Let Each One of You Speak the Truth with His Neighbor

Ephesians 4:25
March 24, 2019
Abraham Hong

 

Jesus has done so much for us. And now, as we wait for his return, there is so much that we want to do for him. This is the Christian life. And the second half of the book of Ephesians is all about it. Having put off the old self and having put on the new self, how then shall we live?

The wonderful thing about our Lord Jesus Christ is that he answers this question for us. We do not have to figure it all out on our own. Our King gives us his commands. And one of his commands is this: We are to speak the truth with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But before we take the time to consider this command as a church, let us first take the time to consider the reason or the motivation for it. Let’s start with the gospel truth. Then after that, let’s finish with the gospel command.

There are two gigantic gospel truths in this one verse. The first gospel truth is that falsehood has been and is being put away. And the second gospel truth is that we are members of one another.

First, falsehood has been put away and falsehood is being put away. This is truly good news for us. We who are a new creation in Christ have put away falsehood in our lives. And we who are being graciously sanctified by the Spirit continue to put away falsehood in our lives.

Falsehood… is just not our thing anymore. We are no longer connected to Adam and to his sin, because of the life and death and resurrection Christ. We have nothing more to do with the Devil, who was and is and always will be a liar. Instead, we have been created after the likeness of God, who hates falsehood (Proverbs 6:17-19). And we have learned Christ, who is the truth.

We are done with our old selves. And we are done with falsehood. There is a sense in which we still continue to put falsehood away as we grow and learn from our mistakes and change and become more like Jesus Christ. But there is also a sense in which falsehood has been fundamentally and once-and-for-all put to death in our hearts and minds. Everything is different now. We are liars no more. This is the first gigantic gospel truth in today’s Scripture text. Praise the Lord!

The second gospel truth in today’s Scripture text is this: We are members of one another. This is truly good news for us. We are all part of the body of Christ. You are not alone. Everyone here at Highland who has repentance and faith in Christ is striving to obey the Lord and be truthful to one another. We are in this together. There is a unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And there is a unity of the Spirit in our truthfulness toward one another. This is the second gigantic gospel truth in today’s Scripture text. Praise the Lord!

Because of the great salvation that we have in Christ, it is a joy and an honor to speak the truth to one another.

Now that we have taken the time to consider the reason or the motivation for the gospel command of our King, let us now take the time to consider the command itself. Brothers and sisters of Highland, we are to speak the truth with one another.

There are many ways that this can play out.

For example, let’s say that you are sharing things about yourself with others. When you do that, be honest and forthright about who you are. You have put away falsehood. We are members of one another. God loves you. You don’t have to impress God. And as a church we accept you. You don’t have to impress us. Speak the truth about yourself.

For example, let’s say that you are talking to someone about another person. When you talk about other people, may your words about them be true and accurate and in accordance with facts. Do not speak words of gossip or slander. Do not speak out of your own untested assumptions or your own personal interpretations or your own drawn conclusions or your own misconstruction of intentions. Do not speak fake news. You have put away falsehood. We are members of one another. God loves the person that you are talking about - just as he loves you. God has declared that person righteous because of the righteousness of Christ - just as he has declared about you. God is sanctifying and growing and changing that person to become more like Christ - just as he is doing to you. Speak the truth about others.

For example, let’s say that you are arguing or fighting with your spouse. When you are quick to speak and slow to listen, when you are quick to being angry and slow to being loving, be careful with your words. Words matter. Words such as “never” and “always.” Do not say things like, “You never do blank. You never think first about me.” And do not say things like, “You always do blank. You always complain.” Words such as these are, at best, funny exaggerations and, at worst, devious lies. You have put away falsehood. We are members of one another. And the only being in the entire universe who can be attributed with words such as “always” and “never” is God. God always speaks the truth. God never lies. Speak the truth before your spouse.

For example, let’s say that you are talking to your kids about Santa. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the Santa myth as a myth, it is not right to encourage your children to think that Santa actually exists in real life. You have put away falsehood. We are members of one another. So teach your children the difference between fiction and fact. Go ahead and enjoy movies about hobbits and talking animals and Marvel characters with superpowers. Just don’t forget to talk to them about the reality and the truth of Jesus Christ. Speak the truth to your children.

These are just a few of many examples of speaking the truth to our brothers and sisters in Christ. For a full treatment of this subject matter, I recommend questions 143-145 of the Westminster Larger Catechism, which talk about the ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” There you can get a full picture of the sins forbidden and the duties required in the Lord’s command to speak the truth to one another.

Speaking the truth to one another is foundational for our church. The very fabric of our relationships and trust between one another depend on our simple but profound obedience to this command. It’s such a basic element of doing church together.

And speaking the truth to one another is healthy for the unity of our church. So many sad stories about church conflicts and church splits and church dramas come from people’s failure to obey this simple but profound command.

Brothers and sisters, let us obey this command. The truth is awesome. Falsehood is terrible. Speaking the truth in love… this is what Jesus wants from us. Jesus has done so much for us. And now, as we wait for his return, there is so much that we want to do for him. This is the Christian life. And it starts with speaking the truth to one another. This is a royal command of our King. This is how Jesus Christ wants us to live.

End


Summary of Sermon

Jesus commands us to speak the truth with other brothers and sisters who belong to him. We want to do this because of the great salvation that we have in Christ.

Let us consider two gospel truths and then the gospel command.

The first gospel truth is that falsehood has been and is being put away. Our old selves have died with Christ. We are now a new creation in Christ. We are being sanctified by the Spirit. We are no longer connected to Adam. We have nothing more to do with the Devil. We have been created after the likeness of God. We have learned Christ. Everything is different now. We are liars no more. We are done with our old selves. We are done with falsehood.

The second gospel truth is that we are members of one another. We are all part of the body of Christ. You are not alone. All believers in Christ are striving to obey him and be truthful to one another. We are in this together. There is a unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is a unity of the Spirit in our truthfulness toward one another.

Let us therefore speak the truth with one another.

There are many ways in which this command can play out in Christian life. Consider how you are to speak the truth about yourself to others. Consider how you are to speak the truth about other people. Consider how you are to speak the truth in conflict and in marriage. Consider how you are to speak the truth to your children.

Speaking the truth is foundational and healthy for our church.

Let us obey this command. The truth is awesome. Falsehood is terrible. Speaking the truth is what Jesus wants from us as we wait for his return and prepare for his coming kingdom.

Questions for Discussion & Sharing

In your own words and for your own life, why is truthfulness so awesome and why is falsehood so terrible?

Our falsehood has been put away and is being put away. And we who are in Christ are members of one another. How do these two gospel truths compel you to obey Christ’s command to speak the truth to one another?

There are many ways in which this command can play out in Christian life. In what ways are you honoring Christ in obedience to this command? In what ways do you need to repent and grow and change as we wait for the return of our King?