BE A WITNESS OF GRACE PART ONE
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 church. This 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 ticket. What if your heart tells you the Leafs are still in the playoffs; you become a naive fan. See! 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 truth. The 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 positively. Falsehood 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”.