January 22, 2018
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Our featured Scripture is Ephesians 4:22 through 24 – the lifestyle that believers should be living after putting their faith in Christ:
…put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
righteousness and true holiness.
We are to do two major things according to these three verses:
• Verse 22 – “…put off…your former conduct, the old man….” The old man is the sinful human nature which all of us have inherited from our first father (see Romans 5:12). The former conduct includes the sins listed in Romans 1:26 through 31, 3:10-18, II Timothy 3:2 through 4, and other places. Galatians 5:19 through 21 is perhaps the most complete list in one place:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornica-
tion, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions,
jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like….
• Verse 24 – “…put on the new man…created in righteousness and true holiness.” This new nature, given by God (see Ezekiel 36:26; II Corinthians 5:17), manifests good and holy works like those listed as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 and 23 (Easy-to-Read Version): “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Now it is God who produces the fruit of the Spirit! It is also God who births the new man within us by the working of the Holy Spirit. Our part is to repress that old man (the old sinful nature – see Ephesians 4:22), and to develop the new man (the Godly nature – see Ephesians 4:22, 23) so we can become mature believers! (See Ephesians 4:13-15). This is done mainly by the Christian disciplines of Bible reading and study, prayer, fellowship and worship with other believers, giving, and sharing the gospel with others. Unfortunately, too many Christians allow too many Little Acceptable Sins to creep in and tarnish the lives of the followers of Jesus! It may be in their own lives, or it may be in the lifestyle of fellow believers. But to let these Little Sins go unchallenged is wrong! And it greatly hampers the development of mature Christians!
So what does a mature believer look like? The verses following our featured Scripture describe that mature one. We examined last Friday three of those characteristics in Ephesians 4:25 through 27:
• Ephesians 4:25 – “…put…away all lying, each one speak truth to his neighbor….”
• Ephesians 4:26 “‘Be angry, and do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”
• Ephesians 4:27 – “…nor give place to the devil.”
Let’s go on…
• Ephesians 4:28 – “Let him that stole steal no longer….” “I am not a thief! ” someone might say in self-defense. But what do you do when…
✞ …filing your tax returns and you can fudge a bit on the value of deductions taken? In his 1986 tax return, Bill Clinton claimed $726 for ten items – non-cash donations of clothes to various charitable agencies – including $6 for three pair of used underwear donated to the Salvation Army! The Americans for Tax Reform website has an article entitled, “How the Clintons Cheated on Their ‘Used Underwear’ Tax Return.” In 2016 dollars, the claim amount for the donations would be worth $1,595.45. What is legally allowed in 2016 by the IRS is between $75 and $373! This is a high–profile couple and a highly publicized example. But how many who call themselves Christians do something similar?
✞ Awhile ago, we had our driveway resurfaced. The price quoted was $1,800. I offered the company owner cash, so he said it would just be the $1,800 and no 6% sales tax. I went for a walk and prayed. God brought to my mind Romans 13:7 (English Standard Version): “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.” So when I came back from my walk, I told the owner, “God laid it on my heart to pay the $1,800 plus the 6% sales tax of $108. That’s what I will do.” He was a Christian also, and told me, “Not many would do that! ” It is too bad that “…not many would do that! ” But I know God can quickly bless me with far more than $108 as I obey Him! As a follower of Jesus Christ, what would you do?
• Ephesians 4:28 – “…but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.” According to Leviticus 27:32, “…concerning the tithe…the tenth shall be holy to the LORD.” But how many Christians give “…what I can afford…”? And that is one of those Little Acceptable Sins! But what does God say to His ‘pious’ people in Malachi 3:8 through 10?
Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, “In what way
have we robbed You?” In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse,
for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the
storehouse that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this…
if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such
blessings that there will not be room enough to receive it.
Give faithfully the tithe to God – and much more! You cannot out-give God! (See Luke 6:38; Romans 8:31, 32; Philippians 4:19).
More on Wednesday.