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Sermon 7/20/08
Ephesians 5:9 - Righteousness and Truth

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Righteousness and Truth
 

For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9)

On July 13, 2008, we concluded our series on the “fruit of the Spirit,” as seen in Galatians 5:22-23, but there's more. It’s important to recognize that Paul's listing of spiritual “fruit” is not all-inclusive. It's a list of attitudes and behavior we should expect to find in those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to be CHANGED for the better, but there is more to our life in Christ than a simple list of terms.

Paul, who wrote both to the Galatians and the Ephesians, also mentioned God’s “fruit” in Ephesians 5:9, where it says, “the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth.” And note that the words to the Ephesians are not the same as those given other letter. One word is the same, but two of them are not found in Galatians. Not only should “goodness” fill our lives, as it is noted in both lists, but also a deep hunger for “righteousness and truth” should begin to be apparent in the lives of God’s people. We will desire clean living and simple honesty.

The following is from “Springs in the Valley,” by Cowman, about the Laplanders of 100 years ago, and it is “an interesting story concerning the northern reindeer. One hundred miles from the sea, at a certain season in the midst of the Laplander’s village, a young reindeer will raise his broad muzzle to the north wind, and stare at the limitless distance for the space of a minute or more. He grows restless from that moment, but he is not alone. The next day a dozen of the herd look up from cropping the moss, snuffing the breeze. Then the Laps nod to one another, and the camp grows daily more unquiet. Now the whole herd of young deer stand and gaze, breathing hard through wide nostrils, then jostling each other and stamp the soft ground. They grow unruly and it is hard to harness them into the light sleds. The Laps watch more closely, knowing well what will soon happen. And then the great herd begins to move! The impulse is simultaneous, irresistible; their heads are all turned in one direction. They move slowly at first, still biting here and there at bunches of rich moss. Presently the slow step becomes a trot, they crowd more closely together, while the Laps gather up their possessions. The herd breaks from a trot to a gallop to a breakneck pace; the thunder of their united tread reaches the camp and then they are gone in the direction of the Polar Sea. The Laps follow them, dragging painfully their sledges in the broad track left by thousands of galloping beasts; a days journey passes and they are still far from the sea.

On the second day the path grows narrower, and there are stains of blood to be seen; far on the distant plain before them their sharp eyes distinguish in the direct line a dark, motionless object, another and yet another. The race has grown more desperate and wild as the stampede nears the sea. The weaker reindeer have been trampled by the stronger. A thousand sharp hoofs have crushed and cut through hide and flesh and bone. Ever swifter and more terrible in their motion, the ruthless herd has raced onward, careless of anything, but the salt water ahead of them. And when the Laplanders reach the shore, their deer are once more grazing, once more tame and docile, once more ready to drag the sled.

The author of “Springs in the Valley” used this article about reindeer and Laplanders to illustrate Psalm 63:1 – “O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly.” Obviously, we are not to trample one another in our enthusiasm to find and know the Lord and Savior, but we ARE to have passion like those reindeer in relation to Him. Just as the reindeer sought the land next to the sea, and just as surely as the Laplanders needed the reindeer in their lives, so we need our righteous and true God.

Righteousness” in today’s Scripture verse is the characteristic of treating others rightly. It means you are JUST in your dealings with people. We see the word in Romans 3:25, where it is applied to the work of God in Christ. What does a holy God do to save the sinful people He loves? He gave the blood of His Son, that He might “show His righteousness” when He “passed over our sins.” “Righteousness” is in and from God.

Truth” in our Scripture for today, is from a Greek word that signifies the reality behind what is seen. It is the deep ESSENCE of who a person really is. People everywhere tend to wear an emotional, invisible mask, fooling even themselves about who and what they are. When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” in John 14:6, He used a form of the word in today’s Scripture. He was telling His disciples of then and now that there is no pretense with God. What you see of Him in your heart by the Holy Spirit, and what you hear of Him in Scripture is utterly the way He is. Our Lord is truth.

Righteousness and truth” were two words, two concepts actually, that Paul knew the Ephesians desperately needed. At the center of their culture was the worship of the false Greek “goddess,” Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana. Statues of this grotesque creature, a “fertility goddess,” included a turreted head and many breasts. The famous temple to her in Ephesus was staffed by a host of courtesan priestesses, who offered sex as a perverted religious practice. Ephesus was also a place where East met West, a center of trade. It is all too common in sales to conceal the defects in the products being offered for sale, and in Ephesus the practice had become an art form. It was a city that promoted adultery and deceit; a place where religion and commerce had become a lie.

It was also a city where God sent the Apostle Paul and other trusted servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. The great harbor of Ephesus was filling up with silt during the two years Paul was in Ephesus, and the silt was becoming a danger to the shipping industry. A tremendous effort was underway to dredge the harbor, but the project would ultimately fail. False religion is like that. It will fill hearts and minds, and it will fail you. We need the Lord. We all are tired from the deceit that fills this world and we long for justice. We are given “goodness, righteousness and truth” in the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:9). The justice and purity we have all longed for, even when we did not think it was possible, is OURS in Him. He has “goodness, righteousness and truth” - for you.

Just like those reindeer longed for the coastal sea, there is a longing, deep in every heart for the justice of God, expressed so eloquently in Jesus Christ. Our Lord, when He was on this earth, said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Run to Him and find the good things of God.

Lord, I run to You and trust in You now. Please give me the goodness, righteousness, and truth that comes from Your Spirit and REST from my labors. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

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