Family speaks the truth

Ephesians 4:25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.

One of the most loving things you can do for another person, especially one who is your brother or sister in Christ, is speak the truth to them. There are few actions or words that can even compare with just some refreshing truth.

We all know that being a liar is a hard job. When you lie to others you have to keep track of what you told to whom and it makes you worry about getting caught. But honesty, that brings freedom. Speaking the truth to people frees us and lets us know that there is nothing to hide.

It can be really hard sometimes to say what needs to be said, but when you know someone is believing lies it’s always best to let them know what’s real. The biggest liar of all, Satan, tries to lure people into believing that God doesn’t care, that He isn’t listening, or that He’s not good. But the truth is that God is love (1 John 4:8). God cares about His people (Romans 8:30). God is good (Nehemiah 9:31). God is listening (1 John 1:9).

When we know the truth, we’re free from the burdens that lies bring. We can be the burden-breaker for someone else by speaking the truth. It’s what family does.

A new heart means a new mind

Ephesians 4:23-24 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

When you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you became a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). A major transformation occurs when someone takes this step. Along with that transformation comes a new heart. With a new heart comes new desires. With new desires comes renewed thinking.

The thing about obedience to God is that it all begins with right thinking. If we have any hope of following Christ we can’t do it on our own.  We need His help to obey and we can only know what it is He wants us to do if we have been transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2). We have to seek after the truth that’s only found in Him.

At some point in time the truth of God’s Word really penetrates your soul and you just know the truth for what it is. It becomes so clear that you can’t believe that you never embraced this truth before. This truth sets you free! (John 8:32) With a new heart and a new mind there’s a new life, one free from the burdens of this world and from the taskmasters of fear and shame.

A new mind is a clean slate to start over with. Instead of allowing your mind to be consumed by the things of this world, you have the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to fill it with what is right and good and pure.

Have you learned about the real Jesus?

Ephesians 4:20-22 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,

This fact of life should be revisited from time to time: Not everyone who teaches knows what they’re talking about. Likewise, not everyone who professes to speak for God truly speaks for Him.

The Apostle Paul uses and interesting phrase in this letter to the Ephesian church. He says “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.” The point he’s making is that he knows the Ephesians have learned better than to live like the pagans. But what about those in the church who have learned no better than to keep living in sin?

Some will come in the name of the Lord and yet contradict His Word. Some will claim to have heard from God himself and yet present a message that goes directly against His nature. Some will even mock God with their teaching and somehow still claim to be His representative. It’s our job to discern the truth from the garbage.

If anyone teaches a gospel that contradicts the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again from the grave and that His work on the cross was sufficient for salvation, then they’re not worth listening to. Paul warns elsewhere that even if an angel were to preach a false gospel it should be tossed out (Galatians 1:8).

So how do we know the truth from the false teaching? It’s important to start with getting acquainted with the Bible. In it God has revealed himself and His nature. The Bible is the truth tester. If something doesn’t stand up to agreement with it, then it’s false. If you seek the truth, you will find it.

Trade in your heart for a new one

Ephesians 4:17-19 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

The new birth that comes with following Jesus brings with it a certain transformation. The Bible speaks in many places of the new life, the new self. We are made a new creation after salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the old is made new. We have received a heart transplant as well:And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

It’s only because we’ve received a heart of flesh, one that’s moved toward God instead of being hardened to Him, that we are even capable of maturing and doing His will.  But why do we so often act as though we’re still a hard-hearted nonbeliever? Why do we act as if our lives haven’t been transformed, insisting on living out our old ways?

The Apostle Paul says that those without God act with hard hearts towards Him because they’re ignorant. They don’t know yet of His love and they don’t know Him intimately. But we do! We who have been called and adopted into His family as His very own children know that He is good and we know how to follow Him. So, we ought to do it. We ought to live like the new creations we are, who are being conformed into what God created us to be.

If you haven’t traded in your heart of stone for a heart of flesh, take the step. Do it now. If you have, act like the child of God that you are. Live according to His purpose for you. Give yourself to Him. It’s such a better life than the one you left behind.

The body grows in love

Ephesians 4:15-16 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

It’s clear throughout the New Testament that God expects us to grow spiritually once we’re His. It’s not acceptable for a professing follower of Christ to just remain a spiritual infant. He must grow into maturity, and we must then help others to do the same.

The Church is called the “body of Christ” many times and this is not to be overlooked. There are very interesting parallels between a physical human body and a church of believers. Every member must do their part in order for the body to function and the body must grow in order to become mature. A physical body that does not grow is not normal and something is wrong which must be corrected. It is also true that without a head the body does nothing. Without a head the body cannot properly grow either.

Look at this in regards to the Church. We can’t grow individually or corporately as a body without our Head, who is Jesus. We can’t expect to become mature if we do it in our own power, apart from His giving of life. Though every member has his or her own function, talent, and calling, we’re all subject to the Head. In Him we grow, in Him we function, in Him we find unity, and in Him we find life.

If His love flows throughout the Church, there is growth. If there is a lack of love, there is no growth. There is turmoil, not unity. There is disfunction, not a living out of calling. But with His love, all things are in order, all things are functional. The body grows in love.

May we grow to maturity

Ephesians 4:13-14 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 

It should be obvious to every Christ follower that we are to aim to grow spiritually. Just as we would notice something was terribly wrong with a person who has not physically matured past infancy, we should see it as a problem when a Christian has not grown past spiritual infancy. The thing is, though, we don’t.

It’s far too common for those of us who profess to follow Jesus to be content with spiritual youth, never even trying to get past the first stages of Christian life. We overlook it in our own lives and we often overlook it in the lives of others. We get stuck in a place where surface level understanding is accepted and we miss out on a whole lot of blessings that only come with maturity.

To return to the physical to spiritual comparison, think about this: If a child never matures past infancy, he or she can never enjoy certain benefits like driving, marriage, living independently, or even just keeping friends. Likewise, in the spiritual life, there are many things that can only be enjoyed by those who move past the elementary things of the faith. Living in communion with other believers, weathering the storms of life with unshakable faith, finding answers to life’s questions within God’s Word on your own, genuinely worshipping, and praying as one who is close to God are really all much deeper if we have grown and matured.

Paul seems to be warning the church in Ephesus that they will believe anything if they don’t mature spiritually. His image of being tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine is a good picture of many Christians today. Let us all decide that we’re going to pursue spiritual growth and a better knowledge of God so that we can really experience Him in a greater way. Let’s vow also to help others towards this goal.

The Resurrection

Mark 16:1-8  1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Are you looking for Jesus?  Does it seem to be a lost cause; a search that will never produce any results?  Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.  Jesus isn’t in the tomb.  He is risen.

Sometimes we have a tendency to make up our own theology, our own doctrine that we think fits our beliefs better than what the Bible actually says.  We make up traits for Jesus that were never true of Him.  We create our own false Jesus.  But the power of the gospel to save lies in the truth of who Jesus Christ really is and what He really did.

It’s hard to swallow, the fact that God came down to earth in the form of a human man and that He lived a perfect life.  It’s harder still to believe that He would sacrifice His own life in place of ours so that we can be reconciled to God.  Hardest of all to grasp is the idea that He rose again from the dead.  That He lives even still today, reigning over all things.  But that’s our hope.  Without it we have nothing.

The hope you and I have that we can one day be with God through resurrection is the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  If our Savior is dead, then we’re doomed.  But if our Savior lives, then we too can live on forever.  Since He DOES live, we have hope that we can cling to.  Jesus’ resurrection is a truth that changes everything.