Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sanctifying Our Speech

In light of the very convicting passage that we looked at last Sunday, I’d like to encourage all of us to continue to strive for obedience in the area of our speech. Remember our text:

Ephesians 4:29-30 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.

Whenever we decide to pursue Christlikeness, we can count on the fact that we will encounter strong temptation in the area we are trying to address. You may have found the last few days to be particularly difficult as you’ve tried to honor the Lord with your speech. It is important to remember that our ability to resist temptation is found in the power of the Holy Spirit through His Word.

One person in our church family recently shared with me that he quotes a couple of Scripture verses every morning to prepare for his day. I think they represent a great two-pronged strategy to resist temptation and live in a way that pleases the Lord.

The first verse is Proverbs 119:11, I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Again, God’s Word has been given to us to train us for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, so that we will be equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). It is a tool for sanctification. Jesus prayed in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” If we want to kill sin in our lives, we must understand the importance of spending time in the Word.

The second verse is Galatians 5:16, But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Not only must we saturate ourselves in the Word, but we must live in constant communion with the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to walk by the Spirit? Romans 8:5 gives us a good idea: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

To live according to the Spirit, or to walk by the Spirit, is to set your mind on the things of the Spirit, rather than on the things of the flesh. How do we do that? By setting our minds on the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. We must prayerfully submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit and actively fill our minds with His Word through reading, memorization, and meditation.

If you have found yourself engaging in corrupting speech this week, have you been spending time in the Word? Have you been walking by the Spirit? Have you been filling your mind with the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit?

Sanctification is a difficult, lifelong process. We will never achieve sinlessness in this life. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:57). He has defeated the power of sin and death. Though we will struggle in this life and we will often fail, if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1John 1:9). If you have failed this week, confess it, get up, and move on with the resolve to continue to put sin to death through the power of the Spirit through His Word.

Our passage for this Sunday is another very convicting one:

Ephesians 4:31-32 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.

Begin to prepare yourself now by examining your heart for any traces of malice or unforgiveness that you may be harboring. God is calling us to graciousness.

See you Sunday.

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