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, Sr. His 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 biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit, President of Bob Jones University, is continuing a study series from Ephesians entitled, New Life in Christ.
Steve has written a study booklet for this series. If you would like to follow along, you can order a printed copy from the website, thedailyplatform.com. Today, Steve will walk us through how Christians should communicate in Ephesians 4, 29 through 30. Please take your Bibles this morning and turn with me to the book of Ephesians chapter 4. This morning, we're going to focus on verse 29 and 30 as we look at the fourth of five different ways in which Christians are to put off and put on the old life from the new life. The story is told of the sage Gamaliel and his wise servant, Toby.
One of the tasks of the sage was to inspect the marketplace to ensure the quality of the produce sold there. Well, one day, Gamaliel was very busy and didn't have time to go down and inspect the market, so he sent Toby to the market with instructions to purchase the worst thing he saw and to purchase the best thing he saw and then to bring them back. Well, Toby went out and returned a while later, and Gamaliel said, show me the worst thing in the marketplace, and Toby laid down a piece of tongue that he had purchased. Then Gamaliel said, show me the best thing in the marketplace, and Toby laid out another piece of tongue, and Gamaliel looked closely but could see no difference between these two pieces, and he asked the question, what is the meaning of this? I sent you to bring me the worst and the best, but you bring me two identical tongues.
And Toby replied, Gamaliel, nothing is worse than the tongue when it speaks evil words, and nothing is better than the same tongue when it speaks good words, and Gamaliel praised Toby for his wisdom. God has given the tongue as one of the most powerful means to impact the hearts and the lives of the church, and Paul is telling us this morning that good words can become a servant of grace to his saints, and evil words can become a source of grief to the Holy Spirit. So my message this morning is entitled Christian Communication 101. That is just simple, basic things about the way a Christian ought to be speaking in contrast to the old life.
And so we read the commands here in chapter 4 and verse 29, notice what it says, let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers, and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. As we begin this morning, let me just give you a brief reminder about the book of Ephesians and its theme. The apostle Paul's letter is focused primarily on what God the Father is doing in the world. And what is God doing in the world? He is creating a body for his son, and a building for his spirit. And this body and this building are called the church. So what is God doing in the world?
He is building and establishing his church. And so the great work, this great work that God is doing is described in the first half of the, of the first half of Ephesians chapters one through three where he deals with the wealth of the believer, the riches that we have in Christ. In the second half of the epistle beginning in chapter four, Christians are exhorted to live out consistently this calling that they have in Christ, and this is called the walk of the believer. So the wealth and the walk. In chapter four, we understand that in order for the body, the church to grow, then believers must be walking in both unity and impurity.
The section that we have been studying this semester is emphasizing the aspect of purity. That is, we are commanded to walk not as the Gentiles walk. So believers are to put off the old life of sin and we're to put on the new man that is in Christ.
So thus far we have looked at verses 25 through 28 where we are commanded to put off things like lying and anger and stealing. Why? Because we are members of a new body. We're to tell the truth. We have a new enemy, Satan.
We have a new mission. We're not to be takers, but we're to be givers. This morning we're going to look at the command to put off words. Words that are bad.
Words that tear down. And we are to put on words that build up. So let's look this morning at the put off and put on commands that we find in this passage.
Let's just begin with what we're to put off. Notice he says in verse 29, let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. What Paul is saying is that God's people are deeply affected by words. The things that we say are conversation.
And they are affecting believers as those words come out of the mouth of another believer. The tongue is like a thermostat. It sets the temperature of a room. The tongue sets the atmosphere of any group of people. The tongue affects your room, how you converse to one another. It affects your discipleship group. It affects your hall. It affects your society. It affects your class that you're in. It affects the team that you play on. It affects your church. It affects your university. Let no rotten words proceed out of your mouth. That's what the word corrupt means.
It means rotten. I was a youth pastor for five years in the state of Michigan. And every fall we would have a big activity in October that was a hay ride. We'd get flatbed trailers and put bales of hay and all of our teenagers would pile up on these trailers.
Usually we had about 80 kids. We would go out to a vegetable farm. It was about 1200 acres and we would go to the back side of the farm and we'd have a campfire and drink cider and we would sing songs and testify.
It was a great time. And there on that vegetable farm they grew primarily bell peppers and tomatoes. And those that could not be sold in the market, they would pile in a heap on the back side of the farm and they would just sit there and they would rot. And we would normally drive by this mound of rotting bell peppers and tomatoes and of course everybody would make certain sounds about the smell.
Ooh. And as we were coming back in our group we always had a few mischievous junior high boys. Can you imagine that? And they would jump off the trailer and they would run ahead and they would hide behind these mounds of rotting bell peppers and tomatoes and as we rode by they would jump out and they would begin to hurl these things at the girls and the guys sitting on the trailer.
They were like professional baseball pitchers. And they started whacking people upside the head with rotten tomatoes. And I remember when we got on the bus that night, the smell was horrible. It stunk. Because of the rotting vegetables.
Let nothing rotten proceed out of your mouth. That word proceed is a very interesting word. When I was a cadet at the Citadel, we would march in and out of our barracks every morning through what was known as the sally port. The sally port is an exit point in a fort for soldiers to go out and make an attack.
And so we would come marching out of the sally port and during our weekly parades the companies would come marching out by the hundreds and I can see it in my mind just hundreds of people come marching out of this one location. Paul is saying that in all your words do not let anything come marching out of your mouth that is rotten. The tongue of a Christian can actually hurt the community of believers more than anything else.
It affects the atmosphere. It affects the spirit. When I was in evangelism, I was preaching in a Christian school. I remember where it was.
It was in the state of Wisconsin. And it was a really bad spirit in the school and it was one of those things where I knew it wasn't my fault. I came into this atmosphere and really was somewhat puzzled until the last day of the week-long meeting we had in the school when the pastor's daughter stood up to make a public confession. And she had confessed that she had been gossiping about every girl in the school. So I asked the girls, how many of you have been gossiping about other girls in this school?
And every girl's hand shot up. And then I thought, bingo, there's the problem. The problem is that the atmosphere in this school has been set by the communication that was coming out of the mouth of the students. And I said to the girls, I said, girls, we have a problem here. It's your mouth.
The only thing that can correct your problem is your mouth. You need to get up and go to one another and make confession. We had a revival break out. Girls started going to each other and asking forgiveness and saying they were sorry for what they had done. And when they did that, suddenly the whole atmosphere changed. It was as if we were in a stale, damp room and the windows opened and we got all the smell out and we put some potpourri in the room and the whole atmosphere changed. Your mouth sets the atmosphere of where you are, where you live and where you serve.
So what is Paul saying? Let no decay spreading conversation come out of your mouth that runs down others and delights in their weaknesses. The fable is told of a slave who took poison into her system a little at a time.
And then more and more until at last her whole being was so full of poison that her very breath would wither the flowers. What is your mouth like? What are the words you speak? What are rotten words? What comes out of our mouth that is unacceptable? Words like slander, criticism, malicious hurtful words, words that are intended to get people back, profane, dirty words, obscene, suggestive, complaining, murmuring, griping, words that are divisive. Paul says as a believer we are called to seriously restrain our tongues.
Hanging on the dining room wall of St. Augustine was this motto. He who speaks evil of an absent man or woman is not welcome at this table. After all these years of being in ministry I've sat at many tables with many people and it's always interesting what people talk about.
Do you know what? Little people talk about people. Big people talk about God. What do you talk about?
Last week in Dr. Horns or two weeks ago his excellent message from the book of James, I loved his title, Sermon on the Mouth. He focused on three metaphors of the tongue that emphasize its size in contrast to its power. The tongue is like a small bed in the mouth of a big horse. The tongue is like a small rudder controlling a huge ship. The tongue is like a small fire that starts a larger forest fire.
The tongue is so small but it is so powerful that what Paul is saying is that it can either unify and build up the church or it can divide and tear the church down. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. Is that something that is real in you? Are you cautious?
Are you careful about what you say? And then notice Paul also gives a second negative command to put off. That's found in verse 30 where he says these words, and grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. So Paul is connecting rotten words with grieving the Spirit. And behind this second command lies a deeper spiritual motive. It goes to the very heart of the new man. That the body of the Christian, your body has become the resident, the temple of the Holy Spirit. And Paul talks about that back in Ephesians 1 in verse 13 where he says that you are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise.
What is he talking about there? He's talking about one of the blessings believers have and that is that the Spirit of God has come to live inside of our bodies and that is his sealing. What does that mean sealing? Well a seal in ancient times was for example wax that was used to seal a letter. You've seen that. And then that letter is stamped with a signet ring signifying ownership.
This is my letter. A seal was also used when you close something like a tomb. Jesus' tomb was sealed and that was sealed to make it secure. So Paul says here, don't grieve the Spirit.
Why? Because you're sealed unto the day of redemption. Paul is confirming the reality that our salvation is secure because the Spirit lives in us and God now owns us. The very fact that we have the Spirit is the security of our salvation and the fact that we are owned by God. We are not our own. We are owned by him.
So here's the command. He says don't grieve the Spirit. What does this mean? Well it means that the Christian and the Holy Spirit are going to live together until you get to glory. There is no where you go that the Spirit is not there with you. And what he is saying is that our words and our attitudes can actually hurt or bring pain and sorrow to the Holy Spirit.
Let me put it this way. God can be emotionally disappointed, disturbed and distressed with his children's words. Now I have four children. I love my children. I love being with my children.
I'm probably the most comfortable with my family. But you know what? My children have said things to each other that have really pained me. It's just a part of being a father and having children. Is it possible for us to say words that bring pain to the Holy Spirit?
This is what he's saying. Don't grieve the Spirit. And to be honest with you, I'm not sure I fully understand or comprehend what this means when it says that we grieve God because from my perspective it would seem like the Spirit would be hurt all the time because of the way we talk.
But I have seen it many times in local churches where I've gone to hold meetings. And I've seen it many times when you preach or for example on a wayward child and how a wayward child will break their parent's heart and I've watched heads drop and shoulders begin to shake as parents start weeping with a broken heart over their sons and daughters. This is what it means to be grieved. Grieving is sorrow and pain that flows out of a heart of love.
It's the heart of the prodigal son's father who weeps when his wayward son comes home. Grieving the Spirit has to be a major sin with God's people. I have to believe that the Spirit of God is many, many times grieved on this campus because of the way God's children are talking. In my 30 years of evangelism, I've been to churches where there seemed to be an absence of the presence of God's love, His joy, and His peace, the fruit of the Spirit.
Somehow it seemed like the Spirit had been grieved and the church was dead and was cold as an iceberg. And I've seen it when God's people begin to confess the very sins that grieve the Spirit, that suddenly there is a change, a reviving, a restoration. The joy comes back. The peace comes back. And the love comes back. We are to put off the words that defile and divide the body and disappoint and distress the Spirit. Whenever there is a restoration, it begins with a broken heart and a mouth that confesses its sins. So He says, put these things off.
Then notice secondly, He tells us what to put on. He says, let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth but that which is good to the use of edifying or building up, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Now to me, this is a tremendous statement. Christians have been given an awesome privilege of immense value. That we can cooperate with God's Spirit in such a way that we can literally become dispensers of grace. When you go to eat in the dining room, we have multiple dispensers throughout the building that are waiting just to bless us. Like we have hand sanitizer dispensers. And when you make your sandwich, you have ketchup dispensers, mustard dispensers, mayonnaise dispensers, hot sauce dispensers.
When you make your salad, you have little small handheld dispensers where you can shake the salad dressing out on your salad. These are all dispensers that are waiting to bless us. And He is saying that our tongue, what we say, can be a dispenser of God's grace. What is grace? It is divine enabling. It is the supernatural ability to do what I cannot naturally do by myself.
Grace says I can't, but God can. And how many times and how often have people spoken words to us that have brought us strength and comfort and courage and encouragement? Many of you are constant sources of blessing. You say words that build people up. You say words that encourage people. My wife recently, I was getting ready to preach here just a few weeks ago, and for whatever reason I was low in my spirit on a Monday morning. So I met my wife in that back hallway right over there.
She grabbed my coat like this. She said, she said, you can do that. You can go. You can preach. Go. You can do it. You're wonderful. Now, only one person should say that to me.
And you know what? I went okay, I can do it. What are your words like? What comes out of your mouth? How careful should we be in choosing our words instead of tearing people down? We get to build people up. And Paul is telling us that our words should be spoken in a way that they are truthful and they are loving and they are at the right time. Speaking the truth is the first characteristic of the new life. That's Ephesians 4.25. In Ephesians 4.15, he says we're to speak the truth in love. Lashing out with truth can have a reverse effect if it's motivated by personal frustration and not for the good of the hearer.
I think at Bob Jones University, it's very, very easy if you're in a leadership role here. If you're an RA, you're in a position to correct. Let me put it that way. That your words can be used if you're frustrated and you lash out.
You can literally tear people down. I was a youth pastor, as I mentioned. We had a kid in my youth group that was very irritating. Every time he would come, he would disrupt our meetings. He always would sit there with two girls on either side of him and talk the whole time.
He talked the whole time. One day I was fed up with it and I brought him in my office and I chewed him out. I told him, either straighten up or get out. He said, I'm out. I said, okay, you're out.
I was kind of a take no prisoners youth pastor. On his way out, I made a really bad mistake. I looked at him and said, you know what, I don't even know if you're saved. He went out, told his mom and dad. His dad worked in our Christian school and it severed a relationship with that family that never got restored. I remembered very, very clearly how God brought me under deep conviction of my reactionary spirit that I was, by God's grace, I said, Lord, I don't want to ever do that again.
I went back and asked forgiveness, but it was just hard to undo some of the damage. Truth spoken in love is the way that we are to speak to one another, but it also has to be at the right time. Timing is of the essence. A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25, 11, the value of what we say is based on speaking the right words to the right person at the right time. So let me conclude this morning by saying simply this, that when it comes to our words that we speak to one another, we should be really hard on ourselves.
We're often hard on other people, but we need to be hard on ourselves. Consider the times that we cause pain and sorrow to the spirit by the things that we say to each other. How many ministries and how many schools lack the blessing of God very simply because of the absence of grace in the speech of God's people.
How much growth could be taking place if we were simply communicating graciously through our choice words. So ask yourself three questions before you speak. Number one, am I sure this is true?
Am I sure this is true? Number two, am I saying this with love? Can I really say I'm saying this for the benefit of that person?
And thirdly, is this the right time? Don't let anything come out of your mouth that is rotten, but let your words build people up as you communicate grace to them and the spirit of God is free to work. He's not pained. He's not grieved, but he is free to work in the lives of his people. Father, thank you for your word. Help us Lord to use our words to minister grace to the hearers. God, I pray that you will convict us. God convict us of the words that we say that bring pain to you. And Father, I pray that the Spirit of the Lord will have free course to work on this campus in Jesus name. Amen.
You've been listening to a sermon from Ephesians chapter four. I'm Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University. If you're looking for a college, please consider BJU where our Christian liberal arts education will prepare you academically and spiritually to reach your highest potential for God's glory. For more information about our more than 100 accredited undergraduate and graduate programs, visit bju.edu or call 800-252-6363. Thanks again for listening. Join us again tomorrow as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-06 10:52:37 / 2022-12-06 11:01:46 / 9