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Be Holy

Sermon Series:

Hate Speech

Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Ephesians 4:15


Man, I also want to say good morning to you. Isn't it a great morning so far? Isn't it a great morning so far? Let me hear you. Amen. It is. Hey, if you weren't aware today, today, Peace Church became a multi-site church. We launched our first campus over in Wayland today. They're having their first service this morning. Hold on before you clap because I got something even better for you. We were really praying that somewhere between like 150 and 200 people would be there on the first Sunday, just to kind of give some gravity and momentum for it to launch. We just got word that 280 people showed up. Yeah. Pretty awesome. We are thankful to join the other gospel preaching churches in Wayland and make sure that community is well served with the gospel.

Hey, if we haven't met yet, my name is Ryan. I'm the lead pastor here at Peace Church. I haven't preached for a few weeks, so it's good to be back. It's good to see you, and I'm eager to get to it. So let's just get to it, shall we? Today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said? And everyone said? Amen.

Part of Christian history is that Christians have always been accused of being something we are not. This is in a sense part of our heritage. In fact, the early Christians, like those very first Christians, did you know that they were accused of cannibalism? And the reason was because we celebrate this thing called communion. And for us, for Christians, it's a reenactment of the gospel where we take bread and we break it, and we take a drink and we pour it out, and we say, this is symbolic of what Jesus Christ has done for us on the cross. That is, his body was broken and his blood was poured out. And so what we do is we say, this is, Jesus told us to do this in remembrance of him. That we say, this is his body, this is his blood. And so what we do is we eat the bread and we drink, and we say, this is like receiving what Jesus has done for us. This is like receiving Jesus life into us but the watching world looked at this and they heard us say that we are going to be eating the body and blood of Jesus and they said whoa you guys are practicing cannibalism over there.

Did you also know that Christians were accused of incest? Now, Christians and Christianity is couched in family language. God is our Father. Fellow Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ. And the Christian call is for Christians to only get married to other Christians. And so, we talk about brothers and sisters in Christ getting married. But the watching world looked at this and they said, brothers and sisters get married in your church? You guys are practicing incest.

Did you also know that Christians were accused of atheism? Atheism. We have one of the most robust theologies. We believe that God came to earth, born that baby boy on Christmas, and yet we were accused of atheism. And the reason is because Christianity was birthed in the Roman world. And the Romans, they did worship, but they worshipped through idols, through statues and figurines. And that's all they knew of worship was when you worshipped your God, you worshipped your God through this idol or through this statue. But they looked at Christians and we don't do that. We worship the invisible God. And they said, you have no idol that you worship. You all must be atheists.

And it's because the world judges us only on what they know. They do not look at the true intentions of our actions or our hearts.

Christians, being accused of something we are not, unfortunately, is part of our history. And so here's what I'd say to you. You cannot get discouraged by this. It's been happening for 2,000 years. And today, the most recent inception of this is today Christians are being accused of having a message that is hate speech.

Hate speech.

Because we believe that the Bible is the Word of God and no other religious text is. That we believe Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. That all people on earth are only getting to heaven through what Jesus Christ has done. We believe that God made humans to be male and female, that every person born, whether born or unborn, is made in the image of God. We believe that marriage is meant for one man and for one woman for a lifelong commitment. The world looks at these statements and they say, this is bigotry and hate. And yet again, it's because the world only looks at us based on what they know.

This will go down in history as just another instance of the world not knowing truly who we are, what we believe, the foundation or the goal of our message. That's why we're kicking off this fall with a sermon series called Hate Speech. When truth and love is no longer tolerated. Because when truth and love is no longer tolerated, all the world will hear from us is what they interpret as hate speech. And here's the reality, it does not matter how much love you couch the truth in. When the world has bought into lies, when the world hears the truth, they can only hear hate. And as we look at scriptures, it so much speaks to this. But for this series, we're going to zoom in on one chapter of the Bible.

Would you please turn to Ephesians chapter 4. That's where we're going to look and spend our time for this entire sermon series. I think Ephesians chapter 4 says some timely and timely, timeless and timely things for us. But here's what I'm going to say to you. This entire sermon series we're going to walk through this entire chapter, but for today we're going to zoom in on one verse. We're going to look at one verse today as we kick off this series, and then for the rest of the message series, we're gonna zoom out and walk through the entire chapter. But this one verse that we're looking at today has a very infamous phrase. Ephesians chapter four talks about truth in love. Ephesians chapter four, verse 15 is where we're gonna look at today. That's on page 1243, if you wanna use the Bible as provided.

Now as you're turning there, let's lay some context here. Now when the Apostle Paul wrote this, we call it a book, but it's really a letter. It's a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus. That's why we call it Ephesians. It was written to the Ephesian believers in Ephesus. Now we know that this letter was written right around 60 AD. That's like 30 years after Jesus Christ died and rose again. Now, 30 years, I'll tell you, is not a long time. As odd as it, and hard as it may be for me to swallow, 30 years ago was about when I was in high school. It wasn't that long ago. We're not talking about a great amount of time between the death of Christ and when this letter was written. Paul wrote this letter from prison. Why was he in prison? He was in prison for doing the very thing that I'm doing right now, preaching the gospel. Now, at this time in history, Christianity was still making its way through cities and cultures, and so Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus, and he writes to clarify some Christian doctrine, and he also talks about our ethic as Christians. And in the middle of chapter 4, in verse 15, he uses this phrase, truth in love.

So let's look at this verse and where it comes from, and then we'll dig into it. So with that, would you hear God's word?

Ephesians 4:15

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ."

This is God's Word.

Let's pray and we'll continue. Let's pray. Father God, we come before you on this fall launch and as we kick off the fall, Lord, we are seeing a world increasingly becoming intolerant to the Christian moral and ethic and message. Father, I pray that you would help us to be people who live according to your standard and your example, not the world's. And so, Lord, we pray these things for your glory. We pray these things for our joy. And Lord, with the deepest sincerity of our hearts, we pray these things for the good of our neighbor. And it's in the power of the Spirit and in the name of Jesus that we pray these things and everyone said amen and amen.

So church we're looking at one verse today But one verse with a very profound calling and so if I give you one main idea, here's what it would be:

When truth and love is no longer tolerated, we must be holy

When truth and love is no longer tolerated, we must be holy. And as we look at this one verse today, here's our outline.

  1. Our action is speaking truth.

  2. Our approach is loving others.

  3. Our aim is becoming holy.

So again, Ephesians 4:15, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.

1. Our action is speaking truth

So first, our action is speaking truth. Okay, let's just do a quick little Bible study here for a minute, okay? This phrase, speaking the truth, speaking the truth is actually one word in the original language. It's a word that meant to speak reality into a person's life so that they can have a knowledge of what God has deemed true fact or reality, as opposed to personal illusion. We can't really say it like this in English, it's too weird and clunky, but a really good translation might be truthing. We are truthing in love.

Now, this is because it's not about your truth, it's not about my truth, it's not about their truth, this is about the truth. In fact, the only other time we see this word in Scripture, in the Bible, is when Paul uses it and he writes to the Galatians and he says to them, he says, have I become your enemy by speaking the truth? Because Paul knew what we all knew, that you cannot speak truth in today's world without creating enemies. That is part of the package.

And so here's a question. What is truth? What are we talking about here? Pontius Pilate asked that question to Jesus right before Christ was crucified. What is truth? Well, I'm here to tell you, Jesus Christ is the truth. In fact, he said so much in John 14:6, Jesus said, I am the way and the truth and the life and with the resurrection of Jesus Christ proving that he was who he said he was, Jesus Christ is the truth and Jesus said that God's Word, Scriptures,The Bible, is God's Word and it's true, and while the Bible does not tell us everything that is true, what it does is it gives us a framework to develop a biblical worldview. That is true.

And so God's truth, one of the things I want you to understand is God's truth is meant for our good. It's the way of love. Christians are to share God's truth because God's truth is outside preference, opinion, and culture. So here's the big question:

How and when does truth become hate speech?

How does it come to this? Well, let me clarify. And I'm just gonna say it right now. I'm hoping there's a Christian in the house who will say amen after this statement. Let me clarify here. Truth is not hate.

Like we really gotta be on the same page about that before we move forward. Truth is not hate, but here's the reality. Truth can be given hatefully.

Now stick with me here because we're all about to be challenged, about to step on all of our toes, including my own. If we give someone the truth, but they translate it as hate, I am telling you the first right and humble thing that we are to do is to check ourselves. To consider how our words might be translated as hate again. Truth is not hate, so if people are genuinely receiving our truth-telling as hate speech, then maybe it's because we're speaking out of anger or arrogance rather than love.

Tell me if you resonate with this. With so much available online, what often happens is that I'll watch something online and I will ultimately agree with the person's base message, but I do not agree with how they're saying it. Anybody know what I'm talking about? One of the great challenges to Christians is that God does care how we speak. Listen, yup, facts don't care about your feelings. It's the truth. But Christians should. Because we are to love others.

Proverbs 15:4 says,

Proverbs 15:4

"A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit."

We can crush a person's heart when our words of truth have the wrong motive.

1 Corinthians 13:1 says, if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, okay, like if I speak in a heavenly language, if I speak in the language of heaven but do not have love, I'm a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:1

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal."

Meaning if you speak and you don't have love in your heart towards the person you're speaking to, you're just noise. You're noise and you're not helping the cause. So consider carefully how you speak. The world is bitter and divided already. And here's what I'd say to you Christians in the house. Some of you need to be reminded of this. You cannot expect the love to be given to you that Jesus expects you to give to others. I don't see enough pens writing that down. You need to be reminded of this in today's world.

You cannot expect the love to be given to you that Jesus expects you to give to the world.

We, in a lot of ways, our love that we give is a one-way street. Listen, you must have love in your heart, especially when your truth is going to be confronting to someone. If you don't have love in your heart towards the person you're speaking to, sit down, be quiet, and let a Christian with the love of Christ do the talking. I'm saying this because I want the kingdom to flourish in this world. Consider carefully how you speak. Church, if your angry, bitter tone is just matching the world's angry, bitter tone, then you are just as weak as the world is.

And speaking the truth is not for the weak-willed. It's not for the faint of heart. It's for those who have the love of Christ dominating their heart. Did you hear that? Or did you just hear the plane going by? Devil's trying to distract you right now. I'm telling you, devil's trying to distract you right now. Speaking the truth is not for the weak-willed or the faint of heart. It's for those who have the love of Christ dominating their heart. Some of us just need time in the gospel before we think we can say something of meaning to the world.

Truth, even when couched in immense love, truth will continue to be seen as hate speech. How, how, and why does it come to this? I wanna give you three reasons it can come to this.

Truth and love is labeled hate speech when:

  1. It confronts the culture's prevailing narrative

  2. When it challenges a person's preferred sin

  3. When it corrodes a ruler's powerful control.

Let's look at each of these and how they might be played out.

1. Truth and love is labeled hate speech when it confronts the culture's prevailing narrative.

For those of us who are Americans in the house, you have to recognize the type of society that you're living in. You have to have an outside perspective to understand the type of society that you are living within. We do not live in an Eastern or traditional society. We live in a progressive society. And so when it comes to human identity and human sexuality, our culture wants to increasingly progress beyond what was as it seeks to normalize what was once taboo in the name of progress.

From homosexuality to transgenderism to open marriages to whatever is next. We are a society that wants to progress away from the old norms. And yet when God's eternal truth comes on the scene, it's going to confront so much of this. And the message of God's good plan for humanity will increasingly be seen as hate speech because while God's plan is good for us, it's not affirming of the culture's prevailing narrative.

So let's just dial in, that's what we're doing today. We're dialing in, let's zoom in, let's just talk about one of the hottest issues in our day. People's preferred pronouns among the transgender community. Christians in the house. The loving thing to do is not to scream the pronoun that reflects a person's sex, but we are to, with love in our hearts, explain to them why we as Christians, we must speak truth. And so we cannot ascribe to them something that God has not. And we do not mean to be rude or to offend. And if you do, then sit down and be quiet. We do not mean to be rude or to offend. We mean to speak the truth in love. That's the general principle. Easy for me to say behind a pulpit. A lot different when you're in front of a live human being.

So here's what I'd say to you. They can either respect the true intention of our heart or, as what has happened throughout the ages, they can misinterpret our message and call us something we're not and label us as speaking hate. But we know that we are called to speak the truth in love, even when it confronts the culture's prevailing narrative, which leads to the second thing.

2. Truth in love is labeled hate speech when it challenges a person's preferred sin.

The fact that Christianity has a morality of right and wrong beyond popular opinion, this will be challenging to people's sin, especially when it's a celebrated sin.

Recently, I saw this guy do this experiment, and I was really fascinated by this. He was talking about how you can go online and justify anything. So what he did was he said he went to Google, and Google, in case you didn't know, Google is the great prophet of our day. We go to Google and ask Google the questions for life and all the big things. So Google's our prophet. So he went to the great prophet Google and he asked this great prophet, is drinking coffee good for you? And guess what he came up with? A whole host of websites showing the benefits of drinking coffee. And all God's people said, Amen. And then, and then he Googled is drinking coffee bad for you. And guess what? He came up with a whole host of websites showing how drinking coffee is bad for you. And we rebuke it in Jesus name.

In our world, you can find people, professionals, and websites to justify whatever you want. Not just justify it, but support it and even celebrate it. But at the end of the day, I am telling you, the Word of God is what will be proven true.

When all of our bones have turned to dust, the Word of God will remain. It will outlast everything else. But people love their sin. And again, in our world, you can find people, professionals and websites to not just justify what you want, not just support what you want, but celebrate what you want. And people and culture get so entrenched in this. I mean, so entrenched in this. And so when you bring God's eternal truth and it confronts a person's sin that they love so much, of course, they're gonna viscerally defend it and they'll find no shortage of people, professionals and websites online to affirm their sin. And in our world, anything less than full affirmation and acceptance will be seen as hate, no matter, no matter how lovingly you try to put it. Which leads to the last part:

3. Truth and love is labeled hate speech when it corrodes a ruler's powerful control.

Listen to me, truth undermines those who are deceptive and so much power is attained and retained through deception and fear in our world. But the truth is, if you are an honest ruler or an honest leader, then truth will actually empower you because truth will give you the knowledge to do what's right. If you're a humble ruler or a humble leader then truth will cause you to apologize when you were mistaken. But when was the last time you saw a politician or a pastor apologize for when the truth exposed how they were wrong?

The moral of the story is this:

If the accusation of hate speech is leveled against you, it's either because you are speaking hatefully, at which point you need to check yourself and repent and conform to the leading of the Spirit. Or it's what we just talked about, that you're confronting the culture's narrative, you're challenging a person's sin, or you're corroding someone's authority.

One of the great actions for those who follow Christ is that we are to speak the truth, but we are to speak the truth in love, which leads to our next thing.

2. Our approach is loving others.

We are to speak the truth in love. Love is the great ethic for Christians. It's our motive. It's the way that we approach others. Love. God so loved us, we are to love others. Jesus said that the world watching us will know that we are his disciples by the, say it with me, love that we have for one another. The entire Old Testament law is fulfilled by our love for God and our love for others. The scriptures tell us that of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of those three is love. The Bible says that God is love, and yet we live in a world where it seems like culture owns the corner market on love, not the church.


Why? It's because love has been redefined by our world, away from what it truthfully is. What the world says is love is not what the Bible says is love. The world has redefined love. The world says love is love. And listen to me, when you give a circular definition to something, then you have no definition, which means you can use it however you want, which means there's no way to oppose it. And if it can mean whatever you want, then those who oppose it are whatever you want them to be, whether ignorant or archaic or hateful.

The statement, love is love, is one of the great cultural narratives of our time. And so when we bring a greater reality to this world, when we say that God is love, that threatens the cultural narrative. And our culture's response is only to say, you're speaking hate speech. But again, our motive, church hear me on this, our motive for telling truth to a world opposed to it must be love. Because without love, the Bible says our words are just awful noise. And that goes for your social media posts too.

We are to speak truth in love and to speak truth in love means we use our words to confront sin and evil, but we do this by pointing to Jesus because that's love. We point to the resurrection, we point to the forgiveness of sins, we point to the cross. You see, Christians, we are meant to be the light of the world.

We are meant to bring the light in a dark world and we do this through our words, through our lives, through our demeanor. This is how we bring light to the world and we're meant to shine the light towards Jesus.

So let's, let me do a demonstration here.

We live in a dark world, so how are we to shine the light and how can we shine the light hatefully? And so I'm going to need a volunteer. Oh good, Bisham, you wanna come up? Thank you, brother. Can you guys welcome my friend Bisham up to the stage? So, Bisham is going to represent the lost and the dark world. And I'm going to represent a Christian bringing the light of Jesus. But to really just hammer the point home, let's just set the mood. Listen, the world, the world is a dark place. And because it's dark, people think they can do whatever they want whenever they want. But Christians, we bring the light. We're meant to bring the light through our words and through our actions, through our lives, through bearing the fruit of the Spirit. But what do we do with this light? This is what we're supposed to do. We come along, people, and we share the light. And what do we do? What do we ultimately do? We point to Jesus. We point to what He's done for us in His life, death, and resurrection. We bring the life of Christ through our lives, through our words. We bring the truth to a world in darkness.

But here's what so often happens. Christians bring this truth, the light. We bring the truth and this is what we end up doing with people. Exactly! Well done. You're not done yet, get up here. Come here, come here. Exactly. People recoil from it. They reject it. They want to get away from it.

When we take the light and we shine it in people's face and we call them sinners and we talk about how terrible they are and all the evil things are doing in the world. Exactly. People recoil from it.

We're meant to point people to Jesus and then we let the Spirit do the rest in their hearts.

All right now you can go. Everyone thanks. Give a round of applause for Bisham.

We can shine the light in such a forceful way into people's lives that they recoil from it. We do this with our attitudes. We do this with our social media posts. Because I think here's what happens a lot of times in our world, because everyone has a platform now. We use social media to try to make a point. We're so sick of what's going on in this world, we just want to make a point so that people understand what they're doing. And all you're doing is pointing the light in their eyes and they're going to recoil from it.

Don't be trying to make a point. Be trying to point people to Jesus and let the Spirit do the rest. And I'm not saying the light doesn't come upon people's sin and they need to reconcile with that. That is definitely going to happen. But that's not our intent.

Our intent is to expose God's good plan for this world as we point people to Jesus.

But the truth in love, the world will still hate it. But listen to me, this should be of no surprise to any Christian, why? Because Jesus Christ was the perfect example of truth in love and his culture crucified him. Christians, this is what happens when you bring truth to a world that is opposed to it. So what are we to do? When truth and love is still seen as hate speech, is the answer, is the answer to try to be more loving so that people are never offended? Is the answer to shy away from truth so that they only receive love as defined by them rather than by God?

Listen, this past summer was so incredibly and it was unique for me. I got so many, so many contacts from people who were just trying to live out this tension and they didn't know how. Like whether it was Bud Light or Target or Disney, Christians see these companies promoting things that are so opposed to the Christian faith that people, that they can't affirm it. And so, so what, so what do they, so what I've heard, and time again, like so many times, if I had a dollar for every time someone reached out to me about this, I'd be able to retire right now.

People said, what am I to do?

Here was the essence of their question I heard time and time again. Christians were asking me, how do I take a stand and still be seen as loving? I'll say it again, they asked, how do I take a stand and still be seen as loving.

And my response to this is like so many other responses. My response is this, finish the verse. "Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ."

To become more like Christ is our goal.

It's to become more holy, that's what it means, to become more like Jesus. Yes, we are commanded by God to love God and to love our neighbor, but becoming more like Jesus is our aim. But too many of us think that our goal is to be seen as loving by the world. That's not the goal. Our aim is to become holy.

3. Our aim is becoming holy.

And for those of you who have a cultural or a common notion of what holiness is, let me just clarify. Becoming holy is about being separate from the world. It's about being distinct. Holiness is about being set apart. That's what holiness actually means. To be known as holy is to be known as something other. We are not meant to fit in. In fact, if you fit in with the culture, that's like the opposite of holiness. When we are called to be holy, it's like God is separating us out and making us something different. And when the truth and love is no longer tolerated, we must be holy.

So I'm going to tell you plainly, dear brothers and sisters, I'm going to tell you plainly, you cannot worry about whether or not the world will see you as loving. You just have to be loving as Christ was as we speak the truth in love.

The first Christians were called atheists because all the world knew of worship was idol worship. But let me ask you, did Christians in response to that, did they build idols so that they could fit in with the culture? Did they? No, they didn't. See, the Romans worshiped, but they didn't know God. And yet we were the ones called atheists. And today, Christians are called hateful because the world doesn't truly know love. Church, we will be rejected by the world because we do not belong to the culture. We are to speak the truth and our response to this isn't to change our message.

Church, hear me on this. The question is not, will others see me as being loving?

The question is, as I speak the truth in love, will the world see me as being something distinct and unique? Someone who doesn't fit in because I am pointing to Jesus and I belong to Him. Because that's what it means to be holy.

Listen to me, not that we're better, but that we're different. 1 Peter 4, 14 says, if you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed. Because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. Like the early Christians, we are going to be called things that are not true. And what's our response to this? To speak the truth in love as people who are growing in holiness, because we're ever becoming more like Jesus. Or as our verse says, we are to grow up in every way into Him, into Christ.

People, I really hope that you would join us for the rest of the series as we zoom out and look at this calling in all of its fullness. And when those times of opposition come, how do we respond to those conversations? But remember, when truth and love is no longer tolerated, we must be holy.


Church, we're going to sing about the holiness of God and His call on our lives to be holy. And so here's what I want you to do. Would you please stand? And I make no assumptions that every person in this house is a Christian, but for those of you who are, this is your chance right now to demonstrate to the watching world that you do not belong to them and you do that through worship. And so I'm gonna specifically challenge some men in the house who love the Lord. Would you lead the way for us in your voice and with raising your hands just to demonstrate both audibly and visually? You do not belong to this world, but you belong to our Holy God.

Let's pray.

Father, I come before you with this church, with these brothers and sisters, people who you have called holy, people that you have redeemed from the pit of hell, because of what your Son has done. And I pray, Father, in Jesus' name, Father, that we lift up praises because you are glorious, because you are holy, and you call us to be holy. So, Father, I pray because of what Jesus has done on the cross for us, because of his resurrection, that we would respond. And I'm just going to challenge the faithful in the house, that they would respond, not just in worship, but they would raise their hands, declaring for all to see that we belong to you.Father, we thank you for the cross. We thank you for the gospel. Father, we thank you for what you're doing in the church and in this world. We love you and we thank you. We love you and we thank you.

We pray these things and we worship together in Jesus name and everyone said Amen. Church, let's worship together.

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