|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Filthiness, silly talk, coarse jesting. Dr. Barber explains why these types of things must not be part of a Christians vocabulary, and what the consequence are when they are in use.|
The new garment is a brand new way of living, and Jesus Christ is the essence of that garment. Isn’t it wonderful to know that when you received Christ, His Spirit came to live in your inner man, in your heart? It is the Spirit of Christ and He is in there to enable us, to empower us to be what we ought to be. That is what the Christian life is all about.
We have been talking about this new garment and being strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit of God. You know, it is not as easy as we preach it. We have Christ living in us. We know we are to be strengthened with power in the inner man. We know we have a new garment. But I tell you what, sometimes it is just difficult to put that garment on, isn’t it? We are still human. Nobody has arrived. If you have struggles in putting it on at times, I just wanted you to know that I am in there with you. Those of you that have gone a little further than us, would you please help us out because there are difficult situations in making that choice to put on that new garment. No feelings go along with this. It is just a choice to put on the new garment of Christ.
The apostle Paul has been talking about the normal Christian life. I want to go back to chapter 3 briefly. In 3:14-21 we find that Paul says that living the normal Christian is experiencing God on a daily basis. Now understand what I am saying, this is the normal Christian life. This is not the deeper life. This is the normal Christian life, experiencing God on a daily basis. Verse 16-17 says we get to experience His power in the inner man as He strengthens us daily. How do you do that? By accommodating His presence. How do you make Jesus feel at home in your heart? Verse 17 says you do it by your faith. What does that mean? It means that I obey Him in His Word and as I am willing to obey Him, then He strengthens me in the inner man. You see, I am not going to be strengthened with power and experience His power until I am surrendered and accommodating His presence.
Secondly, He moves me into that higher ground and to experiencing His passion. That is in the last part of verse 17 on down through verse 19. We get to comprehend the love of Christ, but not only comprehend it, we get to experience it for ourselves. He says, “and to know the love of Christ.” The word “know” means to know by experience, to experience it for yourself. His love for us and His love through us constrains us to love a world that is around us.
Then thirdly he moves us into the last part of verse 19 through 21. We need to experience His potential. Paul said “in order that.” That phrase, “in order that” is used twice in that verse. In other words it moves us up to a different level. In order that we might be filled to the fullness of God. What does that mean? It means to the point that all of God fills all of us. Folks, when you get to that level of life, you begin to live being filled to the fullness of God. The word “filled” means controlled. What fills a man controls a man. When you are filled to the fullness of God, you begin to walk into the potential of God. You begin to experience for yourself that which is the exceeding abundantly beyond all the things we could ask or even think. That is Chapter 3.
Then Paul gives us a different way of looking at it in chapter 4. In verse 22 he says to take off the old man, the old garment. The word “take off” is the word that was used by the secular world at that time to mean “to take off a garment.” Paul just baptizes it and uses it in the language of the Christian vocabulary. We take off the old. How do you take off the old? By putting on the new. All you have to do is say “Yes” to Jesus and it works itself out.
You put on the new, verse 24 says. It is like taking off a garment and putting on a garment. This new garment is a lifestyle. A garment is what people see. So therefore, when you are strengthened in the inner man, there is going to be a garment of righteousness in the outer where men can see. It is like living wearing a brand new set of clothes.
Then in 5:1 and 2, he says to imitate God’s love. Now the word “imitate” there in verse 1 is the word mimetes, that we get the word “mime” from. When somebody mimes they don’t say anything, but they are so exaggerated in their actions, you know exactly what they are trying to say. Paul says, don’t talk it, walk it. Live it. Wearing the new garment is living it, not talking about it. Live it out before others.
In 5:3-10 he talks about the fact that this new garment is a garment of light. The old garment is a garment of darkness. That is why we are never to go back to it. Remember this, the Holy Spirit is the one who dresses us in the new and undresses us with the old. It is not us actually doing it. It is us saying “Yes” to Jesus and the Holy Spirit takes care of the exchanging there of garments.
So we come then to verse 11. The old garment is a garment of darkness. The darkness breeds two things, as we saw in that passage. One is idolatry, and out of idolatry comes immorality. You see, when I put on the old garment, the one that doesn’t fit anymore, I have stopped worshiping God. I have become idolatrous, and I am worshiping myself. When I worship myself in that idolatry, I am going to become immoral in my relationships. Whether they are sexual or not, they are going to be immoral relationships. I am not going to be walking in love. I am no longer imitating the love of God.
I want us to talk now about the power of the new garment. I guess that is a good word for it, power, potential, the prospects of the new garment. I am going to call it the power of the new garment. When we put this new garment on, what can we expect? It is not us doing anything. It is the power within us. It is the Lord Jesus within us strengthening us in the inner man.
What I have been trying to do in Ephesians is show you that you can’t disjoint this book and teach this part as if it is separate from the other part. Chapter 3:14-21, the prayer, is the hinge of the whole book. It sums up everything from chapters 1, 2 and 3, and sets up everything from chapters 4, 5 and 6. You’ve got to keep relating it back. If you don’t, you will try to do these things in your own energy and it doesn’t work. But when I put on this new garment, which simply means I have said “Yes” to Jesus, I have now depended upon His Spirit to strengthen me with power in the inner man.
What can I expect? Three things. Let’s read the text, verse 11 down through verse 14. He says, “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”
There are three things I want you to see about what we can expect in this new garment. It is not us, it is the garment. What can we expect? Number one, we can expect, when we put on this new garment, to have the power to refuse the deeds of darkness. “Oh, I can’t do it. I go to school and everybody is pagan around me. I just can’t help it. They are all doing it, and I need to do it. I just can’t say ‘No.’” Yes you can. The Spirit of God is in your life to help you say “No.” He enables you to say “No” by saying “Yes” to the Lord Jesus Christ. God would never command us to put off something or to do something that He doesn’t give us the ability and strength to do it with.
Verse 11 says again, “do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.” What are the deeds he is talking about? The unfruitful deeds of darkness. We are still in the context of immorality and idolatry. Don’t forget that. He only stays in that area in this particular passage. To me there is a reason. When a person is idolatrous, that is the root of everything. That means he is no longer worshiping God. He is no longer depending upon God. So he stays in that context. How is it that we can be in this world but not of this world? How can we be among them, but not be partakers with them? Oh, we can and he is going to tell us how in just a moment.
If you go back to verses 3-5 we find out what those deeds are. Verse 3 says it is immorality. That means any illicit sexual activity with another person; homosexuality, incest, adultery or any kind of illicit sexual act with another person. Impurity covers all the bases. In other words, it is anything that is unclean. When you have defiled your body, whether it is with another person or not, it covers all those bases. Every bit of that comes out of the next word which is “greed.” Greed, simply put, says, “I am going to please myself. Like it or not, God, I am going to please myself.” Now that is the epitome of the old garment. That is the epitome of the old man.
Verse 4 says there must be no filthiness, silly talk or coarse jesting. Now he is still in the context of all this immorality. What does he mean? You see, a person who is going to be immoral with somebody or wants to be, will always test the waters by his words to see how far he can go. Coarse jesting means he has a hidden agenda, hoping they will pick up on it. Silly talk means he takes something that is shameful and makes it funny so it can be more acceptable. Then filthy talk is the bottom line. That is when it just comes right out and gets to the point of what he is looking for. Paul says these are deeds of darkness. These are the deeds of people with minds that have been darkened.
He says in verse 5 that these people won’t have an inheritance in the kingdom of God. Verse 6 says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words.” He is saying, “There are going to be people who will try to pull you to their side. Have you ever been around people like that? Maybe you are working with people right now and because of their jokes, because of their sick humor, because of the things that go on in that office, you have found yourself being pulled their way. He said there are going to be people who are going to come along to deceive you with empty words because of these things. What things? The things he has mentioned in verse 3 and following. He says, “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.”
The word in verse 7 when it says, “Therefore be not partakers with them,” is very similar to the word in verse 11. But there is a difference. “Partakers” means simply that you join in with somebody and do what they do. It may be a one-time thing, maybe a two-time thing or whatever. You just happen in a weak moment to come along side of them and you do what they do. But the word “don’t participate” in verse 11 goes a step further. It means to share in common with. In one you are partaking of the deed. In the other it goes even further. You are beginning to absorb within you the very attitudes of the people that are around you.
You are sharing in common with the people who are around you. Not only are you partaking in the deeds, but you are sharing things in common with people who wear garments of darkness. We are not to do that. We are to wear the garment of light. We have the power in that garment to refuse the deeds of darkness.
You see, we have been made holy. The word “holy” means we are in a class all by ourselves. Ephesians 1:1 says the letter is from Paul to the saints in Ephesus. It is not perfection, but you are put in a class all by yourself. You see, God is inherently holy. He is in a class all by Himself. There is nobody like Him. He is not just loving, He is all loving. He is not just faithful, He is all faithful. Now that He has set us apart and put His Spirit within us, we are in a class all by ourselves. Among human beings, we are in a class all by ourselves. So therefore, when we go out into the world, we have to have this garment on because only with this garment can we refuse what they are doing. We refuse the deeds of darkness when we wear the right garment. We have the power to do that. So we can be in the world, but not of the world. You see, a boat in water is by design. Water in the boat is disaster. We are not to have the water in us, we are to be in the water. We have to reach them for Christ, but not partake with them and not share in common the deeds of darkness. Only in the garment of Christ do we have the power to refuse the deeds of darkness.
There is something in this that really struck me. He says, “do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.” Now he didn’t say that the darkness reeks of bad fruit. He says the darkness has no fruit at all. This is very important. What is fruit all about? Well, Jesus said fruit always causes us to recognize the tree. That is part of it. But He said something else. Fruit is that which brings benefit to others. He says in John 15 that we are to bear much fruit. Why? You see when you put the right garment on, the garment of love, and refuse the deeds of darkness, the deeds that are going to come out of you are called fruit. That fruit is for the benefit of others. You see, a person with the right garment on, the garment of Christ, doesn’t live for himself. He lives for others. The love that he has must spill out on other people.
But you see, a person who has the wrong garment on is living for his own self and is of benefit to nobody. It is a sad thing to see a Christian in the wrong garment because he is of use to anybody. He is living unto himself. He will not get in the Word of God. He has told God, “I am going to do it my way, God. I am not going to listen to you. I am not going to obey you.” As a result, he is unfruitful. There is nothing in his life that anybody could benefit from whatsoever.
Well, secondly, he says we have the power to reprove the deeds of darkness. Now I like this. It’s not us, but it is in the garment. I don’t have the power, but the power is in me. The power is Jesus Christ. There is that power to reprove the deeds of darkness. He says in verse 11, “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness [You have the power to say “No” to them], but instead even expose them.”
What does the word “expose” mean? The word “expose” is the word that means to reprove them, reprove them to the point that they are shamed at what they are doing. In other words, to bring such conviction on people, who are living with the wrong garment, living in the deeds of darkness, to where they become ashamed of the way they are living.
Now, he says in verse 12, “for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” What in the world is Paul talking about here? Most people think he is saying that we should go downtown, get a big box, get on top of it and reprove the pagans for the works of darkness. Now wait a minute. Hold it. If that is what he is saying, why does he say they are done in secret? Somebody is doing them in secret and they are hidden. How do you know what they are to start with? Where are you going to start? No, it doesn’t fit the flow of this context. We preach the word of God, and the light of the Word exposes people. I don’t think that is what Paul is talking about.
I think Paul is talking about something in line with what he said in verse 1. Don’t talk it, walk it. He is saying, “Since you now have a garment that is light, you don’t reprove the world by what you tell them. You reprove the world by how you live.” It is my garment that exposes what is going on around me. If I am not wearing my garment, then what I say means nothing anyway. When I am wearing my garment, the garment of love, the garment that reaches out and cares about other people, the garment that speaks of the righteousness and the holiness of God, then that garment begins to reprove the people around me. By wearing the garment of light, we reprove those acts of darkness around us. Look at verse 13: “But all things become visible when they are exposed (or reproved) by the light.” That little “the” is in the text. It is not me, not my garment as much, but it is the Christ who is in me. He is the essence of my garment. If Jesus is being Jesus in me, then the Jesus in me is going to show up others who are not wearing that garment, others who are participating in the deeds of darkness.
He goes on to say, “for everything that becomes visible is light.” It says in King James, “For whatsoever doth make manifest is light.” In other words, the only thing that can make something manifest is the light. Again it uses the definite article. So the light is in me. If I put on the garment, the power in that garment is not only the power to refuse the deeds of darkness. It is the power to expose them, to reprove the deeds of darkness.
Do you realize what an impact your life is making when you wear the right garment around the people that you work with? Do you realize the impact that your life is making with the people you associate with during the day, in a restaurant or wherever you go? Do you realize that garment of light is literally exposing deeds of darkness that are done in secret and is bringing them to light? People see you. Then they look at themselves and see the difference. They are even brought to shame because they don’t live on a level that you live.
There is something about the garment. When you put the garment on, the light of the garment not only can refuse the deeds of darkness, but it will reprove the deeds of darkness to the point that people are even shamed by just your very presence among them. Wow! Is that what it means to be a saint in a class all by yourself, living holy, in the world but not of the world? That is exactly what it means to be a saint.
Thirdly, you also find the power in that garment to remove the deeds of darkness. Look at verse 14. “For this reason it says [and the quote is out of Isaiah], ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” Most people think Paul is using that verse to say, “This is God’s plea to the whole world, ‘Wake up and I’ll shine on you. Once I shine on you, you can become light for other people.’” I disagree with that. Looking at the context Paul is saying, “You Christians, you see in Isaiah 60:1 when God spoke that, He spoke it to His people.” To me Paul is saying, “God is saying the word to the church, ‘Wake up! You are sleeping! Death is all around you. Darkness has enveloped you. Wake up. Let Jesus shine on you first and reprove you for the things wrong in your life. Then Jesus can shine through you and we can start seeing darkness dissipate because it is light that puts out the darkness.’”
Folks, when you walk into a dark room in the morning, you don’t switch the darkness off and switch the light on. No, you just switch the light on and the darkness has to flee. Darkness does not put out light. Folks, darkness is not the problem, and it never has been the problem. The problem is no light. Christians are sound asleep. You don’t have to go out on the street corner and get a box and tell the world. Live it! Your neighbors will see the difference. Your wife will see the difference. Everybody will see the difference. It is incredible when you put the garment on. It is incredible when you are strengthened in the inner man. Immediately people are affected. You don’t even know it, but that light is penetrating the deeds of darkness and the world of evil. When you put on that garment, it puts out darkness.