January 19, 2018
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
In Ephesians 4:22 through 24, Paul writes concerning the lifestyle that believers should manifest after their conversion to Jesus 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.
But then, in the following verses, the apostle goes into more specific details of Little Acceptable Sins that plague our lives! And why are they called ‘Little’ and ‘Acceptable’? Because too many Christians think that Little Sins are just that – Little, and not really that important to God or concerning the effect they have on our lives! Here is Paul’s list of Sins that are often tolerated in Christian circles:
• Ephesians 4:25 – “…put…away all lying, each one speak truth to his neighbor….” Some will say, “It’s just a little white lie. It is no big thing.” But a lie is a lie! And here is what the Bible says about it:
✞ Proverbs 12:22 – “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD….”
✞ Jonah 2:8 (KJV) – “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”
✞ Revelation 21:2 and 27 – “…I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God….But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie….”
• Ephesians 4:26 (Paul is quoting Psalm 4:4) – “‘Be angry, and do not sin’; do not let the sun go down on your wrath.” Being angry can be dangerous!
✞ Think about incidents of road rage! Being angry at someone who even unintentionally cuts another driver off has resulted in angry confrontations and even death!
✞ But the repercussions of anger can be worse than that! Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:22 (Good News Bible):
But now I tell you: if you are angry with your brother you will be brought to
trial, if you call your brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ you will be brought
before the Council, and if you call your brother a worthless fool you will be
in danger of going to the fire of hell.
Certain occasions for righteous anger are ok!
✞ We are even told in Psalm 7:11, “…God is angry with the wicked every day.” But that does not mean He does not love them. He has made provision for sinners to cease from being under His anger through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ!
✞ David in Psalm 139:19, 21, and 22, wrote, “Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!…Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?…I hate them with a perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.”
• Ephesians 4:27 – “…nor give place to the devil.”
✞ If we are not going to give place to the devil, we must be prepared to say with Paul in II Corinthians 2:11: “…for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
✞ And Jesus tells us in 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
We are told to study our adversary’s personality, mind, goals, and tactics – not to imitate those tactics, but to be ready to defend ourselves against them! Unfortunately, far too many Christians do not take the enemy of their souls seriously! We must know him and his ways to successfully battle the evil one!
• 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 donations claim amount 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, and 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 Christ, what would you do?
We will continue with Little Acceptable Sins on Monday.