20 May 2018

BE A WITNESS OF GRACE PART THREE



Eph 4:25-32

Is it ever okay for a Christian to steal? The automatic answer that comes to mind is “absolutely never” and you would be right to think that way. For reasons like! We know it’s forbidden because it’s the 8th commandment that God gave to Moses, to give to the people in Exodus 20. It’s also, against the laws of the land in Canada and around the globe. But, what do you do with this question when you read Prov 6:30-31? “People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry, but if he is caught, he will pay sevenfold; he will give all the goods of his house.” So the only time it is understandable is when you are desperately in need. But unfortunately it will cost them plenty if they are caught. The penalty is server for the thief, even more so over other grievous sins. However, though it is understandable from a human point of view, it is still not right, and God never condones it. There is nothing positive to stealing and there is nothing God honoring by stealing anything that isn’t yours. Stealing comes from the desire to get what we want or think we need. We know that this is a major problem in our society and not going away anytime soon. 

So what do we do to help prevent this from happening to us? 
We lock our doors when were not home or before we go to bed?
We lock up our cars and have expensive alarms installed on them?
We have passwords and security questions on our banking, cell phones, tablets or computers?

Why do we do these things? Because there is always someone out there that is trying to steal something from somebody. Whether it’s a physical belonging or cyber theft or identity theft?

Now you’re thinking I don’t steal, so this doesn’t apply to me Pastor Mike. I’m a Christian and I’ve answered that question you asked at the beginning with a resounding NO! You’re saying to yourself “I would never do such a thing.” And I hope your right!

But! Let me ask you some questions this morning?

Have you ever cheating on your taxes? 
Have you ever borrowed something and never had any plans on returning it? 
Have you taken advantage of a store clerk’s mistake when given change back? 
Have you ever stolen your child’s candy or chocolate? 
Have you ever cheated on a test by getting the answers ahead of time? 
Have you ever downloaded movies or music knowing that it’s not free to do so? 
Have you ever raided your parents/siblings, change/gunk drawer in their dresser? 
Have you ever taken credit for something that someone else did?

We need to understand something very important about stealing! Stealing is more than taking something from someone. It’s an attitude of heart that says “I can have whatever I want, when I want it and I don’t care about anybody or who I hurt in the process” Sadly though! In the past several decades shoplifting has grown alarming, a large percentage of this has been done by employees. And for many, stealing is just a game in which getting caught is the only cause for regret or shame. Until this wrong is seen in its proper light, a person will continue down this road. That’s why it’s the truth of God’s word that transforms the sinful man or woman from their old nature. To deal with this sin of stealing, the heart needs to be addressed first.

Why is this important to understand? Jesus said this “The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.” Matt 12:35. Prov 4:23 says “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” The heart, mind and thoughts, and especially the will, and affections, are immediate and the effectual cause of all men’s actions. And from the heart proceeds all the actions, as of the natural and the spiritual. Paul is warning the body of Christ may this not be seen or said amoung the family of God. “Steal” in the Greek is “Klepto” for which comes “kleptomanic” and Paul says we are to “no longer” do such things. The Christian is to steal no longer.
  
What does the bible say about stealing?

The bible says it’s an abomination to God

Jeremiah 7:9-10 says “Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, 'We are delivered! ‘Only to go on doing all these abominations? Abomination is a thing that causes disgust or hatred, in this case towards God 

The bible says it’s forbidden, without exceptions.

Exo 20:15 says "You shall not steal.

Romans 13:9 we read this “For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

The bible says that stealing is fraud and that includes fraud in general and fraud concerning wages.

Lev 19:3 reminds us of this truth "You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning.”

We see this in the New Testament as well “Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” James 5:4

The bible says those who steal or know of stealing, hate their own souls.

Prov 29:24 says “The partner of a thief hates his own life; he hears the curse, but discloses nothing.” The accomplice would rather risks the punishment, rather than reveal truth.

The bible says it brings the wrath of God upon those who commit it.

Eze 22:29 says “The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice”….. (v31 goes on to say) ”Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord GOD."

So Paul says “stop stealing from the family of God….But do whatStealing in any form is a sin, and has no place in the life of the Christian. Rather, as Paul says “Work honestly” with your hands. For the purpose of what? So that you might have something to share with anyone. Paul says work on honest wage and be useful for those in need. What this does is opens us to think of others above ourselves. When a person steals they are only concerned and thinking of one thing…Themselves. When we are focused on others, it builds and strengthens the body of Christ.
  
Think about it for a moment! Productive people produce productive communities….the same principle applies to the church. When we work together and do our part to help it’s an amazing thing to see and be a part of the church as it grows spiritually and in the community for the gospel confession. The renewed person in Christ through the gospel confession acts without selfishness. Paul counters the urge to steal by commanding the flip side! It’s a four letter word that triggers in those days and many people today. That word is “Work” this word still remains an issue in our culture. Studies show the lack of work goes beyond the stereotype of welfare cheaters and the idle rich. Studies show that more and more middle-class young men are less inclined to work in positions of responsibility because undemanding jobs can provide them all they want: an apartment, a fast car, l a flat screen TV, and a willing partner.

Do you see something wrong with this picture? It’s self-focused and self-driven and Paul is telling us that we should work; so that in doing “something useful” we may have something to “share” with others. The word “useful” has its roots in the idea of something “good” or “worthwhile”. The spiritual echo of this portion of Paul’s letter is moving our minds to consider the impact of not stealing, by moving from a position of being a “taker” to a “giver”. Before the gospel penetrated our hearts we were always looking to take and never to give. Once we sought to deprive others of good, but now we seek to share with others our goods. That’s a witness of grace at work in the church. By living in accord with the instruction of the gospel, the “thief” becomes a representative of God mercy.
  
The gospel transforms our hearts to be workers and givers to others for this reason. 

This principle of working with your hands is a testimony to the unbelievers.

1 Thess 4:11-12 says “and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
  
This principle of working with our hands is to help guard our hearts against idleness

2 Thess 3:6-10 says “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.”

This principle of working with our hands is a beautiful way we share Christ with our fallen community.

Jesus said "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matt 25:31-46

In doing this we get to become Christ to our neighbor. A witness of grace at work in once a thief, but now a new creation. Giving rather than taking reflects the nature of Christ to one another and this lost world. Natural man and woman are seeking what they want and what makes them happy! But the man of God and the woman of God are seeking others with the love of Christ and the gospel that saves. Because we desire our neighbor to be saved through the gospel and find eternal hope in Christ alone. Paul reminds of this truth in Col 3:4 “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” As one theologian said “Jesus is not a theological concept, but He is our life.” This is our present and future hope, and knowing this truth should pump our hearts to work for His glory and honor amoung the church and people who desperately need saving.

What might the Christian being stealing today? 
When we fail to worship Him as we ought.
When we fail to honor God with our time.
When we do not give our very best in the family, at work, or the church.
When we waste God’s time and God’s good news!

We need to stop stealing the time God has given us and work with our hands so that we have something to share with anyone. Something as simple as the gospel of salvation! A Christians desire to earn more should be our purpose of being able to give more and help more. Remember this truth written in the book of Acts as we close. Paul said “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.” Acts 20:32-35So let’s do that!                         

13 May 2018

BE A WITNESS OF GRACE PART TWO



Eph 4:25-32

We are to replace unrighteous anger with righteous anger and never let our anger go down with the sun. This is an echo of Psalm 4:4 where it says “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent…” Some think righteous anger is “Getting made and not cussing and that’s ok anger!” Wrong...Righteous anger is a holy anger against sin. Look what Paul tells us next to keep our heads up or in the game of the Christian life! Because remember this is new to Christians, so this needs to taught and lived out. which was and is foreign to our old nature. Paul says “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,” (v26) What Paul is saying is that the renewed child of God should think and speak without uncontrolled or prolonged anger. We need to understand that Paul never says “Do not get angry or there is no room for anger” Why? That’s impossible and uncharacteristic of God’s children to do. There are “just causes” for righteous anger.

What do mean? The injustice of brutality and insensitivity of murdering the baby in the womb. The injustice and sexual exploitation of woman and children in the sex trafficking business around the globe. The senseless killing of people who were enjoying a beautiful sunny day in Toronto on Yonge Street. Watching my Leafs lose game seven to the Boston Bruins for the second time in the first round of the Playoffs. There is a righteous anger that stirs into the hearts of God’s children because it’s an anger that goes against God’s desires for His creation. Because it offends a holy and merciful God, and it when it offends God, it offends His children. When God’s holy standards for the world is violated, this produces in us what we would call “Healthy Anger.” We might call this the “anger of God’s honor” we stand beside and behind a holy God, who loves us and gave us His Son. We base our defense and righteous anger on the standard of truth “The Word of God, because it emulates the glory of God’s character.” The church is to emulate the glory of God and when that isn’t happening this should grieve and anger you with a holy passion for God’s honor.

Take for example! David when he penned these words “Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.” Psalm 119:53. David gives us the picture of the emotions that he is going through because of sinfulness of man against God’s holy law. This rebellion has seized him; has overpowered and overwhelmed him. What David is saying is that “I shudder; I tremble; I am afraid; I am filled with distress.” For those who ignore God’s word and trample it under foot. So Paul isn’t saying we are never to get angry, What were not to do is never get angry and let it fester and stew overnight, because all that does is creates in us a ungodly attitude and self-righteousness. And that only leads to sin and nothing good comes from sin, because it has no eternal value this side of God’s grace and His glory. So! Here is where the danger comes into the life of God’s children and this is where we usually go most of the time with our anger. Keep in mind! Anger is neutral until it’s tested by scripture, there is a healthy anger and there is a negative/sinful anger.

Where do we find this kind of negative anger on display? Answer! In the home. Anger can reveal its ugly head very fast in the family. Especially if one of your siblings is wearing, eating, riding, using something of yours, playing with something that isn’t there’….And in about 1.2 seconds that other sibling explodes in to an angry raging lunatic. And then it becomes World War 8920See sinful anger in not healthy anger and the scripture is very clear when it comes to unhealthy/sinful anger. For example……

1. Sinful anger is forbidden if it’s unjust or uncontrolled

Eccl 7:9 says “Do hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”

Matt 5:22 Jesus said “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgement.”

2. Sinful anger always happens when it’s through a work of the flesh.

Gal 5:19-21 we read “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

3. Sinful anger is connected with Pride.

Prov 21:24 says “A proud and haughty man—"Scoffer" is his name; He acts with arrogant pride.”

4. Sinful anger is always accompanied by a fool.

Prov 12:16 says “A fool's wrath is known at once, But a prudent man covers shame.”

Prov 27:3 says “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, But a fool's wrath is heavier than both of them.”

Prov 14:29 says “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding, But he who is impulsive exalts folly.”

Paul says here…we’re never to allow our anger to go down with the sun, because it will turn against us and betray us into sin. (v26) And we also see this betrayal in Psalm 37:8 where it says “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Why is there so much about unrighteous anger and sinful anger in the bible? One would think there is no room for anger, but as mentioned earlier there is a righteous anger for the glory of God, and this is where our justifiable anger belongs. But why is Paul warning us of this prolonged sinful anger and he does it by when he says “do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” We know the sun goes down a certain time of day and daylight is short, so we are to make sure this anger doesn’t go with us in darkness of night. Anger that is “caught up in the moment” if stewed over for many hours, can lead to; bitterness, ungodliness, resentment and unforgiveness. And that is where the “Heads Up Christian” comes into play, because we are now heading down a dangers path as Christian did in the “Pilgrims Progress” by John Bunyan.

What danger? The answer to that danger is found in the next verse “and give no opportunity for the devil.” (v27) Our greatest enemy and hater of God loves it when you stew in your anger and sinful flesh, because he knows it goes against everything God stands for. There are great dangers when this happens in the life of a child of God. Anger that is selfish, undisciplined and vindictive is sinful and has no place even temporarily in the Christian life. Paul uses the word “give no opportunity” This indicates to us that we are to always be on guide and never prolong our anger because this will give a foot hold for Satan. One person said “Don’t go to bed with unresolved conflict or else you will sleep with the Devil” Understand even the best motivated anger can turn sour very fast especially if we allow it down with the sun. Paul said this to the Roman Church “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. Therefore "IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Rom 12:16-21

There is a great warning for the church and to every brother and sister in Christ. Anger never ends well, especially when it’s unhealthy and sinful and to top it off when it’s given an ungodly opportunity it can be very deadly and life changing. There can be incredible consequences when we allow for our angry to go down with the sun…..FOR EXAMPLE… Nevertheless this is the extreme; I think it makes the point clearly for all of us and the dangers it can lead to……”Lam Luong, a 37 year-old man, confessed that after getting angry about a dispute with his wife, he murdered his four young children by throwing them off the Dauphin Island Bridge.” A little less extreme but just as deadly…..When a rattlesnake is cornered, sometimes it becomes so angry that it bites itself. When a man harbors hatred or bitterness in his heart he is poisoning himself just like the rattlesnake that bites itself. One puritan put it this way “Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontation still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back; in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

And a good question to us is this! How many of us are gnawing on our own souls? The day of anger should be the day we deal with it. Think about it! A life filled with anger, a church filled with anger, is a pain to the Spirit and to the body of Christ. Unrighteous and sinful fleshly anger can lead people down a road of no return. The greatest example is found in Genesis chapter 4 (turn there with me this morning). We read this “…Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." Gen 4:1-7

In Cain’s anger it says at the end of (v6) he displayed his countenance “face fallen” this indicates that he was discouraged, he had a hopelessness and guilt filling that lead him to be envious of his brother. This fallen face of anger leads Cain to do the unthinkable! What happened next is not some “heat of the moment anger” this is something that has been stewing in him for many days or years to how he felt about his brother. We read on and it says “Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground…..” Gen 4:8-16. The anger that stews, and stews and stews doesn’t taste good as stew does the next day…..No unhealthy anger only becomes bitter, sour like spoiled milk left on the counter for days. For the unsaved like Cain its leads to spiritual separation and judgement, but for the Christian it leads to a tarnished testimony of the grace of God and interruption to the family of God.

We need to have a balance when it comes to our anger…..the only justifiable angry a child of God is to have what offends and goes against God’s standards…not yours. Paul commands us to “be angry” with the qualification and yet “do not sin”Our angry is only permissible when it done against the Person of the Lord and against His will and purposes. Remember what began proper meaning “healthy anger” can soon become unhealthy and matter of pride and then leads to sin if we allow it go down with the Sun. The puritan Thomas Boston said when that happens it becomes “evil in itself, and dishonorable to God; being the vomit of a proud heart and unmeekened spirit.” Remember……it is the anger of the Lord’s people who hate evil. “For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.” Psalm 69:9. So what are we to do as for the “zeal of God’s house”, so that our anger doesn’t turn into sinful anger because all that does is give opportunity for the devil. That fervent passion I have for God’s house and service, and glory, and people is my focus and nothing else when it comes to my anger. 

1. Seek ways to love despite the situation and do not allow your anger to get the best of you so that it festers into sinfulness and regret. 

We read “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (meaning they are not easily angered).” 1 Cor 15:4-5. Being hot tempered usually involves making snap judgments, seeking instant vindication, and refusing to grant second chances. However, true love refuses to jump to conclusions, take revenge, or hastily judge anyone. 

2. Keep your thought life and the gospel confession focused on Christ at all times, especially when it pertains to anger. 

Paul said “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor 10:4-5. 

3. Let God do His job, instead of trying to do it for Him. 

Paul wrote “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." Rom 12:19

When we have been hurt or wronged, we want the one who brought us pain, to feel pain themselves. We want them to feel our pain that they put us through. We want to shun them, give them the silent treatment, or hurt them with words. We want to somehow get back at them for what they have done; after all, they deserve it. Unfortunately this anger is self-defensive and out of control. It leads to murder, jealousy, envy, and host of other sins. Understand! God is a righteous, holy, full of grace and we can always rest that the Creator of the Universe, who knows what is going and he will always have the last word…so that you don’t have to. Make sure we keep our anger holy and not unholy!

06 May 2018

BE A WITNESS OF GRACE PART ONE




Eph 4:25-32

When you hear the phrase “Heads Up!” what comes to mind? I’m going to feel an excruciating pain of a small white or colorful ball in about a second. Or! Someone wants us to watch his or her tie off shot. Whatever it is….This is a warning to look up instead of down! The phrase “heads up” is to warn others that they might be in danger! Paul is doing just that here with the church in this passage. When we approach this portion of chapter four it’s almost Paul is speaking in contemporary language “Keep your head up.” We know by Eph 2:10 that we are “God’s workmanship” so we are to work hard to honor God in what we say, think and do.

No this not legalism! This is how grace transforms sinners by the blood of Christ. This is how grace sets us apart unto good works, and this teaching is how the grace that renews us also motivates us to holiness. It should be your daily and minute by minute desire to live, and do what is honoring to Christ, because this grace has been lavished over us. Paul said “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” Eph 2:4-5

Eph 3:20-21 says “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
It’s by grace we live transformed lives and it’s by grace we desire to walk in a manner worthy of our calling as individuals and as a church body.

Brian Chapell said in his commentary “We are not to live to secure grace, but to live out the grace that He secured for us.”

So Paul expresses this “Heads Up” to the church family....Why? Because it’s important that we pay close attention to the sins that so easily ensnare us from the old nature. A nature that stills desires your speech, thought life and what you do. So let’s all of us, “keep our heads up” as we go through this section of scripture as not just individuals, but as a church family. So that! We can grow into maturity and so that; we can strengthen one another as a body to be healthy and vibrant for the gospel confession. Why? The old man and woman has been dealt a death blow and their destination is certain, but this nature is not completely dead yet. As Christians we are to mortify the flesh by destroying the old nature and we do that by feeding the new nature with the means of the grace that has been supplied to us through the gospel confession. Do you remember what Paul said at the beginning of this chapter? “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Eph 4:1-3. Putting off and putting on is not some robotic thing we do by simply reacting to commands. Yes, God is sovereign over you and me, but we are to respond positively to God’s sovereign declarations and commands. The beauty of the Christian life is that both God’s sovereignty and man’s will are at work. The believer responds faithfully and positively to God’s sovereign plan and will for our lives. We are going to see some please do and please do not! So I want you to examine these and as we go and I want you examine your own Christian life to where you need to grow more into and for the glory of Christ in the set apart obedience of holiness.
  
The Christian Is To Speak The Truth Always In The Family God (v25)

Paul begins by saying “Therefore having put away falsehoods, let us now…” What Paul is saying is……When a person becomes a believer he or she steps out of the domain of falsehood into the domain of truth. So, every form of lying therefore is utterly inconsistent with the new life we have in Christ. The gospel confession creates in us an innate nature to speak the truth, no matter what the consequences are.

What does it mean to speak the truth to our neighbor? Before we can answer that we need to know who my neighbor is. The word “neighbor” is defined and explained to us in what follows “members of one another” this means fellow Christians. So my neighbor is those in the household of God, in my local churchThis doesn’t mean you have free rein to speak falsehood to those outside the body of Christ. Paul wrote “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Col 4:5-6. We are to always speak to the truth as Paul already said in this chapter (v15) Why? Because we are motivated by the Spirit and the grace given. But! We have a special motivation to speak the truth with our fellow believers because we are brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. The ones you have the most in common with are sitting beside you right now! Don’t get me wrong! I love my mom, my father and brothers and I desire they turn from their sins and rest in Christ through the gospel. But my greatest joy and fellowship I have is here with the family of God.

So what does it mean to speak the truth to my neighbor then? It means we never compromise truth to fit the narrative of the day or the culture. It means we tell the full gospel to one another and those outside. It means we never water down doctrine to fit our understanding and lifestyle. It means we never avoid doctrine because it’s too hard to understand. It means we be good stewards of the truth as a body under the authority of scripture. Our physical bodies cannot function correctly if each member does not communicate to others correctly. We are to speak the truth because it’s for the well-being of the Church. If one member lies to another member then the body cannot function properly.

For example! Consider what would happen if the eyes didn’t communicate the truth of a hot iron to the hand. What would happen? Your fingers get burned. What if your brain doesn’t communicate to your foot that there is a police car sitting down the highway waiting for speeders? You get a speeding ticketWhat if your heart tells you the Leafs are still in the playoffs; you become a naive fanSee! The body cannot function or perform to its best if the members do not communicate truth to one another. Understand the words that you say here affect all of us and it also affects the ability of the church body. When we leave this place every Sunday or Wednesday Bible Study or anything we do here. You are leaving here as a representative of this church or this body of Christ and you are going into a world that is hostile and bitter towards the things of GOD, as a light for the gospel. And we need to understand the words that we say and use affect the ability of the church. This is exactly what James was saying in his letter “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless.” James 1:26. We are to be truth tellers because we have been lavished with grace to speak the truth in love and with one another. To maybe help us to understand the importance of this passage is to understand how God takes this passage as it pertains to truthThe bible says……

God is truth…… “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” Deut 32:4
  
Christ is truth……. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Holy Spirit is truth…… “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13

God will Judge this earth in truth…… “For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.” Psalm 96:13
   
The Triune God is truth and this is our plum-line for truth as a Christian and as a Church, under His grace. God takes truth seriously because it’s His truth in which we are to speak to one another here. A W Tozer said when it came to God’s truth “The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is the infallible declaration of His mind.” Augustine said “Where I found truth, there found I my God, who is the truth.” Warren Wiersbe said “The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength.” Richard Sibbes said "God's truth always agrees with itself." So knowing this truth should cause the body of Christ to do what? Obey it with joy and faithfulness because it’s God’s words to us.
  
For the Christian or the church, this is how……

We are to speak….. These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor; Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace;” Zech 8:16

We are to worship….. “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:24

We are to serve……"Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:14

We walk before the LORD…… “I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.” 3 John 1:4

We also read “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Gal 5:16. For the Christian or the church, this is how…… We are to meditate daily on…… “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Phil 4:8. We really need to get this right as individuals and mostly important as a church family! When we are obeying God’s truth we are filling and feeding the new nature which is pleasing to God and edifying for the church body. Everyone here plays an important role to a healthy church, and when you’re sick or out of tune the rest of the body feels it. This new lifestyle involves replacing sinful habits with righteous and holy habits. Our new union with Christ should change the way we live in community.

Speaking the truth should change the way we live with one another Because our sin affects others negatively in the same way the new nature affects one another positivelyFalsehood and lies suffocates the unity that we have together as a body….but truth strengthens us and makes the body healthy. 

Understand God hates lying “There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” Prov 6:16-19

GOD hates lies because Satan is a lair and so are those who are in rebellion against God “Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.” John 8:42-45 

What is your motivation to be here today? Is it to speak the truth to your brother and sisters? Is it to strengthen the church by your presence to see it grow….not in numbers but in maturity? Which one are you or which one you rather hear from this morning? A person goes to an auto shop where they tell you what you want to hear rather than the truth about your car. A doctor who refuses to tell you the truth about your health because he doesn't want to risk hurting your feelings. As one writer said “Most people would be furious to discover that someone they trusted would sacrifice the truth so they could avoid a temporary conflict and make you feel good.” Again! What is your motivation to be here today? Winston Churchill said, “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” That may be a common response to truth, but it places those who respond thusly on the road to tragedy and destruction. There is no way to love and follow God without loving and following truth. The two cannot be separated”.