There is another spiritual deception, the spiritual deception of not renewing your spirit and mind and thinking and believing that you don’t need to do the things involved in that renewal, day by day, process.
Scripture (Ephesians 4:15) admonishes and encourages us to speak the truth, and to do so in love. Scripture (II Corinthians 3:6) defines us, as believers, to be ministers of the gospel of the new covenant. Scripture shows us the connections between our speaking and our beliefs. In other words, we speak of that which we believe. We find this in Psalm 116:8-10a, For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed; therefore I spoke.
So, today, I ask you to do a simple equation. Study what you speak and ask yourself what the timing, tone, content and truthfulness of your speaking says about your believing. It is like a mathematical equation: My speaking = the (f) of my believing, like a trigonometric function. There is a quantifiable linkage between the speaking and the believing. Only you and God know what is in your heart, in your real belief system. So only you and God can study and examine and determine whether your belief system is actually spoken out of your mouth as truth spoken in love. Get together with God and figure yourself out. Don’t depend on me – I really can’t get that deep into you – this needs to happen between you and God.
If you live in a world of little white lies, or if you live in a world of big, bold lies, it is of no spiritual distinction, as a lie is a lie. Scripture commands us to let our yeses be yeses and our no’s be no’s. Scripture admits of no in-between, no gray area, no excusable lie.
In your self-examination, you can determine whether your speaking is giving the right answer to your believing, by simply determining if your speaking lines up on all four corners of the page with what you really believe. Here is an example of this: if you believe in little white lies, the ones that really don’t hurt anyone, then that is what you will know that you regularly speak. If you don’t believe in those little white lies, then you will not regularly speak them: you will just incur and bear the discomfort of speaking the truth, even in love.
In Paul’s life, after his conversion at Damascus, his belief system was so grounded in faith on God’s word and commandments, that Paul’s speaking followed directly and completely as a direct function of his Christian beliefs. Paul did not have the belief system that he was supposed to speak with the intent and the effect of making no one feel uncomfortable at his words, nor that he was supposed to speak with the intent and the effect of making each hearer feel good about himself. No, and rather, Paul believed that it was better for him and his hearers if he spoke and they heard the truth of his Christian belief system.
Paul knew, and said, that on one level, this did not make even Paul feel good. Paul identified a thing called Godly sorrow, as a product of truth-speaking. Look at the passage in II Corinthians 7:8-12 (Read).
Paul was a competent minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You also, as believers, have that purpose in your lives, and you, like a good carpenter (ha!, even as Jesus was a good carpenter), need to square up your speaking and your believing.
Paul wrote in II Corinthians 6: 12, you are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Our affections, as Paul calls them, are those things we prefer an choose to believe, those things we affect and feel good about, even when they are not in conformity with God’s word.
Oft-times, most times, to square-up, and re-plumb, your thinking means you have to change your affections by refining your believing, because it is your believing that informs and projects and limits your speaking. Fixing your speaking is not a simple matter of refining your speaking, like Demosthenes and Bubba Gump with the rocks in their mouths: no, fixing your speaking is the difficult matter of tweaking, of correcting – all in repentance – your beliefs so that what comes out of your mouth does not conform just to your belief system, or your affections, but also to God’s word. The foundation of that, the sine qua non (the “without which, not”) is that, before your speaking is right, your belief system needs to be conformed to God’s word. A lot of believers have much, even most, of it down pat, but need to move on to square things up even better in their beliefs.
Here, let’s take a leaf from part of last week’s sermon, that the first marker of whether you are “in Christ” is determined by whether you are, in your life, constantly being renewed. Last week, we referred you to Titus 3:5-6, in which Paul referred Titus, and us, to the washing of regeneration and renewing in the Holy Spirit. Today, we also point you to II Corinthians 4:16, Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. There is that renewing in the Holy Spirit and, as Paul wrote in Romans 12:2 there is available also a renewing of our minds, that we not be conformed to the world, but that we be transformed by the renewing of (our) mind. Here is our task: While the Holy Spirit is busy, day by day, renewing our spirits and therefore influencing our minds, we need to be busy, day by day, in reading and knowing the word of God that we may be renewed in our minds, day by day, and better able to receive the washing in regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit in His ministry.
If in repentance and prayer we tune ourselves in, day by day, to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, working in us daily to wash us in regeneration and to renew us in the Holy Spirit, and if, day by day, we are renewing our minds on the word of God, then we will clean up that un-square, out-of-plumb, thinking in our minds, and in so doing allow more room for God’s light of purity and holiness to shine in our hearts, transforming them, day by day, from darkness to light, from faith to faith, from glory to glory.
This process of regeneration in the Holy Spirit, and renewal of our minds in the word of God, is how we get our hearts cleaned up. This is important because Jesus and God care about our hearts and only They, and you, know your heart. Only They, and me, know my own heart.
We want, or we should want, to get our hearts cleaned up, to get ourselves “squared away”, because we have God’s promise that if we separate ourselves to Him, He will be our God, He will be our Father, and we will be His sons and daughters (all in II Corinthians 6:14-18).
And because we have those promises of God, we should not only be obligated (in our free will) but exuberant and excited and passionate about getting ourselves squared away and re-plumbed in out thinking. In II Corinthians 7:1, Paul summarizes this thinking process and conclusion like this: Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Because there is no holiness or righteousness apart from God, we cannot, alone in our flesh, perfect holiness. But we can, and should be excited at the opportunities of repentance and commitment, and refined thinking and believing to get educated enough about God’s word, and in faith like Paul, so committed to God and His word, that we get square and plumb and allow all of His light to shine fully into us, so that when we speak, we speak His truth and our truth, and they are the same thing, and then we are truly speaking the truth in love, His love and ours!
Jesus knows, and his statement is recorded in Luke 6:45, about this deep and compelling mathematical relationship, this linear relationship, between what comes out of our mouths and what is in our hearts. Jesus said here, A good man out of the good measure (a carpentry term, actually) of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil measure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Jesus continues and expresses his observation, knowing the hearts of men, and seeing their deeds, V. 46, But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I say?
Jesus can determine quickly whether we will do the things He says, the things He commands, because He knows the good or evil measure of our hearts. You also know your heart, and you can take that same measure. If you want to re-check your measuring, just listen to yourself, and you will know if you really know God’s Word and Spirit, whether your heart is in such good measure that what you speak conforms not just to your heart’s measure, but also, Ephesians 4:13, to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a complete (perfect or mature) man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The standard by which we are to measure ourselves is the stature of the fullness of Christ.
But (Romans 3:23) we all, even Paul, who described himself long after his conversion at Damascus as chief among sinners (I Timothy 1:15), have sinned and fall short of the glory of God – we don’t measure up, but if we square up and re=plumb our hearts, refining and tweaking them through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, more closely, ever more closely, day by day, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, then, more and more, day by day, in repentance, regeneration and renewal, we will rid ourselves of the filthiness of flesh and spirit which impairs our holiness. Thus, day by day, we, Hebrews 5:14, . . . by reason of use have (our) senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Sight is one of our senses by which we read the word of God! And that is not just good and evil on the outside in our sinful neighbors and family and friends, but my friends, it is the good and evil on the inside of ourselves that wars in the spirit and in the mind for control of our hearts.
So, do not be spiritually deceived into the complacency of some Christians and some churches and think that by infant baptism and rote confirmations that salvation is necessarily in you or those you love. Nor should you think that salvation is sufficient to clean up your heart to Jesus’ standards, and to produce the good works growing out of faith that James describes, without discipleship to maturity, to completeness in the measure of the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ. Rather, instead of such spiritual deceptions, renew yourself daily in the Holy Spirit and in the Word of God as you passionately seek the completion of holiness in your heart, your mind, your actions and your speaking!
God bless you and Amen!