Online Worship for Christmas Two, Sunday January 2, 2022
Sermon for Christmas Two – Sunday January 2, 2022
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV)
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.**
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
Whose Coming rejoices our hearts,
Whose Coming changes our minds,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
It’s getting closer and closer to cleanup every day.
If you observe the 12 Days of Christmas, it’s only the 8th Day. While our celebration is largely over, for many other Christians around the world, they haven’t even celebrated the Savior’s Birth yet, because they do it on January the 6th, the day we know as Epiphany.
We American Christians, on the other hand, will soon begin cleaning up our Christmas Decorations. We will take down the tree and put the ornaments away. We will unplug the lights and eventually take them down. We will find the same dusty boxes and put everything away.
We should also clean up some other things that came out during our Christmas Celebration. They are things that came out that never should have.... from our minds and from our mouths. We may want to ignore them, to pretend they never came out, but the Holy Spirit of God would have us clean them up, put them away and never take them out again.
In the Word of God before us this morning, we are urged to begin our Christmas cleanup by Forgiving and Forgetting. We ask the Spirit of God, who has come to dwell within us, to enable us to
Zip It and not let rotten words come out of our mouths; to
Pack up all sinful attitudes like bitterness.
Unpack kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness – which we see in God – and share it with others.
May God the Holy Spirit bless and strengthen us to that end through His Word. Amen.
It happens to me...and I’m ashamed of it. It’s possible that you have seen it or heard it happen to me. I could excuse it by saying that “I’m only human.” I could excuse it by saying, “I was tired, not in control of my emotions.” It would just be an excuse, and you don’t get rid of sin or guilt by excusing it.
On Sundays and Wednesdays and during Bible Classes I stand before you and tell you what I have learned from an in-depth study of God’s Word. If you catch me shoveling snow or doing something else during the week, you may hear far less wholesome words also come out of my mouth. James was correct when he wrote (3:10):
“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
So, I won’t excuse it...and neither should you. Instead of hiding behind my weakness, I come here to confess my sins to God and to seek His forgiveness in Christ. I come here with the prayer that the Holy Spirit help me to do battle with my own sinful nature.
I urge you to do the same.
So, this year, as you pack up the Christmas Decorations, take some time in prayer, asking the Savior to help you to Zip It and not let words that tear down to come out of your mouth. Help us to clean up by confronting our sinful words to others and seeking their forgiveness, let Jesus clean up the mess.
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
I would guess that some, if not all of you, spent time with spouse, family or friends during the Christmas Season. Maybe you got together to eat a special meal or to open presents. Maybe you went out as a family.
It sounds innocent enough, but sometimes those who are closest to us are most in danger of hearing what the English Standard Version calls ‘corrupting talk.’
“Corrupting Talk” sounds unfortunate...but not all that terrible. Other translations call it ‘corrupt’ or ‘unwholesome’ but these words really don’t express the meaning of the word. It’s a word that means ‘decayed, rotten.’ It is used to describe the following delightful things: Spoiled Fish, Decayed Trees and Rotten Fruit that has laid on the ground and rotted.
The Spirit of God isn’t merely asking that we speak with proper grammar. He’s urging us to never let ‘stinking, rotten words’ come out of our mouths. The thing is that we do it – not only during the Christmas Season – but year-round! We spout hurtful garbage out of our mouths toward spouse, family and friends and then we excuse it. “I was having a bad day.” Excusing it is just shoveling a little more stink on the pile.
Instead of excusing it...let’s clean it up. After opening up our presents, we cleaned up the wrapping paper and recycled the boxes.
There’s more to clean up. God help us to go to those we’ve hurt with our mouths and express true sorrow and seek their forgiveness. Let’s dig into God’s Word and ask the Holy Spirit of God to help us to use our mouths to build up the faith of others and not tear them down.
Instead of excusing it...let’s earnestly seek the help of the Holy Spirit to learn to ‘zip it.’ When something stinking and rotten is about to come tumbling out of our mouths to tear down a fellow Christian, zip it, and throw away the key. Turn and walk away. Think about what hurtful words do to others. Remember the sage advice of many Godly mothers, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
It isn’t just that we want to avoid hurting spouse, family and friends. We want to avoid grieving the Holy Spirit, who has done so much for us.
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
When family comes to stay during the Holidays we carefully clean and prepare a room. We plan special meals and activities. We want everything to be enjoyable for them and their stay a happy experience.
If we are courteous and careful when family and friends come to the house to stay, shouldn’t we also remember that the Holy Spirit dwells within us as a guest? We should, because we don’t want the Spirit of God to be unhappy and perhaps leave us.
So, why are we urged to not let ‘rotten, stinking garbage’ come out of our mouths? Well, because it’s the kind of thing that saddens the Holy Spirit who was given to us and came to dwell within us when we were brought to faith at baptism.
The Holy Spirit of God – has united us to Christ. The Holy Spirit of God dwells within us and works in us through the Scriptures. He works in us to keep us in faith, to seal us for the day of redemption.
I doubt that we fully grasp the meaning of these words, because we aren’t personally familiar with slavery. In Jesus’ day there were slaves and there were bond servants. Slaves were bought and sold. A bond servant was more like an employee. A bond servant offered to indenture himself to another in exchange for a place to live and a wage. A bond servant wasn’t a slave forever, but could in time purchase his own release, or someone else could pay the price on the day of his redemption.
We were slaves to sin (not bond servants) when God sent His Son to pay our debt, to purchase our release. The price paid to redeem us was the Blood of Jesus. Even though it is finished, we struggle this side of heaven because we have a rotten, sinful nature. We look forward to the day when we are separated from sin forever, to serve our gracious God forever.
We don’t want to do anything that might grieve or sadden or cause the Holy Spirit to go away. He was given to us to keep us in Christ until that day of our final redemption from all sin forever.
Until then, we are to seek the Spirit’s help to pack up and put away all those things that grieve him and hurt one another
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
We sometimes call it ‘escalation.’ It just means that for sinful human beings, a bad thing often leads to a worse thing. In the 31st verse, it describes a bad thing (bitterness) that often leads to something worse, which leads to something still worse:
Bitterness – is a bitter or sour feeling in us directed toward someone else for one reason or another, leading to
Wrath – which is a word that describes an inner grudge against someone else, leading to
Anger – which is open hostility toward another person, leading to
Clamor – which means loud screaming, which often graduates to
Slander – which is name calling and false witness.
Now since we are good at finding loopholes so we can say, “He’s not talking to/about me” he includes all kinds of wickedness at the end. We can’t evade it. There is no excuse. So, don’t look for a way out, these are the kinds of decorations of attitudes we don’t want to keep around, but pack away forever with the help of our God.
God help us to put the junk away and never get it out again, and instead unpack the following attitudes that the Spirit of God has planted within us by faith in Christ:
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.**
In contrast to the face of bitterness, which is never attractive in a Child of God, is the love of Christ. Instead of being bitter, we are to be kindly, to be willing to help out whenever possible, never tiring of doing good. When we become grumpy old men and women, we ought to think how our gracious God is kindly disposed to all, sending rain on the good and the evil. So too, we are to be kindly disposed toward others, especially fellow believers.
In contrast to anger and shouting, which is never attractive, is the love of Christ. We are to be tenderhearted, to feel compassion for one another in every trouble and need coming to the aid of the other, never letting personal pride get in the way.
In contrast to the loveless way of the world, we are to be ready to forgive one another as we have been forgiven. God didn’t forgive because we did something to deserve it, but because He is kind and merciful.
It is written of our God (Psalm 103:10):
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
So, neither should we repay others for their sins, but be ready to freely forgive when they sin against us.
Therefore, may the Spirit of God lead us to –
ZIP IT and not let out rotten words, but use our mouths to build up the faith of one another.
PACK UP sinful attitudes that grieve the Spirit of God and forget where we put them.
UNPACK Godly attitudes governed by the Spirit of God, including kindness, tenderness and forgiveness.
These attitudes...we should never put away. They are to be active ‘go to’ attitudes for those who have been forgiven by God in Christ.
May our Christmas Cleanup include also these things.