Main Text: Ephesians 4:25-33
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 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.
Ephesians challenges and redefines the superficial understanding of the gospel that is so prevalent in our day. We have been made new in order to live new. If you received Christ’s forgiveness into your heart and trust that He is alive then His Spirit has entered you to transform you to do the works that Jesus did. You have been reconciled to God. Since we have received salvation and every spiritual blessing in Christ, and since we have been made new and our identity is now first and foremost in Christ, therefore we must “walk in a manner worthy of the calling…”(Ephesians 4:1-6).
In our text last week, Paul gave us powerful imagery of taking off the old clothes of our old self and putting on the new self, “created after the likeness of God” (verse 24). This willful changing of clothes represents a great exchange of behavior: old self behavior and new self behavior. These general principles are now broken down into specific principles in today’s text. These five specific areas of exchange should mark how we relate to others.
Exchange lying for speaking the truth
Verse 25 makes this clear. Our will must be involved – there is a decision to make. In a world that has lies built into the very fabric of our systems, God redeems people, deposits the Holy Spirit into them to “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). Verse 21 says, “as the truth is in Jesus”. The epistles of First, second, and third John speak much about “walking in the truth”, “loving…in truth”, “practicing the truth”, being “of the truth”, and the truth being “in us”. Jesus prayed that the Father would “sanctify us in the truth” (John 17:17).
Truth is freeing (John 8:32). Truth should mark our relationships – especially with one another because “we are members of one another”. We must speak truth to one another. No pretense should mark us. If the parts of our physical body lied to other parts we would be incapacitated. When we lie to one another, we destroy relationship and weaken the body of Christ. Like an old coat we are to “put away falsehood”.
Exchange undisciplined anger for Spirit controlled anger
We people trespass against us it can make us very angry. Anger can cause us to sin against others and God especially when we seek restitution for the offense (verse 26). Much of our anger has its root in selfishness and is to be thrown off like an old dirty garment.
We are not to allow our anger, provoked by people’s offenses against us, to infuse bitterness into our hearts and actions. Anger that is selfish, undisciplined, uncontrolled, useless, and destructive should be thrown off from the Christian’s life. Paul is urging us to prevent anger from causing sin. Anger must not endure in our lives; it must be dealt with quickly and set aside. Verse 27 gives the reason for the swift dealing of our anger. Anger is an inroad for the devil in our lives. Anger usually leads to other sins.
Exchange stealing for sharing
Again Paul makes a contrast in verse 28 of the selfish, self-centered, and abusive character of the old self compared to the other-oriented new self. This was a striking description of the converted life of those now in Christ. The thief is now to become a philanthropist! The person who did wrong in order to meet his own selfish desires must now work in order to contribute to someone else’s need.
Paul’s goal of early Christ followers was that they were to be self-supporting, supportive of the work of the gospel, and supportive of those in need (1 Thessalonians 4).
Exchange corrupt talk for edifying talk
Verse 29 says, “corrupt talk”. The original word is also used for spoiled fish or rotten fruit. This isn’t necessarily referring to obscene speech, but rather destructive language. When words are spoken that degrade, taint the perception of others, and erode the trust and respect of others in the body it is like spoiled fish or rotten fruit. Slander of another person’s character and motives should not exist in the body of Christ. These actions belong to the old self that must be taken off.
The new self we put on is concerned with building others up (Ephesians 4:16) via words and giving grace to others (Ephesians 4:7). This ties Paul’s entire letter together – We receive grace from God for salvation (Chapters 1-2) and gifts of grace for ministry (Chapters 3-4) so that we may extend God’s grace to others.
Exchange sinful actions for Christ-like actions
Verses 30 uses strong language, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…” This language is used in Isaiah 63:10 to describe Israel’s rebellion. These behavioral sins of the old self grieve the Holy Spirit in that they oppose the very direction of His reconciling, unifying, and new creation work in every believer. The Holy Spirit has sealed us for the day of redemption – He is the proof that we belong to Jesus and it is incongruent to grieve Him since He plays this role in our salvation. The imagery of a wax seal shows the mark of identity and ownership of the contents – no place for the devil (verse 27). You belong to Christ!
Verses 31-32 focuses on the responsibility of believers to act aided by the help of the Holy Spirit. All of these words - bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice – express hostility and actions that destroy human relations. These words directly contrast the Christian call in verses 2-3 of our same chapter – humility, gentleness, patience, love, and unity. Our treatment of others must be rooted in God’s treatment of us. Paul is leading to the highest command “be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1).
Apply to Life
This week, as you reflect on the message, think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Ephesians 4:25-32
In light of Paul’s context, what impact does this section have?
How does putting away falsehood deal directly with the temptation in the garden?
What does it mean to ‘be angry’ and ‘not sin’? What does this type of anger look like in your life?
Describe how the church ought to be the polar opposite of a thief. In what ways do you see the church living in this way? How does your family reflect this truth of working hard and giving to those in need?
Take a moment to share of a time when you let a conversation turn sour and didn’t say anything to stop it (or of a time when you did stop it). What were your motivations? What did you do/say?
What does it mean to grieve the Holy Spirit?
How does the reality of God taking up residence in us, cause us to better understand the reason why this list that Paul is laying out should not exist within the church?
Look at the list in verse 31, what of the items listed here do you struggle with the most in your life? Who is affected by your sin in this area?
Take a moment with your group to confess this sin one to another, then close your time in prayer. As you pray, pray the realities of this ‘new self’ that we’ve been given by God through Christ and pray that we will have victory in these areas through Jesus.
Finally, think of someone you’ve wronged. This could be as simple as a cross word, a cold shoulder, etc.. This week, seize an opportunity to come