August 4-6, 2019
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Ephesians 4:17-24
1. It’s absolutely necessary.
2. You know what to do.
Ephesians 4:17-24 (NIV) “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. 20You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I love Saz’s. I love the food and the sauce. But mostly I love the company for giving my daughters some very good jobs. The problem I have is the smell. Not the cooking ribs smell but the smell my girls come home with from working the festivals. It’s the smell of deep fried food. Sometimes when they come home the shoes, the clothes, the smell is so strong the clothes and shoes just need to stay outside. We don’t want that smell in the house. In a much more important way there is a smell that we need to get rid of regularly, a smell we don’t want in our homes. It’s the smell of sin, the smell of defiance in the face of a holy God. I’m not sure if Robin ever said it to Batman but we’ll say it today, Holy Hygiene! God’s word will help us see that it is absolutely necessary and thankfully we know exactly what to do.
Holy Hygiene. It’s absolutely necessary. Just like I like Saz’s despite the deep frying oil smell, I also like pig farms. I am glad there are pig farms so that Saz’s can make their delicious ribs and I can have a BLT and an Easter ham. I’m a fan of pig farms but I wouldn’t want to live near one. Have you driven by? This isn’t sweet cow manure from a dairy farm we are talking about. How do the farmers live there? Well they’re used to it of course so it doesn’t bother them and they probably don’t notice. That same thing can happen to us Christians with sin smell. We live in a society that is corrupted by sin and defiance of God. If we are not careful we can get used to it, not notice it anymore and become a part of it.
Holy hygiene is absolutely necessary. “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” Like a good friend who offers you a breath mint and when you decline more firmly says, “No, I insist. Take two!” and is doing that for a reason, God had the Apostle Paul insist on holy hygiene.
Don’t live like the Gentiles. Paul uses the word Gentile here as a synonym for unbeliever. Here are the signs of unbeliever living: a futility of thinking, a darkened understanding, separation from God shown in a loss of sensitivity to sin, indulging in it and a continual lust for more. We see this, don’t we? Futile thinking and darkened understanding. Did you know that according to the laws of the state of Wisconsin, a senior citizen who gets confused, drives the wrong way on the interstate and accidentally kills a pregnant woman can get charged with two counts of homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle. One charge for the woman and one for the unborn child. At the same time, by state law, a doctor who murders a baby by aborting it from its mother’s womb and the mother who brings her child to get murdered will be charged with nothing. You kill by accident, a felony. You kill on purpose, a right. Does that make sense? Is that reasonable and logical? Yes, when you have a futility of thinking and a darkened understanding. That’s just one example and we are living in that swamp. You walk through it every day at work. How about loss of sensitivity and a continual lust for more? In 1972 a foul mouthed comedian named George Carlin got arrested after his act at Summerfest where he used his infamous Seven Dirty words. Now these same words are used in songs on the radio and in movies, on our TVs and from the mouths of children. We’ve gone from affairs shown on TV, to people in bed to same sex kisses and more. Where will it end? You know. You heard what God said. It won’t end. As unbelief grows it will get worse. And we are living in this swamp of sin and it smells. God in His righteousness is offended. This way of living is separated from God. It may not look like it, but it is Hell on earth, separation from God. And you leave your home and you go out and work in it and you go to games, restaurants and bars and it’s all around and unless you have chosen a total media blackout and no internet it seeps into your homes. We need holy hygiene. We need to a spiritual bath and shower for if we do not, if we are not careful we will get used to the smell of sin in our lives and like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water we and our children will be among those described as those with a darkened understanding and a life separated from God. Holy hygiene! It’s absolutely necessary!
And there is good news. You serve the God who provides for His people. He provides food like He did for the Israelites. He provided His Son Jesus when we needed the bread of Live even though that meant Jesus would die. When holy hygiene is needed God also provides. “You, however.” Sweet words! Beautiful words! “You, however.” With those two words God tells you that you are different from those with darkened minds who are separated from God. He reminds you you know how to practice holy hygiene. “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desire. 23to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”” At some time, many years ago or a few you were taught to know Christ. You were taught in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
The unbelieving world thinks it’s OK, cool, tough, to talk with a potty mouth, and to that God is a word that follows Oh my when you are surprised, that Jesus is a name to say when you were mad. It thinks sex jokes and drunkenness are funny. It thinks it’s right to be extravagantly expensive on entertaining oneself but pitch pennies to church or charity. You did not come to know Christ in that way. You came to know Him as your Savior who willingly gave His life to pay for that whole laundry list of sins and so many, many more. And you were taught to love that Savior in return and to show that love in the way that is most meaningful to Him, willing obedience to what He says is right.
You know what to do. Holy hygiene. Off with the old sin smelly clothes. On with the new Christ like holy robe of righteousness. Just like you were taught to clean your teeth by brushing and flossing and to change your clothes and to clean yourself by bathing, and not to do this once a month or once a week but daily, you’ve been taught holy hygiene. It’s our regular repentance cycle where we hear God’s word so we know right and wrong, where we realize not just the world’s sins but our own, where we take that sin off through the forgiveness of Jesus and where we put Jesus on, that is desire to please Him in our lives. Holy hygiene! You know what to do.
Today and for as many more todays that God gives you before heaven practice your holy hygiene. It won’t matter how much more sinful our society gets. It won’t control us or our children. Just like I can enjoy Saz’s ribs without being engulfed by the smells of a deep fryer or pig farm, all of us can enjoy our lives without worrying we’ll be overcome by the sin of the society we live in. God, who is faithful, has promised it. And He will do it. Amen.