No claims of absolute originality are made for this material. As one man said, "I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter." Please use these sermons as the Lord leads, but nothing on this site may be used for profit without my expressed, written permission!
IV. V. 31-32 IN THE ARENA OF OUR WALK
Intro: As we have moved through this passage of Scripture, we have been reminded clearly and repeatedly, that God expects His redeemed children to be different from the way they were before He saved them, and He expects them to be different from the world around them.
• We have already discovered the truth in verses 25-29 that the Lord expects is to be different in the way we speak. Our words ought to mark us a being different from the world around us, and different from the way we were before He saved us.
• We also discovered in verse 26-27 that we are to be very careful when is comes to our anger. We are to manage yield our temper to the Lord and allow Him to change us in that area too.
• Then, in verse 28, we learned that we are to be different from the world in the way we approach our accumulating our stuff. Since we are saved, we are not to take what we want, but we are to work for the things we have, and we are to be good stewards of our money so that we have extra to give to the needs of people around us.
Today, we will spend our time in verses 31-32. Today, we will learn that God expects His people to be different in The Arena Of Our Walk. Since we have been saved, and made new creatures by the grace of God, we are to be different in the way we relate to other people. The truth of our new birth should be revealed in our relationships.
So, as we continue to explore The Results Of A Transformed Life, let’s see that we should also be transformed in The Arena Of Our Walk. Notice the changes that should be seen in our lives.
In the two verses we will consider today, Paul catalogues the final difference that is to mark the children of God. We are challenged to to abandon our natural habits and ways of interacting with others, and we are to adopt a new way of interaction with others that is supernatural. When we walk in this new way of life, it gives clear evidence that we have truly been born again.
Up until now, we have been looking at sins that are mostly external in nature. Lying, evil speech, anger, stealing, etc., are sins that can be easily seen by others. Now, we move to sins that are largely sins of the heart. These sins may be the most dealt of all because they drastically affect our relationship with other people, and they undermine our relationship with the Lord. Let’s notice the changes we are told to make.
1. Verse 31 - Some Things Are To Be Abandoned - In verse 31, Paul lists seven sins that are to abandoned by the children of God. Let’s take a little time to look at these sins, because they present an escalating attitude of resentment that can destroy our relationships with others.
a. Bitterness - This word refers to a “smoldering resentment; a grudge-filled attitude.” Bitterness in the heart will fill a person with perpetual animosity. The bitter person will usually be sour and often filled with resentment and spite. Bitterness is mentioned first because the other attitudes that are mentioned in this verse flow out of bitterness.
Bitterness is dangerous, because the Bible says that it can become rooted in our lives, Heb. 12:15, and it will poison all the relationships we have in our lives. Bitterness comes from a heart that is not right with God, Acts 8:21-23. It is one of the major characteristics of a person who is not saved, Rom. 3:10-14. And it often leads to destruction of faith and relationships, Heb. 12:15.
A clear example of the danger of bitterness is a man named Ahithophel. Ahithophel was David’s counselor. When Absalom rebelled against his father, Ahithophel joined the rebellion. When it became clear that David would prevail, Ahithophel went to his house and committed suicide, 2 Sam. 17:23.
The reason Ahithophel committed suicide was because he was bitter about something David had done to a member of his family many years before. Ahithophel had a son named Eliam, 2 Sam. 23:34. Eliam had a daughter named Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:3. David committed adultery with Ahithophel’s granddaughter, and Ahithophel could not forgive and get past the sin of David. His resentment turned into bitterness and it poisoned Ahithophel to the point where it caused him to turn on a friend, and to eventually commit suicide.
Bitter, if allowed to exist in our hearts, will produce a root system that will grow until it has infiltrated and undermined every area of you life. the root of bitterness will send its tendrils into every aspect of your life, and it will destroy you.
• Bitterness will make you sick physically. As you fret and worry over what you think persons or institutions have done to you, your body will respond in sickness.
• Bitterness will harm you emotionally. The root of bitterness will entangle itself around your peace. your joy and your happiness and choke the life right out of them. It will leave you a sad, empty shell.
• Bitterness will destroy your relationship with others. As bitterness grows, you will become a negative, critical person. Others will not want to be around you and you will eventually be left all alone.
• Bitterness will demolish you spiritually. As you fixate on the person, persons or institutions that you feel wronged you, you will lose your focus on the Lord. The object of your worship becomes yourself and your feelings. In essence, you become your own god. There is a sense that the object of your bitterness also becomes a god in your life, because they, and not the Lord, have your attention. Bitter people destroy churches, ministries and other people’s influence.
Don’t let that happen in your life. Deal with your hurts and refute to allow them to grow into a “root of bitterness” that will choke the joy and peace out of your life. If it allowed to flourish, that “root of bitterness” will destroy you and all the relationships in your life. Bitter people are sad, hard to get along with, and ultimately, they are selfish, because they care for nothing but their own feelings. Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit, v. 30.
b. Wrath - This word refers to “passion of the moment.” The word is “thumos,” we get our words “thermometer, and thermonuclear” from this word. It carries the idea of a sudden, violet explosion of anger. It speaks of wild rage. We would refer to is as “flying off the handle.”
When we experience an explosion of wrath, a lot of damage can be done. This kind of wrath is a “violent explosion of anger.” Anger builds up, blows out, and subsides just as quickly, but it leaves terrible scars in its wake. In this kind of episode, we say things we really don’t mean. Or if we mean them, we normally would not say them. In our wrath, we hurt the people who are in the epicenter of the explosion.
One person described their angry outbursts tis way: “It’s like a shotgun blast. Boom! And, it’s all over.” Yes, but look at the damage left behind. Wrath has no place in the believer’s life. Wrath in the believer’s life always grieves the Holy Spirit, v. 30.
c. Anger - This is the word “ogre” and it refers to “a deep, brooding, resentful feeling. An internal smoldering that builds continually.” The word “ogre” means “to become red-faced.” It is the picture of a person who clenches his fists, becomes red in the face, and yet says nothing and does nothing out of anger. The anger is internalized.
If this kind of anger is allowed to go un treated, it will result in wrathful outbursts, and eventually in bitterness. This kind of brooding anger over past hurts has no place in the life of a believer. We are to deal with our anger. As soon as the hurt happens, we are to take it God and leave it there. If we cannot do that, then we are to attempt to reconcile with the person who made us angry. We are to handle is God’s way, v. 26. Whatever we do, we are not to allow anger to dwell in our hearts. Brooding anger is the antithesis of love for others, and it has no please in the life of a child of God. It grieves the Holy Spirit, v. 30.
d. Clamor - This word refers to “a shout, or an outcry of angry.” It speaks of an angry person losing control. When we are angry and our anger grow and exposes itself in wrath, it will often be accompanied by “clamor,” We will find ourselves raising our voices and acting out in ways that show we are not under the control of the Holy Spirit. When we act in this way, we are walking in the flesh and not the Spirit.
I have seen this kind of thing many times over the years. I have seen “clamor” in church business meeting. I have heard it in the voices on the other end go phone conversations. I have seen it in personal encounters with angry people. “Clamor” has not place in the life of a born again believer. When we lash out, or act out in anger, we have given control of our minds and bodies to the flesh, and when we do that, it always grieves the Holy Ghost, v. 30.
e. Evil Speaking - This phrase is the translation of the Greek word that is often translated “blaspheme:” in the New Testament. The word speaks of speech that is “slanderous, or that is injurious to another’s good name.” When we talk about others in a negative manner, we are guilty of “evil speech.” This kind of talk is always the product of bitterness. If I love someone like I should, I will not talk about them in negative ways, I will not gossip about them, I will not try to destroy their reputation. If I love them, I will try to build them up, and not tear them down.
I would remind you that God says hates those “that soweth discord among brethren,” Pro. 6:19. When we are guilty of spreading gossip, seeking to destroy another person’s reputation, or doing or saying anything that reflects in a negative manner on a fellows believer, we are guilty of blaspheme. When we talk about God’s child, we are talking about God Himself. That is a dangerous thing to do!
If we have a problem with a fellow Christian, the Bible says that we are to go to them and talk to them, Ill. Matt. 18:15; Luke 17:3. If they repent, we are to forgive them. If they do not, and if we can’t get past the issue, we are to take them to the church for biblical discipline, if they are in the wrong, Matt. 18:15-17. Regardless of how we handle those we have problems with, we are not to turn our tongue against them. When we engage in “evil speaking” we are doing the work off the devil. To do so is blaspheme, and it grieves the Holy Spirit, v. 30.
By the way, I will remind you once again, if someone will talk to you about others, they will talk to others about you. When they start talking to you and trying to slander someone, just tell them to stop, and that it they continue, you will go to the person they are talking about and tell them everything they said about them. Most of us lack too courage to do anything like that, but that would be the right thing to do!
Anytime there is trouble in the church, there is someone involved who is guilty of “evil speaking.” The Bible says: “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly,” Pro. 26:20–22. This church has suffered mush at the hands of those who simply refused to keep their mouths shut! How that grieve the Spirit, v. 30.
f. Malice - This word refers to things that are “evil.” It speaks of “ill-will toward another that manifests itself in a desire to injure them.” In other words, it is an attitude of getting even with someone else for what you thing they have done to you. This is bitterness allowed to develop to its ultimate wretchedness. Malice says, “You’ve hurt me, not I will make you pay! You’ve offended ma, and I all have my pound of flesh.”
When malice is in our hearts we break fellowship with others, and we destroy churches. We weaken the church and we destroy its testimony in the world. When the world sees us acting in those ways, the church is undermined, and the unbeliever is confirmed in his rejection of the Gospel. Malice has no place in our lives. When it is there, it grieves the Holy Spirit, v. 30.
If we are truly saved, the things that I mention must be abandoned. They have no place in our lives, and we need to deal with our bitterness, our wrath, our anger, our clamor, our evil speaking, and our malice. They all grieve the Holy Spirit, v. 30. While these characteristics must be abandoned, there are other characteristics that must be adopted in our lives. Let’s look at those for a moment.
a. Some Things Are To Be Abandoned
2. Verse 32 - Some Things Are To Be Adopted - Paul lists three characteristics that should be true of every believer. These attitudes should stand in place of those listed in verse 31 in the lives of God’s children.
a. Kindness - The word “kind” carries the idea of being “good, pleasant, and gracious,” in our dealings with others. When we are kind to others, we give evidence that we are saved and walking under the leadership of the Spirit of God. In Gal. 5:23 the same Greek word is translated, “gentleness.” When we ares kind, we are like the Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, Almighty God. Ill. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful,” Luke 6:35–36.
Regardless of how others treat us, we are to always respond by being kind, gentle and gracious in our dealing with them. That pleases the Lord, and it proves that we are His!
You know as well as I do that this is not always easy. When someone spouts off at us, we want to spout back. When we are mistreated, we naturally want to respond in anger. When we are slandered, we have a natural tendency to attack back. That is why the phrase “be ye kind,” literally translates to “be ye becoming kind.” God knows our frame, Psa. 103:14. So, we are told to be working on our own spirit to shape it into the Spirit of our Savior. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously,” 1 Pet. 2:21–23.
So, we are to work toward being kind to others.
b. Tenderhearted - This word means that we are to be “compassionate” toward others. It has the idea of literally feeling another person’s need in the depth of our being. The word translated “tenderhearted” literally means “to have strong bowels.” It speaks of a spirit of empathy concerning the needs of others.
Like Jesus, we are to place the needs of others before our own needs. We are to enter into their sufferings so that we might help them and lighten their load. That is what Jesus did when He came to this world as a man, and died for our sins on the cross. Our need moved Him to action and He intervened in our suffering to save us from our sins.
In the same manner, we are to love our fellow believers so much that we put them ahead of ourselves. The Bible says, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others,” Phil. 2:4. It also says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ,” Gal. 6:2.
Our motivation for this is the same thing that motivated Jesus to do what He did. He loved us. When we love Him as we should, and when we love others like we should, we will express that love in tenderhearted action on behalf of others. “…Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets,” Matt. 22:37–40.
Again, this is not natural for us. We are to work toward this being a way of life for us as believers.
c. Forgiving - Next, Paul says that we are to practice “forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” That is a tall order, but let’s consider it for a moment.
The word “forgiving” refers to a, “pardon extended to an offending party.” The idea here is that when someone had offended you, you are to extend to them absolute and complete forgiveness. This forgiveness is to be given freely, and it is to be given immediately, whether you think they deserve it or not, and whether they have asked for forgiveness or not. The duty of forgiveness to not rest on the person who wronged you, it rests on you and you alone. Forgiveness is commanded for the children of God.
• “Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come!It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith,” Luke 17:1–5.
• “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven,” Matt.18:21–23.
Forgiveness does not mean forgetfulness. I will still remember what has been done, but neither that event or that person will be allowed to make me bitter. When I forgive the offenses of another person, I am to learn from that experience and still keep a watchful eye on the person who wronged me. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” Rom. 16:17–18.
When I forgive others for their offenses, I do not hold the issue against them, neither do I carry the issue around in my heart and allow it to turn into anger and bitterness. I put it behind me, and leave the matter in the hand of God. If anything needs to be done about the matter, He will handle it, in His time, and in His Own way. “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” Rom. 12:19.
To what extend am I to forgive? We are to forgive to the same extent that God has forgiven us. Jesus illustrates this idea in a parable He relates that is found in Matt. 18:21-35. When the Lord God forgave us for our offenses, He forgive them all; past, present and future. He forgave us fully, perfectly and eternally. There is nothing between us and HIm that He has not forgiven.
He tells us here that we are to forgive others to the same extent. We are not allowed to hold anything against anyone for any reason. We are to forgive, and we are to do it completely. When we do, it proves that we are His, and it proves that we are walking in His love. 1 Cor. 13:5 says that genuine, Christlike love “Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.” The phrase “thinketh no evil” means that love does not “hold to a record of wrongs done to it.” True love forgives and it lets the offender, and his actions, go free. That is what the lOrd did for us and that is what we are to do for others!
By the way, when I do not forgive others, I build my own prison and shackle myself with the chains of what they have done to me. When I do not forgive, I limit my potential for Jesus; I enslave myself to the sins of others; I dishonor the Lord and HIs grace in my life; and I undermine the testimony that I am saved by His grace.
Conc: When I read these things, I understand why the disciples said what they did in Luke 17:5, when the Lord told them they were to practice forgiveness. They said, “Increase our faith.” That is the only way we will ever accomplish what the Lord has commanded us to do in these two verses.
We must abandon the activities of the old man. We must put away “all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking…with all malice.” To do that, we must have faith in the Lord. As we trust Him by faith, He will help us to do that things He requires of us here.
We must adopt the activities of the new man. We must “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” To do that, we must also have faith in the Lord.
I ask you to search your heart and see which man characterizes your life. Is it the old man of the flesh? Or, is it the new man created after Jesus Christ, and lived out in the Spirit of God?