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November 05, 2017

Old vs. New

We seldom hear about dressing for success in our current culture. Do the clothes you wear make a difference? Listen or read to find out.

Mike Gerhardt, November 5, 2017, Outline #5, Community, Old vs New, Ephesians 4:25-5:2. Introduction: How do you choose your clothes? What does being dressed up mean to you? When you work on the car, cut the grass, or go on a hayride, what clothes are worn? I saw some wild outfits at the Fall Frenzy last week, is that being dressed up? Romans 13:14 Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. Colossians 3:12 therefore as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 1 Peter 5: 5 all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Would this be called dressing for success?

In our current culture, I haven't heard a lot about dressing for success. Business casual is in. This year at General Council, not one of the platform participants, as I recall, wore a suit and tie which were required 20 years ago! As a matter of fact, they wore their shirt tails out! I was shocked. Even the NBA players must tuck their shirts in. We expect our political leaders and news commentators to wear certain clothes, but we can wear whatever we want, and it won't affect us, correct? Not really. Clothes sometimes matter. One study shows that schools which enforced a standard uniform had better discipline, morale, and academic achievement before they dropped the standard uniforms. Another study shows that workers on casual Friday have 20% less productive than the other days. I've said it before: casual Friday has destroyed America. But does God care how we dress? I mean does he care if we wear a suit a tie to church or jeans? When it comes to clothes, God cares more about our spiritual attire. Paul told believers to put away their old outfits and put on the new clothes they got from Jesus. I believe we will look different and act differently being dressed up in Christ, being made new from the inside out. Keep your bibles open to Ephesians 4:25-5:2.

As we study, keep in mind Paul’s emphasis is how to live with one another. In my counseling with married couples, I use these same verses as a standard of behavior in marriage. Each of the five exhortations has three parts: a negative command, a positive command, and a reason. First deception verse 25. John Ruskin: The essence of lying is in deception not in words. Put off falsehood and put on truth. 9th commandment does not say: thou shalt not lie. It is: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You're probably thinking what's the difference. I am sometimes tempted to tell some truth but not all the truth. And when all the truth comes out, I can safely say that I didn't lie. That by the way, is bearing false witness. You gave the impression of telling all the truth, but it was a false witness of what happened. Speak truthfully is a present imperfect verb, meaning a habitual action which characterizes one’s life. The reason to speak truth is we belong to each other, as a family. We don’t have to tell everyone everything. There are times when I tell my wife Janet, I’m sorry I can’t answer that question, but this is what I can say. Do not lie or bear false witness. If you always tell the truth you don’t have to remember what you said and to whom.

Second anger verses 26-27. Put off grudges and put on forgiveness. The Greek word for anger can be translated provocation and exasperation. Someone said anger is one letter short of danger. Be strong enough to control your anger instead of letting it control you. Sundown is a way to say clear it up in a timely manner, like within 24-72 hours. In your anger do not sin, I excused my anger by saying even Jesus got angry. Jesus’ anger was a righteous indignation. We too can be angry in a righteous way. Yet most of our anger comes from selfishness. This is where the reason makes sense: do not give the devil a foothold. I picture someone coming to your door to rile you up about a political concern, and as you close the door, he puts his foot between the door and the door jam, to continue to speak through the crack. The devil wants to destroy us. Don’t give him a foothold. Resolve the argument. Gain control over anger.   

Third stealing verse 28. Put off laziness and put on work. This relates to the 7th commandment. Someone said the greatest labor-saving devise is tomorrow. In America we have foster an entitlement mentality. As our country rightly helps those who have severe disabilities with gracious assistance. Some witnessing that, have used the system to get in on the free stuff. In the new church at Ephesus, there were those in the community of God who fed themselves from the love feasts and lived off the generosity of others. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” The reason to work is to, not only provide for your family but to have something to share with those in need. I know we all look forward to retirement or some live on that fixed income. But would you consider what God is saying. Yes, provide for your family in your retirement; but if you can work, get a part-time job so that you have something to share with those in need.

Four unwholesome talk verse 29 (See 5:2). Put off words that hurt and put on words that heal. We had five categories for our sons of unwholesome talk (some call it all cursing). We tried to be specific: profanity/ obscenity (slang words), cursing (when you say damn or go to hell), foolish talk (when I’m a billionaire, you’ll regret treating me bad), putting down others (coarse joking or saying one’s stupid), and most important: taking the Lord’s name in vain.  Reason: that it may benefit those who listen or impart grace to the hearers. Fifth coarse conduct verse 30-32. Put off bitterness and put on kindness. Our actions can grieve the Holy Spirit. Do not cause God sorrow. Paul lists the offenses that Christians at Ephesus are doing to each other: bitterness, rage, wrath, brawling, slander, malice. The Jews and Greek were probably having gang fights in the parking lot. We, of course, are much more civilized. We just talk behind someone's back.

Instead be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. The reason: just as Christ forgave you.

Read Verse 5:1-2. Walk in love. Imitate God the Father as little children imitate their parents. Show people whose children you really are by the way you dress spiritually.