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Grieving God

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

Ephesians 4:25-32

(5/2) From 1978-1982, Bill Bixby played Dr. Bruce Banner on the TV show called, The Incredible Hulk. Lou Ferrigno, a body builder, played the Hulk. In 2008 the movie of the same was released. The storyline is that Dr. Banner is doing an experiment that goes awry. Under extreme emotional stress, that is, anger, Dr. Banner turns into the green giant who isnít very jolly. A famous line from Dr. Banner on the TV series goes like this, "Donít make me angry, you wouldnít like me when I am angry."

Anger brings out the Hulk in all of us. And truth is, there arenít many people that we like when they are angry. While there is no specific problem stated in Paulís letter to the Ephesians, one is implied. Implied is a dislike or disdain that has led to disunity in the Church between Jewish and Non-Jewish Christ-Followers. Paul has been stressing unity, and the need to listen to the gifted men that God has given the church so that there will be unity and maturity in the church. He wants the church to take off the old man, that is, that self-centered part that seeks its own and not the things of Christ, and put on Christ, that wants to follow and look like Jesus. Our testimony to each other and to the world around us depends on it. Our Lord Jesus said that it was by our love for each other that the world will know that we are His disciples, and by our unity that the world will know that the Son of God has come into the world. And that is what we want. Is that what you want?

The verses we are looking at today and the next month may seem like just good, common sense, instructions, but I believe that Paul is using them to fix a potential problem. The problem of disunity which plays right into Satanís hand. So, letís stand together and read this portion of Scripture and pray for Godís insight into these verses of Scripture. (Read Ephesians 4:25-32)

Verse 25 begins with the word, therefore, again. Our section next week will do the same. Whatís it therefore? It is telling us that what will follow is based on what was just stated. You and I know that being born again, means learning to live life all over again, but differently. We are new creatures. We have a new nature. We have the Holy Spirit living on the inside. We are clean. We have been re-created and are being re-trained to conform to the image of Jesus. We have a new purpose to continue the life and ministry of Jesus. BUT, we still struggle with the old life. We struggle between thinking with the mind of Christ, or the old self-centered minds.

When our Lord gave His great sermon, we call the Sermon on the Mount, He said this in Matthew 5:20, "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." If what you think and do isnít different than that of those who go through the motions of religion without a relationship with God. If you are no different than those who have not repented, then you are not part of His Kingdom. You are just a religious fraud. The person who has repented of his or her past, will live differently in the present. This is not a 3-point sermon like last week. Letís look at these 8 verses and the points of each verse.

V. 25. Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. Perhaps Paul is addressing the Jewish brothers and sisters here because this comes from the prophet Zechariah 8:16-17. 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; 17 Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,í Says the Lord."

We know from Exodus 20:16, the 9th commandment forbids lying. We also know from Revelation 21:8 that all liars, (that is, those whose lives are characterized by intentional lying) will be consigned to the Lake of Fire forever. We also know that our Lord Jesus said in John 8:44, that Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Who has ever lied? Raise your hand.

We know that for governments, politicians, salesmen, and more, lying is part of their lives. Some educators lie, some Doctors lie. Can you imagine what would happen if for one day, all lies would be exposed and the truth would be revealed? The first major sin to be dealt with in the church was lying. Peter told Ananias and Sapphira, before they died, that lying to men is to lie to God.

Sometimes when we are angry, we exaggerate the truth. Even we arenít angry we tend to exaggerate at times. It isnít just hunters, fishermen, or golfers that do that. Sometimes we make up parts of a story which just are not accurate. I remember several preachers that turned out to be liars.

When a person repents and becomes a Christ Follower, he or she imitates the One Who is the Truth, whose Word is the Word of Truth, whose Father is the Father of Truth, and whose Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. Lying is what the dead person you were, did, not what the new creature is to be doing. When we open our mouths truth should proceed. First because we are children of the Truth, and we represent the One who is Truth, and second because we have repented and have been made new, born again, washed of our old sins. Third, because we are members of one another. Lies mess up the entire body of Christ. Simple as that.

Now, here is a potential problem. Just saying! Learn how to speak grace and love in the truth. Do I need to illustrate that?

V. 26-27, "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil."

This also comes from an O.T. passage, Psalm 4:4. How long, O you sons of men,

Will you turn my glory to shame? How long will you love worthlessness and seek falsehood? Selah 3 But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is godly; The Lord will hear when I call to Him. 4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.

The word in verse 26 for anger is a word that means to be provoked to wrath. I want satisfaction, revenge. This is unjust and needs to be dealt with. There is another word that is not used here but is in verse 31 that means to blow up or explode with anger. It is used of the wrath of God. But here it refers to that which has provoked us and we want to respond. Getting upset is normal. It is a God-given emotion. But like all emotions, anger, if unchecked, becomes a tool of destruction that benefits Satan and hurts you. When you are angry it is hard to think rationally, but you must try, or give your spouse or parentsí or a true friend permission to try to help you. Here is a question, "Why am I angry?" Is it because I have been hurt or because someone else has been hurt? Or, is it because my honor or integrity have been attacked or because Godís honor and integrity have been attacked? I know this isnít easy, but God has asked us to seek reconciliation and peace when we have been hurt and to not give up on the attempt. And then, to leave retaliation to Him. "Vengeance is mine. I will repay says the Lord." (Romans 12:17-19, Deut., 32:35)

Now you may say, "But didnít Jesus get angry?" Yes, He did. But did He sin? No, He did not. Jesus only responded both verbally and physically, when the honor of the Father and the well-being of others were threatened. Not once did He retaliate or respond when He was attacked verbally or physically. Turn to and listen to Peterís account. (1 Peter 2:20-24) But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 "Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth"; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousnessóby whose stripes you were healed.

Remember Jonah? He was the reluctant prophet, who though swallowed and vomited up by a great fish for ignoring God, reluctantly preached to Nineveh and then got angry because God didnít destroy Nineveh. The 4th chapter of Jonah is about Jonah expressing his anger to God for sparing Nineveh and then getting angry because a gourd vine died. He pitied the vine and hated the people who were lost. Twice God asked him if he thought he was right to be angry. Your anger, Jonah, was because you did not trust God and because you thought only of yourself. That is true of most anger. It does not trust God and is thinking selfishly because we have been hurt.

Paul says, donít sleep on it because you wonít sleep. Deal with it. Confess it. Talk it out with God, trust Him, commit the situation to Him and resolve to respond with the grace of Jesus. If you donít do that Satan has an in for your life, a foot in the door of your heart, and a way to discredit you and the church and the testimony of Jesus. Itís that simple. Any action on our part better be bathed in prayer and an accurate teaching of Scripture and not on emotions.

V. 28, "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need." This is the 8th commandment. Respecting personal property is our duty as Christ-Followers. But this goes deeper than just shop lifting. This is cheating. This is lying on our taxes. This is taking work property home. This is taking time for personal things when we are being paid to work. This is taking the extra change incorrectly given to you by the clerk and pocketing it. This is the attempt to get what isnít rightfully yours. It is part of the character of a heathen.

On the contrary Paul says, every Christ-Follower ought to be working but notice, not just to get stuff or money, but to help those who are in need. The Rescue Mission, the Missionary, the Homeless shelter, Samaritanís purse, the Wounded Warriors, the Red Cross, the elderly tried to live on a skimpy S.S. check, the family where the mom or dad has walked out. And we could go on.

You must know that God wants you to use a portion of what He has blessed you with to bless others. I love my wife, and at first I was uncomfortable with this, but I have seen God blessings because she loves to give our money to people. She loves to give meat from our freezer to people. Gifts to store clerks. If we are blessed with an extra income, she comes up with people who we can give it to. Even our adoption started from a heart that wanted to give a home to a baby that needed it. Not because she needed to be a mom again. We had the room and the ability, letís give a life to someone who needs it.

Whose life are you blessing with what God has blessed you with?

V. 29. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." See the word, corrupt. It means to perish by rotting. Itís like a tomato that wasnít picked, and now it is decaying. Ever picked a rotten tomato, or potato, or break a rotten egg? Can you remember that smell? Paul says, we have a lot of words that smell like that, so donít use them. James and Solomon have a lot to say about our use of words. Let me just give you three things form this verse.

A. Make sure you always use good words. Some of us recently had a discussion of what words are considered good or bad and why. But you know whether or not the words you are using stink or not.. Think and if you must speak choose your words with caution. Psalm 141:3 says: "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth and keep the door of my lips." Next week, in chapter 5, we will look closer at this.

B. Make sure the words you choose build and donít destroy. Edification means to build. Ask this, "Will my words encourage, strengthen, comfort, help, teach, or lead to peace, or will they deflate, discourage, destroy confidence, demean someone who was created in Godís image," (James 3:9)? James said the mouth that worships God should not be the mouth that tears down, because that someone is created in Godís image. Did anyone ever say to you, "If you canít say something good or nice donít say anything at all"? Or, "Is that really necessary?" An awful lot of gossip, innuendoes, rumors, slander, etc., could be avoided if we simply choose to use words that edify and not destroy.

C. Make sure the words you choose, impart grace to the hearer. In your estimation that person may not deserve grace, but then who does? Grace is a gift. Even if that person may seem an enemy, feed him or her some grace. Listen to Paulís words to the Colossians. "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." (Col. 4:6) This could mean, make sure your words taste good for those who have to hear, or it could mean make sure they taste good in case you have to eat them, or it could mean make sure the words you use are not rotten but have been preserved in grace. Grace, is how Jesus would answer. Luke 4:22 says, "So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth."

V. 30, "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Or, donít break His heart. Again, Paul was using an Old Testament reference as if it were the Jewish believers that he was speaking this to. Isaiah 63:9-10 says, "In His love and in His Pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old.10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit." Mark 3:5 says this about our Lord, "And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts." It is the pain of heart that results in sorrow. This is how God feels when we know His will but we do not do it. It is the grief of giving love and grace and feeling it spurned. Jesus our Lord wept bitterly over being rejected by Jerusalem in Luke 19. God says in Jeremiah 13:17, because of their impending capture by the Babylonians, "But if you will not hear it, My soul will weep in secret for your pride; My eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, Because the Lordís flock has been taken captive."

We know from chapter one that God has made His home in our lives by His Holy Spirit and has sealed or placed His mark of authority and ownership on our lives. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is present in every decision we make, every word we say, every thought we think and every action we take. When we lie, steal, sin in anger (which Jesus our Lord and the Apostle John says is murder), and as He is about to tell us, when we do not give grace and kindness and forgiveness as we have had it given to us, we break the heart and grieve our Lord. Do you understand this? No excuses. No rationalizing and no justifying wrong behavior. Who here wants to hear the Lord say, "When you did that, or said that, you broke my heart."

V. 31, "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice." Remember we are in a section that began back in verses 17-24 that encourages us to put off the old self, the old man, the self-centered old person and to put on Christ. You cannot put on Christ without dealing with this.

ē Bitterness is that smoldering resentment, that brooding, grudging, unforgiving spirit.

ē Wrath is that extreme anger that wants to blow up and strike back

ē Anger as we saw earlier is that illicit inside resentment

ē Clamor is the shouting of anger in public, like screaming at the guy who cut you off in traffic.

ē Evil speaking is slander, using opportunities to cut people down in public or private. Without grace, without putting on Christ, this is what anger leads to (repeat all the above)

ē All malice means all evil, all the bad dispositions that are contrary to being a new person in Christ. Put it all away. You say, "But pastor, you donít know what they said, you donít know how that hurt me, you donít know how I feel, you donít know what they put me through." And that is true, I do not. But I do know what I have done and said, and thought, that has broken my Fatherís heart, and so do you. Yet, Godís grace is there like the Father of prodigal son. You expect that from your Father. Give it to these people you worship with. Give it to your family. Give it to the people at work. Your Father is grieved as long as you harbor that bitterness, even if you are convinced you have a right. You do not have a right. You gave up that right the day that you accepted His grace.

V. 32. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. God has been kind to you, yes? God has been tenderhearted to you, yes? God has forgiven you, yes? On what basis has God forgiven you? It was because of Christís death on your behalf! Did we deserve any of it? Let me see the hands of those who deserve Godís kindness and forgiveness!

Are we bitter because they deserve it? No! We are bitter because we are still living like the old self that doesnít have Christ on.

Are we angry and want to blow up because they deserve it? No! we are angry because we are still living in the old man and we donít have Christ on.

Do we shout slander in public or private because they deserve it? No! We shout and slander because we are living out the old self and we donít have Christ on.

Our evil hatred and thoughts are not because they deserve it but because we are sinners and havenít put on Christ. Anyone remember the first thing Jesus said after being tortured and nailed to a cruel cross to die like a violent criminal? Father, forgive them, for they donít know what they are doing? (Luke 23:34)

How different would the church be if we demonstrated grace to people who donít serve it, regardless if they are in the body, or at school, or at work, or on the playground.

Not one of us have grace because we deserve it. We have grace because of Godís love demonstrated in Christ. And now that you have received it, you are expected to dispense it.

This is a critical moment. A crisis moment. This is time for communion. But communion would be a farce if we are breaking the heart of God because of lies, theft, anger, rotten tear down speaking, bitterness, dis-unity, or un-forgiving. Who do you need to forgive and give kindness and grace to?

These next few moments, I am going to ask George to play softly and ask you, in prayerful meditation, to ask God to reveal to you who you need to forgive or ask forgiveness of. Ask God to reveal any bitterness, or rotten words, or sinful anger and confess it and get back on track and get rid of the old self and put on Christ. Letís do that now.

Quiet Ė prayerful meditation.

Prayer

Communion.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman

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