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May 14, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Steve Pettit concludes the series entitled “New Life in Christ,” with a message titled “Put Off Bitterness and Put On Kindness,” from Ephesians 4:31-32.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.
The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Senior's intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything, so he established daily chapel services today. That tradition continues with fervent preaching from the University chapel platform today on The Daily Platform. Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University is concluding a study series from Ephesians entitled new life in Christ. Today's message is entitled put off bitterness and put on kindness from Ephesians 431 through 32. Take your Bibles please and turn with me to the book of Ephesians Ephesians chapter 4 this morning and we're going to look at our two final verses that we been working on throughout the entire semester and this will bring us to the conclusion of our study of new life in Christ and these are of course very very practical and very helpful words for all of us and so let's begin reading this morning in verse 31 and into verse 32 hear what Paul has to say. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you on a hot summer afternoon, July 12, 1993, two brothers, 15-year-old Herman Dutton and his 12-year-old brother Drew. We from Rush Springs, Oklahoma, went into the living room of their mobile home trailer where there 39-year-old father Lonnie Dutton was taking a nap on the couch. The two sons had in their hands, their father's rifle as they uproot as they approached the snoozing father. Herman pointed the barrel of the rifle behind the father's right here and truly squeeze the trigger of the rifle, killing their father instantly. Later that day the brothers were apprehended by the police in the fourth coming question everyone wanted answered was what why why would two brothers kill their own father. I remember as I watch this event on the evening national evening news and what I just said to you, I heard on the TV and without them answering the question of why I almost immediately knew why. The answer was really predictable and that is the father had been known to be a belligerent, obnoxious, spiteful person whose only goal in life seem to be to see how many people he could make hate him and fear him, the Dutton children had been living for many years under their father's daily abuse, he would beat them he would kick them with a steel toed shoes. However, on this day 12 July was a different experience because the boys had just learned from their 10-year-old sister that their dad had been, and I quote messing with their little sister literally admit that he had been sexually abusing her, and here's the irony of the story and that is the boy's father had given his sons repeated orders that if anybody messes with his sister, then shoot them behind the ear or in the heart, kill them is ironic, and though the story is unique and tragic in varying degrees. This kind of thing happens thousands of times all over the world somebody is heard, abused and mistreated.
That leads to bitterness. Bitterness leads to anger, and that anger leads to some kind of malicious response response some kind of action. However, what Paul is telling us here is that there is power in the gospel. The most practical kind of power and that is that the grace of God is able to deliver a bitter filled life and transform them into a person with kindness and grace in the miracle of the story that I just given you though. It's tragic and it came from 24 years ago today one of those two brothers is an assistant pastor at a church near where he grew up in Oklahoma and what we learn the gospel can turn bitter people in the kind people. So today as we finish this semesters study we been looking at Paul's directives to Gentile believers who have come to Christ and he's telling them don't live like you want slip up always describe five different ways in which God's people are to conform to the realities of this new life by putting all the old life of sin and putting on the new life of righteousness. And we been looking at those areas.
For example, he told us that we have a new position where members of the body of Christ, therefore, were to tell the truth and not lie week was we studied that we learn we have a new enemy the devil and so therefore to hate sin, but were not the hate centers.
We have a new privilege and that is that we can now work and we can become a giver and not a taker. We have a new presence.
The Holy Spirit lives inside of us, so we should be careful without words, we should use our words not to tear people down, but the build people up and finally this morning we have a new grace we have been truly forgiven. We have been graced by God in forgiveness. Therefore, because of God's grace towards us expressed in his kindness towards us. We are to put away bitterness and we are to put on kindness and this final challenge from Paul is of supreme importance because we are dealing with the world where herding people are constantly in a vicious cycle of hurting other people.
And yet, that cycle can be broken by the grace in the kindness of God. So let's look at two things this morning. Number one in verse 31. He tells us what to put all and then in verse 32 he tells us what to put out now. As we look at this verse in verse 31. There couple of quick key questions we have to ask and try to answer in order to interpret this verse correctly. Notice what he says would all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. Now three questions.
First of all why is the command to put away in the passive voice. Now you don't see that obviously reading the English but you look at the Greek. You'll notice that what Paul is doing is he is commanding us to make a decisive decision to get rid of and do away with all the things he mentioned here in verse 31. However, it's in the passive voice is that what you mean by that.
Will the active voice is what I'm supposed to do.
It would seem like it would be that the passive voice is actually what's being done to me and I think what Paul is saying here is that putting away these things, involves action, but it is not action based on my own strength. In other words, when you're bitter and angry and mad and upset that is just not natural for you to put that all but you need supernatural strength. In other words, I can't put these things away without God's grace, enabling me so this put away is not based on your moral strength, but is based on your spiritual dependence on grace.
The second question is this why is the word and repeated so much was it say that all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away.
What is he to say let all bitterness, wrap anger, and clamor, and evil speaking and the answer is that this is actually intended as a style or a form of communication where things are connected together in succession for a particular effect. And in this passage.
The effect is that each device is the result of the preceding vice so you could say bitterness produces wrath and wrath produces anger and anger produces clamor or yelling, and clamor, produces blasphemy and cursing.
In other words, they flow together. Do not go to separate them and in the third question is this why does Paul use the word all twice he says in the beginning.
Let all bitterness, and then he concludes with all malice. I think the answer is this that bitterness is referring to people who been heard hurt people. Malice is referring to people who want to hurt people, and this is an all-encompassing way of showing us that hurt people hurt people. Any saying all of this needs to be put away that we need to be ruthless on ourselves and not allowing those things to come in our life. So it's just taken notice of each one of these words. Let's begin with bitterness is a word that's commonly used today.
But what does it mean well. The word bitterness has the idea of something that is sharp and pointed like we say you got stabbed in the back. It also is the idea of something that is obnoxious to the taste buds. The idea of you go through an experience, and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth you don't want to go through that experience again in the book of Hebrews chapter 12 in verse 15. The word bitterness is actually referred to as a root sin. Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you and thereby many be defiled.
Bitterness is the origin or the calls of everything else in this verse.
It's the root that produces the fruit so what is bitterness bitterness is some kind of experience I go through where I was deeply hurt. For example, it could be some kind of hurt that comes from unjust mistreatment something happens and you're mistreated you feel like it's not fair. Maybe something that you had was taken away or you experienced a loss. Remember numbers of years ago preaching in a small town in Michigan and I went into the local post office and the lady was there and began talking to her and I answer a sitter your Christian and she said yes and I asked her where you go to church and she said why don't go to church is a man. Why don't you go to church.
She said because I'm mad at God about the lease she's honest as a man why are you mad at God, she said. Because five years ago my husband died and I don't think it's fair and I'm mad over what happened. How many of you have ever been mistreated. Well, welcome to planet Earth.
A friend, a leader maybe maybe something you had. You were mistreated by an authority look, it's almost impossible to go through Bob Jones University and not feel like somebody mistreated you is going to happen and how you deal with this and how you respond with this it's it's what Paul is dealing with here. Things that happen that I don't feel like it's fair maybe it's physical problems, health, sickness. We know that Job experiences in so many different ways. Reading Joe's life is like. This is not even fair and is also questions that he asked God God why are you allowing this in my life is not fair, but bitterness can also come not only through an unjust mistreatment, but can come to some unfulfilled expectation, something happens that is very disappointing. Maybe something that you were hoping to get in. It fell through me.
This often happens in a breakup, a dating relationship. Somebody skirt may be something that you were hoping to get a job or something to come along and it didn't happen in in there all kinds of different ways.
But bitterness is a painful experience and bitter people generally are what we call hurt people and what is that produce bitterness produces the next word next word is the word wrath what is wrath. Wrath is sort of like a volcanic eruption and explosion is when you become exasperated with people where there is intense irritation and annoyance to the point that there is some kind of a passionate outburst when we consider a Christian becoming better. That's who I'm talking to you today by a large we often forget that God's way of gain is actually through pain. Maturity comes through chastening. Hebrews chapter 12. That's what he's writing about were running a race and were going through the discipline process of of being in shape and it's painful God trains us through discipline and chastening shows that were God's children, and that he loves us, and that this is going to happen because parents discipline their children and God is a good father, but the encouragement for going through discipline is that God gives grace for all the difficult experiences of our life.
For example, think of the apostle Paul. Second Corinthians 12 what does he say he said I had a thorn in the flesh. I asked God to take away three times and God said non-not to take away the pain is not going to go away but I'm going to give you something better. I'm going to give you grace and you're going to going to learn that my grace, my enablement in the midst of your pain is sufficient for you. It's enough for you and you are going to find out that when your week with God. That's when you become strong. However, God gives his grace only to those who are humble to those who resist the temptation to became to become angry and frustrated. It often is rooted in our pride we feel like we were mistreated or disappointed. And we have to come to place what we trust in all situations that God is good, but if you don't humble yourself what happens.
You become controlled by the emotion of that pain you become bitter and you become angry, and you start lashing out, you start reacting. That's what he's talking about and then notice the next word. The word anger. This word anger is different from wrath wrath is like the quick flame anger is like the slow burn is the hot embers on the charcoal grill is like going to the restaurant and the waiter says don't touch the plate because it's hot, it's more of a settled hostility where it is not just kind of blowing but it's it's more of that idea of a sense of revenge on me to get back in and certain things stirred up my wife and I were married in 1980 and we went on our honeymoon to a resort ranch in Colorado called Deer Valley Ranch that her own cabin and all the meals were provided and they were actually family-style meal so you going to and they were they were incredible meals, but you go when you sit down at a table where your sign in there, be there other people there. So my wife and I were there one evening and sat next to a gentleman so he asked us.
You know how long you been married was that we just got married and we just finished school and so forth.
So I'm very very nice guy until he asked me the question will where did you go to school and I so I just graduated from Bob Jones University and he pushed his chair back and he yelled out Bob Chacon's. I went obviously he has some internal hostility going some kind of settled hostility and then he proceeded to tell me how much he disliked Boston University though he didn't go here but his sister with and she had a bad experience. Back in the 1950s. I was married in 1980. So for almost 30 year period of time. He had this underlying anger and resentment and one word explosion now that kind of issue. Regardless of the location happens to people all the time.
As Christians, bitterness, wrath, anger, the notice and export clamor. The word clamor means to shout or scream at somebody is the idea of arguing or crying or yelling, full of anger and then the next word evil speaking, this means to speak against someone in such a way as to harm or injure their reputation, slander, defamation, libel, cursing, this could either be verbal or can be written, it can be in a conversation or can be on Facebook in the notice, the last word. All malice malice is the feeling of hostility to the point where you want to harm the person that has hurt you. You can sum it up this way. That hurt people hurt people and what Paul is doing as he said he's taking all of this stuff and he says this is the way the Gentile world lives they live this way without God, but this is not the way here to live. You were to put these things away. You cannot live this way you are, to put it away because it was put away on the cross and then that leads to the second command and that is what were to put out because he's not just dealing with negatives. He's dealing with positives and notice what he says in verse 32 and be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. The word put away as a in imperative a command. The word, be ye kind is also a command. He says you be and this is what your to be here to be kind. It implies that kindness has to be developed is not natural. We have to work at it. Board kind is the idea of providing something beneficial for somebody else is the desire to make other people happy. It means to be considerate of their needs and in and interests it means you're disposed to do them good to be helpful to be useful to others.
It's like feeding people tasty food. I wife has little statement on our refrigerator at home. It says love people cook them tasty food. Yesterday I took the day off. My wife said let's go out to eat. I said why I said you are better than any cook in town. I said why don't we just have breakfast at home so my wife made eggs with cheese and bacon and sausage and she made seriously seriously good cheese grits.
She made crumpets, which he bought crumpets.
I bought crumpets and had butter and had GM on it and then to top it all off was a Krispy Kreme baked Boston cream filled doughnuts sitting next to it made life is good.
She's kind that's what that's what he means.
Here is like a good quality set of tools like craftsman tools there really good is like a good cup of coffee versus a bad cup of coffee. Life is too short to drink bad coffee is like being thoughtful and courteous to people when you meet them and agreed that my son-in-law works for a law firm in Columbia and he went the just started working there recently and they have a 5 foot and 10 foot rule.
The 10 foot roses. If you come within 10 feet of people you have to acknowledge their presence like nod, smile way. If you come within 5 feet of the person you have to greet them with a hello it's nurturing a culture an atmosphere of kindness. Jesus described this kind is when he said my yoke is easy word easy means kind Jesus is a master. We are slaves, but he's a very kind master. This kindness is a fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness the word gentleness means kindness and Paul describes his kindness when he writes in Ephesians chapter 2 in verse 720 says that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us to Christ Jesus. What Paul is saying is that God has acted towards believers with grace. This grace that goes way beyond anything you and I could ever imagine. It is a grace that is so great it will take all eternity to explain it to us and will still never fully understand it in this grace is been expressed in the way that God is acted in kindness towards us in verses six and seven of the Ephesians 2 he tells us how he expressed his kindness and he said you were dead in sins, but he quickened you together with Christ.
Think about it if somebody falls over dead and the other person comes up to them and raises them from the dead is pretty nice is an he raises often the debt we used to be dead. And since were now alive in God. He's raised us up together. That's not just resurrection from the dead, only but is also raising up to heaven. We are going to go to heaven and he's made us sit together in heavenly places.
We are actually seated with Christ in in that position. We have all of his blessings.
Everything we have in life we need for life and godliness is already been provided for us. God is a kind God and this is the very opposite of bitterness because better people want to hurt people but kind people want to help. Then he adds another word he says you need to be kind with with a tender heart is a tender heart means to have compassion is the way Jesus felt when he saw the crowds a sheep without a shepherd the way he felt when he saw the leper who came to him to be healed is the way he felt that when he saw the widow of name as they were about to bury her 19-year-old son and she was weeping in all of these occasions. Jesus wanted to reach out and to help them.
And Paul finishes by explaining what kindness does wonders kindness ultimately do and is found in the last phrase of the verse he says, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Paul describes kindness to the attitude of forgiveness. The two words in the New Testament for forgiveness. One word means to remove the guilt is sort of an action. The other word means to forgive with a certain attitude that's the word that we find here that Paul uses, and that is he's dealing with why we should put away with bitterness of why we should put all kindness and why we should show forgiveness because the root word for forgiveness. In this passage is the word grace you can say this way gracing one another because God in Christ Jesus has graced you. How is God graced you. God is forgiven you, of all of your sins, he will never bring them up again.
God is ultimately kind to us because we all deserve hello everybody here deserves. But God has forgiven you.
By the way, God will forgive you if you've come with sins. God will forgive you and so what we did. We are to do. We are to reciprocate that same kind and that is we are to constantly grace the people.
So as we finish the semester. This is exactly the way we should be living. Jesus died on the cross. He said father forgive them for they know not what they do. May God give us here spirit of grace and kindness and forgiveness and not harboring hurts but but learning how to serve and help other people.
Father, we thank you for your word and your kindness and your grace. Lord, you said that it will take all eternity to fully display your kindness.
Lord help us to be kind to everyone. In Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a sermon from Ephesians chapter 4 the sermon as part of the study series called new life in Christ by Dr. Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University.
Thanks again for listening once again next week as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform