, you continually let your mind be changed. It has already started with this qualitatively brand new way of thinking. Now you continue to let God rebuild and renovate your mind.
You see, the problem with us is the way we have been trained to think. If we don’t think God’s way, then obviously we are going to live wrong. Proverbs says, “As a man thinks, so is he.” Certainly my heart is to be surrendered, but I need to get into God’s Word and let God’s thoughts replace my thoughts, qualitatively and otherwise. I continually grow as the Holy Spirit of God begins to teach me how to wear my new garment.
I think there are some steps there. First of all, we have to take off the old. Then we put on the new. Then thirdly, before we are ever going to consistently do that, we have to be renewed in the spirit of our mind. Now the word “spirit” there tends to refer to the rational part of the mind. So I think what Paul is saying here is that in the area where you decide, in the area where you make decisions, in that area of your mind, you need to be consistently renewed so that you will continually put on the new garment of the brand new behavior.
Well, then Paul moves on and begins to show us, with the fourth point, what the new garment looks like. In verse 25 he says, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.” The first characteristic of this garment is we are going to have a transformed tongue. The Bible tells us that what the mouth speaks identifies what is on the inside of the heart. James 3 says no man can tame the tongue. If you ever see somebody in control of their tongue, they must be under the control of the Holy Spirit of God.
The first thing Paul says about the characteristics of the garment is, speak truth and stop speaking falsehood. Let’s identify here why it is a characteristic of this new garment. If you go back to John 8:44, the same word is used to identify its source. Remember Ephesians 2 says we were once dead in our trespasses and in our sins. Of course, we were of our father the devil. “You mean to tell me that lost people have a father who is called the devil?” That is exactly right. If you don’t know Christ, may I just encourage you to realize that you are already in that downward spiral, in that trap of being deceived by the devil himself. This comes right out of the devil himself. People who lie find their roots in the devil himself. Look at John 8:44: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar, and the father of lies.” When you find a person who does not tell the truth, who lies in any area of his life, you find a person who is no longer being controlled by the Spirit of God. He has now subjected himself under the influence of the old devil who is the father of all lies.
If you will look in Colossians 3:9 it documents that we were once like that. It was part of the fabric of the old man. It certainly isn’t a fabric of the new man. Colossians 3:9 says, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices.” We know the root of it is the devil and we also know that it is seen and manifested in the old man, the old garment. When I take off the garment of Christ, when I put on those wrong clothes, immediately I am going to see lies and deceit come out of my mouth.
Look in I John 2:27: “And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”
Folks, listen, there is no lie, there is no deceit in truth. There is no deceit in the written truth, the living truth. There is no lie in that. Where do lies come from? They come from the pit of hell. What is it representative of? The old man, the way we used to live. It was a characteristic of man to just simply lie. But when you come into the truth, there can be no lie in your life.
Look at I Peter 2:22. Jesus lives in us in the person of His Spirit. We find the word again, and it speaks directly of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a prophecy of Him which was fulfilled in Him. In the Lord Jesus there was no deceit. Peter says, “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.” That tells me two things. First of all, the truthfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ and His inability to lie, but secondly the truthfulness of His Word, for in what He spoke there was no lie.
Folks, you can’t lie when Christ is in your heart because lying is something that is a nature of Adam and the nature of the devil himself. He is the father of it. It came in through Adam. When God came to Adam he called out, “Adam, where are you? What have you done?” Adam replied, “It is her fault.” I mean, it is immediate. I don’t know why Paul started with this as the first characteristic of the garment. I think it is because all lying and all deceit protect the flesh rather than confess the flesh. It is so easy to tell a lie, isn’t it? Just tell a partial truth. You can’t do it when Jesus Christ is in your life.
You see, lies always protect the flesh. The flesh is filled up with lustful deceit and doesn’t want to be exposed. So when you come and bow down before Christ and begin to put that brand new garment on, it won’t let you lie. If you do, immediately you know you have grieved the Holy Spirit of God. Isn’t it amazing, he starts right there?
I want you to see something in chapter 6. Chapters 4 and 6 are saying the same thing! In chapter 4, Christ life is your garment. In chapter 6 He is your armor. It is the same thing. The whole book of Ephesians is like a fabric that is so woven together. You can’t disassociate chapter 6 from chapters 3 and 4. It all blends together. It says over in chapter 6 concerning the armor, “having girded your loins with truth.” How many times have you heard that preached that that is the Word of God? There is no definite article there. God is trying to say, “A person who is wearing the garment of Christ is transparent and open and honest and does not lie about anything, especially with his lips. He doesn’t speak deceit. First of all then, we have a transformed tongue.
Secondly we have a controlled temper. “Wait a minute. Are you telling me I can have a temper and it still be under control?” Yes. Look at what he says here in verse 26: “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” We think anger in itself is sin. No. It is what you do with anger. I am grateful for all the ones who have worked for the Pro-life cause. Hey, folks, we need to get mad. But what you do with that anger? James says the anger of man never accomplishes the righteousness of God. So in other words, this anger is not really just you getting mad. It is the Lord Jesus in you. He was not a very mild person all the time. He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple. This man who came to this earth, the God-man who was so virtuous, stood in a perfect balance between the extremes. He got angry, but He knew what to be angry at. He knew the target of His anger. He knew exactly how to express that anger. He never sinned at all.
So we are to be angry, but not sin with the anger. Go back to verse 2 of chapter 4. Here is a good example of it. It is all in relationships. Obviously it means that provocation has taken place. Somebody has provoked you. Look at what he says: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience.” Those three words right there show you that somebody is standing in the balance. They are upset. Nobody likes provocation. But they are letting their righteous anger rise up to where they know that they are not going to hate the sinner. They are going to hate the sin and still love the sinner. They are willing to trust God through the whole thing. The word “gentleness” simply means an inward calm so tamed by the Holy Spirit of God that when it happens, you know God is in control. Now that is a person who knows how to be angry, but not to sin with the anger. It is not really him being angry. It is the Lord Jesus rising up in him. There is such a thing as a righteous anger, and I believe that is what he is talking bout. But there is no sin with that righteous anger.
The word “sin” means missing the mark. We don’t miss the mark with that anger that is within us. It goes on to say in verse 26, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Personally, in my own heart, Paul is telling to me, “When the sun goes down, make sure your spirit is quiet. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” You know, my wife and I have done this over the years. We have tried never to go to bed without solving whatever difference we have. We have tried our best to make sure that we have dealt with what has angered us. We try to disassociate it from unrighteous anger and righteous anger to make sure we don’t sin with our anger. We have not always done it, but it has been a helpful thing in our marriage.
You have a controlled temper when you have on the new garment of Christ. Not only do you have a transformed tongue, but you have a controlled temper. Thirdly, we have a frustrated tempter. Oh, listen, when you start putting on the new garment, you are going to frustrate the devil. Do you want to frustrate him? I do. As a matter of fact, I love to irritate him. If you want to irritate him, put on the new garment and walk the brand new life. Let Jesus be Jesus in your life, and you are going to frustrate him.
Look at what Paul says in verse 27: “and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Now let me explain that a little bit. There are people who say because he uses the word “opportunity,” which is translated “place” 72 times in the Scriptures, then that word has to mean “place” here. That means that somehow a Christian can let the demons of hell get inside their life. Now that is being taught whether you believe that or not. Some of you may say, “Amen, preach the truth!” A lot of people say a demon can get inside of a Christian. This is one of the verses they use. They want to translate it “don’t give a place,” as if you are going to open up a room and let him in.
The New American Standard translators did us justice by translating it “opportunity.” That turns your mind from the devil getting inside to where you become a pawn in his hands in order to bring division rather than to build up. If you can find anywhere in the Word where that word is used in any other way other than “place,” you don’t have a case. You cannot force the fact that it means “place” in this context.
Let me show you two other places where it is used and could not mean “place” in those contexts. It is the same Greek word, though. Look in Acts 25:16: “And I answered them that it is not the custom of the Romans to hand over any man before the accused meets his accusers face to face, and has an opportunity to make his defense against the charges.” Guess what? That’s the same word.
Look in Hebrews 8:7. It is used a little differently even there. In the context it is very clear. Right before the verse that tells us we are of a better covenant, it says, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.” “Occasion” is the same word. Why do people think in Ephesians 4:27 the Scriptures are teaching that a Christian can have a demon? Folks, that is not even in the context of the chapter. The whole chapter is putting on the new garment. The whole chapter is saying, “Listen, don’t go back and live like you used to live. If you do, the devil then has an opportunity to influence you wrongly into doing things that you shouldn’t do, into doing things that are a downward spiral. You don’t want to go back into that. He works in the context of the world. He works in the pulpit of the world in order to tempt the flesh. Don’t give him an opportunity to do what he wants to do.”
What is the word for “devil” there? There are many words for devil. You can go to Revelation and find out that he is the old dragon. You can find out he is a lot of things. What is the word used here? Well, the word translated “devil” is the word diabolos. That tells you a whole lot about what the author is trying to say. Why did he choose that name and not other names? Why didn’t he call him Satan? Why didn’t he say demon? He didn’t. He said devil. Why? The word diabolos comes from dia, which means through, and bolos, which means to cast, to cast in between and do what? Divide. What happens when a Christian puts on the wrong garment? What is he doing to the body of Christ? What is the context of chapter 4? There are sixteen verses on doing what? Preserving the unity of the Spirit of God. Now there is a warning. Don’t go back and live like you used to live. Put on the new garment.
What is in the new garment? Honesty, no lying. You don’t protect the flesh. You confess it. Not only that, you have a controlled temper. Then when you do that you have frustrated the tempter. He can’t get into the body of Christ. He can’t begin to tempt you to where you fall again. You start walking and living like you ought to walk and like you ought to live.
Put on the new garment. Put on the new clothes and you will have a transformed tongue. What you say to people will edify and not tear down. You will have a controlled temper. You will be angry, but it will be God’s anger in you and you won’t miss the mark with your anger. Thirdly, you will definitely frustrate the tempter because he doesn’t know how to handle you when Jesus is Jesus in your life.