Sermon Info:

Responsive Reading: Ephesians 4:17-32
Key Verse(s): Ephesians 4:17
Background Scripture: Romans 12:9-21

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Introduction

Holiness — To be holy is to be exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness; to be divine.

Some, in their self-righteousness foolishly believe themselves to already be perfect in goodness in their own eyes.  Considering how the self-righteous ones act, I find the notion that they believe themselves to be perfect in goodness to be a foolish notion.  Everyone desires to be the best person they could possibly be, however, our idea on what perfect in goodness – holy – looks like is completely flawed.

Many approach the idea of being perfect in goodness with the same approach we saw in the Babylonians from my sermon last week; they believe the power and might they have procured to be a sign of them being perfect in goodness.  The Babylonians said of themselves, “I am” which is the very statement that the Lord called Himself to Moses.  To think in such a manner would be to equate one self to the Lord who is perfect in goodness – holy and righteous.

Like I said in last week’s sermon – Stop Playing the Fool – the self-righteous believe themselves to be gods.  However, the supposed godliness and holiness of the self-righteous is so far from the true beauty of holiness.  So, I want to close out this month of sermons by focusing on the true beauty of holiness so that we can truly know what it is and properly portray the holiness that resides in all who truly believe in the Lord.

Stop Being Deceived

Do you desire to be holy?  To the Ephesians, Paul wrote that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (Eph. 4:14).

Seek the truth

The world deceives us with its idea of what is holy and good but if we truly desire to be holy, we must not fall for the trickery of the world.  As we saw last week, deception is a very powerful enemy of ours as it has the power to blind mankind from seeing the truth and as we know, the truth is in Jesus (Eph. 4:21).  So, in order for one to walk in the beauty of holiness, we must stop being deceived and seek for the truth.

Finding the truth is actually not that hard.  Jesus told us plainly that if we seek the Lord, who again is truth, He will make Himself available to us and be found (Matt. 7:7).  Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen that this is definitely the case.  As we saw, Job, Abraham and Sarah all needed to slow down and put their hearts in the right place in order to gain clarity and understanding from the Lord.

What often happens to us is that we rush ahead of God, who is the beginning of knowledge, and miss out on the truth.  You have heard me say it before but I want you to understand that it takes a humble heart to find the Lord.  You see, a prideful and self-righteous person will never find the Lord and therefore, they can never know true holiness.  So, if we truly desire to be holy by seeking the truth from the Lord, we must humble ourselves – we must be mature.

Humble yourself

To this point, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “do not be children in understanding … but in understanding be mature (1 Cor. 14:20).”  So, in order for one to truly become holy, as the Lord is, one must take a humble and mature approach.

Now, what is fascinating about this point from Paul is that though little children are immature, little children can be very mature when it comes to asking questions; a little child will drive you crazy with the amount of questions that they can ask!  Little children simply want to know how things work and so they will ask a ton of questions.  However, it is when the little child grows up just a bit and becomes a teenager – which is still a child by the way – that they suddenly know everything; they stop asking questions and end up having to learn things the hard way.

The world’s doctrine would tell you that obtaining wealth and power equals godliness – therefore holiness.  By this logic, the one who is most greedy would be on track to becoming holy. This would also suggest that the one who is filled with covetousness is also on track to becoming holy.  Therefore, those who seemingly have a lack of humility and empathy, because of their greed and covetousness, must also be on track to becoming holy, according to the world.

If these are the characteristics that lead to holiness, I personally want nothing to do with it because nothing about greed, covetousness, and a lack of compassion sounds beautiful.  There are many people who live by such a doctrine that believe they should be exalted and praised because they have gained the world by such a manner.

Many have bought into the notion that gaining the world will put them above all problems, they will have no struggles, and that they will be invincible.  I, again, suggest to you today to not have the mindset of an immature teen.

The mindset of a teenage child is most vulnerable to being tricked and deceived into making poor decisions.  Sadly, the mind of the self-righteous is just as a teenage child that refuses to listen to the truth.  If you desire to attain holiness, you cannot be like an immature child and follow the council of fools.

The Beauty of Holiness

So, again, we must not be carried about by every wind of doctrine and by the trickery of men!  True holiness, I want you to see and know is nothing like the messiness of the world’s idea for what is perfect in goodness and righteousness; true holiness is absolutely beautiful.

Walking in the beauty of holiness

In order for one to walk in the true beauty of holiness, Paul tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God; to let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speech be put away from us with all malice (Eph. 4:30,31).  Let us understand that holiness is what all true believers should actually be striving to become!  Thankfully, the Lord has shown us the way that we can become holy so that we do not have to do like the self-righteous who guess and exalt themselves as being holy and righteous.

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind … 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

KEY VERSE – EPHESIANS 4:17, 23-24 NKJV

In our key verse for this week’s message, Paul writes that in order for us to be holy, we must not walk as others who are deceived by the futility of their mind.  Paul encourages us to walk in the renewed spirit of our mind.  To do this, Paul tells us that we should put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.  So, because we through our faith are born of God, who is holy, we should walk in His holiness.

So, let’s be clear about this, true righteousness and holiness does not come by way of any actions of wickedness.  As we have learned, studied, and know, true holiness and righteousness can only come from the Lord who is both holy and righteous.  This is just as Jesus taught us when He stated that a good (righteous) tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad (corrupt) tree bear good fruit (Matt. 7:18).  The world cannot bring forth holiness and righteousness because it, the world, is not holy nor righteous.

A tongue of truth

Compared to those who walk in the ugliness of self-righteousness, Paul tells us that if we desire to walk in the beauty of holiness, we need to put away the lying tongue (Eph. 4:25).  As we saw a couple of weeks ago, James stated that the tongue can defile (corrupt) the whole body and has the power to set fire the course of nature (Jas. 3:5-6).  The one that desires to be holy needs to get rid of that lying tongue because of its destructive power!

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul tell us, “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him (God) who created him (Col. 3:9-10).”  The lying tongue stirs up a bunch of strife (contention) and confusion.  One that lives in a manner that promotes the lying tongue is promoting a work of deception that leads to destruction.

Of this one, Solomon called the liar a wicked person.  Solomon said, “The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.  As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues evil pursues it to his own death (Prov. 11.18-19).”  I tell you today that the tongue of one that is holy and righteous should not promote destruction but should be promoting life.

Again, in the book of Proverbs, Solomon wrote, “the mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked (Prov. 10:11).”  This should make you wonder:  How could anyone ever consider themselves to be holy when they do nothing but bring harm and destruction to others through their lies and deceptions?  You see, the way of one who is truly walking in the beauty of holiness is a way of hope – it is uplifting as it uplifts others by words of truth from the Lord.

Words of encouragement, hope, and life

We will see that Paul focused on this thought of hope given through the beauty of holiness to the Ephesians.  Compared to those who walk in the ugliness of self-righteousness, the one that walks in the beauty of holiness, Paul said, they should let no corrupt word proceed out of their mouths (Eph. 4:29).

We have to remember that the Holy Spirit dwells in all who have accepted Christ in their heart.  Through this inner dwelling, the Holy Spirit is transforming us from that old unrighteous man who is unable to give others hope into a new person that is holy and righteous.  So, the spirit of one that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in should be a spirit that brings forth good fruit (hope) to all of those around them.

Therefore, the words that pour out the mouth of the believer should certainly not be deceiving lies nor should they be corrupt words that would poison the hearts of others.  The words that come from the heart and the mouths of believers should be words that are good for necessary edification; these are encouraging words that will impart grace to those that hear them (Eph. 4:29).

Let us consider and think of the Lord and the manner that He deals with us.  Are the words from God not encouraging words?  Are the words from God not words that heal us in those times when we are in need of healing?  Do the words of God not comfort us in those times when we need comforting?  Does the words of God not uplift us in those times when we have hit rock bottom and are in need of being lifted back up to our feet?

Yes, there are times when the Lord’s words may appear harsh to us but the Lord speaks to us from a place of love.  From this place of love and compassion, God always encourages us and His words give us hope and life rather than tear and beat us down to death.  Holiness, I want you to understand, breathes hope and life into those that stand in witness of its beauty!

Brings calm and peace

Compared to those who walk in the ugliness of self-righteousness, the believer, Paul says, should not move out of anger and wrath.  “Be angry,” he says, “and do not sin; do not give place to the devil (Eph. 4:26-27).”

Paul was a man that understood very well that all people, whether they are a believer or not, can be moved to anger and act out of anger.  Even God, we see, can be provoked due to those that oppose Him or His people.  Yet, when God moves, He moves justly and out of righteousness – His judgment is just and righteous.

On the other hand, when we move out of anger, we move wildly and in a way that leads to more and more sin and harm.  So, Paul speaks to the idea that we need to learn how to put such anger in control; we need to learn self control.  Therefore, we who desire to walk in the beauty of holiness, must learn how to control our temper – our anger.

One that walks in the beauty of holiness cannot lash out in anger and wrath as neither action can produce holiness or righteousness.  “Repay no evil with evil,” Paul said, and he continued, “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men (Rom. 12:17).” The one that is holy should give place to wrath for vengeance is the Lord’s and He will repay it (Rom. 12:19).”

The one that desires to be holy should be slow to anger and wrath, but be patient in heart.  Those that are patient in heart will bring about peace and calm (Prov. 15:18).  So, the end result of true holiness is just that – a bringer of peace and calm.

As true believers, we should always be seeking to bring peace and calm to others.  As Paul encouraged the believers in Rome, I would encourage all of you today who desire to walk in the beauty of holiness – if it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people (Rom. 12:18).  This is the way of the Lord – He desires for there to be peace and for all of us to live in that peace with one another.

Be Holy in Your Conduct

Self-righteousness, I want you to understand, is an evil plague that has spread through our society and around the world; it has brought about great harm to many people.  The reason being is because the self-righteous ones believe themselves to be perfect when they are not; they see themselves as being holy and righteous as if they are gods.

This, we know, leads to them trying to dictate their ways on others when, in truth, they are not what they think they are.  In fact, their failures are doing nothing to uplift anyone but themselves as they glory in their so-called righteousness and exalt themselves.  God does not desire for anyone to carry themselves in such a manner.  Yes, the Lord wants you to walk in the beauty of holiness, but He desires for you to walk in His beauty and holiness.

The lofty will be humbled

Through the prophet Isaiah, it is said, “the lofty looks of man will be humbled, the haughtiness of men will be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.  For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up – and it shall be brought low (Is. 2:11-12).”  One day, the false image of godliness, holiness, and righteousness will be torn down by the Lord – it will not stand.

However, as I referenced in last week’s message, Christ said that the Lord will exalt those that humble themselves (Matt. 23:12; Luke 14:11).  Let us remember, it is the humble heart that leads us to truly becoming holy.  As we have seen today, those that humble themselves open themselves up to walking in the beauty of God’s holiness because we are able to submit ourselves to the way of truth – the way of God.

Those that walk in the beauty of holiness walk in a manner to where they serve others rather than boast about all they have accomplished!  For this, the holy ones will be exalted by God – this is the highest of praises.

I make this statement to you today because I know that all people try to live their lives doing what they believe is right and good – we desire to be the best person we can be.  God, I want you to understand, takes the guesswork away from having to guess what is holy and righteous.  God desires for us to grow and improve ourselves by simply following His lead.  When we follow His lead, we will truly walk in the beauty of holiness and it will be a beautiful sight for all to see.

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