Is there such a thing as freedom of speech in the home and church?
Do you have the right to say whatever is on your mind?
Is it acceptable to voice those words on the tip of your tongue?
Obviously the answer is no. No one has the right to say what is sinful or false.
But what about the facts; do you have the right to make observations, speak the truth, or state the obvious?
What about your opinion? Do you have the right to voice your opinion at anytime to anyone?
Let’s let God answer our questions.
Read Ephesians 4:25-32
I) The assumption is that Christians are different
a) What comes out of our mouths is different than what comes out of the mouth of the world because we are different.
i) We have put off the old self which was corrupt wanting all the wrong things.
ii) And we have put on the new self which was created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
iii) We are new creatures in Christ. And this newness impacts our minds. When we are born-again we begin to think differently and that makes us speak differently.
iv) So doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong is not a matter of individual strength or determination.
v) Our faithfulness in word and deed is because of God working in us.
II) Therefore, Ephesians 4:25, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
a) If you are a Christian God expects you to speak the truth.
i) This is not a suggestion or a good idea. Speaking the truth is a command rooted in the very nature of what it means to be a Christian.
ii) Do you see in verse 25 why Christians are to stop lying and spreading half-truths?
b) Speak the truth with your neighbor, because we are members one of another.
i) Paul is bringing the body of Christ up again.
ii) In Ephesians 4:12 we are told that Christ gives gifts to people for the building up of his body.
iii) We could spend a great deal of time on this and hopefully one day soon we will but for now meditate on 1 Corinthians 12 during your personal study this week.
iv) A simple statement will have to suffice: No one in the body of Christ has the right to say whatever he wants or do whatever he wants.
v) Why? Because we are members of one another. What I say and what I do effects you. What you say and what you do effects me.
vi) Question: What is it called when a group of cells in the physical body abandons its intended function and begins to do whatever it wants to do? It’s called cancer.
vii) When you or I abandon what God intended for us and when we begin to do and say whatever we want then we are in danger of becoming a cancer in the church.
viii) So put away falsehood. Stop trying to be what you aren’t intended to be. Stop saying what isn’t true.
ix) Instead, out of a realization of the importance and interdependence of the body of Christ we must speak the truth.
x) In the verses that follow we are going to look at 7 commands.
xi) These commands all relate to the danger of not addressing sin in ourselves and in each other; most deal with the words we use.
III) 7 commands and how they relate to speaking the truth to one another in love.
a) As we look at these 7 commands remember the context.
i) These instructions are given to us so that we will speak the truth to one another because we belong to one another.
ii) So, if all we do is care about our selves and what the individual says or does we do not go far enough.
iii) Gone are the days of independence; when you became a Christian you entered into the day of interdependence.
iv) You are a part of the family. You have a contribution to make. You run the risk of causing destruction.
v) If we are not concerned about what others are doing and saying then we commit a sin of omission; we sin by not doing what God commands.
vi) And what does God command?
b) Verse 26, be angry and do not sin
i) Many people use this verse incorrectly by making it an excuse for saying sinful things.
ii) “God said it’s okay to be angry. So we vent our rage.”
iii) God knows what I’m thinking so just say it.
iv) But notice that God said be angry and do not sin.
v) The principle here is to follow Jesus’ example, follow the example of the one who was tempted in every way but was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
vi) When people misunderstood him, lied about him, mocked him, made fun of him, beat him for no good reason, and ultimately killed him though he did nothing wrong and said everything right what did he do?
vii) He kept his mouth shut.
viii) Listen to 1 Peter 2:21-23 and understand that this is exactly what it means to be angry and do not sin when we are wronged.
ix) Christ left you an example, “so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
x) Jesus left this example: say whatever you want about me; that’s fine. Say whatever you want about my family; that’s fine.
xi) In fact, in Matthew 10:25, Jesus told us to expect people to talk about us.
xii) He didn’t say he would get angry about it. He didn’t say we should get angry about it.
xiii) What he tells us to do in Matthew 10:26-33 is what 1 Peter 2:21-23 tells us that he did: trust God and close your mouth.
xiv) We have no right to get angry about our reputations or the reputations of one another.
xv) So what should we be angry about and yet not sin?
xvi) We should be angry if the glory of God or the gospel is at stake. And we are commanded to deal with the situation immediately.
xvii) Verse 26 says, “do not let the sun go down on your anger.”
xviii) Often this is used to tell couples not to go to bed angry; which is true IF one or both is angry about the reputation of God or the gospel.
xix) But if God or the gospel is not at stake then it’s not a matter of not going to bed angry it’s a matter of don’t get angry in the first place.
xx) But more importantly because of the context this verse is God’s command to deal with sin in the church.
xxi) Verse 27 gives us a further explanation of what it means to not let the sun go down on your anger
c) Give no opportunity to the devil
i) If the gospel or the glory of God is at stake do not be slow. The longer you wait the more strength the falsehood gains.
ii) Doing nothing about sin gives opportunity for the devil to do damage to the gospel and distract many from the glory of God. When we refuse to act the devil wins.
iii) “But I did nothing wrong. I didn’t say anything. This isn’t my problem.”
iv) These words are like kindling Satan sets on fire to wreak havoc in the home and church.
v) Give no opportunity to the devil. Speak the truth. Stop caring about lesser things. Be angry, but only when God and the gospel are at stake.
vi) Let me put it this way. Taking the passive approach is anything but passive. Doing nothing gives Satan the opportunity to do great harm.
vii) Verse 28 gives us an example of what it means to be rightfully angry, not sin, and give no opportunity to the devil.
d) Rehabilitate the thief so that he cares about others
i) Read verse 28
ii) Don’t let him steal anymore. Use church discipline. Collect money to get him on his feet. Provide for him so he can get the education or training he needs.
iii) Bear his burdens so he can get a job. Don’t give him an opportunity to steal give him an opportunity to work.
iv) Love him enough to leave him without excuse.
v) And don’t let him trade one sin for another. He needs to “work with his hands what is good” some translations say.
vi) To stop stealing radios and start selling drugs is not a positive change.
vii) A positive gospel-centered change is for him to stop stealing and start working not to stay out of trouble but so that he can take care of the needs of others.
viii) So that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
ix) Christian rehabilitation is not keeping your nose clean. Christian rehabilitation is helping an individual so that individual can in turn help others.
x) So be angry when a brother gets caught stealing. Do not sin, do something about it; help him.
xi) And give no opportunity for the devil by way of overly discouraging him or by ignoring him.
xii) Help him so that he is equipped to help others.
xiii) Now verse 29 is where God turns up the heat in relation to the words we say.
e) Only speak what gives grace to those who hear
i) Read verse 29
ii) This verse is all inclusive. This is God’s expectation for the way you talk at home and when the church gathers.
iii) This is how we are supposed to talk to fellow members and unbelieving neighbors.
iv) This rule applies to your spouse, your children, your relatives, the less than helpful cashier, and the waiter who can’t seem to get it right.
v) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.
vi) Jesus used this word translated ‘corrupt, harmful, or unwholesome’ when referring to a bad tree that produced bad fruit.
vii) Do not let any word that hurts or even has no value come out of your mouth.
viii) The next phrase gives us the opposite of corrupt, ‘but only such as is good for building up.’
ix) Speak only what is needed to edify. And you must be mindful of the occasion. You must be aware if what you are about to say is necessary.
x) God is unmistakably intense in relation to the words that come out of our mouths.
xi) No one has the right to speak their minds. God commands that we only say what will give grace.
xii) Let me put these phrases in the form of a question we should ask concerning everything we say, “does what I’m about to say help the people who hear become more like Jesus?”
xiii) Everything must come under this test. From seemingly trivial statements about the weather, to observations about hair and clothes.
xiv) From jokes to the sharing of concerns and complaints. Does this help that person become more like Jesus?
xv) If it doesn’t then don’t say it. If you say it you will be held accountable for it.
xvi) Our words have a great potential for doing good or doing harm. Be mindful of everything you say so that you
f) Do not grieve the Holy Spirit
i) The Holy Spirit has been given to us in order to conform us to the image of Christ.
ii) The Spirit empowers us in weakness. The Spirit convicts us in our sin. The Spirit does all of this according to Scripture.
iii) So when we follow the old self and speak corrupting words that tear down we grieve the Spirit.
iv) When we do not put on the new self and instead say something at a bad time and it causes pain we grieve the Holy Spirit.
v) Chapter 1 verse 13 tells us that the Holy Spirit sealed us. He is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire it. His presence and our redemption bring praise to God.
vi) So the Holy Spirit is proof that you are God’s redeemed child. When you say unfit things, when you speak like the devil, this causes the Holy Spirit to experience sorrow.
vii) When we act like God our Father and Christ our brother this brings praise. When we act like Satan our old boss this brings pain.
viii) Every word, every comment, every compliment, and every complaint is an opportunity for praise or sorrow.
g) So put away the wrecking ball
i) Read 31
ii) Whatever you are mad about- stop it. Put away all anger, even the be-angry-and-do-not-sin kind.
iii) Because the day of redemption is coming when all things are united in Christ and all things are made right.
iv) Stop being bitter about it a.k.a. believe in Christ.
v) God has dealt with it and he’ll finish it. Why are you bitter? Why do you seek to punish? Vengeance belongs to God (Rom 12:19; Heb 10:30).
vi) Is God enough? Will God act? Has he forsaken you? Trust God and let go of your anger.
vii) Bitterness, wrath, and anger these are all internal emotions that erupt into clamor and slander.
viii) Clamor is what a soldier does in battle when he’s been shot, “I’m hit”. But instead of a battle wound clamor is the response of an individual who wants everyone to know he’s been wronged.
ix) Clamor is what a bitter person does. He won’t let it go; he’s always bringing it up.
x) He’s been wronged and he wants everyone to know about it and never forget it.
xi) Then there is slander. You wronged me and I want you to feel the pain I felt so I’m going to run you down.
xii) With malice, with an evil intent to hurt, words are poured out like arsenic in the water system.
xiii) I’m going to get you. I’m going to undermine you.
xiv) Spouses do this. Parents do this. Children do this. Coworkers do this. Neighbors do this. And church members do this and it must stop.
xv) Because you are a Christian be done with talking bad about people.
h) Put on the new self; act like God
i) Read verse 32.
ii) Don’t be bitter- forgive.
iii) Put away wrath and anger- be kind.
iv) Be tenderhearted. Care more for them than you do for yourself. Recognize that there is some sin in them that has caused them to sin against you.
v) Work diligently to keep your pride and emotions out of it. Work hard to love that individual.
vi) Say what needs to be said and say only what needs to be said in order to give grace and make that person more like Jesus.
vii) Speak the truth and do it with the overflowing love of God.
viii) This is what we are intended to take home: when someone wrongs you, you have no right to respond with clamor and slander with malice.
ix) When you have been sinned against you are commanded to forgive them.
x) How is this possible? Get God’s perspective.
xi) Forgive one another like God in Christ forgave you.
xii) How many foolish things have you done and said? There is much, infinitely much, for God to be angry about concerning what you have done and what you have said.
xiii) But what has God done? Because of Jesus Christ he has forgiven you. God doesn’t forgive you because you made it right; God forgives because Jesus made it right.
xiv) And God knows you’ll do something else wrong and offensive.
xv) He knows you’ll say something corruptive. But he is tenderhearted toward you; he is kind.
xvi) When God looks at you he doesn’t see the old self he sees the new self clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
xvii) So when you look at that person who has wronged you in word or deed what do you see?
xviii) Do you see the old self or do you see the new self clothed in the righteousness of Christ?
xix) Now if you are bitter tonight and tempted to say unhelpful words because you have been hurt this is what I want you to do.
xx) Pray that God will show you everything you have said or done that he has forgiven.
xxi) Spend some time quietly reading Matthew 18:21-35.
xxii) Let us join together and make the commitment that no longer will we as Immanuel Baptist Church give opportunity to the devil by saying unwholesome things.
xxiii) No longer will we let others say corrupting things about another member.
xxiv) The gossip stops. The untimely words stop. We belong to each other; we’re hurting each other.
xxv) And when it doesn’t stop? We speak the truth in love, we address the situation, and we forgive.
xxvi) Put on the new self; act like God. That means we all talk like Christians.