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Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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January 12, 2024 3:00 am

Do Not Grieve the Holy Spirit of God (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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January 12, 2024 3:00 am

When dieting to improve your well-being, it’s important to replace junk food with healthy options. Similarly, when trying to live a godly life, good behaviors need to replace the bad. How’s that possible? Find out on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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• This program is part of the series ‘A Study in Ephesians, Volume 7’

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If you decide to get healthier by going on a diet, you shouldn't just stop eating—you have to replace the junk food with healthy food. In the same way, if you're trying to live a godly life, you have to replace bad behavior with the good. We'll learn how that's possible today on Truth for Life as Alistair Begg teaches from Ephesians chapter 4. In verse 31, we have, as John Stort refers to it, six unpleasant attitudes and actions. So make sure, he says, that all bitterness… This is a zero-tolerance program. If the church is going to live together in unity, in purity, in effectiveness, if it's going to reach the world, it will not be able to tolerate this stuff within it, because when the world comes in, they will say, But this is exactly what we get in our office. This is the exact same kind of nonsense that I have, with people talking behind their backs.

This is the same stupid slander that exists everywhere else. If this Jesus thing really transforms people, why in the world are you as you are? That's the challenge of it, you see. The writer to the Hebrews warns his readers about a root of bitterness, which, if not dealt with, will trouble not only the individual who is the source of the bitterness but all of the others who are affected by it. Paul, in Romans, when he talks about the kindness of God—I think it's in that context—"Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? If the gospel doesn't soften your heart, it'll harden your heart. But because of your hard and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. And he will render to each one according to his works, to those who by patience and well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life." They didn't earn it, but by these things they revealed the fact that they had been sealed with the Spirit and made new. But here we go, but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteous righteousness, there will simply be wrath and fury.

The progression is clear. You hear the gospel. If God's kindness does not soften your heart and bring you to repentance, if you continue down that path, if you continue to seek your own glory, if you do not obey the truth, if you commit yourself to unrighteousness, the only end result is wrath and fury.

Come back to Ephesians. What does he follow bitterness with? Wrath and anger. Wrath and anger. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger… The word for wrath here is the word for the flaring up of passion, the temper when it is provoked. Anger, the word orge in the Greek, is a reference to a kind of more settled and sullen hostility, a kind of smoldering resentment that is certainly as damaging as the fiery outburst, in fact, it may actually be even more damaging.

At least if you're dealing with Mr. Fiery Outburst, it usually passes. You know, it's like a big thunder cloud that comes and just… It's not nice, not nice, but we get it over with, as opposed to the … You can just… It's just there.

It just … What is that noise? That's resentment right there. That's … I am angry. … Now he says, You've been sealed with the Spirit of God. You've been made new. You're not going to make the Holy Spirit sad, you by carrying on like that?

You're not, he would say to us tonight, gonna sing, Take my lips and let them be, and then let your lips be, other than what you sang about? That's hypocrisy. But so easy to do. Bitterness, wrath, fury, or anger. And clamor. It's an interesting word, clamor, isn't it? How many times last week did you use the word clamor? I think the only time I used the word clamor is talking about those who would clamor for attention.

I use it in that way. But when I looked at it, the word clamor, actually, is a noun that speaks of the kind of loud, aggravational assertions of an angry person who has decided that it is important that everyone is aware of their grievance. Okay? So it's not simply somebody who's doing it, mm, this is somebody who's doing it, ah! And I want everybody to know, I am mad about this, and you should know, and since I'm mad, you know. That's clamor.

Not nice. And just when you thought we were doing well, slander. Slander.

The devil's work. The devil slanders God to us. He slanders us to God. He slanders us to each other.

And when slander becomes part and parcel of a life, it proves the fact that we are leaning far on the wrong side. Peter, when he writes in a similar vein, refers to it, doesn't he? When he has spoken to them about the wonder of their salvation again—you've been chosen by God the Father, you are sprinkled by the blood of Christ, you are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and look at what a wonder it is, you are a new creation in Christ, see now what God has done, sending his only Son, Christ the beloved one, and can it be, da-da-da, diddly-dee, so on—oh, everything's perfect, it's swimmingly beautiful, these scattered Christians.

Must have been a fantastic group. And then he gets to chapter 2, and he says, So put away all malice, and all deceit, and hypocrisy, and envy, and all slander. There's a measure of encouragement in this, isn't there?

Right? That, for example, the way that Paul writes—so when he writes to the Corinthians, as he begins the Corinthian epistle, he says, you know, you folks in Christ are terrific. You know, you're a wonderful group, and I really jazzed about you. But the same group that he refers to as the saints are the people of whom he has said, There's stuff going on at your communion services that the pagans don't even do. So the exhortation and the appeal is not theoretical.

It's intensely practical. And when we take to heart the instruction of God's Word as we do here, we realize that if we're going to grow together, if the Ephesian believers were going to make sense of all of this, if they were going to maintain unity, then any kind of negative speaking in this way—the kind of slander where we speak of one another rather than to one another. When we, under sort of pseudo-Christianese, use the old introduction again—you know, the only reason I'm mentioning this to you, of course, is I know that you care immensely about Brother Freddie, you know.

And it's like, Okay, what have you got for me? We love prayer. We love prayer circles, prayer groups, prayer trios, and everything else. But there's more gossip passed along in prayer services than in most other places in the Christian church. The fact that something has been disclosed to you does not give you the freedom to disclose it to somebody else. And certainly not under the disguise of prayer. No, he says, the slander must go. And along with that, all malice. All malice. I wonder if malice just isn't the collective term. What is malice? Well, I think it's bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander, and they're all thrown together in a very, very ugly pie.

Or, if you like, if bitterness is the kind of sourness that can be concealed for a while within the human heart, it will eventually reveal itself, and when it does, it will be in a kind of unconcealed ill will that is malicious and plots the downfall of others. Well, it's thoroughly depressing, isn't it? It really is.

It's dauntingly challenging. None of us are able to step back from him and say, although I did have a number of people come to me this morning and say, It was a wonderful talk. I wish Mr. So-and-so had been here.

And I understand how to do that as well. This would have been terrific for her. This would have been great for him. Well, let's just stay with the me for the moment. And let's turn, finally, to the positive side of it. If this stuff is to go, what should be in its place? You see, because it's not simply enough to take the weeds out of the garden.

The flowers are to be cultivated. And that's, again, the wonderful thing. Stop stealing. Do honest work with your hands so that you will be able to give.

Stop telling lies and be a man or a woman of the truth. And make sure that you're dealing really vociferously with these elements which are so undermining to the well-being of spiritual discipleship and growth and grace and so on, and instead, here's what to do. Be kind. The word in Greek is krestos, which is just one vowel away from kristos, which is, of course, Christ, the name of Christ. And I'm sure that many, when they would have used it in the Greek in that way, would have remarked on what I now remark on to you, that kindness and Christ-likeness go together. And the kindness of the Lord Jesus, the kindness of God, is not a select of kindness. When Jesus is giving instruction in this way to his followers in Luke chapter 6, he makes this very point.

It's in the section where he talks about loving your enemies and being good to those who hate you and blessing those who curse you and so on, which is like, Oh, come on! You know, this is tough. What?

No. If you do good to those who do good to you, that's no big deal. Sinners do that. If you give, if you lend to those who are paying you four and a half percent, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners. But love your enemies and do good and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High. Here we go.

Listen to this. For he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Love your neighbor. They said to him, Who is my neighbor?

Tell me who it is. Tell me who the little group is that I have to love so that I can exclude all the people that I don't like and I don't want to love, especially the evil ones and the ungrateful ones and the people that are on the wrong side of this equation. And remember what Jesus says. He says, Okay, I'll answer that question. A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his raiment and departed, leaving him half dead. And then he describes the arrival of the people who most ordinarily would be the ones that you would expect to do something. And then he says, But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own donkey and brought him to an inn, and asked the innkeeper to take care of him.

And he said to him, And if you spend any more than the money I've left with you, when I come back through this way, I will pay the rest to you. And the Pharisees and the religious leaders were offended, because Jesus used as a picture of genuine neighborliness a man who didn't fit their framework. No, you see, this kindness is not selective kindness—kindness to the ungrateful and to the evil. Tender-hearted. Tender-hearted.

Not hard-hearted. This word, actually, is only found two places in the New Testament—here and again in 1 Peter. It's amazing how much Peter and Paul have a unity in this. Finally, all of you have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. And how will that be expressed? Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary bless, for to this you recall that you may obtain a blessing.

In other words, it's a radical, radical, Holy Spirit-created transformation. And forgiving one another. Carizomenoi. Carizomenoi. Caris, grace.

In other words, acting in grace towards one another. But I don't want to. I would prefer not to. Okay.

I would rather harden my heart. I've been disappointed before. I went to the individual, and I spoke to them, and they turned their backs on me.

They threw me out. Okay? Well, you'll notice what it says here. Forgiving one another, not because God forgive you, but as God in Christ forgave you. In other words, he says, the forgiveness of the believer—and he's gonna go on to begin chapter 5 and exhort the Christians to become imitators of God. The forgiveness in our lives as believers is supposed to have a godlike dimension to it. In other words, it's a kind of forgiveness that can only ultimately be found in the family of God. Because it is not simply the logical, I think things will be better if the—well, pragmatically, I think this is anything for a happy life kind of stuff.

No. This is that which the Holy Spirit, who has sealed us for the day of redemption, produces in our lives. The chapter has been all about unity and purity and harmony. And when we get this right—when to the extent that we get it right, as the Ephesians were exhorted to get it right—then the evil one, who is behind all this bad stuff, the evil one—it's screwtape letters now, right?

C. S. Lewis. And he sends out all his nephews and everybody to do their dirty business. And they keep coming back and going, We can't get these guys.

We can't get them. You see, when the Spirit of God among the people of God creates this reality, then it sends a signal to the evil one of what the Bible says is true. He is a defeated foe. He's a defeated foe. It's checkmate.

There is no way that he can alter the outcome from Calvary. But he still wants to play the moves out on the board. And as he plays the moves out on the board, he seeks to live in the realm of anger and wrath and slander and disappointment and hatred and heartache and so on—all the things that we are just so naturally susceptible to, and often, if we're honest, very glad to entertain.

But when the Spirit of God is at work filling and transforming and renewing, then the devil himself realizes, These folks have got me beat. And isn't it great that there's nothing particularly flamboyant about any of this? I mean, this is just ordinary stuff. This is ordinary stuff in the lives of ordinary people, in the routine of life. In fact, what he's really saying is, by enabling the Spirit of God, you ordinary folks can live in an extraordinary way as a result of the grace and goodness of God. Let me give you three illustrations I'm done. One is from Fred Mitchell, whom I'm sure you're all very aware of.

Fred Mitchell was the general director of the China Inland Mission after D. E. Host, who was the general director after Hudson Taylor. And my thought here is, here we all are, it's Monday tomorrow, same old stuff, right? Most of our lives are routine.

They are. You put your socks on, check your emails, do your stuff. Tuesday, socks, emails, stuff. Tonight's a little different. No socks. But that's just breaking the routine. You see, and that's where we live our lives.

And this is why I wanted this. Here is the abiding message of Fred Mitchell's life. He accomplished no great thing. His name was linked with many Christian organizations, but he founded none of them. He turned the feet of many into paths of righteousness, but not more than others of his contemporaries. He made no spectacular and inspiring sacrifices.

He affected no reforms. For the first forty-five years of his life, the pathway he traversed was similar to that of thousands of other moderately successful businessmen. From village school to chemist's shop—drugs to the pharmacy—yeah, from village school to the pharmacy would have been an appropriate summing up of his outward course. Here's the sentence. On that ordinary hum-drum track, however, he walked with God, climbing steadily in spiritual experience. On the ordinary hum-drum track.

Okay? T.S. Mooney, my favorite Irish Presbyterian who's been gone for a long time now, was a Crusader leader—you don't need to know all that means—but he taught boys for fifty years on Sunday afternoons. In this little biography that they did of him, one of the chapters is on his role as the leader in this class.

His prayerful concern for his boys led him to take a real practical interest in each one of them. So what are you doing that's spiritually effective, Mooney? Well, I'm a bank manager. I teach a Bible class. Hmm. No one's ever heard of you, Mooney.

Mm-hmm. He was always at class at least half an hour before the starting time, to give himself plenty of time to greet the boys on their arrival, to chat to them and find out more about them. For years, the junior boys were invited in small groups to have Sunday tea at number nine Clarence Avenue. That their leader would take an interest in them made a profound impression on many of them. And one said, from first going to Crusaders, Mr. Mooney got to know my name, and from then on he took a consistent interest in my life.

Another states, I will always remember T.S. as being someone who took a personal interest in me as an individual. If I ever missed class for one reason or another, he would be at my door during the week to say, Missed you last Sunday. And this is a sentence I was looking for.

Sorry to read so much. After my father died, Mr. Mooney asked me about my mother every Sunday for a year as we filed out at the end of class. Tender-hearted. Ambrose was the bishop of Milan. Ambrose was, by all accounts, a powerful character, very effective in his proclamation. He was greatly used in the conversion of Augustine.

And Augustine, reflecting on how he came to faith under the bishop's ministry, said, It was not your great teaching. I scarcely expected to find that in the church in any case, but that you were kind to me. You see, we overestimate that which is apparently gifted and spectacular. And we underestimate what God actually is accomplishing on the humdrum traffic of life. And I see it by observation in you as I move among you.

Someone said the other day of someone's—the way, the gracious way in which they approached me meant a great deal to me—someone again and again and again. And so we want to pray that the Spirit of God will be increasingly a work within us as individuals and as a church. We're certainly not the finished product, but we do have a sense that God has his hand upon us for good. And so let's take to heart his word to us in these closing verses of Ephesians.

You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg, including our study in Ephesians. Starting Monday, Alistair will be teaching a series titled Dangers, Toils, and Snares. We'll be looking at the promises of God's Word, addressing age-old questions like, What's the purpose of suffering?

Why does God allow trials? And there's a study guide that accompanies this series available from Truth for Life. The study guide is an excellent companion to Alistair's teaching. You can use it on your own or with a group of friends to help you navigate the hardships of life. To use this study guide as you listen to the upcoming series, you can easily download it today as a PDF for free.

You'll find the Dangers, Toils, and Snares study guide at slash dangers. And just a reminder, we'll be offering the devotional Refreshment for the Soul for a few more days. Ask for your copy of the book today when you give a gift to support the teaching ministry of Truth for Life. You can give through the mobile app or online at slash donate.

I'm Bob Lapine. Following Jesus doesn't mean a carefree life. In fact, far from it. But Monday, we'll learn how we can deal with the stresses of life biblically. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-12 05:19:38 / 2024-01-12 05:29:18 / 10

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