“A Look at the Heart” #2- In Search of a Standard

13 Apr

jesus-words1Every morning the man would pause in front of the watchmaker’s shop, gaze at the large clock in the window, set his watch by it and walk on. Every day at noon, the watchmaker would go to the big clock in his window, and set it precisely by the blowing of the noon whistle at the local factory.

After many years had passed, the watchmaker stopped the man one day and complimented him on his faithful commitment to the correct time. “Oh, I have to be correct,” said the man. “You see, I’m the one responsible for blowing the noon whistle at the local factory. Without knowing it, they had both been using the other as the standard.

Do we use the speech of the people around us as the standard for our communication? That can be risky business!

Malcolm Muggeridge asks us to imagine a collection of 21th century videos discovered in a cave somewhere in the centuries ahead…tapes of our TV shows, tapes of our music, our videos, our radio advertisements….what would they make of us? (Does that question depress you as much as it does me?)

Alvin Toffler has written that we are a society with “value vertigo,” morally out of balance. It’s been said that we have lost the noble quality of moral courage. Where do we look for absolutes – values that enable us to distinguish right from wrong?  If we look to one another as the standard, we’re in big trouble! We will almost always compound one another’s errors. Of course…the answer: God’s Word!

Ephesians 5:1-5: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children {2} and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. {3} But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. {4} Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. {5} For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

The Believer is to Walk Following God, 5:1-7
(5:1-7) Introduction: the challenge of this passage is one of the greatest challenges in all the Word of God. Just imagine—the great Pattern for the believer is God Himself. The believer is to follow the Person of God. The believer is to walk through life following God.
    1.    By becoming a follower of God (v.1).
    2.    By loving as Christ loved (v.2).
    3.    By being clean-bodied, that is, morally pure (v.3).
    4.    By being clean-mouthed (v.4).
    5.    By knowing God’s solemn warning (v.5-6).
    6.    By separating oneself from the unclean (v.7).

(5:1) Believer, Duty: the believer follows God, first, by becoming a follower of God. Note the word “be” (ginomai). It means to become a follower of God. The idea is that of commitment, attachment, devotion, allegiance, attention. Before a peson can be a follower of God, he must commit and attach himself to God. He must surrender and devote his life to God and then begin to follow after God.

The word “followers” (mimetai) means imitators. Some prefer the translation that we are to become imitators of God. Note the phrase “as dear children.” Just as children learn by imitating their parents, so we are to learn by imitating God. The very idea that we are to be followers and imitators of God is a bold idea. Just imagine, Scripture boldly proclaims that we are to become like God!
Þ    Christ said: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Þ    God demanded: “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy  (Leviticus 19:2).
Þ    Paul declared: “But we all…are changed into the same image [of Christ] from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 4:18).
Þ    Peter charged: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Þ    The early church saint, Clement of Alexandria said: “The Christian practices being God” (Quoted by William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, p.190).

(5:2) Jesus Christ, Death—God, Glory of—Believer, Duty: the believer follows God, second, by loving as Christ loved. Two things about the death of Christ should be noted here.
    1.    The phrase “gave Himself for us” is a simple phrase with profound meaning. It does not mean that Christ died only as an example for us, showing us how we should be willing to die for the truth or for some great cause. What it means is that Christ died in our place, in our stead, as our substitute. This meaning is unquestionably clear.
a.    The idea of sacrifice to the Jewish and pagan mind of that day was the idea of a life given in another’s place. It was a substitutionary sacrifice
b.    The idea of sacrifice is often in the very context of the words, “Christ gave Himself for us” (Ephes. 5:2). 

2. The words “Christ gave Himself…an offering…to God for a sweet-smelling savour [smell]” gives a higher meaning to the death of Christ than just meeting our need. The word “offering” refers to the burnt offering of the Old Testament (Leviticus 1:1f). The burnt offering was given to God not merely because of sin, but because a person wished to glorify and honor God. A person wished to show his love and adoration to God. This is an aspect of Christ’s death that is often overlooked—an aspect that rises far above the mere meeting of our need. In giving Himself as an “offering to God,” Christ was looking beyond our need to the majestic responsibility of glorifying God.

This means that His first purpose was to glorify God. He was concerned primarily with doing the will of God—with obeying God. God had been terribly dishonored by the first man, Adam, and by all those who followed after him. Jesus Christ wished to honor God by showing that at least one man thought more of God’s glory than of anything else. Christ wished to show that God’s will meant more than any personal desire or ambition that He might have.

He said: “That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given commandment [to die for man] even so I do. Arise, let us go hence” (John 14:31; cp. Luke 2:42; John 5:30).

The point is this: the believer is to walk in love, just as Christ has loved us and has given Himself as an offering and a sacrifice to God. The believer is to love so much that he gives himself as an offering and a sacrifice. There is to be no limit to the offerings and sacrifice of our lives to God and to men. Remember: God’s love—agape love—is always an acting love.

(5:4) Believer, Duty—Tongue—Speech—Conversation: the believer follows God by being clean-mouthed. If a believer is to follow and imitate God, he has to be pure in speech and conversation; he has to keep his mouth or tongue clean. He cannot let his mouth become foul and polluted, filthy and vile.

1.    He is never, not once, to be engaged in “filthiness” (aischrotes): using the mouth in obscene, shameful, foul, polluted, base, immoral conduct and conversation. What an indictment of our day—a day of sodomy and perversion. And note: the word refers to both conduct and speech. How polluted and foul-mouthed so many have become—so much so that society could easily be known as a second Sodom and Gomorrah.

2.    The believer is never once to engage in “foolish talking” (morologia): empty, unthoughtful, senseless, wasted, idle, aimless, or purposeless talk; talk that just fritters away and wastes time, that has absolutely no purpose to it. It also means sinful, foolish, silly and corrupt talk.

3.    The believer is never once to engage in “jesting: (eutrapelia): to joke, talk foolishly, poke fun, act or speak without thought; to be suggestive in conversation; to make wisecracks. It also has the idea of being cunning and clever, of being polished in suggestive and off-colored joking and using it to attract attention and win favors (Wuest. Ephesians and Colossians, Vol.1, p.121). Jesting is often used in off-colored jokes or conversation, at parties or breaks in order to be suggestive.

Barclay points out that there were and still are two main deceptions about Christianity (The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, p.192f). a. There were those who felt that they could say and do anything and still be acceptable to God. This argument came primarily from those outside the church, although there were some within the church who held the same argument. This idea finds its roots in the philosophy of Gnosticism. Gnosticism said that man is both body and spirit. They felt that the spirit is the only important part of man—the only part that really matters. It is the only part that really concerns God.

What a man does with his body does not matter; the body is not important. It makes no difference whatsoever if a man abuses his body: gorges, dirties, and fouls it.

However, Christianity counters, “Never!” Both body and soul are important. We see this in Jesus Christ. He honored the body by taking a body upon Himself (Hebrews 2:14). Today He honors the body by making it the “holy temple” for His presence in the person of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Jesus Christ is interested in the body of man as well as the spirit of man. He is interested in the whole man, and He saves the whole man.

b.    There were those primarily within the church who felt that sin was irrelevant. How much a person sinned just did not matter. God is love and He forgives and forgives no matter how much wrong we do. In fact, some rgued that the more we sin, the more God is able to forgive and demonstrate His mercy in us. So why not live the way we want? Why not sin and let God’s mercy and love shine through us, for the more we sin the more God’s grace will be seen. But Christianity counters, “Never!” God’s love and grace are not only a gift and a privilege, but a responsibility and an obligation.

    However, note what God says: “Because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the children of disobedience” (Ephes. 5:6; cp. Ephes. 2:2). The wrath (orge) of God is a decisive anger, a deliberate anger that arises from His very nature of holiness. It is an anger that is righteous, just, and good—that stands against the sins and evil of men—their dirt and pollution and immoralities—their injustices and neglects of a world that reels under the weight of lost, starving, diseased, and dying masses. God could never overlook the whoremonger who destroys family life nor the covetous man who overlooks the needy. He would not be God; He would not be loving or just if He overlooked such evil persons.

Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

(3:12-14) New Life: the clothing of the elect. Believers are the “elect of God.” They are the persons whom God has chosen to be His holy and beloved people.
Þ    Believers have been elected to be holy. The word “holy” (hagios) means separated or set apart. God called believers out of the world and away from the old life it offered, the old life of sin and death. He called believers to be separated and set apart unto Himself and the new life He offers, the new life of righteousness and eternity.
Þ    Believers have been elected to be the beloved of God. God has called believers to turn away from the old life that showed hatred toward God, the old life that rejected, rebelled, ignored, denied, and was constantly cursing in the face of God. God has called believers to be the beloved of God, the persons who receive His love in Christ Jesus and who allow Him to shower His love upon them.

The point is this: the elect of God, holy and beloved, are those who have really believed and trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior.  It is these persons, the believers, who now have a new life in Christ. Therefore, this passage is for the believer. Note one other thing: the command “put on” (enduno). This is the picture of putting on clothing; the believer is to clothe the new man. The new man must not be left naked; he must be clothed. What are the garments to be put on? There are eight garments of clothing for the new man.

Mercy (oiktirmou) means compassion, pity, tenderheartedness. God has had so much mercy upon us, the one thing we should do is to show mercy to others.

Of course, the list could go on and on. The point is that the believer no longer has the right to overlook the needy of the world. He is now a new man, a part of the clothing of the new man is the garment of mercy. The believer is to be clothed with mercy. He is to have compassion and reach out to meet the needs of the world—reach out with all he is and has, holding back nothing so long as a single need exists.

Something is often forgotten: there are many things about everyone of us that people have to forbear. People have to put up with a great deal of things when dealing with us.

There are some things about everyone of us that just turn some people off. None of us escapes the fact. In addition, everyone of us does things that irritate some people. Again, there is no escaping the fact. Any person can be looked at and have his flaws and weaknesses picked out.

But note: this is not what the Scripture says to do. The Scripture says that the believer is to put on the clothing of forbearance. The believer is to forbear the flaws of others. He is to put up with and bear with the weaknesses of other believers.

(3:13) Forgiveness: the believer must put on the garment of forgiveness; he must be forgiving (charizomenoi). The word means to be gracious to a person; to pardon him for some wrong done against us. Note: a quarrel or some difference has taken place. A person has hurt us and brought pain to us. But no matter what they have done, we are to have a forgiving spirit clothing us. We are to be so clothed with the spirit of forgiveness that no difference or quarrel can shake us.

Note why: because Christ has forgiven us. No matter how much wrong a person has done against us, it cannot match the wrong we have done against Christ. Yet, Christ has forgiven us. Therefore, we are to forgive those who have done wrong against us—no matter how great the wrong is.

(3:14) Love: above all, the believer is to put on the garment of love (agapen). Note that love is to be the main garment of the believer’s new life. It is called the bond of perfection; that is, love binds all the clothing or great qualities of the believer’s life together.

Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. {2} Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The Problem of Unclean Lips
Isaiah 6:1-5: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. {2} Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. {3} And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” {4} At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. {5} “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.””

Before we can speak with the accent of Christ, we must begin with this confession: we are a people with unclean lips.

And the response?
Isaiah 6:6-7: “Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. {7} With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.””

For too long the myth has been circulated that old speech habits can’t be broken:
· I can’t help it…I’ve always been a sarcastic person
· …always told little white lies
· …always used profanity
· …always been a gossip
· …always said nasty things when I get mad

In the beginning, God created man and woman to communicate powerfully, lovingly, and constructively.

In Christ he gives the recreated man and woman assurance of the same magnificent possibility.


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Posted by on April 13, 2017 in God


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