The Grace Journey/Program 4
|By: Dr. Wayne A. Barber; ©2012
|In this final session of the series, we’ll look at what the Bible teaches about the concept of the “garments of Christ.” What does it mean to be clothed in Christ and to be a new creation? How are we different? How can we live differently?
Today on the John Ankerberg Show, how can you live each day enjoying God’s grace?
- Dr. Wayne Barber: I wake up some mornings, John, and I will be honest with you, I don’t even feel like a Christian. I could care less about wanting to be one. I mean, that’s just the way I wake up. You heard about the old boy who said, “Lord, I haven’t coveted. I haven’t had a lustful thought. I haven’t had lied. I have not cheated, but I am about to get out of bed.”
- I don’t have the ability to do what God’s told me to do. I can’t live the Christian life. So therefore someone lives in me to strengthen me, to enable me, to give me the ability to do what He expects out of me.
My guest today is conference speaker, author and pastor Dr. Wayne Barber, pastor of the beautiful Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
- Barber: He lives within us to enable everything He demands from us. That’s the good news. That’s the beauty of the gospel. It didn’t just stop at salvation; it started. Christ comes to live in us. He is our eternal life. He is our life and that’s what people need to understand. The same way you received Him, the same way you walk it. Just trust Him.
Join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.
- Ankerberg: Welcome to our program. I’m John Ankerberg and my guest is Dr. Wayne Barber. He’s a very special man that God has brought into the kingdom of God, and he speaks on all the different continents, and he’s a Greek scholar. But he has just a funny way of presenting illustrations that illustrate the Word of God. And the reason I’ve invited him to do this set of programs is because there are a lot of Christians in our churches, and they’ve listened to sermons about how to live the Christian life, and they’ve tried their best and been very sincere in trying, trying, trying to do it, and they’ve failed miserably. And maybe that’s you; you’re discouraged. You don’t know what the piece is that’s missing, because it doesn’t somehow work in your life. It seems like it’s impossible to live the Christian life. Well, you’re right, so what does God provide for you?
- And today we’ve got an interesting topic to illustrate this whole point. We’re talking about looking good in the garments of Christ, taking off the old self, putting on the new self. What’s our responsibility? We’ve been talking about the promises of God, what He does for us. What does He ask us in return? Is it something we cannot do? And, folks, you’re going to love this. Wayne, you have got an illustration that even starts us off here about when you go into conferences you sometimes, you’re 6’6”, and on a good day, 225, and the fact is, you have an illustration that you use with the people. Tell them what it is.
- Barber: Well, I love to use a coat illustration in the sense that I want to ask them, are you wearing the right garment? And so I want to show them what it looks like when you wear the wrong garment, and so I swap coats with them. And I always pick the shortest guy that I can find. I was down in the Philippines doing this, and a four-foot fellow that was an evangelist was there. It was one of the funniest I’ve ever done, and I swapped coats with him. And my pockets laid on the ground, I mean, I’ve never seen that. He was totally swallowed by that coat. But my point was, when you come to church on Sunday mornings, or when you get up every morning, what garment are you wearing? And this is so key; to me, it’s so picturesque of being strengthened in the inner man. It’s so picturesque of Christ living His life through us. It’s going to look differently in our behavior.
- Ankerberg: Nail it down. What scripture are you going to show us today?
- Barber: Well, Ephesians 4. You have to go back to verse 17 to catch the flow.
- Ankerberg: Alright, read it for us.
- Barber: “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind.” The idea is the lost world. He says, “Being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God;” boy, that’s a picture isn’t it, of a lost person. “Excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ this way.” This isn’t His behavior. It says in verse 21, “If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus.” Then it says, “that in reference to your former manner of life.” Now, Colossians says we’ve put on the new man, but that’s Christ in us. This is not talking about that. This is talking about the way, the behavior, of the old man. To me what he’s saying is, stop living as if you’ve never put on Christ in your life. He says, you “lay aside the old self, the old man which is being corrupted.” And that’s an interesting thing; our flesh, daily is getting worse. We see these signs….
- Ankerberg: Times are not getting better.
- Barber: Not getting better at all. As a matter of fact, I see these signs, in “mature audiences only,” you know when you’re looking at trying to take your wife to a movie and it’s like what? Mature audiences. And the older you get the worse it is, because we’ve got a bigger frame of reference. It says, “which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit. And that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” It starts here. It starts in the heart, but it starts here also, to change your mind, like Romans 12. And then it says in verse 24, “and put on the new self.”
- Now there’s something about this that’s so exciting. I’ve been trying to write a paper on it, or come up with a conclusion about the middle voice in Greek. Every scholar I study says there is something about the middle voice we don’t quite understand. In most contexts when it will allow it—and most of the time I’ve studied it does—there are three things I’m finding in it. Number one, there’s an invitation in it, even if it’s a command. God is inviting me to join Him. His commands are for my good, not to penalize me. But not only that, there’s a choice I’ve got to make. I’ve got to make a choice. But then what I just chose has to be enabled by God Himself, because I can’t do what I just chose to do. It’s incredible. And He uses the middle voice in this prayer. “Put on the new man.” You can’t. See, religion modifies our behavior; Christ changes our heart. And He can deal with those rooms that we’ve locked up. And until we’ve surrendered that, then we can’t participate with who He is in our life. And so the inside out transformation that Christ makes—and this is so appropriate for what we’re talking about—he says, “Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” And then, of course, he goes into what does that look like? He says, “Therefore.”
- So to me the question would be, many times my wife and I would have a “holy discussion” on the way home. And our daughter, Stephanie, is so sharp. She’d lean up and say, “Momma, daddy, what garment are you wearing?” Shut up, shut up, we’re just, you know. It’s like, that’s a good question; to be in a church business meeting when somebody stands and spews poison all over the congregation. Somebody ought to stand up and say, “Excuse me, brother, what garment are you wearing tonight? What have you chosen in your life? What choice are you making that it comes out as polluted as this stuff is that you’re saying?” And I think if we’d get honest with each other, a lot of times we’re wearing the wrong garment, and we look rather silly, because the normal Christian life is the garment that Christ produces in us.
- Ankerberg: Wayne, I want you to repeat what you just said. It’s so terrific. What are the promises of God that revolve around this middle voice?
- Barber: Well, the middle voice as I understand it—and I’m a learner, and I’m growing—but as I understand it, in the context that’s used in Scripture, has three different meanings to it. It’s not just reflexive like they say, but it has that meaning of God is inviting me to join Him. And, you know, most people look at Him as a tyrant with a big baseball bat wanting to hit me on the head. I don’t see that at all. I see every command in Scripture as something that protects me, and it’s for my benefit. And then the second part of it is, I’ve got to make a choice. I have to make it. Faith is a choice; I don’t care how we get around it. God is not just going to step in and do it. He’s going to lead me to the point to where I make a choice. And once I’ve made a choice, then I have to discover I can’t do what I just said I was going to do. He has to enable me.
- One of the things I do when I do a wedding. I do a covenant wedding, and talk about what covenant is and how they’re entering into covenant. Then I get to the vows. I have more fun with this. And I go through those vows, I mean, it’s got every promise known to man. And then, when they’re both google-eyed, you know, and say it to each other, then I say, “Now, first of all, do you understand what you just promised each other is humanly impossible? However, since both of you know the Lord, it’s Christ living in you.” And I do a triangle, and, you know, I kind of put that triangle and I put Christ up here and I put the husband here and the wife here, and I say, “Now listen, don’t ever live for each other. You’re destined for failure. You cannot meet each other’s needs. The very thing that attracted you to each other is the very thing that’s going to irritate you after you get married.” But I say, “Live under Christ by putting that garment on, by surrendering to Him and letting Him dress you in His character.” And I say, “Watch that triangle as it goes up. Look how much closer it gets as you go up to the top. He just pulls you right together.” And that’s really the bottom line.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re going to take a break. When we come back we’re going to talk about some of the garments of the old self that we are wearing. For example, it says we’re to put off lying; we’ve got to tell the truth. You say, oh, that’s easy, because I’m not a liar. Well, really? We’re going to talk about that when we come right back, so stick with us.
- Ankerberg: Alright we’re back. We’re talking with Dr. Wayne Barber, and we’re talking about, when you invite Christ into your life, He comes in. And it’s amazing how many Christians—and I’ve been there too—is, you say, “Now that Christ is there, I’ve got to live for Him,” and you try in your own power to live for Him, and you fail. In fact, Wayne, I can remember growing up when I did accept Christ, nobody talked about the things that we’re talking about. And I thought, I’m not getting this. I mean, I can’t do these commands. I mean, there’s some things I don’t even want to do, so, I mean, didn’t Christ change me? And what we’re talking about, Christ did come in, but there’s a way of letting Christ change you, and we’re talking about that. Let’s start with the Bible, what the Bible says about taking off the old self, putting on the new self. Read the verses and let’s go to some examples that Paul gives.
- Barber: Okay, well, he says in verse 22, “that, in reference to your former manner of life,” and he points back to how we’ve always lived, how we think, how we behave. He says, “Lay aside the old self.” Now, a lot of people confuse that and say, “Didn’t I do that at salvation?” Yes, but he’s talking about the behavior. Stop acting like you didn’t. He says, “which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” It’s getting worse. “And that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self,” middle voice, which means I can’t do that. I’ve got to make a choice that it happens, but I can’t do it. You know, religion, again, I want to stress, religion can change a person’s behavior. It can do it.
- Ankerberg: Use that illustration of you talked with a gal and it in was foreign country. You went in to get your hair cut, and talk about what she told you.
- Barber: Oh, yes, when I went out, it was in a western state. And I was getting ready to go overseas, and I got a haircut. And that lady found out I was a preacher. And immediately she said, “I want to tell you something,” she says, “religion never worked for me.” In fact—that was in a western state here; I was on my way to South Africa. It may be what you’re referring to—there was another lady on the plane that said exactly the same thing. I started talking, I said, “Do you know Christ?” She said, “Listen, religion never worked for me,” kind of like, “Shut up, and I’m going to go to sleep.” But I kept thinking, this is not what we’re talking about. Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship, a vivid, live relationship with the living God, who lives within us in the Person of His Holy Spirit. He wants to enable us. He wants to dress us in His character. It’s not like we become like Jesus in the sense of what we do, it’s Jesus is Jesus in us. I love that little chorus, “Jesus, be Jesus in me, no longer me but Thee, resurrection power fill me this hour, Jesus, be Jesus in me.” That’s the whole picture of what Paul is saying.
- Ankerberg: Paul has got so many examples, when he gets practical, about what he wants you to consider in terms of the rooms he wants you to surrender, the garments he wants you to put on, and the ones he wants you to take off. And we don’t have time to go through everything here, so we’re just, we’re picking a few of them that Paul says here, and one of them is lying. Let’s read the verse and then let’s talk about it.
- Barber: “Therefore, laying aside falsehood.” I mean, there is no way I can get around the fact of lying. “Speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
- Ankerberg: Alright, you’ve got an illustration out of this. Tell me about it.
- Barber: I do. I had gone home for lunch one time and Diana was there and little Stephanie. And Steven was very young. And so the phone rang. You know, some people I think have binoculars, and when a pastor goes home for lunch is when they want to call. “He’s home! Now let’s interrupt him.” And so my wife put her hand over the mouthpiece and she said “Are you here?” And I said, “No!” And so she said, “I’m sorry, he’s not here right now. He’ll be at the church in about an hour. You can call him there.” And she hung up. Well, I ate my meal with them. We had the best time. And then I left.
- Well, after I left, little Stephanie, again—we have Stephanie and Steven—and Stephanie came to her momma and said, “Momma, is what you told that person on the phone, is that called a lie?” That was so,… I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall. What are you going to say? “No, we’re older now. We’re granted certain things,” you know. She said, “Yes, it was a lie.” And Stephanie said, “Isn’t lying a sin?” And she said, “Well, yes.” She said, “Well, come on.” She took her by the hand, led her back to the bedroom, got her on her knees and Diane had to confess the sin. So she called me on the phone and she said, “You need to repent. You’re the one that started this whole thing.”
- But how quickly we will lie to protect our reputation. How quickly we will do it, lie like a dog and don’t even think anything about it, and then tell people, “We’re not liars!” “How are you doing this morning?” “Oh, we’re doing great! Praise the Lord!” Really? And that’s kind of the way we go to church. That’s the facade everybody puts on. It’s unreal. It’s not healthy. Wouldn’t it be awesome if one time we could go to a church where all believers were wearing the right garment, and we could truly celebrate what Christ has done in our life? Very rarely is that the case.
- Ankerberg: Wayne, the next thing Paul says is, “Be angry, do not sin, do not let the sun set on your anger.” What do you think of that one?
- Barber: I like the first part: Be angry. And the word “angry” there is an interesting word. It’s kind of something that builds up. You know, he’s going to bring it out again and contrast it with another word before we finish this passage. But he says “Be angry,” yet do not sin with it. Now, how in the world—if he tells me to be angry, how do I know what’s fleshly anger, and how do I know that it’s the anger that he tells me do? This is what God has put on my heart. And I’m not the final word on anything. But what I see in it is, if I’ve got a crosshair in my eyeball on a person, then that’s fleshly anger. But if I’m looking at the problem, that’s spiritual anger. You know, God hated sin, but He loved sinners. And I’ve got to remember that that anger has got to be a righteous anger. When he says “Do not let the sun go down on your anger,” I’ve a friend of mine who says we try to do that in our marriage. He said, but I’ve been up for three months at a time. But, dealing with it as it comes up.
- Ankerberg: Peter uses Jesus as an example, and Jesus has come to live within us. What’s the example he uses?
- Barber: He says in verse 21 of 1 Peter 2, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” now watch, verse 22, “who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth.” So if it’s Christ living in me, I can’t lie. There’s no possible way I can lie, if it’s Christ in me.
- Ankerberg: Wayne, the next one is very interesting. It talks about the devil and not letting him have an opportunity in our life. What does that mean?
- Barber: Well, a lot of people mistakenly think that the devil can get inside of us. Oh, really? What part of me can he get in if the Holy Spirit of God lives in me? As a matter of fact, I heard a funny story about God walked by a church and He saw the devil standing outside crying. He said, “Man, what are you crying for?” He said, “I haven’t bothered these people in a year and they are blaming me for everything.” Everybody is conveniently blaming the devil.
- You know, for instance, the opportunity, the word “opportunity” here is awesome, because it talks about in Scripture, if the old covenant had been perfect, there would have been no opportunity for the second. And it can mean place, yes, but it also means opportunity. So we’ve got to be real careful how we treat this verse. I give the devil an opportunity when I’m wearing the wrong garment, period. I call it spiritual terrorism. People in the church that will not surrender to Christ and they just live the way they want to live. What that does is tear down everything that’s going on within their midst. So giving the devil an opportunity, what’s he going to do if he catches you? Gum you to death? I mean, Jesus ripped his teeth out at the cross. He’s defeated, and I wish we could understand that.
- Ankerberg: Wayne, the next one is Ephesians 4:28 where it says, “The thief must no longer steal, instead he must do honest work with his own hands so that he has something to share with anyone in need.” Now, people say, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me, because I’m not a thief.” But it really has an application that’s for the unity of the body of Christ. What does it mean?
- Barber: It does. The bottom line of the whole thing is “that he might have something to give to others.” There are two kinds of people within the church: There are takers and there are givers. There are people who come to the church to be served, period. “What can this church do for me?” Then there are people who come to the church to serve. “Where is it that my being filled with the Spirit can somehow benefit this church?” And a taker is like a parasite. They prey on you, and they never can get enough, whether it’s your time, whatever it is, they’re always taking from you, rather than giving to you. And I think that’s the bottom line of what he’s saying.
- Ankerberg: Yeah, I love the verse about Jesus, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” And people that are wearing the garments of Christ are those who are the givers. They’re coming to give you something, to share with you, to lift you up, that pats you on the back and gives you joy instead of giving you a downer every time you see them. The next one is, watch your language. He says, “No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need in order to give grace to those who hear.” What is this talking about with no rotten talk?
- Barber: Well, that word actually means putrid, smelly. My little nephew came and stayed with us one time. He was about three years old. And he rode to church with my wife. I had already gone ahead. And they passed a dead skunk in the middle of the road; remember that song, “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road”? And he had never smelled anything like that, and he just said, “P-U!” but he put it about five octaves up. I couldn’t even get that high. He gets to the church, and we had those old wood sides and top, and so everything echoed. And he walks inside the auditorium and he said, “Uncle Wayne, Uncle Wayne.” I said, “Hey, how you doing, Nathan?” He said, “We passed a dead skunk.” I said “How did it smell?” He said, “P-U!” And I thought, that’s exactly the meaning of the word. It’s like my son’s tennis shoes. He leaves them in the garage and the car backs out by itself. It’s that stuff, the garbage, that comes out of us, criticism, all of this kind of stuff, when we’re wearing the wrong garment.
- Ankerberg: Alright, we’re out of time, Wayne. What’s the bottom line?
- Barber: Let’s go back to Bubba. Remember that, before the cross, he could do nothing of himself. After the cross, he can do nothing of himself. But what’s the difference? Well, what difference did the cross make? Christ came to live in him to do through him what he couldn’t do himself. So it’s not about Bubba, it’s about the Christ that lives within him. It’s about Christ that lives in us. And I just invite the people that are watching us, bow before Him. If you’re a believer and frustrated, that’s exactly who we’re talking to; been there, done that. Just come to Him and come clean and say yes to Him.
- Ankerberg: Wayne, I appreciate your coming and spending all this time with us. And I think the folks that have been listening are excited about the promises of God. And I hope that we’ll have you back along the way. And, folks, I hope you’ll join us next week.