|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber continues looking at the "new garment" we put on as believers, and the changes in lifestyle that involves if we are to live as "new creations in Christ."|
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 let’s 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, “Don’t 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 don’t know how to live morally. Their relationships are fragmented. They don’t 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 don’t 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 God’s 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 don’t 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 don’t 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. Don’t 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 peace.
Paul gives two threads and a warning or a principle about the garment. We don’t lie and we control our temper and we frustrate the devil. Let’s 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 don’t lie. My temper is under control. I am frustrating the tempter. Now I am a giver instead of a taker. I’ll 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 doesn’t 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 doesn’t 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 can’t 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 don’t. As a matter of fact, you are going to take what is theirs the moment you get an opportunity.
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 doesn’t 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 I’ve 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 don’t care who it is. People may think I am their friend. Oh, no. I am a user and I’ll use that person for my own benefit. I’ll 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 they’ve 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. Let’s 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 somebody’s 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. You’ve 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 won’t work and he won’t give. “You mean to tell me if I am wearing the old garment, even though I’m 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, robbing 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 don’t 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 won’t work and he won’t 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. You’ve 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 God’s Word. If you are going to discipline yourself, you’ve got to discipline yourself according to a standard. The idea of being unruly or undisciplined in the Christian life means that you don’t give the time of day to the Word of God. You are not willing to line your life up with what God’s 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.” You’ve got your nose in everybody else’s 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 won’t 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 don’t 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 can’t 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 doesn’t mean that you don’t confront. That doesn’t mean you don’t 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 youwere 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, “Don’t 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, “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.”
Well, what does it mean? Well, in context, it means don’t become a taker or you have just grieved the Spirit of God who is a giver. Don’t 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. Don’t 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 wife’s 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. It’s not as much often now, thank God, as it was then. But when you grieve somebody you love and you can’t 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. I’ve 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 doesn’t 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 you’ve 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 must repent.
If you’ve done wrong, if you have been wearing the wrong garment this past week, if you’ve 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 I’m 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 yourself.”
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 didn’t do before. If you are not going to obey, forget what you’ve 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 won’t wear the new garment. People who wear the new garment preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace.