Waking with The Word | Ephesians 4:25-32
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (KJV)
25 "Wherefore" is how Paul starts the next sentence. His purpose is to point us back to what he has already said in the previous thought, verses 20-24. Verses 20-24 are the engine that drives the remainder of the chapter. Our verses today are the practical application of verses 20-24. Maybe better said, putting off the old man and putting on the new will cause you to carry out the instruction found in verses 25-32. It would be very frustrating trying to carry out the instructions given in these verses if we have not carried out the instruction given in the previous verses, neither would a man have the desire to carry out verses 25-32 had he not first carried out verses 20-24. So Paul starts his sentence with a finger pointed to what was said about putting off the old man and putting on the new. Then he tells us what this putting off and putting on will look like.
One thing that struck me most about these instructions Paul gives us is he moves from the old man's tendencies to the new man's tendencies. He doesn't simply say put away lying(old man) but he says to speak the truth(new man); He doesn't only say steal no more, but also to work and give; He doesn't only say put away bitterness and wrath but also to be kind one to another. Paul gave us the instruction in verses 20-24 and for the remainder of the chapter he gives us the illustration of the instruction. I think it is important to note that each negative thought isn't just banished but replaced by a positive. This is important in the life of a Christian. We shouldn't just put off the old but also put on the new, lest we become like the man who cleared his house and didn't refurnish it. Let's say a man is born again; I presume that man would stop visiting the bar but he shouldn't stop there he should now start attending the Church. I presume he would no longer visit strange women but he should also cleave unto his wife. If God has dealt with you about something, whether it be old friends, old music, old places or any other thing from your previous life. Don't simply quit those old things but replace them with new. I had old friends we partied with, I had to replace them with new ones I worship with. I had old habits that nurtured the flesh now I strive to have new ones that nurture the Spirit. Don't just put off the old but put on the new.
Another striking thing is that all the things Paul addresses have to do with our relationships with men and particularly within the Church. Lying, requires a speaker and a hearer. For their to be wrath there has to a person who is the subject of your wrath. To steal there will be a thief and a victim. Corrupt communication requires also a speaker and a hearer. Each one of these things have very much to do with how we treat others. It has mostly to do with our standing among men. Which is very fitting considering the subject of out text, Sanctification. Sanctification is the theme of the book of Ephesians. Especially this chapter dealing with the walk of a Christian. Sanctification is not about our heavenly standing but about our earthly, It's not about our standing with God but about our standing amongst men. Salvation is heavenly and complete, Sanctification is earthly and continual. So it is no surprise that the instruction given has mostly to do with our earthly relationships.
"putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another."
Put away lying, now this seems like an elementary thing and it is. Even before our children are old enough to form a complete sentence, they begin to tell lies and we begin to punish them for it. It is something that is so engrained in our being that, without rigorous discipline, we will struggle with to the day we die. Maybe not big lies but definitely small ones we tell without even thinking about it. Sometimes lies can be told to hurt, but sometimes lies can be told to comfort someone. The truth stands and whether it hurts or comforts is not our concern, our concern should be to speak the truth. Now, I'm not saying that we should be rude and abrasive or to go around injuring people with the truth. The truth is much like a razor, it can be used to harm people, if mishandled or in the hands of a injurious person or it can be used to cut out some cancer in the hands of a surgeon, or used to clean up our appearance in the hands of a barber. Now if we love one another we ought to care enough to speak the truth in love, whether that truth be comforting or uncomfortable. Having a cancer removed isn't fun but having that cancer spread and threaten your life is less fun. So is this issue of speaking the truth to one another. If your friend is living in a dangerous way and tinkering with sin, love them enough to carefully use the truth to help and not hurt. There's is no need to expand on telling hurtful lies, we know the folly of that but what needs expanding on is this matter of telling comforting lies. Telling the truth when it hurts, when it is uncomfortable, when you know it may not be taken well, that's when it is hard to tell the truth. The old man will tell a lie when it is convenient or the truth when it is convenient. The New man will tell the truth even when it is inconvenient. Is there a lie you've told? There's been many I have spoken. Some were hurtful, some were comforting but all of them were injurious. Even those comforting lies injure the hearer, imagine a doctor told a man with a serious illness that he was perfectly healthy, what a crime. What a crime it is when we don't tell the truth about sin, about hell, about the cure. Lord let us tell the truth! "We are members one of another" so let us tell each other the truth. Some of the greatest help I ever received was from brothers who loved me enough to tell me the truth, even when it hurt. Solomon said it like this:
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
According to the riches of His Grace!!