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Jack Graham - Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

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    Jack Graham - Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life
TOPICS: Much More, Thoughts

This is our series in the book of Ephesians called MUCH MORE. And we began last week in Ephesians, back chapter 4, and you can turn there with me, with this "much more" life. The lifestyle of those who follow Jesus as compared and in contrast to the old way of life, what we were B.C., before Christ. This life in Christ is the exchanged life. And we're going to see that in the passage in front of us today. I want to encourage you to always bring your Bible when you come. And if you are at home or wherever you are viewing this, get your Bible open and follow along. I would encourage you to take notes and, because the weakest ink is stronger than the best memory. And I would invite you to join along in the Word of God with us.

Right now, we're going to pick up in verse 20 of Ephesians, chapter 4: "But that is not the way you learned Christ! assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away all falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupt talk", talk come out of your mouths, "but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice".

This is the exchanged life. Unfortunately, in America, as we discovered in our message the last time, we've gotten used to the darkness. It's like going into a restaurant where... I don't know if it's just me and my eyes, but don't you think these restaurants are getting darker and darker? But when you're in there a while, your eyes adjust to the darkness. And unfortunately, here in our nation we are getting used to the darkness and we are becoming more and more accustom and accommodated to overlooking evil. Rather than overcoming evil with good, we are overlooking evil with bad. Condoning and commending and even celebrating sin! And in many quarters, we have lost our moral courage over evil. And we go to great lengths to appease and accommodate and accept and even approve evil! Behavior described earlier in Ephesians chapter 4 that is dishonoring to God and destroys lives!

Proverbs 17, verse 15 says: "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike, an abomination unto the Lord". Isaiah, the prophet spoke of those who "call evil good, and good evil, who call bitter sweet, and sweet bitter". It is an upside-down world! And America is choosing step by step to plunge deeper and deeper into the darkness. The Bible says, "You who love the Lord should hate evil". Proverbs 14 and verse 34 says, "Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people". We need courageous people to stand. Sadly, moral resistance to evil has been stigmatized and shamed and therefore, silenced in many realms. Evil is running wild in the street.

And evil, what, again, we describe what the Bible describes earlier. This lascivious life, this lostness in the world, this darkness in the world is now being tolerated and legislated, and proudly paraded in the streets of America! And this can not continue! The key verses in the passage that we just read, verses 22, 23, 24, tell us the secret of success in life. There was a book several years ago called How to Dress for Success, and what we have here is a manual as to how we as believers are to take off the old clothes of our past, the grave clothes of our previous life before Christ; what we were like before Christ changed our life and exchanged our sin for His righteousness. And how we are to put off this old man and put on the new man. Everything about the Christian life is new. You have a new birth, a new life. And therefore, we have a new liberty, a new freedom.

We exchange the chains of the past for the freedom of the present, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty". You have new language; we don't speak the same; we don't live the same. We have a new direction; we were going in the wrong way and we turned around; that's repentance, and we began going in a brand-new direction. We have a new dynamic within us. The Spirit of God indwells us and infuses us with spiritual power, His very presence. We have a new destiny; we are on our way to heaven. We were on our way to hell and judgment and now we're on our way to heaven. So, we have this brand-new direction, the brand-new dynamic, this brand-new destiny! And because of what Christ is doing in our lives, because we are learning in Christ, "so you have learned Christ", he says. That means you have a personal relationship with Christ.

You are a disciple, you're following, you're learning more and more because He is "the way, the truth, and the life". And because you are growing in your faith and maturing and developing as a disciple, learning of Christ, then you also have a new disposition. There are the sins of dissipation, the wild and crazy life that some choose to live. But there are also sins of disposition and even demeaner, our lifestyle and how we live. And Christ wants to change all of that as well. And so, we have really a list, I like lists. They give me some very simple and clear direction and that's what we have in this passage. And it's really a simple list as to how we are exchanged, how we are to put on the old man, or put off the old man and put on the new person each and every day. So, follow along with me. Let's look at our list.

Verse 25 says that we are to exchange truth for lies, we are to exchange truth for lies. Speaking the truth. To live a life of honesty and integrity. Lying, simply put, is a statement that is contrary to fact with an intent to deceive, a statement that is contrary to fact with an intent to deceive. Satan is the father of all lies! Jesus said this is John chapter 8 and verse 44, that Satan is a liar and a murderer from the beginning. He lied to Eve and to Adam, he questioned the word of God: "Has God said...?" and he plunged humanity into the depths of sin and the dominion of sin with a lie! Satan is a liar and he spreads lies like a virus across the world! And in our humanity in the first birth, we go forth speaking lies from our mother's womb. So, it's natural for us, the old man lies. That's what we do. Satan, the father of lies! And you are never more like the devil than when you are telling lies.

Secondly, he says in this passage in front of us at verse 26, we are to exchange sinful anger for righteous anger, and "do not let the sun go down on your wrath or your anger". So, what is sinful anger and what is righteous anger? "God is angry with the wicked every day", according to the Scripture. God’s wrath is often spoken of in Scripture. God’s wrath burns against sin and results in judgment upon sin and those who practice it without repentance. Jesus Himself righteously took a whip and drove out the hypocritical money-changers, those who were abusing the temple.

Yes, there’s a place for righteous anger, to stand up for truth, to stand against injustice. There are certain things that ought to make you angry! Killing babies in their womb ought to make you angry! Pornography and the sale of trafficking in the souls of people ought to make you angry! Racism ought to make you angry! Child abuse ought to make you angry! Yes, there is a righteous anger and it is to be expressed appropriately, speaking the truth in love. There’s a place for godly anger. But never a place for ungodly anger, unrighteous and even self-righteous anger. In my book HELP I have an entire chapter on dealing with anger. And there's so much of it today. The rage that we see in people's hearts being expressed, and the rage that we're seeing today is spewed right out of hell.

Revelation 12:12 says "The devil is come down upon you, having great wrath". The devil's wrath has come down upon us! And if you are a person that is filled with anger, then you are giving place to the devil, according to the Scripture. You're giving the devil an open door to your home, your family, your life, your marriage, your job. Don't give place to the devil. In other words, don't give the devil a stick to hit you with. Don't open the door, don't invite Satan in. But when you are filled with rage and unrepentant unforgiveness, that's the rage. In fact, we read earlier of the kinds of rage and anger that we have today. And it's down in... what is it? Verse 29; no, pardon me, verse 31, "Let all bitterness". And bitterness is the internal seething rage, smoldering heat on the inside, that's bitterness.

We're going to talk about this next week and the cure for bitterness. And then he speaks of wrath which means to burn, and anger which is explosive and violent, and clamor. You know what clamor is? SHOUTING! "Why are you so angry? Why are you shouting"? "I'M NOT SHOUTING"! That's clamor. Lots of rancorous, resentful shouting and clamor and slander, which means to use your tongue, your words to destroy someone else, to defeat someone else and to put away from you "along with all malice", that's the intent to do harm. So as Christians what do we do? We don’t let the old man in; we put on the new person. And we exchange anger that is unrighteous for anger that is righteous, not giving place to the devil, or inviting him in to destroy our homes, our lives, our families.

Number three, we are to exchange stealing for labor and generosity. Verse 28: "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands so that he may have something to share with anyone in need". Do not steal. Of course, that's one of the commandments, the eighth commandment. Do not steal. It is a command not to steal, whether it is cheating or withholding good or robbing God of tithes and offerings. The Bible says, "Will a man rob God"? When I withhold from God what is rightfully His, when I withhold from others what belongs to them, when I take from someone: "What is yours, is mine and I'll take it".

That's the philosophy in life for so many. This is the old man at work. But the new life means that we no longer steal. But in contrast to that what do we do? We labor. The Bible commends, hear me now, the Bible commends honest, honorable, hard work. In contrast to that, Socialism is stealing. It is government stealing, taking what belongs to someone else and distributing to those who do not work. Not talking about those cannot work, but those who will not work. The Bible says that "if a man will not work, neither shall he eat". There's nothing that will destroy the ambition, the rightly ambition of a nation and a people and the mentality and even the morality of a nation as to be stealing from one another!

Number four, we are to exchange corrupt communication for purity of speech. Corrupt here in verse 29, look at it. It says: "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good, building up as fits the occasion that it may give grace to those who hear". Corrupt is a word which means rotten. This is really, really bad breath. Worthless, garbage talk. It is disease, it is a virus that spreads from the mouth. It is distasteful. It is regurgitation of what is on the inside, because Jesus said, "Out of the heart the mouth speaks". The corrupt communication here references foul, offensive speech. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be around that stuff. I don’t want to hear it; I don’t want to hear those dirty jokes, those filthy words. I don’t want to hear hate speech. I don’t want to hear racist epithets. I don’t want to hear crude language. I don’t want to hear potty mouths. I don’t want to hear blasphemy of God’s name. I don’t want to hear profanity. I don’t want any of that around me!

And so, we need to be very careful and very cautious in the media we consume, what we watch, what we hear. Let me give you a verse. Psalm 141 and verse 3: "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth and keep the door of my lips". Set a guard. We tell our children, "watch your mouth". God is telling His children, "Watch your mouth". Get rid of filthy, foolish talk. And in place of it, exchange it for what is called here edifying speech. The word edify, edifice is there, it means to build up. This is positive, productive speech. Not speech that is destructive. Not speech that is obstructive, but speech that is constructive. Anybody can tear things down, but God's people should build things up. And that includes our speech. Helpful and hopeful speech.

There's an acrostic that I learned years ago. Before you speak, you should think. T-H-I-N-K. And in thinking, ask yourselves these questions. Before you speak, before you click, ask yourself this: Is it TRUE? Ask yourself this: Is it HELPFUL? Even if it's true, it's not always helpful to pass things along. Is it INSPIRING? Does it build people up or tear people down? What I'm about to say point people to God? Number... not number, but letter N: Is it NECESSARY? Is it really necessary that I say this? The old adage says: If you can't say something nice then don't (what?). Is it necessary? And so much of the things that we say that we think that are important, are really not necessary. So many wasted words. And then K: Is it KIND?

In next week's message we're going to be talking about forgiveness and how to be tenderhearted and kind. THINK before you speak! And put away this vile, vicious language, and put on not corrupt speech! Throw that away! That's a part of the past! I've noticed when people come to faith in Jesus, when they are radically saved, it cleans up their mouth! You don't talk the same way because your heart is changed. What comes out. As the old farmers used to say, "What's down in the well will come up in the bucket". What's in your heart is ultimately going to come out. So, speak clean edifying, wholesome words. That's what the Bible, that it may serve grace. Look at it, grace to the hearer.

And one final word before we close. Verse 30: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption". Because you are a believer, you are sealed and marked for redemption, salvation. You are protected by the Spirit of God, the Person of Christ who lives in you. The Holy Spirit has marked us. We are secure in Christ. Tremendous truth! Sealed unto the day of redemption; kept by Christ in His hand. And because that is true, we, therefore, never want to do anything in our lives that would grieve God, that would hurt the Holy Spirit.

What hurts the Holy Spirit? What grieves God? Corrupt speech, lying, stealing, living a life like we used to live rather than the new life in the power of the Holy Spirit. Lying and stealing and cheating and all the rest, "though let it be once named among you", the Scripture says, don’t grieve God. Anything in my life or yours that is sinful or disobedient to God grieves God and holds back revival in your life, your home, your church, your community. So what are you going to do every day? I hope you’ll get up every day and never let the old man in. Invite the new man, the presence and power of God to take over.
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