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Do Not Give the Devil a Foothold (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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January 10, 2024 3:00 am

Do Not Give the Devil a Foothold (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 10, 2024 3:00 am

Jesus’ followers are to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling” they received. So what does that look like? How can your life give evidence of the Gospel’s power? Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg explores the book of Ephesians for the answers.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!

Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

As Christians, we are told in scripture that we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received.

What does that look like? Today on Truth for Life, we'll learn a few ways that our lives can provide evidence of the gospel's power. Alistair Begg is teaching from Ephesians chapter 4. We're looking at verses 25 through 28. It's not uncommon to move around church circles where people say I will walk about in freedom, because I am completely free to make my own choices. I just decide inside of myself what I think should be done.

I imagine that this could be the case, and so on. If you read Pilgrim's Progress, it will disavow you of that kind of thing. You find that in formalist and hypocrisy in Pilgrim's Progress, where that's exactly their little speech to Pilgrim. And Pilgrim says to them, I walk by the rule of my master, and you walk by the rude working of your fancies. In other words, he says, the reason I'm doing what I'm doing is because my master has said this.

He said, Do this and don't do this. That's how I'm walking. You're walking on the basis of the imagination of your own hearts. Well, I think it would be okay.

Well, I just don't suppose it's a problem. Well, I say, Ta-do, ta-do, ta-do. Loved ones, this is of crucial significance. And an understanding of this will be the difference between, in many cases, success and failure, restoration and obliteration, progress, digress, regress—in simple, straightforward terms, simply saying, I will walk about in freedom, because I have obeyed your precepts. In obedience. How will I be obeyed? Because the work of the Spirit of God is to subdue and to enable. How does he do that? He brings the Bible to me, and then as the Bible comes to me, he says to me, Come on now, Beck, let's get this sorted out. William Cowper—I'll stop with Cowper. Cowper, who gave us God Moves in a Mysterious Way, his Wonders to Perform, has a wonderful hymn, part of which goes like this.

To see the law by Christ fulfilled and hear his pardoning voice changes a slave into a child and duty into choice. That's the mystery of it. That's the wonder of it. That's the nature of it. And you see, if we get this wrong—if you get it wrong, if I get it wrong—it changes everything.

It changes the flavor of everything. It turns a congregation into a congregation full of legalists or liars or loonies. It's imperative that we understand it. The indicative of all that is ours in Christ, provide the foundation for the imperatives. And in the instruction that follows, as I say to you again, he's not giving a guide to becoming a Christian but an outline of the lifestyle of those who by grace through faith have been placed in Christ. Let's just look at the three things he says, and that briefly too.

Verse 25. Let's just summarize it. Speak the truth. Speak the truth. Having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth. Notice again context.

It's not a vacuum. With his neighbor. Why? Because we're members, one of another. We belong together.

We belong together. And it is absolutely crucial that we tell the truth to each other. In verses 17–19, we said that in many ways what you have there is a summary of what Paul provides in the second half of the first chapter of his letter to the Roman Christians. And you remember that there, from 18 and on, one of the things he says about the ungodly is that they suppress the truth. They suppress the truth. It's not that there is a sort of vagueness about it.

There's actually a suppression of it. And he goes on to say that despite the fact that what God has made known in creation, they have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. So they're now living in the realm of lies. That's the significance of therefore having put away falsehood. You once lived in that realm by nature.

You were an Adam. But you have put off, you have put on. Therefore, having put away falsehood, make sure that you continue to. And the way that that will become apparent, he says, is when people come among your congregations in Ephesus, they will say, goodness gracious, these people actually tell the truth to one another.

Well, of course. You see, you got a new outfit. Colossians 3 makes this the clearest of all, the whole putting off and putting on. He says, you know, telling lies, that was part of your old uniform.

But you got a new uniform now. And your uniform is truthfulness, not telling lies. You remember the way in which he describes their conversion? He says, And you heard the word of truth. You heard the word of truth. In verse 21 here of chapter 4, he reminded them of the truth that is in Jesus. When we get to chapter 6, if we ever get to chapter 6, and he describes the armor for the Christian soldiers, the very first piece of the puzzle is the belt of truth. The belt of truth.

And as you know, I have a problem with songs all the time, but in my head right now, on level 4, it's going, Tell me lies, tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies. Right? On the one hand.

But on the other hand. Tell me lies, tell me the truth. I don't want the truth.

Tell me the truth. The unity that we have been called at the beginning of the chapter to maintain is based on trust. Trust is based on truth. The false teachers were crafty.

They were deceitful. The culture in which the Ephesian believers lived was quite used to lies, as is ours. So says Paul, Amongst the community of God there should be a radical commitment to put off lies, pretense, and hypocrisy.

How could one be a member of the body of Christ who is himself the truth, if we fail to put away falsehood? Secondly, in verse 26, he says, You're gonna have to learn how to be angry at the right things and for the right reasons. Learning to be angry about the right things and for the right reasons. Because, you see, not all anger is wrong.

It says it right there in the Bible, doesn't it? He says, Be angry. Now, don't be using this after lunch today, where you get a bad temper and you tell your wife, Well, it says in the Bible, Be angry. So I was just doing what the Bible says.

No. Do what it says. Read the whole thing. Be angry and do not sin. So not all anger is wrong. The Psalmist again says, Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked who forsake your law. In fact, the absence of anger in response to the blatant defiance of the law of God is not a sign of Christian maturity. It's a sign of moral laxity. To the extent that we're able to look at the blatant defiance of the law of God… We're all frogs in a gigantic kettle that is warming up in this regard, aren't we? Have we really found humor in things that so clearly violate God's law?

Have we grown so accustomed to the millions of abortions that it doesn't stir a righteous anger in our hearts when we drive past those places? Is it now possible for me to come back into Hopkins Airport and walk past the usual photographs of people now that I regard almost as my friends? I've never met them, but I see them all the time. I talk to them as I'm walking past. Hey, yeah! And I have one in particular, and I always say to myself, Would I buy a car from that guy?

But that's a personal matter altogether, and I'm not telling you what picture it is. But then am I able just to simply walk past where it announces the fact that the abduction of women is taking place routinely in the state of Ohio, and that at the same time it's not only one of the location places but one of the dumping places? Are we supposed to just have no reaction to that? No, we're angry. We're angry. Blatant evil should make the believer intolerant.

And it is one of the indications of how easily we are absorbed into a culture, into its milieu, into its thought forms, into its mentalities, that after time, we're inured to the actual circumstances. But with that said, most of us, if we're honest, have a greater problem with unrighteous anger—not the absence of a proper response to sin but the presence of a wrongful reaction. Trapp, in an earlier era, in a wonderful little sentence, said, He that will be angry and not sin, let him be angry at nothing but sin. He that will be angry and not sin, let him be angry about nothing but sin. Now, you see, this is not confession time, but what begins perhaps for us as justifiable anger can very quickly become the occasion of sin.

How? Well, let's just take one of the areas that I've mentioned. So there's a justifiable reaction to injustice and impurity, which then creates in my mind a sense of self-righteousness, which is sin. Which then may become the occasion of personal resentment, which is sin. Which then may become the occasion of an animosity that strikes out at other people and expresses itself in a desire for revenge, which is sin.

So you see how crucial the directive is? Be angry and do not sin. Be angry and don't sin. For most of us, if we're honest, the problem is that we're on the wrong side of the equation, and thereby give the devil a foothold. Now, surely the opportunity to the devil is not simply solely related to this issue of anger. It is more, clearly. But it is definitely this.

And it's fascinating that Paul should put it here. Of all the places he puts, and do not give the devil a foothold, he puts it right after the anger one. Be angry and do not sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Don't give the devil a foothold. Don't let him get his foot in the door. See, when somebody is angry… You know, if anger is the kind of underlying characteristic, the devil loves that.

He played that violin all the way to the end of the symphony. People are, I'm angry about this, and I'm annoyed about that, and I'm resentful of this, and she said that, and twelve years ago he did that, and I've been thinking about that for seven hours, and that thing, and that thing, and that thing, and that thing. So, now let's all sing together. It's virtually impossible. Now let's pray together. It's virtually impossible. Now let's receive the Word of God.

It's virtually impossible. Because the devil plays on that. He knows.

He's not omniscient, but he's alert. And whether this is, as we'll see tonight, the settled sort of smoldering stuff, or whether it is the angry outburst, the warning is clear. Don't go on the wrong side of this. Because unrighteous anger is a fertile ground for the activity of the evil one. And even righteous anger I don't think is good to take to your bed. So I think we can safely apply that to better to make up and fall asleep rather than wake up at three o'clock regretting the fact that you didn't. Better to shake hands and say goodnight, even after a jolly good argument, than to go away and slam your car door and drive off.

This is intensely practical. Because it'll eat your soul. You show me somebody that has an unforgiving spirit over a period of time with somebody, it comes out all the time. That's where we're going, you see. You forgive one another with a tender heart, because God in Christ forgave you. You got no place to go.

Nowhere to go. Well, you don't know what she did. This is the seaming sermon now, so you won't need to come. But she don't know what she did. Listen, I don't know, but I do know my offense against God, and no offense against me even comes close to my offense against God. And if he forgave me, all of that offense, you telling me that I'm gonna tell you, I refuse to forgive you. You see the radical change in a culture?

The impact in Ephesus. Telling the truth, getting the anger question right, and finally not stealing stuff. You say, well, we don't have a problem with that. Why would we need to steal stuff?

Look at us. Well, let the thief no longer steal. You see, interestingly, when Paul gives a list of the unrighteous characteristics, and particularly in Corinthians, he includes thieves in the group.

He includes those who are disobedient to their parents as well, incidentally. But nonetheless, thieves. So if you imagine Ephesus with no welfare system, with no opportunity to get a handout from anywhere, you could either beg, or you could steal. Or you could borrow. Right? And so, presumably, a number of them said, well, the only way we can make ends meet here is we'll steal stuff.

So that's how they function. He says, so, if you were a thief, don't be a thief anymore. Because, you see—and especially if you were a lazy thief—so laziness plus greediness almost leads inevitably to theft, to stealing. I'm lazy, I'm greedy, I want it.

I'm gonna go and get it, by whatever means. Now, he says, you're a radically new person. That's what you used to do, but you're not gonna do that anymore. When he writes to the Thessalonians, he puts it very straightforwardly.

If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. Wow! That's pretty straightforward. Margaret Thatcher quoted that at the Free Church of Scotland Assembly some years ago and raised an amazing political brouhaha.

Right? She didn't make that up. That's the inspired Word of God. If you don't work, why do you think you're gonna eat?

It's a general principle. Now, you say, well, what about the people that can't? Well, that's covered in the verse. Look at it.

Don't steal anymore. Work. Honest work.

Own hands. So that. So that what? So that you'll be flesh. So you'll be great. So you'll have everything you want. So everything will be super.

No! So that he may have something to share with anyone in need. There's a doctrine, incidentally, of work, which we can't go into now, and there's also an economic piece here that we're not going into now either. But it supersedes capitalism and socialism and definitely communism, because this is what it says. It says that the Christian's MO in relationship to work and employment is that he gets, she gets, in order to give.

She gets to give. Previously, you got in order that you might keep, and you stole it. You don't do that anymore.

Why? Because Jesus has made you a new person. You're a new person now.

Oh, but I still fancy the idea. Of course you do. But what does the Holy Spirit do? Westminster Confession. He subdues and enables.

How does he do that? Because you listen to the Bible. As you have Christian friends around you say, Hey, hey, hey, wait a minute. You're going back down that road again.

Don't do that. That's why we are members one of another. That's why we exist together. That's why you listen to the Bible taught together instead of on your iPhone sitting in a bedroom somewhere, so that as we are taught together, you walk out of here, and if you've got at least five percent of it, and probably somebody in issue got another five percent, you put it together, at least you got ten percent, as opposed to sitting in your bedroom. You see, the church is supposed to be instructed together. We are members one of another, that we might not abuse our neighbor, that we might then be able to give to those who are in need. So we look out on our community and said, Where are the people who are in need? And then the congregation responds, Freely you have received, freely give. It's interesting to be, again, talking about religious orders, those who have taken a vow of poverty. I guess I understand the motivation, but I don't know how they deal with it in relationship to a verse like this.

2 Thessalonians 3.10. If you don't work, you can't eat. What are you doing, sitting up there, looking, contemplating your navel? You're just waiting for people to shove food in the door to you?

What's that about? You're supposed to do honest work with your hands. This is how the program works. It's not a program of entitlement.

It's not a program of sitting around waiting for somebody to bail you out—the government or the man next door. No, you work. So you got a sign that says, I'll work for food. I'll pull up beside you and say, Prove it! Prove it!

Have you had, as I've had, the same experience of going round one of those things, going to Burger King, getting food, bringing it back, rolling down the window, giving it to the guy, and as you pull away, watching him throw it in the street? There's something wrong there. The Christian has in the Bible all that is necessary for life and for godliness. Because, you see, we're new creations. We're not all that we're going to be. We've been sealed unto the day of redemption. We come to that tonight. We're not all that we're going to be. We're not what we once were.

We're a work in progress. And in that work in progress, we're saying no to lies, yes to truth, no to selfish, self-righteous, bad-tempered outbursts, to which we are so prone, but to the experience of righteous anger. And we're not going to be playing the system, but we're going to be working honestly with our hands in order that what we receive will create a mechanism for us to give to those who are poor and needy and whose circumstances are such that they're less fortunate than we. That's why the church usually has had, in my experience in Scotland, two offerings. We had an offering in the main service, and then we had communion, and we had communion every Sunday. And in the communion service, we had another offering.

And the offering in the communion service was exclusively and expressively for those who were in physical and in material need. It's not a bad pattern. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life with the conclusion of a message titled Do Not Give the Devil a Foothold.

Alistair returns in just a minute. I know I appreciate Alistair's reminder that we are all a work in progress. It's easy to get discouraged in trying to live a godly life. That's why daily Bible study is so important. That's why we teach the Bible clearly every day on Truth for Life in a way that is relevant to contemporary life. We trust that God, by His grace, will move listeners from merely having an interest in religion to enjoying a saving relationship with Jesus and a growing Spirit enabled faith. If you benefited from the teaching you hear on Truth for Life, would you join us in praying for the ministry and reach out with your financial support? When you give a gift, your donation helps care for the cost of distributing Truth for Life to a worldwide audience so that people all around the globe can hear solid Bible teaching without cost. And when you give today, we'll invite you to request a copy of a devotional book titled Refreshment for the Soul as Our Way of Saying Thanks. This daily devotional provides you with regular spiritual encouragement and helps you stay grounded in God's Word even when life seems to be spinning out of control. You can donate online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. You can also mail your donation to Truth for Life at P.O.

Box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio 44139. Now here's Alistair to close with prayer. Father, thank you for the clarity of your Word.

Any cloudiness is clearly on my part, on our part. Help us, Lord, to say what the Bible actually says—nothing more, nothing less. And then help us to live in the light of its truth. Save us, Lord, from our sins and from ourselves. For Christ's sake. Amen.

I'm Bob Lapeen. Do you hope you'll get to heaven someday, or do you know you'll get there in due course? Tomorrow we'll learn how we can be certain of our salvation. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-10 07:04:27 / 2024-01-10 07:13:13 / 9

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