2016-2-07 Speak Truth

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          February 7, 2016

“Speak Truth”
Text: Ephesians 4:25

We heard last week, in general terms, that we, the people of God in Christ Jesus, are to put off the old man and to put on the new.  Given a new relationship with Christ, a new nature, and everything made new for us in Him, we did not so learn Christ that we continue in the ways in which we walked prior to meeting Jesus.  Today begins a set of several highly specific ways by which we are to put off the old man and to put on the new.  God willing, we shall take each of these highly specific ways—extending to the end of the chapter—over the next few weeks.  Today we note the Spirit’s call, through the Apostle Paul, to speak truth.  Let us examine this more closely as we hear this portion of God’s written Word—which testifies everywhere to God’s incarnate Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

We begin today as Paul, led by the Spirit, does—with the summary word therefore.  The word translated in today’s text as therefore (Greek dio [dio]) usually denotes the fact that the inference that follows is self-evident from the preceding material.[1]  This word is often highly significant; it is the therefore which occurs at the start of Philippians 2:9, “Therefore, God hath exalted Him to the highest place….”[2]  We consider these commands that follow as self-evident in view of putting off the old and putting on the new (4:17-24).  They also follow in view of our unity in Christ amid diverse gifts and function (4:1-16).  Indeed, they also follow in view of the fact that we who are in Christ together are a new society, the Church (Ephesians in toto).  Hence, everything preceding today’s command—and the ones that follow it to Ephesians 4:32—informs it and grounds it.

Now let us examine the rest of our verse today.  In order to comply with our text’s sole imperative, namely, “Speak ye truth,” we must be found putting away the lie.  Before putting on the new man with regard to speech, we must jettison the old.  Speaking falsehood characterizes the old man, and such behavior gets prompt and fuel from the father of lies himself (John 8:44).  Before we can speak truth, we must stop falsehood—as we hear in another part of Scripture, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies” (Psalm 34:13).

This done, we can comply with today’s command, “Speak ye truth.”  We can apply this on several levels.  First, we speak truth when we speak accurately of Jesus Himself, Who is Himself truth—if you will, Truth incarnate (John 14:6).  When we tell and teach of His Person, His ways, His commands, His people, and the like, we speak truth—and the Spirit will bear witness that what we declare conforms agreeably to His Word.  Second, we comply with today’s divine directive when we give accurate narration in solemn civil matters—for example, when testifying before a court of law.  Third, and perhaps closest to the quick of our souls, we comply when we tell the truth in everyday matters in everyday relations.  When we do this in our families, and in our workplaces, and in our schools, and in the marketplaces, we do well and Christ receives His honor in our doing.

Moreover, we speak truth, each of us, with our neighbor.  At this point we may ask a question similar to the one the expert in the Law asked just prior to Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, “Who is my neighbor?”  Your neighbor—and mine—is, generally speaking, anyone we meet, but particularly (and this more nearly fits today’s context) our neighbor is our fellow Christian.

We do this truth-telling for one another in Christ because we each are a body part of each other.  Paul, led by the Spirit, taught this idea to the Corinthian Christian households at some length (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).  We together are members of Christ’s Body, and individually we are parts of His Body.  Our aim in truth-speaking is to build up one another (Ephesians 4:12, et al.) in His Body, in order that it flourishes as He intends.  We each, in God’s providence, have important functions in the Church, and those functions tend both to build us each up and to build up others.  Truth-telling and truth-receiving go a long way toward building up the Church—not to mention the individuals Christians therein.

In view of all this, then, why would we (or do we) yield to the temptation to lie?  We now note certain occasions that make truth-telling all too hard and the opposite all too easy.  We yield to lying in order to make ourselves look better than facts warrant—or, conversely, to make others look worse than facts warrant.  We decline from telling the truth in order to evade trouble or difficulty.  We even do this to cover other wrongs we are doing.  The Lord calls us to better; let us consider how we may comply.

When faced with such a temptation, let us recall what we heard today—and let us act accordingly.  Let us speak truth to our neighbor: both of Christ and His things and of everyday matters that arise.  Let us do this for everyone generally, and let us do this for fellow Christians especially.  This will edify your fellow Christian, and it will compel notice from certain non-Christians.  Who knows, maybe God by His Spirit will draw them to His Son through your obedience.  Let us here at Cornerstone—and let Christians everywhere—be known as a people of the truth who declare the truth.

AMEN.

[1] This information rises from Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989).

 

[2] This occurrence of dio (dio), according to Dr. John Blumenstein, who taught me New Testament and Greek at Erskine Theological Seminary in Due West, South Carolina, is the most theologically significant therefore in all the New Testament.

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