Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:25-32 Sermon Title: Five Examples of Putting on the New Self Sermon Text: Ephesians 4:25-32 Memory Verse: Ephesians 4:30 MAIN IDEA: Learn and practice putting on the new self for the sake of unity and godliness.
Five examples of putting on the new self:
1) Speak truth, not lies
2) Have righteous, not sinful anger
3) Share, not steal
4) Speak good, not rotten words,
5) Be kind, not bitter and angry
NOTE: “Scripture quotations are from the NASB." I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. Thanks for understanding.
If you were an audience of children, this message would be easy to deliver. Stop lying. Tell the truth. Don’t be mean. Don’t take what doesn’t belong to you. Share with others. Stop saying bad words. Only say nice words. Stop being mean to others. Be kind to other people.
Here we are, grown adults, most of us, and I am required to stand up here and preach how we are to speak and behave. Except for the mention of the devil in verse 27 and the Holy Spirit in verse 30, this could easily be an admonition given by a teacher at an elementary school.
“Johnny, stop lying. Billy, didn’t I tell you not to take Clyde’s book? Children, please share your crayons. Penelope, don’t talk about the other girls like that, it’s not nice. Children, what does God think about that behavior? It’s a sin. We need to be good. Okay, go out and play.”
Delivering a message, in the same manner, this morning in this venue may be condescending and patronizing. But, think for a moment, and let’s peel off a layer and look a little deeper. The message to the children is said differently, but it is still the same message. The teaching of the Bible is the same. We need, to tell the truth, don’t be mean to others, share our things, and speak nicely. The wording is different because nobody wants to be spoken to as a child.
What is going on here? We know this letter is not written to children, but to adult church members. Are the people in Ephesus acting like children and need to be told how to behave properly?
The reason we need to tell children to stop doing these things is not that they are younger in age and don’t know better. Age is not the problem. The saints in Ephesus are not childish.
The reason we need to tell children to stop doing these things is not that they are ignorant and need teaching. Increasing education will not make them stop doing these things. The saints in Ephesus do not lack in education.
The reason we speak these things to children, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults, and senior citizens is because we have a sin nature. We live with our old self. Today, as adults, we suffer from the same problems. It is not because we haven’t grown up and it is not because we are uneducated. The saints of the first century and the saints of today suffer from old-self “itis.”
Old-self-itis is what Paul talks about in the letter to the Romans. We want to do good, but we find within ourselves our flesh, our old-self, waging war against our born-again nature. (Romans 7:14-28)
Our old-self is still alive. Our old-self is stabbed in the heart by the cross of Christ but is not yet dead. His doom is inevitable, but not yet taken place. We live in the already, not yet of time. We are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places, not yet.
We carry around our old-self who is fighting to stay alive. The old-self is starving and desperate for a morsel of sin to feed the hunger-cramped famished belly. The old-self is gasping for air in which to breathe out a profanity, a word of gossip, or an insult to one of our friends. Oh, how our old-self longs for a swallow of the bitter poison of malice or to drink from the cup filled with lust to quench the yearning heart of immorality.
Our old-self knows it is dying and losing strength. Our old-self knows it is powerless over us. Our old-self hates our new companion who takes that power away, the Holy Spirit of God.
We have a dual nature; we have a dying self and a new-self who is created in the likeness of God.
Adding years to our life will not defeat the disease of old-self-itis. Going to school will not defeat the old-self. There is only one way for us to defeat the sinning old-self and that is to take up our cross daily. The only way to weaken the old-self is to deny the old-self those things that he enjoys. He enjoys feeding on the lies of the world and entertainment glorifying sin. He desires to practice behavior fit only for those who will never step foot in the streets of heaven. We need to crucify our old-self, put him off as we would a dirty, torn, stained rag of a garment.
We need to put-on the new-self, clothed in the wedding garment of Christ, and feed him the fruit of the tree of life and exercise him by practicing righteousness and holiness. Put off the old-self and put on the new-self.
This is what our passage is talking about. The main idea is that we are to learn and practice putting on the new self for the sake of unity and godliness. MAIN IDEA: Learn and practice putting on the new self for the sake of unity and godliness.
We will be looking at five examples of how we may put off the old-self and put on the new-self. Learning and practicing these will accomplish two things.
a) First, doing these will bring unity in the church. Whenever we give way to the old-self, we bring strife and discord in the church. Practicing putting on the new-self brings unity.
b) Second, these examples will give us benefit in our pursuit of godliness. Our new-self is created in the likeness of God and is conformed into the image of Christ.
Five examples of putting on the new self
1-Speak truth, not lies
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. (Eph. 4:25)
Falsehood is lying; being deceptive. It is telling a tall tale, lying, fibbing, being dishonest, deceitful, having false pretenses, and stating only half-truths.
It’s not hard to do a search in the Bible to find examples of falsehood.
In the beginning, Satan lies to Eve (Genesis 3:4-5). After that, the people of God get caught up in their lying. Abraham lies about Sarah and calls her his sister and not his wife. Jacob lies to Isaac to steal the birthright. Laban deceives Jacob with Leah instead of Rachel. Rahab lies about the spies. Peter lies about knowing Jesus. Ananias and Sapphira lie about the amount of money they received when they sold their land.
The Bible says:
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me. (Psalm 101:7) it is better to be a poor man than a liar. (Proverbs 19:22)
The book of Revelation teaches that all liars will be banished in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8).
Lying is a common sin. It is even common in the church. Because it is common doesn’t make it good in any way. Lying is of Satan. Jesus said the devil is the father of lies (John 8:44). We are not children of the devil. He is not our Father.
Our Father is in heaven, and He never lies. He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). God abhors lying, and He does not want us to lie.
There is a very good reason why we should not lie which fits the context of chapter four, which is a call to unity. Proverbs 6:19 teaches that the false witness who utters lies spreads strife among brothers.
Sometimes, the truth hurts. I love the Geico commercial with Abe Lincoln and his wife asks, does this dress make my backside look big. We see honest Abe struggling with words, and he finally puts up his fingers to show a small measurement and his wife storms off.
We lie all the time. We tell people, “this food is delicious,” when the taste buds given to us by God disagree. We tell people we’ve made other plans and can’t help them move because the fact is we just don’t want to help because it is an inconvenience. The phone rings, and we ask others to lie for us, and say, “Tell him I’m not home.”
Often, we exaggerate to make ourselves look good. We may say, “I was waiting for three hours” when it was only two. We get a bigger discount if we tell the customer service representative it was three hours.
Some stories we repeat so often, they become real. We only tell half the story, and we slant the information to paint ourselves in the best light. Our self-centered mind distorts reality and paints our memory and circumstance in our favor. We cannot and should not trust our heart which distorts our memory.
Stop allowing the old-self to continue lying and start speaking the truth.
God gives us a reason why we need, to tell the truth; for we are members of one another. Some of us our fingers in the body and some of us are feet. We wouldn’t smash our fingers with a hammer, so why would we lie to members of our own body? When we lie to our neighbor, we are lying to our own self. Our old-self says our lie is for our benefit when in fact, our lie is to us as putting a hot coal from the flames of hell to our lips.
Put off the old-self who seeks to lie and deceive like his father the devil. Instead, put on the new-self who desires to speak the truth like our Father in heaven.
The next example of putting on the new-self
2-Have righteous, not sinful anger
26Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Being angry is okay. God will pour out His anger upon the wicked. When He does so, He will do it with complete holiness, patience, righteousness, and justice. God’s anger is never sinful.
Jesus displayed anger. Listen to this account in Mark’s gospel:
He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (Mark 3:1-5)
Later in His ministry, Mark tells of another time Jesus was angry.
And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. (Mark 10:13-14)
Jesus was indignant, but, Jesus did not sin.
God is angry over unrighteousness and sins of selfishness and pride. God is angry because of injustice and attacks upon His Law and His character.
How often do we get angry over the same things that God gets angry about? Are we angry when we are not given an opportunity to share the gospel? When moved with compassion to help others, and an obstacle is placed in our way, do we get angry because we are prevented from showing love and mercy? When the wicked commit all kinds of immorality, are we moved with anger or do we buy tickets so we may watch?
We get angry when we don’t get what we want. We are angry when we don’t get the recognition we think we deserve. We get angry when someone points out our sin. We get angry when we have to wait our turn in line or if someone follows us too close while we are driving. We get angry when someone else gets a promotion.
Why do we get angry? We get angry because of our pride and selfishness. Our old-self stands up and cries out, “what about me?”
James says, “But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (Ja. 1:19-20)
If we get angry, we may not allow our anger to be an occasion to sin. When we don’t get our way, we need to have control over our tongue, so we don’t curse. If we don’t get that promotion or recognition, we need not to tear down the person who did.
Instead, we need not to allow the sun to go down on our anger. In other words, we need to do all we can to mend fences and to fixate our hearts upon the goodness of God quickly.
We need to ask ourselves, “What is it that I want so badly that I am willing to sin so I may have it?” We need to get the counsel of our friends and ask them to help us and pray for us because of our sinful hearts.
We need to control our anger because it gives Satan an advantage. Satan stokes the flames of our anger and urges us with his evil suggestions to our awakened hard-heart. The devil is prowling around like a lion seeking someone to destroy (1 Peter 5:8).
Lions destroy those who are weak. Do you want to know who is weak? The weaklings among us are those who cannot control their anger. They fly off the handle at the slightest offense. They think they are strong and mighty. They think their display of anger makes them look tough, but they are spiritual weaklings. Their new-self has arms made of toothpicks, and they stand about two-feet tall. They are mere babies.
Put off the old-self who is angry and sins out of anger. Instead, put on the new-self who is able to be humble, gentle, and able to demonstrate self-control.
3-Share, not steal
28He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.
How is it that we steal? We steal whenever we take something that is not rightfully ours. It is fair to say we are not people who rob banks or snatch purses. But, do we take that which is not ours?
Has the waiter at the restaurant accidentally left your entrée off the invoice, and you didn’t let him know? Ever walk out of the department store with an item improperly priced, knowing you got away with “a steal”?
Is your expense account reimbursement always your actual expenses? Are the miles deducted on your income tax likely to be more miles or fewer miles than actual? Have you ever received medical aid or benefits from the government in a less than honest way? In conducting business, have you ever add a little extra to an invoice which the customer is not likely to notice?
Do you always work an honest day’s labor for the agreed upon wage?
Put off stealing which is an act of the old man.
As we put off stealing, we need to put on the new-self who is willing to work hard so that we may have something to share with those who are in need. There will always be people among us who cannot work and need our help. The Bible is filled with encouragement for us to give to others.
The generous man will be prosperous (Pro. 11:25).
Do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (He. 13:16)
Listen to the promise of God spoken by the Prophet Isaiah:
And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday. And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. (Isaiah 58:10-11)
The world says, “Each man for himself. Take all that you can. Look out for number one. Finders keepers, losers weepers.” God says, “Take care of those who are in need, and I will take care of you.”
Put that old man who likes to hear those words. Put off the old-self who seeks to increase wealth and fill the belly of discontent with stolen treasures. Put on the new-self who believes God is the provider and it is better to give than to receive.
4-Speak good, not rotten words
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:29-30)
The word unwholesome means putrid or rotten. Don’t speak rotten words.
Don’t speak cursing or insults. Don’t speak the putrid filth of gossip. Those words of wit and irony spoken to make ourselves look funny and to be the life of the party are not tasteful. God does not find our crude humor to be appealing.
In my pursuit of godliness, I’ve been disciplining myself to control my tongue and trying my best to choose silence over careless words or in scattering my opinion to the wind. This is an incredible battle. I did not know old-self has such strength for battle.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and, as pastor, I think of myself as a religious man, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless (Ja. 1:26).
Read with me from James, chapter 3 (could start at 1, but we will start at verse 5): 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?12Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
Lord have mercy on our souls.
We are to turn our tongues into dispensers of grace. When we speak words of edification and give grace to others, we are bestowing favor, pleasure, and profit to others. Speak words of compliment. Be known as the nice person at work and in your family as the one who never speaks badly of others.
Whenever we hear people talk badly about others, we can’t help but wonder what they say about us when we are not around. Speaking unwholesome words never brings unity, only division.
When we allow rotten words out of our mouth instead of words which are good and edifying we grieve the Holy Spirit.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul warns those in Corinth who are dragging the Holy Spirit through the muck and mire of sin. Here is an example of his warning to the church:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. (1 Cor. 3:16)
God’s Holy Spirit fills our heart. The love of God is poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given to us (Rom. 5:5). Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Mt. 12:34). The Holy Spirit desires to speak through us and make the grace of Christ and the love of Christ known. When we speak derogatory words intended to destroy, we silence and grieve the One who has much good to say.
Will our words reflect the words of life which build up or will we allow our old-self to speak words which tear-down and lead to destruction? We have a choice.
Put aside the old-self who seeks to destroy us and others. Let us put on the new-self who is created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Let’s give voice to the Holy Spirit of God rather than stifle His speech.
5-Be kind, not bitter and angry
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Eph. 4:31-32)
People in the church, and outside the church, will wrong us in some way. Sometimes they do it on purpose, and sometimes they don’t even know they have done us wrong. It is a fact of life. It might even be me. Someone will rightly or wrongly accuse us of wrongdoing. We will not agree on doctrine. People will make us look bad to others and paint us as being unkind or proud or whatever it might be. They might take something of ours and not return it. Maybe they will gossip. There are hundreds of ways we are wronged.
How will we respond? Will we have bitterness? Will we let the wound fester until it turns from bitterness to anger and from anger to wrath? Will we begin to spread clamor (evil-speaking) and speak slander against them? Will we spew forth words and expression of malice and just plain nastiness? Will we hope ill-will comes their way like bad-karma?
Maybe we received a letter. Maybe someone said something on Facebook or in an email. How are we to respond?
Will we take the letter or email and place it like a trophy on the shelf? Will we take the trophy down, show it to others, remind ourselves of how good we are and how evil they treated us? Will we stoke our bitterness and keep the low-flame under the pot, so it’s always ready to come to a boil?
God knows our hurt and our pain. If we are wronged, let Him take care of dealing with the matter. We are not to usurp God’s role of Judge. Plead your case and trust God to handle the matter. Vengeance is Mine says the Lord (Rom. 12:19).
Take the evidence and throw it away. Don’t parade it to others. Don’t keep it in a secret file folder.
After doing that, seek out that person and love them as Christ loves you. Show kindness. Be tender-hearted and forgiving; just as God in Christ has forgiven you.
When we hold onto the wrongs like a trophy our old-self grins and our new-self, created in righteousness and holiness of the truth is pushed aside. Don’t give room to the old-self.
Put off the old-self who seeks to revel in bitterness and malice like a pig in mud. Take the mud out of the pen. Take the food out of the trough. Don’t feed the pig. Instead, feed the new-self. Believe God is the judge and jury. Take your case to Him and trust Him to do what is right in His time. Do as the judge says, be an example of Christ by showing love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness to all, even our enemies.
We all suffer from varying degrees of old-self-itis. Some of us tell more lies than others. Some of us have anger problems. Others of us covet and take what is not ours. Some of us need our mouth washed out with soap.
We will never find joy in the practices of our old-self. Our old-self is seeking to drag us and throw us off the cliff and into the dark recesses of hell. Our old-self promises happiness, but never delivers on the promise.
God reveals to us this battle against the old-self because He destines us for great things. He desires we see the vision of hope and glory. He loves us dearly. We know this because He sent His Son to redeem us from destruction. Jesus died so our old man would die. He gave His life so we may breathe a new life of righteousness and holiness.
Here is our challenge. Please, take this challenge seriously. We need to have quiet time before the Lord and ask Him to identify the areas in our life we need to put-off. Ask God to show you how to starve and deny the old-self. Ask God daily to reveal ways to replace the old-self with the new self.
God desires good for us, not misery. God desires for us to enjoy the pleasures at His right hand and to have unspeakable joy. We need to put off the old-self so we may enjoy all which God has in store.
God desires for us to enjoy unity with one another. God wants us to experience the wonderful comfort and peace found in being in unity with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom. 7:24-25)
The Lord has set us free. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death (Rom. 8:2). We must do all we can to put to death the deeds of our old-self. If we live according to the flesh, we die. However, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Rom. 8:13-14)