Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 61
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|There’s a difference between a cesspool and a wellspring. Dr. Barber uses this interesting contrast to show the difference between walking in the old way, and walking in the new man, as a new creature in Christ.|
A Brand New Way – Part 5
In verses 31 and 32 Paul contrasts the two garments. He will do this through chapter 5. It is amazing what happens now. We are in a flow now that is going to go all the way through the rest of the book. How we are to walk? How we are to live a brand new life? He backs up now and gives us a contrast. One is a cesspool, the other a wellspring and there is a difference. I want you to know the difference. One I would rather not speak about, the other one is an artisan well. It is something that never ends in its supply and provision to others.
That is exactly what Paul does here in chapter 4. He shows you the cesspool of the old self and the wellspring of the new self, the new garment. He lets you see what is underneath everything that is going on in your life. You can either tap into the cesspool, the old stagnant, rotten, putrid type of thing, or you can tap into the wellspring of Jesus Christ. Which garment are you going to put on? Paul very vividly portrays this.
Let’s look in verse 31 at the cesspool of the old garment. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you [put off like taking off a garment], along with all malice.” Now Paul does something here that really throws me. Normally when Peter or Paul makes a list, the first thing they mention is the most important thing. It tends to be the catch-all. It tends to be the subject, whereas the rest of it seems to modify that subject. In Galatians 5:22 he says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Then all the things that follow are just manifestations of that love. In II Timothy 3, he says in the last days men will be lovers of self. You see lovers of self being the real word and then 19 different characteristics of a lover of self.
However, here in Ephesians 4:31 he reverses it. Let me show you what I mean. The last word, “malice,” is the catch-all word. That is the house that all these words live in. I think it would be best to start there. He is doing something, I know, because he does the same thing in verse 32. He puts the source at the end, and he puts the symptoms in the front of the verse. That, to me, is significant.
Let me show you what that last word, “malice,” means. Look over in I Corinthians 5:7-8. We are going to find this word “malice.” It is the very essence of all that flesh is. It is the word kakia. It is the word for inherent unrighteousness. It is vicious malice. It is a viciousness that comes along with that old garment. All these are relationship words. Isn’t that incredible? We keep seeing that. The signal that we are spiritual and have on the new garment is going to be in our relationships. Over and over and over we see this. Well, here we go again. In verse 7 he says, “Clean out the old leaven.” Do you know what leaven is? It is yeast. I don’t know much about cooking, but I do know that when you put yeast into things, it causes it to rise up.
That yeast causes something to happen. You see, the moment I put on the old garment, immediately a viciousness begins to set in. Immediately I am out to get you. Immediately I am going to manipulate you. Immediately something I am going to do, say, or whatever is going to divide me and you because I am not interested in you anymore. I am interested in me. That is the old garment. That is kakia. That is inherent unrighteousness. It comes along with the old garment. It is in that cesspool when we put that thing on and we won’t bow before the Lord Jesus.
Well, he says, “Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice.” That gives you an idea of what the stuff is. That is the thing that is going to stir something up in your life.
Look in Acts 8:22. Here is a man who wanted to purchase the Spirit of God. His name was Simon. Simon Peter really lays this guy out. Start in verse 20. “But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.’” Now watch out! Peter says, “Your heart is not right before God.” It is an attitude you have towards God. You put on the old garment and say, “God, I don’t want You ruling my life.” Can a Christian do that? You had better believe they can. We make choices all day long whether or not to let Him rule us or whether or not we are going to take it ourselves.
It goes on to say, “‘Therefore repent of this wickedness [kakia] of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.” There it is. The intention of your heart is not right.
So we are seeing this old garment is an attitude and it is going to affect the lifestyle. The attitude is rooted into that old cesspool. What is going to come out of it is nothing that is good. It is going to do nothing but tear relationships down. It can do nothing about building them up.
Look in Acts 14:1-2, and I will show you one more place where a form of the word is used, not the word itself but a form of it. It says, “And it came about that in Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a great multitude believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles, and embittered them against the brethren.” The word “embittered” is a form of that word kakia.
You see, when you put on that old garment, you want others to agree with you. You are going to find somebody else who is negative. You are going to find somebody else who doesn’t want to think about others but wants to think of themselves. What you do? You begin to embitter others towards the brethren. In other words, you are no longer preserving the unity of the Spirit. What you are doing is dividing and dividing and dividing by your very attitude, which comes right out of the old cesspool of self.
Let’s go back to our text. Paul uses a few different words than Peter uses in I Peter 2:1 and what he himself uses in Colossians 3:8. I’m not sure if he wants us to start with bitterness and work toward kakia, which is the house it all lives in, or if he wants us to start with slander and work our way back. It works either way. Let’s just look at the Word and see what he is trying to tell us. First of all, out of that kakia, out of that old garment, out of that malice, is a word called “bitterness.” Now we know that bitterness is when you have been injured by somebody. You are not bitter unless you have been affected wrongly by somebody. The word for “bitterness” is the word pikria. It refers to something that is acidic, that will literally eat you alive.
You know the problem with many Christians is not what we are eating, it’s what is eating us. That is what bitterness is. Somebody has offended you. It always starts with being personally injured or personally hurt. You know, if it weren’t for people, we could live the Christian life. But because there are people, we are going to be offended. We are going to be offended. You are going to be offended by me if I am not wearing the right garment. If it is not the right one, it is going to say what it shouldn’t have said. It is going to act in a way that it shouldn’t have acted. It is going to offend you. We are the church and we have got to remember all of us have times that we don’t wear the new garment. That is why we need to be so forgiving of each other. Now, if you didn’t have any sin in your life, throw the first stone.
Bitterness is something that comes from a personal injury. Somebody has hurt you. You have heard what somebody said about you and it dug deep into your life. You didn’t put on the garment of Christ, which would be strengthening you in the inner man with something that you didn’t have before, forgiveness and unconditional love. You have put on that old garment which is rooted into the cesspool of old self and what you get out of it is bitterness.
Let me show you just one Scripture, Hebrews 12:15. You know, I have constantly warned all of us what will happen if we give the devil an opportunity. I don’t mean he gets inside of us, but he gets inside the body of Christ by using people, not the body physically but the body spiritually, the church. He uses people inside. You see, there used to be a day when people would come to church, go out and be persecuted. The devil would fight them outside the walls. Now he is going to church, folks. When we give him an opportunity, look out. Look at what it will do. “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God.” What is the grace of God? It is the transforming power of God in your life and in my life. When I put on the new garment, that is His grace working within me. It transforms me. All of a sudden, I am different than I used to be. It says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”
Bitterness is usually a reaction that you have to some injury that somebody else caused you, but it is a wrong reaction. You put on the wrong garment. You dipped into the wrong place. You went back to the cesspool of self instead of coming to the wellspring of Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at the word “wrath.” There are several words here for “anger” and “wrath.” We are going to see another word come up right after this, “anger.” I need to explain them to you. As a matter of fact, let’s put them together right now. “Wrath” is thumos. It is when you explode. Have you ever done that?
I can remember when I was in church recreation. I lost a basketball game one nightbecause of a stupid referee. I mean a stupid, brain dead referee. We lost a championship in overtime. Stupid referee. I remember how mad I got. I was the Minister of Activities, and I took the basketball and threw it against the end wall so hard that it went all the way to the other end of the court. Take a basketball and see how hard it is to throw it to make it go that far. Everybody walked out of the building kind of like, “Whew!” I went into the fireside room of that activities building, slammed the door and sat down. I was ready to take on half the city because of stupid referees. Everybody left. My assistant turned the light off on me and left me sitting there in the darkness.
That is wrath, thumos. I wasn’t just mad. I exploded! That is what thumos is. As a matter of fact, did you know that the seven bowls of God’s judgment called the bowls of wrath are called thumos? Folks, we haven’t seen anything until those bowls, the seven bowls, the last bowls of judgment fall on this earth. Then those who are here will realize the anger of a holy God towards sin. Without mercy He is going to drop those bowls of judgment on this earth.
But there is another word. He goes on and says “anger.” Let me show you the difference. Anger is orge. It is the word that means you are angry, but you may not necessarily have shown it yet. Oh, you are capable of blowing up, but you haven’t blown up yet. You see, this is why we get so judgmental. Some people carry it and hold it pretty well for a long period of time. So we think they are really godly. Are you kidding me? Look at the other things in their life. You see, anger can be disguised. It can be covered over. Thumos, is bursting out, the outburst. Orge, is the actual anger itself.
Then he gives the word “clamor.” This is when you get loud. This is the word for loud. It says there was an uproar over in Acts. In Hebrews it says He cried out before the Father. The word is a loud, loud cry. This is when you are getting a little noisy with the way you feel in that cesspool.
Then he uses the word “slander.” Now that is not the same word Peter uses in I Peter 2:1. There it means to speak against. Here in Ephesians the word is blasphemia. It means abusive language. When you start cursing somebody on the highway, you’ve have just nailed it. You’ve got on the wrong garment. Watch out. You see, all these are tied intricately together. Either way you go it is the same thing. You are injured somehow inside and now that acid has built up inside you. You are ready to just absolutely stamp out anybody that gets in your path. That comes from that cesspool of self. Think about that. The Holy Spirit will prick your heart and say, “I want you to make this choice.” You say, “No, I won’t do it.” Do you realize what you have just done? You have just put that old sick cesspool garment on. Everything that comes out of it is going to defile any relationship you have all day. That is why you have to continuously say, “Oh, God. I’ve put the wrong one on. I confess it. I am repenting.”
What do I mean by repenting? You turn around and put the right one on. Listen, folks, we have to see that there is a performance or a perfection level. Spirituality is not an arrival. It is a pursuit. So often we misunderstand relationships. We think because we are putting on the right garment, everybody else ought to be judged by us. Friend, as fast you think that, you have just put the wrong one back on! Who in the world are we to point a finger at anybody? Does being spiritual mean that you have a quiet time every morning at 5:00? Is that spirituality? Is it because you passed out tracts last year? Is it because you have witnessed to everything that has moved on the downtown streets? Does that mean that you are spiritual? I doubt it. Every one of us are guilty of putting that wrong garment on. That is why when we see a brother who has the wrong one on, it ought to lead us to bleed for him because we know what he has just done. We have done it ourselves.
Let’s go to verse 32. Let’s look at the wellspring that we have in Christ. Whew, what a difference! Again he puts the source at the end of the verse. Look at what he says. “And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” All that forgiveness that we are able to show towards others is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ. You have the wellspring of life on one side. You have the cesspool of death on the other side. You have a choice of which garment you are going to put on. It is a constant thing every single day of our life.
Paul says, “Be kind to one another.” The word kindness is the word that means to furnish what is needed. In other words, the kindness here means I am useful to others. My kindness is going to express itself in the need that I perceive as I am around others. So in other words, this kindness is not just an attitude inside. It is an expression of that attitude. I may see somebody hurting, or you may see them. I am not responsible for everybody and neither are you. You are responsible for what is in the sphere of your relationships and I am responsible for what is in the sphere of my relationships. When I begin to discern that somebody close to me is hurting, then immediately the kindness of Jesus turns on and is going to reach out to that person to do something. Whatever is useful and needful is what kindness is all about. That is Christ working in us, being considerate of one another, concerned for one another.
The next word he uses there is the word tender-hearted. Boy, what a tender word. The word means to be full of compassion and pity. You know, the best people to help somebody else are people who have been there themselves. Paul says, “Comfort wherein you have been comforted.” It is amazing how God will orchestrate your life and bring people into your walk who are going through the very thing you have just gone through two years back. It is amazing how God does that. Somehow He begins through His own working in our spirit, to create within us a compassion for other people because we have been there and we know what they are headed for or we know what they are going through. The compassion of Jesus then begins to reach out to that person.
Well, the last one he mentions here is forgiving one another. I think it starts here. I think it starts with a choice that you make to forgive somebody. Now remember, injury is still the issue. Somebody has injured you and the old garment says, “Be bitter and loud and angry. Blow up and be slanderous and abuse them with what you say about them.” The new garment says, “No. You make a choice. Forgive them.” The word for “forgiveness” is charizomai. It means to release them from a debt they owe you that they can never repay you. They have offended you to the point they could never come back and repay you for what they have done to you. But, you choose in Jesus to release them from that obligation.
Paul finishes up and qualifies it, “just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” You may ask, “You mean to tell me you work yourself into a position that you finally deserve God’s forgiveness in your life?” No. I am overwhelmed that God even deals with me. I mean daily I am overwhelmed. Some of the things I think and some of the things I do sometimes I wonder, “God, why do you even fool with me?” The Psalmist said it again, “What is man that You are mindful of him?” Folks, listen, when we realize how He has forgiven us, we can turn right around and, out of that wellspring of His person and strengthening in the inner man, choose to release somebody else.
The next thing we are going to sense in our life is a tender-hearted compassion. Then we are going to sense a kindness that is going to start looking out to see how we can meet that need in our brother or sister’s lives. Now I ask you a question. Which garment would you rather have people wear? I know which one I want everybody to put on, the one that forgives and is kind. But you see, I can’t make choices for you. I can only make choices for me.
So tomorrow when we get up, we have one of two garments to put on. One of them is rooted in the cesspool of self. The other is rooted in the wellspring of Christ. That is when the prayer of chapter 3:14-21 comes back in, to be strengthened with power. What is the word “power?” It is the ability to do what you couldn’t do outside of Him in the inner man. You accommodate Him by your willingness to choose and obey what His Word has to say. Then the relationships begin to be what they ought to be.